The picturesque fishing port of Essouira is the nearest seaside to Marrakesh and well worth a visit. You can break the journey with stops at argan oil producers and other tourist stops. Once in Essauoira your driver will leave you for around three hours to explore the town and its small medina which it is most fun to do by yourself. There are a wide variety of restaurants- why not try the fresh grilled sardines by on the seafront!
Previously known by its Portugese name Mogador, a fortress still commands the entrance to the harbour and the medina itself has walled ramparts. Essaouira is usually much cooler than Marrakech and can be windy at times, it is no coincidence that the world wind surf championships are held here.
The Orson Welles movie Othello was shot in this location and its bohemian atmosphere has attracted a stream of celebrities notably including Bob Marley.
The normal departure time is 8.00 am and you can expect to be back in Marrakech at 18.00
Triskala Café: This café has a 60’s décor and multicolour lighting. The food is a mix of French and Moroccan.
Café Taros: Café Taros is a bar, a boutique, a gallery and a library!. Taros has a kitchen serving good Moroccan food and an interesting menu specialising in fish. With great views over the square and local port from its excellent rooftop terrace.
Outdoor Fish Grill Stands: These simple and greatly priced foodstands offer one of the definitive Essaouira experiences. Just choose your freshly caught fish or shellfish, and wait for it to be cooked on the spot and served with a pile of bread and salad.
Restaurant El-Minzah: You can eat outside on the terrace of this popular restaurant which faces the ramparts. The menu features a good selection of international dishes with a good selection of fish.
Ocean Vagabond Beachfront Café This beachfront café offers a good lunch menu. See http://www.hipmorocco.com/riad-ocean-vagabond/
Since the 16th century, the city has also been known as Mogador (Portugese), when the Portugese built a fortress on the site in 1506. The Berber name of Essaouira apparently means “the wall”, a reference to the fortress walls that originally enclosed the city.
The Essaouira Ramparts are a must see for all visitors with the proginal canons dating back to the 18th and 17th century.
Arts and Crafts: Essaouira was well known for its many artisans, with arts and craft shops as well as many art galleries.
Gnaoua Music Festival: The Gnaoua Festival of World Music is held in Essaouira, around the last week of June. It brings together artists from all over the world, and although there is gnaoua music, it also includes rock, jazz and reggae. It lasts four days and attracts over 400 000 vistiors.
Beach Activities: Essaouira is well known for its wind surfing, kite surfing and water activities. Although there is a rocky beach by the ramparts, the main beach is sandy and crowded in the summer. Being on the Atlantic Coast the beach is naturally windy, hence its popularity with wind surfers. There are several places to either take lessons in wind surfing or to hire equipment. A good beach spot is near the Sofitel Hotel.
One can also take guided camel beach tours. We find the camels a bit smelly at times, but it is fun to ride on the back of a camel and enjoy the scenery.
For those that are experienced horse riders, there are a number of places around Essaouira where one can go horse riding. And those that prefer motorised vehicles there are also many places for quad biking.
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