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Essaouira: The beach town near Marrakech

Aktualisiert am: 10/03/2024

What? Marrakech has a beach? Not quite. But Essaouira is only a good two-and-a-half-hour drive from Marrakech – so for a sprawling country like Morocco, it’s just around the corner. And after an exciting and sometimes exhausting stay in Marrakech, I was ready for some relaxation.

Is a trip to Essaouira worthwhile?

By the way, in many Marrakech travel guides Essaouira is mentioned as a day trip. One day in Essaouira should be enough, there would be nothing more to see anyway. However, one sits then on a day at least five hours for round trip in the bus, and on the other hand a half day is much too short for this beautiful place. But if you’re short on time, there are organized tours; at least that takes some of the planning out of it:

Book your trip from Marrakech to Essaouira*

Welcome to my travel blog!

Hey, I’m Tatiana, a German-Brazilian living in Berlin & the author behind The Happy Jetlagger. I’ve been writing about my travels since 2014. In addition to my job as a flight attendant, this blog is my passion project!

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4 Things to see in Essaouira: Sights in Essaouira

In Essaouira, there is simply a different wind blowing. Uah. What a play on words. But it’s true. In Essaouira it is much fresher than in Marrakech, but the sea air is unique. It drives through all your pores, wiping away the red dust of Marrakech’s old town with fervor – and in front of you, you see this coastal village, which couldn’t look more like rough seas and stiff Atlantic breezes. Not without reason Essaouira also bears the nickname“City of the Winds“.

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Tip #1: The port of Essaouira – Mogador in Essaouira

You feel a bit like Hitchcock’s “The Birds” as greedy flocks of seagulls circle overhead; hungry, at times beastly, and screeching loudly. It’s noon. The fishermen have just arrived at the port, spreading their freshly caught goods on improvised tables and sometimes just on a plastic bag on the bare ground. And what fish there are. For lovers of sea creatures this is a real feast, you can’t get fresher fish anywhere – but in general you can eat well and for little money in Essaouira.

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The atmosphere at the harbor is really special, and when you sit on one of the huge rocks in the bay and let the Atlantic wind blow around your ears, you don’t even notice the small blemishes around it, such as the plastic garbage that unfortunately occasionally emerges from the waves.

By the way, the best view of the old town and the sea is from the Mogador:

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Tip #2: The alleys of the old town

Essaouira is quite clear, that’s true. Still, you can easily spend a whole day just drifting through the alleys of the old town – and enjoy Essaouira’s charm. There are pretty little details to discover everywhere. If you want to develop an interest in photography or want to practice looking for motifs – then go to Morocco!

Looking for more travel inspiration?
You can find all Morocco articles here

Tip #3: Souvenir Shopping in Essaouira

After I was bitterly ripped off in Marrakech, here is the ultimate shopping tip for you: Forget Marrakech! Everything there in beautiful lamps, blankets, carpets and other knickknacks, you can also find in Essaouira – then often at fixed prices, but they are really realistic.

Me in Marrakech a windy Berber 40 euros for ‘ne olle bedspread abgeknöpft! At first, this sounded like a good price, but we had started the apparently typical Berber negotiation ritual with lots of Chi-Chi, warm words and tearful stories of old women who weave their hands sore on the blankets in the barren Atlas mountains for a pittance, at a fabulous 250 euros. Two hundred and fifty!!! From 250 down to 40, that’s an almost obscene margin. But my face when I saw the exact same blanket for ten (!) euros in Essaouira was priceless. So we learn: Buy nothing in Marrakech! (And I’m sure: Other cities, even less touristy than Essaouira are another ’round more attractive for shopping). Another plus: As far as annoying vendors are concerned, Essaouira is the absolute opposite of Marrakech! One is not harassed, much less often approached and in general the mood in this regard in Essaouira is much more relaxed.

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Tip #4: The beach promenade of Essaouira

Outside the old town center is the long, wide beach of Essaouira. I didn’t find it particularly exciting for swimming, the water is relatively cool and the real Miami South Beach feeling just doesn’t come up in Morocco as a Muslim country. Water sports enthusiasts, however, will be thrilled, not for nothing is the whole corner here a total hotspot for surfers.

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In the evenings and especially on weekends, the beach promenade mutates into Essaouira’s“nightlife mile” with popcorn carts and snail vendors, where you can pick freshly cooked mini snails out of their shells and eat them right at the stand. Who likes it. In any case, it’s a good opportunity to experience a bit of original life – the promenade is also a popular destination for local families. And there is a lounge bar or two where you can get wonderful mint tea: cardboard sweet, but delicious.

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Practical tips for Essaouira

How to get there: How to get from Marrakech to Essaouira?

There are several ways to get from Marrakech to Essaouira:

a) Private cab (most expensive)

b) As part of a booked excursion with or without a program:
Some tours then stop along the way at argan trees, where goats perch in the treetops in search of the argan fruit. Looks fun, but since I once heard rumors that the goats are tied up there especially for the tourists, I didn’t find that exciting either.

Book your excursion from Marrakech to Essaouira here*

c) By public bus:
From the train station in Marrakech also depart the intercity buses that go directly to Essaouira and stop there totally convenient at the gates of the old town. Tickets are cheap and the VIP bus in the morning is very comfortable with wifi and comfortable seats.

Accommodation in Essaouira

At the Maison du Sud*, you sleep in an old, winding riad in the middle of the old town. The rooms are already pretty worn, nothing nice, but the location is fantastic and the breakfast ambience in the Riad-typical courtyard unique.

The right clothes

Do not forget a sweater or jacket! In Essaouira it is a few degrees colder than in Marrakech, and the stiff breeze is really not to be underestimated, even if the weather app says something about 30 degrees!

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