Here are all the best things to do in Essaouira for a nice, relaxed trip!
Essaouira was such a breath of fresh air after 2+ weeks hustling around Morocco. By the time we dragged ourselves off our Supratours bus, we’d already been through Tangier, Chefchaouen, Fes, Merzouga, Ouarzazate, and, of course, Marrakech. We’d eaten our way through multiple tajines and couscous dishes; ridden camels in the desert, driven around mountains, fended off many a predatory man or two, petted many cats (okay mostly me), and more.
We were tired. Luckily, I planned for this and wanted to end our trip in Essaouira so we could relax.
You see, all I read about this Moroccan seaside town was how chill it was compared to the rest of the country. It’s pretty small in terms of must-do and must-see things, and everyone generally seems nicer. I’m so glad all my reading turned out to be right because it was definitely the most relaxed city we visited in Morocco! Here are all my best tips and things to do in Essaouira so you can have as nice a time as we did!
Quick Tips for Essaouira
How to Get There
From Marrakech, we took a Supratours bus. It was actually the easiest and smoothest of all our bus journeys at only two hours. The nice thing about the Supratours station in Essaouira is that it’s close to the medina, so you can easily walk to most accommodation options. Our Airbnb came to get us at the bus station and guided us to the exact location since it’s a bit hidden. If you have a lot of luggage, there are some men around with carts who can carry your things in on them for a small fee.
The CTM bus station, which we took from Essaouira – Casablanca, is a bit farther so you need to negotiate with a taxi driver. You can also book a private transfer if you’d prefer.
Where to Stay
We stayed at Dar Moonlight Riad, which I found on Airbnb. It’s more of an apartment setting, so we had our own room and bathroom and then everything else was up on the terrace area including the living room and kitchen areas. Because it was an apartment, we also had a washing machine available. Check rates & dates here
We were there at the end of June, and Essaouira was the nicest weather we had in Morocco! Like it was breezy and cool enough that I slept up on the terrace’s little area with the windows open. Autumn had to wear jeans and a light jacket in the evenings it got that cool. After sweating to death in Merzouga, let me tell you, it was blissful.
11 Chill Things to Do in Essaouira
1. Check out the Essaouira Citadel
Remember when Daenerys frees the Unsullied from Astapor? They filmed those scenes in Essaouira, mainly in the Citadel! The Essaouira Citadel is the main thing to see in the city in terms of paying a fee to enter and walk around. You can climb up to the top and get some cool views, and, of course, it’s nice to walk up and down the wall.
2. Enjoy Skala du Port
I think most guides kind of lump Skala du Port and the Essaouira Citadel into one thing, but they’re technically two different places. The citadel is at the port, but there’s more to see and do in the area. Pop on down around sunset to catch the seagulls flying around and all the cerulean-colored boats tied up in the harbor.
You can see the last of the fishermen selling their wares, people hanging out on the rocks by the water, and, of course, you can do the next thing on this list…
3. Pick out some fresh fish for a delicious grilled meal!
Near the harbor, there are a bunch of little white and blue huts where they’re selling fish. You can pick out a bunch and they’ll grill it up for you to eat right there. You get SO much food, and it’s so delicious! The huts are set up half way around a little square, and we ate at the one in the top right corner (N 11 from the sign in my photo). Don’t go near the opposite side, they were quite rude when we kept walking to port!
But the one we went to was lovely, and the guy and his friends were so chill, it was kind of funny! Once Autumn made sure the fish was fresh, they took it all in to be grilled, and the owner told us 120 MAD (~12 USD). You don’t pay until after the meal, and we weren’t sure if it would be 120 a person or 120 MAD altogether (either way a steal).
Well, if you can’t tell from the photos, we were served an absolute feast! It started with the shrimp and the clams and those almost sea urchin things and then was followed by the huge plate of fish! It looked like absolute carnage by the time we finished. The owner was also gone, so when we went to pay, his friends asked, “Oh, how much was it?” Ha! Autumn told them 120 MAD, and that seemed to be fine with them. I’m honestly not sure if we got a crazy good deal or if that is actually a pretty normal price for so much food.
4. Try out Le Corail Vegan Food
If the idea of “fish carnage,” makes your stomach turn or you’re feeling a bit guilty, then no fear! There’s a very charming vegan place called Le Corail, and it’s one of the top-rated restaurants on Happy Cow. We ate here for dinner the day after our fish feast, and it was quite delicious. Plus the owner was so lovely! He gave us little necklaces when we paid!
5. Visit the food market and cook at your Airbnb
If you stay at the Airbnb I recommended, you’ll have your own kitchen. After a month plus of travel, I was more than happy to have a home cooked meal, and Autumn loves cooking, so she was happy to be back in the kitchen. She went out to the food market for some fresh ingredients for our food, and then I joined her another afternoon to get some breakfast things. The food market is fun and a little hectic, but you can obviously find the freshest of meat, eggs, and vegetables all right there.
Autumn made a ton of pasta with different vegetables, and I ate quite an embarrassing amount. Really, the only thing that made me pause was a seagull pooping on me and my first dish when we tried eating out on the terrace… We moved under a roof after that.
6. Enjoy minimal harassment around the medina
Essaouira was one of the few places where we experienced the least amount of harassment, yay! Plus the medina feels much more open than Marrakech or Fes, so it over all was a less claustrophobic experience.
I think the lack of harassment worked because I actually had time to browse and could pick out some gifts and souvenirs for friends!
7. Get some Argan oil
If there’s one place to get Argan oil in Morocco, it’s in Essaouira as all the trees grow nearby. I don’t really know how to give advice on getting it — I just got a little bottle at one the shops near our accommodation. The woman was literally grinding the nuts into the oil they become, so I’m going to assume it was legitimate. If it wasn’t, and it turns out I got something mixed with vegetable oil, c’est la vie.
If you’re feeling even more adventurous, rent a car and drive along the road to Agadir. Apparently, you’ll be able to see the famous goats in trees! As in, you’ll literally see goats climbing the Argan trees to eat the nuts. There’s also this Argan Forest tour if you don’t want to rent a car, but I swear it was not up on GYG when I was looking at Essaouira tours. Trust me, we made up song in the hopes of seeing these goats, we would’ve booked it ASAP.
8. Hang out at the beach
Yep, there is, of course, a beach in Essaouira! It was actually a bit too cold and windy for us to want to grab our swim suits and spend an afternoon there, but we did stop by while we were walking around town and just people watch. There were plenty of people who were still fine with swimming and sunbathing, though!
Depending on how adventurous you’re feeling, there are plenty of water sports you can try at the beach:
- 2-Hour Surf Lesson in Essaouira
- 4-Hour Surf Lesson in Essaouira
- Windsurfing Lesson
- Essaouira Kite Surfing Class from Marrakech
9. Pet the cats
I mean, this is going to be on all my lists for Morocco because there are so many kitties everywhere and most of them don’t mind a head pat or two on your way to your next spot. These cuties were all over the medina and, of course, I saw the most at the food market while they patiently waited for some scraps of meat.
10. Explore the nearby dessert
If you’re not planning to go out to Merzouga or Ouarzazate like we did, you can still get a bit of your dessert fix from Essaouira! There are camel riding and quad biking tours nearby:
Since we got our camel fix in the Sahara, neither of us were exactly eager to put our thighs through that pain again.
11. Brunch at Mandala
Before we had to catch our bus to Casablanca, we decided we wanted a nice little breakfast. Autumn saw this place when we were at the food market, so we popped over for a nice, healthy-ish meal before our 7-hour ride. It’s more a hipster-type place, so you’re not getting “authentic” Moroccan food, but, again, remember we’d just spent 2+ weeks eating basically all Moroccan food! I wanted some avocado toast and an iced coffee like the basic b I really am! The restaurant is super cute, and we had a little kitty friend come and try to persuade us for some of our food! All in all, a nice way to end a very relaxed few days in a very chill town.
And there you have it — all the nice, chill things to do in Essaouira! Like I said, this isn’t really a “must-do, must-see” city. It’s more just a place to relax and enjoy and meander. I’m so happy we ended our trip here because I think we were just about at our breaking point with the men in the medinas and constantly dealing with people (taxi drivers) trying to rip us off.
Tips for Visiting Morocco
If you’re still figuring out your itinerary, check out my picks for the best cities to visit in Morocco on your first trip. You may also want to start figuring which of the delicious foods you’re going to want to eat in Morocco, so check this post!
As for transportation, here’s my complete guide on how to get around.
Any tips to add for visiting Essaouira, let me know below!