There were so many great things to do in Essaouira that I found myself wishing I could stay longer in this laid back hipster town.
The coastal town of Essaouira in Morocco, also known as ‘the windy city,’ provides light relief from the heat, humidity and chaos of Marrakech. With its hippy vibe and charming medina, you could easily spend your days just browsing the medina and souks.
But there are so many other things to do in Essaouira from kite surfing to camel riding or quad biking over sand dunes.
In addition to all the sports and activities on offer in this beachside town, there are plenty of ways to relax too. Have your first hammam experience, enjoy a massage, watch some live music or learn how to make a tasty tagine.
Essaouira is actually one of the best places to relax and rejuvenate. Solo female travel in Morocco can be challenging and frustrating but here in Essaouira, I could feel myself beginning to unwind.
You may well fall in love with this hipster beach town, just like I did.
So let’s talk about all those wonderful things to do in Essaouira, Morocco’s most popular coastal city.
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The 17 best things to do in Essaouira, Morocco
1/ Get lost in the medina
The medina in Essaouira is just delightful. Less chaotic than in Marrakech but without losing the buzzing atmosphere. The streets are a little wider, a little cleaner, the sellers less aggressive. The sea breeze helps to keep you cool.
The medina is not as hard to get lost in as say, Marrakech or Fes, but you can easily walk aimlessly and stumble across something new each day.
2/ Shop for souvenirs in the souks
As I mentioned, the sellers use a much less aggressive approach to get you to buy their wares. The prices are also cheaper than Marrakech and there is so much to browse or buy.
From leather bags to Berber carpets, jewellery, plates and scarves. You could easily spend a whole day just shopping – it is one of the most popular things to do in Essaouira.
Make sure to barter. I always recommend offering a 3rd of their first price. Usually, you will meet around halfway. Don’t be afraid to walk away, you are bound to find something similar on another stall.
3/ Stuff yourself silly with seafood with a local family
Essaouira is a great destination for foodies. The abundance of fresh seafood and the bohemian vibe the city has means that food is of the utmost importance in Essaouira and there’s a lot of competition between eateries.
You’ll also find more bars and restaurants which serve alcohol here. Whilst the wine was awful every time I tried it in Marrakech, I actually had a few nice glasses of wine in Essaouira.
As well as the larger restaurants, look out for the tiny family-owned places like Restaurant Berbere. With only enough tables for around 10 people, it has a very communal atmosphere where you can easily chat with fellow travellers since you are all sat in close proximity.
The food I had here was some of the tastiest traditional Moroccan food I had throughout my whole trip.
There are a few other small family-owned restaurants on the same alley. Some of which, like Cafe Res Amira, are so tiny they can only seat 6 people and everyone enjoys the same meal. It’s basically like being invited into someones home for dinner!
4/ Watch live music
As well as restaurants and cafes, there are some great places to see live music in Essaouira and it’s not uncommon for a band to pop up in a restaurant when you are eating.
One of the best places to go for live music as well as an alcoholic drink whilst watching the sun go down is the rooftop terrace of Taros.
5/ Take a guided tour
If you are short of time, then it may be worth taking a guided tour. This way you can see all the best bits in a short period of time. But if you have a few days here then this is not necessary.
6/ Visit the fish market
Get up early and visit the fish market. If you get there early enough around 6-7 AM, then you can see the iconic blue fishing boats return to the harbour with the morning’s catch.
It’s probably not a place to go if you don’t like birds though as the seagulls are swooping everywhere en masse.
If you return towards lunchtime you can eat in the fish market, choosing your fish and having it prepared for you right there and then. That said, be very choosey about where you eat. I personally decided not to risk it!
7/ Climb the ramparts
The ramparts in Essaouira are well worth a visit. From here, you can get beautiful views of the ocean and look down onto some of the souks and enjoy all the activity from afar.
8/ Visit Scala du Port
This is the only part of the ramparts which charges an entrance fee and is found separate from the main ramparts which is reached easily from the medina.
Instead, walk towards the fishing port and you’ll see an entrance on the right. Its 50DHR at the time of writing which seems a lot for a small place but trust me, the views from the tower and through the famous porthole are absolutely worth it.
Make sure you get a photo of you sat in the porthole overlooking the town. They’ve even put a step ladder here for you to get the perfect shot!
9/ Go quad biking
The beaches stretch for miles along this part of the coast. Enjoy the sand dunes by going quad biking which was one of my personal favourite things to do in Essaouira.
I was a little nervous at first as the root to the beach was rocky and uneven – I almost ended in a bush more than once. But once I got my confidence, I had a ball flying up and down sand dunes, enjoying the coastal scenery.
I’d recommend taking a half-day trip rather than just an hour as you’ll see more and get to ride the bigger sand dunes. The hour session is more of an introduction for beginners.
10/ Visit the beach
Whilst the beach at Essaouira isn’t really a sunbathing beach – unless you fancy a good exfoliation. Essaouira isn’t called the windy city for no reason!
But it’s a great place to people watch. See camels on the beach, locals taking a stroll, quad bikes, surfers and kite surfers.
11/ Shop for silver jewellery
Essaouira is famous for its beautiful silver jewellery. However, you’ll find a lot of fake costume jewellery being passed off as the real deal in the markets. To be sure you are getting a quality piece of jewellery for the right price, I’d suggest you visit Centre de la Bijouterie Artisanale Maalem Ali 1908.
Here you can see the jewellery be made and have a little tour, learning about the different techniques involved.
The centre also employs staff with hearing problems who may not be able to get work elsewhere. I love supporting projects like this.
12/ Go horseriding along the beach
There is no nicer way to explore the beach than on horseback.
Whilst you may just decide to take a horse ride for an hour or two, enjoying the gorgeous coastal scenery, there are also overnight options leaving from Essaouira which offer the opportunity to sleep in a traditional Berber tent.
13/ Beach Camel Rides
If horses aren’t your thing then you can also take a ride on a camel. Hold on tight when they knee down to let you off – it feels like riding a bucking broncho for a second or two.
14/ Try Kite surfing
All that windy weather in Essaouira means there are plenty of things to do in Essaouira for water sports fanatics.
If you’ve never tried it before, why not take a lesson in kite surfing?
15/ Go Surfing
Surf lessons are also on offer or you can hire a board if you already have some experience. It’s the Atlantic ocean though so you may want to hire a wetsuit!
16/ Have a hammam
You can’t visit Morocco without having at least one Hammam experience!
Hammam spas are an integral part of Moroccan life and therefore a must-do. You will be scrubbed and polished to an inch of your life then massaged and moisturised until your skin is as smooth as a babies bottom. Scrub aside, its one of the most relaxing things to do in Essaouira.
Read more about my own first hammam experience!
18/ Take a cooking course
Moroccan food is seriously tasty. Learn to cook the perfect tagine with just the right amount of spice in a Moroccan cooking course.
Cooking courses are always on my bucket list in every country I visit and Morocco was no exception.
Why not go shopping for a clay tagine to take home with you so you can impress your loved ones with your new cooking skills?!
Hopefully, amongst this list of 17 of the best things to do in Essaouira, you’ve found something which has piqued your interest?
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