Visiting the lovely coastal town of Essaouira from Marrakech is pretty straightforward and simple, making it a great day trip to consider whilst in Morocco.
The lively port of Essaouira is a great stop for a day’s respite from the madness of Marrakech. Essaouira can also be a worthwhile and an interesting stop on a longer Morocco itinerary too.
Essaouira has a relaxed, slow and laidback vibe. There isn’t a multitude of tourist sites to see so there isn’t any dashing about to be done trying to tick several attractions off your list. Instead, Essaouira is home to a huge gorgeous sandy beach with several watersports and sand-sports on offer. There is also its colourful, lively harbour and a really pleasant, calm medina.
If you’re planning a visit to Essaouira, whether its for a day or longer then read on for my Essaouira travel guide. In this blog post, I’ve detailed everything you would need to know for visiting Essaouira, including what to do, where to eat and what not to miss!
Visiting Essaouira from Marrakech
Visiting Essaouira as a day trip from Marrakech can be done, but it’s a very long day. Day trippers would need to leave very early in the morning and expect to return to Marrakech very late in the evening. If you are able to spare the extra time, I would recommend spending a night or two here unwinding and taking in the sites.
How to get to Essaouira
Public buses run throughout the day and can take around 4 hours each way (!). The road is bumpier than you’d expect and progress can be quite slow. The bus station is just outside of the medina in Marrakech, and the two main bus companies plying this route are CTM and Supratours. You should be able to buy a ticket on the day at the bus station, or the day in advance if you have any concerns about it being full.
Another option is to rent a car, giving you greater flexibility. Going by car (or taxi) takes around 2.5 hours making it a far quicker journey.
Most tourists are likely to catch a bus or taxi in from Marrakech, but you can also fly directly into Essaouira airport now from London airports. This is a great option if you’re keen on staying for a longer period of time.
How to spend one day in Essaouira
Whether you’re visiting Essaouira for the day, or for longer, these are some of the best things to do in the area:
Explore the medina
Essaouira has some great shopping. The town was one of the last stops on my three week Morocco itinerary, and it definitely had the very best shopping of all the places I visited.
The little stores and stalls in Essaouira’s medina are so lovely to shop in. The owners are kind and patient – there’s definitely no hassling. I also felt the quality of all the products were better too than in other places in Morocco.
Best of all, the medina in Essaouira is really easy to navigate!
Explore the fishing port
Essaouira is Morocco’s third biggest fishing port. On any given day, you’ll find it busy and bustling. There’s tons of fresh seafood to buy on the harbour and it’s a fantastic place to see Moroccan locals going about their daily lives.
The medina is also the location of Essaouira’s most iconic photo spot – the blue fishing boats and medieval walls.
Wander along the beach
Essaouira’s main beach stretches for miles along the coast away from the town. It’s a popular place to enjoy a camel ride or learn to kite-surf, as the conditions are optimal.
Where to eat in Essaouira
So with the relaxed lifestyle here, we noticed service was noticeably slower in Essaouira than Marrakech for example. So much so, we really had to chivvy our waitress on a fair bit! However, we found a few great cafes and restaurants in Essaouira – here are our favourites:
- JUICE for the best smoothies and coffees in town
- Adwak for the best local Moroccan dishes
- Beach and Friends for seaside dining
- Loft Cafe for an eclectic dining spot
- Taros Cafe for brilliant views
Where to stay in Essaouira
Although it is do-able to visit Essaouira in a day, if you can spare the time, you won’t regret an extra day or two spent ambling around this pretty port. There are some excellent places to stay in the town, mostly smaller and locally owned and few big chain hotels.
We stayed at Riad Inna, and loved it. A cute boutique hotel, with lovely furnishings and a very central location.
However, some other great options include:
- Riad Mimouna – for fabulous sea views
- Villa Maroc – excellent value for money
- Dar Adul – eclectic and great value
Essaouira is a calm and charming little town, offering a chilled out version of Morocco. Especially compared to the madness of Marrakech and Fes. However, if you’re looking for even more ideas on things to do in Essaouira, then check this great post here from Journal of Nomads.
I hope this post has been useful for anyone planning on visiting Essaouira for the day from Marrakech, or even if you plan to stay for a few days.
If you’re wondering if Essaouira is worth the journey from Marrakech (read my Marrakech city guide here), I would say definitely.
Feel free to ask any further questions and I’d love if you shared this post on any of the below links!
Where to next?
If you are planning a longer trip around Morocco, then you might find some of my other blog posts on the country useful. I’ve written detailed guides to Rabat, Chefchaouen, Fes, spending 3 days in Marrakech, exploring the Sahara desert and enjoying a beach break in Taghazout and Paradise Valley. I’ve also written some more specific blog posts such as visiting La Mamounia in Marrakech as a day visitor, and visiting Le Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech. And of course, a guide to some of the best places to eat in Marrakech.
Disclaimer: This visit to Essaouira was entirely paid for by myself and there was no involvement from a hotel or a tourism board. This is an independent guide
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