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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Top 5 things to do in Essaouira, Morocco

- CITY GUIDE -




A lot of people, even Moroccans themselves, will tell you that Essaouira is one of the most beautiful places in Morocco. Or in the world. I’ve had really high expectations before visiting it - and it was definitely worth it. I’m already thinking of how to make it a “layover” city of the next Moroccan trip.

This tiny city is an ancient port overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This means a lot of wind. And seagulls. Their melody follows you days after your trip, reminding you of this great city.



Given its size, a few days in Essaouira seem just perfect. Here are my top 5 things to do when you’re visiting.

1/ Head to the Fishing port



This is my absolute number one. Port of Essaouira has such an important role for the city and gives it a special character. It’s so picturesque and the seafood market is a spectacle in itself. Going there early enough makes you see the fishermen bringing in the catch of the day - and then selling it on spot. It can be noisy and messy and smelly and dirty - but this altogether gives it so much charm. My favorite thing to do is heading there in the lunch time, picking the fish of your choice from the little stallholders, and then bringing it around the corner to the open grill place - where you can have your own fish grilled on spot for a really mini price, served then with some yummy bread, mini salad and of course mint tea. The seats are often a bit improvised and it’s not as luxurious as some riad’s restaurants, but it’s just so authentic that it shouldn’t be missed!

2/ Feel some magic at Skala du port



Fortress walls around the city still enclose part of Essaouira. This makes for a stunning view from the airplane when landing or taking off! On the way back from the port, make sure to stop at the harbour scala. For a really small fee you can enter and enjoy the picturesque views over the fishing port and the Île de Mogador. I got carried away following all the seagulls with my eyes and could spend hours there!



3/ Get lost in the narrow streets of Medina

If you’re heading to Marrakesh, make the most of the Medina of Essaouira. You can take time and enjoy it calmly whereas the one in Marrakesh can be sometimes almost too busy and stressful. Get lost in the little streets negotiate with the local vendors and enjoy the colours and odours. A tip for a good buy - organ oil originates from the region of Essaouira. You can buy it in the Medina for a good price and be sure it is of good quality.

4/ Take a long walk to Bordj El Berod along the golden beach



Essaouira beach is timeless and seems to have no ending. The waves come on the shore so smoothly and peacefully! Take your shoes off and head to a ruined watchtower Bordj El Berod, an hour long walk from the Medina of Essaouira (one way!). On the way get amazed by all the kitesurfers, meet numerous camels and just enjoy the wind in your hair. A tip - head there an hour and a half before the sunset and have stunning view on the way back, seeing the sky turn orange with the seagulls cries along the way. Want to speed it up or make it more dynamic? Have a chat with one of the quad guys on the beach. We negotiated a half an hour tour - just enough to have a bit of fun before heading back to the city.



5/ Enjoy your mint tea on the Moulay Hassan square
We often call it the “Casa Vera” square thanks to the iconic Casa Vera building overlooking the port of Essaouira. Sit in one of the cafés on this main square and order mint tea. Enjoy it while street watching people passing by. Tourists, the locals, children. So much life!






KEY PRACTICAL INFO

Where to stay
Madada Mogador is an amazing place to stay when in Essaouira. Waking up in the morning to the sound of seagulls, enjoying breakfast with the view over the Ocean but above all feeling like a friend and not simply a guest - this makes you never want to leave this place.

MADADA MOGADOR (read an article here)
7, Rue Youssef El Fassi, Essaouira
http://www.madada.com/
+212 5244-72106


Getting There
Essaouira has it’s own small airport with lots of international flights, including lowcost companies. Alternatively, fly to Marrakech and get a bus or taxi to Essaouira. The drive takes around 2 hrs 45 minutes.

Oh, and if you're wondering how to pronounce the name of this magical place like the locals do, just say ‘Swera'.


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