Essaouira – UNESCO World Heritage Site

(10 Hours)


The medina

Leave the hustle and bustle of Marrakech behind for a day trip to the bohemian laid back port of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast with its distinctive white chalk houses with blue framed windows.  Essaouira is a 2.5 hour drive from Marrakech so an early start around 8am is required.

Our recommendation for the day is to take it easy – stroll around, have a relaxing lunch, take some photographs and generally soak up the atmosphere of this unique town.  The town is compact and easy to find your way around so a guide is not required.

Essaouira’s history is of a working port which it still is today.  The Romans traded the purple dye here used to stain imperial togas and the Portuguese gold, ivory, salves and spices. Nowadays it is dominated by fishing with its distinctive and much photographed blue boats.  The medina, with its brooding battlements protecting it from the crashing Atlantic waves, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001.

Essaouira is one of the most beautiful towns in Morocco – more laid back than other towns and cities it has for a long while been a magnet for artists, travellers and Moroccans escaping the hurried pace of life.  Whilst it also attracts many tourists the town remains remarkably unaffected and the locals go about their business as they have for centuries.

The port with its blue fishing boats

The battlements protecting the town from the Atlantic

The town is known for its artisan industries and the medina is a wonderful place to ramble around browsing for arts, crafts and jewellery.  In the carpenters souk craftsmen can be seen carving intricate trinkets and furniture out of thuya and cedar wood, wares to be sold all over Morocco and abroad. Argan oil is produced locally and exported widely for everything from salad dressings to cosmetics.

Ramble around the medina, explore the battlements and watch the days catch being landed in the port, nets being mended and wooden boats being built.  Eat a relaxed lunch of fresh fish from one of the many stalls or one of the many restaurants.

Due to its winds and crashing waves Essaouira does not attract sun seekers however the expansive beach to the south is a world centre for wind and kite surfers and a fabulous place to walk, ride horses, quad bike or take a camel trek. Visit an argan oil co-operative – see how the oil is produced and taste it with local produce.

And on your return journey you may even see goats in the trees snacking on the argan nuts.

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Camel trekking on the beach