Essaouira, also known as the ‘Windy City of Africa’, is a charming seaside town in the western part of Morocco. It has something for everyone, from its bustling medina (old town) to its pristine beaches, water sports, vibrant arts scene and restaurants serving the best grilled sardines you’ve ever tasted! And if that isn’t enough, imagine exploring the very same locations featured in the iconic television series Game of Thrones. Here are the six best things to do in Essaouira, Morocco, to make the most of your visit.
- EXPLORE THE MEDINA OF ESSAOUIRA
- EXPLORE ESSAOUIRA’S SUNDAY FLEA MARKET, JOUTIYA
- ENJOY ESSAOUIRA’S WINDSWEPT BEACH
- GO HORSE RIDING OR QUAD BIKING IN DIABAT
- INDULGE IN THE RICH FLAVOURS OF MOROCCAN CUISINE
- IMMERSE IN ESSAOUIRA’S CULTURAL FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
EXPLORE THE MEDINA OF ESSAOUIRA
Medina of Essaouira
Wander through the UNESCO-listed Medina of Essaouira. You’ll stumble upon hidden gems at every turn. Whether it’s a photogenic courtyard, quaint café serving delectable mint tea, intricate doorways or white-washed and blue-shuttered houses, you’ll definitely be captivated.
Skala de la Ville
Visit the Skala de la Ville (featured in Game of Thrones), a spectacular 18th-century seafront fortress with breathtaking views of the harbour and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the best sunset-watching spot in Essaouira.
The fortress, with its row of 19 bronze cannons, was originally constructed as a stronghold to protect the town from invaders.
Marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the Bab Marrakech, one of the main gates of the medina. From here, you can easily access the majority of Essaouira’s tourist attractions.
Explore the souks (markets), such as the bustling Souk Jdid in the very heart of the medina and Had Draa Souq (Sunday Market) just outside the medina walls of Essaouira.
Lose yourself amongst the vibrant stalls overflowing with spices, fragrant herbs, fresh produce, handicrafts and more.
Place Moulay Hassan
Visit Place Moulay Hassan, located between the port and the entrance to Essaouira’s medina. The square is a well-known meeting point for tourists, locals and street performers.
Explore the stalls and shops brimming with souvenirs, handicrafts and trinkets. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and indulge in mouth-watering delights at one of the many restaurants and cafes.
Skala du Port
Step into the impressive, fortified area of Skala du Port guarding the entrance to Essaouira’s bustling harbour. Catch a glimpse of the photogenic Bastion Nord (featured in Game of Thrones).
Discover hidden gems, such as the Mellah – the Jewish Quarter – where you can visit the Synagogue Slat Lkahal and learn about the Jewish history of the region.
Essaouira’s fishing port
Visit Essaouira’s old fishing port. Wander along the bustling harbour to witness fishermen unloading their daily catch and repairing their nets.
Enjoy the iconic sight of the blue wooden fishing boats. It’s also worth exploring the fish auction held in the market hall outside the gates of Essaouira’s port.
EXPLORE ESSAOUIRA’S SUNDAY FLEA MARKET, JOUTIYA
Venture to Essaouira’s industrial quarter to experience the vibrant Joutiya flea market.
Locals sell an eclectic mix of items here, ranging from vintage radios and antique treasures to heavy wooden doors and furniture. You never know what you may find among a jumble of clutter. This place is a must-see if only for its authentic local feel.
ENJOY ESSAOUIRA’S WINDSWEPT BEACH
Take a leisurely stroll along Essaouira’s windswept sandy beach. Enjoy a breathtaking sunset over the shore and witness surfers catching the perfect wave.
I wouldn’t recommend sunbathing and swimming due to strong winds and dangerous currents.
During low tide, you can explore the coastline and visit the old fort of Borj El Barod and the dilapidated Sultan’s Palace at Diabat.
GO HORSE RIDING OR QUAD BIKING IN DIABAT
Feel the thrill of galloping on horseback along the scenic coastline or speeding through off-road trails on a quad. There’s no better way to explore the natural beauty of the area.
INDULGE IN THE RICH FLAVOURS OF MOROCCAN CUISINE
Essaouira’s culinary scene is a tantalising fusion of Moroccan, Berber and international influences. From fragrant spices to fresh seafood, the town’s cuisine is a celebration of its rich history and cultural diversity.
Treat yourself to a delectable seafood feast featuring mouth-watering grilled sardines, succulent shrimp and oysters and flavourful fish tagines.
IMMERSE IN ESSAOUIRA’S CULTURAL FESTIVALS AND EVENTS
Essaouira is a hub of cultural events, particularly for music lovers. Delight in the enchanting sub-Saharan rhythms at the renowned Gnaoua World Music Festival (late June), experience the unique blend of electronica and Gnaoua music at the MOGA Festival (October), be moved by soul-stirring flamenco performances at the Festival des Andalousies Atlantiques (October) or enjoy classical music at the Printemps Musical Des Alizés (April).
If you have any other ideas or recommendations for things to do in Essaouira, feel free to share them in the comments section below. For more travel inspiration and tips about Morocco, be sure to check out my other articles: