Top 8 Things to Do in Morocco’s Essaouira

In our September/October issue, David Prior wrote of his adventures in the Moroccan town of Essaouira, referred to as the hipper little brother of Marrakech. Here, he shares his top travel tips for the charming walled city.

Essaouira Souk

The Moroccan port town of Essaouira is often the subject of those wonderfully conflicted conspiratorial whispers between bohemian travellers — the little pieces of advice told with a mixture of eagerness to share and wariness of spoiling. Many years before I visited, I often overheard skilled wanderers buzzing about Essaouira. While some chattered loudly about the latest designer riad or sprawling resort in ochre-hued Marrakech, others had fallen under the spell of the white-walled city. It’s not difficult to see why. Essaouira is unique, an otherworldly bohemian fortress at the edge of Africa.

1. Souk

Morocco is a collector’s dream cave and while the souk in Essaouira is smaller and slower-paced than most, authentic ceramics and the particularly special rugs made from recycled fabrics are there to be found. The souk is located in the middle of town.

Elizir Essaouira
2. Elizir

Moroccans rarely eat in restaurants, which means most are tourist traps. Not Elizir. Run by an Italian-Moroccan returned expat, this quirky spot is a visitor favourite as much for the ‘inventive’ food as the eccentric décor… and owner.
1 Rue de Agadir, (+212) 524 47 21 03.

3. Heure Bleue Palais

For those who tire of the close quarters of a riad, Heure Bleue Palais is a full service hotel that is, crucially, still behind the city’s walls. If the wind dies down, head immediately to its romantic rooftop pool.linebreak

Villa Maroc Essaouira

4. Villa Maroc

There are newer and flashier additions to the riad scene in Essaouira, but there is something effortless about the French-Moroccan surfer chic of Villa Maroc that makes it a perennial choice. Plus, its dining room is the best place to eat in town.

Essaouira fish markets
5. Fish market

Not for the faint-hearted, but seeing the prehistoric-looking haul at this extraordinary market is an essential Essaouira experience — as is eating at the grilling stations just outside. Visit at the end of the day and you’ll find a new appreciation for the wind. The fish market is at the end of the peninsula in town.
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concierge

6. Boutique Souk

Unobtrusive, cheerfully helpful and connected, the Boutique Souk concierge service will go out of its way to demystify not only Essaouira but the whole of Morocco.

Essaouira horse riding

7. Horse riding

I am not much for holiday camp-like activities but I’ll make an exception for riding horses on the windswept Moroccan coastline then pitching an authentic Berber tent in the dunes.

Essaouira ramparts

8. The Portuguese ramparts

There is barely a trace of Portuguese influence left in the city except for its dramatic ramparts, which now solely protect it from the violent Atlantic and provide a magical sunset viewing deck.

For the full travel story, see ‘Road to Morocco’ on page 185 of Vogue Living September/October 2013.

Words: David Prior
Photography: Pablo Zamora

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Comments
3 Responses to “Top 8 Things to Do in Morocco’s Essaouira”
  1. My Wandering Heart says:

    So gorgeous! Morocco is definitely on my “to-visit” list. These are some great ideas I’ll have to keep in mind!

  2. Essaouria is amazing. By far my favourite town in Morocco.

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