Set out from Marrakech to Essaouira on a full-day trip to a medieval city on the Atlantic Sea. Stroll past the cannons on the city ramparts and watch yachts and fishing boats navigate a bustling port. Follow narrow lanes and back alleys into the UNESCO-recognized medina, explore a once-thriving Jewish neighborhood and meet skilled local woodcarvers; linger on the city’s broad sandy beaches and take in the sound of gnawa music in the vibrant cafés of Moulay El Hassan square.
Essaouira is situated 175km away from Marrakech. Essaouira’s beach is a long ribbon of around 10 kilometers bathed in surf. There is an invigorating sensation from the ocean breeze as soon as you set foot on the immaculate sand. Essaouira is a medieval city known for its annual festival of Gnaoua music and UNESCO considers the city to be an international heritage site. There are many other things to admire when visiting Essaouira such as its pleasant weather, place Moulay El Hassan, La Skala, the port, the ramparts, and the Jewish district Derb Lealouj.
At the end of the morning, don’t miss the colorful and lively spectacle of the return of the boats to the port, with their baskets full of fish. Grant yourself a rare pleasure; try the grilled sardines or taste a small lobster in the port. Their freshness is incomparable and the atmosphere forever engraved in your memory. Then, return to town through the Bab El Marsa gate.
The Sqala of the Kasbash, the artillery platform on the ramparts, offers from its north bastion an incomparable view across the medina, over the port’s Sqala and out over the ocean. Leave the old European canons and walk towards the casemates that lead to the street. Some of the kingdom’s most famous marquetry craftsmen and cabinet makers have founded their workshops there. They work on the wood of the sandarac tree and are deserving of your visit; their work is of a rare intricacy. You will easily find the object that will eternally symbolise Essaouira, once you return home. In the Moulay El Hassan square, you can enjoy the numerous and lively café terraces and restaurants.
The Gnaoua, descendents of African slaves, practice trance and faith healing whilst playing a syncopated music accompanied by singing and dancing. Essaouira has been host for over ten years to a very popular festival, which takes place at the start of summer, and which promotes Gnaoua music whilst giving a wide opening to world music, jazz and blues.
“Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta Dismiss