The beautiful seaside city of Essaouira is one of the most visited destinations in Morocco. It was our first stop when touring the country and one of the places we enjoyed the most. Check the thing you can do in the city, visit the Port, the Medina… and sleep in a wonderful riad. Discover Essaouira with me.
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Last-minute plans for Essaouira? Check these hotels
We stayed at the beautiful Riad Baladin I’ve included a review at the bottom of this article. You can also check the place here.
Budget hotel in Essaouira: If you want to stay close to the sea, check the comfy Riad Saltana, offering pretty rooms and a convenient shuttle service to Marrakech airport.
Mid-range accommodation: Riad Lyon-Mogador is another beautiful traditional place to stay in Essaouira, check prices and pictures at this link.
Splurge in Essaouira: Upgrade your stay by booking a room at Riad Chbanate, one of the finest riads in the city. Read reviews here.
Visit the city with an organized tour
Want to organize your own tours? This travel guide will be of utmost help!
How to Spend Two Days in Essaouira
Check these ideas to spend two wonderful days in Essaouira, Morocco.
From Marrakech to Essaouira
We land in Marrakech when it’s a little past dawn. It doesn’t look like Winter. It’s hot, humid and everything is brownish orange. The roads, the taxis, the buildings.
Everything is wrapped inside a brick-colored atmosphere, boasting touches of green here and there. A quick negotiation, half in French, half in English gets us on a taxi to reach Essaouira.
Three hours inside an uncomfortable taxi. A tiring, long trip, across a rather monotonous landscape.
I doze off, opening my eyes from time to time during the ride. All I discover is a yellowish desert view. Old donkey carts, forgotten shops, lose cattle. And mosques. Mosques in the middle of nowhere.
Roundabouts with signs indicate Essaouira, the former Mogador, is not that far after all. Left at the door of the Medina, a luggage cart shows us the way to Paradise. An intricate game of alleys we walk down slowly to reach our destination, the superb Riad Baladin (Check the review at the end of the post).
Our riad, near the inner walls of the old Medina, is a little oasis of charm in the middle of chaos. Streets dotted with shops selling wood sculptures, colorful carpets, and dozens of memories. Children ride bikes in a wild manner, announcing with their bell it’s better if you move away.
Essaouira is a young yet old city, an exotic town where time does not count and where color takes over. Everything is joyfully colorful in its own way: shops are, people are, food as well.
Streets are crowded, smell like freshly cooked fish. Getting lost in those paths of wonder can only bring alluring surprises. Women cooking tasty tajines open their own kitchens to the public. A few plastic seats and wooden little tables and you have a restaurant. It’s easy and simple to get a delicious homemade dish with a teapot of mint tea for two.
Breathing the real local breeze and for an insignificant price. You just settle… You settle for no napkins, doubtful cleaning conditions, but the best tajine. Cooked in a Moroccan kitchen and with that homely taste no restaurant has among its condiments.
Visit the Medina of Essaouira
UNESCO has listed the Medina of Essaouira as a World Heritage Site in Morocco in 2001. It is a well-preserved example of eighteenth-century architecture.
Cobbled streets and concealed alleys look perfect for a mystery novel. White buildings and their traditional blue doors offer an insight into a glorious past.
Walk down the little streets under the sunlight, enjoy a cup of mint tea, relax on a terrace. Breathe in the past, walk through its doors, in and out. You will be entering and leaving a different world each time.
Check the Port of Essaouira
A legend tells the Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah founded the port of Essaouira to punish the rebellions in Agadir. It was 1770.
Until the first part of the XIX century, Essaouira was the most important trading port between Europe, Africa and America. It is the oldest port of Morocco but lost its importance after the growth of Casablanca and Agadir.
Also known as the port of Timbuktu, an early visit in the morning gives you a full sense of how busy it is. It links Morocco and the Saharan hinterland with the rest of the world.
Fishing boats arrive in the morning and the area gets alive with shouting and a strong smell of the sea. The port is an essential part of the city.
Later in the day, the catch of the day is found in many restaurants and seaside fish stands. Just choose your fresh fish, get it weighed, and enjoy it grilled right on the spot.
The People of Essaouira
Essaouira has a character of its own; a crossroads for the northern tribe of the Arab Chiadma and the southern Berbers, the city shows an obscure character. Besides, a mass of Europeans adds to the sense of cultural mix.
Yet, even inside a mystic atmosphere, it is a city of light. The light that reaches the Medina from the port and lightens the faces of its inhabitants. Beauty has a definition of its own.
Artists, painters, dancers, and musicians populate the streets at all hours. They mix with the tourists, with a reggae spirit. A hippie allure covers it all, life earns a new sense. And you get the impression of living in a parallel Universe.
Nobody will harass you, you will not be asked to buy, nor begged to bargain. It’s your choice. Essaouira has a lazy touch that would make you feel well. At home.
Where to Stay
In the heart of the Old Medina, in Essaouira, lies a hidden gem of relaxation, pleasure and enchantment. We were lucky enough to spend a few days in this oasis… and we left longing for more. Read everything about our stay in Riad Baladin.
Nicole, with her incredible energy, opens you the door to this paradise. A wonderful host arrived in Essaouira from colder Switzerland. And she knows her job well. Everything is made easy, a couple of bottles of water, detailed explanations about the city, knowledgeable advice, extra quick registering ways. Five minutes later, you just have to enjoy.
Going farther than expected, she will make you feel at home, surrounded by an elegant as well as charming interior design. This riad, (which originally means garden), is outlined from three houses opened together. The perfect place to rest from the long hours spent visiting the city.
Open-air corridors bring the remains of the sea breeze to freshen up the spaces. Lights and shadows chase each other during the day playing games on the white walls of the house.
The rooms, all of them unique, have personal touches that make you feel special. Sleepers, fresh roses, teabags. Everything is thought to accommodate whatever you might need. Every little detail is there: where it has to be. It has been carefully decided and the result is simply unique.
|You can read reviews, check pictures, compare prices, and book your stay in this link.|
Beds and sofas are comfortable and cozy. The whites of the cushions and the blankets contrast the traditional reputation of the Berber decoration, colorful and with arabesques. Here, all that’s simple rules. Simple lines, natural colors. Wood, leather, scented flowers, natural carpets, inviting covers. And a few palm trees to bring nature inside.
Silence is natural too. There is no way you cannot feel inspired to sit, close your eyes and lower the pace of life that came inside your baggage. Routine vanishes, problems fade away. You are at the Baladin, the senses dance to the rhythm of their own music. They are happy, cuddled and this feast is not only for adults.
Children are welcomed, treated with extra care, and stimulated for talk and discovery. A sculpture might open a debate on Buddhism, on Argan oil processing, on the water in the desert.
Books in every language populate the shelves of the walls. Not only in the common areas, but also in your room.
Everyone can find his own cup of tea. And looking for it is made easy. At night the air fills with the dimmed lights of gracious Berber lamps and shimmering scented candles.
A sweet fragrance invades your spirit as you get ready to go to bed. If you still feel the need for more, you can have more.
They will get a jacuzzi ready for you in the open patio. Wait until ten and let yourself go in a comfortable round tub, with soft colored lights and more candles. A romantic way to end the day or a fun experience for the family.
In the morning, when the first sun rays kiss the white walls of the house, step on the white stairs and head to the rooftop. Enjoy a delicious breakfast comfortably sitting on the terrace.
The fresh air, the inviting smell of hot coffee, all is ready, waiting for you. A well-assorted choice of pastries, local jam, and teas to begin the day in full sweetness. But it’s not over, you can have eggs, cheese, and fresh-baked bread.
All these while you enjoy the sound of the sea waves, as the sun starts to heat the morning of the Medina. Everything is ready to greet the day, the muezzin call to the prayer arrives distant and exotic. Get ready for a day in full harmony with yourself.
Our family was kindly received and dearly cared for. And we were happy to see it was the same with all the guests. Everyone is special at the Baladin. The first stop of our Moroccan trip was a great beginning.
We started so well it was hard to leave. I cannot suggest this place more warmly. For a romantic stay, it would be perfect. For rest with the family, it was paradise.
Riad Baladin is in Rue Sidi Magdoul 9 – 44000 Essaouira, Morocco. Phone: +212 (0)6 424 481 36. We were hosted on the premises for three nights. The review is not biased in any way.
Are you visiting Essaouira soon?
Let me know in the comments below!
Travel Plans for Morocco?
More Resources to Organize Your Trip!
Start by heading right to my One Week in Morocco Guide for in-depth details you need to know about the country and what cities are worth a visit. You can also check my post to one week in Agadir for another great spot to visit not far from Essaouira!
I also invite you to get in touch if you need extra help to plan your trip!
Make Sure You’ve Got Everything You Need For a Hassle-Free Vacation!
I always pack y stuff inside my Osprey backpack, a sturdy but light travel partner I just love. For short trips, I carry this crossbody bag. If I drive, I pack my Nikon D7200 and a good travel guide, I recommend Lonely Planet’s Morocco.
When it comes to plane tickets, compare prices with a powerful search engine. For accommodation, I use Booking.com.
Traveling to remote places is easier with Discover Cars. Other times, I join organized tours with GetYourGuide, which features anything from cooking lessons to airport transfer!
Pin it! Best Things to Do in Essaouira in Two Days!
About the author of this blog:
Gabi has been living in Crete for the last five years. Here, she juggles being a solo mom, hosting culinary tours in the summer, translating, and writing for The Tiny Book and her other blogs.
She’s written for Greek Reporter, published three travel guides about Greece, and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person would be able to handle.