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 us.
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Two Days in Essaouira
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.
The mild wind, the call of the muezzin, and men rushing to prayer.
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 fresh 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 home-made 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
The UNESCO 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 that 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 north tribe of the Arab Chiadma and the southern Berbers, the city shows an obscure character. Besides, a mass of Europeans add 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 Essaouira
In the heart of the Old Medina, in Essaouira, lies a hidden gem of relax, 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, simplicity 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 in 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 in the premises for three nights. The review is not biased in any way.
Is Essaouira in your travel plans?
Let me know in the comments below!
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About the Author
Hola! I’m Gabi. Welcome to The Tiny Book – Crete Travel Blog! I moved to Crete to explore the island all year round. I love taking pictures and driving on the mountain roads of Crete. I’m a beach freak and on this island I’ve found heaven on earth!