Essaouira has long been know for its world famous Gnaoua music festival held in June each year , as well as perfect conditions for wind & water sports, it was named a world unesco sight in 2001. its a perfect overnight escape from the frantic pace of a city break to Marrakech.
Essaouira Essentials …
Essaouira is 2 1/2 hours by road from Marrakech, you can hire a grand taxi for approx 700 dhs or a cheaper option is grabbing a supratours coach from behind Marrakech’s railway station for a mere 70 dhs each way with up to 5 departures throughout the day.
A day trip to Essaouira is possible but with over 120 accommodation providers its worth staying the night, with a basic riad starting at only £25 pn as there’s something for everyone’s budget right up to an eye watering £250 a night for a suite at the best place in town, Heure Bleue, the only establishment in the medina’s with a rooftop pool.
Essaouira is famous for its fish, more specifically sardines, so whilst there are high end restaurants popping up over town, if your serious about food, keep it simple by heading down to the port or fish market in the middle of the medina, choose a fish and grab some spices from the souk then head to Karims cafe opposite the veg souk and he’ll prepare and grill your fish for a fee of around 5-10dhs per fish.
Even if your not a windsurfer or a Gnaoua music fan, there is still plenty to keep you occupied. The medina has its own souk, with a number of local artists/ craftsmen selling direct from their workshops or you can browse one of the galleries around Ben Yassine , Daamgaard is the largest and actively promotes local Essaouira talent.
Or take a stroll down to the port and dodge the seagulls dive bombing the fishermen for scraps as they unload the days catch, and for a modest 10dhs entry fee take a look through the round window at Skala du port ( steps of the port ) which a fortified tower that was used to defend the port from when Essaouira was a major trading port with great views back over the bay to the medina.
Want to know more ? Check out an excellent blog by Essaouira expert Lynn Sheppard a local resident and Fodors travel guide contributor on Essaouira, what she doesn’t know about Essaouira isn’t worth knowing.
Catch her on twitter @maroc_o_phile or via her website http://www.maroc-o-phile.com