Essaouira, also known by its ancient name, Mogador, is a city in Western Morocco on the Atlantic coast with a population of about 80,000.
Many cultures left their mark on the cityscape here, but the city’s layout was transformed in the eighteenth century to what we see today: streets in a grid layout instead of a maze-like medina and large defensive walls.
Essaouira has several notable sites and a charming atmosphere, making it a city of interest for either a visit or a multi-day stay.
Starting with its medina, whitewashed with blue windows and doors, where you can walk without fear of getting lost thanks to its neat layout. Or Moulay Hassan Square, full of restaurants and cafés, the perfect place to eat or have a mint tea and do some people watching.
The ocean colors everything here, from the architecture to what people enjoy doing, including the Sqala de la Kasbah, a platform overlooking the sea with an array of European canyons overlooking its extensive, fine sand beach, a favorite of families and surfers.
But without a doubt the most iconic and lively place is its fishing port, which also has ancient protective walls. There you can buy fish in one of its stalls and have it grilled on the spot, then savor its freshness while enjoying the seaside view with its hundreds of colorful boats.
Its climate is mild all year round. Even in summer, the heat is tempered by the sea breeze.
Therefore, you can travel to Essaouira any time of the year in light clothing (you might need a light jacket for the cool winter nights). In the winter, there’s also a chance it’ll rain (about 10%), so it’s a good idea to carry a small umbrella if you travel at that time.
Although Essaouira has its own airport on the outskirts, we recommend flying into Marrakech because it has a greater number and variety of daily flights and is located just under 200 kilometers (125 miles) away from Essaouira.
Once you arrive in Marrakech the most comfortable thing is to take a taxi, with an average price of 800 dirhams. If you are looking for a more affordable option, you can opt for the shuttle buses that go from Marrakech airport to the city, and once there take the one that goes to Essaouira, with a total cost per person of approximately 100 dirhams.
It’s easy to drive to Essaouira from the North, East or South: from the East via the road from Marrakech, from the North via the Atlantic coast route (the nearest town is Safi). In either case, the road is a major highway and only takes about two and a half hours.
Another option is to arrive from the South from Agadir, although in this case it is a basic road and it would take approximately 3 and a half hours.
Essaouira does not have a train station, although the nearby towns of Safi and Marrakech do. From these two points Essaouira can be accessed by motorway, as described in the previous point.
The train company is the ONCF. You can check the timetables and prices on the website and, although you can book online, only Moroccan credit cards are accepted.