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The people of Essaouira have a love affair with the color blue. It can be seen on the residents’ doors, their windows and even their boats. This laid-back fishing town has stayed a well-kept secret by travellers and villagers alike until the annual Gnawa world music festival began drawing larger crowds to the city about ten years ago. Thankfully the city‘s new found popularity hasn’t changed the lifestyle. The fishermen can still be seen fixing their small fishing boats at the docks and selling their catch at the fisherman’s market. The old city (medina) still has its lazy cafes and the centuries-old streets look the same. The city does, however, have a new cosmopolitan energy thanks to a recent influx of predominantly European expats, but this has only added to its charm.

More: Exotic but Cozy at the New York Times

Click to enlarge:
Carpet lane   Medina     Kasbah   City Walls   Medina  



Castelo Real de Mogador

The fortress of Castello Real de Mogador was built by the Portuguese during the 16th century when the city was still known as Mogador. It later became an import anchor for pirates and Moroccans used the fortress in the 17th century to stop countless attacks from numerous European powers. The fortress still stands as it did centuries ago, canons intact. This place served as the backdrop for Orson Wells’ Othello, who fell in love with its imposing beauty. He would spend his later years in Essaouira, where a moment to him stands in the old city.

Medina (Old City)

Essaouira’s old city is very easy to get lost in, but perhaps that’s a good thing. The structures are whitewashed, with sky blue accents, making a promenade through the city almost dreamlike. The old city of Essaouira was built in the 18th century by Mohammed III, in order to open up Atlantic trade with Europe. Essaouira became a prosperous center for trade and many European powers established consulates which can be still be found in the medina. Today, many of the riads have been converted into luxurious boutique hotels.


Essaouira has an important fishing trade, whose main catch is sardines and sole. The docks are filled with hundreds of little blue fishing boats, and is always bustling with repairs, fishermen bringing in their catch and the ensuing trade with local merchants.

Goats in argan trees

On the way to Essaouira or any other city in the Deep South, be sure to keep an eye out for goats eating from argan trees. It is a unique, quirky and endearing scene that will give any long car ride a much needed second wind.

If travelling by car, you can ask the driver to stop and to take pictures. Many buses will also stop to let the passengers take pictures.

More: Liquid Gold at the New York Times


To do

Shop for wood carvings and local art

Essaouira has dozens of little shops selling the region’s traditional woodworks and many small art galleries selling colourful, locally-produced naive art. Visit the Thuja wood souk for some truly great finds.

Eat at the Fisherman's Market

Eat at the fisherman’s market where the catch of the day is fresh off the boat and grilled right in front of you.

Dance with the Gnaoua

Gnaoua music is a trance-like musical form brought to Morocco from Timbuctu in the 16th century. The music is fast paced and rhythmic, the dancing is furiousy energetic and infectious. An evening listening and dancing to gnaoua is an energizing and mesmerizing experience.


Essaouira’s beach front is windy, creating some of the best conditions in the world for windsurfing. Professional windsurfers from the world over come to Essaouira all year round.

Camel ride on the beach

Take a camel ride along Essaouira’s beaches and enjoy the scenery. The camel’s leisurely pace allows you to take in the various birds flocking around Mogador island, the wave formations on the Atlantic or the beautiful fortress walls lined with canons. If you find the camels to be too slow, however, you could always race quads on the beach.


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