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Essaouira has been a muse to many. This unassuming town on Morocco’s Atlantic coast is where Orson Welles shot his version of Othello in the 1950s, Ridley Scott filmed the Kingdom of Heaven over a decade ago, and, more recently still, it provided a suitably enchanting backdrop for scenes in season three of Game of Thrones.

The town’s enduring appeal can be traced back to its melting-pot mixture of Arab, African, and European influences. Chic hotels sit alongside traditional riads, boutique gift shops next to sprawling souks, and carefully-curated art galleries by kerbside craft stalls. It all centres around a bohemian blue-and-white medina that’s strikingly gift-wrapped in huge stone fortifications.

Movie set magic

The beautiful city of Essaouira is well known as a surfers’ paradise.The year-round Atlantic trade winds, or vents alizés provide the perfect conditions for anyone brandishing a board, a boat, or a kite. Essaouira is not really the destination for a lazy beach holiday but more for those who love to soak up the rich history and culture of the city, exploring the town and wandering through its many art galleries and boutiques. Travel out to the countryside that surrounds the city and you’ll find lush-green forests and rocky ravines full of eucalyptus, mimosa and juniper. Here, you can spend a day experiencing traditional Berber village life, enjoy a glass of famous Moroccan mint tea and keep watch for the goats that hide up in the trees.

Why not consider a multi-centre stay, travelling between Morocco and Essaouira and include a visit to the awe-inspiring Atlas Mountains? Whatever you’re looking for, call our Destination Specialists who can help you to create the perfect tailor made Essaouira holiday.

Destination Highlights

  • Enjoy the great atmosphere at Essaouira Port and see Essaouira’s traditional blue fishing boats arriving and departing with the catch of the day
  • The Skala du Port offers picturesque views over the ocean out to Ile de Mogador and across Essaouira's sandy coastline
  • Explore Essaouira Medina, a Unesco World Heritage site boasting narrow streets, souqs and street vendors
  • Known as the 'wind city of Africa', Essaouira is an ideal spot for keen kitesurfers.

Explore Essaouira

Time Zone

GMT +2 hours

Flight Time

Approx. three hours and 30 minutes

Currency

Moroccan dirham (MAD)

Visa Information

British citizens aren’t required to obtain a visa to travel to Morocco

Language

Arabic, but English is widely spoken

Health Info

No special vaccines are required or recommended for travel to Morocco

Valerie, Destination Specialist

"“L'Heure Bleue Hotel has a rooftop pool which allows you to take an afternoon dip after a morning of exploring, or sit and admire the sunset with an early evening cocktail, looking out across the long sandy beaches of Essaouira."

Valerie
Destination Specialist
Lucy, Destination Specialist

"There are plenty of beach style restaurants and cafes dotted along Essaouira's sandy coastline. They're worth a visit, where you can sit and enjoy watching kite-surfers glide across the waves, whilst having lunch with a delicious glass of wine."

Lucy
Destination Specialist

Events & Festivals

Essaouira' reputation for music is well known and is the ideal destination for peple passionate about jazz or more contemporary genres.

Gnaoua world music festival

Gnaoua Festival is an eclectic music, arts and culture festival held annually, at the end of June. Extending beyond traditional local rhythms to include contemporary funk, blues, jazz and soul both from Africa and from further afield, Gnaoua world music festival transforms Essaouira into a musical, artistic and cultural hub over the course of four days.

Local Cuisine

Moroccan cuisine is typically a mix of Berber, Arabic, Andalusian, and Mediterranean cuisines with slight European and sub-Saharan influences. Fish is very popular here, delivered fresh from Essaouira's port.
Lamb is also a staple ingredient, as are dishes abound with subtle spices and intriguing ingredients such as dates and apricots. Here are a few of our favourite local dishes to try:

Zaalouk

Zaalouk is a common side dish and typically served with crusty bread. It’s a spread made with eggplants, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and spices.

Fish Chermoula

Chermoula is a mix of herbs and spices used when grilling or baking fish and seafood. Depending on the mix, you’ll get flavours of onion, coriander, chilli peppers, or saffron. Often times you’ll see it as a dipping sauce too!

Spicy Sardines

Morocco is the world’s largest exporter of sardines. Naturally, they also serve it all over the country. Stuffed and cooked with a spicy chermoula sauce, they deep fry the fish for a tasty snack.

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