How to Spend 1 Day in Essaouira
Whether you’re there on a day trip from Marrakech or enjoying a stopover along Morocco’s south coast, one day in Essaouira is just enough time to take in the highlights. Explore the UNESCO-listed medina, browse the souks, and take a camel ride along the beach. Here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in this port city.
Morning: The medina
A walking tour is the ideal way to discover Essaouira’s medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the heart of the historic city. Start with a visit to the old citadel, the Scala du Port—climb up to the ramparts for sweeping views of the coast. Continue into the medina, where the mazelike streets, palm-shaded plazas, and blue and white painted buildings make for impressive photos. Then, stop by the lively Moulay el Hassan square to enjoy a glass of Moroccan mint tea or a seafood lunch.
Afternoon: From the souks to the port
Essaouira’s souks stretch from the center of the medina all the way up to the northern gate of Bab Doukkala. Part of the charm is getting lost in the labyrinthine lanes, so give yourself plenty of time to wander around the tiny shops, markets, and workshops. This is the place to pick up traditional souvenirs, such as colorful handicrafts, exotic spices, and Moroccan argan oil. For a more personalized experience, shop with a private guide who can help you haggle for the best prices.
In the late afternoon, head over to the port to watch as the fishing boats return to shore with the day’s haul—it’s a memorable sight, so don’t forget your camera.
Night: Sunset sightseeing
A camel ride is a quintessential experience for visitors to Morocco. Set out on a scenic sunset ride along beaches, forest trails, and dunes, savoring the views along the coast.
Afterward, return to Essaouira Beach for a drink at one of the beachfront bars. Or, attend a performance of traditional Gnaoua music and dance. Essaouira is an important center of the art form, and hosts the annual Gnaoua World Music Festival.