Essaouira | Practical Guide to Plan Your Stay

Whether you’re a history and culture enthusiast, a lover of water sports, or simply seeking relaxation on sandy beaches, Essaouira has something to captivate you.

In this practical guide, we provide you with all the necessary information to plan your trip and make the most of your visit to Essaouira.

Entrance to the old town of Essaouira
Entrance to the old town of Essaouira
Excited to explore Essaouira?

Let us craft your tailor-made journey for an unforgettable experience, perfectly tailored to your expectations and budget.

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Essaouira, in a few words

Commonly known as the “city of wind“, the “city of trade winds“, or even the “Moroccan Saint-Malo“, Essaouira is a coastal port city situated on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. It is located 173 km north of Agadir, 174 km west of Marrakech, and 406 km southwest of Casablanca.

In 1506, the Portuguese constructed a fortress called Castelo Real, along with walls. However, due to the local population’s resistance, these structures were swiftly abandoned.

In 1760, Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah, also known as Mohammed III, entrusted the city’s construction to several renowned architects. To create a fortified port capable of rivaling the European powers of the time, he appointed the French architect Théodore Cornut to design the city’s layout. Its original name, “Mogador,” was transformed into Essaouira, meaning “well-designed” in Berber.

View of Mogador Island from Essaouira Beach.
View of Mogador Island from Essaouira Beach

To encourage the development of Essaouira and consolidate trade from the south to this city, the port of Agadir was closed in 1767. Sovereign Mohammed III directed all Europeans residing in other cities to relocate to Essaouira, which became the diplomatic capital of the country.

In 1807, the kasbah of Essaouira became overcrowded. As a solution, Moulay Slimane ordered the relocation of the Jewish community to a mellah. This new area soon became a hub for merchants, artisans, jewelers, and peddlers, with the Jewish population outnumbering the Muslim population until the early 19th century.

France bombarded the city on August 15, 1844, during the Franco-Moroccan War. Consequently, the city entered a phase of decline, which continued with the establishment of the French protectorate of Morocco in 1912 and the inability of the port of Essaouira to accommodate large, modern ships with a significant draft. In 1967, following the Six-Day War, the Jewish community departed the city and relocated to Israel, causing a substantial decrease in population.

However, Essaouira has undergone a remarkable renaissance since the early 1990s, thanks to tourism and its cultural calling. In 2001, the Essaouira Medina was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, solidifying its significance.

Skala of the Medina of Essaouira
Skala of the Medina of Essaouira

How to get to Essaouira?

Depending on your starting point, there are multiple ways to reach Essaouira.

Located 15 kilometers from the city center, Essaouira Airport (Essaouira-Mogador) is served by various airlines, including Royal Air Maroc, Transavia, Ryanair, and Easyjet. It offers flights from Marrakech, Casablanca, Paris, Madrid, and London.

➜ Ryanair offers direct flights from Brussels Charleroi to Essaouira, with an average flight duration of 3 hours and 43 minutes.

Fly directly from Brussels Charleroi to Essaouira with Ryanair.
Fly directly from Brussels Charleroi to Essaouira with Ryanair.

If the flights to Essaouira aren’t suitable, you also have the option of landing at another airport, such as Marrakech or Agadir, and then reaching Essaouira by road, either by bus, taxi, or car.

Two main bus companies in the country, Supratours and CTM, provide service from Agadir (3h), Marrakech (2h30), and Safi (2h30) to Essaouira. Ticket prices vary based on departure time and bus category, with an average cost of €10 per person.

In Morocco, there are two categories of taxis: collective taxis (or grand taxis) and private taxis. These can be easily recognized by their color codes (yellow in Marrakech, blue in Essaouira and Rabat, and red in Casablanca, Agadir, and Fes). Grand taxis connect cities and depart when the vehicle is full. The fare for the journey needs to be negotiated with the driver. Additionally, many companies offer taxis with private chauffeurs, with a fixed fare per trip rather than per person. The cost of a trip from Marrakech to Essaouira is around €70, and for a trip from Agadir to Essaouira, it is approximately €90.

While international car rental companies may not be available in Essaouira, there are independent rental agencies to rely on or the option to rent a car directly from Marrakech, for instance. For a small vehicle, the daily rate is around €20, while for a Dacia Duster or Dacia Lodgy (7-seater), the price ranges from €35 to €50 per day.

How can one navigate around Essaouira?

Taxis are readily available upon request from Essaouira Airport. The journey to downtown takes around 20 minutes, with a recommended fare of 150 Dhs (13€).

Once in Essaouira, getting around on foot in the medina and city center is convenient. However, a taxi or rental car will be necessary to explore the surrounding areas or reach the more remote beaches.

➜ The condition of the roads is generally good, and radar controls are highly prevalent. Don’t be surprised if you come across two radars within a 50-kilometer distance! Additionally, there are police checkpoints at the entrances and exits of the city, with the possibility of document verification.

When is the best time to visit Essaouira?

Essaouira is strongly influenced by the cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, resulting in a mild semi-arid climate. The city is situated along the Canaries’ current and trade winds and experiences pleasant, temperate weather.

Thanks to a constant breeze, average temperatures range from 18°C in January to 22°C in July, seldom exceeding 30°C. The water temperature, on the other hand, fluctuates between 17°C and 21°C.

Summers are hot and dry, yet tempered by the nearby sea, while winters are mild with occasional rainfall. The rainy season spans from October to April, while the dry season prevails from May to September.

For enthusiasts of action water sports, the months from May to September come highly recommended. During this period, the winds are particularly favorable for kiteboarding, surfing, and windsurfing.

Kitesurfing on the beach of Essaouira.
Kitesurfing on the beach of Essaouira.

Where to stay in Essaouira?

Opting for accommodation in the Medina is preferable for a short stay or exploring the city’s main tourist attractions. However, for a longer stay or engaging in water sports, staying at a beachfront location or in one of the charming villages surrounding Essaouira would be a perfect choice.

The Medina and the authentic Riads

In the Medina, the Kasbah and Chbanat neighborhoods are bustling with charming boutique hotels and traditional riads. These establishments are run as guesthouses, offering individual room reservations or seasonal rentals where guests can book the entire riad, with or without staff. Hidden from prying eyes behind tall wooden doors and modest facades, the different living spaces of a riad are arranged around a central courtyard, spanning two or three levels, often crowned by a rooftop terrace.

Choosing to stay in a riad means opting for a central location, right in the buzzing heart of the medina (sometimes noisy). While this type of lodging boasts traditional furnishings and warm, authentic decor, it’s important to note that green spaces are limited, and pools are generally absent (although some riads do feature small rooftop swimming pools or jacuzzis). Additionally, it’s worth remembering that the medina’s streets are not accessible by car. Keep these factors in mind as you pack your bags 😅

Regarding budget, the price range for a night in a riad varies from €45 to €90, depending on the comfort level and the season. However, it’s also possible to find a bed in a youth hostel for less than €20, such as the trendy Hostel La Smala, where the rooftop offers a magnificent view of the city’s ramparts!

In our “top picks” list ❤️

  • Dar al fan, a true haven of peace that offers three private bedrooms
  • Dar Zouina, a beautiful riad with 4 bedrooms located in a quiet alley of the medina
  • Mama Lova Essaouira, an elegantly designed boutique hotel featuring a superb rooftop terrace
  • Hostel La Smala, an ultra-trendy youth hostel that provides dormitory beds and private double rooms

➜ Special mention goes to the Palais Heure Bleue, where the terrace, adorned with a heated pool, offers a 360° panorama of the medina, the sea, and the surroundings. While a night’s stay at this luxurious Relais & Châteaux may not suit all budgets, one can still enjoy a meal, drink on the terrace, or reserve a spa treatment.

The Corniche, along the beachfront

Lined with luxurious hotels and upscale residences, Essaouira’s waterfront is a sought-after neighborhood with modern accommodations and a continental ambiance. Despite its long stretch of sandy beach, Essaouira is not your typical seaside resort, as strong winds and waves make swimming less enjoyable. Therefore, this place is best suited for water sports enthusiasts.

Essaouira Beach
Essaouira Beach

The area lacks notable appeal besides the main beach (Tagharte). However, it does offer some lovely beachfront cafes and restaurants, all within a 20-minute walk from the medina.

Océan Vagabond, Essaouira
Océan Vagabond, a beachside restaurant located in Essaouira.

Regarding budget, the most luxurious hotels are located on the beachfront, while the residential area offers more affordable tourist rentals.

➜ Looking for the best places to eat in and around Essaouira? Discover practical information and our favorite addresses in the article “Essaouira | Where to dine in the City of Wind?

In the countryside, outside of Essaouira

When venturing inland, the winds become gentler and the temperatures warmer. Opting for accommodation in Essaouira’s surrounding countryside is the perfect choice for a leisurely stay.

Simply follow the P2201 trail, the R301 road, or the N1 highway, and you’ll stumble upon numerous villas with pools. These accommodations, available for rent by the room or in their entirety through platforms like Airbnb or Booking, are nestled within lush oases alongside expansive hotel resorts.

A few discoveries ❤️

  • Le Jardin des Douars, for its simultaneously exotic and sumptuous setting
  • Maison Flamingo, for its beautiful 5-bedroom villa and the newly opened adjacent boutique hotel with 8 rooms
  • Villa Baboucha, and its six ethno-chic-styled rooms
  • Dar Koum, for the serene ambiance of its four beautiful rooms
  • Baberrih, for its exceptional location on the stunning Tissa beach
  • Villa Arkane, for the luxury and spaciousness of a 6-bedroom architectural masterpiece
  • Dar Mandarine, to experience the allure of a genuine 4-bedroom Beldi house’s charm
  • Maison Bohème, with its five bedrooms nestled amidst olive and argan trees
  • Casa Hadid, for the splendid view and enchanting allure of this exquisite traditional 4-bedroom house

Sidi Kaouki

Located 25 kilometers south of Essaouira, the quaint village of Sidi Kaouki presents a local and less touristy alternative. Here, you can find reasonably priced seaside accommodations to suit any taste, from hotels and guesthouses to eco-lodges and homestays. However, it is advisable to rent a car if you wish to explore the medina and partake in nearby activities.

A few heartwarming addresses that steal the show ❤️

  • Maison des Sables, a spacious 6-bedroom villa nestled on a sprawling 2.5-hectare estate, offering breathtaking 360° views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Hameau des Cascades, consisting of two separate houses totaling eight bedrooms, nestled within a sprawling 5000m² garden.
  • Villa Blanca, nestled amidst fields of argan trees
  • Mellow Beach House, a magnificent eco-friendly residence boasting 7 stylishly appointed chambers
  • La Mouette et les Dromadaires, an exclusive address offering 4 double bedrooms with a captivating sea view, free from Wi-Fi waves


Located a few kilometers south of Essaouira, Diabat is a quaint village renowned for its association with Jimi Hendrix in the 1970s. Apart from the Jimi Hendrix Café, the number of establishments in the village is quite limited. Nestled on the hillside, overlooking the Mogador Golf Course, the Sofitel hotel offers accommodation in the form of rooms or private villas.

Right across the way lies the Auberge Tangaro, offering 19 authentic rooms and suites. It is in this charming haven of peace where we settled in for a whole week ☀️

Although located outside Essaouira, the Tangaro is only a short drive from Tagharte Beach and the Medina. It takes approximately 20 minutes to reach Sidi Kaouki, and as for the golf course, simply cross the street.

The double rooms provide all the necessary comfort (no television or AC), although some may have limited storage space 😅. A delicious breakfast is served in the spacious central patio, shaded by trees and umbrellas. Around the pool are sun loungers, cushions, and multiple tables, perfect for a tranquil afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of the medina. It’s an affordable option for those who appreciate charm and authenticity 😍

Excited to explore Essaouira?

Let us craft your tailor-made journey for an unforgettable experience, perfectly tailored to your expectations and budget.

Contact us at to receive your personalised quote.
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