The city of Essaouira, on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, is rich in culture, architecture, and character. Once known as Mogador, its modern name means “the little rampart,” a nod to the fortress walls that still enclose part of this coastal city. If you’re planning a trip, take a look through our guide for getting there, getting around, and some of the best things to add to your Essaouira adventure.
Essaouira Mogador Airport (ESU) is the airport that serves Essaouira, Morocco. Travelling from ESU on public transit is possible, though it can be unpredictable. It requires a five-minute walk along the road from the airport to catch the bus, which only runs approximately every two hours from 7am to 7pm. The bus costs 6 Dirhams (USD 1.70) and travels to Bab Doukkala, just outside the medina walls.
Taxis are available from ESU to Essaouira, and take approximately 25 minutes from the airport. Fix a price before you start your journey — the official airport price for taxis is 150 Dirhams (approximately USD 40). Grand Taxis are off-white Mercedes sedans and Petit Taxis are small, blue cabs. Another option to get to and from the airport is private transfer, which can usually be arranged by your hotel.
Public transit: Buses are available from Bab Doukkala going out of the city. A more unusual way to get around the city is by Koutchi (horse carriages). The colourful carriages operate from Aswak Assalam supermarket along the main autoroute. The journey costs a few Dirhams (approximately USD 1) and runs all day.
Taxi: This is a safe way to get around the city. Prices are fixed for standard journeys within the city, otherwise practice your negotiation skills before you begin. Cost is 6.5 Dirhams (less than USD 2) per trip during the day and 8 Dirhams (a little over USD 2) after 8 pm. Blue petite taxis only legally seat three people and tipping isn’t necessary.
Walking: Strolling around the city is a good option to get around Essaouira during the day. After hours, take extra care if you’re walking in dark areas at night.
On the whole, Morocco is a very safe city for travellers, but of course as with anywhere, you need to be travel smart. For more tips, check out what our friends at All The Rooms have to say about staying safe in Morocco.
Wander around Essaouira’s walled medina (old town), with its narrow streets, whitewashed walls, and local craftsman. The medina dates back to the late 18th century, and is now protected under UNESCO.
Sports enthusiasts can take advantage of this windy city for a session of kite surfing. Bleukite Kite Surf School offers kite surf lessons for different levels, from beginners to advanced students. The cost is 65 euros per day or 250 euros for a full five days to learn how to kite surf. While almost anytime of year can be breezy in Essaouira, the hot late summer days are less likely to be windy.
Essaouira is steeped in history, and there’s plenty to be found at Dar Souiri. Located at the entrance of the city, the building houses exhibitions, cultural activities, and performances.
You can also listen to live music every night at Sirocco, a lovely cosy restaurant. The lively Taros bar and restaurant has an authentic Moroccan feel and also features live music Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
The Gnaoua World Music Festival (Le Festival de Gnaoua et Musiques du Monde) is a four-day music festival, with concerts staged at various venues, including the beach. One of the biggest and longest-running festivals in Morocco, the event takes place the last weekend in June and showcases they mystical Gnaoua musicians, typical to the region.
Looking for more things to do? Urban Adventures offers day tours in Essaouira and beyond, all led by local experts that will give you a taste for local life:
Essaouira Food & Culture
Live a day in the life of an Souiris with a tour that takes you through the medina, to the fishing port, and up onto the ramparts of this mesmerising Moroccan city. With pastries to start, grilled fish in the middle, and a cup of tea brewed by an expert herbalist at the end, you’ll leave with a taste of the exotic that you won’t soon forget.
Gnawa Music Experience
Step inside the sacred and traditional world of the Gnawa, an Afro-Moroccan group whose music and culture are the heartbeat of Essaouira. Meet with Gnawa masters and experience their addictive music in hidden domains inaccessible to Essaouira outsiders.
Marrakech Tajine Cookery Class
Receive a Moroccan masterclass on this Marrakech tour that will send you home with supreme, inside knowledge of tajine making and the delicate art of market haggling. Smug home cook alert!
Shopping Secrets of the Medina in Marrakech
Moroccan shopping doesn’t have to be a mystery — all you really need to master the medina is a local to show you how it’s done! Visit hidden stalls, shop for real-deal souvenirs like leather, lamps, shoes, carpets, spices, and argan oil, and learn to haggle like a true Marrakech insider. Bonus: we’ve even scored a few exclusive discounts just for this tour.
Watch for a sneak peek some of the delicious dishes you can try on our Tajine Cooking Class!
Before you visit, get a taste of Essaouira with actor-director Orson Welles’ classic 1948 film, Othello. The 18th-century fortress town proved to be the ideal location for the Shakespearean play. There is now a square and statue named after Orson Welles in the town.
Moor Moor Rockin’ Time’s album L’Oued will get you in the mood, especially their song “Good Morning.” Written by a local Souiri, it details the groovy feeling and lifestyle of Essaouira.
To get a feel for the city, read Essaouira Mogador: Fragrances of Childhood by Katia Azoulay.
For info on everything that’s happening in Essaouira, check out the website Made in Essaouira.
To find out more about Essaouira or to book an Urban Adventures tour, phone us at +212 626 424 887. You can also learn more (or drop us a note to say hello) via email, or on Twitter, Instagram, or our Facebook page.
We love Morocco, no doubt about that. However, sometimes the big cities can get a little overwhelming. The coastal paradise of Essaouira is like a breath of fresh air, and venturing through its magical streets with a local is the best way to explore it. On one of our Essaouira tours, we’ll take you to the cute pastry shops and hidden nooks and crannies that aren’t even common knowledge to the residents!