Escape the tourist hordes and busy souks in Marrakech and soak up the sea air in Morocco's coolest coastal town
Essaouira, located on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, has all the character of Marrakech in a more laid back atmosphere. While not having a huge number of sights, Essaouria is a great place to relax and explore the mesmerising, narrow, and winding streets in the old medina.
Lining Essaouira's harbour are lines of outdoor fish grills. Simply wander past the little stands, select a dish – which could be anything from lobster, red snapper, sardines or crab – and settle down on the surrounding chairs and tables.
Choose from a huge range of fresh fish and seafood and they’ll cook it up on the spot with fries or salad. The prices are pretty regulated (although, seafood is more expensive than fish) and offer a cheap eat with a good view and cool sea breeze.
Overlooking the town's port are canon-festooned rampart walls, which date back to the 15th century. Simply sit back with a cracking view and watch the sun set over the Atlantic. For those with more energy, browse a number of craft shops in the narrow streets around the ramparts.
Bordering the edge of Place Moulay Hassan – the focal point of the town – are a range of coffee shops and bars where you can grab a drink and watch life in the square. Keep an eye out for rooftop terraces as they often have live music in the evenings.
The long Atlantic rollers and near constant westerly winds make Essaouira a Mecca for kitesurfers, windsurfers and surfers alike. Take a stroll on the beach heading south from the town's port and watch them hurtle across the sea.
Alternatively, join in as a number of places offer lessons for beginners and refresher courses for experts. With 4km of beach offering, in parts, long gentle waves the location is ideal for inexperienced riders.
The characterful streets of the medina are the perfect place to browse for spices, textiles, local crafts and jewellery. Known in particular for its eye-catching turquoise, Essaouira is packed with jewellery stalls offering some good quality and pretty wares.
Improve your travel photography skills in magical Essaouira on a weekend workshop with Wanderlust Journeys. Bustling souks, quiet medina streets, fishing boats, kite-surfers: there is a wealth of colourful material here. Find out more here.