Essaouira literally translates to ‘little picture’, and that suits this place aptly! This little fishing port in the Atlantic coast, serving as an alternative to the buzz of Marrakesh, is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed fortress town whose origin dates back to the 18th century. There’s a reason why the likes of Bob Marley and Jimi Hendrix considered this their sweet getaway. The lively medina, the fresh fish, and the Sqala du Port d’Essaouira are among the many things you can experience here in one weekend. Or, to satiate your lazy side, you can lie back and lounge amid its Portuguese ramparts and soak in the old-world hangover. By Shubhanjana Das
Here’s the perfect weekend itinerary in Essaouira, Morocco; for the right mix of lazing around and for jumping straight into its unique activities.
1. Walk along the port
Being a port town, Essaouira was protected from pirates by ramparts dating back to the 18th century. Wondering where you must have seen them? In season three of Game of Thrones, this is where Daenerys Targaryen met the Unsullied Army, instantly making this place a buzzing tourist spot overnight. To soak in the gorgeous views of the ocean, walk along the seawalls.
2. Shop around the medina
Skala de la Ville and the main streets in the town’s centre boasts of Essaouira’s USPs –souvenirs and craft shops. You can buy handcrafted souvenirs made using thuya wood (or citron wood) and even watch the artisans at work. Another souvenir you can take away from Essaouira is Argan oil. This commonly exported product from Morocco is known for its almost magical qualities for rejuvenating skin and hair. While in this town, you can even catch a glimpse of the women of Essaouira extracting the oil from the Argan fruit.
3. Indulge in some fresh fish delicacies
The central market is the best place to enjoy the port town’s fresh fish. If you wish to do the cooking yourself, you can get the best catch behind the main shops in avenue Istiqlal, commonly called Khodara. If you’d rather eat something readymade, visit Restaurant La Licorne for a traditional and romantic Moroccan fare.
4. Check out Skala du Port
Located on the other end of the old town, the Skala du Port is another fortification with canons and high walls, commanding an excellent view of the city. When here, find the ‘hole in the wall’ for the perfect photo op with Essaouira dazzling in the background. Enter the bastion and walk up the stairs for a more sweeping 360-degree view. Essaouira’s medina is, unlike that of Marrakesh, smaller and also cuter. The port was once an international trading seaport and was originally named Magador.