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One of those gems I never expected to find in Morocco, windswept Essaouira was a pleasant surprise during the two weeks. With forty-eight hours to spend in this port city, I was excited for fresh ocean air and down time.

It couldn’t have been more timely to take a coastal escape — having just been in the desert for three days, I was thirsty for a change of scenery. Essaouira brought me down memory lane to the sailing town of La Rochelle on the Atlantic Coastline of France, where I had grown up going with my family. This fortified town had a free-spirit to it, and seemed to march to the beat of its own drum — something contrary to the whole of Morocco.

I can see why many visitors come here to soak up the sun on rooftop pools, to explore the medina, and dive into fresh seafood. Essaouira was a well-needed break, and I couldn’t recommend it more for an escape just a few short hours from Marrakech.

48 Hours in Essaouira

Good to Know

  • It is only a 2 hour drive from Marrakech, and a taxi will cost around $90 USD one way.
  • No car is needed if staying in the medina as everything is reachable by foot.
  • Almost everywhere only accepts cash, with limited vendors accepting credit card.
  • Pack a good jacket as the city tends to be windy.

Where to Stay in Essaouira

  • Hotel Villa Maroc: Just footsteps into the medina, the Hotel Villa Maroc is an incredible gem that combines the amenities of a hotel with the intimacy of a riad. A rooftop provides the ultimate spot to wake up to for breakfast, and an incredible restaurant is perfected for dinner. Each room is designed and decorated with bright tones, antique pieces, and set for a Moroccan escape. Be sure to check out the spa for a massage that won’t break the bank.

Where to Eat/Drink in Essaouira

  • Elizir: A great dinner spot for local cuisine.
  • La Licorne: A fine dining experience, with tajin and couscous dishes.
  • L’Heure Bleue Palais: Come here for the finest of cuisine and a prefix menu.
  • Le Chalet de La Plage: A restaurant along the ocean with a primarily seafood menu.

What to Do in Essaouira

  • Explore the medina and endless souks.
  • Take a walk down the port side and see a glimpse of the day’s fresh catch.
  • Experience a hammam and a massage at Hotel Villa Maroc.
  • See the Musee Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah for Moroccan costumes and more.
  • Go to the rooftop of L’Heure Bleue Palais for a day at the rooftop pool. (Reserve lunch + pool access.)
  • Take a walk on the beach.
  • Take a cooking class with Hotel Villa Maroc.
  • Head to the fish market to explore a bustling market.

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