One Day Itinerary for Essaouira, Morocco

You may or may not have yet heard about Essaouira, the laid-back, beach-side alternative to nearby Marrakech. Formerly known as Mogador, this blue and white walled city is located right on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, boasting comfortably mild weather all year round and making it a perfect winter weekend getaway for European residents. It also serves wonderfully as an overnight trip for visitors already touring Morocco, allowing a one-day escape from the frenzied madness that is Marrakech. Do I have your attention yet? Keep reading for my perfect one-day itinerary to see this place on a quick weekend flight from Europe or as a small trip from nearby Marrakech.

Seagull standing in front of Essaouira's walled medina and the Atlantic Ocean.

Fun fact: Essaouira (pronounced: essa-wee-ra) has been inhabited since pre-historic times and has been an important trading post since the year 5BC. But the walled city there today was built by Moroccan King Mohammad III in the mid-1700s.


Budget airlines do service routes directly into Essaouira from the UK and Germany, however for most travelers, arrival into Essaouira will be via car from Marrakech. Expect a 2 ½ drive by taxi or private car, and a 3 hour bus drive (including a bathroom break halfway) by Supratours or CTM. Expect to pay around 80 MAD, with luggage an additional 5 MAD, each way. The drive is on a well-made and straight road, with views of the mighty Atlas Mountains visible from the south-facing windows.

This itinerary will assume you arrived in the late morning via bus from Marrakech.

How to Travel to Essaouira from Marrakech by Bus

Start the day bright and early in Marrakech. Buses leave from the train station several times a day. I used Supratours, which departs from outside the train station building on the Avenue Hassan II side. (Supratours buses return to the parking lot on the opposite side of the building, entered via Boulevard Mohammed VI. Be sure to clarify this pick-up point location if you are arranging pick-up upon your return.) You can save paying for a taxi from the Marrakech medina to the train station by taking a shuttle from the Supratours office on the corner of Avenue des Nations Unies and Avenue de Ouaqalla. You can clarify shuttle departure times when you buy your ticket from this location, which is much more convenient due to proximity to the medina. CTM as an office on this same corner, too.

When you arrive in Essaouira, if you used Supratours, you will be dropped off to the left of the walled city gate and within short walking distance of it. If you used CTM, you will want to grab a taxi to get to the medina. Before leaving the bus station, be sure to buy your return ticket so your preferred time slot does not run out. If you later change your mind about ticket times, tickets can be exchanged to a new time as long as you do this no less than 15 mins prior to departure time of the purchased ticket. (This is Supratours’s policy. I imagine CTM would have a similar policy, but ask to make sure.)


After dropping your things off at your accommodation, it’s time to get going!

Explore the Medina

Orange fruit carts outside Essaouira media walls

The medina is easy to navigate and divided by two main streets: Rue Mohamed El Qorry (which starts at the gate nearest the Supratours station) and Avenue De L’Istiqlal, which crosses the other street perpendicularly. The western half of this second street is filled with oil shops, street-food-style restaurants for locals and tourists alike, and a couple of tourism agencies. On the eastern half of this street (here the name changes to Avenue Zerktouni), you will find a bustling market atmosphere, with fish and meats for sale, as well as fruits carts and clothing shops.

Port of Essaouira & Fish Market

Blue fishing boats in Port of Essaouira

Begin your self-led tour of the city by exiting the walled area and heading straight to the Port of Essaouira. Walk past the picturesque blue boats bobbing in the small harbor, and continue walking as the road turns left. Prepare yourself for the strong, fishy scent, and witness all the action that is the Essaouira fish market. Keep going all the way to the end of the fish market, where it is calmer and less crowded. Here, you can climb the stone steps up the wall and walk along the top of it for some great views over the Atlantic.

Skala du Port

Skala du Port in Essaouira, Morocco.

Return to the beginning of the fish market, and make a turn through the large gateway on your left. To your left here, you can decide to enter the Skala du Port (featured on Game of Thrones) for 60 MAD. From here, you will have the vantage point necessary for the postcard view of the walled city on the water. This unique view is mostly what you are paying for if you decide to enter, as walks along the walls can be done for free elsewhere.

Follow the sound of seagulls and continue walking the straight path towards the city. As you near it, several restaurants and souvenir shops will line the main street. If you are hungry now, grab a bite to eat for between 30 – 80 MAD, and sit out in the sun while people watching.

City Ramparts & Shopping

Hanging sandals and clothes in Essaouira's walled medina.

If not, make a left turn into Rue de la Skala. This street is the first left turn as you near the restaurant area, and begins right next to Restaurant Taros. Admire the large carpets for sale lining this street, and walk all the way to the end, until you must turn right. Shops line this street as well, and leave their pottery, paintings, and wooden handicrafts outside for your admiration (and hopeful purchase). At the end of this street you will find Skala de la Ville, the most impressive section of Essaouira’s city ramparts. It is another filming location from Game of Thrones, and unlike the Skala du Port, it’s free to enter.

Continue further onward and up the inclined path leading to the North Bastion (the cylindrical shaped part where two walls meet). Enter under the arch and admire the views, particularly that on the right hand side, where you can see powerful waves crashing on the rocks and the rest of the city at a distance. More shops are located beneath this area, and if you look up as you exit the bastion, you’ll notice several rooftop restaurants (Il Mare is a popular one) if you fancy having your lunch with a view.

Take the same slanted path back downwards and turn left onto Rue Lalloiuj, which will lead you into the medina’s core. Turn left onto Avenue Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah, and stroll slowly down the narrow blue and white streets. Taste the foods and try the oils the local salespeople will offer from their shops as you walk by. Salespeople tend to be a lot less pushy in Essaouira than in Marrakech, so take advantage of trying new things without feeling as much pressure to purchase.

The Jewish Quarter

Narrow street in the Jewish Quarter of Essaouira.

As you continue eastward, the streets will seem to become emptier, as you near the historically Jewish quarter. Turn whichever way you please, allowing yourself to get lost until you inevitably stumble back onto a seemingly familiar road. Get your camera out and take advantage of the more peaceful streets just begging you to have a mini photo shoot.

Essaouira Beach

People on the beach in Essaouira, Morocco.

Eventually, make your way to the beach. Walk along the promenade, listening to the laughter of children and families playing in the sand and watching the windsurfers jumping from wave to wave in the distance.

Ride Camels on the Beach

Three camels on the beach in Essaouira in Morocco.

If you fancy (and especially if you are not heading to the Sahara), consider booking a sunset camel ride on the beach. Wait in the area in between the city gateway and the start of the beach long enough, and you should run into a man or two offering you this tour. If not, there is a tourist agency selling them on Avenue De L’Istiqlal (the main street mentioned earlier).

You can also book this at at most accommodations (though they take a portion of the profits). Or, you can book ahead of time online for 25 – 30 EUR. The most cost efficient option is to buy directly from the men near the start of the beach, close to the city wall still, where you can expect a price of 250 – 300 MAD per person for a 2 hour tour (as always in Morocco, try to haggle here, especially if you are a group).

Cheaper tours for 1 hour are also available, which skip the café and fort. You can also select a horse riding tour rather than a camel (but come on – we are in Morocco, after all!). Prefer something with a little more adrenaline? Opt for a quad bike tour instead.

Recommended reading: Fint Oasis: Morocco’s Miracle in the Desert

Tours depart at multiple times a day, but there is always something so magical about sunset on the beach (the sunset tour departs around 4pm). Be sure to bring some scarves and sunglasses, as the beach gets quite windy.

Visit the Hippie Village & Portuguese Fort

Portuguese fort in Essaouira (Mogador), Morocco

Halfway through the 2-hour tour, you will hop off the camels for a 10 – 15 minute break in the Jimi Hendrix Café in the “hippie village” (whatever that means?) where you will enjoy mint tea and common Moroccan cookies. Jimi Hendrix visited Essaouira in the summer of 1969, the year before his death, and is therefore somewhat of a local legend.

After you’ve rested, you will head back towards Essaouira on the camels, stopping first at an old Portuguese fort hidden in the sand dunes.

Before you know it, you’ll be dismounting your camel and waving good-bye to your new furry friend. Luckily, it is perfect time for dinner. Make your way back to one of the places that caught your eye while walking around all day. Get home and rest up before your bus ride back tomorrow. If you are not in a rush to return to Marrakech, consider buying a ticket that doesn’t leave first thing in the morning, so that you can enjoy a traditional breakfast (hopefully with a view) before bidding Essaouira adieu.


Total Cost of an Overnight Trip to Essaouira: 980 – 1130 MAD

  • Round-trip bus rides from Marrakech: 160 MAD + 10 MAD for luggage = 170 MAD
  • Budget-conscious accommodation with breakfast included: 400 – 500 MAD
  • Average lunch and dinner: 160 MAD
  • Two hour beach camel riding tour: 250 – 300 MAD


Ait Ben Haddou in Morocco

You could easily turn this one day itinerary in Essaouira into a two day weekend trip and using day two to lounge around in the medina, at the beach, or book another excursion like ATVing or horseback riding.

Looking for other cool day trips while you’re visiting the Marrakech area? Be sure to visit the most famous village of Hollywood, Ait Ben Haddou.


Have you been to Essaouira? How long were you there, and what did you do? Was a day trip enough, or did you stay overnight?

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An epic one day itinerary for 24 hours in Essaouira, Morocco. A super easy trip by coach bus from Marrakech, or you can fly into the airport direct from Europe. Click through for this travel guide for the best things to do in Essaouira.
An epic one day itinerary for 24 hours in Essaouira, Morocco. A super easy trip by coach bus from Marrakech, or you can fly into the airport direct from Europe. Click through for this travel guide for the best things to do in Essaouira.
An epic one day itinerary for 24 hours in Essaouira, Morocco. A super easy trip by coach bus from Marrakech, or you can fly into the airport direct from Europe. Click through for this travel guide for the best things to do in Essaouira.


  • Nikki
    February 6, 2020 at 9:08 AM

    Wow this looks like a beautiful village in Morocco. Would love to visit someday!

    • That Travelista
      February 6, 2020 at 10:14 PM

      It’s very picturesque! All white and blue! Hope you get the chance to visit soon 🙂

  • Nicole DiNicola
    February 5, 2020 at 9:39 PM

    Morocco has always been high on my travel list, and I love visiting the smaller, hidden gem cities in new countries. Essaouira is definitely on my list now. I love that is is on the ocean too!

    • That Travelista
      February 6, 2020 at 10:14 PM

      Yes, the smaller hidden gems are awesome! It’s so cool that Essaouira has got a bit of a hippie-beach-city vibe while still being a typical, walled Moroccan city!

  • Farrah
    February 5, 2020 at 8:23 PM

    I’ve definitely never been to Morocco but it’d be awesome to explore someday–it looks like there’s so much to see there!

    • That Travelista
      February 6, 2020 at 10:12 PM

      It’s seriously got SO much to see and do! I’ve been twice, and I’ve barely scratched the surface! I hope you can visit soon 🙂

  • Hannah Henderson
    February 5, 2020 at 2:24 PM

    I would love to visit Essaouira – it’s not a part of the world I have been to yet. So incredibly picturesque – you can feel the heat in those photos!

    • That Travelista
      February 6, 2020 at 10:12 PM

      I hope you can make it one day, Hannah! It was nice and sunny in the middle of Jan when I went 🙂

  • josypheen
    February 5, 2020 at 2:07 PM

    This post brings back so many happy memories! I wasn’t a big fan of Marrakesh, but I LOVED Essaouira (once I got my head around spelling it, with so many vowels in a row!)

    We stopped by the fish market to buy sea food (they bbqed it right there and it was the best meal we had in Morocco!) I really liked wandering through the back streets, and how calm everyone was after the madness of the big-city Marrakesh. Your photos make me want to go back.

    • That Travelista
      February 6, 2020 at 10:11 PM

      I love that story! Thanks for sharing. And YES, it took me way to long to memorize the spelling!

  • Anica
    February 5, 2020 at 8:01 AM

    I was just in Morocco but we only passed through here. Your post made me wish we stopped! Thanks for sharing!

    • That Travelista
      February 6, 2020 at 10:09 PM

      Hey, at least it’s an extra reason to return to Morocco, right?! 😉


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