Around two and a half hours from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech is one of the most genuinely peaceful and pretty cities in Morocco: Essaouira, also known as Mogador. Essaouira has been included on the World Heritage List by UNESCO and its medina or old quarter is one of the most interesting in the country, for tourists and for people fond of water sports or culture.
Essaouira is currently a city of 70,000 inhabitants, with an economy based on tourism, fishing and artisan goods. The special charm of its historical ensemble, arising from its unique character and personality of its own due to its agitated history and the magnificence of its never-ending beaches, swept by the trade winds that are so coveted and sought after by surfers and other lovers of water acrobatics, have made it one of the Moroccan cities best appreciated by tourists. The beach at Essaouira is quite large; it is sheltered from currents and waves by the island of Mogador. The water is not too deep and it is safe for children.
But there is much more to Essaouira than the pretty walled historical quarter and beaches. The steady presence of joinery and painting ateliers, exhibitions, art galleries, musicians and many other art forms give it a special appeal. Mornings in Essaouira can be spent doing anything, even visiting the surroundings, while the afternoons and evenings call for a stroll by the walls and the port, which is accessed via the monumental Gate of Marina.
Essaouira is a very interesting city that is well worth a visit, for a couple of days or to spend a week surfing, roaming around the semi-desert surroundings, attending an African music festival or simply resting a few days away from the noise and heat of Morocco.
Caution: Essaouira is famous for the many small ‘restaurants’ facing the sea in the square by the port where you can eat fresh fish. Avoid those places if you don’t want to get scalped. It is much cheaper to eat at the classic Moroccan food stalls. For 3 to 4 euros per person you can eat quite well. If you want to pay 6 to 8 euros you can sit down in a restaurant and enjoy the service.
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