Essaouira is located on the west coast of Morocco, 168 km from Marrakech.
This small city has gained importance for being an alternative escape from Marrakech and for serving as a setting for the realization of some episodes of the famous TV series Game of Thrones.
Enjoy the best option to visit Essaouira, an organized excursion.
If you only have one day, the easiest alternative is to book an excursion to Essaouira. Organized excursions from Marrakech start very early in the morning with an exclusive shuttle that picks up tourists directly at their hotel. On the way there is usually a stop to see some of the sights of Marrakech, such as stopping to see the Moroccan goats that climb trees in search of argan oil. You then embark on the town of Essaouira with all its delights and will be back at your hotel by dinner time.
Although there is much to see and do in Essaouira, it is perfectly possible to see and enjoy the town on a day trip. In this time you can explore the old townof Essaouira, the fishermen's port, the jewelry quarter and its beautiful and quiet beaches.
- Recommended if... You want to discover the beauty of this destination in a hassle-free and totally relaxed day trip.
- Price: Excursions from Marrakech to Essaouira are really affordable, with a cost from 22 €.
- Duration of the trip: Essaouira is relatively close to Marrakech. The trip including stops usually has a maximum duration of 2.5 hours and in total the excursion takes about 10 hours.
Consider the more flexible option, travel by private car.
Renting a car in Marrakech is a common practice and in high demand. Consequently, it will be very easy to find car rental alternatives at quite affordable prices. Although it is an alternative that can be economical, the truth is that I do not consider it viable for everyone and here are my reasons:
If this is the first time you visit Morocco you should keep in mind that driving on Moroccan streets is a totally different experience than driving in Spain. The streets are much more congested and traffic in general can be quite chaotic, especially in the center of Marrakech. Another important consideration is the language issue, as officers and service personnel operating in Morocco will not know how to communicate in Spanish.
Finally, once you arrive in Essaouira, the car is not necessary and it may even be a hassle to find a suitable place to park it. You may have to pay extra to park it in a safe place.
- Recommended yes... Renting a car to visit Essaouira is a highly recommended option if you have visited Morocco before and have some notion of how to get around, have a resident as a travel companion who can serve as an interpreter in important conversations or plan to make excursions through several Moroccan cities.
- Price: Renting a car in Marrakech is really cheap with rates from 8€ per day for simple and small vehicles (perfect for 2 or 3 people), up to 25€ for larger vehicles. As an additional cost you will have to consider the payment of tolls, fuel and possible parking.
- Travel time: The journey from Marrakech to Essaouira takes approximately 2 hours by car.
Consider the most economical option, traveling by bus
From the bus station in Marrakech there is a shuttle approximately every hour to Essaouira. Whenever you want to travel by bus from Marrakech I recommend doing so using two companies whose links I share below. Both companies have exceptional service and comfortable transportation in optimal conditions.
Getting to the bus station in Marrakech is very easy, as it is located right next to the train station. Try to arrive at the station 20 to 30 minutes before the scheduled departure of your bus. This way, you will have time to buy your ticket, if you have not already done so, and you will be sure to get space during peak travel times.
Once you arrive at your destination in Essaouira, immediately buy your return ticket. The end of the day is a peak time of high demand, which causes seats to sell out quickly. This way, you will avoid major setbacks and once you are done exploring the city, you will only have to worry about getting to the station in time to avoid missing your bus.
- Recommended if... You have visited Morocco before and feel ready to embark on an adventure on your own. You will need to find ways to communicate with the locals who, unlike the guides and hotel staff, are unlikely to speak Spanish. Although you will always have the option of communicating in French or English.
- Price: The cost of a ticket with the transport company CTM is approximately 5 € and you can purchase tickets directly on their website or at the bus station a while before.
- Duration of the trip: A trip from Marrakech to Essaouira takes approximately 3 hours. This time does not include stops along the way and you should consider as additional waiting time at the bus terminal.
Meet a not so popular option, travel by Taxi from Marrakech
Another alternative to travel from Marrakech to Essaouira is to hire the services of a cab company. This type of transport is widely used and can be a really comfortable alternative of transportation, although less favorable due to its price.
It will be relatively easy to find a cab driver who speaks Spanish, English and French in the vicinity of the hotels. If not, you always have the alternative of asking the hotel staff to help you arrange suitable transportation.
A useful tip if you are traveling to Marrakec to negotiate: Try to agree on the fare with the driver before you get into the car. You can take advantage of this moment to practice your haggling skills. If you make the mistake of starting the trip without determining the final price, the driver will feel entitled to demand the cost he wants, which can lead to a very uncomfortable situation.
- Recommended if... You want to make a private and personalized trip that includes pick up and return to your hotel in Marrakech.
- Price: Here it will depend a lot on the deal you get with the driver of the vehicle, however, I recommend you to budget from 120 € to 200 € approximately.
- Travel time: A cab ride from Marrakech to Essaouira is relatively short. It has an estimated duration of 2.5 hours in total.
What is special about Essaouira?
Marrakech is one of the most effervescent, intriguing and chaotic cities I have ever visited. In contrast, Essaouira is one of the most calm and relaxing places on the planet. Tinged with an alternative atmosphere both its architecture and its beautiful beaches, its pleasant climate and buildings seem to have stopped in time, so that a walk through its streets becomes a magical and even nostalgic experience.
Essaouira was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. It is an extremely popular tourist destination for its many riads (Moroccan accommodation stays that include the stay and morning breakfast). The city is also known for its attractive handicraft industry, most notably its inlaid woodwork.
Whether you visit the pearl of the Atlantic on a private tour, in your own car or by bus, I am sure you will have a great time!
If you hire an excursion
The main advantage of hiring a tour to Essaouira is the staff that accompanies you. The guides of these excursions are experts in their area, so they will be able to show you the most attractive tourist spots. Depending on the excursion company you hire, a guided tour to Essaouira may include all or several of the following activities
- Stop to meet the association of Berber women producers of argan oil.
- Stop to see the curious goats that climb the trees looking for oil.
- Visit to the Moulay El Hassa Square.
- Visit to the traditional souks.
- Visit to the old Medina.
- Eat a delicious fish. In the souk or near the main square of Essaouira.
- Visit the beach of Essaouira.
- Take pictures with the camels on the beach.
- Options for surfing, kitesurfing or kayaking.
If you go on your own
By going on your own, you have the advantage of including as many activities as time allows. Use the list shared above for inspiration and try to leave early from Marrakech to make the most of the day.
Interesting historical facts about Essaouira
- Archaeological records found so far suggest that Essaouira has been inhabited since prehistoric times.
- In the 1st century BC, the Berber government known as Juba II created a purple dye in Essaouira. This dye would be exported to Rome and was used to dye the colored border of the empire's senatorial robes. At that time, a small amount of purple dye from Essaouira was worth more than gold.
- The fortresses that make up the medina of Essaouira were built by Portuguese conquerors in 1505.
- Modern Essaouira was recovered in 1760 thanks to the work of King Mohamed III His goal was to build a city that would function as the main seaport of Morocco. To achieve this goal he hired engineers and builders from various backgrounds and encouraged the inhabitants of his kingdom to move to Essaouira in the hope of bringing life to the city.
- Price from 22 €.
- Duration: 10 hours
- Recommended: If you are looking for a hassle-free, flexible and totally relaxed day.
- Price from 8 €.
- Duration: 2 hours each way
- Recommended: If you are accompanied by a resident or if you are familiar with Morocco
- Price from 5 €.
- Duration: 3 hours each way
- Recommended: If you speak the language and have visited Morocco before.
- Price from 120 €.
- Duration: 2,5 hours each way
- Recommended: If you want to make a private, personalized trip at your own pace.