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Essaouira

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Travel Guide Africa Morocco Essaouira

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Introduction

Essouira

Essouira

© All Rights Reserved adamandmeg

Essaouira along the central western coast of Morocco is a laid-back and peaceful place (no traffic within the huge walled area), lots of cafes in squares to lounge around and drink mint tea and just soak up the atmosphere. You can walk everywhere in Essaouira as it is relatively small. Essaouira is the perfect place to unwind at the end of a Moroccan tour. The beach is clean with gorgeous soft sand and pretty much hassle free. At times, the beach can be very windy and ideal for windsurfing, and at other less windy times it is ideal for relaxing on a sunlounger, although, as with all weather you have to take your chances. Essaouira retains its old fashioned traditional charm, unlike more aesthetic built up resorts like Agadir and there is not a jet ski in sight! The coastal town is famous for the GNAOUA World Music Festival which takes place every year around the 20th of June for 4-5 days (see below).

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Neighbourhoods

Most of the activity in Essaouira is normally limited in the area within the sandstone walled area of the medina and especially at the time of the GNAOUA festival. The medina consists of a number of alleys and Babs (doors/gates). Bab Zerktouni is famous for the two restaurants - one that serves pizzas and the other very good breakfasts. Different babs serve different functions: there are places which are reserved for restaurants and others where they sell souvenirs and traditional wares etc.

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Sights and Activities

  • Essaouira is a great place for just wandering around, browsing in the souks or lounging around in cafe's. There is also an artists quarter where local artists and ex-pats display their works and might be a welcome relief from all the Thuya woodcarving shops! The old medina of Essaouira is on the Unesco World Heritage List.
  • No stay in Essaouira is complete without having a fish dinner at one of the basic, but busy, make-shift stalls (with seating) near the fish market on the seafront. The delicious, freshest fish and seafood will be served up to you with salad by friendly waiters and is not expensive. This can be followed by delicious Italian ice-cream from the shop in the nearby square, Place Moulay Hassan. Delicious!
  • Climb up to the top of the old rampart walls along the seafront for a fantastic view of the beautiful sunsets above the rocky coastline.
  • You could stroll down the beach for about 1 kilometre and when you reach the dunes, look back at the view of Essaouira which inspired Jimmy Hendrix "Castles In The Sand". Then head inland to the village of Diabat and you'll stumble across a shack-type cafe which is an entire homage to the man himself, with his music playing (and if not, the owner will dig out a dusty old cassette tape) and photos on the wall. Do play along with the owners stories of how Jimmy hung out in the next room strumming his guitar, it is all true, except for the fact that the original building was in an entirely different part of the village and no longer stands!

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Events and Festivals

The GNAOUA festival comprises a number of individual concerts and other events, starting from noon untill late at night. At this time, small riads and apartments get booked up and locals even rent out their apartments for the duration. This can be a good option but if anything goes wrong, you can’t count on the police since the place you are staying is not registered. The best events tend to be at night, at the entrance of the Bab e medina. This is the place where the best atmosphere can be seen from 11:00pm onwards until 2:00am. The atmosphere in the concerts is amazing with lots of people on a high! The Moroccans love to dance and their movements would put any ballerina to shame. A lot of the performers are French and Moroccan rap artists. Though a word of caution: when going out at night it's best to leave your valuables in your hotel, because of groups of pick pockets in the packed crowds.

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Weather

The weather is generally mild compared to the rest of the country. In fact, the town is known for having the smallest difference between both summer and winter temperatures as well as day and night temperatures. Days range from 18 °C in January and February to 22 °C from August to October. Nights are between 12 °C and 17 °C. It is generally nice all year round but sometimes windy. It's usually not very humid though and conditions are fairly fine year round. The average annual amount of precipitation is about 340 mm with most of that falling from November till April.

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Getting There

By Plane

The nearest airports are in Agadir and Marrakech:

Some domestic services exist as well, for example to and from Casablanca. Regional Air Lines has many domestic services.

By Car

Essaouira is a 2.5 hour drive from Marrakech or a 3.5 hour drive from Agadir on good tarred roads.

By Bus

Supratours and CTM buses run regularly Marrakech - Essaouira (leaving approximately 8:30am, 10:45am, 2:45pm and 6:30pm). Buses also run between Agadir and some other cities.

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Getting Around

By Car

Taxi's leave from the bus station or the area just outside the walls of Place Moulay Hassan. These can be handy for a trip to Diabat if you'd prefer to go by road rather than along the beach.

By Public Transport

You can walk around the town in about half an hour. The bus station is an easy stroll about 15 minutes inland, towards the back of the town.

By Foot

The medina is just a 15-minute walk from the main bus station so there is no need to take a taxi, even though you may be persuaded by eager locals that you need to. You can however take advantage of the helpful men with huge wheelbarrows who will happily wheel your luggage to your riad or guesthouse for a few dirhams and this can be a welcome relief in the heat.

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Sleep

There are lots of budget guesthouses or mid-range traditional riads as well as 4-5 star ones like Sofitel on the seafront. Finding accommodation should not be a problem outside of the festival period. There is a campsite about 25 kilometres down the coast, handy if you have a car.

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Dar Al Bahar1 rue de TouahenGuesthouse90
Hostel Essaouira17 rue laghrissiHostel89
Kasbah ZinebKm 15, route village Idaou GourdGuesthouse-
Les Matins Bleus22 rue DraaGuesthouse92
La Maison du Vent25 Rue MourabitineGUESTHOUSE87
Palazzo Desdemona12-14 Rue Youssef El FassiHOTEL-
Riad Chakir Mogador13 Rue ben morhal 4400 EssaouiraGuesthouse89
Riad Jemalhi Mogador6 Ahmed OuharounGuesthouse81
Riad Marosko66, Impasse Rue d'AgadirGuesthouse-
Hotel Majestic Essaoiura40 Derb Laalouj Essaouira 44000Hotel75
Hotel Orson Welles14 AV al AkabaHotel-
Riad Etoile de Mogador8 Rue Allal El Waquawi, BVD Agadir MedinaGuesthouse86
Riad Le Grand Large2 rue Oum RabiiHotel90
Riad Zahra90 Quartier des DunesHotel93
Riad Lalla Mogador12, rue de l'IraqGuesthouse-
Dar Skala GuesthouseQuartier Kasbah MedinaGuesthouse87
Hotel Beaurivage14, Place Moulay HassanHotel85
Bahja de Mogador596 Avenue Al AqabaGuesthouse-
Hotel Eraounak Souiri339 Coter Eraounak EssaouiraHotel86
Riad Lunetoile191, Rue Sidi Mohamed Ben AbdellahGuesthouse90
Dar Nafoura-Mogador30, rue Ibn KhaldounGUESTHOUSE-
Riad 3333 Rue De BouchentoufGuesthouse-
Emeraude Riad Hotel Essaouira228 Rue ChbanateHotel-
Hotel Riad al Madina9, Rue AttarineGuesthouse-
Riad Sidi Magdoul21 rue Sidi AbdesmihHotel88
Riad Imik Imik25 rue Zalaqa Medina of EssaouiraGuesthouse-
Riad les 2 MondesEl GhazouaGuesthouse-
Maison du Sud29, Avenue Sidi Mohammed Ben AbdellahGuesthouse88
Riad Asmitou32 rue bagdad, medinaGUESTHOUSE-
Riad Mimouna62, rue d'Oujda (sandillon)Guesthouse-
Dar MellahFirst Floor, 3 Rue Boutouil EssaouiraApartment89
Kirsty's PlaceRue Hamadani, Lot 5 EssaouiraGUESTHOUSE-
Riad Etoile d'Essaouira02 Rue Quadissiya Av Sidi Mohmed Ben Abdelah essaouiraHotel88
Riad Jade Mogador16 Rue AnnaserGuesthouse88
Dar AssalamaDerb Ahl Agadir 5, AV Alall AlwakawiHostel-
Caverne d'Ali Baba21 Baba Ahmed Soudani 39 Av IstiqlalHotel-
Dar Latigeo12 Rue Youssef Ben TachafineGuesthouse-
Riad El Pacha21, Rue Abderrahamane EddakHostel85
Mogador houseLot Erraounak N 85Guesthouse-
Riad Darko3 rue Enasser 44000Hotel-
Riad Halina28 Rue d'IraqGUESTHOUSE-
Casa di Carlo17, Rue d'Agadir EssaouiraGuesthouse89
Dar Darek86 rue Moulay SmailGuesthouse91
Hotel Des IlesBd Mohammed VHotel-
Riad Dar Chakir12 reu Khalid Ben Oualid place My HassaneHOTEL-
Ryad Mogador EssaouiraRoute de Marrakech B.P. 368Hotel-
Riad AL Zahia4 rue mohammed diuriGUESTHOUSE-
Riad Kasbah BoukhoSidi Kaouki EssaouiraHOTEL-
Auberge TangaroDomaine de Mogador DiabatHOTEL-
Riad Etoile D'essaouira02 rue kadissiya av sidi moham ed ben abdelahHostel-
Surf & ChillSidi Ben Daoud 7GUESTHOUSE88
Dar Zayna75 Rue AgadirGUESTHOUSE-
Riad Asmitou32; rue bagdadGuesthouse-
Lila Saida579 lot AzlefGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel Riad Azzouz7 Riad Azzouz Darb ahl Agadir Moulay AzouzGUESTHOUSE-
Sol e LunaRoute d'AgadirHOTEL-
Al Jasira Hotel18 rue moulay ali cherif quartier des dunesHotel-
Dar Maris GuesthouseKM16 Route d'AgadirGUESTHOUSE-
Villa Damontekm 6-route d'AgadirHOTEL-
Dar Baboosh - The Snail's Shell13 Rue ZayaneGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel Gnaoua89, Avenue ZerktouniHOTEL-
Les Jardins de SilonaDouar laarab EssaouiraGUESTHOUSE-
Riad Orange Cannelle10, Rue Abdessalam Lebadi Medina EssaouiraGUESTHOUSE-
Hotel Dar El Qdima4, Rue Malek Ben MourhalHOTEL-
Hotel SaharaAvenue Okba Ibnou NafiaaHOTEL-
Palazzo DesdemonaRue youssef elfassi N°12_14 avenue oqba ibn nafiiGuesthouse-
Riad Remmy29 Daoud Ben AichaGuesthouse-
Dar Ichraq12, Rue Khalid Ben Oualid Place Moulay HassanGUESTHOUSE-
Riad Thais181 Avenue Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah Ancienne MedinaGUESTHOUSE-
Riad l'Ayel d'Essaouira28 rue Malek Ben El Morahhal EssaouiraGUESTHOUSE-
Dar Latigeo12 rue Youssef Ben TachfineHostel-
Dar Afram10 Rue Sidi MagdoulHostel-
Résidence La Galiote11 Rue Cherif Idrissi Quartier HammouthAPARTMENT-
La Maison du ChameauIda OugourdGUESTHOUSE-
Riad Inna30.36 Rue Mohamed Ben Abdellah (Mellah Kdim )HOTEL-
Atlantic HostelDerb Lebbana, 34HOSTEL-
Surf for Life13 Rue KoweitGUESTHOUSE-
Mogador Locations Vacances18 rue Qadissiya EssaouiraGUESTHOUSE-
Dar AssenfouRue Chbanate 194GUESTHOUSE-
Green Milk HostelRue Ceuta 26HOSTEL-
Dar Nora33 rue Abdessalam LebadiGuesthouse-
Riad le Marlin BleuRoute de Sidi KaoukiGUESTHOUSE-

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Keep Connected

Internet

There are plenty of Cybercafes in cities and small towns and accessing the Internet won't be a problem. The price is around 4 to 10DH/ hour. If you have a laptop while traveling then you can buy a USB key for wireless connection from one of the 3 main telecommunication companies (Maroc Telecom, Meditel, and Inwi). Credits are available starting from 10DH/24 hours (starting from the time you use it, if you start at 2:00am then next day at 2:00am you will have to recharge it again). Wifi is getting more and more common in places like hotels, shopping malls and in restaurants and coffee places in larger cities. The wireless connection in some areas might be slow, that depends on the signal as not the whole of Morocco has 3G coverage.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

Morocco's country code is +212, International Call Prefix is 00. The telephone numbering scheme is changed starting March 2009. All fixed telephone numbers have a 5 inserted after the 0, and all mobile telephone numbers have a 6 inserted after the 0. All numbers are now ten-digit long, counting the initial 0. Useful numbers are Police: 19; Fire Service: 15; Highway Emergency Service: 177; Information: 160.

Public telephones can be found in city centres, but private telephone offices (also known as teleboutiques or telekiosques) are also commonly used.
The GSM mobile telephone network in Morocco can be accessed via one of two major operators: Meditel or Maroc Telecom. Prepaid cards are available. It is very easy and cheap to buy a local GSM prepaid card in one of the numberous phone shops showing a Maroc Telecom sign.

Post

Post Maroc is the national postal service of Morocco and has details on their website (French) regarding the sending of letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically and internationally. The postal service in Morocco is very efficient and the post offices are generally open Monday through Friday, from 8:30am to 12 noon and 2:30pm to 6:30pm. On Saturdays it is open from 8:30am to 2:00pm. Some might keep longer hours though, especially in larger tourist cities and central areas. You can post your mail at one of the post offices or otherwise in the yellow post boxes you'll find throughout the country. For packages, you can also use international courier companies like TNT, DHL or UPS. They offer quick, reliable services and competitive rates.

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This is version 66. Last edited at 9:16 on Jul 23, 13 by Utrecht. 7 articles link to this page.

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