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essaouira morocco

The small city of Essaouira is on the western Atlantic coast of Morocco and has been inhabited since the 5th century BC, although the city as it is today originated in the 18th century.

It was the first Moroccan seaport and revolutionised trading with Europe. Today, it’s primarily a fishing village with a bustling medina and a veritable mecca for surfers, windsurfers and kitesurfers (see watersports).

We are recommending three gorgeous little riad hotels in the heart of the old town, just yards from the sea and the souks:

  • Madada Mogodor - chic and luxurious 6 bedroom guesthouse
  • Villa de L'O - offering 12 very comfortable individually themed guest rooms
  • Heure Bleue Palais - charming, elegant colonial style Relais et Chateaux hotel (33 bedrooms and suites) with a rooftop pool

We also recommend a luxury resort hotel just outside Essaouira but still in walking distance of the beach:  Sofitel Essaouira Mogador

In Roman times, Essaouira was famous for its Tyrian factory which supplied Rome with the legendary purple dye for the Emperor's tunics.

The coastline both to the north and south of Essaouira is a treasure trove of fortresses and cities established under the Portuguese regime. With wind and kite surfing on offer, plus horse riding and sensational beaches, Essaouira is a popular destination for those who like to be active during their holidays (see some of our itineraries), whilst offering plenty for families, too.

easyJet has direct flights from London Luton to Essaouira (Mondays and Fridays) so it's no longer necessary to have a 2 hour drive from Marrakech  We can, of course, organise flights and private transfers for you.

Other destinations in Morocco

  • Agadir - for a lovely surf, yoga and spa resort
  • Atlas Mountains - for a choice of hilltop kasbahs
  • El Jadida - for superb family beach resort
  • Marrakech - for a choice of exotic villas and riads
  • Oualidia - for a remote, relaxing beach holiday in a delightful 11 bedroom hotel with a spa

Why not enjoy staying in one or more different destinations in Morocco?  Our experts can tailor-make the perfect itinerary for you.

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9 night Morocco adventure, staying in the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech and Essaouira

From £995 per person

Discover three very different parts of Morocco on our 9 night Morocco itinerary. More

6 night luxury Morocco holiday

From £1,455 per person
Enjoy the ocean in Essaouira, the ancient city of Marrakech and the majestic Atlas Mountains - in style!  More

4 nights in Essaouira learning to kitesurf

From £640 per person

Great accommodation combined with 10 hours of kitesurfing instruction. More

3 night weekend in Essaouira learning to surf

From £525 per person

Great accommodation in Essaouira combined with 6 hours of surfing instruction. More


Weather and seasons

Spring (March to May) is arguably the best time to visit as these months are pleasantly warm and sunny, and the landscape is lush and green. Avoid August when Essaouira gets invaded by large numbers of visitors from home and abroad. Autumn (mid Sep-mid Nov) is also lovely, but the countryside tends to look a bit parched. Summer is pretty hot (approx 35°C) but tempered by sea breezes, and winter can be chilly at night.


Tipping is customary in Morocco, and while it is certainly up to the discretion of each client, to a certain extent it is recommended in order to guarantee the best level of service. This, of course, varies depending on where you choose to stay.

Everything else

  • Flying time from London:  3 hours to Marrakech, then a 2 hour drive to Essaouira
  • Currency:  Dirhams
  • Language:  Arabic and French
  • Visa requirements:  No requirement if your stay is less than 3 months as a British citizen
  • Time difference:  GMT +1
sofitel essaouira mogador

sofitel essaouira mogador

essaouira, morocco    4 nights from £335

Sofitel Essaouira Mogador is a haven of tranquility hidden in a lush natural landscape, with views of the Atlantic, and moments away from the beach and the medina.

villa de l'o

villa de l'o

essaouira, morocco    3 nights from £395

Villa de L' is a recently restored 18th century riad in the heart of Essaouira with a fantastic roof terrace and 12 individually themed bedrooms.

madada mogador

madada mogador

essaouira, morocco    7 nights from £720

Madada Mogador is a beautifully restored chic and luxurious 7 bedroom guesthouse, ideally located on the edge of Essaouira's Medina overlooking the beach and the Atlantic ocean.

heure bleue palais

heure bleue palais

essaouira, morocco    7 nights from £1,315

Heure Bleue Palais is a charming Relais et Chateaux hotel with rooms set around a classic Moroccan courtyard. Uniquely in the Essaouira medina, there's a wonderful rooftop pool with views over the bay and the fort.


experiences, essaouira