Located in Western Morocco and boasting some of the most dramatic coastal scenery in the plateau continent. Essaouira combines exotic charm with a laid back atmosphere, drawing visitors on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean from all over the world.
Essaouira has been inhabited for over 3,000 years. Over the centuries, this Moroccan town has evolved from being a small purple dye-producing settlement to becoming firmly placed in the global map of must-see destinations. However, the city has managed to maintain a relaxing character, and unlike other destinations, it is not overrun by tourists. The romantic charm and eclectic spirit of this Moroccan town has also been a great source of inspiration for renowned musicians and film directors. During its long and varied history, Essaouira has been occupied by Berber tribes, Sultan rulers, and both Portuguese and French settlers, whose cultural influence remains obvious to this day. The city's famous walls were erected in the 18th century and have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001.
A holiday in Essaouira is blessed with a mild. November is typically the wettest month, whereas July and August see highest temperatures. May, June and September are considered the best months to visit, as rainfall is unlikely, the temperatures are pleasant, and the sunshine is plentiful, reaching an average of 300 hours per month.
Humidity in Essaouira is rather high, as typical humidity levels stay at approximately 80 per cent throughout the year. However, during the summer months the humidity levels drop slightly as a result of the almost constant cool breeze that also helps brings the temperatures down. The northeasterly winds have contributed to turning Essaouira into one of the world's surfing capitals, as winds and water temperatures are fairly consistent all-year-round. Those who visit the city with the intention to practise surfing would usually travel travel between May and October.
Essaouira's alluring character is mostly the result of its masterful mélange of ancient and contemporary architecture. This fact, coupled with the city's superb natural surroundings and its wonderful cultural heritage, constitute Esssaouira's best selling points.
In addition to the beaches, what draws people for a holiday in Essaouira includes the quiet and traffic-free alleys of the medina (old town); its crescent-shaped bay; the souks; the contrasting whitewashed and colourful façades; and the town's ultra-photogenic harbour.
This fascinating Moroccan city has something to offer to everyone. Nature lovers and sports enthusiasts have the opportunity to enjoy an active holiday in Essaouira, as hiking, horse riding, surfing, kitesurfing, 4x4 tours, and golfing are popular and easily arranged here. Culture buffs will be pleased to find out that every summer Essaouira hosts the Gnaoua World Music Festival, which has been held in the Moroccan city since 1998.
Essaouira's delightful gastronomy is another reason to visit this Moroccan city. Here, European culinary legacy merges with traditional Moroccan fare, which in turn is rooted in African and Berber cuisine. Being located by the sea, Essaouira's restaurants are big on seafood specialties that feature king prawns, lobster, octopus, and various kinds of fresh shellfish.
The local seaside restaurants offer European-inspired and fusion cuisine in lavish surroundings, where the inspirational décor complements the sophisticated menu. Typical dishes include harira soup (a zesty soup made with lentils and chickpeas and flavoured with lemon, cinnamon, and ginger); refreshing and deeply flavoured tabouleh salad; fish or meat slow-cooked tagine topped with caramelised prunes; and delicious vegetable soups enhanced with local Argan oil. Other Essaouiran specialties feature classic North African dishes with a local twist, like brick chicken served over apricot couscous or chicken, cinnamon, and almond pastillas (turnovers). The European influence is clear in dishes like homemade seafood pasta, vegetable gratins, and beef fillets.
Essaouiran desserts are mouth-watering and usually include some form pastry drenched in honey, such as the world-famous baklava or the local honey and almond briouats. Rich and citrussy desserts are the norm, and some must-try options include honey cinnamon oranges, rose water ice cream, medjool date cake, coconut fudge, and orange gateau.
Meals are watered down with copious amounts of fresh mint, served in hand-painted glasses. Given Essaouira's French heritage, a wide range of quality wines is always on offer in the city's restaurants.
Population: approximately 70,650
Region: Marrakesh-Tensift-El Haouz
Landscape: Labyrinthine hallway medina, weeping sandy beaches, and seaside forest.