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Overview to Essaouira: Travel Guide and Tourist Information

Boats at Essaouira

Essaouira is a backpacking town. From its atmospheric old medina surrounded by sturdy ramparts that give out on to colorful fishing boats bobbing on the sea, to its great windsurfing (and the chilled out vibe that it brings), it’s an incredibly inviting place.

On Morocco’s Atlantic coast, it’s not just fresh air that the sea breezes bring in; there’s a different atmosphere in Essaouira. It's more relaxed and less full-on, perhaps, than some other Moroccan towns.

Held in by the ramparts – the Skala de la Ville – the Old Town is divided into three quarters: the Medina, Mellah and Kasbah. Laid out on an ordered French grid system, it’s easier to navigate than many Moroccan towns, but no less intriguing.

The Rue de Skala is dotted with artisans’ shops notable for their woodworking. Two other souks of interest include the Jewelers’ Market and the Spice Market, which sit opposite one another on Avenue Mohamed Zerktouni in the Mellah (the dilapidated former Jewish quarter).

Outside the city walls and to the south is the vibrant port area, a cluster of boats and busy fishermen. This is also one of the best places to eat in Essaouira, with a number of wooden shacks serving up fresh fish at very reasonable prices.

Then, of course, there are the beaches. Long curves of white sand running away in both directions, with favorite spots for windsurfing including Cap Sim, Diabat and Sidi Kaouki. Out to sea are the Iles Purpuraires, a series of islands known for their array of birdlife.

To the north lie the crumbling remains of Bordj el Berod Fort (almost certainly erroneously) accredited with being the inspiration behind Jimi Hendrix’s Castles Made of Sand. But the song is certainly very much in keeping with the town’s seductive, and faintly mystical, vibe.

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