A favourite getaway from the heat of Marrakech is to head to the pretty coastal town of Essaouira. A laid back bohemian walled city with its swaying palms, picturesque white washed walls, and antique blue door ways lining the perfectly ramshackle streets.
Previously known as Mogador, the walled city is surrounded by an 18th century cannon lined fortress. UNESCO heritage site, and major trading port between Africa and Europe. Bookended by wide open beaches for wind surfing and pretty blue fishing boats lining the port.
Also known as the windy city for its salty coastal breeze that blows through in the afternoons, carrying the sound of reggae beats and musicians in the streets. A nod to Bob Marley and the tales of Jimi Hendrix known to have passed through here in '69.
My first trip to Essaouira was back in 2017 with my friend Kat. We spent a few days here before heading off on a 2 week Moroccan road trip (for another story) through the desert and back to Marrakech. As for a girls weekend getaway - Essaouira is a perfect little spot for 2 to 3 days.
Sure you can do it in a day if you're just passing through and need to squeeze it in to your schedule - but if you can stay a few nights to soak in the sun even better.
It's not a big city, with everything in walking distance. Wandering the winding walled medina will take you through artist's workshops, rug traders, leather ateliers, spice shops and antique stores.
The vibe of the market, the shop keepers and stall holders a lot more laid back and relaxed than in the big cities (Could have something to do with the reggae..) selling all the essentials from pottery, to argan oil, to Moroccan viagra...
I found a brilliant leather maker here one year who I bought a collection of handmade kilim boots and bags from that I sold at markets back in Australia for a while. And I'm still carrying around a handwoven beach basket with leather straps that I bought that year too that's lasted all this time!
There's plenty of small guest houses and cute riads to stay right in the city centre. These are great if you want an affordable room, friendly staff or owners there to have a chat with, with breakfast on the terrace usually included. I won't list them here as there's plenty to try and it's hard to pick a bad location.
If you're backpacking or riding solo, there's a few great hostels that are well known for their shared dinners on the rooftop and sunset views.
And I can recommend Jack's Apartments for private rental apartments with cute fireplaces and views overlooking either the ocean or the cobbled streets of the old medina.
Eating in Essaouria is laid back too - I love eating at the fish stalls in the port where you can choose freshly caught seafood to be BBQd for you, sitting at blue and white striped pic nic tables with other families.
Or stopping for a tagine in the cute little square where Tara Cafe and couple of other small local restaurants are located. You just may need to share your lunch with one of the local cats.
To catch a rooftop sunset beer head to Salut Maroc or to iconic Taros where the band kicks into gear later on. There's plenty of little places to kick on at too that the locals will let you in on.
Mandala Society does a good brunch (hello avo on toast..!) and coffee. A great spot to sit and catch some wifi and a popular meeting spot too. I remember one year meeting my friend Angela here for the first time. We only knew of each other through instagram so knew we both lived in Marrakech. We sat in the window and chatted for hours about life and how we both ended up in Morocco.
There's a few cooking classes available in Essaouira too, like L'Atelier cooking workshop, that will take you for a whip around the food market to buy your produce, then spend the afternoon making tagines and flat breads to eat together. One of my favourite things to do if I'm traveling by myself and don't want to do another solo dinner.
All in all if you make it down the coast to Essaouira you wont regret it. An easy couple of hour comfy bus ride from Marrakech, or a quick flight from Europe, and well worth it for some fresh ocean air.