Travel Tour Reviews

The 5 Best Tours to Essaouira from Marrakech – [2020 Reviews]

For A Cultural Outing From Marrakech Take A Relaxing And Educational Trip To Essaouira

Essaouira, also known as the Pearl of the Atlantic, is a blissful respite from the busy, frenetic atmosphere and heat of Marrakech. Known for its laid back ambience, this coastal town is packed with unforgettable experiences for all your senses.

Strolling through the medina, you’re treated to the aromas of local fare and spices, as well as traditional music that proliferates the alleyways. Look at the historical forts and architecture throughout Essaouira, with scenery that provides beautiful, bright contrast to the ochre buildings.

Taking a tour to Essaouira allows you to explore the countryside on your journey, and plenty of time to experience the attractions that make Essaouira so unique.

Best Tours to Essaouira from Marrakech

 Private Tour: Marrakech to EssaouiraDay Trip to Essaouira from MarrakechFrom Marrakech: Day Tour to Essaouira
editors choice
Departure PointPick-up at your hotelPick up at your hotelPick-up at your hotel
Departure TimeMorning8:00 am8 am
Duration8 hours1 day1 day
IncludesPick-up service, driver speaks English, Spanish, or French, entrance fees, transportation insurancePick-up service, live tour guide, transport in air-conditioned minibus, insurance, free time to wander the city, stops at scenic points for photosPick-up Service, Instant confirmation, Professional transportation in new vehicles with AC, transportation insurance

Quick Answer: The 5 Best Tours to Essaouira from Marrakech

  1. Private 10-Hour Tour From Marrakech to Essaouira
  2. Day Trip to Essaouira from Marrakech
  3. From Marrakech: Day Tour to Essaouira
  4. From Marrakech: Full-Day Trip to Essaouira
  5. Solace in Essaouira: Day Trip to the Seaside Town

Best Tours to Essaouira from Marrakech Reviewed

#1 Private 10-Hour Tour From Marrakech to Essaouira

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Pick-up at your hotel
  • Departure Time: Morning
  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Included: Pick-up service, driver speaks English, Spanish, or French, entrance fees, transportation insurance
This 10 hour tour departs from your hotel, where a professional driver will pick you up for your day in Essaouira. While making your way there, you’ll enjoy a visit to see a women’s Argan Co-op, where you can see how argan oil is extracted from these regional trees.

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The cooler, milder weather in Essaouira is a huge attraction for anyone seeking to escape the scorching heat of Marrakech. In combination with the refreshing climate and sea breezes, this fishing town features Portuguese architecture against a stunning landscape. The traditional port is still actively used, so visit the harbor when you have time to explore.

Enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of Essaouira while you stroll through the town. The colorful souks have limitless items of interest, with everything from locally made argan oil to authentic, traditional art forms. Take time to admire the lively, local rugs and metalwork made by local artisans. Or, you can explore the port and see fishermen hauling in their catch with traditional blue boats; while you’re there, you can see the centuries-old techniques used to craft these vessels.

Essaouira is an ideal place to get a taste of some of the freshest seafood and shellfish anywhere. Local restaurants and marketplace stalls serve daily catches from the local fishermen. Or, treat yourself to some time in one of the many local cafes.

Along the beach and within the city, you can see the ruins of numerous historical outposts. Go to Diabet to see a fallen sultan’s palace, or take a relaxing stroll during low tide; there you can see the fort, Borj El Barod, where it lays in ruins at the sea. Your tour group can take the boat to Iles de Mogador, where you’ll see the Eleanora’s falcons’ breeding grounds. No matter your choice, there’s no shortage of opportunities in Essaouira!

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#2 Day Trip to Essaouira from Marrakech

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Pick up at your hotel
  • Departure Time: 8:00 am
  • Duration: 1 day
  • Included: Pick-up service, live tour guide, transport in air-conditioned minibus, insurance, free time to wander the city, stops at scenic points for photos
Your tour will begin at your hotel, where the tour driver will pick you up at 8:00 am. From there, you’ll enjoy a scenic drive to the coastal town, Essaouira. Situated on the Atlantic Coast, this charming port city is filled with vibrant sights and unique experiences. Once called Mogador, Essaouira is known for its beautiful architecture, and small, branching alleyways and streets. While you’re there, be sure to visit the port, and take a walk along the beach.

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You’ll have time to visit the colorful souks and get a taste of local culture. Take time to get to know the locals, and enjoy their friendly, relaxed demeanor. As you discover the various markets, don’t miss the jeweler’s quarter, with its stunning gems.  While wandering the Old Medina, you’ll see the renowned Moulay El Hassan square, regarded as the most beautiful in Essaouira.

For lunch, take advantage of the opportunity to try out some local fare; this fishing town’s restaurants are known for serving up fresh, local catches. After, you’ll have more time to explore more of the local culture. Your tour will also take you to see a Berber women’s collective, where they produce the argan oil that famously comes from this region.

By late afternoon, your tour will be winding down as you begin to head back to the bustle of Marrakech. You’ll enjoy another scenic ride, and arrive back to your hotel at about 7:00 pm.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#3 From Marrakech: Day Tour to Essaouira

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Pick-up at your hotel
  • Departure Time: 8 am
  • Duration: 1 day
  • Included: Pick-up Service, Instant confirmation, Professional transportation in new vehicles with AC, transportation insurance
This tour makes it unbelievably convenient to explore the old city of Essaouira. The professional pick-up service will meet you at your hotel or accomodations. All vehicles are new, and air conditioned, so you can venture into Essaouira in comfort. On the drive out, there’s no shortage of picturesque landscapes and interesting sights, particularly the so-called ‘Goat Tree,’ where goats actually climb up the tree.

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Upon arriving in Essaouira, you’ll get a chance to see the Pearl of the Atlantic’s breathtaking beaches and traditional port. This quaint town is renowned for its charm and rich cultural presence. While you’re there, your guide will take you to see how local artisanal products are created. You’ll get a unique experience as the soundtrack of this city presents itself throughout the streets and alleyways, where musicians play traditional instruments throughout the day.

For lunch, don’t miss the chance to sample some local fare with a fresh lunch of fish, caught by the fishermen of Essaouira. You can see the seafood markets and stalls that abound throughout the city, as well as the traditional, bright blue boats that the fishers use to bring in their haul. Then, have a sumptuous meal in one of the local seaside restaurants, with their daily fresh fish specials.

You’ll get an inside look into the production and use of argan oil, known for its cosmetic and culinary applications. After you’ve explored the culture surrounding the uniquely fragrant argan oil, you’ll head to the old medina.  There you can see local craftsmen creating traditional crafts and tools.

If you missed the opportunity on the way there, don’t miss the Goats tree on your way back! A perfect way to preserve a once in a lifetime opportunity, it’s more than worth a couple minutes to pullover for a photo-op.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#4 From Marrakech: Full-Day Trip to Essaouira

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

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  • Departure Point: Pick up at your hotel or other accommodation
  • Departure Time: Morning
  • Duration: Full day
  • Included: Pick-up service, bilingual driver with air-conditioned vehicle, insurance, viewpoint and photo-op stops, time to explore
Starting in the morning, your driver will pick up you up at your hotel. You’ll then embark on a drive to Essaouira, with plenty of time to admire the landscape and take souvenir photos. You’ll be able to explore this coastal town and immerse yourself in the region’s rich culture and heritage. While you’re there, don’t forget to get your picture of the Bab al Mersa, the prolific gateway of the Scala harbor.

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More laid back than Marrakech, the locals here have a warm, inviting demeanor, and simple lifestyle. Enjoy the idyllic seascapes as you wander through the harbor, and greet the local fishermen as they sell their catch fresh from the boat.  While you’re there, visit the Medina, now a World Heritage site. After that, you’ll have time to explore the city, with its winding alleyways and vibrant souks.

Explore the abundant cultural heritage of Essaouira, and make time to visit some of the local art galleries. You can also get a closer look at the work of Morroccan artists as you stroll through the souks and see traditionally crafted art and ceramics.

For a taste of the local fare, take your lunch at one of the quaint, traditional restaurants. After lunch, you’ll be treated to even more of Essaouira’s well preserved structures, when you go through the old Jewish district to see the renowned synagogues. Before your tour departs Essaouira around 4:30 pm, you have another opportunity to bask in the region’s rich history, with a stunning view of the cannons on the city ramparts.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



#5 Solace in Essaouira: Day Trip to the Seaside Town

Tour Highlights at a Glance:

  • Departure Point: Pick up at your hotel
  • Departure Time: 8 am
  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Included: Pick-up/drop-off service, multilingual driver, air-conditioned vehicle, transport insurance, transportation expenses
This tour takes you away from the lively chaos of Marrakech and into the calming, ancient citadel of Essaouira. Known as ‘the pearl of the Atlantic,’ and it draws visitors worldwide for its long standing legacy as a historical and cultural center. The relaxed atmosphere is sure to revive you just as much as the cooler, milder climate.

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After picking you up at your hotel, your tour will traverse verdant landscapes saturated with working farms alongside ancient olive trees and orange groves. In Chichaoua, you’ll have a short respite to relax in Cafe Afoulki with a snack or coffee. After the tour vehicle refuels, you’re treated to another iconic sight on your way to Essaouira: the Argan trees. This species of ancient tree dates back to the Tertiary age, and they are prized in modern times for their vast number of cosmetic, medicinal, and culinary applications. Now endangered and under the protection of UNESCO, the Argan trees are an unforgettable sight.

Once in Essaouira, you can wander along the winding, historical streets. Appreciate the rich combination of converging historical design, with the 16th century fell left behind from Portugese occupiers as it sits alongside the distinct Morrocan architecture and culture. You can imagine the living history surrounding you in detail as you see relics of the medina’s past.

With a diverse selection of sightseeing, be sure to take your lunch at one of the local, traditional restaurants. While you’re there, don’t miss out on the most important cultural fare for Essaouira: fresh caught fish, right from the fishermen’s traditional blue boats and onto your plate. Looking for a truly unique experience? Try the beachside camel ride for an experience you won’t soon forget.

You’ll have the whole day to explore and learn about the city from your guide. After your day in Essaouira is over, you’ll have a comfortable, air conditioned transportation back to your hotel or riad in Marrakech.

For tour prices, transportation and availability:



Traveler’s Guide to Essaouira

Airports and Entry

The airport is about 10 miles away from the city, and you can easily take one of the two bus lines running into town, or take a cab. When you visit you’re unlikely to need a visa, unless you plan to stay for over 90 days. That said, your passport must be valid for 6 months from the date you enter. If you do find yourself in need of a visa or visa extension, it’s recommended to get it at either one of the Spanish enclaves within Morocco, or to mainland Spain for a couple days while you wait for it.

Planning Tips

Essaouira is a destination that really takes you away from your typical experiences. While it is an incredibly relaxed, laidback city, there are a few tips that will make your time there much easier. Since it isn’t your typical tourist destination, use these tips to make the most of your time in Essaouira:

 

Tip #1: Plan Your Transport Ahead of Time

Naturally, if you’re taking a tour that provides transportation, this won’t be an issue, but do bring some activities for a longer drive. Within the city, you won’t find cars; that’s because vehicles aren’t allowed. You can walk anywhere you need to within the city, but you can also rent bicycles and scooters. There also aren’t trains that go into Essaouira. There is a small international airport about 10 miles from the medina, and you can easily hire a taxi to take you to the city. Likewise, buses run daily, and will take you to the entrance of the medina. However, the schedules for each vary, so plan ahead of time if you’re going in and out of the city.

 

Tip #2: Bring Some Cash

There are so many small shops and souks in the markets, that you won’t want to miss an opportunity to pick up some souvenirs or local craft. In some tourist spots, the Euro, and US dollars are accepted (although more rarely, Sterling is also sometimes accepted). However, for everyday use, it’s recommended to bring some Morroccan Dirham, the local currency as well.

 

Tip #3: Schedule Time to Wander

There are plenty of cultural and historical sites to take in when you visit Essaouira. It can be tempting to try and squeeze in every little thing, but that’s hardly the way to really experience this coastal city. Block out a large chunk of time in your schedule to simply wander through the branching alleyways and two main streets. There’s a rich, artistic presence throughout the city, and some of the most endearing sights and experiences can be overlooked if you concentrate solely on big name attractions. The medina is connected by two main streets: the Avenue Mohamed Zerktouni, and the Avenue Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah.

 

Since the medina is smaller than other destinations, you can easily ‘get lost’ in the city’s inner streets, without worrying about trying to find your way back.

Restaurants and Eating Out

Essaouira is known for its fresh fish and open air seafood markets. Since the local fishermen bring in a new catch every day, the local restaurants often feature the best local seafood. You can visit the eateries along the harbor to get a different fresh fish special each day. It’s worth trying one of the town’s most popular dishes: fresh grilled sardines.

Within the winding alleys and riads of the medina you’ll find small, unique restaurants sprinkled throughout. Some of the best local fare is hidden here, so if you’re staying at a riad in town, ask your host to help direct you.

Nightlife and Entertainment

On the weekends, nightlife in Essaouira’s medina springs to life. You’ll see live gnaoua music throughout the city, and for a real treat, you can find a rooftop terrace for a cold drink, and a great view. Taros is one such venue, and it’s even more popular among locals in the summer. Casa Vera is another popular spot, with a more relaxed, lounge type feel. From the rooftop, you can get a full 360 view of the surrounding city.

There are also several beachfront venues where you can watch the sunset while enjoying a cocktail or light meal. The Chalet de la Plage is another great choice if you want a beach front view; they have a nice selection on their wine list, and also stock wines from a local winery.

Getting Around

When you visit Essaouira, you’ll more than likely be taking a vehicle from Marrakech. Many tours offer convenient pick-up and drop-off services, which pick you up at your hotel and take you on the tour, and then drop you off once it’s over. If your tour doesn’t offer this service, or you’re going there on your own adventure, you’ll need to either hire transportation or rent a vehicle. Because of the distance, it may be more cost efficient to simply rent a vehicle if you don’t have a pick-up service.

Within the medina itself, it’s very easy to walk to just about anywhere you want to go. In fact, vehicles aren’t allowed within the inner city.

Accommodations

In the ancient seaside citadel itself, and nearby, there are a variety of accommodations. If you’re staying at a hotel or riad in Marrakech, your tour may take you to and from your accommodations. In Essaouira, there are plenty of riads offering accommodations for visitors. Riads are local, traditional homes that have been made into smaller hotels. These converted spaces are a great way to experience the local culture, since riads use local materials and art, and all are completely unique.

Outside of the medina there are hotels, many of which feature a seaside view or beach access, beautifully paired with Morrocan design. If you’re interested in getting up to a view that shows an unequalled vista, the Madada Mogador has a rooftop view of the ocean you’ll never forget.

Weather

Essaouira is known for its accommodating climate, which is markedly cooler than that of Marrakech. While it is known as ‘Africa’s Windy City,’ the temperatures don’t often get much higher than 80 degrees, even in summer. In winter, temperatures hover in the 60s during the day, which is still a fair temperature to explore the city, if not the beach. Since June and July are the most popular visiting times, you can still enjoy the weather year round without the crowds.

Attractions

No matter what interests you, Essaouira has just the thing for you. The famous Portuguese architecture is accented by colorful Morrocan design, as well as the brightly colored souks that cover the marketplaces and winding city walls.

The beaches are a huge draw to Essaouira, although you may not want to swim if you come in the cooler winter months. Still, the windy climate makes the beaches ideal for kitesurfing, windsurfing, or paddling. Along the beach you can also see the ruins of old forts if you take a stroll during low tide.

Music and art saturate the city, providing a full on sensory show as you roam the aromatic streets of the medina. If you visit in June, you might even get to attend the Gnaoua World Music Festival. It spans three days, and is by far the largest local celebration all year. Master musicians showcase traditional Morroccan music and arts. If you plan on going to see the festival, make sure you reserve accommodations well in advance, since hotels and riads get booked up quickly.

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We chose the Private 10-Hour Tour From Marrakech to Essaouira as our Editor's Choice for best trip from Marrakech.

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