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A-Z Guidebook: Essaouira, Morocco

Welcome to the A-Z Guidebook Link Up. If you would like to join, read the A-Z Guidebook tab at the top of the blog and write a travel post relating to the letter of the month.

*The A-ZGuidebook Pinterest page is up and running. Please visit and follow the page for a pictorial trip through the Guidebook! This month:

E or Elegant

I never thought I would find myself in Morocco. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in visiting. It’s just a long, long way from Australia and not as immediately accessible as Asia or North America. A very long holiday in Europe and the UK changed all that. Suddenly there were budget airlines and exotic destinations within in easy reach both in terms of flight times and cost. Our friend Iain flew in from Australia and we met him at a hotel in the carpark of Gatwick Airport. Classy. From there we took the short flight to Morocco and spent two weeks travelling around the country via public transport. After a particularly long bus journey over the arid Atlas Mountains, we changed buses at the station in Marrakech and journeyed for several hours facing directly into the sun, to the coastal town of Essaouira. We were very over Morocco by the time we hopped off that bus. Salty sea air and a gentle breeze soothed these weary travellers. What a tonic.

In existence since antiquity, Essaouira is a coastal town that really came into its own in the early 16th century with the building of a fortress by the Portuguese. The ramparts, cannons and pepperpots of the fortress still exist, providing wonderful views over the Atlantic and the active fishing port. I have many favourite photos from my travel around the world however Essaouira seems to have more than its fair share at the top of the list.

Essaouira, Morocco

Most of the city is still contained within the walls of the old fortress, creating narrow and atmospheric cobbled streets to wander around. Unlike the rest of Morocco with its highly patterned mosaics in jewel colours, the colours of Essaouira are white and blue. Berber Blue as it is known. Almost every door in the city is a shade of blue, as are the small fishing boats, window shutters and bicycles used to traverse the winding streets. There are mercifully, no cars in the walled city though there are still plenty of noisy scooters.

Once Casablanca took over as the main port in the early 1900’s, it returned to a quiet coastal town. If you look carefully, you’ll see a cat in the photo above. A sure sign that the coastal waters are teeming and the fishing port is thriving. Musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens visited during the 60’s, putting Essaouira on the map for tourism. It is still very much considered a backpacker destination rather than a resort town. It has a relaxed atmosphere and rakish charm that, after the bustle of Marrakech, lets you enjoy it even more. I would love to re-visit and hope one day I will.

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16 comments… add one
  • Pamela Hayward October 15, 2015, 6:14 am

    Loved this town too. We visited this town (my youngest was on a GAP in the UK and when I went to visit took him to Morocco). Had not planned to visit here but we’re stuck in Marrakech after the volcano in Iceland prevented our return so took the bus here. I know you were in Europe at the same time, Fiona. As friends have said…..there are worse places to be stuck. But your post brought back memories. Loved the blog of Glace oranges too. And I love the Buderain ginger too

    • Fiona Ryan October 15, 2015, 3:25 pm

      It’s certainly a badge of travel credibility having Morocco stamped in your passport. (well as far as Aussies are concerned).

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime October 15, 2015, 6:03 pm

    I so want to go to Morocco. Even from South Africa it is not an easy destination. Lovely share Fiona 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan October 16, 2015, 6:59 am

      And here I was think SA was the centre of the universe. You always seem to be trotting off somewhere ; )

  • Francesca October 16, 2015, 7:27 am

    I would love to visit Essaouira on day- a backpackers town, no resorts, with an interesting history and abundant blue doors- sounds like my kind of town.

    • Fiona Ryan October 19, 2015, 4:11 pm

      I can’t see myself visiting Morocco again any time soon when there are so many places I have yet to visit but Essaouira would be high on the list of return destinations.

  • Stuart October 17, 2015, 7:36 am

    A nice post, Fiona. As an admirer of decorative doors, I really enjoyed the photo. Old coastal towns that have been by-passed by other ports always seem to have a special atmosphere.

    • Fiona Ryan October 19, 2015, 4:09 pm

      I’ll be expecting a decorative doors post from you soon, to bookend the graffiti post. cheers!

  • Patti October 17, 2015, 10:47 pm

    Thank you for the link up, this is my first time. I like using a theme as it gives me something to look for on my travels. Love your photo of the blue doors, my favorite color. I hope to make it to Morocco one day. Thanks for sharing!

    • Fiona Ryan October 19, 2015, 4:10 pm

      And thank you for joining in – I love to see what contributors have to offer. Even if it’s somewhere I’ve visited, there’s always something new to learn about.

  • Emily (Cooking for Kishore) October 18, 2015, 5:37 am

    Would love to visit Morocco one day, and that is a lovely pic. That cerulean blue on the doors is just so vibrant. Thanks for sharing Fiona! 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan October 19, 2015, 4:08 pm

      I look at that photo, which was a bit of a quick snap, and think it sums up the town perfectly.

  • Sally October 19, 2015, 7:12 am

    What a beautiful place, I hope my travels take me here one day 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan October 19, 2015, 4:07 pm

      Very relaxing after busy Marrakech. Thanks for joining in the fun.

  • sherry from sherrys pickings October 19, 2015, 2:46 pm

    we met a lone male backpacker in europe who said he got off the train (plane?) in morocco and took the first one back out. he just couldn’t take the hassling! Essaouira looks beautiful tho.

    • Fiona Ryan October 19, 2015, 4:07 pm

      Morocco is fairly full on (particularly Marrakech) but they have nothing on the Egyptians. Now that’s a hard sell!

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