Essaouira

Little Black Book: Essaouira & around

If you can drag yourself away from the pool, the donkeys and evenings by the fire, let us tempt you with our favourite spots in Essaouira.

Shop

Elizir – a magnificent vintage furniture store with room after room of fabulous finds from kitsch standing lamps, to mid century modern originals.

Gallerie d’Art Damgaard – with the ever-rising popularity of the region’s art Naïf movement, now is the time to pick up an original or two, and this place has the best collection in town.

Historie de Filles – a delightful concept store for contemporary Moroccan clothing, accessories and gift items to take back home.

Lalla Izza – if you take only one thing back from Essaouira, make it a bottle or two of culinary Argan oil. Delicious alone with nothing but bread for dipping.

The Anou – a women’s only co-operative selling hand-made rafia shoes. The must-have for summers on the Atlantic (think of them as a North African espadrille).

Do

Azur Spa – great for a traditional Moroccan hammam and scrub down using the kessa (scrubbing mitt) local clay and rosewater. Perhaps followed with an oriental massage?

Camel Rides – Lima Dromadaire offers camel rides from the beach into the eucalyptus forest. Sunset is a particularly spectacular time to do it.

Water sports - hit Ocean Vagabond for kite, wind and board surf lessons. Or, if you prefer dry land, mountain biking trails through the surrounding countryside.

Flea market (Joutiya) – if you like ambling round proper flea markets and junk yards the Sunday flea market at Souk Jdid is an essential outing. Liveliest in the afternoons.

Sidi Kaouki – make the 30-minute drive south to roam the endless beaches of this sleepy, surfers town. Combine it with a sensational seafood lunch at La Mouette et les Dromadaires

Drink

Patisserie Chez Driss – an iconic stop on any visit to the old medina for a strong black coffee or nous-nous (espresso topped with steamed milk) and a tooth achingly sweet pastry.

Le Chalet de La Plage – going strong since 1893, a recent revamp to this Essaouira classic, saw the addition of a new bar right on the beach, lovely for a sundowner or a pre-dinner aperitif

Tangaro – if you fancy some pool time that isn’t ours, this sweet little spot has a lovely pool and Ibiza style terrace plus with a plentiful supply of cold Casablanca beers. 

Taro’s Cafe – there aren’t many places with rooftop sea views, so this is a favoured spot for enjoying Essaouira’s jaw-dropping sunsets with a G&T. 

Vall D’Argan – come for the wine-tasting, leave with a couple of cases of locally produced, organic wines to drink back at Villa Mabrouka.

Eat

Bistro’O – a groovy newcomer with a strong design aesthetic is a perfect pit stop for lunch. Don’t miss their re-imagined fish and chips, Essaouira-style of course.

Caravane Café – a jungle-like courtyard where fire-dancing and the odd magician are all part of the nightly entertainment. Food wise think tasty Moroccan, Caribbean, Asian fusion.

La Table by Madada – look no further than this cavernous dining room for a celebratory feast on Oualidia oysters, octopus carpaccio and spider crab gratin.

Ocean Vagabond – a barefoot in the sand kind of a place, best enjoyed after a breezy walk along the beach. Eat grilled fish or burgers before a snooze on one of their sun-loungers.

La Fromagerie – it’s not the first place you think of for excellent cheeses, but this place doesn’t disappoint. Plan a long lazy lunch to taste their wares paired with locally made, organic wines.