Essaouira (pronounced ‘essa-weera’)is a scenic port city on the Atlantic Coast of Morocco, characterized by its coastal wind, lively art scene and bustling fishing harbour. Just 175 km from Marrakesh, yet a world away – Essaouira has been described as the “Malibu of Morocco” with “its combination of French sophistication, the hot African south, geometric Arab designs and the romance of the nomadic Berber tribes.”

Discovered by European hippies back in the 1960s, it has developed a lively art scene. The coastal landscape offers inspiration to local artists, as such you can browse their galleries. Within its fortified walls, the narrow streets of the medina house a bustling souk filled with exquisite Moroccan artistry – leather, textiles, silver, ceramics and more. Every June, Essaouira hosts the Gnaoua & World Music Festival, but you’ll find local live music venues to clap your hands and move your feet any time of year.

With its bustling fishing harbour, Essaouira has become a culinary paradise. Wander the port late morning to see the fishing boats unloading their day’s catch and afterwards dine at one of the outdoor fish grill stands. In addition to great seafood, you can enjoy French, Italian, Mediterranean, and of course Moroccan cuisine.

As the “wind city of Africa,” Essaouira has also become a surfing, kitesurfing and windsurfing hotspot, with infamous breaks in Sidi Kakouki.

Read more about Essaouira on Lonely Planet.

Here are our top recommended activities while in Essaouira…