06 Dec Morocco: What to do in Essaouira-Mogador
With notched walls, the whisper of trade winds, homes with white and blue facades – the colors of ocean foam and waves –Essaouira has earned the nickname “Bride of the Atlantic”.
The coastal city once known as Mogador is a place where the good life and water-oriented pastimes go hand in hand. Take a quiet walk in the shade of its ramparts, which also stand in for the walls of Astapor, the red city on the television series “Game of Thrones”. Climb to the top of them and retrace a watchman’s rounds: from here you can see the Iles Purpuraires and the hawks and seagulls that soar over the nature preserve. In the distance, surfing, windsurfing and kite-surfing fanatics can’t get enough of the quality winds!
Your walk will lead you to the fishing port and its animated sailors. Not far from there, the fish market entices with the night’s haul of fish and seafood. The interlaced alleys of the medina await you in the town center. This UNESCO-listed medina is one of the finest in Morocco. Finally, each summer the city is overtaken by music as the Gnaoua festival celebrates the marriage of North African and sub-Saharan rhythms.
Come to relax, wear yourself out and be culturally enriched: the mesmerizing Essaouira-Mogador is a destination that offers 1,001 possibilities!
Land and sea sports
The walls of Essaouira feel like a cocoon: wind through the alleys and take a timeless stroll along the parapet. It is an enchanting environment for relaxing and for flexing your muscles. Essaouira is full of sports and activities you have to try.
Head to the beaches, where the Atlantic Ocean serves up wind and waves for your pleasure. See for yourself why Essaouira is a hot spot for surfing, kite-surfing and windsurfing. Perhaps you will rent a land yacht and let the wind carry you across vast stretches of golden sand.
You may also step away from the beach and hop on a bike to explore the city and its surroundings. Work your way through the streets of downtown Essaouira and pedal to the beats of local musicians. Outside the city, your adventure will take an athletic turn on one of the area’s many trails that snake through gorgeous landscapes dotted with man-made lakes.
Finally, the Mogador golf course offers a more laid-back recreational opportunity. This 18-hole course is considered to be one of the most exciting in the world.
As you can see, it’s impossible to be bored in Essaouira!
A seaside resort in a natural setting
The untamed beauty of the city once known as Mogador will amaze you in more ways than one. Argan trees, cedars, Norfolk pines and other evergreens blanket nearly half the province of Essaouira, which is one of the most densely wooded regions in the kingdom. To preserve this protected ecosystem comprising forests, dunes, lakes, ocean and undeveloped coastline, a sustainable tourism industry that honors the environment has been emerging in recent years.
To meet the corresponding standards, the Mogador Islands across from the port from Essaouira have been transformed into a nature reserve. They are now a sanctuary for Eleonora’s falcons, seagulls and other birds. The islands also protect the bay and the unsurpassed find sandy beaches of Essaouira from the Atlantic’s mighty waves.
With beaches such as Chicht, Sidi Kaouki, Azrou and Tafedna, anyone who likes swimming, camel-back riding or water sports will get their fill of fun.
When you come to the province, take time to see the only certified organic wine-making estate in Morocco, the Val d’Argan vineyards, which are nestled in the hollow of a small valley in the shade of argan trees and olive trees.
Proof that in Essaouira, you can immerse yourself in nature, too.
Fashion and craftsmanship
Essaouira has more than its natural, untamed beauty to win your heart. Here, in the place once known as Mogador, prepare to be wowed by the skill of the town’s craftsmen, who are among the most talented in all Morocco.
Strolling under the Scala along the blockhouses of the old fort is a great way to admire the cabinetmakers and inlayers as they work thuja wood, silver and copper wire, mother of pearl or camel bone with equal parts dexterity and ingenuity. Who can resist the temptations of beautiful jewelry boxes, chess and checker boards and furniture? They all deserve a special place in our home,as do the woven wool blankets and traditional babouche slippers crafted from raffia or nubuck.
If you are interested in empowering women, leave room in your suitcase for argan oil, a specialty of the Essaouira region. In addition to enjoying the anti-ageing properties and culinary applications of the oil, you will be helping to improve the living conditions of the women who manage the oil co-ops.
Although traditional products dominate the market, shopping addicts will also find boutiques that sell contemporary clothing and modern wares.
In Essaouira, shopping is synonymous with pleasure.
Essaouira, city of art and history
Essaouira, the “well drawn” city, holds plenty of surprises. At the end of an alley, you may find a curio, a cultural vestige or a gallery featuring the work of a contemporary artist.
The city gets its special character from its ramparts. They are pierced by monumental doors that stand asworks of art and defense tactics. The ramparts are flanked by two citadels, the Kasbah squala and the Port squala. To get your first look at the city, stroll in the shadows of these historic walls, then go deeper into a maze of alleys and discover the medina. Like the whole city, and like the former Mogador now known as Essaouira, the medina is a mix of Western and Eastern influences. The minaret of Ben Youssef Mosque rises above and many consular homes dot its streets.
Its standing as a city at the crossroads of civilizations also makes Essaouira a beloved place for artists. There are various galleries to celebrate beauty and creativity. Check out the artists’ café, MareaArte Bleu Mogador and the Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah Museum, which honors the region’s history of craftsmanship and folk traditions.
The myriad beauties of Essaouira are sure to blow you away!
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