Despite Wi-Fi being available in nearly every Essaouira hotel, riad, café and restaurant, it’s still useful to get a SIM card for your visit to Essaouira. From a connectivity and safety perspective, it makes sense to have internet data when you need it, whether you’re wandering around the medina, exploring the port area, or relaxing on the beach.
You’ll notice SIM cards being sold all over the city and in this guide we’ll help you understand the different options, setup process and costs.
Mobile providers in Morocco
The three main mobile providers in Morocco are:
- Maroc Telecom
Can you get a SIM card from Essaouira airport?
No, we’ve never seen SIM cards being sold at Essaouira airport, unlike at Marrakech airport which has stalls for the three main networks.
Buying a prepaid SIM from Essaouira medina
Many of the small shops in the medina sell prepaid SIM cards, you’ll usually be able to recognise them by an A4 piece of paper taped to the wall with ‘CARTE SIM‘, ‘RECHARGE‘, or similar. Alternatively, keep an eye out for the INWI, Orange, or Maroc Telecom logos displayed in the window.
There are also shops on Ave de l’Istiqlal and Rue Mohamed El Qorry which specialise in selling SIM cards.
Buying a prepaid SIM is usually a simple process, with the shopkeepers well used to tourists buying SIMs. They even have that little metal implement on hand to release the SIM holder from your phone to make the process easier.
When you first buy the SIM, they’ll pop it in and do the registration for you. To get data on your SIM (both for this first time and all subsequent occasions), the usual process is for you to choose your package, give them the cash, and they then top-up on your behalf using their phone (it’s done via SMS). You’ll then get an SMS to your mobile confirming the transaction.
There can be a short wait whilst the SMS arrives so don’t worry, especially if you’ve used a physical shop rather than a street vendor. If you prefer, you can then check your account balance via SMS before you leave, but we never once came across an unscrupulous vendor in Essaouira, they were all honest and helpful.
When we first buy the SIM and asked them to install and register it for us, we always give the shopkeeper some extra money as a thank you.
Packages and top-up
We used INWI in Essaouira and had no problems with speed, connectivity or reliability.
When you need to top-up, find a store and tell them you which package you’d like. We only ever wanted data so it was quite easy to choose the package; if you also need calls/texts, ask them for advice on the best package.
INWI has data packages which work out at 10DH per GB (e.g. 1GB is 10DH, 5GB is 50DH, etc). There didn’t seem to be any saving by buying in bulk, so we tended to buy 5GB at a time.
Make sure you either know your mobile phone number, or take the plastic card you received at purchase which will have it printed. The shopkeeper will need this to complete the transaction and assign the package to your SIM.
Occasionally, we were offered the actual prepaid scratch cards to purchase, which meant we needed to complete the top-up ourselves (instructions are on the back of the cards). This was rare though, typically the shopkeepers preferred to do it themselves, which suited us.
Using an eSIM in Essaouira
If the thought of buying a physical SIM card feels like too much trouble, an alternative is to buy an eSIM before you arrive. We’ve used Airalo a few times with (mostly) good results, although the setup process can be fiddly at times.
The advantage is that you can keep your home SIM card in your phone (allowing you to receive one-time passcodes if needed), and it can be setup as soon as you arrive in Morocco (saving you a visit to the shops before you can get online).
The disadvantage is that the prices and packages aren’t as good, and you’ll be stuck with whichever provider they work with, which might not be the best one for the location you’re in. On our last visit, Airotel used the Orange mobile network. If you run out of data, you’ll need to get back online some other way to top-up, it won’t be possible to do so at a local shop.
Final thoughts on getting a SIM card in Essaouira
We all like to get online when we’re travelling and the easiest way to do so in Essaouira is to buy a SIM card when you arrive. The shopkeepers are happy to help, they know the process inside-out, and you’ll never have to walk far to find someone selling SIMs or offering top-ups.
Packages are affordable and it’s simple to either register or top-up. At 10DH for 1GB, you can’t go far wrong, just remember to bring your mobile phone number with you so the shopkeeper can complete the transaction on your behalf.
Increasingly, more travellers are using eSIMs, which are a good option if you want to avoid installing a physical SIM and would prefer to handle the process yourself, but do remember the rates aren’t as competitive as using a local SIM.
Explore Essaouira ebook£9.45
Explore Essaouira ebook
Updated for 2024, the Explore Essaouira ebook is the only travel guide you need for exploring Essaouira. It is jam packed with inspiration on what to do, where to eat, where to stay, and also includes a step-by-step self-guided walking tour (with photos).
This is a PDF download for use offline and on the go (and ad-free!). Save it to read on the plane to Morocco, download to your phone to follow the self-guided walking tour around the medina, or print it off at home before you leave on your adventures and highlight all the bits you want to remember for your visit.
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Before your go, check out these useful reads for your visit: