Follow our self-guided, FREE Essaouira walking tour to get the most out of your visit to this charming coastal town in Morocco.
One of the best things to do in Essaouira to get the most out of your visit is to walk. Essaouira is a relatively compact town and both the traffic-free medina and long stretch of promenade that hugs the sandy beach beckon for a morning or afternoon stroll.
Whilst it’s rather difficult to get lost in Essaouira’s grid-patterned medina, you don’t want to miss out the main points of interest. But you will also want to get off the beaten track to explore quieter alleyways away from other tourists.
Here we have put together a FREE self-guided Essaouira walking tour for you to follow at your own pace. Don’t worry about following an Essaouira map, just follow our photos and detailed route descriptions below. And if you do get lost, that’s part of the fun right? But to help you, we have added the Google Map locations of places along the way (just click on the hyperlinks). And if all else fails, a local will be sure to help you on your way if you mention the next site your making your way to.
How long does this Essaouria walking tour take?
If you walked this self-guided Essaouira walking tour non-stop, you could easily complete it in 2 hours. However, this isn’t a race. Take your time, stop to browse the shops, ask a craftsman what he/she is making, photograph that pretty doorway, and stop for an freshly squeezed orange juice or mint tea when the moment takes your fancy.
The entire walk including the walk to Essaouira’s northern beach and then to the far end of the main beach at Beach and Friends, is 7km. But if you turn back at the Jewish Cemetery and finish at the start of the main beach, the walk is only 3km.
If you do this entire walk, plus the optional extensions to the northern beach and along the full stretch of Essaouira’s main beach, with stops for refreshments and lunch, then you can easily fill an entire day with this walk.
Take it at your own pace and go with the flow.
Map of our Essaouira walking tour
The below map is just to give you an idea of the areas you will be exploring in Essaouira.
Our Essaouira walking tour starts at Bab Sbaa (click here for Google Map location) and ends at Essaouira’s main beach, with an optional extension to walk to Beach and Friends at the far end of the beach.
What should I wear?
Flip flops are fine (just about), but you will be more comfortable in sturdier walking sandals or trainers. Around the medina, please dress conservatively with shoulders and knees covered.
Do I need to take anything with me?
Just yourself, comfortable walking shoes, and your camera to capture the beauty of Essaouira. Sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat are a good idea, as is an extra layer as it gets cooler by the sea. Do take water with you, but don’t worry if you run out, as there are plenty of places to stop for a drink along this Essaouira walking tour.
Our self-guided Essaouira walking tour directions
START: Bab Sbaa (click here for Google Map location)
1. Walk through Bab Sbaa, continuing straight ahead to the clock tower. Then continue under the arch by the clock tower, following the alley way straight ahead, then round to the right, then left.
2. Just after Asian Red Food on your right, take the next alleyway on your right. Continue along here right to the end for 400 metres. There is shopping galore along here! So take your time to browse. If you need breakfast or a mint tea along here, Brunch&Co is a good option.
3. At the end of this stretch, it opens out into a small square with a handful of restaurants spilling out onto the pavement. If you haven’t yet stopped on this walking tour, then pick a table here.
4. Continue through the alleyway with Resto Dar Abi on your immediate left. You are now entering the Jewish Quarter. You will notice that this area is not as well kept as the rest of the medina and is undergoing renovations. Keep walking straight ahead. You will pass the entrance to Haim Pinto Synagogue, which is open to visitors (no entry fee).
5. Follow this alleyway right to the end, and then take a right. Continue on for 50 metres. This brings you out to Bab Doukkala.
6. Walk through Bab Doukkala and continue straight ahead on the pavement to the left. After 70 metres there is a blue door on your left. Walk through here to visit the Jewish and Christian cemeteries. This is often closed in the evenings and on Sundays. A man will be sitting outside if it is open. There is no entry fee.
DETOUR: If you want to visit the beach north of Essaouira, take a left as you come out of the cemetery and continue along the road to the TOTAL gas station. Just past here on the left is a short road that leads to the beach. Walk down here, and continue to the left to get down to the beach. There is unfortunately a lot of litter here.
7. If you don’t want to detour to the northern beach, take a right out of the entrance to the cemetery and walk back through the Bab Doukkala.
8. Continue straight ahead after walking through the Bab Doukkala. Along here are lots of fruit and veg shops if you need to stock up.
9. After the second arch, take a right and continue straight ahead at Zaman Berber Rugs.
10. Once you reach the medina walls, take a left. Then take another left Riad Mimouna. Continue following the alleyways taking a right wherever you can.
11. You eventually emerge out next to the entrance to walk along the top of the ramparts next to Pasta Baladin. Although if you walk back the way you came and take a left instead of a right, Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah Museum is just along here and worth the 15 minute wander around the museum (click here for our full guide).
12. Essaouira’s Ramparts are one of the main sites of this coastal town, and are especially striking at sunset. These fortified walls were constructed around the medina in the 18th century to protect the port from attack and are remarkably well preserved. Take in the windswept views of the Atlantic Coast, with the wooden fishing boats, rocky outcrop, and an offshore bird sanctuary. The ramparts are free to enter. Game of Thrones fans may be interested to know that these ramparts feature heavily in the Astapor scenes. Firstly when Daenerys Targaryen arrives to Astapor, and then again as ‘The Walk of Punishment’ two episodes later. Read our guide to Game of Thrones in Essaouira.
13. To continue along this Essaouira walking tour, return back down the slope that you walked up to reach the ramparts, and then continue straight ahead along colourful Rue Skala, with the rampart walls on your left. A good place to stop for a drink along here is the rooftop of Hostel La Smala. This is open to everyone, not just residents of the hotel. Climb up to the very top and enjoy the stunning views with a mocktail.
14. Continue along Rue Skala, taking a right at the fork with the high walls and sound of the sea on your right. This then leads out onto Place Moulay Hassan, a wide open space, reminiscent of a French plaza with street performers and cafes spilling out onto the pavement. It’s a good place to enjoy a coffee or to pick up a crêpe.
15. Then continue along to the fishing port, although stopping for a freshly squeezed orange juice before you enter the port. We appreciate that you may not quite have finished your crepe, but after your orange juice, we hope you have space for some grilled fresh fish!
16. At the fishing port walk around to the right, and if it’s a warm day, you will see local kids jumping into the water. Continue right through the port to the end of the jetty. This is a working port and fascinating to see the fisherman at work. You can also buy fish directly from the fishermen and have your fish cooked at the open air restaurants with BBQ.
17. After wandering the fishing port, follow the road around to the right, with the entrance to the port on your left. This leads out to an open empty space, that has been used as a car park in the past (there’s talk of this becoming a garden).
18. Walk around to the other side of this open space and on to the beach. This is the end of our Essaouira walking tour. But if you want to continue…
EXTENSION: You can continue this walk either along the promenade or along the shoreline all the way to the other end of the beach to one of our favourite Essaouira restaurants, Beach and Friends. This is a good place for a sundowner. Or perhaps keep walking to Diabat and check out Dar Sultan Palace (an abandoned palace now swamped by the sand dunes).
If you need to get back to the medina afterwards and don’t fancy the walk, jump in a petit taxi back to Bab Sbaa where you started this Essaouira walking tour. It’s a flat fee of 7DH during the day and 8DH at night.