On our recent trip to Morocco, we had time for a quick excursion from Marrakech. Essaouira, which is located a three-hour drive away from Marrakech, makes for a perfect day trip. This coastal getaway had been on our radar since we saw it featured on ‘Game of Thrones’. Essaouira is a colourful and vibrant city has a long history of colonization, evident through the massive stone walls that surround the old medina. The medina is now listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Essaouira has become a favourite with watersport enthusiasts due to its sprawling beach and tranquil harbour.
How to Get to Essaouira from Marrakech
We arranged our transportation to and from Essaouira through our riad. Transportation was in the form of a rather uncomfortable minibus. The trip took roughly three hours and we stopped at a women’s argan oil cooperative along the way. If you want to know more about argan oil and goats in trees, read our in-depth guide here.
We couldn’t have been more pleased though to reach Essaouira as we were getting toasted in the minibus and just wanted to get out. Our driver informed us that we would have about four hours for sightseeing which seemed a decent amount of time to explore Essaouira.
A more direct and perhaps more comfortable way to get to Essaouira from Marrakech is to take a bus. There are several operators in the area, but the most popular one is CTM. Buses depart from the bus station at Bab Doukkala in Marrakech. The journey takes about 2.5 hours. Check their schedule on their official website. Another option is Supratours whose buses depart from the depot next to the train station in Marrakech approximately every two hours. You can find the schedule on their website.
On the Tracks of Game of Thrones in Essaouira
We first made our way to the town ramparts and the adjacent fishing port. From the ramparts, you can get a great view of the medina and those famous blue boats which are bobbing in the blue water. It costs a small amount to climb the tower and walk the walls of the rampart. It was quite challenging to take pictures since the wind was roaring! But be assured that the views are absolutely breathtaking!
The location is best known amongst visitors as a filming location for Game of Thrones in Essaouira. It was here, that Daenerys meets the Unsullied for the first time. Avid fans may know the town better under its fictional name Astapor 😉
The fishing port is located in front of the ramparts and it is such a colourful and vibrant place. The port is full of seagulls swooping for handouts from fishermen, working boats and on this glorious sunny day, young chaps diving off the dinghies moored behind the ramparts. There’s a promenade where all the fishermen have their catches of the day for sale. On display is everything from sea urchin and oysters, which they will shuck right there and serve on the half shell with a squirt of lemon, to eels, dogfish, shrimp, octopus, etc. You can see boats being built in the shipyard as well as fishermen repairing their equipment.
Tranquility in the Medina
We then proceeded towards the Medina. The medina is a stark contrast to the one in Marrakech which is just buzzing with activity. Although it’s small, it’s the ideal place to wander around in, as you cannot get lost! There are plenty of eclectic shops and the locals are far more laid back and as a tourist, you are definitely hassled less. It has all the charm of a typical Moroccan medina. However, with plenty of art galleries and boutique restaurants with a distinct hippy vibe. It was in one of these restaurants that Jacky and I decided to have lunch. Keeping in theme with the rest of our trip, the seafood platter and the lamb tagine were a bit of a letdown taste-wise, but the atmosphere certainly made up for it.
After lunch, we took a digestive stroll through the alleys of the medina for a while and then just decided to sit in a roadside cafe to just observe life go by. A few cups of strong mint tea and two chocolate crepes later, we were both thoroughly content with our visit. The time passed pretty quickly and we were soon running to board our minibus. Another three long hours later we were back in Marrakech again. It was a wonderful day and in fact, I think I can still feel the ocean breeze on my face.
Now, what do you think? Have you been to Essaouira? Did you try any fresh fish? Would you like to re-enact your favourite scene from GoT? 😉 Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. Let’s stay in touch!