A Guide To Essaouira: A Cheaper, Chilled-Out Alternative To Marrakech

Photo: Henglein and Steets/Getty Images.
Marrakech sure is a different place than it was 10 years ago. Of course it's still beautiful, and full of sights and sounds and smells that nourish the senses, but it has become ever more touristy of late and, let's face it, a stroll through an architecturally stunning 12th-century medina doesn't need to be interrupted by the vocal offerings of British tourists drinking behind the walls of the gated Thomas Cook resort. Sorry Morocco.
For the past three years however, easyJet has been running two direct flights a week to Essaouira – a city just three hours' drive out to the coast from Marrakech. Long a popular French holiday destination, other European and African visitors are now more commonplace around the windy beach town. And for good reason, too. There's a long, windsurfing-ready beach, a small but perfectly formed medina, a huge artistic scene, incredible restaurants and, so far, very few chain-type resorts in the surrounding areas. Fingers crossed it stays that way for a while.
Here's how to do Essaouira over a long weekend.

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