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Essaouira T[rave]l Guide

A trip to Essaouira offers the perfect combination of Moroccan culture and seaside activities. It’s claimed as the hippy city of Morocco and has a strong history in music culture, connecting traditional Gnawa with current electronic music happenings. It’s probably this combination and the chilled vibe that is attracting digital nomads from Morocco and the world. Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site and explore the local culture, music and hotspots.

Transparency: In friendly cooperation with MOGA Festival.

Essaouira & the music

The coastal city of Essaouira is a cultural melting pot and thus as versatile and vivid as it can be. Muslims, Jews and Christians are living together in the so-claimed hippie city of Morocco. Compared to Marrakech the city is more chilled and at the same time offers all cultural highlights like the medina, a harbor and great tajines. This vibe and the waves are attracting digital nomads and surfers from all around the globe. No wonder that already in the 60ies musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Cat Stevens got attracted by the aura of the city. But not only foreign musicians left their mark on the city, but also the local Gnawa music. Essaouira was the city where Gnawa music was brought to Morocco. Originating from the sub-Saharan region, mostly slaves brought this genre by ship many years ago. The traditional genre is led by a maâlem (master) and accompanied by a group of musicians, vocalists and dancers. Together they create unique rhythms underlined by melodies and vocals. Every year the Gnawa World Music Festival takes place in Essaouira, putting the city into a trance-like state. No wonder the MOGA Festival chose this city as one of its homes in 2016.

About MOGA Festival Essaouira

MOGA is a boutique festival inspired by the Atlantic vibes, connecting people from all around the world through dance, music, art and wellness. MOGA is now spreading from Caparica in Portugal to Morocco and beyond.

The third MOGA edition in Essaouria took place September 28 – October 2, 2022 and attracted 12,000 festival-goers over 5 days. Among them were around 80 % Moroccan festival-goers and 20 % from France, UK, Portugal, Canada, USA, Belgium, Germany, Spain and more.

We do a lot of festivals around the globe but Morocco has always been a special place for us. The way you interact with people here is unique.

MOGA co-founder Matthieu Corosine

Upon the lineup were 90 artists, including 53 Moroccan musicians – e.g. Acid Arab, Astral Wayne, CC:DISCO!, DJ Tennis, DJ Vibe, Foxy from Space, Habibi Funk, Jan Blomqvist, Jimi Jules, John Talabot, Kawtar Sadik, Khalid Sansi, Lala Tamar, Lee Burridge, Moullinex, Mr Id, Parallelle, Rui Vargas and Sébastien Léger.

This year was the premier of the MOGA OFF program. Several activities in different Souiri places and establishments connected the guests with the local rhythm and culture. One of them was the Gnawa concert at the Sqala – the filming location of Games of Thrones and an outstanding experience. 

Moroccan culture was also highlighted during the original creation of MOGA which each year combines an international artist and a Moroccan artist who meet in the studio a few days before the festival to create an original production which will then be played live. This year the bridge was naturally made between Portugal and Morocco, the two adopted countries of MOGA. The Portuguese DJ/producer Moullinex, Maalem Khalid Sansi, a Gnawa artist from Casablanca and Lala Tamar, a Moroccan Israeli vocalist, joined the studios and stage.

The best Restaurants, Cafés & Activities in Essaouira

Moroccan salad, fresh fish, tajines, Moroccan mint tea and pastries but also modern cuisine – in Essaouira you can have it all. Do you want to spice up your life with outdoor activities? Quad rides, horse riding at the beach or surfing will make your trip to Essaouira an unforgettable one.

Café L’Esprit

A cozy inside space with a nice outdoor area and lots of books make Café L’Esprit a place to linger. Pastries, avocado bread, Moroccan tea or espresso serve digital nomads during a stop in the medina.

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Diana Quad

Explore the dunes and coastline of Essaouria with some speed under your butt. By turning the gas handle, not only the engine gets up to speed, but also your blood.

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La Mouette et les Dromadaires

You’ll find this relaxing beach bar within a 20 min car drive south of Essaouria. Enjoy some snacks or drinks while you let your gaze wander over the horizon.

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Megaloft Othman Chic

A brunch, lunch and dinner concept including a yoga studio and event/exhibition space by the unique founder and designer Othman Chic.

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Restaurant Laayoune

Most probably the best Tajine in Essaouria and beyond. Serving authentic Moroccan cuisine for 46 years.

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Sam’s Restaurant

Traditional fish and seafood dishes right from the ocean. Don’t forget to order the Moroccan salad, consisting of tomatoes, green pepper, onions, and is seasoned with sesame, cumin, paprika, olive and argan oil as well as lemon.

Do you want to explore more places and happenings in Morocco? Check out our Morocco T[rave]l Guide and the Marrakech T[rave]l Guide.

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