How to go from Marrakech to Essaouira

Getting to the charming corner of Morocco known as Essaouira is really easy. If you want to know the options available from Marrakech, I give you all the details.

Katherine Betances

Katherine Betances

7 min read

How to go from Marrakech to Essaouira

Essaouria | ©Piotr Arnoldes

Essaouira is located on the west coast of Morocco, 168 km from Marrakech.

This small town has gained prominence as an alternative escape from Marrakech and as the setting for some episodes of the famous TV series Game of Thrones.

Enjoy the best option to visit Essaouira, an organised excursion.

Waves lapping against the ramparts of Essaouira| ©Doug Knuth
Waves lapping against the ramparts of Essaouira| ©Doug Knuth

If you only have one day, the easiest alternative is to book an excursion to Essaouira. Organised excursions from Marrakech start very early in the morning with a dedicated shuttle picking you up directly from your hotel. On the way there is usually a stop to see some of the sights of Marrakech, such as stopping to watch the Moroccan goats climbing trees in search of argan oil. You then embark on the town of Essaouira with all its delights and will be back at your hotel by dinnertime.

Although there is plenty to see and do in Essaouira, it is perfectly possible to see and enjoy the town on a day trip. In this time you can explore the old townof Essaouira, the fishermen's port, the jewellery quarter and the beautiful and quiet beaches.

  • Recommended if... You want to discover the beauty of this destination in a hassle-free and totally relaxed day trip.
  • Price: Excursions from Marrakech to Essaouira are really affordable, costing from €22.
  • Journeytime: Essaouira is relatively close to Marrakech. The journey including stops usually takes a maximum of 2.5 hours and the total trip takes about 10 hours.

Book your trip to Essaouira

Consider the more flexible option of travelling by private car.

On the way to Essaouira| ©Julien Chatelain
On the way to Essaouira| ©Julien Chatelain

Renting a car in Marrakech is a common and in-demand practice. Consequently, it will be very easy to find car rental alternatives at very affordable prices. Although it is an alternative that can be economical, the truth is that I do not consider it viable for everyone and here are my reasons:

If this is the first time you visit Morocco you should be aware that driving on Moroccan streets is a totally different experience than driving in Spain. The roads are much more congested and traffic in general can be quite chaotic, especially in the centre of Marrakech. Another important consideration is the language issue, as officers and service personnel operating in Morocco will not know how to communicate in Spanish.

Finally, once you arrive in Essaouira, a car is not necessary and it may even be a hassle to find a suitable place to park it. You may have to pay extra to park it in a safe place.

  • Recommended yes... Renting a car to visit Essaouira is a highly recommended option if you've visited Morocco before and have some idea of how to get around, have a resident as a travel companion who can interpret important conversations, or plan to make excursions through several Moroccan cities.
  • Price: Renting a car in Marrakech is really cheap with rates starting at €8 per day for small, simple vehicles (perfect for 2 or 3 people), up to €25 for larger vehicles. Additional costs include tolls, fuel and possible parking fees.
  • Travel time: The journey from Marrakech to Essaouira takes approximately 2 hours by car.

Book your trip to Essaouira

Consider the cheapest option, travelling by bus

Bus company CTM of Morocco| ©Locos por los buses
Bus company CTM of Morocco| ©Locos por los buses

A bus leaves Marrakech bus station approximately every hour for Essaouira. Whenever you want to travel by bus from Marrakech I recommend using two companies whose links I share below. Both companies have exceptional service and comfortable transport in optimal conditions.

Getting to the bus station in Marrakech is very easy, as it is located right next to the train station. Try to arrive at the station 20 to 30 minutes before the scheduled departure of your bus. This will give you time to buy your ticket, if you haven't already done so, and ensure you get space during peak travel times.

Once you arrive at your destination in Essaouira, buy your return ticket immediately. The end of the day is the busiest time of the day, which causes seats to sell out quickly. This way, you'll avoid major setbacks and once you've finished exploring the city, you'll only have to worry about getting to the station in plenty of time to avoid missing your bus.

  • Recommended if... You've visited Morocco before and feel ready to embark on an adventure of your own. You'll need to find ways of communicating with the locals who, unlike the guides and hotel staff, are unlikely to speak English. You will always have the option of communicating in French or English.
  • Price: The cost of a ticket with the transport company CTM is approximately €5 and you can purchase tickets directly from their website or at the bus station a short while beforehand.
  • Journeytime: A journey from Marrakech to Essaouira takes approximately 3 hours. This time does not include stops along the way and you should consider the waiting time at the bus terminal as additional time.

Book your trip to Essaouira

Check out a not so popular option, travelling by Taxi from Marrakech

Taxi from Morocco| ©Brahim Mouhou
Taxi from Morocco| ©Brahim Mouhou

Another alternative to travel from Marrakech to Essaouira is to hire the services of a taxi company. This type of transport is widely used and can be a really comfortable alternative form of transport, although less favourable due to its price.

It will be relatively easy to find a taxi driver who speaks English, Spanish and French in the vicinity of the hotels. Alternatively, you can always ask the hotel staff to help you arrange suitable transport.

A useful tip if you're travelling to Marrakech to negotiate: Try to agree the fare with the driver before you get in the car. You can use this time to practice your haggling skills. If you make the mistake of setting off without determining the final price, the driver will feel entitled to demand whatever cost he wants, which can lead to a very uncomfortable situation.

  • Recommended if... You want a private and personalised trip that includes pick-up and drop-off at your hotel in Marrakech.
  • Price: Here it will depend a lot on the deal you get with the driver of the vehicle, however, I recommend you to budget from 120 € to 200 € approximately.
  • Journeytime: A taxi journey from Marrakech to Essaouira is relatively short. It is estimated to take 2.5 hours in total.

Book your trip to Essaouira

What is special about Essaouira?

Touring Essaouira| ©rigel
Touring Essaouira| ©rigel

Marrakech is one of the most effervescent, intriguing and chaotic cities I have ever visited. By contrast, Essaouira is one of the calmest and most relaxing places on the planet. Tinged with an alternative atmosphere, its architecture, beautiful beaches, pleasant climate and buildings seem to have stood still in time, making a stroll through its streets a magical and even nostalgic experience.

Essaouira was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. It is an extremely popular tourist destination for its many riads (Moroccan accommodation including overnight stay and morning breakfast). The city is also known for its attractive handicraft industry, most notably its inlaid woodwork.

Whether you visit the pearl of the Atlantic on a private tour, in your own car or by bus, I'm sure you'll have a great time!

If you hire a tour

The main advantage of hiring a tour to Essaouira is the staff who accompany you. The guides on these excursions are experts in their area, so they will be able to show you the most attractive sights. Depending on the tour company you hire, a guided tour to Essaouira may include all or several of the following activities

  • A stop to see the association of Berber women who produce argan oil.
  • A stop to see the curious goats that climb the trees in search of oil.
  • Visit to Moulay El Hassa Square.
  • Visit to the traditional souks.
  • Visit to the old Medina.
  • Eat delicious fish. In the souk or near the main square of Essaouira.
  • Visit the beach of Essaouira.
  • Take pictures with the camels on the beach.
  • Options for surfing, kitesurfing or kayaking.

If you go on your own

By going on your own, you have the advantage of including as many activities as time allows. Use the list shared above for inspiration and try to leave early from Marrakech to make the most of the day.

Book your trip to Essaouira

Interesting historical facts about Essaouira

The port of Essaouira| ©Patrick Nouhailler
The port of Essaouira| ©Patrick Nouhailler
  • Archaeological records found so far suggest that Essaouira has been inhabited since prehistoric times.
  • In the 1st century BC, the Berber ruler known as Juba II created a purple dye in Essaouira. This dye would be exported to Rome and was used to dye the coloured border of the empire's senatorial robes. At the time, a small amount of purple dye from Essaouira was worth more than gold.
  • The fortresses that make up the medina of Essaouira were built by Portuguese conquerors in 1505.
  • Modern Essaouira was recovered in 1760 thanks to the work of King Mohamed III His aim was to build a city that would function as Morocco's main seaport. To achieve this goal, he hired engineers and builders from various backgrounds and encouraged the inhabitants of his kingdom to move to Essaouira in the hope of bringing the city to life.

Book your trip to Essaouira

  • Excursion
  • Price from 22 €
  • Duration: 10 hours
  • Recommended: If you are looking for a hassle-free, flexible and totally relaxed day out.
  • Car
  • Price from 8 €.
  • Duration: 2 hours each way
  • Recommended: If you are accompanied by a resident or if you are familiar with Morocco
  • Bus
  • Price from 5 €
  • Duration: 3 hours each way
  • Recommended: If you speak the language and have visited Morocco before.
  • Taxi
  • Price from 120 €.
  • Duration: 2,5 hours each way
  • Recommended: If you want a private, personalised trip at your own pace.