visiting Essaouira with kids
Africa,  Destinations,  Morocco,  Travel

Why Visiting Essaouira with kids is a must see

We have both travelled to Morocco before, pre kids and had quite different experiences. Whilst Jak loved everything about Morocco, especially Essaouira, I had quite mixed feelings about Visiting Essaouira with kids.

After hearing lots of positive reviews and feedback from families about Morocco, plus needing to leave the Schengen zone for 90 days, we decided to head to Morocco and give it another chance, as a family.

From busy medinas, the High Atlas Mountains to sand dunes and beaches, Morocco has it all.

Top tips for a family trip to Essaouira

Essaouira is also known as the windy city. Just 2–3-hour drive from Marrakesh, it’s a great place to visit with kids. Its chilled-out vibes, an approachable medina and a 2km sandy beach make it a perfect spot to stop with the kids.

walk around the Medina in Essaouira with kids

Getting to Essaouira

You can fly direct into Essaouira airport from the UK if you don’t mind Ryanair. Otherwise, Agadir or Marrakech have transport options. It’s a 5hr drive from Rabat if you are coming down the east coast.

You can hire a driver from Marrakech, take a Suprabus or hire a car. The journey takes 2-3 hours.

We hired a car for our 2-month trip to Morocco and you can read about it here.

Accomodation in Rabat with kids


Top things to do with kids in Essaouira

1.Wander around the medina

If you visited Marrakech before heading to Essaouira, you are in for a treat with the medina. This chilled market place is perfect for wandering with kids. The Medina of Essaouira, formerly known as Mogador, is a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the late 18th-century with fantastic shopping, snacks and treasures to find it’s easy to spend time meandering the small alleys. It is also jam packed with cats and if you have kids like mine, you get to stop and pet them all! Cars and mopeds are not permitted to enter the medina but you know, you will find yourself dodging a few mopeds and bikes.

It’s not too big either so easy to find your way around. Shopping here is easy and we are still shocked at how relaxed the sellers are, with no pressure to buy anything. If you do decide you need to shop, don’t forget to haggle. You can get our guide here.

wander the Medina in Essaouira with kids
Wandering the Medina in Essaouira with the kids

2. Get to know the locals – the cats

Essaouira is also known as the city of cats, and you will understand why very quickly. Essaouira has a special relationship with cats and as a fishing city, the cats have helped to keep the city free of rats. There seems to be a feeling of respect and the majority of the cats we saw seemed generally healthy and in good condition, although not always the case. There is a charity working within the walls looking to help the local cats.

Our kids had their favourites and our route almost always detoured to pay them a visit,

A family trip to Essaouira
There is no avoiding the cats and kittens on every corner in Essaouira.

3. The Ramparts of Essaouira

The fortified walls of this medina were built in the 18th Century to protect the port. The entrance to Essaouira’s Ramparts can be tricky to find. If you head to the top of Rue Skala (a beautiful little artisan alley) and through a stone arc and climb the slope. Kids of all ages (and parents!) will enjoy climbing the Portuguese canons, whilst parent can wave watch. It’s surprisingly calming!  It’s a popular spot to watch the sunset too.

sunset in Essaouira with the kids
Chasing sunsets in Essaouira with the kids on the old ramparts.

4. Visit the fish market

Honestly, if I was to ask the kids about a highlight of our visit to Essaouira, this would definitely not make the list. But hear me out, let me set the scene. The port is lined with endless blue fishing boats, throw in a vast array of fish and fishermen trying you tempt you to buying them, a million squawking seagulls and a strong, pungent scent …maybe that hasn’t sold it but what is fascination is the hustle and bustle of a working port. It’s fascination to see and if necessary, just tell the kids to hold their noses!

You can even buy fish direct from the fisherman here and have it cooked at one of the open restaurants at the port – just ask one of the sellers and they will point you in the right direction.

fish market Essaouira morocco catch selling fish shark, swordfish, sardine and hors mackerel, crap and work on boats
Fancy a BBQ? Choose your fresh catch and get it grilled at one of the stalls near by.

5. Visit the Beach

Now, we mentioned the wind already. This might not be the ideal, laying down and sun-bathing beach (although some people managed it) but it’s a great beach to visit with kids. Essaouira Beach is a 2km sandy crescent with a wide paved promenade along the entire stretch. The waters here are very shallow, making it safe for little one’s paddling, but it’s a popular beach for kits surfing and windsurfing so wouldn’t recommend it for swimming.

There are sun loungers to rent for 25DH closer to the medina end of the beach. There are some concreate football pitches and basketball courts about half way down the promenade and it was constantly in use when we visited. It was great fun watching the local matches. Away from the medina end of the beach you will find the horses and camels for a ride on the beach. If you continue down the beach you will reach sand dunes to have a play on.

The water is generally clean and clear but the beach has lots of rubbish along the edge of the promenade and in patches hidden by the sand dunes

The promenade and beach are super relaxed for families and after testing, we can safely say the sand passes the sandcastle building text.

TOP TIP WITH KIDS: About half way down the beach, between the medina and the football pitches is a large patch of clay on the beach that is exposed at low tide. The kids had a great time making pots, and animals and it was a fantastic slip and slide. Sit back and have a cup of tea from one of the beach vendors while the kids enjoy this free ‘clayground’ on the beach.

6. Learn to surf in Essaouira

Known as ‘Morocco’s Windy City ‘, due to the presence of strong wind all year-around, Essaouira is perfect for kite surfers, windsurfer and surfers. There are plenty of surf shops and surf/windsurf schools along the beach that have wetsuits to hire too (the water is chilly!)

Our kids were too young to try kite surfing and honestly, I had visions of them flying off to another land the wind was so strong on some days, but they could surf.

But our kids have surfed in Sri Lanka, Lombok and the Philippines and in all these places, the water was considerably warmer, so despite some encouragement, both rejected the chance to surf.

watching the local football matches on the Corniche

Other activities in Essaouira to try

Quad biking in Essaouira

Essaouira quad biking is a fun way to explore the beach further south from Essaouira.

You can book anything from an hour session to a full day tour. Kids under 8 are free. You will have a guide with you on a quad bike to show you the way and help you out if needed.

Ride a camel in Essaouira

On the far end of the beach from the medina you can arrange camel or horse rides. You can just turn up to the camel area and organise a ride there and then, or you will be approached by ‘tour guides’ along the promenade to the camels. Anything from a short ten-minute ride to an overnight trek can be organised for you. make sure to bargain for a good deal. Start at 50% their asking price and then meet in the middle.

Horse riding in Essaouira

People travel from all over Morocco and internationally to ride horses in Essaouira. Diabat, a small community five minutes from the medina, is the hub for Essaouira horse tours and excursions. There are four stables in Diabat.

The long, sweeping beaches and sand dunes make it the perfect backdrop for a horse-riding experience, and the best place to come if you’re looking for horses that are well cared for.

Henna in Essaouira (choose natural only)

Henna Art at Au Petit Bonhomme La Chance

Finding non toxic henna can be tricky but its worth stopping by here to get your henna.

Address: 30 Rue Laalouj

Top tips for a family trip to Essaouira


If you rent an apartment, there is a large Carrefour supermarket on the main road into Essaouira. It had pretty much everything you could think of! Outside of major cities, globally, I think the Moroccan supermarkets have the widest selection of stuff. It’s a little out of town so you will need a taxi.


There is no Uber or taxi booking app here but there is no shortage of taxis. It’s worth knowing that taxis are limited to 3 people. The taxis don’t have meters and you don’t need to barter a price- Just get in the taxi and tell them where you want to go, it’s a flat fee of 8DH within Essaouira town. The fee is higher at night time to 9DH. Try and use coins to pay, although the drivers often have change for 10DH or 20DH.

 There are no local buses that drive around the city.

Is Essaouira safe?

Essaouira felt incredibly safe (except for occasionally feeling like we could be blown away). Everyone we met seemed very relaxed, no one was pushy at all, very friendly even (in a friendly, not sales pitchy kind of way), watch the bikes in the medina. Take hand santiser around especially if your kids have an irresistible urge to touch all animals.

Like travels anywhere, be mindful and cautious as you would usually.

Eating out in Essaouira with kids

Eating out anywhere in the world with kids is not exactly a relaxing experience. In general, our culinary experience of Essaouira was great. We travelled during Ramadan as long as we ate before or after the breaking of the fast, food was served quickly and was always delicious.

In Essaouira, street food is available everywhere. From tajines and fresh seafood from the port, to the more familiar pancakes, shawarmas and fries. In the medina, head to the fruit and veg carts, try the French patisseries and don’t pass on a freshly squeezed oranges juice. Not sure what to feed the kids? Read our guide to food in Morocco here.

Hariri soup was one of the kids favourite food in Morocco
Hariri soup was one of the kids favourite food in Morocco

Useful Travel Info:

Best time to visit: Mar-Jun & Oct-Nov

ATMs: Plentiful and easily accessible in the medina

Visas: Not required for most nationalities for stays of up to 90 days. Passports must be valid for 6 months beyond date of entry.

Language: Moroccan Arabic (Darija), Berber and French


Government travel advice:

Visiting Essaouira with kids – a fab family destination

Essaouira surprised us. It’s such an easy destination for families. Great beaches with water sports, fantastic food and all finished off with some Moroccan flair. I definitely recommend a visit to Essaouira for families.

family travel coaching call

Meet the author

Lisa is the founder of Boston Tribe Travels. She has lived and travelled abroad for the last 15 years, visited more than 30 countries and has done most of that with her husband and two children. As a full time travel family, they like to travel slow, worldschool and seek new adventures. From living in Borneo for 5 years to backpacking South America, Lisa shares a wealth of travel experience to empower more families to travel and learn together.