It’s easy to see that Morocco’s Essaouira is a city that’s pretty laid back and has a great vibe about it. It has some awesome fortifications and miles of white, sandy beaches along azure waters that will make you think you’ve been transported into a living travel brochure.

This old but beautiful coastal port city has actually inspired a number of famous musicians, such as Cat Stevens, Frank Zappa and even Jimi Hendrix, to travel there to give them inspiration to create some of their most famous songs.

Luckily for the city, it doesn’t need to ride on the back of famous people in order to make a name for itself all over the world. The months of April to June are when various music festivals take place in the city and attract music lovers from all over. During this time, you’ll find heaps of buskers plying their trade on the streets, in addition to the various other artists performing their own beautiful music in the area’s most beautiful restaurants and cafes.

Photo:  Jean-Marc Astesana

If you’re a first-time visitor and you want to experience some of the local beat, you’ll need to check out the Il Mare restaurant. The restaurant’s balcony has a great view over the old battlement of Skala de la Ville. From that balcony, you can take in some of the most beautiful sunsets while enjoying some of the local wine and fresh oysters. Every day you’ll hear music a gnaoua band that will make you feel the rhythm and even learn more about their unique culture.

Accommodation for tourists couldn’t be easier as the city teems with boutique hotels that will offer you the best of services that will make your travel experience unforgettable. Located in the Bab Marrakech gate is one of the best hotels in the area, called the Heure Bleue Palais. It boasts amazing marble columns, cedar panels and the only rooftop swimming pool in Essaouira.

Photo: Singa Hitam

Like to shop? Essaouira has some of the best in the region. Among the thousands of street markets are hawkers selling leather products, traditional clothing and spices. Make sure you bring your full bargaining game face so that you can get the best offers possible. The street markets are also where you’ll see local women gathering together.

If you can spare the time, make the effort to drink the most delicious coffee you’ll ever have at the Dar Tata, an open-air café. From here you can also see some of the local arcades of the grain market nearby. You might even be interested in having a walk through the Mellah area to have a look at some of the oldest houses that were once inhabited by Jewish people from long ago.

The Mellah.  Photo:  Vince Millett

One of the things you’ll notice about the houses in Essaouira is that they all have a six-petal rose carved into their entrances. This rose is the emblem of the city.

There are a number of very attractive spots around the town, such as the Hammam Babsi baths, usually filled with locals taking their daily bath. It is also where Orson Wells once played his part in the movie version of Othello.

Another can’t-miss-it spot for tourists is Place Moulay Hassan. This is situated near the docks and is the town’s most important square. Around the area, you can enjoy a cold beer while watching local street artists performing their wares.