Once Morocco’s main trading port and a stronghold of Jewish culture, Essaouira became famed as a hippie hangout for surfers and expat artists in the 20th century. These days Essaouira offers its cool breezes and relaxed atmosphere to a broader range of visitors. The windy city remains a favorite destination for its picturesque fishing harbor, medina walls, blue shutters, twisting derbs (alleyways), and sea, sand, and surf.

Essaouira pretty much has a nine-month high season, from mid-March until early November, with extra peaks around Christmas, New Year’s, and the hugely popular Gnaoua and World Music Festival in June. More hotels and guesthouses have opened in recent years, including a five-star resort and golf course south of the town in Diabat, but the town remains peaceful in its laid-back bustle—an enticing blend of fishing port, historical medina, and seaside haven.

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