Worth getting out of bed for...
- Fittingly, the word 'Essaouira' means 'image' – it's appropriate to keep your eyes peeled. Walk along the ramparts along Skala de la Ville for a spectacular sea view, particularly delightful at sunset.
- Arts and culture
- There is only one museum, Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaire (Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah Museum). It’s a 19th-century mansion where local crafts, such as woodwork and carpets, are displayed, as well as photos of yesteryear and gnaoua costumes. Fans of world music should earmark the annual Festival d’Essaouira, which sees thousands descend on the town for four days of live bands and carnival-style partying (see the Diary section). The gnaoua are descendents of sub-Saharan slaves, and this is reflected in their music's striking blues feel.
- Something for nothing
- Get an eyeful of some of the wild and colourful local art by doing some snooping at Galerie des Arts Frédéric. Head to Damgaard on Avenue Oqba Ibn Nafiaa (+212 (0)524 784446).
- The main street of the souks is mostly made up of greengrocers and butchers, but swerve towards Rue Mohammed Ben Abdallah and wander the narrow streets off it, browsing the trinket troves bursting with thuya-wood crafts and peek into artisan workshops. Head for the centre of the souks if you want to pick up some argan oil and spices. To take home some gnaoua and Arab-Andalusian sounds for souvenirs, seek out Mogador Music at 52 avenue de l’Istiqlal.
- Book a 4x4 quadbike daytrip through Ocean Vagabond on Boulevard Mohammed V on the beach (+212 (0)561 135644; www.oceanvagabond.com), and spend half a day traversing the miles and miles of sand. You can also take a camel ride around the bay up to the ruined fort of Borj El Berod, or go horse-riding or kite-surfing.
June Musicians from Europe, America and across Africa flock with their rhythms, beats and bass to perform at the Festival d’Essaouira (www.festival-gnaoua.co.ma). July and August Windsurfing contests.