Michael Breitung Photography


Blog - Essaouira Photography Guide

In this photography guide, I show you the best photo spots in Essaouira and give tips about street photography in Morocco.

Here's an overview of the topics I cover:

Essaouira Ramparts with crashing waves during sunset

View of the Essaouira Ramparts during sunset | Prints Available

Why Essaouira Is Great for Photography

I've now visited Essaouira three times between 2019 and 2023. During every visit, I found new photo opportunities. The reason for this is the vibrant street life in the Medina of this coastal city.

Essaouira is not only great for cityscape photography. It's an even better location for street photography. You'll find many interesting photo subjects while wandering through the alleys of the Medina.

But be careful. Most people in Morocco don't like to be photographed, and you should respect that. Your best chance of photographing people is to get into a genuine conversation with them or buy something in a shop and then ask for a photo. Or you can try to keep people in your photos anonymous and focus more on the street scenes as a whole. It's my preferred way of capturing the city.

Essaouira Street Life

Compared to the Medinas of Marrakech and Fes, you'll find that, in general, street photography is much easier in Essaouira. It's a more relaxed Medina, which is the reason I can't get enough of this city.

How To Travel to Essaouira

Essaouira lies about three hours west of Marrakech, 3.5 hours north of Agadir, and 4.5 hours south of Casablanca when traveling by car. There's no international airport, so you must fly to Marrakech, Agadir, or Casablanca and then travel from there.

I like to fly to Marrakech and stay for one or two days. It's a beautiful city and the perfect place to start your travels through Morocco. But over the last few years, flights to Marrakech have gotten expensive. Flights to Agadir or Casablanca are often cheaper, at least from Germany.

Between Marrakech and Essaouira, taking the three-hour bus is a convenient option. From Agadir, the journey by bus takes a bit longer but is also feasible. I would recommend the trip from Casablanca only if you have plenty of time. It takes over six hours. To book online, you can use 12Go Asia, which I used a few times during my travels in Asia. They also allow buying bus tickets in Morocco.

Colours of Morocco Photo Tour

Another option is to use a private transport or taxi. In 2019, we booked a taxi to take us from Essaouira to Casablanca to avoid the long travel time. It cost us 100 Euros. I would suspect a higher price today, so I'm not sure if it's still an option.

Another way to get around Morocco is by renting a car. It's a great way to see the country if you plan to travel along the coast. But be prepared for many police control points on your travels.

I usually travel through Morocco with Wild Morocco, since I also like to visit the desert. And a self-drive into the Erg Chigaga is not really an option. I also do my upcoming Photo Tour through Morocco with them.

A side street in the Medina of Essaouira in warm morning light

Where to Stay

To best experience Essaouira, you must stay in the Medina. I stayed in the following three Riads during my three visits. I can recommend all of them. They are well located, have beautiful rooms, and a nice rooftop terrace.

  • Riad Kafila* – It's close to the Ramparts and offers sea views from some rooms. I stayed there during my Photo Tour in 2020, and we had breakfast and dinner in the Riad. It was very good.
  • Riad Dar Maya* – This is a very beautiful Riad in a side street of the Medina. It has wonderful rooms. I stayed there during my first visit in 2019. Having breakfast on the rooftop was great, and having heated floors in the bathroom was even better.
  • Villa Garance* – It's located in a central part of the Medina. The rooms are beautiful, as is the Riad. I stayed there in 2023 and had a great time.
Essaouira Cat

Getting Around

In Essaouira, you walk. Because the Medina is relatively small, you can get everywhere within 15 to 20 minutes. The best time to explore the city is early in the morning. Then you'll not have to share the narrow streets with many other tourists. The Medina still feels tranquil at that time.

Best Photo Spots in Essaouira

The Ramparts

The best photo spot for capturing the ramparts is next to the port. You can climb onto the wall for a good view of the city with the waves crashing on the shore. During low tide, you can climb the rocks along the beach for a sweeping view of the city wall.

The skyline of Essaouira at dusk

The best time to photograph this view is during medium to high tide on a windy evening. As you see in the title photo of this article, it is when the city looks most dramatic. It's not without reason Essaouira is also called the Wind City.

The Port

Essaouira is also a fishing town with a bustling harbor. There's always something happening at the port, and I'm sure you can take great photos there with patience and the right eye. I'm not a good street photographer and haven't yet managed to do this. That's why I can't show you proper examples. I can only encourage you to explore this area, preferably in the morning.

A fisherman in the port of Essaouira preparing fish.

The Medina

You can find the biggest variance of subjects in the Medina. The best time to photograph the narrow streets is early in the morning. As I mentioned above, it's when you'll have fewer other tourists and mostly locals roaming the streets. You can also work with the long shadows cast by the morning sun. This light is ideal for street photography, as it allows you to keep the identities of the people you photograph in the shadows.

Essaouira Street Vendor

Photo Equipment

I find a 50mm or a zoom lens* most beneficial to capture the type of photos I show here. I have seldom used my wide-angle lens in Essaouira.

If you have a small prime lens like the Canon RF 50mm f/1.8*, it's perfect for the Medina. Because, even if you don't photograph anybody, you'll receive stern looks if you are identified as a photographer. The locals often expect you to suddenly point the camera at them. So, best to keep a low profile. It's even more important in cities like Marrakech or Fes.

To photograph the ramparts, I recommend a tripod. Then, you can take longer exposures of the waves to create some sense of motion. Neutral density filters can also help with that.

A little blue shop in the Medina of Essaouira


As you hopefully saw in this article, Essaouira is a prime location for photography and a must-visit place on any Morocco tour. If you want to have a guided experience of Morocco and also experience the spectacular landscapes of the Erg Chigaga and the Anti Atlas, make sure to check out my Photo Tour with Wild Morocco. To get some inspiration, have a look at my Morocco photo gallery.

* Those are Affiliate Links. I get a commission if you buy or book something after clicking on those.

Colours of Morocco Photo Tour


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