Boats docked in the Skala du port at sunset, Essaouira, Morocco

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Essaouira's large working port is noisy, pungent and hugely atmospheric. Along with the flurry of sea-blue wooden boats arriving and departing, nets being repaired and the day’s catch being landed, you can see traditional wooden boats being made. The boatbuilders supply fishing vessels for the entire Moroccan coast and even as far away as France, as the design is particularly seaworthy. It’s also worth visiting the fish auction, which takes place in the market hall just outside the port gates.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Essaouira attractions

1. Skala du Port

0.05 MILES

This honey-coloured bastion looms over the picturesque harbour and its sea-blue fishing boats. Look back at the walled medina from here, through a curtain…

2. Fish Auction

0.06 MILES

Head to the port in the afternoon when the sea-blue boats come in for the day and the fishermen auction off their catch. There's always some heated…

3. Simon Attias Synagogue

0.29 MILES

Behind the imposing wooden door (there's no sign) lies a beautifully restored 19th-century synagogue, filled with the scent of fragrant cedar wood. In the…

4. Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah Museum

0.31 MILES

Housed in an old riad, this somewhat fusty museum has a small collection of jewellery, costumes, embroidery, woodcarving and weapons from the region. Its…

5. Medina

0.31 MILES

Surrounded by dramatic, wave-lashed ramparts, the narrow streets, hassle-free souqs, street vendors and vibrant galleries of Essaouira's walled medina…

6. Skala de la Ville

0.35 MILES

You might recognise the ramparts of the 18th-century Skala de la Ville. They, along with the hulking Bastion Nord, had a starring role in Game of Thrones…

7. Fish Souq

0.45 MILES

Join the locals and street cats picking up their fresh fish at this small market. For a cheap lunch, buy half a dozen sardines, and for around Dh10 one of…

8. Essaouira Beach

0.56 MILES

Essaouira’s wide, sandy beach is great for walking and kitesurfing, but sunbathing and swimming can be difficult when the winds are strong. For swimming,…