This cool and relaxing town on the Atlantic coast of Morocco is the perfect holiday destination for those of you that want to experience the bright and colorful culture of Morocco without the crowds of Marrakesh. With a name that simply means “little picture” in Arabic, you’ll fall in love with the winding streets, welcoming markets and friendly locals. You could spend a whole week here just exploring the souks alone. But, there is also so much more to a holiday in Essaouira. Be sure to visit the Musée Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah, stroll along with the cliff-top sea bastion and enjoy fine dining at one of the many top fish restaurants. Once you’ve acclimatized its time to do some shopping and we have the perfect list of what to buy in Essaouira, Morocco. So, ready to go shopping?
1. Carved wooden items
Essaouira is the epicenter of wood carving skill in Morocco. Many local families and business create wood carvings from small-scale miniatures to huge room-filling artworks. One of the most popular trees to carve from is the Thuya (Arar) which is an indigenous species to the Essaouira region. There are many markets and workshops where you can buy carved wooden items from and prices vary between sellers.
2. Scandinavian blankets
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
Who doesn’t love a snuggly blanket to wrap up into on a cold day? Morocco is world renowned for its blanket work, but particularly popular are the Scandinavian style blankets that incorporate red hues, whites, soft blues, and greys. These natural hues all work together perfectly. One of the best places for Scandinavian-style blankets is Atelier de Tissage Omar BahjaIf. You can expect to find shelving from floor to ceiling stocked full with blankets to choose from. You’ll be spoilt for choice.
3. Amlou (Moroccan Nutella)
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Ok, so you might be wondering ‘why on earth would I buy Nutella?’ but believe us when we say that you absolutely must. Technically known as Amlou, is the slightly (very slightly) healthier version of our cupboard favorite. Amlou is made from ground almonds, orange blossom honey (yum) and argan oil. Make sure that you buy a traditional pot otherwise you may get peanuts instead of almonds, and it’s just not the same. If it’s too cheap it is probably not traditional Amlou. Once purchased simply drizzle on everything… pancakes? Yes. Toast? Yes. Trust us when we say that it is delicious however it is served.
4. Argan oil
The liquid oil of the region, we all know the health benefits and conditioning effects of argan oil. We use it in many beauty products. You may notice that many of the sellers are actually women collectives. The oil is extracted from the kernels of the Argan nut in the area surrounding Essaouira. In many instances, this is still done by hand. Be sure to look for a pure organic culinary grade oil so that you can also ingest it. It tastes delicious and adds a slightly nutty flavor to some of your favorite dishes.
5. Moroccan rugs
Fallen in love with the homely designs of the Moroccan houses? So have we. There’s an easy way to replicate this colorful look in your own home and that is to purchase a number of Moroccan rugs. In Essaouira, you’ll often feel like you are in a sea of Moroccan rugs as they line the streets, the markets, houses and washing lines. If you plan to buy from a market be sure to enjoy the experience of haggling, you have to do it at least once as it is part of the local culture. It’s also worth noting that in some places the prices are fixed, so do some solid research before you delve in. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with your very own immaculate and awe-inspiring Moroccan rug.
6. Sequin-studded handiras (Moroccan wedding blankets)
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
These beautiful pieces of material will add a touch of glamor to any home without being too in-your-face. Traditionally, handira are woven from sheep’s wool by the bride’s family. The garment is there worn of the wedding day tied around the neck, just like a cape. Obviously, they also make fantastic bed throws and brighten up any dreary living room sofa. The neutral colors work well with all styles, so pick one up when you’re in Essaouira.
7. Babouche slippers
Looking for a comfortable shoe? Look no further than the Babouche slipper. These rounded toe slippers have pointed toes and are sold in either simple colors or with elaborate additions. Want sequins, tassels, jewels, and embroidery, you can find it all on a babouche slipper. Make sure to try the shoe on to ensure it fits properly as it has an open back. The main construction is created from pliable leather, traditionally goats, cows, camels or sheep hides.
With global trade, it is true that you can probably buy your spices from your local supermarket. But, if, you want to find a more authentic taste then we would always suggest ‘shop where the locals’ shop.’ It is better to buy spices at nighttime when they haven’t been sitting in the sun all day at a hot market. The vendors can create any amount needed and will usually seal the spices in a plastic bag. You can expect to find these spices and more: cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, turmeric, nutmeg, and mace. For a mixture, source out the popular spice Ras el Hanout which is a blend of many spices.
9. Organic honey
Searching far and wide down market after market and you’ll be amazed at what you can find. Next on our list in the taste of organic honey. There are many different types of honey found in Morocco, with infusions you would expect to see, and some that are, well, a bit more far-fetched. Oregano honey anyone? There are numerous honey peddlers in Essaouira so be sure to try before you buy to make sure that you’re getting a top deal.
10. Raffia craftworks
Another masterpiece that has made Essaouira famous, Raffia. This unique material is a product from the palm leaves of the Raffia tree of Africa. One of the most popular forms of raffia souvenirs is shoes. With a soft leather insole, you’ll be able to stroll through the markets of Essaouira for hours and hours on end.
Take a piece of Morocco home
Taking back souvenirs from your holidays is one of the best ways to recreate those special sights, smells, and memories. Have you been to Essaouira and purchased souvenirs that are different from ours? Let us know! That concludes our list of what to buy in Essaouira, Morocco, but remember, we always loved to be tagged in your holiday Instagram stories.
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