For the off-beat travel lovers visiting Essaouira, this one is for you… a day trip to Ida Ougourd!
If you’re in Essaouira and want to experience more of the local Moroccan and Berber culture then this is a MUST. Only 45 minutes by bus, or 25 minutes by taxi, is the very small village of Ida Ougourd. And on a Wednesday this little community comes to life. For a few hours on Wednesday morning Ida Ougourd transforms into a busy market, where locals come for supplies.
Find out here everything you need to know about visiting Ida Ougourd, including how to get there by bus, or which tour to book. We explain how to eat a tagine like a local and what you can expect to see and do at the markets. We also share plenty of photos, to help you decide if the Ida Ougourd market is a place you want to visit while staying in Essaouira.
Ida Ougourd is one of our favourite markets in Morocco for culture and getting off the beaten track. We highly recommend you jump on the Lima Bus – Line 1 and make a morning visit this coming Wednesday! Find out how below 👇
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Table of Contents
What are the Ida Ougourd Markets
The Ida Ougourd markets are a small village where the locals come to sell their produce and wares. The markets only open one day a week… on a Wednesday. Which makes sense when you translate the name… Ida meaning small village and Ougourd meaning Wednesday. So essentially, this little community exists because of this small weekly market.
What’s special about this market, is that it’s very traditional for the region. You won’t see many tourists wandering around, it’s very much local people conducting their weekly business. And during the rest of the week this village is deserted. See these photos by photographer Robert Götzfried for a glimpse of what Ida Ougourd looks on a non-market day.
If you plan to visit Ida Ougourd, it’s best do it early in the morning. The market is busy between 9am to 12pm, after that it begins to slow down and empty.
Note: When visiting, you’ll need to dress modestly out of respect for the locals. Be sure to wear full length trousers or dresses, and sleeves.
Where is Ida Ougourd
Only 20 km from Essaouira and not far from the Essaouira Mogador Airport is Ida Ougourd market. This little gem is the perfect morning out or day trip. As you travel between Essaouira and Ida Ougourd, you’ll watch the Moroccan countryside and landscape begin to change as you move further inland.
If you are travelling in your own car, you might also like to visit the old Essaouira sugar factory. Here you will find crumbling ruins of a sugary refinery constructed during the Saadian dynasty from the 16th Century. Read more about the history of the Ida Ougourd Sugar Refinery here.
Getting to Ida Ougourd by Bus
We’d been told about the markets after chatting with the friendly Essaouira locals. Now, we are intrepid travellers, so we were determined to visit these markets like the locals – by bus. But finding details online about how to catch the bus from Essaouira to Ida Ougourd wasn’t easy.
We decided to follow our nose and wing it! Our goal was to document our trip, sharing it here so other intrepid travellers could find their way there too 😉
The bus departs from Bab Doukkala in the Essaouira medina. Look for Lima Bus Line number 1, which will park just past the gate with a sign in the window that says Aguerd (or Ougourd). Finding arrival times is a real challenge! Check Moovit here for timing guidelines, but be warned, you’re in Morocco… so don’t expect it to arrive on time. We waited for 30 minutes before the bus turned up.
When it does arrive, you simply hop on and wait till it leaves. And I do recommend checking with the driver that you’re on the right bus 😉
Tickets cost 7 dirhams each and young kids are free. At some point a man will come around with the tickets, and this is when you pay. Hold on to your ticket, as you’ll be asked for it again during the journey.
The bus ride took a total of 45 minutes and the drive was enjoyable as we watched the scenery change. It was incredible how much warmer the temperature was just 25 km from Essaouira!
Getting Back to Essaouira
On the return the bigger bus didn’t run, but a smaller people mover was there to take passengers back to Essaouira. To be honest this system seemed to be very adhoc, when it was full we left. So it seemed to operate more like a collective or shared mode of transport. But the price was the same, 7 dirhams per person.
We can only assume that on Wednesday’s, with more people travelling back and forward to Ida Ougourd, that more buses operate.
By 1pm the market was getting very quiet. And we left as the market was well and truly closing down. There really isn’t much fear of getting stranded however, as the buses seemed to be leaving periodically and taxis were also parked and waiting.
What to See and Do at Ida Ougourd
As you get off the bus, head up the hill to your right, you’ll see vendors beginning to appear. And they sell everything you can possibly imagine!
From fruit and vegetables to spices, biscuits and olives to cleaning products, baskets, scorpion poison to antiques. Whatever you imagine, you’ll probably find it there in one form or another. Butchers hang meat in open windows of their stalls, and small tea rooms pump out mint tea like there’s no tomorrow.
Meanwhile customers wander around buying what they need, and loading it into their donkey’s side baskets. And at the same time the donkeys search the market streets feasting on pieces of fruit or vege that got away.
Have a Tagine Made the Local Way
We recommend that while you’re in Ida Ougourd, you do what the locals do and enjoy a typical tagine. All over Morocco you will find small community kitchen’s or restaurants that prepare a tagine for you with your own produce. So this is what you do…
Take a wander around the market collecting your favourite ingredients for a tagine. We recommend, carrots, potatoes, courgette, tomato, a preserved lemon and some pitted olives. Then pick up a few spices and a meat cut of your choice – a quarter of a chicken works well. Then take your supplies to one of these kitchens, and in Ida Ougourd they’re easy to find. If in doubt, just ask a local.
For a small fee, probably good to agree on a price first, the men in these restaurants will prepare the tagine for you and cook it over coals alongside other tagines. It normally takes about an hour to cook, and so take this time to continue exploring the Ida Ougourd market.
This is possibly one of our favourite things to do and ways to eat in Morocco. Not only is it a great way to travel on a budget, but it’s a fantastic way to meet the locals and do as they do.
Take a Taxi or Tour to Ida Ougourd
If you prefer to find a quicker way to Ida Ougourd markets then take a taxi from Essaouira. We were quoted around 100 dirhams for a taxi and this was without any attempt to bargain. I feel that 100 dirhams is probably very reasonable and for a little more, you could probably also negotiate the return home included.
For a guided tour of Ida Ougourd then look at these private tours below. These trips also include a meal with a local Moroccan family, a visit to an Argan tree forest and the Sugary Factory mentioned above. But read the details within the tour links for more details.
Also included below, is a guided tour option for Had Draa which is a bigger market, around 30km from Essaouira.
Final Thoughts on Ida Ougourd
Of all the markets we visited during our three months in Morocco these were up there with our favourite. It felt like a large number of these local stall holders do this only once a week, rather than doing the market circuit. And it isn’t in the centre of a big town or city, which gives it a more rural quality.
The makeshift shades, impromptu table arrangements and general hodge-podge of the Ida Ougourd market is something quite beautiful. So there we have it… we hope you take us up on the adventure and take a day trip to Ida Ougourd from Essaouira.
Don’t forget to enjoy a tagine and some mint tea while you’re at. As with all trips like this, we urge you to remember to be respectful of the locals. Wear modest clothing, stop to chat and engage when given the chance, and don’t take photos without asking permission first.
More on Morocco
If you’re looking for more exciting things to do in and around Essaouira, don’t miss our list on the best 16 Things to do in Essaouira. And if you liked this day trip to Ida Ougourd then you might also like to take a day trip to Sidi Kaouki, only a 20 minute drive from Essaouira.
We stayed in Essaouira for a month and did a lot of exploring, so check out more below –
- A horse riding tour review in Essaouira
- A surf school lesson review in Essaouira
- Best roof top bars to visit in Essaouira
We now travel full-time and have plenty more itineraries and guides to share on all the destinations we visit. Sign up to follow our journey! (And don’t worry we won’t spam you with unnecessary emails.)