Banks & Currency Exchange -- Banque Populaire (tel. 0524/476902) and Wafa (tel. 0524/486903) are both located on place Moulay Hassan, and BMCE (tel. 0524/489456) is just around the corner; both have bureaux de change. There's a new branch of the BMCI (tel. 0524/486325) bank with an ATM, on the corner of boulevard Mohammed V and avenue Lalla Aïcha. There's a bureau de change/Western Union outside, open daily from 8:30am to 1pm and 2 to 6pm.
Car Rentals -- Of the major international firms, only Avis is here, with offices in town at 28 bis av. Oued el Makhazine (tel. 0524/475270) and at the airport (tel. 0524/474926). The two reputable companies located along boulevard Mohammed V are Dzira Location, 50 bd. Mohammed V (tel. 0524/473716), and Isfaoun Rent-a-Car, 62 bd. Mohammed V (tel. 0524/474906; www.essaouiracar.com).
Doctors & Dentists -- Dr. Said el Haddad (tel. 0524/478675) is located on avenue l'Istiqlal, opposite the mosque. Outside the medina, Dr. Omar Farkhssi (tel. 0524/477621) is located on place Dar Talib, on the corner of avenue Al Aqaba and avenue Fes, along with a number of dentists and Pharmacie Najib.
Drugstores -- There are plenty of pharmacies around Essaouira. In the medina are Pharmacie Haddada, on avenue l'Istiqlal (tel. 0524/473714), and Pharmacie La Kasbah, 12 av. Allal ben Abdellah (tel. 0524/475151). All general pharmacies in Essaouira open Monday to Friday from 9am to 12:30pm, 3 to 7:30pm, and 9pm to 1am. They then work on a roster system after hours and on the weekend.
Emergency -- For general emergencies and the police, call tel. 19. The main police station, Gendarmerie Royale, is located outside the medina on avenue El Aqouasse. For a private ambulance, call Ambulance Tassorte (tel. 0673/209562 or 0661/064839) or Mogador Assistance (tel. 0661/247624).
Hospitals -- The public hospital (tel. 0524/475716) is located just outside the medina from Bab Marrakech, on boulevard de l'Hôpital.
Internet Access -- Cyber les Ramparts, 12 rue du Rif, behind the restaurant Les Trois Portes (tel. 0524/474728), has more than 20 computer stations and is open daily from 9am to 2am.
Language Schools -- Alliance Franco-Marocaine de Essaouira, in the medina at 9 rue Mohamed Diouri (tel. 0524/476197; www.ambafrance-ma.org/institut/afm-essaouira), is the Essaouira branch of the nationwide Instituts Français. They offer semester-long French classes (40 hr.; 900dh) and various Arabic courses in both Moroccan Arabic and Modern Standard Arabic (MSA).
Maps & Books -- Plan d'Essaouira is a map of both the medina and the greater Essaouira town, and is very well formatted and easy to read. Most of the town's accommodations are marked. It costs 15dh and can be bought from many hotels and maisons d'hôte, as well as numerous shops within the medina. On place Moulay Hassan are two bookshops, Jack's Kiosk (tel. 0524/475538) and Librairie La Fibule (tel. 0524/476790). They both sell a fair selection of English-language guidebooks, nonfiction books, postcards, and the above-mentioned Plan d'Essaouira. They're both open daily from 10am to 10pm, closing earlier in winter and later in July and August.
Newspapers -- Jack's Kiosk and Librairie La Fibule both sell various week-old U.K. and U.S. dailies and weekly international versions of the Guardian and Herald Tribune. L'horloge Bureau, located at the base of the clock tower on avenue Oqba ibn Nafiaa, sells 1- and 2-day-old U.K. dailies such as The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, and The Sun.
Photographic Needs -- The best photo shop in town is Labo Photo Flash, next to Patisserie Chez Boujmaa on avenue Allal ben Abdellah (tel. 0524/475657). It sells and processes a good selection of film, transfers digital images to CD, and sells memory cards. The shop is open daily from 9am to 9pm, often closing later during July and August.
Police -- The main police station, Gendarmerie Royale, is located outside the medina on avenue El Aqouasse. Dial tel. 19.
Post Office & Mail -- Essaouira's main post office is outside the medina on the corner of avenue Lalla Aïcha and rue Al Mokaoama (btw. Bab Marrakech and bd. Mohammed V) and is open Monday to Friday 8am to 4:15pm. There's a newly renovated branch office on rue Laâlouj, open similar hours.
Restrooms -- There are no public restrooms within the medina. There are some ablution shower/toilet blocks (signposted WC) south of the outdoor seafood grills on place Moulay Hassan, but they're mainly used by the local fishermen. Your best bet is to try one of the better dining establishments mentioned below. Along the beach promenade, you'll find a couple of toilet blocks facing the more popular sections of the beach.
Safety -- Essaouira is very safe to walk around during the day, but certain areas can feel a bit threatening come nightfall. The Mellah neighborhood within the medina, located north of avenue Zerktouni, is best avoided after dark, especially around the derelict areas along rue Mellah and rue Kowait. I've seen drug dealers doing business here even in broad daylight. During the Gnaoua & World Music Festival in June, take care of your belongings as you're squeezing through the jampacked crowds.
Telephone -- Essaouira's city code has recently changed from 024 to 0524.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.