17 Best Things to do in Marseille, France

best things to do in marseille france

Marseille is the second largest city in France and is located on the southeastern coast. The city is known for its mild Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches, and picturesque Old Port.

Visitors to Marseille can enjoy a variety of activities, including exploring the city’s history at the Musee de Marseille, visiting the Palais Longchamp, or taking a ferry to one of the nearby islands. There are also many great restaurants and cafes in Marseille, offering a variety of cuisines from French to Algerian.

Also, for anyone traveling around France, Marseille is only a two hour drive away from Nice, and about an hour flight away from Paris or Bordeaux.

No matter what your interests are, there is something for everyone in Marseille. To help plan your trip, here’s our list of the best things to do in Marseille.

1) Old Port

old port
Vieux-Port (Old Port) Marseille” by Zugrocker is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Marseille’s Old Port is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. The port dates back to 600 BC, making it one of the oldest ports in the world. It was once a key trading hub for the Roman Empire, and later became an important fishing port for medieval Marseille.

Today, the Old Port is home to a number of restaurants, cafes, and shops. It is also a popular destination for walkers and cyclists, who enjoy taking in the views of the Mediterranean Sea. The Old Port is a must-visit for anyone spending time in Marseille.

2) Calanques National Park

Calanques National Park
Evening sun – Calanques National Park” by jossuppy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Calanques National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in France. The park is located just outside of Marseille, and it is known for its dramatic cliffs, crystal clear waters, and lush vegetation.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities in the park, including hiking, swimming, and rock climbing. There are also several restaurants and cafes located within the park, making it the perfect place to spend a day in the sun.

Perhaps the best way to experience the Calanques National Park is by boat. A number of tour companies offer boat tours of the park, and they provide an up-close look at the stunning scenery. Whether you’re looking for a day of adventure or a relaxing day by the water, visiting Calanques National Park is definitely one of the best things to do in Marseille.

3) Museum of History in Marseille

museum of history in marseille
Marseille – Palais Longchamp” by corno.fulgur75 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Museum of History in Marseille, or Musée d’Histoire de Marseilleis, one of the most interesting and unique museums in all of France. The museum is located in an old castle that overlooks the city of Marseille.

The exhibits in the museum tell the story of the city’s long history, from its founding by the Greeks to its role as an important center of trade in medieval times. The museum also features a number of interactive exhibits, which make it a great place to learn about the city’s past.

If you are interested in learning about the history of Marseille, then the Museum of History is definitely worth a visit.

4) Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde

Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde
File:La basilique Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde (Marseille) (14245234112).jpg” by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde is a 19th-century Romano-Byzantine style basilica located in Marseille, France. The basilica is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Marseille, with over 1 million visitors each year.

The basilica was built on the site of an ancient fortification, and its design was inspired by Byzantine and Turkish architecture. The basilica is topped with a bronze statue of the Virgin Mary, which is said to protect the city from harm.

The Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde is open to the public daily, and Mass is celebrated regularly. Visitors can also enjoy panoramic views of Marseille and the Mediterranean Sea from the basilica’s tower.

5) La Corniche

la corinche
La Corniche, Marseille, France, ca. 1895” by trialsanderrors is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

La Corniche is a stretch of road along the Mediterranean coast in Marseille, France. It is renowned for its scenic beauty and offers stunning views of the sea and the city.

La Corniche is also popular with tourists, as it is home to many cafes, restaurants, and markets. In addition, La Corniche is a great place to take a walk or go for a swim.

The area is well-known for its crystal-clear water and beautiful beaches. If you are ever in Marseille, be sure to check out La Corniche – you won’t be disappointed!

6) MuCEM

Mucem & Villa Méditerranée” by Cilou101 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Marseille is a city with a long and storied history, and the MuCEM is a museum that celebrates that history. The MuCEM is located in the heart of Marseille, and it tells the story of the city from its earliest days to the present.

The museum is divided into four sections, each of which focuses on a different aspect of Marseille’s past. The first section covers the city’s prehistoric and Roman origins, while the second section explores its medieval history.

The third section looks at the city’s role in the age of exploration, and the fourth section examines its modern history. With its extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and photographs, the MuCEM is an essential stop for anyone interested in learning about Marseille’s rich past.

7) La Panier

La Panier
La Panier” by cyf is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

La Panier is one of the oldest and most historic neighborhoods in Marseille, France. The name La Panier comes from the French word for “basket”, and it is said that the neighborhood got its name because it was once home to a market where basket makers sold their wares.

Today, La Panier is a vibrant and colorful neighborhood with a lively market, street art, and boutique shops. Whether you’re looking to explore Marseille’s history or simply enjoy some of the city’s best shopping and dining, La Panier is sure to have something for everyone.

8) Île de Frioul

Île de Frioul
Les îles du Frioul et le Château d’If (Marseille)” by dalbera is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Île de Frioul is a small island located in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Marseille, France. The island is home to a number of seabirds, including gulls, cormorants, and Audouin’s gulls.

It is also a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. Visitors can reach the island by taking a short ferry ride from Marseille. Once on the island, there are a number of hiking trails to explore, as well as a few beaches.

The island is also home to a number of restaurants and cafes, making it the perfect place to enjoy a meal with a view. Whether you’re looking to relax in the sun or birdwatch, Île de Frioul is an ideal destination.

9) Musee des Docks Romains

The Musee des Docks Romains is a fascinating museum located in the heart of Marseille, France. The museum is housed in an ancient Roman dockyard, and its exhibits tell the story of the city’s maritime history.

Visitors can see replicated ships, unique maritime artifacts, and even an ancient Roman shipwreck. The Musee des Docks Romains is an essential stop for anyone interested in the history of Marseille or the maritime world.

10) Château d’If

Château d'If
Château d’if” by Jeanne Menjoulet is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Château d’If is a fortress located on the Île d’If, just off the coast of Marseille in southern France. The castle was built in the 15th century to defend the city of Marseille from invasions by sea.

It was later used as a state prison, and it is best known for being the setting of Alexandre Dumas’ novel The Count of Monte Cristo. Today, Château d’If is a popular tourist destination, and visitors can take tours of the castle and its grounds.

The views from the top of the castle are stunning, and there is also an on-site museum that tells the history of the castle and its prisoners.

11) Boulevard Longchamp

Boulevard Longchamp
File:Fontaines d’inspiration rocaille avec le boulevard Longchamp au fond.jpg” by Nariztocrata is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

The Boulevard Longchamp is one of the most iconic streets in Marseille, France. The boulevard runs from the Old Port to the Jardin des Vestiges, and is lined with trees, cafes, and shops.

The street is named after the Longchamp Palace, which was built in the 13th century and served as a home for the archbishops of Marseille. Today, the palace houses a museum, and the surrounding gardens are a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

The Boulevard Longchamp is a beautiful example of Marseille’s rich history and culture, and is definitely worth a visit when you’re in town.

12) Vieille Charite

Vieille Charite
Vieille Charite Marseille” by Karen V Bryan is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Vieille Charite is a historical landmark in the city of Marseille, France. Originally built in the 17th century as an almshouse and orphanage, it now houses a museum and cultural center.

The Vieille Charite is one of the most beloved landmarks in Marseille, and it is easy to see why. The building is imposing and grand, with a beautiful courtyard that is often used for events and performances.

Visitors can explore the rooms of the Vieille Charite and learn about its history, or simply enjoy the architecture and atmosphere of this truly unique place.

13) Watch a Olympique de Marseille Football Match

orange velodrome
Footodrome” by M.Visions Photographie is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

There’s nothing quite like experiencing a live football match. The energy of the crowd, the excitement of the game, and the sense of solidarity with your fellow fans is unmatched. And when that match is taking place at one of Europe’s iconic stadiums, it becomes an even more special experience.

Olympique de Marseille’s home ground, the Orange Velodrome, is just such a place. Located in the south of France, the Velodrome has been the site of some of European football’s most memorable moments. From the heated rivalry between Marseille and Paris Saint-Germain to the passionate support of the club’s fans, a match at the Orange Velodrome is an unforgettable experience.

Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or simply looking for a unique way to experience Marseille, attending an Olympique de Marseille match at the Orange Velodrome is an experience you won’t want to miss.

14) Cathedrale de la Major

Cathedrale de la Major
Cathedrale de la-Major” by francoisaix is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

The Cathedrale de la Major is a Roman Catholic church located in the city of Marseille, France. The cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Marseille and is one of the largest churches in the country.

The church is built in the Neo-Byzantine style and features a massive central dome that is based after Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. The interior of the cathedral is decorated with mosaics, marble columns, and stained-glass windows. The Cathedrale de la Major is a popular tourist destination and receives over 1 million visitors each year.

15) Vallon des Auffes

Vallon des Auffes
Vallon des Auffes” by tagann is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Vallon des Auffes is a small fishing village located in the south of France. The village is situated within the city of Marseille, and it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area.

Visitors to Vallon des Auffes can enjoy stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the opportunity to experience traditional French culture. The village is home to a number of restaurants and cafes, and there are also a number of small shops selling locally-made goods.

In addition, visitors can take part in a range of activities, such as swimming, sunbathing, and windsurfing. Vallon des Auffes is an ideal destination for those looking to experience the best of what France has to offer.

16) La Plaine

La Plaine is a large open space in the city of Marseille, France. It is located to the north of the Old Port and is bordered by the Rue Paradis and the Rue de Rome.

The area is home to a number of businesses and cultural institutions, as well as a number of parks and green spaces. La Plaine is a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike, and is host to a number of events throughout the year.

The area is also well-connected to the rest of the city, with a number of bus and metro lines running through it. Whether you’re looking to do some shopping or simply enjoy some time outdoors, La Plaine is definitely worth a visit.

17) Noailles

The view from our apartment in Noailles, Marseille. In the North African quarter” by Zane Selvans is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Noailles is a district of Marseille, located in the 1st arrondissement. It is home to the city’s central train station, as well as a number of important museums and monuments.

The district takes its name from the Noailles family, who were noblesse de robe during the Ancien Régime. The family’scoat of arms can still be seen on some of the buildings in the area.

In recent years, Noailles has undergone a significant transformation, with many of its old buildings being restored and new businesses moving into the area. Today, it is one of the most vibrant and popular districts in Marseille.

Recap of the Best Things to do in Marseille, France

  • Old Port
  • Calanques National Park
  • Museum of History in Marseille
  • Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde
  • La Corniche
  • MuCEM
  • La Panier
  • Île de Frioul
  • Musee des Docks Romains
  • Château d’If
  • Boulevard Longchamp
  • Vieille Charite
  • Olympique de Marseille Football Match
  • Cathedrale de la Major
  • Vallon des Auffes
  • La Plaine
  • Noailles

Where to Next?

Nice is another fantastic city in France just a two hour drive away!

For stunning views, food and wine, be sure to add Bordeaux, France to your list!

Biking, beer and renaissance castles are just a few of the things you’ll find in Brussels, Belgium.

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