Are you planning to visit Brest and Brittany soon? Discover our selection of the 12 things to see or do during your trip!

Dubbed the “City of the West”, Brest is one of Europe’s maritime capitals and boasts one of France’s most beautiful harbors.

Always open to the world due to its large military and commercial port, it has a tumultuous and fascinating history. From its past, only strong testimonies like its castle remain. Unfortunately, the city suffered the ravages of World War II. Its image of a rebuilt city doesn’t always attract tourists. However, Brest has solid assets, such as its cultural heritage, Breton identity, and beautiful hinterland. From Brest, it’s easy to discover the charms of Brittany, with its preserved landscapes and coastline.

Brest is also a student city with about 23,000 students, ensuring lively evenings. So, what should you do in Brest during your stay between land and sea? Which places must you absolutely discover?

To help you visit Brest, we have selected the 11 best things to do or see during your stay!

1. The National Marine Museum

The National Marine Museum, is one of the best things to do in Brest

If there’s one must-see museum in Brest, it’s the National Marine Museum. Firstly, it’s located in Brest’s castle, rich in 17 centuries of history. During your visit, you’ll discover the castle’s architecture and structure while enjoying beautiful views of the city. The exhibitions are enriching, well-supplied, and illustrated with impressive wood sculptures and educational films. Plan at least 2 hours to tour and appreciate the panoramas!

2. Océanopolis

Océanopolis, is a must see in Brest

When visiting Brest, the second essential place is Océanopolis. In this park, the oceans are honored. To discover their secrets, you can visit three pavilions dedicated to three different marine faunas and floras: tropical, Breton, and polar. You can also admire a large aquarium with sharks and follow the Otter Trail to learn more about these amazing and playful animals. The visit can last from 3 hours to a full day.

3. The Marina of Brest

The Marina of Brest

Near the National Marine Museum and the city center is another main attraction to visit in Brest: its famous Marina. Don’t hesitate to walk around and admire the various boats moored there. It’s also a lively place with many restaurants.

4. The Motte-Tanguy Tower

The Motte-Tanguy Tower, one of the iconic of Brest

On the other side of the Penfeld River, opposite the National Marine Museum, is the Motte-Tanguy Tower. Built in the 14th century, this tower is a beautiful testimony to Brest’s old architecture. It also houses a small museum with large dioramas by Brest painter Jim Sévellec, depicting the city’s history and Brest before 1939!

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5. Saint-Malo Street

Enjoy a stroll in Saint Malo Street when visiting Brest

If you visit Brest, Saint-Malo Street is a must-see. Its timeless charm and exoticism will make you feel the atmosphere of the city of yesteryear, before World War II destroyed Brest’s beautiful old streets. For a touch of authenticity, this typical and friendly street is a must-visit!

6. The Capucins Workshops

The Capucins Workshops, a cultural heritage

Located at the end of Saint-Malo Street, the Capucins Workshops are a must-visit in Brest during your stay! In this completely renovated space, formerly the repair workshops of the National Navy, shops, restaurants, and cultural spaces have taken up residence. For memory, aesthetics, and art, several machines have remained on-site, adding cultural cachet to the place. Large spaces have also been left free for local artists to come and exhibit, sing, or dance: a real cultural effervescence!

7. Montbarey Fort

Montbarey Fort, Brest

What to do in Brest during your stay? Visit another museum, of course! Montbarey Fort is another military structure, built in the 18th century, which now houses a museum dedicated to the history of Finistère during the war. Whether you are passionate about history or not, don’t hesitate to discover it during your stay.

8. A Boat Ride

Take A Boat Ride when visiting Brest

How can you come to Finistère without facing the elements? There’s nothing like a boat ride in Brest to spend a pleasant day at sea, discover the islands of Ouessant or Molène, or simply appreciate the beauty of the coasts from another angle. But be careful, the coasts are as sublime to discover as they can sometimes be dangerous, so don’t hesitate to check the tides before renting a boat in Brest!

9. Moulin Blanc Beach

View on Moulin Blanc Beach, Brest

Located near Océanopolis, Moulin Blanc Beach is one of Brest’s only urban beaches. While swimming is not recommended, it remains a charming place appreciated by the locals. You can walk on the sand or in the surroundings, enjoy the sea air, relax, or picnic. Around the beach, several restaurants and cafes have settled facing the Moulin Blanc Cove. Enthusiasts can also try water sports.

10. The National Botanical Conservatory of Brest

The National Botanical Conservatory of Brest, a great things to do

North of Moulin Blanc Beach, you can discover the National Botanical Conservatory of Brest, a simply magnificent space. This little gem, hidden in the Breton city, is ideal for walks. Here, you are immersed in nature, with even some charming waterfalls and tropical plant greenhouses. It’s a relaxing and pleasant place you should visit in Brest.

11. The Museum of Fine Arts

The Museum of Fine Arts

Despite the losses of World War II, the Museum of Fine Arts in Brest has recovered well. Thanks to a considerable effort, a superb collection of ancient paintings has been assembled, the largest to have been established in France since 1945! It offers visitors a beautiful panorama of French and Italian painting through the centuries. Despite its emphasis on ancient art, a witness to the past for a city whose heritage was destroyed by bombings, the Museum houses modern paintings and even sits in a typical post-war functional architecture building.

12. What to do in and around Brest

Pointe du Petit Minou, one of the best things to do around Brest
Pointe du Petit Minou

Still wondering what to do in and around Brest? Discover the activities and other places to discover during your stay:

  • Go to the Pont de l’Iroise, which offers a superb view of Brest harbor and the Elorn river!
  • Take a boat trip to the Ponant islands of Molène and Ouessant.
  • Visit the charming Abbaye de Daoulas, gateway to the Parc Naturel Régional d’Armorique and its fantastic hiking trails!
  • Stroll to the Pointe du Diable and the surrounding area for sublime views of the sea and Breton nature.
  • Marvel at the Pointe du Petit Minou, where you’ll discover an exceptional panorama of the Brest roadstead!

How to get to Brest?

You can get to Brest by plane, train, bus or car. Depending on your point of departure, one will be more suitable and economical than the others.

By plane, you’ll have no trouble finding a direct flight from other French destinations, such as Lyon or Marseille. For the best prices on flights, you can consult the website of our partner Skyscanner.

By train, you can use the SNCF to reach Brest: allow 4 hours 30 minutes from Paris and 3 hours 30 minutes from Nantes.

By bus, you can also use Ouibus or Flixbus to visit Brest easily and cheaply.

By car: It’s also possible to reach and visit Brest with your own vehicle or if you rent a car. From Paris, the journey takes an average of 5 hours 30 minutes, 3 hours 15 minutes from Nantes and 4 hours from Caen. You can also use the Blablacar website to find carpoolers or a carpool to this charming Breton town.

Where to stay in Brest?

If you’re planning to visit Brest, you’ll have no shortage of options for your accommodation. There are many charming areas to stay in Brest, including the city center, the upscale Saint-Marc district and the Quatre-Moulins district.

For your accommodation in Brest, you’ll be spoilt for choice, whatever your budget. In fact, don’t hesitate to consult this hotel comparator to choose accommodation for your stay in Brest!

🛏️ Compare and book hotels in in Brest starting at €37 per night

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