Planning a visit to Marseille? Dive into the essence of this sunny city, boasting 2,900 hours of sunshine each year. Marseille, situated in the South of France along the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea, is the second-largest city in France, with a population of 858,000. A visit to Marseille invites you to relax and explore a Mediterranean city steeped in history and rich in culture.

The city’s beaches, coves, and monuments, along with its culinary traditions and local products, provide endless allure. Marseille promises an exceptional vacation under the southern sun.

Explore our top picks for the best things to do in Marseille!

1. Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MuCEM)

What to do in Marseille : Mucem

Opened in 2013, MuCEM is a must-visit site in Marseille. Located at the entrance of the port, its unique architecture, resembling an intricate concrete lace cube, captivates visitors. Built on the site of Fort Saint-Jean, the museum hosts fabulous exhibitions that invite curious travelers to explore the various civilizations that have shaped the identity of the Mediterranean, from prehistory to the present day.

🔗 Read Also: Visit the Mucem in Marseille: tickets, prices, opening times

2. The Old Port (Vieux-Port)

What to do in Marseille :  Vieux port

Visiting Marseille also means savoring the atmosphere of the Old Port, famous for its fish market, historic boats, backdrop of ancient buildings, and numerous restaurants and cafes along the quays.

Take a seat at one of the terraces and enjoy the sun’s rays while witnessing a unique and typical spectacle.

🔗 Read Also: Discover the Charm of Marseille’s Vieux Port

3. Boat Excursions

After strolling along the Old Port’s quays, why not take advantage of the opportunity to rent a boat? Visiting Marseille without enjoying the beauty of its coastline would be a missed opportunity. With 2,900 hours of sunshine per year, a boat ride is a fantastic family or friends outing. If you don’t have a boat license, consider hiring a skipper.

Renting a boat during your stay in Marseille allows you to appreciate the landscapes of the Mediterranean coast while soaking up the vitamin D!

4. Cathedral of Sainte-Marie-Majeure (La Major)

Among Marseille’s many monuments, La Major Cathedral is a must-visit. Its unique architecture, influenced by both Romanesque and Byzantine styles, is worth the visit alone. The exterior impresses with its striped façades and splendid domes, while the interior surprises with its impressive dimensions. Explore the arches, statues, mosaics, and countless details that make this place unique.

5. Historical Monuments Tour of Marseille

the famous Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la Garde represents the protector of the city of Marseille

For starters, the ancient port will take you deep into Marseille’s history. Otherwise, most of the great religious buildings, such as the famous Basilica of Notre-Dame-de-la Garde, trace the history of the 19th century. Climb to the top of the “Bonne Mère”, as it’s known there, for a panoramic view over Marseille’s rooftops.

Your historical stroll continues into the 19th century with a visit to the Château de La Buzine, before arriving at the modern era with Le Corbusier’s Cité Radieuse.

🔗 Read Also: 1-week South of France Road Trip Itinerary: Marseille, Arles, Avignon & More

6. Le Panier District

a stroll through the Panier district has become one of the most popular things to do in Marseille.

A must-see is the Panier district, Marseille’s oldest neighborhood and one of the most visited. It’s right in the heart of the city’s historic center, a stone’s throw from the Vieux Port.

You’ll immediately fall under the spell of its steep, hill-climbing streets, picturesque high-rise buildings and unique atmosphere. Here you’ll discover a veritable condensation of the Marseilles postcard that inspired the hit TV series “Plus belle la vie”.

7. The Coastline

Marseille's residents enjoy beach access directly from the city

Marseille offre une diversité exceptionnelle, mais sa côte à elle seule vaut le détour. Laissez-vous séduire par ses calanques qui invitent à la détente et à l’évasion.

Pour les promenades et les baignades en famille, direction le parc balnéaire du Prado, connu pour ses nombreuses plages aménagées, ses espaces verts et son skate parc.

Autre possibilité, laissez-vous tenter par une petite balade en mer en direction des îles du Frioul ou savourez la plongée sous-marine sur l’île de Riou.

🔗 Read Also: How to attend an Olympique de Marseille match at the Orange Velodrome Stadium?

8. Relaxation and Wellness in the Calanques

What to do in Marseille : Calanques

In the calanques, Marseille reveals its wild, natural side in all its splendor. The rugged terrain of the calanques conceals some magnificent little beaches that are only a short stroll away.

The calanques of Cassis are among the most beautiful in the Bouches-du-Rhône. They are located some twenty kilometers from downtown Marseille.

Enjoy hours of idleness on Morgiou beach or in the Calanque d’En Vau, or take a dip in one of these little corners of paradise.

9. Marseille’s Flavors

Once in Marseille you should try the famous bouillabaisse

What to do in Marseille? Discover its gastronomy! Whether you’re a gourmet or a food lover, treat yourself to a journey of local specialties.

Freshly caught fish from the Mediterranean, southern vegetables, Provencal herbs, and spices will delight your taste buds. The famous bouillabaisse and pistou soup are absolute must-tries!

10. Château d’If

A visit to the Chateau d'If will immerse you in French literature and history.

Visiting Marseille without stopping at the Château d’If would be like taking away the city’s melodious accent. Classified as a historic monument and welcoming 100,000 visitors annually, this former fortress prison is accessible by sea shuttle and promises a breathtaking view of Marseille.

It’s the same view that inspired Alexandre Dumas for his famous novel, “The Count of Monte Cristo.” To fully immerse yourself in the experience, consider a tour inside the Château, offering a timeless escape.

11. Create Your Own Pastis

Pastis isn't just a drink in Marseille, it's a tradition

Nothing is more local and original than crafting your own pastis in Marseille! Guided by your passionate host Guillaume, you’ll embark on preparing your unique blend of pastis. This workshop allows for individual creativity in a lively atmosphere. At the end of the session, you’ll leave with your very own 700mL bottle of pastis.

How to get to Marseille ?

You have several options to reach Marseille, depending on your departure location. The TGV train connects Paris to Marseille in just 3 hours, arriving conveniently in the city center at Gare St Charles.

🚆 Check Train Schedules & Prices

You can also fly to Marseille, arriving at Marignane Airport, located about 24 km from Marseille. However, numerous shuttles operate between the airport and Marseille. To find a cheap flight, you can search on our partner Skyscanner’s website.

Where to Stay in Marseille ?

If you choose to visit Marseille, various neighborhoods are available to suit your preferences. The Vieux-Port is an ideal starting point for exploring Marseille on foot. La Canebière, bustling and lively, puts you close to everything, while the La Plaine neighborhood is perfect if you seek a young, central, and festive atmosphere. For something more authentic and picturesque, the Le Panier district will fulfill your desires. You can find affordable hotels in Marseille by searching on a hotel comparison website.

>> Read our article : Where to stay in Marseille ?

This city easily captivates with its alluring attractions. Whether your preferences lean towards beaches, history, art, culture, or gastronomy, the Phocaean city will satisfy your desires. Still wondering what to do in Marseille?

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