Last Updated on September 12, 2023 by April | Dreaming in French
Are you looking for how to spend one day in Marseille? This guide has you covered!
The lively port city of Marseille, is located in Southern France, and practically everyone has something to say about it. Even if you only have a limited amount of time to travel, you should still include this city on your bucket list despite both its great and negative aspects. Here is your comprehensive guide on how to spend 24 hours in Marseille.
Marseille, the second-largest city in France, is definitely too big to see everything in one day, but whether you are stopping by on a cruise or you are arriving here to see more of the French Riviera, it’s definitely worth staying for a day and seeing some of the highlights.
This port city offers plenty of historical significance, interesting places to see, and, of course, delicious food.
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Are you planning your trip to Marseille Soon?
If you’re thinking about seeing a lot of attractions and monuments while in Marseille, Consider purchasing the Marseille CityPass, which includes free admission to Mucem and the Regards de Provence museums and unlimited access to public transport around the city. The CityPass Marseille is valid for 24 hours, 48 hours, or 72 hours. To work out whether or not the pass is worth it for you or not, add up the cost of the individual attractions you wish to visit and see if you’ll save money. Find more details here.
If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of how to spend one day in Marseille:
How to Get to Marseille
Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles is Marseille’s primary train and bus station. If you get here by rail, it will only take you ten minutes to walk to the city’s major pedestrian promenade.
I strongly suggest downloading the French transportation app SNCF Connect if you want to travel around France by rail. You may both check train schedules and purchase tickets with this app. The train workers can then see them on your phone as they travel through the train car.
This application is useful for local rail travel, such from Marseille to Cassis, as well as intercity travel and even certain international trains, like the Eurostar from Paris to London.
If you’re flying in, you’ll probably land at Marseille Provence Airport (IATA code: MRS). This airport serves mostly RyanAir and EasyJet aircraft from around Europe that arrive in Terminal 2. Although the two terminals are near to one another, certain Air France and British Airways planes arrive at Terminal 1.
Follow the signage to the buses as soon as you approach the arrivals area. The bus terminal is located directly outside of Terminal 2. You may buy tickets straight to Saint-Charles outdoors at a ticket desk. They take around 30 minutes and cost €10 each trip. A bus departs every 20 minutes.
Getting Around Marseille
Visitors should also be aware that Marseille is one of only three French cities—the others being Paris and Lyon—to be separated into arrondissements.
You may spend the most of your day in Marseille simply walking about after you arrive. The Old Port, Marseille’s center of action, is a 15 to 20 minute walk from the railway or bus terminal. After arriving, you may explore the port’s many attractions on foot.
The bus system in Marseille is great if you don’t want to walk much, although it’s a touch pricey at approximately €2 each journey. On the RTM website, you may view routes and timetables. You can also download the RTM app for Apple or Android devices.
If you wish to travel further afield, Marseille also has a metro system.
Where to Stay in Marseille
Since most of Marseille’s attractions are concentrated around the Old Port, if you are just visiting for a single day, you should try to stay as near to it as you can.
In Marseille, there are plenty of accommodations available for every price range. Here are a few of the top lodging choices based on proximity and online evaluations.
Budget: If you’re on a tight budget, this hostel is the closest thing you can find near the port. A four- or eight-bed dorm costs $35 per night for the beds (price fluctuates based on the season). If you’re going solo and want to meet other travelers along the road, the hostel is a terrific spot to stay because of how clean it is and how kind the staff is. Book a stay at Hostel Ambassade Bretonne Vieux-Port here.
Mid-range: This hotel looks to be much more expensive than it is. Starting prices for double rooms are $150 per night. The interior decor is vibrant and entertaining, and the rooms are trendy. You may get a fantastic breakfast or just a cup of coffee at the restaurant in the morning for a little bit more. The location is ideal—it’s only a short distance from the Old Port and a number of fantastic eateries. Book a stay a stay at Breteuil – Appart au Vieux Port here.
Luxury: And that is undoubtedly a Belle Vue. You may view one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see from the accommodations here, which look out into the port. If money isn’t a concern and you’re only staying one night in Marseille, this is the place to stay. Additionally, many rooms include views of the city’s hilltop cathedral, Notre Dame de la Garde. Every morning breakfast is served, and it is environmentally friendly. Nightly rates for rooms begin at $310. Book a stay at InterContinental Marseille here.
One Day in Marseille Suggested Itinerary
In Marseille, as I already indicated, a day may be filled with a lot of activities. All of these activities, if you begin early enough, I believe can be fit into a one day in Marseille.
Walk Along La Canebière
You will probably stroll along this street to get to the the port if you are a visitor to the city and are arriving from Saint-Charles station.
But it’s definitely worth strolling along this huge street.
La Canebière boulevard became pedestrian-only as you approach the port in 2013 when Marseille was designated the year’s European Capital of Culture, among other things taking place in the city.
Enjoy the expansive boulevards, the cafés, and the 17th-century architecture of the buildings. I believe it is such a great way to begin your tour of Marseille and it is the ideal warm-up for all there is to see in Marseille.
Explore the Vieux-Port
You arrive in Vieux-Port, often known as the Old Port, at the end of La Canebière. Stroll beneath the stylish L’Ombrière de Norman Foster, a work of mirror art located by the port. It’s a cute little thing to look at, and it made me think of the bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
The city of Marseille was founded at the Vieux-Port. The Greeks landed at the port about 600 BC. Here, the Greeks established a city, which subsequently developed into a significant Roman port. At that time, Marsiho was a medieval city. Up until the 19th century, it was a significant port in this part of the world.
You may glimpse a little portion of the port’s significance in the city’s history as you stroll about. You can board a ferry and travel to one of the several Mediterranean islands if you have more time. In Marseille, these beaches are among the nicest.
If you only see one thing in Marseille it has to be the Old Port!
Take in the Views from Fort Saint-Jean
On either side of the Vieux-Port, there are two forts that served as the port’s fortifications throughout the course of many centuries.
Saint-Nicolas and Saint-Jean forts were the names of these two forts. Only Fort Saint-Jean, which stands on the northern flank of the original fort, is presently accessible by foot.
You may go about here at your leisure and ascend the tower to see the fort from above. Without having to climb to the top of the cathedral on the opposite side of the city, it offers among the greatest views of the Old Port.
Since the fort is a component of the MUCEM, admission to several of the fort’s display rooms is included in the cost of the ticket.
The Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean, or MUCEM, is a museum that is both a component of the Fort Saint-Jean and a brand-new, ultra-modern structure that was presented in 2013 during Marseille’s year as the European Capital of Culture. It is located directly on the edge of the Old Port.
The museum includes a lot of relics and information about the history of this part of Europe, in addition to art displays. It was a particularly intriguing site to begin my vacation to the French Riviera because I had never before traveled to the Mediterranean region.
The architecture of this institution is one of my favorites. It’s amazing to be able to experience both the city’s past and present while crossing a little footbridge from the historic Fort Saint-Jean to the contemporary structure.
All of the exhibits and treasures are included in the museum’s €11 or you can buy a skip-the-line entry ticket. On their website, you may learn more about the events the museum is hosting while you’re there.
Address: 1 Esp. J4, 13002 Marseille France
Visit Le Panier (& Place des Moulins) Neighbourhood
Going to Place des Moulins while strolling through the Le Panier neighborhood is one of the top things to do in Marseille. Le Panier, a popular neighborhood in Marseille with nearby galleries and stores, is known today as a center for artists. Instagram users love to take pictures of the vibrant residences and graffiti there.
However, this wasn’t always the case. at fact, there were 15 windmills at the area des Moulins (windmill area) in Le Panier. It was the most impoverished area of the city when they demolished the windmills and created the houses you see today. Locals produced heroin in such residences, supplying 85% of the American market. Fun stuff, huh?
I still thought this area was a little run-down, but it was still interesting to wander around. Additionally, this is a great location for some souvenir shopping in Marseille and just a short walk from some great restaurants.
Grab lunch around Vieux-Port
As you might expect from a city by the sea, seafood is one of the most sought-after cuisines while dining out in Marseille. La Table du Fort Restaurant Marseille Vieux-Port and Restaurant Le Relais 50 are a couple of the top establishments in the Vieux-Port neighborhood.
Today, there are many more possibilities than there were even a few years ago for individuals searching for vegan and vegetarian meals. Green Love (a concept store offering cosmetics and groceries dishing up vegan cuisine), La Table à l’Envers, and Mariposas are some of the top restaurants in town for meat-free food.
Visit The Basilica Notre Dame De La Garde
Whatever you choose to do in Marseille for the remainder of the day, you must visit the Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde (Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde.) Even if you have no interest in the church itself, the views alone make it worthwhile to go.
This is the church that dominates Marseille’s Old Port. Therefore, the views from the summit are rather breathtaking. The views of Marseille are virtually uninterrupted. It is completely visible, as are the mountains around and the island d’If.
Side Note: I was relieved to learn that there are also free restrooms at the top!
The only problem? It’s a bit of a hassle to get there…
Climb up to Notre Dame de la Garde
There are two ways to go reach the Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde from the center of Marseille. Walking upward for around 30 minutes is your first choice, but it’s not the most pleasant trek and it may get very steep.
The bus route 55 from the Old Port to the station Tellène Valentin is the best method to go to Notre Dame de la Garde. You can get off the bus here and see the stairs leading to Notre Dame de la Garde’s entrance. A ticket for the bus may be purchased from the driver for roughly €2. If you don’t have precise change, don’t worry; he will give it to you. Find this parking lot if you’re driving.
There are a few good reasons for making the ascent to this church. The breathtaking views of Marseille as a whole are the primary factor.
The second reason is that hardly many churches are exactly like this one.
Never before have I been in a church with such a nautical motif. The cathedral recounts the history of the inhabitants of this city, which is the home of the seafarer.
The Descent Back Down From Basilica Notre Dame De La Garde
Of course, you may ride the same bus, the 55, to down the hill and reach the Marseille Old Port, but I advise walking instead. You’ll follow a different path down than you did up, passing more Marseille, France, sites of interest. When you’ve had a chance to take it all in, descend back to the ground.
If you feel up to it, you may walk downhill for 30 minutes before making your way back to Marseille’s Old Port for another 30 minutes. But I assure you, it’s worthwhile. If you’d rather, you may bypass much of the descent by catching the bus number 80.
The walk begins near the front of the church, where there are steps and rocks. Following that, you’ll be going through Marseille’s suburbs in order to get to La Corniche Street. You will get at Vallon des Auffes via a larger retail district that transforms into a beach stroll.
Address: Rue Fort du Sanctuaire, 13006 Marseille, France
Visit Vallon des Auffes
In Marseille, France, there is a little fishing community called Vallon des Auffes. You may either travel down into the village itself or stop for a brief photo opportunity on the bridge, where you can see the Basilica dominating the town.
You may also see stone gates across the street. It serves as a memorial to French soldiers who lost their lives in Indochina and North Africa.
Following Vallon des Auffes, keep walking down La Corniche; it will eventually transform into Blvd Charles Livon and lead you all the way back to the Marseille Old Port.
Enjoy Apéritif at the Vieux-Port
Returning to the Vieux-Port will be the ideal way to round off the day. As you might have guessed by now, Marseille’s Vieux-Port neighborhood is home to the city’s top restaurants. In order to experience Marseille’s nightlife, you need return to the neighborhood after a busy day of sightseeing and have a few drinks.
Ciel l Rooftop, one of the city’s premier rooftop restaurants, is only a short stroll from the Vieux-Port. Stunning views of Notre Dame de la Garde may be enjoyed from this hip restaurant, and the waitstaff speaks English.
Where to Eat in Marseille
You will undoubtedly need to eat even if you are just in Marseille for one day.
It’s all about the seafood, therefore I’ve included some of the best restaurants on my list that are close to the things to do in Marseille.
- Le Caveau Du Theatre – A seafood restaurant available for both lunch and evening with lots of outdoor seating.
- Le Bouchon Provençal – If you want to try local food, come here. Local beef tartare, panisse, and wines are available.
- Le comptoir aux huiles – The best location to go for lunch or dinner is here, which is open all day. Since it’s uncommon for restaurants to stay open between lunch and supper, this is a terrific alternative if, like me, you enjoy a late lunch or early dinner after sightseeing. Primarily seafood options, but there is also a decent variety of beef choices.
There is no better location to pick up some Marseille Navettes along the way than at Four des Navettes.
Have More Time?
These are some of the activities on my list for a return trip to Marseille if you’ve been to Marseille previously and are searching for something a little new to do for one day there.
- Palais Longchamp – The majestic palace known as Parc Longchamp is located inside this lovely park. Additionally, the Museum of Natural History is located here.
- Vieille Charité – A former almshouse, now functioning as a museum and cultural centre, situated in the heart of the old Panier quarter.
- Château d’If – A fortress located on the Île d’If, the smallest island in the Frioul archipelago. Built in the 17th century, it is famous for being one of the settings of Alexandre Dumas’s adventure novel The Count of Monte Cristo.
- Take a Boat Trip to Port du Frioul – This area of Marseille is so picturesque that it deserves to be seen on its own. If you’re there in the summer, the ferries operate often, and it’s a fantastic beach for a day trip.
- Take a boat trip to the Calanques – You may take a boat from the Marseille port to the Calanques National Park nearby, which you should add to your list!
One Day in Marseille From Cruise Ship
The cruise port of Marseille is a very popular location on the southern French Mediterranean coast. You won’t have to go far from the area where cruise ships dock or the city center to find activities in Marseille. Despite being the largest city in southern France, Marseille’s principal attractions are concentrated in a small, core area. Read this Marseille port guide on how to enjoy a day in Marseille.
Parts of Marseille Cruise Port
Many refer to the Marseille Cruise Port as the “Gateway to Southern Europe.” Every year, its commercial port welcomes more than a million cruise passengers and manages millions of tons of cargo coming into and leaving the region.
The “Marseille Provence Cruise Terminal,” or cruise port, in Marseille, has two public spaces. They are next to one another. The big ships dock at one location, and the smaller cruise ships dock in the other.
The “Stations of Mole Leon Gourret,” also known as “Gares du Môle Léon Gourret,” are where large cruise liners dock in Port 4, or Gate 4.
It would take too long to walk from the cruise ports to the city centre from where they are located because they are farther from the town. The distance between the harbor and the city’s center is little under 6 kilometers. Walking one way would take more than an hour.
How to Get from Marseille Cruise Terminal to the City Centre
So how do you get from the huge cruise port area, Gares du Môle Léon Gourret, to the city centre of Marseille? With the following choices, it’s simple:
- Take a free shuttle bus from the dock to the Joliette neighborhood. Depending on where you’re going, you can use public transit or walk once you’ve arrived in the city.
- Take an Uber or a cab there for under 20€.
- Join a tour that picks you up from the cruise port terminal.
Using Marseille Cruise Port Free Shuttle
Take advantage of the free cruise shuttle offered by the Port of Marseille if you wish to go to the city centre via public transit. In order to reach La Joliette’s city centre, it travels southeast along the riverfront between the cruise port (Port 4) and La Joliette. From the city’s center, it travels northwest to cruise Port 4 on the return trip.
If the La Joliette shuttle stop is not your end stop of where you want to go, you may walk there or utilize trains, trams, or buses to get there.
1 Day in Marseille Itinerary FAQs
What is Marseille famous for?
I’ll admit that when I got to Marseille, I wasn’t really sure it. If the day isn’t sunny and bright, it isn’t visually appealing. I didn’t know what else to do there but wander around, eat, and drink.
The tourist attractions are what Marseille famous for, and these attractions are interesting because they are deeply rooted in the history of the city. It is situated on the Mediterranean coast, has a massive, stunning basilica perched on a hill that towers over the city, boats line the historic port, cruise ships attract over 1 million visitors here every year, and it serves as a center for shipping moving into and out of Europe every day.
Is a day enough in Marseille?
Marseille, is obviously too big to see everything in one day, and there’s definitely a lot things to see in Marseille in one day. But whether you are stopping by on a cruise or you are arriving here to see more of the French Riviera, it’s definitely worth staying for a day and seeing some of the highlights.
Is Marseille a walkable city?
Yes, you are able to walk about Marseille. However, it is also very big, so I was appreciative of its easy to use public transit while I was there. In order to see more locations in our short amount of time, I utilised public transit.
Is it safe to walk around Marseille at night?
Like any major city, it is recommended to stay away from shady parts of the city, and women still need to use extra precautions to ensure their safety, particularly at night. Avoid walking alone after dark, and be cautious when out and about.
What to do in Marseille from cruise port?
Here are some of the key places to visit in Marseille:
- Le Vieux Port: Marseille’s historical harbor, which has a morning fish market. There are several restaurants and shops in the neighborhood.
- Le Panier: France’s oldest district is today highly renowned for its artistic community.
- Notre Dame de la Garde: Visit the basilica on the hilltop that offers spectacular panoramic views of the city.
How far is Marseille’s city center from the cruise port?
In general, it takes 12 minutes to drive to Marseille’s city center, which includes the Vieux-harbor de Marseille, the city’s historic old harbor. That is 7.85 miles or 7.8 kilometers.
The city offers a free shuttle bus service every 30 minutes from the cruise ports to the city center, however it will take around 45 minutes via public transit to get there.
Did I miss anything in this Marseille 1 day itinerary?
Let me know your suggestions on how to visit Marseille in one day in the comments. Thanks!