The city of Cannes has been linked to cinema since 1946 when it hosted the first installment of its now world-famous film festival. This event transformed it from a quiet fishing village to a renowned cultural seaside city. Today, there are a variety of things to do in Cannes, from shopping in its emblematic streets and hiking up its hilly green forests to swimming or yachting within its sparkly shores.
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Cannes Card – City Pass
The French Riviera has a city pass called the Côte d’Azur France Pass, which you can consider getting, especially if you’re planning on visiting nearby areas. It allows you to pick from over 100 activities in various cities, from Cannes to Monaco.
With it, you can enjoy many things to do in Cannes, like touring the Lerins Islands or taking a tourist train for free. This Cannes city pass also provides discounts on specific attractions and establishments.
Most Popular Thing To Do In Cannes
Stroll Through Canne’s Most Popular Seaside Boulevard: Boulevard De La Croisette
In France, Cannes rhymes with La Croisette, a long promenade lined with pines, palm trees, and the Meditteranean sea. This coastal path will take you across the most beautiful things to see in Cannes, from palaces and Art Deco buildings to luxurious boutiques and cinemas.
This pedestrian boulevard offers a variety of views of the surrounding beaches and islands. However, there are more things to do here than stroll around. Children can enjoy a multitude of playgrounds, and adults can partake in different weekly free events and sports activities.
Local Things To Do In Cannes
Feast on Provincial French Flavors at Forville Market
The Marché Forville is a morning market through which you can taste the various flavors of Provence without having to leave Cannes.
This covered area is frequented by vendors selling seasonal produce and regional items from the South of France. From vegetables to herbs, hand-crafted confectionery to gourmet olive oils and truffles, you can find yourself a nice french snack here.
It is one of the most popular places to visit in Cannes since it also hosts a flea market on Mondays (instead of a food one), and live music can be enjoyed on the weekends within the bars on its outskirt.
Discover the Wonders of Le Sentier Du Littoral in Nearby Cap d’Antibes
Cap d’Antibes is located a little under 30 minutes from central Cannes by bus and around 15 minutes by train. Although the town is worth a visit, we recommend it for a little gem it hides within its coast: Le Sentier du Littoral of Cap d’Antibes.
This 5km path twists around some of the area’s most breathtaking and picturesque views. It is lined with pine trees and luxurious villas, and you’ll find beachside cafes on its edges.
The walk should take around 2 hours, but it is manageable with slow climbs and a well-managed limestone path. Make sure you equip yourself with an appropriate pair of shoes!
Breathe In the Fresh Air in Canne’s Green Lung at the Parc Naturel Forestier De La Croix Des Gardes
Although it is only located about a kilometer away from the famous La Croisette, the Parc Naturel Forestier de la Croix des Gardes remains a hidden gem, relatively unfrequented by travelers.
The area constitutes 80 hectares of Mediterranean vegetation, hiking trails, and mimosa forests, and it is the only natural preserve in mainland Cannes. If you’re wondering about what to do in Cannes within a natural atmosphere: the Parc trails can accommodate a wide range of fitness levels.
Its most notable attribute is the gorgeous panoramic views of the bay, islands, and mountains it offers throughout its viewpoints.
Outdoor Things To Do In Cannes
Rediscover Cinema Through Canne’s Painted Frescoes
Many Cannes attractions center around cinema, but a different way to explore film culture is through the frescoes painted on the city’s buildings. These walls stand as tributes to cinema and portray major movie scenes and stars.
There are many walking tours that you can join that will take you across specific movie scenes, and as you stroll along various avenues, you’ll come face to face with Charlie Chaplin, James Dean, or a scene from the first film screening ever made.
Sail Around the French Riviera
Some of the best things to do in Cannes aren’t actually in the city itself but can be found in its surrounding waters, so we recommend choosing a maritime vessel and heading over to the sea.
While yachts are a popular option, many locals enjoy opting for catamarans which seem to provide a cozier and more ‘provincial’ atmosphere.
Regardless of which one you opt for, you’ll have plenty of choice with the activities you can experience, from lounging on the Mediterranean, snorkeling in glistening waters, or exploring the nearby Calanques parks or Côte d’Azur towns.
Enjoy the Mediterranean’s Sparkling Waters at a Beach in Cannes
The city shelters 8km of sandy coastlines, so it is no surprise that one of the best things to do in Cannes is to head over to the beach.
There are many private and public beaches in Cannes to choose from, all offering unique settings and atmospheres, but the most popular and frequented ones lie along the Croisette. If you prefer a private spot, head to those around Boulevard du Midi or Pointe de la Croisette.
Regardless of where you lay your towel, we recommend checking out the watersports activities around the area you find yourself in. Cannes is renowned for its diversity of water entertainment, from kayaking to stand-up paddling and jet skiing.
Discover the Rich Heritage of the Lérins Islands
The Lérins Islands can be observed through multiple viewpoints in the city, but nothing can compare to visiting them.
The largest of the two islands is that of Sainte-Marguerite, and it serves as one of the most popular places to visit in Cannes during the weekend. It consists of 22km of trails that lead to hidden coves, beautiful landscapes, eucalyptus forests, and archaeological remains.
We recommend checking out its marked botanical route that will take you across various terrestrial and maritime flora and fauna and the Batéguier pond, a sanctuary for migratory birds.
If you visit from April to October, you’ll also find two seafood restaurants on the island that offer pretty views of the bay and delicious French food.
Although Saint-Honorat island is notably smaller, it offers plenty of things to see thanks to its rich past. The island has a tumultuous history marked by various invasions, and travelers can still visit its cannonball ovens and ruins.
One of the only establishments to have survived is the fortified monastery of Lérins, which perpetuates 16 centuries of monastic life on the island. The monks are known for producing high-quality wines and liqueurs, and their sanctuary is open to visitors all year long, with organized guided tours also offered.
Apart from visiting the abbey, we recommend walking around the island full of natural Cannes attractions and beautiful coves.
Stroll Through Rue d’Antibes
Rue D’Antibes is one of the most famous places to visit in Cannes, extending into 11km of upscale designer stores, beauty institutes, and art galleries.
The street is known for catering to the rich and famous, and it’s not uncommon to find yourself rubbing shoulders with members of nobility and celebrities.
But it’s not all about luxury and fame; plenty of mid-range boutiques cater to different budgets, and those that don’t enjoy shopping can relax in one of its many cafes and restaurants while people-watching.
Cheap And Free Things To Do In Cannes
Witness Canne’s Diversity Through Its Neighborhoods
While Cannes is known as a flamboyant destination, its neighborhoods aren’t all glitz and glamor and provide enough contrast to please a wide variety of tastes. Some are historic and elegant; others sparkle with contemporary flair.
While there are many places to visit in Cannes, here are the main areas not to miss.
Le Suquet: ‘Suquet’ translates to ‘Sumit’ in Provençal french, and this is the city’s oldest district. It sits atop a hill that provides scenic views of lower Cannes and the Lérins Islands. It is made up of small medieval streets bordered by restaurant terraces and galleries and if you find yourself here in July, make sure to check out the Suquet musical nights festival it hosts yearly.
Le Cannet: This is where you’ll find the most extensive collection of art galleries and craft shops. The neighborhood blends in old and contemporary architecture, and although it was officially separated from the city of Cannes in 1777, many still regard it as a local district. Nearby Cannes attractions include visiting the St Catherine’s church, the Lovers’ Wall and Heritage Orange Tree frescoes, and tasting some of its famous Orange wine.
The Old Port: Cannes was originally famous for being a fishing village, and the old port and Quai Saint-Pierre are the perfect way to retrace that history. The marina offers pretty views of the surrounding sailboats and islands, and the pier is home to various terraced establishments where you can enjoy lunch or a cafe.
Californie: This district takes its name from the fact that many films have been shot within its hills. It is inhabited by gorgeous villas, Italian gardens, and palm trees. If you’re looking for noteworthy things to see in Cannes, go for a stroll and enjoy the variety of architectural pieces scattered throughout its wide streets. The area’s landscapes are said to have inspired Picasso when he lived there.
Take in Canne’s Most Beautiful Panoramic Views From the Top of the Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance
The Notre-Dame-de-l’Espérance church was built in 1521 in a characteristically Provençal Gothic style. You won’t run out of things to see in Cannes within its grounds as they are home to a Renaissance porch and a Romanesque bell tower adjoined to a square that offers uninterrupted views of the area.
The building has been classified as a historical monument for its classic beauty and merging of architectural structures. Inside, you’ll find relics of the archbishop Saint-Honorat from the 5th century, whose name has been given to one of the city’s islands.
Pretend You’re Being Hosted by Nobility at the Villa Rothschild
The Villa Rothschild was built in 1881 for Baroness Bettina de Rothschild and is now classified as a Historical Monument. Its neo-classical architecture, encircled by Belle Epoque gardens, used to receive guests such as Chopin and Ingres. However, World War II put an end to its lavish gatherings.
After being confiscated from its owner during Nazi Germany’s occupation of France, the property eventually got transferred to the City after the war and became one of the most famous places to visit in Cannes.
Today, locals and visitors can enjoy the splendor of this establishment’s rich history by visiting the building, which houses the Noailles municipal media library and a small waterfall.
Things To do In Cannes At Night
Head Over to a Local Casino in France’s Gambling Capital
While Cannes is known by travelers as a jewel of the French Riviera, famous for its film festivals, locals and french citizens know the city as ‘France’s capital of games’. It has even sometimes been referred to as the European capital of games throughout the 20th century.
Cannes’ reputation is showcased by prestigious establishments throughout the city that host Black Jack, Poker, and Roulette within their premise. This is the only city in France home to three casinos, each cultivating elegance and serving as interesting places to visit in Cannes: Casino Barriere Croisette, Casino Les Princes, and 3.14 Hotel Casino.
Indoor Things To Do In Cannes
Immerse Yourself in Culture and History at a Cannes Museum
Don’t miss out on Canne’s cultural dimensions if you get the chance to visit the city, as there is more to do than go to the beach or take in the famous sights. Although the town doesn’t have a lot of museums, here are three that are worth visiting.
The Castre Museum
The Castre Museum sits atop the Suquet neighborhood within the edifice of a medieval castle. Its grounds are classified as Historical Monuments and encompass the Sainte-Anne chapel built in the 11th century, a defensive tower, and fragrant gardens – all noteworthy Cannes attractions.
The collection centers around primitive art, Mediterranean antiquities, and musical instruments.
Le Musée de la Mer
Le Musée de la Mer (i.e., The Museum of the Sea) is located on the Sainte-Marguerite island in the historical monument of Fort Royal.
The Museum stands as a testimony to the underwater and terrestrial archeology of the area, allowing visitors to discover shipwreck artifacts and antiques from Roman frescoes.
Fort Royal used to be a prison and is now one of the most distinctive places to visit in Cannes, as it still contains some of its old items and structures.
La Malmaison is a cultural space for art lovers in La Croisette that features contemporary exhibitions that focus on big household names in the industry.
Shows rotate and include works by Picasso, Ozenfant, and Matisse, so if you like art and you’re wondering what to do in Cannes, look no further than this space.
Pose on the Red Carpet at the Palais Des Festivals
One of the most popular things to do in Cannes is to visit the establishment that hosts its yearly Film Festival at the Palace of Festivals and Congresses of Cannes. You can enjoy a guided tour of the building, which takes 1 hour and will take you across exhibition arenas and a total of 18 auditoriums and cinematographic spaces.
Alternatively, you can also partake in one of the many cultural events it hosts almost every month. The building’s entrance is also always equipped with a red carpet if you feel like taking a picture or two.
Where To Stay In Cannes
Cannes has been the go-to destination for the famous and affluent since the 19th century. As such, its hotel infrastructure mainly caters to wealthy tourism, but recent years have seen the appearance of establishments that provide a wider variety of budget options to travelers.
Budget Accommodation In Cannes
Banana’s Camp: This is one of the only youth hostels that can be found in the city. It is considered a high-quality budget-friendly accommodation option in Cannes, with plenty of facilities and amenities to guarantee a great stay.
You’ll find a bar, shared lounge, and garden on-site and a well-equipped shared kitchen. Banana’s camp is located within the walls of a French Villa and faces the many places to visit in Cannes.
Mid-Range Accommodation In Cannes
Idéal Séjour – Hôtel de Charme et Atypique: Located in a charming and peaceful residential area, a 10-minute walk from la Croisette and other Cannes attractions. This accommodation features unique decor and gardens filled with orange and lemon trees.
Guests enjoy the familiar and cozy atmosphere it provides through its service and facilities: a library with over 3000 books, a workstation, and a lounge. Breakfast consists of homemade delicacies that can be enjoyed in the garden.
Hotel Molière: Centrally located near the beach and next to rue Antibes and la Croisette. The hotel’s neighborhood is known for being a lively night spot, and visitors can find a variety of bars, restaurants, and Cannes tourist attractions nearby.
Facilities and rooms are all decorated in a modern style, and guests can enjoy a daily continental breakfast in the garden.
Luxury Accommodation In Cannes
Hôtel de Provence: Located in the heart of the city, a 5-minute walk from La Croisette and the area’s main things to do in Cannes. This accommodation features a traditional Provincial French decor and offers guests regional wines and local beverages via its bar.
Traveler’s favorite facilities include the charming garden area and patio, providing intimate spaces for relaxation.
Five Seas Hotel: This accommodation faces the sea and offers its guests a spacious and luxurious space of respite. On-site facilities include a lounge bar, restaurant, breakfast room, and outdoor rooftop swimming pool and terrace.
Visitors enjoy relaxing at the spa, which consists of hammams and a sauna and offers a wide variety of specialized treatments. The hotel even has a private yacht for hire if you want to explore nearby places to visit in Cannes.
Discovering Things To Do In Cannes
Cannes is much more than glamor, luxury, and famous festivals. It is a city teeming with diverse nature and landscapes, from its old medieval hills to its luscious islands and coastal paths. Whether you’re a fan of cinema, architecture, nature, or outdoor activities, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Cannes that suit your taste.