15 Best Things To Do In Marseille, France

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Marseille is a mosaic of limestone creeks infiltrated by seawater and a rich heritage that spans the entire history of France. With its mild climate, beautiful beaches, distinct neighborhoods, and culinary specialties, the city is home to various unique experiences – some of which are the best things to do in Marseille.

Marseille extends over  240 km2 of unmissable sites bordered by the sea, natural spaces, and quiet little corners where you are sure to have a memorable holiday. There are plenty of sights to see and activities to partake in.

Marseille Card – City Pass 

Marseille is over 25 centuries old, which translates to a rich expanse of note-worthy monuments, neighborhoods, museums, and activities. As such, many visitors like to use the city’s tourist pass, which offers a cost-efficient way to explore places to visit in Marseille.

This City Pass enables free and unlimited access to public transportation, museums, sightseeing trains, and the If/Frioul islands or the hop-on hop-off Colorbüs tour. It is perfect for visitors wishing to discover  Marseille tourist attractions in an all-inclusive and worry-free package.

Most Popular Thing To Do In Marseille

Stroll Through Centuries of History at the Old Port

Marseille was first established as a Phocaeans Greek colony on the coast of the Mediterranean. The old Port marks 26 centuries of this history, some of which you can witness in the nearby Jardin des Vestiges (Garden Of Ruins).

Today, the Port hosts gatherings and events and encloses a variety of cafes, seafood restaurants, and bars with outdoor seating – making it one of the best places to visit in Marseille.

If you’re wondering what to do in Marseille around this area, check out the nearby Quai des Belges where fishermen still sell fresh catches every morning. For something more whimsical, consider riding ‘Le Ferry Boat,’ arguably the world’s shortest public transportation route that will take you across 283 meters from one side of the Port to the next (in 5 minutes!).

Local Things To Do In Marseille

Plan a Picnic at the Parc Borély

Parc Borely is Marseille’s largest and most popular park. It’s composed of 18 hectares of green spaces, 1.2 of which enclose a botanical garden and a 16th-century castle – both unique places to visit in Marseille.

The West-side of the park is composed of a French-style garden with the castle taken as a center point. As for the East-side, it is tailored in English style with a path curving around the lake.

We recommend bringing kids to the playgrounds and using the promenade along the beach. On-site, you’ll also find a bar, restaurant, skate park, and shops. There are also many beaches around Marseille that you can explore for a beach vacation.

Eat Your Way Through Open Air Markets

Marseille markets are authentic displays of the city’s culture through flavors. There are many open-air market places to visit in Marseille; the most famous is that of the Old Port, which opens its metaphorical doors every morning on the dock and specializes in fresh fish.

Alternatively, check out the open-air stalls of Capucins, where you’ll find a variety of affordable exotic fruits and vegetables. Other points of interest are Le Prado, La Plaine, and the Wednesday farmer’s market at Cours Julien.

Make sure to enjoy some local and traditional French cuisine when you visit!

Taste Marseille’s Bouillabaisse, Navettes and Pastis


Eating should be the first thing on your mind if you’re thinking about what to do in Marseille. The most popular dish would have to be the Bouillabaisse, a stew made from the leftover bony rockfish that fishermen used to be unable to sell to markets.

We also recommend trying out the Navettes (boat-shaped shortbread biscuits) and some pastis – an anise-flavored alcoholic aperitif. But be warned: it is pretty strong and usually served with a jug of water so that you can dilute it to your preference.

Best Indoor Things To Do In Marseille

Take an Architectural Tour of La Cité Radieuse 

The famous architect ‘Le Corbusier’ completed the design of La Cité Radieuse in 1951. His vision was to create a new housing system consisting of 337 apartments, inner streets, a kindergarten, shops, a restaurant, a gymnasium, and a hotel – a city within the city.

This genius avant-garde work is today a very famous and notable work of architecture, making it part of must-see Marseille tourist attractions. Guided tours can be booked through the city’s official site (Note that people still live there).

Today, much of the original establishments remain, albeit in new forms:  you’ll find a bookshop and publishing house (Imbernon), a hotel with its bar and restaurant (‘The Architect’s belly’),  a Tea room (L’ Archi Gourmand), and a design concept store (The 318) – all noteworthy places to visit in Marseille. The gymnasium has also been transformed into the MAMO, a center for contemporary art.

 Cheer Your Heart Out at the Stade Vélodrome

Marseille’s inhabitants are known to get a bit carried away during football games, especially when their home team, the L’Olympique de Marseille (L’OM), has a match.

Matches usually occur in the Stade Velodrome, France’s second-biggest stadium. It served as a venue for the 1938 and 1998 World cups, the 1984 UEFA European Championship, the 2007 Rugby Wolrd cup, and the UEFA euro in 2016.

You can tour the stadium or book game tickets if you’re looking for fun things to do in Marseille.

Discover the Mediterranean at the MuCEM

The Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean is one of the most visited Marseille tourist attractions.

It constitutes three different spaces:

  • The ‘J4,’ a concrete-laced cube home to temporary and permanent exhibitions that record the history of Mediterranean civilizations.
  • The ‘Fort Saint-Jean,’ a historic 12-century military fort, and
  • ‘The Conservation and Resource Center (CCR),’ a space that serves as reserves for past and future exhibitions, part of which is accessible to the public.

For more things to see in Marseille, we recommend walking around the area as it offers the city’s most stunning views. Notably, from the J4’s restaurant and the concrete footbridges connecting Fort Saint-Jean.

Keeping in theme with the Mediterranean, fans of the sea should consider checking out the Musée Subaquatique de Marseille (MSM), Europe’s first underwater museum.

Retrace Marseille’s History at the Marseille History Museum

Marseille is rich with centuries of history, and the Marseille History Museum retraces that richness through artifacts, pieces of fine art, and archeological relics.

Those with a penchant for history and wondering what to do in Marseille should not miss the opportunity to visit this museum – Marseille is, after all, the oldest city in France.


Outdoor Things To Do In Marseille

 Take a Tour of Some of Marseille’s Most Notable Neighborhoods

This city is a beautiful mosaic of 111 districts, each with a distinctive aura, heritage, and history. While 111 is a lot of ground to cover, here are a few notable ones where you’ll find the best things to see in Marseille:

Le Panier (The Basket): Marseille’s oldest and most visited district. Here, you’ll find colorful facades, narrow and hilly streets, small designer shops, and stunning views of the Mediterranean.

Le Cours Julien (Julien’s Class): Often listed as one of the world’s liveliest neighborhoods. It is the largest in France and is dedicated to street art, considered part of the main Marseille tourist attractions. You’ll find an endless range of cafes, restaurants, and festivities to partake in, especially during the night.

Belle de Mai (Beauty of May): Most notable due to ‘La Friche (The Wasteland)”, a multipurpose cultural center it is home to. This former tobacco factory hosts events all year round, offering cultural festivals, exhibitions, performances, green spaces, playgrounds, restaurants, and a skatepark to have fun in.

Vallon des Auffe (Valley of the Auffes): Popular due to the Corniche J. F. Kennedy that stretches 5km along the sea. One of the best things to do in Marseille is to stroll along this charming street surrounded by the sea and colorful fishermen’s houses. It possesses the world’s longest bench spanning 3km, and offers magnificent views of the Frioul islands.

Admire Nature at the Calanques National Park


This national park is the only one in Europe that encompasses earthly, aquatic, and periurban environments. It spans 20km of forest, cliffside trails, creeks, waters, and islands rich in flora and fauna.

‘Calanque’ describes the narrow inlets of water made out of steep-walled limestone and dolomite. The Calanque National Park also boasts a wealth of activities and things to do in Marseille, France: climbing, biking, hiking, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, and diving.

Entrance is free, and there are varieties of Calanques to choose from, each suitable for different hiking levels and ages.

Take a Stroll Through Boulevard Longchamp


In 1835, a cholera outbreak hit Marseille due to its shortage of water availability. The death of thousands forced the city to address its chronic water shortage, and a project was born: an 85-km-long canal sourcing water from the Durance Alp river.

The Palais Longchamp was erected to commemorate this engineering feat’s completion. Today, the city still gets 2/3 of its water supply via the same route. The monument has transformed into one of the must-see Marseille tourist attractions.

The building houses two museums on each of its wings. The Museum of Fine Arts, displaying 17th and 18th-century work, which is the city’s oldest museum. And the Natural History Museum, home to a massive collection of various curiosities from the past.

Both are beautiful places to visit in Marseille, and between them, you’ll find a magnificent fountain called the Château d’Eau. Make sure also to check the large surrounding park. It used to house the first provincial zoo in France, whose cages and giraffes buildings can still be seen.

Sail to Château d’If and the Frioul Islands


Marseille has its own archipelago, the Frioul islands, which are part of the Calanques National Park. They offer nature lovers a vast space to explore. Check out all four of them if you’re thinking about what to do in Marseille during a good-weather day.

But if you’re limited on time, opt for a boat trip to the Château d’If. This 16th-century fortress served as a prison and rose to fame thanks to Alexandre Dumas’s book: The Count of Monte Cristo. It is here that the protagonist was imprisoned.

Cheap and Free Things To Do In Marseille

Enjoy Some Fun in the Sun at Marseille’s Many Beaches


One of the best things to do in Marseille is to relax and dip your toes in its salty French waters. The city is home to various beautiful beaches. The most famous of which are the Prado beaches, which enclose a long sandy stretch of private and public shores.

You’ll find a variety of water or sandy sports activities to partake in as well as different restaurants and food trucks to replenish your energy.

Explore the Basilica of Notre-Dame De La Garde

Notre-Dame de la Garde is a Byzantine-inspired basilica built on the foundation of a 16th-century fort. What’s more interesting is that the fort itself was built on top of a 13th-century chapel.

It is Marseille’s most visited monument and is perched atop the highest hill near the Old Port. You’ll be greeted by splendid mosaics and murals surrounding a marbled interior. But one of the best things to see in Marseille is 360-degree panoramic views of the entire city.

Take a Short Day Trip to L’Estaque and Cassis

Before you think about far-away day trips from Marseille, make sure to check out the ones lying on the city’s two extremities. Although technically part of its suburbs, many regard L’Estaque as its own village.

Born in the 12th century, 10km from the Old port, L’Estaque is famous for serving as Monticelli’s ‘Chapelle de La Galline’ painting and many of Paul Cézanne’s works. Braque also painted ‘La Maison à l’Estaque’ while pursuing his research in 1907. Even Picasso succumbed to the charm of the area and came up with ‘Demoiselles d’Avignon.’

On the other end of the coast, you’ll find Cassis. This is a stunning little Provençal village known for its delicious wine and coastal charm. It is known to have been the home of many writers and artists, most notably Virginia Woolf in the 1920s.

Travel Insurance

Where To Stay In Marseille

Marseille is France’s second most populated city, and it serves as a unique destination getaway for many local and foreign visitors. You’ll find plenty of accommodation options in the city, each suitable for specific budgets.

But it’s essential to pick one at a convenient distance from the many Marseille tourist attractions, to allow you to make the best out of your trip. Here are suggestions for various budget preferences, all within short walking distances to noteworthy areas and sights.

Budget Accommodation In Marseille

The People – Marseille: Located at a crossroad linking the Old Port to the famous Panier neighborhood, this hostel is perfect for exploring various things to do in Marseille. Guests appreciate the changing decore that hosts art from various local artists throughout the months and the cafe&bar on the ground floor, where they get to mix with locals at all times of the day.

Vertigo Vieux-Port: Hotel Vertigo is right in the center of Marseille’s hustle and bustle, near lively nightlife, delicious restaurants, and places to visit in Marseille. Nature isn’t too far away either: the Calanques National Park is a mere 30 minutes away from Vertigo. On-site, you’ll find a friendly communal space and a restaurant and bar locals like to visit.

Mid-Range Accommodation in Marseille

Meininger Marseille Centre la Joliette: The Meininger chain was created to serve young travelers but has evolved to receive visitors of all ages and offer them affordable prices and excellent shared facilities.

This one in Marseille features a large modern shared lounge, laundry room, and bar. It is located in a local neighborhood that is a short walk away from many of the main Marseille tourist attractions.

Maison Juste: A tastefully decorated modern hotel with spacious rooms and a shared lounge and terrace. It is installed in a safe and central neighborhood that is easily walkable and close to various public transportation stops and things to do in Marseille.

Luxury Accommodation In Marseille

Hôtel 96: Offering a Provençal atmosphere set in a 19th-century house, this unique luxury hotel in Marseille sits on the edge of the Calanques National Park, a short 5-minute drive from the beach and other places to visit in Marseille.

It offers a garden, outdoor pool, sauna, and spacious, beautifully decorated modern rooms. Guests can enjoy a delicious continental breakfast made of French pastries and provençal delicacies.

La Residence Du Vieux Port: Settled on the banks of the Old Port, this accommodation is made out of soundproofed modern rooms and suites – some of which offer panoramic views of the city and terraces overlooking the sea and nearby hills.

As the port is Marseille’s center, this is one of the most centrally located hotels in the city, connected to many of the best things to do in Marseille.

Discovering Things To Do In Marseille

From blue waters to rolling green hills and white Calanques, Marseille is a city comprised of everything the best Province has to offer. Rich in history, architectural feats, and unique neighborhoods, you won’t run out of things to do in Marseille, regardless of your interests.




Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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