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15 Best Things To Do In Marseille

Marseille, the second-largest city in France, is a vibrant and culturally rich destination that offers an array of activities for visitors to enjoy. Nestled on the Mediterranean coast in Southern France, Marseille boasts amazing views of the sea as well as a unique blend of French and North African influences that make it a fascinating place to explore.

From its picturesque old port to its modern museums and galleries, there is no shortage of great things to do in Marseille. So in this article, we will take a closer look at some of the best things to do in Marseille so you can plan your stay in Marseille with confidence.

1. Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde

Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde Marseille

If you want to get a panoramic view of Marseille, then a visit to the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde is a must-do activity. This basilica, also known as La Bonne Mère, is located on a hilltop overlooking the city and the sea. The basilica is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who is said to have saved the port city from the plague in the 19th century.

To reach the basilique, you can either climb the hill or take a tourist train departing regularly from the Old Port. The climb is quite steep, but it's worth it once you reach the top. Once inside the basilica, you will find a lower church with an arched vault and a higher church, the sanctuary, consecrated to the Virgin Mary. The many ex-votos exposed on the walls are a testimony to popular beliefs, reaching far beyond the limits of the Phocaean city.

The church is also famous for its mosaics, which depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The mosaics were created by the artist Louis Botinelly and his team, who worked on them for over thirty years. The interior of the basilica is decorated with marble, gold leaf, and stained glass windows, which create a beautiful and serene atmosphere.

Outside the Notre-Dame, you can enjoy the amazing views of the city and the ocean. The skyline of Marseille is particularly impressive from this vantage point. You can also explore the fortifications that surround the church, which were built in the 19th century to defend Marseille from invaders.


Address: Rue Fort du Sanctuaire, 13006 Marseille, France

Phone: +33 4 91 13 40 80

2. Calanques National Park

Calanques National Park

If you're a nature lover, Calanques National Park is one of the top things to see in Marseille. The park is located in the southern and eastern suburbs of the city and is home to a stunning range of natural beauty. The Calanques are craggy white limestone cliffs and coves that reach gargantuan heights and descend sharply to the sea.

Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the park, and there are plenty of trails to choose from, ranging from easy to challenging. You can explore the park's diverse landscapes on foot and take in the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. If you're not up for hiking, you can also take a boat tour to explore the park's hidden coves and beaches.

Kayaking is another popular activity in Calanques National Park. You can rent a kayak and paddle through the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea, exploring the park's hidden coves and beaches at your own pace. It's an excellent way to get up close and personal with the park's diverse marine life.

The Parc National Des Calanques is also home to a wealth of wildlife, including rare species of birds and plants. You can spot eagles, falcons, and other birds of prey soaring above the park's cliffs. If you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a wild boar or a fox.

3. Musée d'Histoire de Marseille

Musée d'Histoire de Marseille

If you're a history buff, you must visit the Musée d'Histoire de MarseilleThis museum is dedicated to the history and civilization of Marseille, showcasing the city's rich and multicultural past. The museum is located in the Centre Bourse, in the heart of Marseille, and is easily accessible by public transport.

Inside the museum, you'll find a vast collection of artifacts, objects, and documents that tell the story of Marseille, from its founding in ancient times to the present day. The exhibits are arranged chronologically, so you can follow the city its evolution over time. You'll learn about Marseille its role as a trading center, its cultural and artistic heritage, and its political and social history.

One of the highlights of the museum is the Gallery of the History of Marseille, which features a series of large-scale murals depicting the city's most significant events. The murals are accompanied by audio and video installations that provide additional context and information.


Address: 2 Rue Henri Barbusse, 13001 Marseille, France

Phone: +33 4 91 55 36 00

4. Cathedrale de la Major

Cathedrale de la Major in Marseille

If you're looking to explore some of Marseille's most iconic landmarks, then the Cathedrale de la Major should be on your list. This stunning cathedral is located in the 2nd district of Marseille, between the Panier district and the Joliette area, and near the Vieux Port (Old Port).

The Cathedrale de la Major is an impressive monument that was built in the mid-19th century during the reign of Louis XIV. It is a symbol of Marseille its religious heritage and a testament to the city's rich history. The cathedral's architecture is a blend of Romanesque and Byzantine styles, which makes it a unique and fascinating sight to behold.

Inside the Marseille cathedral, you'll find a beautiful interior with intricate designs and stunning stained glass windows. The cathedral also houses a museum where you can learn more about the history of Marseille and the cathedral itself.

One of the most impressive features of the Cathedrale de la Major is its massive organ, which is one of the largest in France. If you're lucky, you may even get to hear it being played during your visit.

Visiting the Cathedrale de la Major is free, and it's a great way to spend an hour or two exploring one of Marseille's most iconic landmarks.


Address: Pl. de la Major, 13002 Marseille, France

5. Château d'If

Château d'If

If you're a fan of the classic novel, "The Count of Monte Cristo," you won't want to miss a visit to Château d'If. This famous island fortress was used as a prison during the 16th and 17th centuries and was made even more famous by the novel of Alexandre Dumas.

To get to the island, you can take a boat from the Old Port. Once you arrive, you can explore the fortress and learn about its history as a prison. You can also take in the stunning views of Marseille and the Mediterranean waters from the top of the fortress.

Inside the fortress, there is a small museum that showcases the history of the island and its use as a prison. You can see the cells where prisoners were kept and learn about some of the most famous inmates.


Address: Embarcadère Frioul If, 1 Quai de la Fraternité, 13001 Marseille, France

Phone: +33 6 03 06 25 26

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6. Palais Longchamp

Palais Longchamp

If you're looking for a place to relax and enjoy the beauty of Marseille, then Palais Longchamp is the best place for you. This stunning palace is located in the city center and features two museums, an observatory, a park, fountains, and waterfalls.

The Palais Longchamp was built in the 19th century and is a masterpiece of architecture. The palace is home to two museums that are worth a visit. The first is the Natural History Museum, which is dedicated to the study of the natural world. The second is the Water Museum, which is all about water and its role in the city of Marseille.

The palace itself is a work of art, with intricate carvings and beautiful sculptures. You can take a stroll through the gardens and admire the fountains and waterfalls, or you can sit back and relax on one of the benches.

One of the most impressive features of Palais Longchamp is the water tower that sits at the center of the palace. The tower is decorated with sculptures and is surrounded by a pool of water. It's a beautiful sight to see, especially at night when the tower is illuminated.


Address: Bd Jard. Zoologique, 13004 Marseille, France

Phone: +33 4 91 55 25 51

7. Le Vieux Port (Old Port)

Le Vieux Port Marseille

Le Vieux Port, also known as the Old Port, is the heart and soul of Marseille. This massive rectangular port has been trading for over 2,600 years and is more of a whole district than a single sight. Here are some things you can do when you visit Le Vieux Port:

  • Explore the harbor: Take a stroll along the harbor and admire the boats and yachts docked in the port. You can also enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine in one of the many cafes and restaurants that line the harbor.
  • Visit the fish market: The fish market at Le Vieux Port is one of the most popular attractions in Marseille. You can find all kinds of fresh seafood here, from octopus to sea urchins. It's a great place to experience the local culture and cuisine.
  • Take public transport: Le Vieux Port is well-connected to the rest of the city by public transport. You can take the metro, bus, or tram to get here. The closest metro station is Vieux-Port - Hôtel de Ville.
  • Ride the tourist train: If you want to explore the old part of Marseille and the surrounding areas in a unique way, you can take the tourist train. The train takes you on a tour of the port, the Panier neighborhood, and the Notre-Dame de la Garde.
  • Go sightseeing: There are several sights to see around Le Vieux Port, including the Fort Saint-Nicolas, the Fort Saint-Jean, and the MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations).

8. La Corniche

La Corniche

If you're looking for a picturesque coastline drive, La Corniche is a must-visit destination in Marseille. This scenic route stretches for about 5 kilometers along the Mediterranean Sea, offering breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline.

As you drive along La Corniche, you can enjoy the sea view and take in the beautiful scenery. You'll pass by several beaches and coves, including the Plage des Catalans, which is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing.

One of the highlights of La Corniche is the Rouille, a traditional fish soup that is a specialty of Marseille. You can find many restaurants along the route that serve this delicious dish, along with other local specialties.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can also take a ride on the Ferris wheel, which offers stunning views of the city and the sea. The Ferris wheel is located near the entrance of La Corniche and is a popular attraction for visitors.

9. Le Panier

Le Panier neighberhood Marseille

If you're looking for a charming and authentic neighborhood to explore in Marseille, Le Panier is one of the best places to see in Marseille. This historic district is situated in the center of the city and is known for its narrow streets, colorful facades, and independent shops.

As you wander through Le Panier, be sure to keep an eye out for the street art that adorns many of the buildings. The neighborhood has become something of a canvas for local artists, and you'll find everything from colorful murals to intricate stencils.

One of the highlights of Le Panier is its independent shops. From artisanal bakeries to boutique clothing stores, there's no shortage of unique and interesting places to browse. You'll also find plenty of cafes and restaurants, many of which offer outdoor seating and a chance to soak up the neighborhood's atmosphere.

Despite its central location, Le Panier manages to feel like a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Its winding streets and hidden squares offer a peaceful respite from the crowds, and the neighborhood's historic architecture adds to its charm.

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10. Abbaye Saint Victor

Abbaye Saint Victor in Marseille

To explore the religious history in Marseille, a visit to the Abbaye Saint Victor is a must. This ancient abbey is considered one of the top attractions in the city, and for good reason.

Located on a hill overlooking the Old Port of Marseille, the Abbaye Saint Victor is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture. Parts of the abbey date back to the 5th century AD, and it has long been a landmark for the people of Marseille.

When you visit the abbey, be sure to take in the breathtaking views of the Old Port from the basilica and crypts. The tower of the abbey is also a sight to behold and provides an excellent photo opportunity.

Inside the abbey, you'll find some impressive ancient sarcophagi, which are worth checking out. The crypts are also a highlight and offer a glimpse into the abbey's rich history.


Address: Pl. Saint-Victor, 13007 Marseille, France

Phone: +33 4 96 11 22 60

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11. Palais du Pharo

Palais du Pharo Marseille

If you want to experience the grandeur of Marseille, you must visit the Palais du Pharo. This historic palace was built in the mid-19th century and was a gift from the city to Napoleon III. It is perched on a hill and offers the best views of the sea and the city.

The Palais du Pharo is a magnificent building that has been beautifully restored over the years. It is a popular venue for concerts and events, and its incredible ocean view makes it the perfect place to relax and unwind.

The palace is surrounded by lush gardens that are perfect for a leisurely stroll. The gardens are home to a variety of plants and trees, and there are several benches where you can sit and enjoy the view.

If you want to learn more about the history of the palace, you can take a guided tour. The tour will take you through the various rooms of the palace and give you an insight into the life of Napoleon III.

Whether you want to attend a concert or simply relax and enjoy the view, the Palais du Pharo is the perfect place to do so.


Address: 58 Bd Charles Livon, 13007 Marseille, France

Phone: +33 4 91 14 64 94

12. Stade Vélodrome

Stade Vélodrome Marseille

If you are a football fan, you cannot miss the opportunity to visit the Stade Vélodrome, home of Olympique de Marseille. This stadium is one of the most iconic football stadiums in France, with a capacity of 67,000 seats.

Apart from football, the Stade Vélodrome is also a popular venue for music concerts. Many famous artists have performed here, including Madonna, Beyoncé, and U2. So, if you are a music lover, keep an eye out for upcoming concerts at the stadium.

The stadium also offers guided tours that take you behind the scenes of Olympique de Marseille. You can visit the changing rooms, the pitch side, and other exclusive areas. The tour is a great way to learn more about the history of the club and the stadium.

If you are lucky enough to attend a soccer match at the Orange Vélodrome , you will experience the passion and energy of the Olympique de Marseille fans. The atmosphere in the stadium is electric, and you will feel like a part of the team.


Address: 3 Bd Michelet, 13008 Marseille, France

13. Musée des Docks Romains

Musée des Docks Romains

If you're interested in history and trade, the Musée des Docks Romains is a must-visit Marseille attraction. This museum houses the ruins of an ancient Roman warehouse, which have been preserved and transformed into an informative and engaging exhibit.

As you explore the museum, you'll learn about the port activity of Marseille between the 6th century BC and the 4th century AD. The museum's large storage vases, called Dolia, are particularly impressive and offer a glimpse into the city's history as a transit port.

The Musée des Docks Romains also features a range of ceramics, which provide insight into the types of goods that were traded in Marseille during ancient times. The museum's exhibits are well-presented and informative, making it a great place to learn about Marseille's rich history.


Address: 28 Pl. Vivaux, 13002 Marseille, France

Phone: +33 4 91 55 36 00

14. Cité Radieuse

Cité Radieuse

If you're into architecture, you won't want to miss a visit to the Cité Radieuse in Marseille. This housing block unit was designed by the famous architect Le Corbusier and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Cité Radieuse is a vertical city made of raw concrete, stilts, and polychrome loggias. It offers 337 magnificent flats, a hotel, a restaurant, a school, shops, an art and design center, and a panoramic roof terrace. The building is a real architectural concept playing with lights, perspectives, and the use of space.

Inside the Cité Radieuse, you can explore the various amenities and spaces, including the rooftop terrace, which offers stunning views of Marseille and the surrounding area. You can also visit the art and design center, where you can see exhibitions and installations by contemporary artists.

15. MuCEM

MuCem Marseille

For a museum that showcases the history and culture of Marseille, the MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations) is a top tourist attraction to visit. It is located on the waterfront and is one of the most popular museums in Marseille.

MuCEM is an impressive building that features a modern design, and it is home to a vast collection of artifacts that tell the story of the Mediterranean and its people. The museum has three main sections, which are dedicated to the history and culture of the Mediterranean, the civilizations of Europe, and the city of Marseille.

One of the highlights of the Musée des Civilisations de Marseille is its extensive collection of art and artifacts from the Mediterranean region. This collection includes everything from ancient pottery and sculptures to contemporary art pieces, and it provides a fascinating insight into the history and culture of the Mediterranean.

In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also hosts a range of temporary exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions cover a wide range of topics and are always well-curated and fascinating.


Address: 1 Esp. J4, 13002 Marseille, France

Phone: +33 4 84 35 13 13

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Q: What is Marseille best known for?

A: It is the oldest city in France, with a history dating back more than 2,600 years. Marseille is best known for its bustling Old Port, which has been a hub of trade and commerce for centuries.

Q: What is the best month to visit Marseille?

A: The best time to visit Marseille is from April to June or September to November when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller. July and August are the busiest months, with high temperatures and large crowds.

Q: What is the most unique thing to do in Marseille?

A: One of the most unique things to do in Marseille is to visit the Calanques, a series of stunning rocky coves along the Mediterranean coast of Marseille. You can hike, swim, and explore the beautiful natural scenery.

Q: What is the best thing to do in Marseille during summer?

A: During summer, the top Marseille attraction is to hit the beach. There are many beautiful beaches to choose from, including Plage du Prado, Plage des Catalans, and Plage de la Pointe Rouge.

Q: How to spend 3 days in Marseille?

A: If you have three days in Marseille, you can explore the Old Port, visit the Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica, take a boat tour of the Calanques, and enjoy the local food and nightlife.

Q: How far is Marseille from the beach?

A: Marseille is located on the Mediterranean coast, so there are many beaches within easy reach of the city center. The closest beach is Plage des Catalans, which is just a short walk from the Old Port.

Q: Is Marseille close to Nice?

A: Marseille is located about 160 kilometers or 100 miles west of Nice, so it is not particularly close.

Recommended Hotels In Marseille

InterContinental Marseille - Hotel Dieu

Hotel Dieu

Hotel Dieu is set in a superb 18th century building in the historic quarter of Marseille. With 194 rooms and suites, some with landmark views and private terraces, the hotel features contemporary, elegant decor, complementing its historical features. The hotel’s own relaxation area features a Clarins spa with saunas, hammams, sunbeds, a gym and an indoor pool.

Mercure Marseille Centre Vieux Port

Mercure Marseille

Mercure Marseille Center Vieux Port is located next to the WTC convention center and the Jardin des Vestiges, and is just a 5-minute walk from the Vieux-Port. It offers air-conditioned accommodations with free WiFi access. Rooms at the Mercure Marseille Center are equipped with satellite and cable TV and a radio. Each room has a private bathroom with a hairdryer.

Crowne Plaza - Marseille - Le Dôme

Crowne Plaza Marseille

Crowne Plaza Marseille has accommodations with a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, private parking, a fitness center and a terrace. Featuring a restaurant, the 4-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The property provides room service, a concierge service and luggage storage for guests.All guest rooms at the hotel come with a seating area, a flat-screen TV and a safety deposit box.


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