Marseille is nestled along the French Mediterranean coast and is one of the oldest and the second most populated cities in France. The city has been a witness to a complex history and it is home to people from varying ethnic backgrounds, transforming it into a melting pot of different cultures. Today the city boasts a glorious coastal setting, spectacular weather, great food, tourist-friendly attractions, fabulous restaurants, luxury hotels, chic boutiques, world-class galleries and museums, glorious mountains, pristine beaches and panoramic views of the blue Mediterranean. One of the best ways to understand the true essence of the multicultural city is to indulge in some of the best tours in Marseille which the iconic sights in the city like Fort Saint-jean, Vieux Port, Notre Dame de la Garde, Boulevard Longchamp and Palais Longchamp, Le Panier and the Noailles. The city is also home to pristine beaches, the most significant ones being Catalans, Prophètes, Pointe-Rouge and Corbières beaches. The city is dotted with natural and scenic attractions such as the Calanque Du Sugiton, Le Parc De Figuerolles, Calanque De Sormiou and the Parc National Des Calanques. There exist numerous museums and galleries in the city that give the visitors a glimpse into its rich past and vibrant culture, showcasing venues like Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, Musée des Docks romains and Musée d'Archéologie méditerranéenne. The city also boasts a vibrant nightlife offering a plethora of pubs and nightclubs like O'Brady's Irish Pub, Red Lion, Le Cosy Bar and Le Flamingo. Cultural events take a significant place in the lifestyle of the city and Marseille hosts several annual events and festivals like Festival de Danse et des Arts Multiples de Marseille, Le festival du Plateau, La Foire aux Santons and La Fiesta Des Suds. Visiting this hidden gem of France is a one-of-a-kind and memorable experience.
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What to Do in and around Marseille
Enjoy 77 best Marseille attractions and points of interest to choose from!
#1 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 12086 times in trip plans
Rue Fort du Sanctuaire, 13281 Marseille, France
07:00 am - 08:00 pm
Seen from above, Marseilles is a sea of terracotta roofs and that’s exactly the view you get from here, where a medieval fort once stood. It’s made up of a Romanesque style lower church and a Neo- Byzantine upper church. It’s set on the most prominent site in the city, on a hill south of Old Port. So, that is why this place so sacred to the people of Marseilles.
The gold-leaf gilded statue of Madonna with child are the guardians of the city. This builds on the fort that Francois I built here for the purpose of defending Marseille (he built Chateau d’If) for the same purpose. In 1793, the French Revolution’s anti-clerical elements shut the church down, and it was temporarily used as a prison for Royal personages. Its effects were sold off.
The construction of the Basilica we see today began in 1853. The project was belaboured by many difficulties, but everybody across faiths and classes contributed to the erection of the Church. Forty years later, it was done.
The bell tower and the belfry.
The gilded statue of the Virgin Mary.
The rose windows on the transept.
The dome, apse and sacistry.
The intricate mosaics on the upper church.
The Oriental-ish nave and it’s 3 thematic cupolas.
#2 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 1683 times in trip plans
Bât A4, Parc Valad, Impasse Paradou, 13009 Marseille, France
12:01 am - 12:00 am
This National Park is basically a treasure chest of some of the best features of the Mediterranean Coast. It is spread over a huge area covering the mountain range stretching from Marseille to Cassis. But the majority of the park stretches out into the Mediterranean. Here's a quick break down of what to expect:
Soubeyranes cliffs: These are some of the highest sea cliffs in Europe and the view from the bluff tops are unending and incredible
Frioul archipelago: Though these islands have played a major historical role in the development of Marseille by serving as a quarantine and Military area. Today they attract tourists. They are home do some beautiful flora and fauna
Riou archipelago: You can only view these uninhabited islands from far away. They are a protected area with hundreds of species of plants and a huge variety of nesting birds, some of which are endangered.
Planier Light: This Lighthouse is actually the fifth one to be built on the site. The first one was built in the eighteenth century. It is the only lighthouse on the French Mediterranean Coastline to be registered as a protected historical monument.
Ile Verte: This wooded Island had a military strategic role in the past. Visitors can still see the ruins of a bombed-out fort on the island.
The park has a huge biodiversity of Flora and Fauna with thousands of species, many of them protected or endangered. This includes the species of plants and animals in the water.
There are hundreds of miles of trails in the park. Other activities include boating, camping, cycling, rock climbing.
There are two ways to reach the column of the park. Some of them can be reached by hiking over land. But most of them must be reached by boat.
#3 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 1396 times in trip plans
1 Quai du Port, 13002 Marseille, France
11:00 am - 07:00 pm
Located at the entrance to the Old Port this massive museum, dedicated entirely to the history and culture and impact of the Mediterranean, has three major sections. Only two of them are at this location. These are the J4 building and the For Saint Jean. The third building, Centre de Conservation et de Ressources in the Belle de Mai neighbourhood, merely stores the museum’s collections in the city center.
The 17th century historic photo was open to the public for the first time as a part of this Museum. Even without the museums and exhibitions the fort is interesting all by itself. Check out the table, the gardens, the courtyards, the fountains, and the elevated viewpoints. Meet people at the Place d’Armes agora, examine the plants at Jardin des Migrations, and use the audio guide to immerse yourself in the sites’ 2000 year old history. The Galerie d’Actualite, the Georges-Henri Riviere, and the chapel are the exhibition spaces at the building. A 70 meter long footbridge connects the fort to the Panier neighborhood. The second, 115 meter long footbridge connects it to J4.
The stylish J4 building houses the semi-permanent exhibits of the Galerie de la Mediterranee, an auditorium, research and workshop rooms, and offices. A striking architectural feature is the concrete latticework. Climb the exterior ramp to the roof terrace. It was built by Rudy Ricciotti.
In these spaces the museum explores the cultures, mythologies, confluences, and evolutions of the Mediterranean nations through events, temporary exhibitions, a collection of over 1 million works of art - paintings, prints and sculptures, furniture, tools, vehicles, reliquaries, jewellery, costumes, textiles, fairground. Keep yourself updated on the website for upcoming events.
The museum would be terrific enough all on its own, but the views of the sea and city from its every corner are just the cherry on top of the cake.
#4 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 4952 times in trip plans
Place Saint-Victor, 13007 Marseille, France
09:00 am - 07:00 pm
After the Notre Dame, this will not feel comfortable – the church has obviously seen great damage. And yet, there is beauty in its wounds – the still standing church is made greater by its resilience to destruction. At first there was a quarry here, followed by a Hellenistic and then Christian burial site. When the Romans murdered Saint Victor on this spot in the 4th century AD, it became the location for a church about a century later in his name. Soon the monastery became a major religious centre. The 16th century saw it decline and its treasures parcelled away god knows where; a tragedy further inflicted by the French Revolution. The Revolution saw the monastery nearly razed and all it’s relics stripped. So what is there left for us to see?
The solemnity of the building itself.
Sarcophagi, altars and stained glass in the main church.
A 14th century carving of Saint Victor.
The Black Virgin.
The intricately decorated crypt.
Mysterious, pained, solemn yet majestic, the church will haunt your thoughts long after you’ve left it.
#5 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 1183 times in trip plans
13009 Marseilles, France
This is one of the largest and most beautiful calanques in the region, made all the more attractive by its sandy and cabana lined beach. Bring your snorkelling gear, for the brilliant and jewel-like waters have a lot to show. The beach can be deceptively quiet in the morning but gets crowded during the sudden afternoon rush of the people of Cayolle District. Trails from the beach area will take you to various high viewpoints over the beach. They can also take you to the highest point on Crete de Morgiou. Not far away is a submerged cave, the grotte du Capelan, reachable from Sormious by walking towards Cape Redon. The rocks there can be slippery though, and the cave is frequently submerged.
#6 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 4999 times in trip plans
Rue du Vallon des Auffes, 13007 Marseille 7e arrondissement, France
12:01 am - 12:00 am
The selling point of this place is pure seaside fisherman atmosphere – an age-old charm that just doesn’t quit! Lots of colourful little houses framing the sight of colourful little boats. There’s literally nothing to do here but walk leisurely and take in the sights that seem to be stuck in time. Keep your cameras ready and you just might be able to take some really nice candids of the fishermen going about their routine, maybe plunging into the water. Remember, that there are no beaches here, it’s just stone and water. You can either bring your own picnic, or you can settle in for one of those nice harbour-side restaurants. Though they serve up some pretty good dishes, it’s a little expensive. One can get pretty philosophical here.
#7 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 4833 times in trip plans
Corniche du Prés.-Kennedy F - 13007 Marseille
Simple natural pleasures are the best possible pleasures in life. The Corniche is a 5 km long stretch of road (3km of which is named in honour of JFK) that ambles alongside the pristine Mediterranean. As you drink in the beautiful sights of the Iles du Frioul, 19th century villas and the Prado Beaches, the world will melt away, leaving you with your thoughts, the beautiful sky, regal water and the road under your feet. Stroll or jog; enjoy a walk with someone you love; cycle in the leisurely breeze; visit Park Borely or just make a stop at the various restaurants and cafes, the choice is all yours.
And though it’s simple pleasure, you’re not short on things to check out:
A Porte de l'Orient, a war memorial to dead soldiers.
Vallon des Auffres, small harbour and village in the heart of Marseille's central hill.
Le marégraphe, building dedicated to measure the sea level, for a long time used to define the reference point in France.
Parcet Villa Valmer, quiet and small vegetal area.
#8 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 1983 times in trip plans
58 Boulevard Charles Livon, 13007 Marseille, France
08:00 am - 09:00 pm
When Prince-President Louis-Napoleon visited Marseille in 1852, he said liked the city a lot and wouldn’t mind staying. Eager to please its illustrious guest, the city gave the prince the Pharo headland where he went ahead and built this beautiful palace. And that was that, because he never even stayed there. The Empress later gave the place back to the city. Today it’s used as a conference centre. Visit for the tremendous views of the Old Port and the Chateau d’If. You can’t actually visit the building, but the grounds outside make for a nice stroll. The place is especially beautiful during the sunset – an absolutely magical picture.
#9 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 3788 times in trip plans
Embarcadère Frioul If, 1 Quai de la Fraternité, 13001 Marseille, France
10:00 am - 06:00 pm
It’s not the only prison of its kind in the world (Cannes has it’s Lerin Islands), but it’s the only one that Edmond Dantes of Alexandre Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo was imprisoned in. The island is a heavily fortified prison with steep cliffs adorned by gun platform – an escape proof prison that no invading navy ever took. You know what? Looks are deceptive – its defences are very poorly planned, and a well thought out attack might very well have taken it out. Poor people were placed in the bottom cells and the wealthier prisoners had private cells higher up. It’s not made very tourist friendly. So look around and let your imagination place you in a cell instead. We know that’s what you really wanted to do!
The shuttle boat that takes you here also visits the other Frioul Islands: Ratonneau, Tiboulen and Pomegues. You can make a combined trip; it’s well worth it if you’re interested in extreme environments. The dry Mistral Wind caused some unique bird, animal and plant life to evolve here.
#10 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 7756 times in trip plans
Quai du Port, Marseille
To add to the already huge list of horrendous deeds done by the Nazis, is the destruction and blowing up of the original Old Port and most of the historic town here. The ancient Greeks saw the potential of this place in 600 BC and thus Marseille was born, serving as a rich and prosperous trading port for many centuries. It just kept on growing till in the 19th century, when it was turning over 18000 ships annually. Steamships put an end to that though. After the Nazis passed, the place was carefully reconstructed and is today used as a marina and a fish market. It’s mainly a pedestrian neighbourhood now with some spectacular views. Highlights of this place include:
A lively fish market in the morning.
Watch out for the stainless steel mirrored sun canopy.
The Canebiere–Marseille’s main thoroughfare.
The Opera House.
The Coursd'Estienned'Orves, which is a most convenient place to park.
#11 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 195 times in trip plans
3 Boulevard Michelet, 13008 Marseille, France
12:01 am - 12:00 am
This huge stadium was built in the 1930s, particularly for hosting the 1938 World Cup. It has a seating capacity for almost 70,000 people. Though indoor cycling and running events used to be held here once upon a time, now it is used almost exclusively for football. The Office of Tourism and Congress of Marseille organises guided tours of the stadium that will take you to usually off-limits areas such as the dressing rooms, the press room, stands, the panoramic lounge, and players’ tunnel. If you get the chance to attend a match, then it is definitely an experience that you should not miss out upon!
#12 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 3049 times in trip plans
La Panier, Marseille
Panier means basket, and there could not be a better name for this place. This is where Marseille was truly born in 600 BC with the coming of the Greeks. The millennia saw many more cultures come in, at first from Italy, and more recently from Africa, South America, Vietnam and Madagascar–an influx of traders in the Modern Period that made the city rich beyond all wildest dreams. It was a thriving labyrinth of street and culture.
Then the Nazi invasion occurred. They blew up 1500 houses in Old Town, trying to clamp down on Resistance fighters, refugees, criminals, prostitutes, Jews and communists. Still, the place has recovered and came a long way since then.
Local handicraft and art haven in galleries.
Place de Lenche-Greek agora square lined with bars.
The Diamond House
The pink Daviel Pavillion
The Vielle Charite-housesa cultural centre, museums, galleries of collections of African, Oceanian and Amerindian art and Mediterranean archaeology.
Place des 13 Cantons–setting for Plus Belle la Vie, a highly popular French TV series.
#13 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 6035 times in trip plans
Place de la Major, 13002 Marseille, France
08:30 am - 06:30 pm
It’s just a really big, really impressive looking cathedral. The building you see today was built on the remains of a smaller 12th century Romanesque cathedral of which only the choir and a bay of nave remain. Even before that there was a 5th century church on the spot. The current cathedral is Byzantine-Roman in style and it’s the sixth largest cathedral in the world. Upto 3000 people can be seated inside at a time. It’s the seat of the Arch-Diocese of Marseilles.
#14 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 1953 times in trip plans
Centre Bourse, Square Belsunce, 2 Rue Henri Barbusse, 13001 Marseille, France
10:00 am - 06:00 pm
In 1967, while digging to build a shopping centre in Marseille, the city uncovered a major archaeological heritage. The museum was built at first to house these and then to tell the story of Marseille exclusively. Apart from the archaeological findings (which include the hull of a 2nd century ship), there are 12 major exhibitions that cover:
Prehistory and Antiquity
Pottery in the Medieval era
Development under Louis XIV (The Sun King)
The works and designs of Pierre Puget
The plague of 1720
The Destruction wrought by Germans in WWII
The success of the museum lies in how it tries hard to be as interactive and immersive as possible through the innovative use of multimedia devices.
#15 of 77 Things to do in Marseille | Added 1550 times in trip plans
Boulevard Jardin Zoologique, 13004 Marseille, France
08:00 am - 06:00 pm
This grand Marseille monument houses two institutions: the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Natural History Museum. It also hosts a botanical garden. The garden used to be a zoo in the 19th century, and buildings from that time still survive. There are many places to picnic and a number of playgrounds. The people of the city frequently escape to this park for some respite from the summer heat. Behind the palace there is an observatory – it contains Foucault's enormous historic telescope - once the largest in the world - dating from 1864.
The museum of natural history in the left wing of the palace here is dedicated to prehistory and evolution, skulls and skeletons, the animals and plants of Provence, and a room full of about 300 stuffed animals.
In the right wing of this palace is the Museum of fine arts which houses an excellent collection of European and Provencal paintings.
In July, the famous Marseille Jazz des Cinq Continents festival is held here.