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Things to do in Marseille

Things to do in  Marseille

Welcome to Marseille

France’s second-largest city and most important port, bustling Marseille offers visitors vibrant old neighborhoods and historic sights. Roughly 482 miles (775 km) south of Paris on the Mediterranean coast, Marseille, a major transportation hub, serves as an ideal base for exploring the French Riviera and Provence. Half-day and full-day guided tours show off Marseille’s shore, wine, and neighboring regions. Take a walking tour of Marseille’s historic center around the Old Port (Vieux Port) to learn about the city’s Greek and Roman roots. Travel through time with a visit to the Abbey of Saint Victor to see its fifth- century crypts; and stop in the 19th-century Neo-Byzantine Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, one of Marseille's most recognized monuments. Climb on an electric bike to glide along the pretty road known as Corniche Kennedy, plus stop for panoramic coastal views. Tour the opera house, and score tickets to a performance. Day trips take you beyond the city on a tour of the Calanques National Park, a stretch of rugged coastline near Marseille; or to the gorgeous natural landscapes around the Luberon Massif. Take a day tour of Provence to see Avignon, charming Aix-en-Provence, and Arles. Or head to soak up the sun along the French Riviera, with stops in Cannes and Nice. For coastal charm closer to the Marseille’s city center, join a tour to the UNESCO-listed inlet of Cassis, which features magnificent views from its dramatic sea cliff, Cape Canaille.

Top 15 attractions in Marseille

#1
Marseille Cruise Port (Terminal Croisières Marseille)

Marseille Cruise Port (Terminal Croisières Marseille)

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Marseille is France’s largest and busiest port, welcoming over 1.5 million cruise passengers to its shores each year. As the gateway to Provence and the south of France, Marseille is a popular stop on Europe cruise itineraries, and offers ferry connections to Corsica, Sardinia, Algeria, and Tunisia.More
#2
Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica (La Bonne Mère)

Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica (La Bonne Mère)

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Perched atop the city’s highest hill, the magnificent Notre-Dame de la Garde, which is visible from all over the Marseille, is one of the city’s most striking landmarks. The Romano-Byzantine basilica dates back to the 19th century and is best known for its grand bell tower, which is capped with a gleaming gold statue of the Virgin Mary.More
#3
Calanques National Park (Parc National des Calanques)

Calanques National Park (Parc National des Calanques)

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As Europe's only protected park to contain land, water, and semi-urban areas, Calanques National Park (Parc National des Calanques) is a mecca for outdoor adventurers. Whether you want to snorkel and sail, kayak and climb, or hike and watch out for wildlife, France's answer to the Garden of Eden has it all.More
#4
Palais Longchamp

Palais Longchamp

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The grand baroque colonnade and gardens of the Palais Longchamp are home to Marseille’s Natural History Museum and Fine Arts Museum. The imposing buildings and spacious park are popular with tourists and locals alike.More
#5
Camargue

Camargue

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Located in southwest Provence, the Camargue is one of France’s wildest and most scenic landscapes. Protected as a regional natural park, the expanse of wetlands, beaches, salt pans, and rice paddies is known for its herds of white Camargue horses and Camargue bulls, all tended to by localgardians (cowboys).More
#6
Palais du Pharo

Palais du Pharo

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The Palais du Pharo in Marseille was built for Napoleon III and was once home to the city’s medical school. The palace is now used for municipal events and conferences and is famous for great views over the Mediterranean Sea from the palace gardens.More
#7
Vallon des Auffes

Vallon des Auffes

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With its charming jumble of fishing boats and fishermen’s cabins clustered around the small harbor, and framed by the arches of a stone-brick bridge; visiting Vallon des Auffes feels like stepping back in time. Located along the Marseille Corniche, the historic port village is a world away from the bustling city and makes a tranquil detour for those traveling along the coastal road.Despite its diminutive size, Vallon des Auffes punches well above its weight when it comes to gastronomy and its handful of waterfront restaurants are well known for serving delicious fresh fish and seafood. Top restaurants include Chez Fonfon, L’Epuisette and Chez Jeannot, while the most celebrated dish is Provencal specialty bouillabaisse.More
#8
La Corniche

La Corniche

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Winding along the Mediterranean coast along the South of France, La Corniche is a waterfront roadway that stretches five kilometers through Marseille. As both a walkway and a road for cars, it offers wonderful views of the sea and coastline. It was a particularly popular promenade for residents of Marseille in the 1920s. From there you can also see the Iles du Frioul, elegant villas of the late 19th century, and the Prado beaches. The Chateau d’If (of the Count of Monte Cristo fame) is also visible.Along the way sits the Maregraph Building, which took measurements over thirteen years to determine France’s sea level elevation. The bench of La Corniche runs three kilometers between the Pont de la Fausse-Monnaie and Hotel Sofitel Palm Beach, making it the longest bench in the world. Part of the roadway is named after President Kennedy, who was assassinated during its construction.More
#9
Abbey of St. Victor (Abbaye Saint-Victor)

Abbey of St. Victor (Abbaye Saint-Victor)

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This Roman abbey in Marseille has a long and interesting history dating back 1,500 years. Visitors come to tour the basilica and learn more about the building and the community of monks that once lived here.More
#10
Marseille Cathedral (Cathédrale La Major)

Marseille Cathedral (Cathédrale La Major)

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One of Marseille’s key religious landmarks, the city’s cathedral (known locally as the Cathédrale La Major stands just steps from the water’s edge. Built in the 19th century, the neo-Byzantine church is distinctive for its striped facade and vibrant interior; it’s not to be confused with the hilltop Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde.More
#11
Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (Le Mucem)

Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (Le Mucem)

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The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (Le Mucem)—or Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée, in French—is a national museum in Marseille, France. It was inaugurated in 2013, the same year Marseille was designated as the ‘European Capital of Culture,’ and is dedicated to showcasing the multifaceted history of the Mediterranean and its different landscapes, cities, and shores.The museum is built on reclaimed land at the entrance to Marseille’s harbour. Its exhibits are devoted to European and Mediterranean civilizations in the Mediterranean basin, taking an interdisciplinary approach to presenting the different societies who have called this area home throughout the ages and in modern times. It is the first museum in the world to focus entirely on the cultures of the Mediterranean, and it includes all the social sciences: anthropology, political science, sociology, history, archaeology, and art history. In addition to the Mucem’s permanent collections, there are also rotating temporary exhibitions and seminars, feature films and documentaries, and performances focusing on the Mediterranean’s current affairs.More
#12
Marseille History Museum (Musee d'Histoire)

Marseille History Museum (Musee d'Histoire)

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Following extensive renovations back in 2013, the Marseille History Museum (Musee d'Histoire) is now one of the largest history museums in Europe and it’s a fitting homage to France’s oldest city, showcasing a fascinating array of archaeological finds. Exploring the interactive exhibitions and multi-media displays, visitors can follow the evolution of Marseille from its founding by the Greeks back in 600BC, to the early Christian settlers, through to medieval times and the redevelopment of the city under Louis XIV.Notable highlights include an impressively preserved 3rd-century Roman cargo boat, a remarkable collection of 13th century pottery and a series of architectural works by Pierre Puget. Also worth a visit is the open-air Jardin des Vestiges, which displays excavated remains, including a paved Roman Toad, necropolis and antique Greek walls.More
#13
La Canebiere

La Canebiere

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Experience the faded grandeur of Marseille’s famous boulevard La Canabière and explore the many layers of history and commerce that make up this vibrant city.More
#14
Cap Canaille

Cap Canaille

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Soaring 394 meters over the beaches of Cassis, Cap Canaille is France’s highest sea cliff and it’s a dramatic sight, with its steep grey and ochre colored cliffs jutting out into the ocean. Located between La Citotat and Cassis on the Mediterranean coast, the rugged headland has long drawn visitors from both towns, and offers spectacular views that span the glittering Cote d’Azur, the Calanques and the Gulf of Cassis.The easiest way to take in the views is to follow the 15km ‘Route des Crêtes’, a dizzying serpentine road that curls its way along the coastal cliffs and climbs to the highest point – head there at sunrise or sunset for the most breathtaking views. Alternatively, adventurous travelers will find ample opportunities for hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing.More
#15
Calanque de Sormiou

Calanque de Sormiou

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The calanques are narrow and steep inlets along the limestone coast of southern France, the most impressive ones being located along the little stretch of coastline between Marseilles and Cassis. They are romantic, wild and, being surrounded by huge cliffs, often protrude fjord-like into the landscape. While many calanques require hours of hiking or kayaking to reach, the Calanque de Sormiou is more easily accessible and still provides a true visual spectacle for visitors.After a 15 minute drive or 45 minute walk from the main road down the hills, a sandy beach awaits next to the bright blue Mediterranean water. A couple weekend homes dot the landscape and then there is Le Château, the modest but immensely popular bouillabaisse restaurant that requires a phone reservation well ahead of time to snag a seat.As sparse as the landscape might appear, Sormiou actually serves as a habitat for a rich flora and fauna. Over 900 plants grow here and birdwatchers will find many rare birds nesting in the steep cliffs. Swimming and sunbathing is popular, but the area is also crossed by numerous hiking trails, some more demanding than others, and the little bay is also a popular destination for visitors arriving by boat.More

Trip ideas

Food and Wine in Marseille

Food and Wine in Marseille

Provence Tours from Marseille

Provence Tours from Marseille

Top activities in Marseille

Sailing day in the heart of the Calanques
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Seaside Tour in Jeep Beetle Cabriolet Marseille La Ciotat Cassis
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Calanques Trilogy Electric Bike Tour from Marseille
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Aix en Provence, Marseille and Cassis Tour

Aix en Provence, Marseille and Cassis Tour

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5-Hour Private Sightseeing Tour of the Provence from Marseille in Luxury Car
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Châteauneuf Du Pape intensive vineyard & fine wine experience
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Marseille

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Great cruise!
Wendy_M, Aug. 2022
Evening cruise at sunset
Leaving the Marseille Old Port to see the archipelago by boat was fantastic.
star-5
Totally fantastic trip
Peace_O, Jul. 2022
Swimming and Snorkeling in a Calanque in the Frioul Islands Marseille
The swimming was great, and we were lucky enough to see some fish.
star-5
Great quick taste of Marseille and Cassis
Gina_W, Jul. 2022
Private Tour of Marseille and Cassis
Loved the Notre-Dame Basilica and taking the boat ride in Cassis to see the French Fjords.
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Provence in a Day Tour from Marseille
KBrett_R, Jul. 2022
Provence in a Day Tour from Marseille
It was great to see the medieval towns outside of Marseille.
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Best way to see Marseille
Kenneth_C, Jul. 2022
Boat trip and sunset in the Frioul islands Marseille
We had a limited amount of time in Marseille, and this turned out to be the best way to see it.
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Would do it again!
Erin_S, Jun. 2022
Marseille Smalll Group Electric Bike Tour
Biking marseille was an awesome way to see so much of the city.
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Amazing Day
Peggy_M, Jun. 2022
5-Hour Private Sightseeing Tour of the Provence from Marseille in Luxury Car
We got to see many areas of Marseille and Cassis with a knowledgeable guide.
star-5
Terrific way to see...
Jennifer_C, May 2022
Marseille Smalll Group Electric Bike Tour
Terrific way to see Marseilles - went to the top to see Notre Dame and a beautiful view as well as many neighborhoods & key sites!
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Up, up and away!
bmgraves30, May 2022
Marseille Small Group Segway Tour
What a great way to see Marseille!
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The Luxurious and Quick Way to Explore Marseilles
Anna_V, Mar. 2022
Marseille Private Tour
Our tour guide, Paul, was extremely accommodative (even picked us up from the airport due to flight delays), very knowledgeable and took us to all the main attractions during our 4 hour tour.
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An Amazing Tour with A Wonderful Guide
Valerie_S, Aug. 2022
Aix en Provence, Marseille & Cassis Private Tour in Minivan
As this is his hometown, Chris generously shared a plethora of interesting facts and information about the area in his easy-to-understand English.
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Easy to ride and enjoy the city
Steven_B, Jul. 2022
Marseille Shore Excursion Private Electric Bike Tour
We saw most of the main sites to see in Marseille and also made a stop at a chocolate shop for a tasting, yum!
star-5
So fun and beautiful (bring a swimsuit)
Belyn_N, Jul. 2022
Cross country E-Bike Tour of Marseille Calanques
If you want to see the beautiful scenery that Marseille has to offer, DO THIS.
star-4
very good tour!
Marina_M, Jul. 2022
Provence, Marseille and Cassis Sightseeing Tour
I gave the tour a 4 star rather than five because i had trouble understanding his English and had expected a tour in French.
star-5
Must see places in Marseille
Mark_B, Jun. 2022
Marseille Shore Excursion: City Sightseeing Tour of Marseille
We visited a lot of places that we couldn't have been able to see if we just took a taxi.
star-5
Great tour, some more professonalism needed
saksiannamaaria, Apr. 2022
Electric Bike Tour to the Calanques from Marseille
Some feedback to our guide: -she never told her name -her English was not that good -safety should have been taking better care of: she drove too fast and several times she needed to turn back in order to find the rest of the group.
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Blown Away in Marseille!!
Joseph_B, Apr. 2022
Guided Tour in Marseille: Port, Old City & Notre Dame de la Garde
It was an inclement and windy day, likely the coldest day of spring!
star-5
Fantastic tour and amazing tour guide
amylkennedy2020, Jan. 2020
Marseille Shore Excursion: Half Day Tour of Marseille by Electric Bike
You get to see the whole city and learn about the history of this spectacular port.
star-5
Romain was the best tour guide ever!
Laura W, May 2019
Aix en Provence, Marseille & Cassis Private Tour in Minivan
We never felt rushed and were sad to see our time with him come to a close.
star-5
So fun!
courtney_g, May 2019
Marseille Shore Excursion: Half Day Tour of Marseille by Electric Bike
We got to see so many sights and view this gorgeous provence with time to spare to explore on our own.
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All about Marseille

When to visit

Marseille’s Mediterranean climate, along with music festivals such as Rock Island and Marsatac, draws vacationers south in the balmy summer months. For the best deals, visit in late September, when the summer hordes have left, but it’s still warm enough to hit the beach or take a day trip to the French Riviera.

People Also Ask

What is Marseille famous for?

Marseille is set on the Mediterranean coast and is famously sunny, both in weather and culture. A less-bourgeois, laid-back kinda place, the city blends the culture of southern France with French tradition; think pastis liqueur and pètanque (lawn bowling), bouillabaisse fish stew, and yachts bobbing at the Vieux-Port.

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How much time do you need in Marseille?

The city is large, but two days gives enough time to check off Marseille must-sees such as Chateau d'If, Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica, and Old Port of Marseille. To discover the surroundings, take a long weekend and explore the coastline of Calanques National Park.

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Is Marseille a walkable city?

Yes. Marseille’s key sights are mostly within walking distance, with the Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica, atop a steep hill, being an exception. Active folks may like the hike, but others can take a bus or the Petit Train Marseille to the parking lot.

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Are there beaches in Marseille?

Yes. Many of the beaches are southeast of the Old Port of Marseille, starting with the small, pleasant Plage des Catalans. Beach lovers have options, from the soft sands of Plage de la Pointe Rouge, to the popular shores at Plages du Prado, to the wilder inlets of the Calanques.

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Is Marseille good for nightlife?

Yes. While it’s not a hedonistic party capital like Barcelona or Berlin, Marseille’s nightlife is decidedly fun. Especially in spring and summer, when the evenings are balmy and the revelry shifts outside. Expect beachside DJ sets, alfresco dining, and festival-style concerts organized by the Mucem.

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What is there to do in Marseille for free?

Discover the city’s international vibe at Marché des Capucins, a bustling central market where African spices are sold. For respite, head to Parc Borély or the Prado beaches for some people watching, or head to the rooftop at the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations for views of the sea.

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