As one of Normandy’s D-Day landing beaches, Omaha beach was the backdrop to one of the most significant events of World War II, immortalized in the movie Saving Private Ryan and forever etched into history. Today, visitors to Omaha Beach can follow in the footsteps of the Allied soldiers and pay their respects at the American Cemetery.
Guided tours of the five D-Day beaches—Utah Beach, Omaha Beach, Gold Beach, Juno Beach, and Sword Beach—run from Bayeux, Caen, Le Havre, Carentan, and Paris, and often include visits to other Normandy battlefields such as Pointe du Hoc, Arromanches, and Pegasus Bridge. For a more personalized experience, opt for a private tour or small-group tour and choose to focus on the American, Canadian, or British sites and memorials.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Most tours visit WWII cemeteries and memorials, so it’s important to dress and act respectfully.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes to explore the battle ruins and beaches.
- Some tours are wheelchair accessible, but it’s best to check in advance with your tour operator.
How to Get There
Omaha Beach is located along the coast of Normandy in northern France, 15 miles (24 kilometers) northwest of Bayeux. Although buses run to the beach from Bayeux, the easiest way to visit is by private transportation or as part of a guided tour. The American Cemetery lies above the beach, from where a long walkway heads down to the beach itself.
When to Get There
Tours run to Omaha Beach year-round, but it can get busy during peak summer season. If you’re visiting in July and August, try to arrive early morning or early evening to avoid the large groups of day-trippers. The most moving time to visit is during the annual D-Day Festival, which commemorates the anniversary of the Allied Landings with a program of memorials, parades, and beachside picnics.
The D-Day Landings
Omaha Beach was the location of one of the most significant battles World War II. On June 6th 1944, American troops were given the task of securing Omaha beach as part of a strategy to land Allied troops along five points on the coast of Normandy—an operation code-named D-Day. Due to unforeseen tidal forces and stronger than expected German defenses, the American soldiers suffered massive losses—2,400 casualties in a day of bloody fighting. However, the landing was eventually successful with 34,000 troops securing the area for the Allies, and thus beginning the end of the war.