What to do in Marseille in 3 days

To the point Head for the south of France, to discover a city as fascinating as it is inspiring. Marseille, France.
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Immerse yourself in the vibrant and enchanting atmosphere of Marseille, France’s oldest city, founded over 2,600 years ago, where history blends with modernity in a unique Mediterranean setting. From its picturesque alleyways to its breathtaking sea views, Marseille seduces travelers with its cultural diversity, culinary specialties and hidden treasures.

Follow us on a short journey through the iconic neighborhoods, bustling markets and historic sites of this captivating Phocaean city.

One of the best ways to visit Marseille is with the City Guide Pass. Valid for 24 hours, it gives access to public transport, the tourist train, Mucem and the boat to the Frioul islands.

Visit Marseille - Day 1

Walking in the Panier

The Panier, a maze of narrow, colorful streets, reveals the authentic soul of Marseille. Stroll through its picturesque streets, steeped in history and creativity, where colorful facades, winding staircases and small shady squares alternate, and stop off at the art galleries, craft stores and artists’ studios that bear witness to the city’s cultural richness.

The district inspired the French series “Plus belle la vie”, the longest-running series ever produced in France, with 18 seasons and over 4,500 episodes! The series will be back on TF1 in 2024 with some new features.

For a guided tour, opt for the audio tour offered by GetYourGuide for less than 10 euros.

For a gourmet break, stop off at Hododa, an iconic café where you can enjoy a tasty (and vegan) brunch with a Mediterranean accent. Continue your stroll and treat yourself to a sweet break at Cookiss, an address renowned for its delicious, melt-in-your-mouth artisan cookies, before reaching the Vieille Charité, a building erected in the XVIIᵉ century to designs by Pierre Puget. And don’t leave without trying an excellent symbol, the orange blossom Marseille navettes at Le Four des navettes, in the St Victor district, a boat-shaped dry cookie made for Candlemas.

Le quartier du Panier, à Marseille

Visit Mucem and Fort Saint-Jean

The Mucem, Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, is one of Marseille’s architectural icons. Located at the entrance to the Old Port, this boldly designed museum houses fascinating collections exploring the cultures of the Mediterranean, as well as a space reserved for temporary exhibitions.

For a guided tour, opt for the audio tour offered by GetYourGuide for less than 10 euros.

Alongside it, Fort Saint-Jean, an immutable witness to the past, has stood majestically since the 17th century. Its walls, steeped in history, still resonate with the echoes of past battles. Strolling along its ramparts offers a unique perspective on the bustling Old Port and the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean.

Le Mucem

Dinner in the Old Port

Marseille’s Vieux-Port, the beating heart of the city, is the ideal place to end your day in style. With its fishermen, boats and street artists, the atmosphere is unique, blending tradition and modernity.

For dinner, head for La Placette, a small gourmet address set back a little, where you can dine in peace and quiet, far from the touristy restaurants (with their exorbitant prices) facing the sea. Take a seat on the terrace and let yourself be seduced by the authentic flavours of Provencal cuisine, enhanced by fresh, local produce.

Le Vieux-Port de Marseille

To enhance your visit to Marseille

Marseille is only 3 hours from Paris by train.

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Visiting Marseille - Day 2

Shopping at the market

The La Plaine market is a melting pot of flavors, colors and cultures that comes to life on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Strolling between the stalls is like immersing yourself in the authentic atmosphere of Marseilles, where accents ring out over stalls brimming with fresh fruit, colorful vegetables, fragrant cheeses and mouth-watering local produce. People come here not only to shop (and pick up a few things to eat on a picnic on the Frioul Islands!), but also to enjoy a coffee on the terrace, savor a socca or simply observe the bustle of life all around.

Fish lovers? Head for the Old Port, where you’ll find one of the last remaining witnesses to the city’s folklore: the fish market. But beware of the smells…

Le marché aux poissons

Wander through the Cours Julien cultural district

The Cours Julien, Marseille’s vibrant cultural district, is a veritable paradise for lovers of art, music and creativity. It’s a place where people from all walks of life come together to share a drink on the terrace, attend an impromptu concert or simply stroll around. As the neighborhood is very close to La Plaine, we head there after shopping at the market.

Every street corner is packed with vintage boutiques, art galleries, bohemian cafés, and, not to be missed, street art, testifying to the vitality of Marseille’s cultural scene. Strolling through the maze of alleys, you’ll discover an electric atmosphere where Mediterranean, African and Oriental influences mingle.

The Court Julien is a place of expression for the city’s graffiti artists, as are certain districts of Berlin or Barcelona. It is mainly visited for its street art and graffiti. Some tell a story and are true works of art.

Take the boat to the Frioul Islands

The islands of Frioul and Château d’If, unspoiled treasures of the Mediterranean, offer an idyllic getaway off the coast of Marseille. Accessible in just 30 minutes by boat from the Old Port, these islands captivate with their wild beauty and peaceful atmosphere. The round trip costs just over ten euros and can be purchased online or on site.

The Frioul islands are ideal for basking in the Marseille sunshine, with their steep paths winding between secluded coves and sheer cliffs, while the Château d’If, a former state prison made famous by Alexandre Dumas’ novel, The Count of Monte Cristo, is perfect for an afternoon of culture.

For an even more memorable experience, opt for a half-day sailing trip around the Frioul Islands or a boat tour with a swim stop in the azure waters.

Vue sur les îles du Frioul

Dinner in the Grandes Halles du Vieux-Port

The Grandes Halles du Vieux-Port, a veritable temple to Marseilles gastronomy, is an invitation to an unforgettable culinary voyage. Nestled in the heart of Place d’Estienne-d’Orves, they are home to a myriad of stalls and restaurants offering fresh, local and gourmet produce.

Whether you’re a fan of traditional cuisine or in search of new flavors, the Grandes Halles du Vieux-Port is sure to satisfy your every craving.

Visit Marseille - Day 3

Contemplating Marseille from Notre-Dame de la Garde

Proudly overlooking Marseille, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde (or Notre Bonne Mère, as the Marseillais call it) is more than just a monument. It’s the emblematic symbol of the city of Marseille. Perched on a hilltop, it offers breathtaking views of Marseille, the Mediterranean Sea and the Frioul Islands in the distance. Inside the basilica, glittering mosaics and ex-votos bear witness to the devotion of the people of Marseilles to their patroness.

The most courageous will climb it on foot, but it’s also possible to get there by small train or bus. A parking lot is available. In any case, the view is breathtaking. Expect gusts of wind, a solid common wind from the Rhone valley, if not the famous southern mistral.

La basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde

Cycling on the Corniche

Cycling along the Corniche is an open-air escape along the Mediterranean coast. This famous coastal road winds its way through the Mediterranean, offering spectacular panoramas of limestone cliffs, hidden coves and crystal-clear waters.

Rent a Levelo bike, Marseille’s public bicycle service, from a kiosk near Notre Dame de la Garde and set off along the Corniche to David. For three hours, rental costs around 15 euros (with a deposit of 300 euros).

Our favourite stops? The Pharo, the Catalan beach, the Vallon des Auffes, the Malmousque port, the Fausse Monnaie bridge and, last but not least, the Prado beaches. With the sea breeze as your companion and the sun as your guide, each pedal stroke promises to reveal a new Marseille treasure.

La Corniche Kennedy

Does the idea of cycling frighten you? You can just go for a guided tour on an electric bike or explore on foot.

Visit one of Marseille's legendary gardens

Another of Marseille’s landmarks, and easily accessible by metro or streetcar, the French garden of the Palais Longchamp is one of the most beautiful in Marseille. Children will be delighted by the visit and can enjoy the dedicated play areas. Stroll around, take a picnic break and then, visit the Natural History Museum or the Fine Arts Museum.

Here are two other gardens that are equally popular with Marseillais:

  • The gardens of the Palais du Pharo offer a breathtaking 360-degree view over the port of Marseille.
  • Parc Borély houses an attractive 18th-century bastide with a museum, a formal garden, rose garden and old children’s playground.

Of course, there are many other gardens and parks. Don’t hesitate to take a stroll.

Watching the sunset from the Prado beaches

Nestling at the very end of the Corniche, the Prado beaches are the jewels of Marseille’s coastline, offering an idyllic setting for watching the sun set after a few hours’ cycling.

Make yourself comfortable on the warm sands of Prado or Pointe Rouge Beach, and let the moment’s magic enchant you. In the distance, the islands of Frioul stand out against the orange horizon while sailboats glide gently on the calm waters of the Mediterranean.

Watch the regattas in the distance or the apprentices preparing their sailboats. Would you like to try a windsurfing or catamaran course? Several sailing clubs offer group or private services. An opportunity to learn how to ride the waves.

Les plages du Prado

Visiting Marseille - Where to sleep?

Marseille’s hotel scene is not as large as it is in Paris or Cannes. As demand outweighs supply, we recommend booking several weeks, or even months, before your planned stay.

A word of warning to visitors planning to discover Marseille during the Paris Olympic Games: the craze is such that establishments are filling up at lightning speed. Don’t delay in booking your accommodation, as options are limited!

NH Collection Marseille

The NH Collection Marseille promises a refined, contemporary hotel experience. With its 176 elegant rooms, the hotel welcomes its guests in a luxurious and comfortable setting. Gourmets will be particularly delighted, thanks to the exquisite cuisine of the hotel’s restaurant, where Mediterranean flavors are celebrated.

  • Where is it? Le Panier
  • How much is it? From 100 euros per night
  • Where to book Here
NH Collection Marseille
Source de l’image : NH Collection Marseille

Intercontinental Marseille - Hôtel Dieu

The InterContinental Marseille – Hôtel Dieu is housed in a historic 18th-century building dating back to the reign of Napoleon III. With its 194 sumptuous rooms and suites, the establishment offers a luxurious and refined setting, where each space tells a story of elegance and comfort. Some rooms, with private terraces, offer enchanting views of the Old Port and the iconic silhouette of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.

  • Where is it? The Old Port
  • How much is it? From 180 euros per night
  • Where to book Here
Source de l’image : Intercontinental Marseille Hotel Dieu

Les Bords de mer

Nestled on the shores of Marseilles,Les Bords de mer, a member of Domaines de Fontenille, is a charming Mediterranean hotel. With a limited number of rooms (the hotel has just 19), privacy is the order of the day in this coastal gem. At this address, not only can you savor the flavors of Marseille in the hotel’s restaurants, but you can also enjoy breathtaking panoramic views. The hotel is set right on the Corniche, facing the Mediterranean.

  • Where is it? La Corniche
  • How much is it? From 200 euros per night
  • Where to book Here
Source de l’image : Les Bords de mer

Marseille in 3 days - Conclusion

From the majestic Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica to the lively streets of the Panier and Cours Julien, the crystal-clear waters of the calanques and the sumptuous Mucem, Marseille offers an enchanting blend of culture, gastronomy and breathtaking scenery. Whether you’re a lover of history, cuisine or nature, the city of Marseille promises to charm and inspire you.

Visit Marseille in 3 days - Frequently asked questions

Is Marseille worth the trip?

Yes, Marseille is definitely worth a visit! This city offers a unique experience combining history, culture and breathtaking Mediterranean landscapes.

How to visit Marseille's must-see sites on foot?

Marseille is perfectly accessible on foot, especially its emblematic neighborhoods such as the Panier, the Old Port and the Cours Julien. It’s not easy to visit by car, as the city center is overcrowded and parking can be hard to find.

What's the most beautiful place in Marseille?

Marseille is full of beautiful places. Must-see sites include the Vallon des Auffes, the port of Malmousque and the historic Panier district.

What to do around Marseille

As Marseille has excellent transport links, travelers wishing to visit other cities in the south of France can do so by train without any problem. A few kilometres (km) from Marseille are the towns of Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, Arles and La Ciotat, which are also well worth visiting.

How to visit the calanques from Marseille

Visitors have several options to visit the Calanques National Park from Marseille. It’s possible to get there by public transport for just a few euros and enjoy a pleasant hike, or by sea, with boat or kayak excursions.

Are there certain areas that tourists should avoid?

Marseille is, unfortunately, the scene of a war between rival gangs, who regularly clash at any time of the day or night. The settling of scores between these gangs is frequent. It can be dangerous to drive in certain neighbourhoods. Of no interest to tourists, avoid the northern districts (13th to 16th arrondissements), Bellevue or Felix Pyat (3rd), La Castellane (6th), Les Rosiers, les Caillots, Noailles, Belsunce or the Vieux-Port at dusk.

What are the safety recommendations for tourists in Marseille?

As well as avoiding hot spots, tourists should be alert to theft and scams. These can take place on public transport or busy thoroughfares, for example. Don’t leave accessible bags or visible items (wallet, phone, jewelry) such as the back pocket of jeans or a restaurant table.

Come to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!

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