The Best Things To Do In Marseille

Written By: Mercedes Taylor

Coastal cities have a really special charm which simply can’t be found anywhere else. Especially when they come drenched in sunshine for most of the year and even manage to evade winter’s glacial touch. If that sounds like your holiday destination of choice, you will love visiting the largest of them all in France: Marseille. The inspiration for France’s national anthem, La Marseillaise, Marseille is located on the Mediterranean coast, close to the Bay of Lion with the city of Toulon to its southeast and Nimes and Avignon to its northwest. Once you alight at Marseille you will be in for a vacation unlike any other with the opportunity to explore charming shops and markets, tour soaring cathedrals and watch fishermen sell their fresh catch. All you need do is book your holiday and pack your bags and you’ll be right there in this amazing city in no time at all.

The best holiday destinations always have something for everyone and Marseille is no exception with its museums, cultural events and exciting nightlife. Best of all, it’s only a few hours by train away from major cities. Tourists arriving from the equally amazing sunlit city of Nice will arrive at Marseille St. Charles train station in just two hours while those arriving from the famed City of Lights will be able to arrive in three hours. The city’s Marseille-Provence International Airport located 30 km from its center, is also a key flight hub connecting major French and European cities and there is a ready supply of buses which shuttle between the airport and the city.

One of the perks of visiting a Mediterranean coastal city with amazing weather is getting to swim and relax on the beach and one of the best spots in Marseille for enjoying the sea up close is the Corniche walkway. Visiting the Vieux Port will enable you to feel the city’s pulse as you watch fishermen sell their catch. Strolling through Le Panier with its shops and cafes is a great option for continuing your adventure while La Plaine farmer’s market will provide you with the opportunity to sample the region’s fresh produce. Marseille is also home to more than a few impressive monuments and during your visit you will be able to tour the Notre Dame de la Garde which holds a special place in the hearts of the city’s fishermen as well as the vast cathedral known as the Major. You will also be able to experience its thriving club scene thanks to venues such as Casa Pietra, E-wine and Marengo which will add a touch of excitement to your vacation.


Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde

When visiting Marseille, a visit to the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde is a must. Standing at the peak of an outcrop, on the south side of the port, you cannot miss it. Dating back to the 1850’s, explore the intricate decorations, murals and mosaics, and look out for the shrapnel marks from WWII. The views from the basilica are amazing, making the trip a great way to get your bearings in this beautiful city.


Chateau d’If

Take the short ferry trip over to Chateau d’If, the island fortress once used as a prison, and made famous by the classic 1840’s novel “The Count of Monte Cristo!” Stroll through the fortress and explore the high ramparts and gun platforms, as well as the cryptic old cells, then take in the magnificent views from the top!


Palais du Pharo

Built in 1858, the Palais du Pharo was a constructed by Napoleon, on a whim; he built it, but he never stayed there. The palace has had several lives, and is now a conference centre catering for up to 2,500 people. Its magnificent architecture dominates the landscape and the gardens and views are nothing short of stunning!


Calanque de Sormiou

The natural beauty of the Calanque de Sormiou is stunning, and it’s surprisingly accessible by car. You can hike trails that will take you through lush forests and along the magnificent cliffs, then descend to the beach and bath in the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and take plenty of water!


Centre de la Vieille Charite

Today, the Centre de la Vieille Charite is a modern day museum with a diverse range of antiquities for you to explore, from ancient Egyptian artifacts, right through to amazing works by Picasso. As you explore the museum, imagine the vast history of this building, which in the 1700’s served as brutal accommodation for people rounded up as beggars, housing an estimated 1500 “guests.” The historic stories of the building – and its stunning beauty – are sure to fascinate!


Frioul Archipelago

Just off the coast – about four-kilometres from Marseille – you will find the Frioul Archipelago, four small islands that were once used as quarantine stations to combat the Plague. The Archipelago is also the home of the Fortress d’If, so take a boat and go exploring today!


Palais Longchamp

The Palais Longchamp was originally designed to hide the water tower that was bringing clean water to the city. Today, this large and majestic structure is now home to two museums. Take time to stroll through the art and science exhibits, and relax in the extensive gardens decorated with waterfalls and water features. Why not take some time out of your busy schedule to join the locals for a picnic in the park!



Old palaces, fountains, and tree-lined avenues make up the elegant city of Aix-en-Provence. Visit the various interesting sights such as the atelier of famous painter Paul Cezanne and enjoy its outdoor cafes, brasseries and restaurants and the sunny weather – this city broadcasts true Provençal charm!


Calanques National Park

Calanques National Park (Parc national des Calanques) sits in the south of France between Marseille and Cassis. The area boasts dramatic rocky inlets, azure waters and pebble beaches, making it a popular destination for tourists looking to hike, swim and sail.

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