One day in Marseille, a city that is worth visiting!

One day in Marseille, should you do it? Absolutely yes! The city along the Southeastern coast of France is underrated as a sunny city trip destination in Europe! There are many things to do in Marseille for one day that will satisfy your interest in culture, culinary highlights or history. See a different side of France in Marseille, a vibrant city with unique and endless opportunities. Get ready to discover France’s second-biggest city!

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Is Marseille worth visiting?

Have you ever encountered negative comments about Marseille? Having many French people in our close surroundings, we always hear quite some negative remarks about Marseille. And yes, the media can also give a negative portrayal. Until we decided to see it for ourselves to form our own opinion! After all, why not?

While exploring Marseille ourselves, we quickly discovered that the city is worth visiting, and besides that even very much an underrated city in Europe for tourists! Why would people not book a weekend trip to Marseille? We loved the historic vibes, enjoyed some yummy culinary highlights and loved to have the waters around in the port. The city is alive and rather enjoyable on a lovely sunny day.

Is Marseille Safe to visit?

That said, yes we also saw aspects that may contribute to the negative perceptions held by some. And that is related to safety and the appearance of certain areas. In general, we did feel safe walking around in the tourist and public regions. However, we did notice that we came across some more dodgy situations than we might have elsewhere in France.

Nevertheless, it should not stop you from visiting as you can have a truly lovely time. With vigilance and common sense, like in any other city, you should: consider walking around alone at night, watching out for pickpockets and just not being naive.

Is one day enough for Marseille?

How many days would you need in Marseille? While it is tempting to visit Marseille for more than one day, if your schedule doesn’t allow it, you can make the most of your time by focusing on the city highlights. Craft your itinerary perfectly with our tips below.

To ensure you can make the most of your day trip, we’ve split the best places to visit in Marseille. Firstly we provide you with information on attractions that are wise to plan for your one-day trip. Secondly, if you are lucky to spend some more time here, we share some more options in case you do have the option to extend. Including some day trips from Marseille.

How to get to Marseille

Getting to Marseille is relatively easy due to a well-connected network with a variety of transport options. Below we will list the two most convenient options:

  • By plane: Marseille conveniently has an airport (the second largest regional airport in France) with multiple international connections. The airport is rather close to the city centre. In about 30 minutes you can reach the city highlights for your visit. You can take an airport shuttle from the airport to Marseille St. Charles Station, take a taxi or go by train.
  • By car: Marseille is surrounded by several motorways connected to some of the main cities in the region. Or perhaps even Paris which is approximately an 8-hour drive. Therefore, if you are roadtripping France we highly recommend you to explore more of the country. Keep in mind that you might need to pay a toll, depending on which roads you take.

Is Marseille a walkable city?

Once you are in the city centre, Marseille is very easy to get around on foot. So yes, from a tourist point of view, Marseille is a walkable city as the main highlights are in close distance from each other. This also makes it extra fun exploring, as you will continuously walk through entertaining areas connected. Not a 500-meter walk is the same! Surely you will enjoy the city or the water views!

Tip: if you prefer a more relaxed day, why not take the Hop-On Hop-Off bus? Such an easy way to get around! Get your tickets below:

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Tip: do not limit yourself to only visiting the area of Marseille, but explore more coastal beauty of the French Riviera. With a longer road trip or with a rental car for the day. Get the best deals now!

Where to stay in Marseille

If you do include a night over for your one day in Marseille you need a good bed to rest for a full day exploring the city. Choosing where to stay in Marseille of course depends on your preferences and budget. However, in this case, we do recommend you stay in the tourist areas for easy access to your 24 hours in Marseille. Think of the following neighbourhoods:

How to spend one day in Marseille

Le Panier

La Panier is the oldest quarter in Marseille where you can easily spend 2 to 3 hours. When visiting cities, we always love it if a city has a historical heart. Or in other words, an old town or even more concrete: a bunch of old buildings that tell great stories and good vibes. Le Panier is that for Marseille! And it was even better than expected!

Le Panier has a great charm with street art all around the cobblestone streets and vibrant squares. You will find yourself discovering great cafes, galleries and boutiques while exploring the labyrinth of Le Panier. The area feels very local and still authentic, even if it is a touristic area in the daily life of Marseille’s residents.

Tip: the city is quite hilly in some places, do wear your comfortable city walking shoes.

Vieux port Marseille

Your one day in Marseille wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the old port of Marseille. The port is the heart of Marseille, with many roads leading here, and various attractions close to the Vieux Port waterfront. It is a vibrant area, with on sunny days many people hanging around and meeting each other. Either on the benches on the boulevard or the many restaurants and terraces around. The picture-perfect views are spectacular as well. Feeling maritime vibes with any boats lined up and other great scenery reaching as far as a view of the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde.

Soap shops – Savon de Marseille

Something unique and very cultural in Marseille is “Savon de Marseille”. The traditional Marseille soap which is famous all around the world. And we can confirm, it is a great quality soap that is soft on your skin and smells irresistible! Savon de Marseille has been produced locally since the Middle Ages with olive oil at first. Even though soap production developed over the years, you can still find some soaps with all-natural ingredients. Take in the huge variety of scents and get yourself a nice souvenir (avoid the “made in China” ones!) and cultural shopping experience!

Tasty Black ice cream

This might raise your eyebrows, because why would you eat “Charcoal Ice cream”? The special black ice cream from Marseille is worth a try on your day trip! It is even said that it comes with health and detoxing benefits. The ice cream can come in different flavours like vanilla and chocolate. If you are a real foodie, you cannot miss out on this opportunity. The best spot to get this treat is at Vanille Noire.

Guided bus and walking tour

Perhaps you did not have time to do a lot of travel planning beforehand. Or being in Marseille for a day, you might want to optimize your itinerary to the fullest. If you prefer to avoid walking to all the best places to visit in Marseille, you can opt for a guided bus and walking tour! See the highlights, learn more about the city and tick off your things-to-see list as easily as possible. Get your tickets here:

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La Major Cathedral

When you walk around Marseille, you will notice some architectural highlights all around the city. One you cannot miss is the La Major Cathedral, beautifully located in an open space and close to the sea. Besides that, it is also one of the tallest cathedrals in France. The Cathedral has beautiful details and features like big domes, clean marble and impressive mosaics, arches and carvings. You can visit La Major Cathedral on the inside, or have a walk around and enjoy the views from a cafe or restaurant. You surely cannot miss this on your day in Marseille.

Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde

High on top of the hill, overseeing all Marseille city and the sea you will find Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. Also known as “La Bonne Mére” (The Good Mother). The place of worship is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who is known as the protector of sailors and fishermen. You can visit the Basilique on the inside, which is impressive due to its architecture and paintings on the ceiling. It is a busy activity in Marseille, even if located outside the city centre. You can easily get here by climbing the big staircase or by taking the tourist train (see below).

Tip: the surrounding of the Basilique is also a great viewpoint for a panoramic view over the city and activities on the Sea. Do keep in mind that it can be very windy up here!

Le Petit train

Did you ever visit France as a kid and see the typical white trains on wheels going around the cities? How much we tried to convince our parents to hop on board! The Petit Trains are also in Marseille, showing you around the highlights of the city.

There are different routes to take, all departing from the Vieux Port. While enjoying the views, dive into Marseille’s fascinating story with the guided tour. Jump on board, don’t worry about how to get around and feel the wind through your hair.

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Explore Marseille Bike Tour

Are you coming over for one day in Marseille from a cruise ship? Then this tailored bike tour experience for cruise passengers with personalized guidance from an expert is the must-do for you! You can discover the city straight from the Marseille cruise terminal by shuttle. And a good thing? You won’t get tired, because it is all on an E-bike. Besides that, the guide will ensure you have a smooth ride and stick to the best time to return to the terminal.

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Fort Saint-Jean

A taste of history can be found at Fort Saint-Jean in the Old Port of Marseille. It is a popular monument to visit, with besides a fascinating history also great panoramic views. Inside you can enjoy an educational experience (dating back to the 17th century) with films and impressive stories of former royalty and rulers protecting Marseille from maritime threats. Did you know that there is even a dungeon inside?

Museum MuCEM

Without a doubt, you will find culture all over in MuCEM – the Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean. The building is a true eye-catcher and has become a true hotspot in the city. Some parts of the Museum and Fort Saint Jean are accessible for free. You can even visit to relax on the rooftop and publically accessible lounge chairs. The Museum has a collection linked to several themes such as traditions, religion or history of the Mediterranean region. If you wish to see the expositions you do need to buy an entry ticket. Get yours via the link below and skip the line (and therefore time…).

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Food Tour – Marseille’s culinary highlights

Personally, food is an important part of our trips. We always crave some tasty meals. And what way better than to explore the yummy food of Marseille with a guided food tour? Freshly baked breads, flavours from a local products, and the smell of spices when entering a unique place. Like it’s said, don’t be on a diet and let them surprise you on this 4 hour food tour!

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What about 2 or 3 days in Marseille?

Do you feel like you need more days in Marseille? We can imagine! Besides having some extra fun, it is also very doable. Soon we will update an itinerary for multiple days in Marseille. However, for now, we will list some fun things to do in Marseille in case you stay 2 or 3 days:

  • Cours Julien: a vibrant and bohemian neighbourhood in Marseille
  • Palais Longchamp: a beautiful landmark with great architecture and garden. Inside you have two museums – the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Natural History.
  • Shopping: Marseille has a great city centre for shopping. You will find smaller shops as well as the well-known clothes stores. For fashionistas, you can make a start in the area of Rue Saint-Ferréol.
  • Cassis day trip: an enjoyable coastal town around 20km from Marseille. From great scenery, Mediterranean vibes and water activities, to unique nature with the Calanques. Cassis is a truly fun day out!

Day trips from Marseille

If you are more into a nature experience, you should go to the Calanques. Not too far from Marseille, you can immerse yourself in completely different surroundings with the Calanques National Park. Hop on a bike, put on your hiking shoes or feel water splashing with a kayak.

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Places to eat in Marseille

We love places that are known for their culinary highlights. And for that, you are in the right place in Marseille! The city has incredibly many options from budget to high-end venues. Due to the cultural diversity, you will see a great mix of menus. From street food to seafood or Asian or Italian restaurants.

When visiting Marseille for a day, you could choose to go for a quick but yummy bite. And for that “Pitaya Thaï Street Food” is a great option. With its central location, quick service and delicious food you will surely enjoy your lunch.

You are now all set for your one day in Marseille! Do let us know what you liked most in the comments below.

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