Welcome to Marseille, France's most rebellious city. Throughout its history, it has been home to bandits, rebels, and revolutionaries. This mix of its past and Mediterranean culture became the founders of a completely city-specific story.
Nowadays, Marseille is also a tourist attraction with its always burning sun. In this article, we had a hard time choosing the best among hundreds of places to see and do. Our recommendation is to experience Marseille from end to end. But if you don't have that much time, here are the funniest, coolest things you can do in the city.
Best Things to do & see in Marseille
1. Take a Stroll in The Old Port
Vieux Port is one of the best-known places in Marseille. Local people gather here for celebrations. In keeping with the city's tradition, this is the meeting point of the protesters. The port, which used to be the center of trade, now hosts handicraft workshops. It is always lively with bars, restaurants, and fish markets. Wandering around the harbor or catching beautiful Instagram shots in front of the castle walls is the best thing you can do for free in Marseille.
2. See the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations
The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations, or Mucem for short, is the museum of the city of Marseille that bridges the gap between its history and today's world. It allows us to take a closer look at the Mediterranean civilization with anthropological studies, contemporary art exhibitions, film screenings, and many other events. The museum is in perfect harmony with Vieux Harbor and St. Jean Castle and was designed by the famous architects Rudy Ricciotti and Roland Carta. Definitely, a must-see place.
3. Explore Le Panier Neighborhood
This old neighborhood, settled by the Greeks in the 600s, is as popular as the old port. Strolling the streets of the neighborhood is a fun experience for those who want to explore the Mediterranean intimacy and French aesthetics together. As you walk through the colorful shutters, narrow streets, and steep stairs, it is difficult to predict what you will encounter after a few meters. Spending hours here is one of the best things to do in Marseille, and it's free. If you are tired, you can relax in one of the cool places, have a snack or sip your cool drinks.
4. Climb Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica
You may be surprised to see the word "climb". But the path to this Marseille's tallest building consists entirely of stairs and you have to climb about 150 meters to reach it. Perfect for seeing the whole city and enjoying the view. There are also train and bus services for those who want to reach this magnificent view more easily. A picnic on this hill may be the cheapest way to spend a romantic evening in the city.
5. Take in the Beauty of Nature in Calanques National Park
Located in the southern and eastern parts of Marseille, the Calanques features white limestone cliffs, lakes, and sea-meets-views. You can experience these natural wonders from land or sea. You can take a boat ride, hike up the hill, or go kayaking. If you are in the city for a short time, spend 1 day here. You will not regret it.
6. Take Photos at the Cathédrale de la Major Towers
Do not leave without seeing the famous cathedral of Marseille. It is one of the most beautiful places to see the vast sea view. The highest of the towers reaches 16 meters high. You can capture amazing poses with your camera. Admission to the cathedral is completely free, a great opportunity to take cool photos.
7. Wander La Canebière Street
One end of Marseille's busiest and most famous street connects to the Vieux Port. There are buildings on both sides of the street that used to be used as hotels and houses in the past. These houses have now turned into cheap stores and takeaway shops. We can say that the heart of the city beats here. You will understand when you walk around the street. Don't forget to shop at the market in the Capucin area at the end of the street.
8. Go to La Friche La Belle de Mai
This gigantic building, which used to be a tobacco factory, is now an art center with places such as cinema, bars, bookstores, workshops, and theater and hosting many events. You can also taste local delicacies at the famous Les Grandes Tables restaurant inside. This center, where you can spend the whole day with the family or alone, is both the coolest and the most fun among the best things to do in Marseille.
9. See Street Art on the Cours Julien
Are you one of those who think that art should be found not only in museums and galleries but in all areas of life? Then the Cours Julien, located in the 6th district of Marseille, is a place you should definitely see. Almost all of this area is filled with street art. The square, the streets, the shutters of the shops and the walls... Literally, every inch of it is a work of art. It also has great bars and restaurants. Fun guaranteed.
10. Walk From Fort Saint Jean to La Panier
The castle, which dates back to the 17th century, was badly damaged during the Second World War but was later renovated and connected to the La Panier neighborhood by an impressive road of magnificent beauty. Along the walking path, an excellent sea view accompanies. You will feel the history of the castle in every bit of it. It's good to be warned, there's not much here to interest children.
11. Taste Marseille's Famous Bouillabaisse
The bouillabaisse, which was first made with goby and scorpionfish, which fishermen could not sell in the market, took a completely different turn with the addition of seafood such as eel and crab. Les Vallon des Auffes, which is about 2 km from the Vieux Port, is the best place to drink the soup obtained by boiling all these ingredients for a long time. Chez Fonfon, located here, is the restaurant that makes this delicious soup the best. We strongly recommend you to taste it with a beautiful view.
12. Explore the Palais Longchamp Museum
Palais Longchamp, one of the landmarks of the city in all its glory, has a large collection of Italian and Provencal artists. Most of the artworks have a history of 400 years. The palace's large green garden is open to the public and is one of the locals' favorite places to spend time when the weather is nice. It can be a good option to spend time with family.
13. Take a City Tour by Bus
The biggest advantage of open-top buses is that they provide the opportunity to see the most important places of the city in one go. You can visit the Vieux Port, the Corniche, south coast, Notre-Dame de la Garde and much more. Thanks to the English commentary, you can get information about the importance of historical places and natural beauties. If you have come to Marseille for the first time and your time is limited, you can spare one day for these tours.
14. Have a Dinner at Les Grandes Tables
We have mentioned La Friche La Belle de Mai cultural center before, but Les Grandes Tables deserves a separate title. The restaurant, which looks like a school canteen, has a friendly and modern design. Try interesting delicacies such as candied lamb shank with parmesan polenta or dried tuna, made with the freshest food from local producers. The restaurant is open from Thursday to Saturday at midnight. There is also a local farmers' market every Monday.
15. Tour France's Island Prison
Just a 20-minute boat ride from the coast of Marseille can reach the Château d'If. Used as a prison from the 16th to the 19th centuries, this island is an ideal spot for both watching the city view and spending a quiet day on the beaches. Friou Island, which is located in the immediate vicinity and is under protection, is also one of the places to visit.
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- 28 Nov 2022