How to Spend the Perfect One Day in Marseille
May 22, 2023 By Juliana Daniel

Are you looking to explore the incredible city of Marseille but only have one day to spare? No worries; this ancient port is a trove of cultural and historical gems that can be explored within 24 hours.

Combining millennia-old monuments with modern galleries and buzzing cafes, Marseille offers something for everyone who visits. Whether your idea of experiencing Marine perfection involves lounging on sandy beaches or exploring vibrant markets, this bustling Mediterranean city has it all – right at your fingertips!

From catching stunning views from Notre Dame de la Garde basilica to basking in the history of an old prison island, we’ll show you countless ways to spend a perfect day in Marseille.

Start the day with a walk along the beach or the famous Vieux-Port

Start the day by walking along the beach or the famous Vieux-Port, one of Marseille's most renowned attractions. The waterfront has boutique shops and restaurants serving delicious seafood dishes, perfect for enjoying the Mediterranean atmosphere. Take time to marvel at the iconic Fort Saint-Jean while enjoying its views across the harbor.

Enjoy breakfast and people-watch in one of the many outdoor cafes scattered across the city.

Start your morning by sampling Marseille’s classic cuisine in one of its many outdoor cafes. Enjoy a hearty French breakfast of croissants, fresh-baked baguettes, and creamy brie cheese as you watch the hustle and bustle of the city pass by.

With unique cafes on nearly every corner, there is no shortage of stunning views or people-watching opportunities here! After fueling up with an espresso, you’ll be ready to take on the day.

Take a tour of Le Panier, Marseille's oldest quarter, to learn about its history and culture.

Take a tour of Le Panier, Marseille's oldest quarter, for an immersive experience of the city's past. This vibrant neighborhood has been around since the 1500s and is home to some of Marseille's most iconic monuments, including Fort Saint-Nicolas and the Church of St. Lawrence – both great spots to learn about their unique histories.

The area also exudes culture, with colorful buildings and streets filled with locals speaking in Occitan dialects that can be heard throughout the quarter.

Visitors will find plenty of shops selling regional specialties such as navettes (marzipan cookies), quaint cafes, and friendly bars. Furthermore, this bustling district has recently become popular due to its numerous galleries and boutiques.

Le Panier provides a glimpse into Marseille's long-standing history, offering visitors an insight into what life was like for its inhabitants all those years ago.

Whether you're looking to take in the sights or learn more about the culture of this incredible city, taking a tour of Le Panier is the perfect way to experience all that Marseille has to offer.

From here, you can continue your adventure around the city and make the most of your one-day stay in this beautiful port town.

Indulge in delicious local cuisine for lunch at one of the city's many restaurants.

No visit to Marseille is complete without tasting the local cuisine! From traditional Provencal dishes at Les Aygalades to a modern twist on seafood classics at La Gavotte, you can find some of the most delicious food.

Indulge in delectable fish soup, hearty stew, or freshly caught seafood prepared with Mediterranean herbs and spices - all served with an unbeatable view of the Vieux Port. To make your lunch memorable, pick up fresh ingredients from one of the city's outdoor markets and create your signature dish.

With plenty of restaurants serving regional specialties, picking out a place for lunch will be a breeze! Don't forget to take advantage of Marseille's delicious desserts, too; indulge in the classic tarte tropézienne or almond-filled macarons for a perfect ending to your day.

After lunch, you will be ready to take on Marseille's next adventure! Whatever it may be, you can rest assured that your one day in this vibrant city will be full of exploration and unforgettable memories. Bon voyage!

Spend the afternoon exploring La Canebière, Marseille’s main shopping avenue

Spend the afternoon exploring La Canebière, Marseille’s main shopping avenue. This vibrant street has chic boutiques, bustling cafes, and iconic landmarks. Stop in at one of the many sidewalk cafes for a cup of coffee to take in the lively atmosphere around you.

Get local souvenirs from the street vendors selling their handcrafted wares, or explore one of the many department stores that line this busy stretch. There are plenty of options to choose from!

History buffs should visit the department store Le Printemps and explore the stunning Art Nouveau interior.

As you wander La Canebière, don’t forget to take in some classic landmarks, such as the majestic Hôtel de Ville or Marseille's iconic Porte d'Aix. Both are great examples of Marseille’s rich history and culture, making it one of France’s most beloved cities!

With so much to offer, spending an afternoon at La Canebière is an absolute must for anyone visiting Marseille.

Head up to Notre Dame de la Garde and Quaint Harbor, Marseille’s most iconic landmarks, for panoramic city views.

Heading up the hill to Notre Dame de la Garde basilica is a must for anyone spending one day in Marseille. This 19th-century church offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city, from its iconic harbor and ancient sites to its vibrant modern districts.

Once you’re at the top, please take a few moments to marvel at the stunning architecture of this beloved landmark; its impressive dome is visible from all over Marseille!

After admiring the outside, step inside the basilica for even more spectacular views – with stained glass windows depicting scenes of Mary and Jesus throughout - and plenty of interesting artifacts.

Once you’re done here, stroll around the quaint harbor and explore the centuries-old buildings in the area. This is also a great spot to grab some food - savor classic Mediterranean seafood dishes such as bouillabaisse or moules marinières with a glass of crisp white wine.


Can you do a day trip from Marseille to Nice?

Yes, it is possible to do a day trip from Marseille to Nice. You can take the direct train from Marseille-Saint-Charles station to Nice Gare Thiers in less than two hours. With adequate planning and an early start, you can explore both cities one day.

Are there any must-see places in Marseille?

Marseille is filled with amazing attractions and must-see sites. Some popular sites include Vieux-Port, Sun City Beach, La Major Cathedral, Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica, La Maison Diamantée, Palais Longchamp, and Le Panier district. We recommend visiting at least two or three places to make the most of your one day in Marseille.

Where should I stay if I'm visiting for one day?

If you're visiting Marseille for a day trip, finding accommodation close to the city center is best. Many hotels and Airbnb in the area offer comfortable rooms with easy access to the main attractions. You can also opt for a hostel if you want something more affordable.


Spending a day in Marseille is an experience like no other. Step back in time as you explore the city's history and culture. From the stunning waterfront to the breathtaking scenery atop Notre Dame de la Garde, there are seemingly endless opportunities to explore and take part in the beauty of this iconic French destination. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family-friendly outing, or a sightseeing trip, a day spent in Marseille promises to be full of adventure and unforgettable moments.

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