Marseille, the second-largest city in France, is situated in the southeast of the country. A maritime hub and one of France’s most varied towns, Marseille was established as a Greek port city in 600 BCE. Additionally, it is the oldest city in the nation.
The nightlife, appealing restaurants, theatres, museums, and even an international soccer stadium are all present in contemporary Marseille. The city has the second-most museums in the nation behind Paris and was selected to serve as the 2013 European Capital of Culture. Marseille lacks Paris’ iconic beauty, yet despite being somewhat grimy, I believe the city’s picturesque waterfront and historic structures give it a special feel. At least two nights should be spent here.
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Marseille
1. Travel to the Old Port
You may see fishermen sell their catch of the day in Marseille’s Old Port. Additionally, a boat can be rented here for the day. Simply sit down, read a book, eat, and take in the view of all the opulent ships in the harbour for a leisurely excursion.
2.Visit Notre Dame de la Garde :
This Byzantine and Romanesque Revival basilica, also referred to as “the large church,” is situated at the highest point overlooking the city and offers one of the best views of Marseille. Admission is free, but please dress appropriately.
3.Check out the ancient Charite :
The Vieille Charite, a former almshouse constructed in the middle of the 17th century, now houses the Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology and the Museum of African, Oceanian, and Amerindian Arts. Its design features a striking three-story hallway on a rectangular courtyard with an Italian Baroque church with a dome in the middle.
4. Walk the Corniche :
With wonderful views of the sea, Chateau d’If, and Les Calanques (a steep-walled inlet constructed of limestone and dolomite) to the east, this spectacular coastal path winds down the coast for 5 kilometres (3 miles). It’s a fun way to pass some time!
5. Observe Château d’If :
A penal colony for political prisoners, including the Revolutionary hero Mirabeau and the Communards of 1871, this little island was located 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) off the city’s shore. Admission costs six euros.
Other Things to See and Do in Marseille
1. Explore La Plaine and Le Cours Julien
There are many vintage clothing shops, cafes, bookstores, fountains, and vibrant street art in this hip area of Marseille. Go out to dinner at Lacaille or choose tapas at Le Couz’in as a treat.
2. Take a break in Borély Park.
The beautiful gardens of Borély Park, one of France’s most outstanding parks, are a highlight of any trip to Marseille. You can stroll through the Zen garden, the well-kept French garden, and the English garden that flows. The Museum of Decorative Arts, Earthenware, and Fashion is located in the 18th-century country house Château Borély, which is also located in Borély Park. Free entry is offered.
3. Go to Le Panier.
This region of Marseille is the oldest, having existed since roughly 600 BCE. The hilltop community eventually acquired the same name. Visit the Vieille Charité, a 17th-century villa with museums and exhibits, as soon as possible.
4.Pay a visit to La Place Castellane
Built in 1774, this antique roundabout in the 6th arrondissement has a stunning fountain (the current fountain was added in 1913 to replace the original). The Rhône, Gardon, and Durand rivers are represented by the fountain.
5.The Mazargues War Cemetery should be explored.
The final resting place of allies from World Wars I and II is the Mazargues War Cemetery, which spans an area of more than 9,000 square meters. During World War I, the bodies of soldiers and labourers were interred in a number of Marseille cemeteries; however, after the war and before the Armistice, the Mazargues Cemetery’s space was exhausted, and hundreds of soldiers’ remains were transferred from the smaller cemetery and interred here. About 6 kilometres (3.5 miles) separate it from Marseille’s city centre.
6. Go to the Longchamp Palace.
The construction of the Durance canal, which delivered fresh, potable water to Marseille, was celebrated with the dedication of this monument in 1869. . It also houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Marseille’s oldest museum, which has a sizable collection of Provencal and Italian art from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Free entry is offered.
7. Have food in Naples
There are significant Arab, Indian, and Chinese communities in this part of the city, which is close to the Noailles subway station. There are several wonderful restaurants there. Consider going to locations like Le 5.5 Karaoke Bar, Caffé Noir, and Les Portes de Damas. Additionally, there is a daily market where traders provide a variety of North African delicacies, such as flatbreads, sticky pastries, dried fruit, and spices.
8. Take a dive
Marseille is establishing a reputation as France’s diving capital, even if diving may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of that nation. Travel to the Mediterranean to explore tunnels and caves and to see the vibrant marine sponges, anemones, and sea fans. Additionally, you can see octopus, moray eels, and other shipwrecks, including Le Liban (1882) and Le Chaouen (1961). The optimum months for diving here are from June to October, when the water is a little warmer. Starting prices are 100 euros.
9. Take a foodie tour.
On a 3.5-hour strolling culinary tour of Marseille’s historic quarter, take in the local cuisine. Food tours may be a great way to discover the history and culture of the city while savouring local fare like roasted Camembert, tapenade, and tuna and shrimp tartare. Do Eat Better Tours has tours starting at 85 EUR.
10.Take a look around the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM).
This museum, which opened in 2013, is situated close to Fort St. Jean near the harbor’s entrance. The museum, which is a cube measuring 15,000 square metres and was created by French architects Rudy Ricciotti and Roland Carta, is encircled by a latticework of fibre and concrete. The museum has an underground auditorium, a bookshop, and two levels of displays covering both European and Mediterranean history. One of the city’s nicest vistas is available from the restaurant at the top of the museum. Although admission is 11 euros, you can explore the exterior for nothing.
11.Take a Wine Tour
It is difficult to resist the chance to take a wine tour while in Marseille. After all, this is Provence. There are half-day and full-day tour options. A full-day trip to Aix-en-Provence is available through Provence Wine Tours for 110 EUR, not including lunch. For 70 EUR, they also provide half-day tours.
Marseille Travel Costs
Hostel prices – A 4-6-bed dorm costs between 25 and 32 euros per night. Private rooms start at 70 EUR.While free Wi-Fi is the norm, there are no self-catering or breakfast-inclusive hostels in the city.
Outside the city, camping with a tent is possible for 17 EUR per night for a basic site without electricity.
Budget hotel rates: A basic hotel room with free Wi-Fi and air conditioning costs about 65 EUR per night.
Private rooms on Airbnb typically cost around 40 euros, whereas full apartments start at 65 euros per night but can cost up to twice that if you don’t reserve in advance.
Food – Food in France has a long history and is deeply ingrained in the country’s culture. Although they may be cliched staples of the cuisine, fresh bread, tasty local cheeses, and copious amounts of wine are among the most popular foods in the nation.
There are many authentic French eateries in Marseille, as well as lots of African, Corsican, and Mediterranean eateries. Falafel or a kebab sandwich, for example, costs about 5 euros. Most lunch specials have a per-meal price of around 10 euros.
CopperBay Marseille is a cocktail bar in Vieux-Port that serves small plates like pickled mussels, burrata cheese, and other flavorful nibbles. Cocktails are $8–12, and meals range from 9–13 EUR.
While a glass of wine costs about 5-8 EUR, the average main course costs between 15 and 25 EUR. A cocktail should cost between 10 and 13 euros.
A combo meal from a fast food restaurant (like McDonald’s) costs about 9 euros. In comparison to a latte or cappuccino, a beer costs between 4 and 5 euros.
Expect to spend about 50 euros per week on groceries if you cook for yourself. You can purchase basic necessities like pasta, rice, seasonal produce, some meat, or seafood with this.
Backpacking Marseille Suggested Budgets
My recommended spending limit for a day in Marseille for a backpacker is roughly 70 EUR. This budget allows you to live in a hostel dorm, prepare all of your own food, travel primarily on public transit, consume a moderate amount of alcohol, and engage in generally inexpensive and free activities like taking free walks and appreciating nature.
A mid-range budget of roughly 145 EUR per day covers a private Airbnb room, a few dinners at inexpensive restaurants, a few glasses of wine, an occasional Uber ride to travel around, and a few extras like diving and museum visits.
If you have a “luxury” budget of at least 290 euros a day, you can stay in a hotel, order food from restaurants for all of your meals, consume more alcohol, use more taxis, rent a car, and engage in any activities you like (including wine tours). But for luxury, this is merely the ground floor. There are no boundaries!
To estimate how much you should budget each day, follow the chart below. Remember that these are daily averages and that some days you may spend more and some days less (you might spend less every day). We simply wish to provide you with a rough outline for creating your budget. The price is in euros.
|Accommodation||Food||Transportation||Attractions||Average Daily Cost|
Marseille Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips
There aren’t many affordable things to do in Marseille because it was designed for premium travelers. Here are some ways to cut expenditures in Marseille, nevertheless, if you wish to do so:
- Explore Marseille on foot; the city is small enough to be easily navigated on foot, and doing so is a fantastic way to absorb the atmosphere and architecture of the area without incurring any costs.
- Get the prix fixe lunch menu. If you go out to dine, do so during lunch (a two- or three-course set menu). This set lunch menu is offered by restaurants all around the city, and with costs ranging between 10 and 20 EUR, it’s a much better deal than the standard supper menu.
- Get discount museum prices –Purchase a City Pass for free public transportation, free admission to museums and other attractions, and savings on tours to receive discounted museum rates. The price of a one-day pass is EUR 27, a two-day card is EUR 37, and a three-day pass is EUR 43.
- Take a free walking tour: A free walking tour is a fantastic place to start if you want to learn more about the city. While visiting all the significant attractions, you will gain knowledge about the history and architecture. The greatest walking tour is the free one in Marseille. Simply remember to tip at the end!
- Stay with a local. Use Couchsurfing to cut costs and gain some insider knowledge about the area. The ideal method to acquire a feel for the area and pick up some insider knowledge is to stay with a native.
- Save money on ridesharing: Uber is the best way to get around a city if you don’t want to wait for a bus or pay for a taxi because it is less expensive than cabs.
- Bring a water bottle –Bring a reusable water bottle so you may save money and lessen your usage of plastic, as the tap water is safe to drink here. My preferred brand is LifeStraw because their bottles have internal filters that guarantee your water is always pure and safe.
Where to Stay in Marseille
There are only a few hostels and budget hotels in Marseille. Here are my recommended places to stay in Marseille:
How to Get Around Marseille
Tickets for the bus and the metro can be purchased wherever there is an RTM sign, including metro stations, tourist information centres, and bus stops. To save some money, it’s advisable to purchase many tickets at once for 3.40 EUR (2 journeys) or 15 EUR (10 excursions) (prices on board the bus cost 2 EUR per trip). 3.80 EUR for a 3-day pass, 5.20 EUR for a day pass, and 15.50 EUR for a 7-day pass
Around 9 o’clock is when most city centre public transportation stops running regularly, so if you’re in a rush, you might want to consider taking an Uber or a cab. However, a few night buses do travel through Marseille’s city centre. For the most recent public transportation schedules, take a look at the RTM app.
You can use the public transportation system for free if you purchase a City Pass tourism card.
Vieux-Port, Estaque, and La Pointe Rouge can also be reached by ferry, which is run by RTM. One-way tickets cost 5 euros. For 0.50 EUR one-way, you can also ride a ferry over to Vieux-Port.
After registering online, you can hire bicycles from Bicycle-LLe Vélo in various parts of the city. Registration is 1 EUR, and you get a 7-day pass. The first 30 minutes are free; each additional hour is EUR 1.
Taxis in Marseille cost 2 EUR as a basic fee plus roughly 1.72 EUR per kilometer. Skip the cabs if you can because they add up quickly, and this cost may climb in the evenings!
In Marseille, ridesharing services like Uber are accessible and typically more affordable than taxis. Nevertheless, the city is small, so you shouldn’t use it very often.
For a multi-day rental, a car starts at 30 EUR per day. However, unless you plan on taking a few day trips outside the city, you won’t actually need a car. The legal driving age is 21 or older.
When to Go to Marseille
The most popular season to visit Marseille is the summer. In addition, this is the hottest season of the year, with daily highs of 30 °C (86 °F). In Marseille, summer is the busiest time of year, and the streets are crowded with European tourists and backpackers eager to experience the warm, laid-back atmosphere of the south of France.
Marseille is best visited in September and October, when the average high temperature is 24 °C (75 °F). While there are significantly fewer people around in the autumn, the Mediterranean is still ideal for swimming. Even though the nights can be chilly, the days are typically warm.
The Carnaval de Marseille, which features brightly costumed floats, live music, fun activities, and family entertainment, is held at Bolély Park in the spring (April). Springtime highs often hover around 18 °C (65 °F).
Despite the cold, the Christmas season is a great time to visit the markets and celebrations. The typical wintertime temperature is 10 °C (50 °F).
How to Stay Safe in Marseille
The likelihood of violent crime is quite low in Marseille. Avoid exploring new places alone at night, as you would in any destination, and be on the lookout for robbery and pickpocketing. Keep in mind that tourist areas and train stations are where pickpocketing occurs most frequently, and always keep your possessions hidden and secure.
There are areas of major cities to stay away from. In areas where there is a higher danger of crime, such as Quartiers Nord, Malpassé, Felix Payat, and Le Caillols, it is wise to exercise extra caution.
When there is an emergency, call 112 for help.
Always follow your instincts. At night, stay away from secluded regions, and always be aware of your surroundings. Make copies of all of your identification and personal documents, such as your passport.
The most crucial piece of guidance I can give is to get quality travel insurance. It offers complete security in case something goes wrong. Since I’ve needed it so often in the past, I never travel without it.
Marseille Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources
These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.
- Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
- Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
- Booking.com – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
- Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
- SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
- LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
- Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
- BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train!