Marseille is a charming port city in the south of France. The city has a long history and many interesting places to offer, but more often than not it is overlooked. Maybe the reason is that Marseille is considered the most crime-ridden city in France (more pickpockets and petty thefts) or just not as tourist friendly as Nice or Cannes for example. However, Marseille has real character and soul; It is way more authentic than other cities in France in my opinion. Therefore, it is so interesting to get into the city’s life and learn about the culture and daily life of the people who live there. Even if you have just a day to spare for Marseille, do it! Here is a list of activities and must visit places in Marseille for one perfect afternoon.
If you are spending just one day in Marseille, then you should start it from the Old Port. Why? Well, first of all the Old Port is located just 20 minutes’ walk from the railway station and second of all, it is a charming harbour surrounded by numerous restaurants and cafes, where you can get breakfast, lunch or just drinks depending at what time you get to Marseille. Then from there it is easy to continue with your day in Marseille.
Have a walk around the harbour and enjoy the view, especially pay attention to the hill behind the harbour, where the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde is located. The view of it from the Old Port is breath-taking.
Price: free of charge;
Location: old port of Marseille;
Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde is located on the highest point of Marseille. The basilica is the most visited site in the city, due to its beautiful architecture and majestic view of the city from the hill.
The basilica is a must-visit place in Marseille and since you started your day from the Old Port, you can easily go from there to the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde (click here to read my guide to Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde).
Hours: everyday 7 AM to 6 PM;
Les Petits Trains de Marseille is a tourist’s train in Marseille which you can take from the old port. The train takes you around the Old port, through the narrow streets of the city, all the way up to the highest point of Marseille.
Taking Les Petits Trains de Marseille is one of the ways you can get to the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. The train has a presentation in four languages that gives you better understanding of the city. Try to sit on the right side by the window, you will get chance to take better pictures and to get the view of the passing seaside.
The train will take you all the way up the hill and back to the Old Port of Marseille.
Price: the train costs 8 Euros per person round trip;
Hours: from 10 AM to 6 PM;
Location: 174 Quai du Port, 13002 Marseille, France;
The Cathédrale La Major is another church in Marseille that must be visited. This cathedral is a national monument of Marseille. It was built sometime in the 1800s in neo-Byzantine style and it is located just 10 minutes’ walk from the Old Port.
Cathédrale La Major is a fantastic church that overlooks the new harbour. The building is very impressive, especially the marble interior. It is a mix of European and Oriental styles which makes the cathedral so special.
After visiting the Cathédrale La Major you can have a nice walk along the harbour and enjoy the view and an ice cream perhaps.
Hours: everyday from 10 AM from 7 PM;
Location: Place de la Major, 13002 Marseille, France;
If you are a lover of a seafood and you came to Marseille then you definitely need to get a seafood dinner. Marseille is great place to try good and fresh seafood.
Cody and I found a great place with amazing seafood sets of oysters, prawns, sea snails, clams, and other things that you can add extra to your plate. Dinner like that is a real pleasure. Not to mention it was a great value being a bit away from the old port. I actually enjoyed the location right on one of the small pedestrian alleyways surrounded by cute boutiques.
Price: for our dinner we paid 60 €;
Hours: from 9 AM to 6 PM;
Location: 13 Rue du Panier, 13002 Marseille, France;