2 Days in La Rochelle: Itinerary with Top Things to Do

Itinerary with Top Things to Do in La Rochelle

Whether you are more into culture, history and heritage, beach and idleness, or family activities, everyone will find what they are looking for in La Rochelle.

In order to help you discover all that the city has to offer, we have written a guide to La Rochelle, with all our best advice and places of interest to visit.

We start with our top 15 things to do and see in La Rochelle, then we offer you itineraries to visit the city in 1, 2 or 3 days.

We will end with a selection of the best accommodation and restaurants in the White City!

So, what to do in La Rochelle?

Visit La Rochelle: the essentials

1. The Old Port of La Rochelle

We begin our list of unmissable places of interest with the Old Port of La Rochelle, the nerve center of the city.

Actor in the development of the city from the Middle Ages thanks to the infamous triangular trade (slave trade), it is today a marina.

Take pleasure in strolling along the quays: the Quai du Carénage, the Quai Duperré and the Cours des Dames are very lively in summer, especially with painters and street performances.

You can also take the opportunity to relax and have a drink, seated at one of the countless terraces that line the quays.

Tips for your La Rochelle itinerary:

Go to the Old Port in the evening to admire the lighting of La Rochelle and stroll through the stalls of the craft market that sets up on the quays.

To visit La Rochelle in an original and trendy way, I advise you to opt for a Segway rideThe tour is ultra complete and the guide super nice!

La Rochelle itinerary
The old port of La Rochelle at dusk

2. The Towers of La Rochelle

If you started your visit to the city of La Rochelle with the Old Port, you could not miss them, the 3 emblematic towers which mark the entrance and exit of the port:

  • The Lantern Tower, a former lighthouse which also served as a prison
  • The Chain Tower, gateway to the port and which served as an attachment to the chain blocking access to the port
  • The Saint-Nicolas tower, connected to its neighbor by the chain to protect the city from dangers and an invasion by sea.

Built in the Middle Ages to protect the city, these towers are now classified as Historic Monuments.

You can visit all 3 towers with a single ticket.

These 3 imposing ladies will allow you to learn more about the history of La Rochelle and above all, to discover a magnificent panorama of the city, by climbing to the top.

Tips for your La Rochelle itinerary:

Good to know, the visit is free for children under 18 and for nationals of the European Union between 18-25 years old.

For others, I recommend that you buy skip-the-line tickets in advance, you will save a lot of time!

La Rochelle itinerary 2 days
Towers of La Rochelle

3. Old Town of La Rochelle

After strolling along the water’s edge, and catching your breath after climbing the towers, we advise you to take a walk in the old town of La Rochelle.

It begins at the junction of Quai Duperré and Cour des Dames. The entrance is symbolized by the gate of the Big Clock, which serves as a passage between the city center and the port.

You will then discover the famous streets with arcades, which give a typical charm to the city. At the time, merchants displayed their wares there to protect them from the weather, but had to pay a fee for this.

Also to be seen in the historic center of La Rochelle:

  • The many mansions with wooden or carved stone facades
  • The town hall, resembling a fortified castle, with its Gothic enclosure and its facade decorated with gargoyles and sculptures
  • The Henri II house, a Renaissance-style building. Free visit of the courtyard.
  • The stock exchange hotel
  • Courthouse.

Tips for your La Rochelle itinerary:

Nothing better to discover the old town and benefit from historical explanations than to choose a guided tour.

So you can benefit from the knowledge of your guide during a 75-minute walking tour in a small group

La Rochelle itinerary 2 days
The gate of the Big Clock, in the old town of La Rochelle

4. Saint-Louis Cathedral in La Rochelle

A stone’s throw from the Henri II house, in the old town, you can visit the Saint-Louis de La Rochelle cathedral.

Don’t stop at its exterior appearance, which is quite basic after all, the interior is worth a detour for its paintings, paintings and magnificent stained glass windows.

If you find yourself in the historic center, do not hesitate to take a short tour, it will not take you very long and you will learn a little more about the history of the city thanks to the many explanatory panels in the Cathedral.

La Rochelle itinerary 3 days
Saint Louis Cathedral in La Rochelle

5. The Halls of La Rochelle

For lovers of good food and good local products, we recommend that you then go to the halls of La Rochelle.

These 19th century halls host a covered market every morning. Ideal for stocking up on fresh produce and tasting local flavours. Proximity to the sea obliges, lovers of fish and other shellfish will find their happiness there.

On big market days, Wednesday and Saturday mornings, the stalls even overflow all over the square and into the surrounding streets.

La Rochelle itinerary 3 days
The halls of La Rochelle

6. Charruyer Park

In the heart of La Rochelle, is the Parc Charruyer, a large park of 40 hectares and 2 kilometers long.

Crossed by a canal and lined with trees, this is an ideal place for a nice quiet stroll. You will have the choice of exploring it on foot or by bike along the cycle path that criss-crosses it.

It’s also a good idea for a family outing to La Rochelle because Charruyer Park has a playground, but also a small animal park that will delight the little ones. Among other things, they will be able to observe goats, geese and donkeys.

La Rochelle 3-day itinerary
Charruyer Park

7. La Rochelle Aquarium

If you are wondering what to do in La Rochelle with children, I advise you to visit the La Rochelle Aquarium, which is located opposite the Old Port, not far from the Saint-Nicolas tower.

It is one of the most visited tourist sites in Poitou-Charentes and one of the largest aquariums in Europe. Since its opening in 1988, the Aquarium has quickly established itself as one of the main places of interest in La Rochelle.

The opportunity to admire nearly 12,000 different species in various sections devoted to species from the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean and the tropical forest.

Don’t miss the jellyfish ball or the shark aquarium.

It is a very educational place with detailed explanations that will delight young and old alike. And it’s also a good idea to go out, if unfortunately the weather is not with you during your stay in La Rochelle.

Allow around 2 hours for the visit.

Official information, prices, schedules, it’s here.

Tips for your La Rochelle itinerary:

Book your ticket in advance on the Aquarium website. You will skip the line which can be a bit long in the summer months.

La Rochelle 3-day itinerary
La Rochelle Aquarium

8. The Museums of La Rochelle

For those who like to spend time in museums to discover a city and its history, you will not be disappointed!

Here is a list of museums to see in La Rochelle:

  • The maritime museum: through models, engravings and many objects, you can discover the maritime history of La Rochelle from the year 1000 to contemporary ports. You can also visit several ships afloat, including a sailboat, trawlers and a tugboat.
  • The natural history museum  which presents nearly 10,000 objects from ethnographic and naturalist collections
  • The Fine Arts Museum  and its collection of European paintings from the 15th to the 20th century
  • The Musée du Nouveau-Monde, which focuses on France’s relations with the Americas and the West Indies
  • The La Rochelle bunker: a real bunker occupied by German commanders during the Second World War, it will allow you to discover the history of La Rochelle from 1939 to 1945.
  • The museum of automatons and scale models which offers more than 300 moving automatons and several reproductions of old boats.
La Rochelle 3-day
One of the boats in the maritime museum of La Rochelle

9. The Beaches of La Rochelle

After all these walking tours, you will surely want to relax a bit and take advantage of being by the sea to go to the beach.

That’s good, there are 3 in La Rochelle:

  • La Concurrence beach which is located 5 minutes walk from the town center and which is well equipped for a day out with children. Note that there is also an access ramp for the disabled.
  • Chef-de-Baie beach, the furthest from the center but undoubtedly the most pleasant because it is protected from the wind by a dyke. A large lawn area above the beach allows children to play in peace.
  • Minimes beach, the largest beach in La Rochelle with its shops and beach restaurants. Also equipped with access for the disabled.

Several nautical activities are also offered, including ( click on the links to access prices and book):

  • A 4-hour sailing course to learn the basics of sailing at sea
  • Flyboarding and hoverboarding on the Minimes nautical plateau
  • A small group kitesurfing lesson with a certified instructor
  • Jet ski rental – From 80€ for 45 minutes
  • A jet ski ride to discover the bay of the Ile de Ré or even Fort Boyard!

Tips for your La Rochelle itinerary:

If you have the opportunity to go around La Rochelle, I recommend Châtelaillon Beach, which is considered one of the most beautiful in Charente Maritime.

10. Festivals of La Rochelle

Throughout the year, La Rochelle hosts many festivals with among others the Francofolies, the most famous of them. The festival, a must on the French music scene, takes place every year in July.

La Rochelle is also renowned for its festivals celebrating cinema with the La Rochelle International Film Festival, the TV Fiction Festival and the International Adventure Film Festival.

Finally, La Rochelle, a port city, also organizes one of the largest international boat shows, the Grand Pavois. You will be able to discover there nearly 700 boats exposed on the waves.

La Rochelle 2-day
The Francofolies of La Rochelle

11. Take a Sea Cruise Departing from La Rochelle

Departing from La Rochelle, you can opt for one of the many mini cruises offered by the excursion agencies on site.

It is possible to take a complete tour of the maritime attractions of the region:

  • The Ile de Ré, which can also be reached by car via the Ile de Ré bridge.
  • The island of Oléron, which is also connected to the mainland by a bridge .
  • The small island of Aix, accessible only by boat. It can then be visited on foot or by bicycle.
  • The famous Fort Boyard, located between the island of Aix and the island of Oléron.

You can also choose to visit only one island and stop there for a day or half a day.

Here is my selection of the best cruises from La Rochelle:

The sailboat cruise in Fort Boyard to go around the fort and admire the view.

To book your catamaran cruise in La Rochelle

And if you have decided to go on a romantic weekend in La Rochelle, I recommend that you book the boat trip at sunset.

2) Rent a boat to discover the surroundings of La Rochelle

If you have a boat license, the second solution for a superb day at sea is simply to rent a boat!

Cove on the island of Aix, with a Mediterranean air!

What to do around La Rochelle?

There are many things to do and see around La Rochelle. Here is a list of our favorites!

12. The Poitevin Marsh

Less than an hour’s drive from La Rochelle, is the essential nature excursion to do in the area.

The Poitevin marsh, a unique site in Europe, is the ideal place to practice many family activities such as hiking, fishing, bike rides.

But the best way to discover the Poitevin marsh is undoubtedly a boat trip.

You can opt for a walk without a guide, you will then be given a map of the canals and it is up to you to row and find your way around.

Another option is to take a walk with a guide who will do the rowing (much less tiring!) and tell you about the history and legends associated with the Poitevin Marsh.

Tips for your La Rochelle itinerary:

To be done at the beginning of the morning or at the end of the day to take advantage of better light and avoid the crowds of the big days.

The Poitevin Marsh

13. Castle of Saint-Jean-d’Angle

A 45-minute drive from La Rochelle is the Château Fort Saint-Jean-d’Angle.

It is the ideal visit with children. As soon as you arrive, you can dress up for free and set off to explore the castle thanks to a set of puzzles and quizzes, the best way to learn while having fun.

Also discover the medieval garden, the barnyard with its animals that you can feed and the reproduction of a siege camp with its catapults still in operation.

Official site of the castle

The castle of Saint-Jean-d’Angle

14. Puy du Fou

1h30 from La Rochelle, you will find the Puy du Fou, the famous history-oriented leisure park .

The park is recognized worldwide for its originality and creativity and since 2012 has received many of the most prestigious prizes and awards in the world.

Puy du Fou offers several shows based around historical themes such as circus games and or Vikings.

Do not miss the big show of the Cinescénie, the biggest night show in the world : 1h40 show, 2,000 actors and nearly 24,000 costumes, as much to say that you will be amazed.

Inside the park you will also find reconstructions of villages from different eras, and of course what to eat and stay.

The park is also easily accessible from the city of Nantes.

To avoid the long line at the entrance to the park, I highly recommend purchasing your ticket in advance

15. Futuroscope

Another park located 1h30 away around La Rochelle, near Poitiers, is the famous Futuroscope.

The park offers more than twenty attractions to immerse you in fantastic worlds and experience unique sensations.

Embark on a world tour, dance with robots, become a Minimoy, all thanks to the magic of technology and giant screens. Guaranteed sensations.

Tips for your La Rochelle itinerary:

Would you like to visit Futuroscope during your stay in La Rochelle?

I recommend that you book your ticket online in advance, this way you will avoid the (very long) queue.


16. Bonus – Visit the wine estates around La Rochelle

La Rochelle is located near Cognac and its famous vineyard.

You will find the list of areas to visit around La Rochelle.

And what’s great is that  some visits are free!

In Cognac, visits to large houses are quite popular, I particularly recommend (click on the links in orange to book):

  • Maison Hennessy, the world leader in Cognac, offers tasting tours for only €20 to discover all of its history and know-how.
  • The Maison Martell, which is the oldest of the Great Cognac Houses, offers a great thematic tour ending with a tasting
  • Maison Rémy Martin, which has been producing cognac for almost 3 centuries.

La Rochelle City Pass

During your trip to La Rochelle, we strongly recommend that you take the City Pass. Lasting from 24 to 72 hours, for a price ranging from €28 to €48, it will allow you to make great savings.

With the City Pass La Rochelle, you will be entitled to:

  • Free and unlimited access to all modes of transport in the city: bus, TER, bicycle, ferry boat and sea bus.
  • Free visit to all the essentials of La Rochelle, they are all included in the list.
  • And as a bonus, guided tours of the city are also included, such as the “travel of flavors” or “La Rochelle by bike”.

Visit the City Pass website to discover all the advantages. You can even simulate the savings made to see which pass is best suited to the duration of your stay.

1 Day La Rochelle Itinerary

If you only have 1 day in La Rochelle, here is an itinerary complete enough to occupy your day:

  • Start your day of visit by the Old Port and why not a coffee on the terrace
  • Climb to the top of the 3 towers of La Rochelle
  • Continue by exploring the historic center and its arcades and mansions
  • Lunch break at Les Halles or in a restaurant
  • Bucolic walk in the Parc Charruyer
  • Relaxation break on one of the 3 beaches of La Rochelle.


2 Days La Rochelle Itinerary

For a 2-day stay in La Rochelle, in addition to the previous program, you can do:

  • A sea cruise to discover the famous Fort Boyard, the island of Oléron and the island of Ré on a boat, a catamaran or a sailboat and / or the discovery of one of the islands in particular
  • Lunch break
  • Visit one of the city’s many museums
  • End in style with the discovery of the Aquarium of La Rochelle.

3 Days La Rochelle Itinerary

In 3 days in La Rochelle, in addition to the itineraries of the previous 2 days, you will have time to do an activity in the surroundings!

  • A day in one of the 2 amusement parks renowned throughout the world and located every 2 at 1h30 from La Rochelle, I named Puy du Fou or FuturoscopeIf you have children this is the ideal option.
  • Or, if you are more natural, discover the Poitevin marshes, through a magnificent boat trip.
  • A wine tasting and visit to a winery

Accommodation in La Rochelle

Here is my selection of the best hotels to sleep in La Rochelle, depending on your budget:

  • Résidence New Rochelle  : Hotel located 5 minutes walk from the beach and 2 kilometers from the aquarium of La Rochelle. Studio equipped with kitchenette from €60 per night. The pluses: the possibility of cooking, the outdoor swimming pool, the quiet location. An excellent inexpensive hotel to stay in La Rochelle!
  • Hôtel de la Paix : In the heart of the old town, comfortable and well-decorated room from €70 per night, breakfast at €10. Most: location in the city center, very warm welcome, hearty breakfast.
  • Hotel Les Brises : Located 10 minutes walk from the beach and 2 kilometers from the Old Port. Neatly decorated room with sea view from €100 per night, breakfast included. Most: the magnificent view, the geographical location and the free parking. It is our favorite for its price/performance ratio.
  • Novotel La Rochelle Centre: Located 10 minutes walk from the beach and the old town. Spacious and modern room from €115 per night, breakfast included. Most: the swimming pool, the calm, the situation.
  • Hôtel Saint-Nicolas: Located 500 meters from the Saint-Nicolas tower. Modern and elegant double room from €130 per night, breakfast at €14.95. Most: the location, calm, private parking.

Where to eat in La Rochelle

  • Le bistrot de Mémé : Located in the market district of La Rochelle. Guaranteed retro atmosphere, good dishes simmered with local products and very generous.
  • Les Pérot-Quais: Located in a parallel street to Cours des Dames, very close to the Old Port. This is La Rochelle’s trendy restaurant with an original concept. No starter here, but you will have the choice between several plates (ocean, Parisian, Pérot-quai) composed of various kinds of meat or fish and each just as copious as the other.
  • L’Atelier des cousins : Located in the old town of La Rochelle. This restaurant run by 2 cousins ​​offers delicious dishes made with fresh products and cooked a la plancha. The quality to price ratio is excellent!

Tourist Map of La Rochelle

To help you visualize the city a little better, I made you a  tourist map of La Rochelle listing the places to visit that I talk about in this top 15 things to do in La Rochelle. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button with a small arrow.

FAQ – Questions about La Rochelle

What to do in La Rochelle as a family?

If you are planning to visit La Rochelle with your children, I recommend:

  • To visit the aquarium, the unmissable family outing in La Rochelle!
  • A walk in Parc Charruyer without forgetting to take them to see the small animal park there (free access)
  • To go to the beach
  • To take them to the natural history museum of La Rochelle or to the automata museum
  • To take the boat trip to see Fort Boyard.

What to do in La Rochelle when it rains?

If unfortunately your visit to La Rochelle is done in the rain, I advise you:

  • To visit the museums and that’s not what is missing: the maritime museum, the bunker, the New World museum… You have the complete list in point 8 of this article!
  • Take a trip to the aquarium
  • To play roulette at the Casino Barrière La Rochelle
  • To discover the Halles of the covered market and taste local products
  • To do some shopping under the arcades of the city center
  • To opt for a pampering day in a spa. 

Where to walk around La Rochelle?

For a superb walk around La Rochelle, I advise you to visit the Ile de Ré.

To get to the Ile de Ré from La Rochelle, you can choose between car, bus or boat.

Once there, you can, for example, rent a bike to explore the 100 km of cycle paths and discover its pretty beaches as well as the Lilleau des Niges nature reserve, a refuge for many migratory birds.

And you, what are you planning to see in La Rochelle?

Are you looking for other ideas in France? Read also

Discover all our articles on France: All our tips on Mauritius are listed here.

Camille L.

Passionate about foreign languages, cooking and writing. I wish to share with you the places, the meetings and the gastronomic discoveries which gave relief to my travels.

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