2 Days in Marseille: What to do?
Do you want to go on a weekend in Marseille ?
To help you organize your stay, I have prepared a detailed itinerary for you to visit Marseille in a weekend.
I have prepared for you the program of things to see day by day, with some ideas for super cool activities.
You will see, with my advice, you will be able to make the most of your 2-3 days in the South-East of France!
At the end of the article, you will also find my selection of the best hotels where to sleep during your weekend in Marseille according to your tastes: luxury, Spa, seaside and low budget.
So, what to do and see in a weekend in Marseille? Or sleep?
The best itinerary for a weekend in Marseille
Discover now my itinerary for a weekend in Marseille with a schedule based on 2 full days of visit. I also give you tips for a 3-day long weekend at the end of this guide.
If you still have questions to organize your short stay in Marseille after reading everything, do not hesitate to ask me your questions in the section dedicated to comments, at the very end of the article.
Day 1: Walk in Marseille
A. The Basket
We start this weekend in Marseille with the oldest district of the city: le Panier.
Although it has long suffered from its reputation, today it is one of the most touristic places in Marseille. And if the Basket has become “trendy”, it is partly thanks to the series “Plus belle la vie” broadcast on France 3.
Several outdoor scenes are regularly shot there and the famous Mistral district where the inhabitants of the series live is very largely inspired by Le Panier.
But if you’re not a fan of the series, rest assured the walk is worth the detour for the picturesque atmosphere that reigns there. By following the narrow streets, you will discover quite a few craft shops as well as small old-fashioned bistros where you can drink a good Pastis!
In the Shopping Cart, I recommend that you go through:
- Place de Lenche and its view of the Bonne Mère
- Place des Moulins where there were several mills
- The old Charité, a former hospice which now houses 4 museums
- Place des Pistoles, ideal for lunch on the terrace
- Basket Street.
To not miss any of the attractions of this historic district, you can also choose to take a guided tour of the Panier.
You can choose to move on foot or more original, by electric scooter or Segway . Click on the links below to access details and book:
B. La cathédrale de la Major
Located on the edge of the Panier district, I also recommend that you visit the Major Cathedral.
The one also called the Sainte-Marie Majeure cathedral is one of the largest churches in France . You will be surprised to know that its dimensions are quite similar to that of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome .
The cathedral is also grandiose because of its architecture , which for those who have already had the chance to visit Italy , is strongly reminiscent of the sublime cathedrals of Florence and Siena . The white and green marble facade is particularly beautiful.
The interior with its arcades, statues and mosaics is also worth seeing.
Do not deprive yourself, the entrance is free!
C. The MuCEM
This is the museum to see absolutely in a weekend in Marseille: the MuCEM.
It is located just 500 meters from the cathedral , so you can reach it on foot.
Opened a few years ago, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations features futuristic architecture, in total contrast to the surrounding buildings and the Old Port area.
It quickly established itself as a must for a stay in Marseille.
You will be able to discover the exhibitions located in the 2 buildings: the modern building (the J4) where there is also a panoramic restaurant and the Fort Saint-Jean, connected to the J4 by the footbridge.
The latter offers a magnificent view of the city on one side and the Frioul islands on the other.
And what’s great is that access to outdoor spaces and walkways is completely free. So be sure to take some great photos!
To visit the MuCEM , I recommend that you buy your ticket online to avoid queuing. You have 2 possibilities (click on the links to book):
D. The Old Port
Leaving the MuCEM, continue this weekend in Marseille, with a walk along the Old Port.
For the record, this is where the Phocaeans landed who founded Massilia in Antiquity.
The place is lively and frequented all the time. In the morning, the fish market is held there and during the day, many Marseille residents and tourists take advantage of the many bars and restaurants to sit down and have a drink on the terrace.
It is also from the Old Port that the boats leave to take you to visit the creeks (on the next day’s program), the Frioul islands and the Château d’If.
E. The Julien Course
Then take the Canebière , the emblematic avenue of the city lined with shops and historical monuments such as the Opera or the Hotel Noailles, to reach the Cours Julien.
You will then arrive right in the district of artists whose walls are covered with street art. There are many to see between the stairs of Cours Julien and Place Jean Jaurès.
The place also hosts several shops of local designers, thrift stores or booksellers and second-hand goods dealers. Bohemian and very colorful atmosphere guaranteed!
F. Our Lady of the Guard
Visiting Marseille in a weekend without going to see the city’s most famous monument , impossible!
Guess what I’m talking about? From the Good Mother of course!
Dominating the city, the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde (its real name) and its statue of the Virgin Mary covered in gold have watched over Marseille and its inhabitants for 800 years.
Located 150 meters above sea level, its large esplanade offers a panoramic view of the entire city, the sea and the islands in the distance.
During your visit to the basilica , you can discover an interior all in white and red marble and beautiful Byzantine-style mosaics. And again, it’s free!
To go to Notre-Dame from Cours Julien , you can:
- Walk. There are 2 km on foot and it takes about 30 minutes . You will have to push a bit on the legs because the last part goes up quite a bit.
- By bus: go to rue Bréteuil and take bus no. 60 which will drop you off at the entrance to the basilica.
If you skip Cours Julien and want to go directly to the basilica from the Old Port , bus no. 60 leaves from the harbor master’s office, along the Quai du Port.
The little tourist train, which starts from the same place, also passes by the Bonne-Mère.
G. Saint-Victor Abbey
To end the first day of your weekend in Marseille, I suggest you go down the hill of Notre-Dame via the Abbey of Saint-Victor.
The building is classified as a historical monument and you can discover inside its crypt and several chapels where early Christian sarcophagi are kept .
But the attraction of the place is mainly based on its terrace (in front of the entrance) where you can admire a very beautiful view of the entire Old Port and the MuCEM.
For those who would like to taste the local specialties, do not hesitate to stop at the bakery “Le Four des Navettes” . It is right next to the Abbey, between rue Sainte and rue d’Endoume.
Founded in the 18th century, it is the oldest bakery in Marseille, the very place where the shuttles, the emblematic biscuit of the city, were created.
If you find it a bit too much walking during the day, I recommend you opt for a more fun and less strenuous means of transport: the Segway.
The visit that I have selected for you allows you to discover almost all the places on the program for this first day: the Major, the MuCEM, the Old Port, the basilica and the Saint-Victor abbey. And you will also have all the explanations from your guide who is super nice.
At the end of the visit, which lasts a little over 2 hours and therefore does not take the whole day, you can visit the Panier, the Cours Julien or the MuCEM on your own.
Book your Segway tour now:
Book my Segway tour of Marseille now!
Day 2 – The creeks of Marseille
A. Boat trip in the creeks
If there is one essential thing to do during a weekend in Marseille, it is to discover the creeks.
And for that, nothing better than opting for a boat trip . It is the best way to see all the most famous coves in one go and admire the splendid natural landscapes.
Departing from the Old Port , you will have the choice between several types of boat tours for the creeks:
- The “Integral creeks” circuit where you will enter all the creeks from Marseille to Cassis. It lasts about 3h15 with a departure in the morning and one in the afternoon.
- The small circuit “The essential of the creeks” which lasts 2h15 and allows you to pass through the 3 most famous creeks: Sormiou, Morgiou and Sugiton. Info and reservations on the site.
- A 5-hour catamaran cruise for the luxurious and less crowded version. Here lunch is included and the swimming break is planned!
Book your catamaran trip in the creeks using the link below:
Book my mini cruise in Marseille now!
- A cruise on a magnificent sailboat for a full day with aperitif + lunch of local products + 2 swimming stops in the creeks! This is the favorite Travel Tips!
To enjoy a great day sailing in the creeks of Marseille, you must book in advance by clicking on the link below:
Book my sailboat cruise in Marseille now!
As I told you, the cruise is the only way to discover many creeks in 1 day but it is also possible to go to the creeks on foot.
You can very well choose a calanque, take a picnic and reach it by one of the hiking trails.
For a short walk, I particularly recommend going to the Sugiton lookout (35 minute walk from the parking lot). You will be able to contemplate a superb point of view on the cove of Morgiou and Sugiton.
Finally, if you are not a fan of boating or hiking, it is possible to discover the creeks by electric mountain bike accompanied by a guide. The route is great and passes through magnificent landscapes.
This activity can be booked using the link below:
Book my electric mountain bike tour in Marseille now!
B. Choice of: Shopping or Visit of the Palais Longchamp
For the afternoon program , I leave the choice to you.
The boat trip in the creeks ending around 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. depending on the circuit, you can enjoy spending a weekend in Marseille to do some shopping.
Not far from the Old Port is one of the newest shopping centers in the city: Les Terrasses du Port and its many international brand shops (H&M, Diesel, Adidas, etc.).
If you have a higher budget and your thing is more luxury boutiques , then head to rue Paradis and its high-end brands: Kenzo, Lacoste…
If you prefer to take advantage of the time you have left to continue your visit of the city, I advise you to go and see the Longchamp Palace instead. You can reach it very easily by metro or tram from the Old Port.
The palace is an impressive monument which, for me, is one of the most beautiful in Marseille . Its architecture and its monumental fountain are grandiose.
The 2 wings of the palace house the Natural History Museum and the Fine Arts Museum.
Just behind the palace is a huge park with a playground. The ideal place if you have decided to go on a weekend to Marseille with your children.
Extended weekend in Marseille
Do you have the chance to visit Marseille in a long 3-day weekend ?
In addition to the program that I have presented to you, you have several choices for this third day:
1) If you still want to visit the surroundings during your weekend in Marseille, I recommend that you take the boat to the Frioul islands and the Château d’If.
In just 25 minutes of crossing , you will arrive on the island of Ratonneau, which is home to many beautiful little coves with turquoise water.
Although it is not necessarily the season for swimming, the walk around the island is also worth the detour for its views of the Château d’If and Marseille.
After Ratonneau , all you have to do is cross the dyke at the port to reach the island of Pomègues on foot, where there is one of the most beautiful beaches in Frioul, that of Tahiti.
The shuttles for Ratonneau also stop on the island of the Château d’If which you can visit ( tickets with priority access on sale here ). It is here that the Marquis de Sade and Mirabeau were notably imprisoned. In the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the Count of Monte-Cristo is also detained there.
The schedules and prices of the shuttles are on the official website.
If you want to take a boat trip, but in a VIP version, away from other tourists, I recommend that you book a private boat trip from Marseille instead .
In my opinion, this is the best way to make the most of your day at sea.
You rent a boat with a skipper , and he will take you to the most beautiful places near Marseille: the creeks, the islands of Frioul or other, you will be spoiled for choice!
Motorboat, sailboat, catamaran or even yacht : it’s up to you to choose the boat that suits you to spend a dream day during this romantic weekend in France!
In any case, I recommend that you rent your boat with a skipper as far in advance as possible , because as you can imagine, this type of VIP day at sea is extremely in demand, and it would be a shame not to have room!
And if you have a boat license, you can simply rent a boat to enjoy the sea and go wherever you want!
2) Stay in Marseilles.
In this case, here is the route for this extended weekend in Marseille:
- Take a walk along the JFK corniche , a long promenade with a view of Frioul and the Château d’If
- Go through the Vallon des Auffes, a small picturesque fishing port with its cabins and typical fishing boats
- Head to Prado beach for a swim
- Stroll through Borély Park, right next to the Prado. There is a lake, play areas for children, a rose garden and a botanical garden.
- To end the day, football fans can treat themselves to a visit to the velodrome stadium .
- The others, I advise you rather to continue along the seaside and take the bus to go to Goudes. The Goudes district is very picturesque with its cabanas and there are pretty places to swim.
To do the whole walk along the Corniche , starting from Catalan beach to Prado beach on foot, it takes about 1 hour of walking (4.4km). There is no difficulty and it is secure (pedestrian path all along).
If you don’t want to walk, bus 83 leaves from the Old Port and runs along the entire Corniche to the Prado.
Other activity ideas to do during a weekend in Marseille
Do you want to modify this itinerary a little and add other activities and ideas for your weekend in Marseille?
No problem, I give you here some examples of other things to do for a short stay in Marseille or around:
- Visit the city’s museums: the history museum – the old charity center – the Marseille soap museum or the contemporary art museum.
- Book a gastronomic guided tour of Marseille to discover the culinary specialties of the city: tapenade, shuttle, pastis, seafood.
- Discover the pretty town of Aix-en-Provence and the lavender fields
- Visit Arles, a city listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for its Roman monuments.
- Take a cruise in the creeks of Cassis
- Choose an organized excursion in the Luberon
- Go to the Gorges du Verdon. You can choose an organized excursion here
- Visit a winery . Some tours are even free!
Weekend ideas in Marseille: where to sleep?
Now that you know what to do in a weekend in Marseille , I suggest you take another important step: book your accommodation.
To help you finish preparing for your weekend in PACA , I have selected the best hotels in town according to your desires.
Luxury weekend in Marseille
For a luxury weekend in Marseille, I recommend that you sleep in the most beautiful hotel in town: the InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu.
This 5* establishment is only 400 meters from the Major Cathedral and the Old Port, which is very convenient for following the itinerary that I have concocted for you.
It occupies a splendid 18th century building , some parts of which, such as its facade and its wrought iron stairs, are listed as historical monuments.
The interior of the hotel and its rooms have been designed by one of the most renowned designers in terms of luxury hotels. Very elegant and refined, some also offer a superb view of the port and Notre-Dame de la Garde.
For this romantic getaway in Marseille in an exceptional setting, you can also take advantage of the top-of-the-range services of this emblematic hotel to relax: an indoor swimming pool and a Clarins Spa with sauna and hammam as well as a gym.
I also strongly recommend that you try the gastronomic restaurant Alcyone , awarded one star in the Michelin Guide.
It’s the best choice for a luxury weekend in Marseille!
Book your stay at the Hôtel Dieu using the button below:
Book my weekend in Marseille now!
Weekend by the sea in Marseille
If you want to spend a weekend by the sea in Marseille , here is the perfect establishment which bears its name very well: Hôtel Les Bords de Mer.
The establishment has an exceptional location, on the Kennedy Corniche , just opposite the sea and the Château d’If.
Its location is ideal for going to the Catalans beach or the Vallon des Auffes. You can also reach the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde or the Old Port in 15 minutes on foot.
Here everything is done to spend a relaxing weekend with access to a private beach , a Spa with indoor pool and a magnificent heated pool on the rooftop overlooking the sea.
You will stay in modern and comfortable rooms, with large bay windows , some of which also have a balcony with a sublime view of the sea.
To book this weekend by the sea in Marseille , you just have to click on the button below:
Bbook my seaside weekend in Marseille now!
If you want to be closer to the center of Marseille, while staying next to the sea, you can also stay at the Résidence du Vieux-Port, located on the quays.
The hotel offers modern rooms with a view of the sea, the port and the Bonne Mère.
To book this weekend in Marseille, it’s with this button:
Book my weekend in Marseille now!
Spa weekend in Marseille
Always to stay in the spirit of well-being and relaxation , I suggest a short spa weekend in Marseille.
The Sofitel Marseille Vieux-Port offers you free access to its spa where you can relax by taking advantage of the plunge pool, the sauna and the hammam . You will also have access to the outdoor swimming pool, shared with a neighboring hotel.
The hotel also has 3 large terraces offering a magnificent view of the port and on which you can have a drink or dine.
The Les Trois Forts restaurant offers delicious gourmet cuisine in a magnificent setting.
To book your spa weekend in Marseille, just click on the following button:
Book my relaxing weekend in Marseille now!
Romantic weekend in Marseille
For another idea of a romantic weekend in Marseille , I have selected the C2 hotel for you.
The 5* hotel occupies a beautiful charming 19th century residence, located 500 meters from the Old Port and 600 meters from the Basilica.
For this romantic stay, you will stay in spacious and bright rooms, with a deliberately minimalist and contemporary decoration. The C2 hotel also has a spa with a heated indoor swimming pool, a hammam and a jacuzzi.
And to top it off, hold on tight, the hotel also has its own private island , located in the harbor of Marseille, towards Malmousque. In summer, a boat specially reserved for customers takes you there from the Old Port.
And no question of playing Robinson Crusoe, mattresses, deckchairs and refreshments await you!
Book your weekend for two in Marseille with the button below:
Reserve my romantic weekend in Marseille now!
If you have a slightly lower budget but still want to treat yourself to a nice romantic weekend in Marseille , you can also opt for the NH Collection Marseille.
The hotel is located 900 meters from the MuCEM , in the Joliette district. It offers double rooms with sober and elegant decoration . A big plus for its excellent breakfast and the comfort of the bedding.
Cheap weekend in Marseille
I end my selection of hotels with some cheap weekend ideas in Marseille:
- Toyoko INN Marseille Saint Charles: located 1 km from the Old Port and 5 minutes from the train station. Very clean and comfortable double room from 70€ per night, breakfast included. Most: the choice at breakfast, the warm welcome, the location close to the train station and the city center. This is the best choice if you are looking for a cheap hotel in Marseille!
- Citadines Castellane Marseille: located 1.3 km from Notre-Dame de la Garde. Modern studio and apartment with fully equipped kitchen (dishwasher, microwave, hotplates, etc.) from €78, breakfast €10. Most: the very practical location, the comfortable bedding, the calm. A good choice for a cheap weekend in Marseille!
- Staycity Aparthotels Center Vieux Port: located 550 meters from the port. Designer and fully equipped studios and apartments from €92, breakfast €9. The pluses: spacious, the perfect location for visiting Marseille, the great friendliness of the staff.
- Best Western Hotel Marseille Bourse Vieux Port by Happyculture: located 5 minutes walk from the Old Port. Modern and colorful double room from €100, breakfast at €12. Most: the friendliness of the staff, the location close to everything, the free luggage storage.
Map of your weekend in Marseille
To help you visualize your routes during this weekend in Marseille, I made you a map listing the places to visit day by day . You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button with a small arrow.
You will then be able to view the routes for each day.
When to go for a weekend in Marseille?
You can go on a weekend in Marseille at any time of the year.
We are in the South of France, the temperatures generally remain quite mild, even in the middle of winter.
The city is constantly bustling . Whatever month you want to spend a weekend in Marseille, you won’t be bored and you can follow my program of visits.
The only thing that could be compromised is the boat trip in the creeks , because depending on the weather and the season, the schedules vary or the cruises can be canceled altogether. This is also valid for the shuttle to the Frioul islands and the Château d’If.
If you want to swim a little and enjoy the beaches , I recommend that you go in July-August, but of course there will be a lot of people because you will be in the middle of the high tourist season.
To enjoy the heat without the crowds, I find that the best time to go on a weekend in Marseille is from May to the end of June (before the summer holidays) and from September to October.
Do you need help organizing your weekend in Marseille? Do not hesitate to ask me your questions in the comments.