Are you looking for the top things to do with only 2 days in Marseille? This Marseille itinerary is here to assist!
If you only have two days in Marseille, you have plenty of time to see the main highlights of the city – including the port, Chateau d’If, and some amazing restaurants.
This weekend in Marseille guide will help you make the most of your time in France’s southern port city!
Let us know if you have any suggestions to put on this itinerary for Marseille in the comments! Thanks!
In this post...
Weekend in Marseille Itinerary Overview
Day 1 Overview
- Old Port of Marseille
- Le Panier neighborhood
- Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean
- Chateau d’If
Day 2 Overview
- Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde
- Abbaye Saint-Victor
- Enjoy the top restaurants and cafes in Marseille
Day 1 in Marseille
Check Out the Old Port of Marseille
On Marseille’s major street, Canebière is the pedestrian zone of the Old Port of Marseille and it is one of the most iconic places in Southern France.
It is a natural harbor from times of old, today known for its seafront cafes, seafood restaurants, trendy hotels, boutique shops, and exciting nightlife full of late-night bars and clubs.
When their famous football team plays, you can find every bar in the city active and lively with people, broadcasting the games.
You’ll also find the private marina docked with a seemingly endless amount of vessels, specifically yachts.
It has been the city center and driving life force of Marseille for centuries, and has been part of the cultural heritage of the city since the time when maritime trade dominated the regional economy.
The Quai des Belges fish market is one of the signature highlights of the city, with vendors open every morning with fresh fish caught hours before its opening.
Take a ferry boat from Marseille’s town hall and explore the Old Port from the sea. Catch the towering and brilliant white Phare de Sainte-Marie from the distance amongst the azure waters.
Fort Saint-Jean guards the entrance to the Old Port and is near the Romanesque-style architecture of Saint-Laurent Church, which stands on the hilltop.
This area makes Marseille famous and one of the best day trips from Avignon and other places in the region!
Walk around the Le Panier Neighborhood
Explore the narrow streets and steep alleys of the hilly neighborhood of Le Panier.
It is the oldest district of Marseille, and is notable for its closely packed buildings decorated in murals and frescoes, its small bistros, concept stores, creative stores, and boutique shops of specialty items, antiques, and craft– many of which proudly proclaim their local sourcing as “Made in Marseille.”
You’ll find some of the best and most authentic experiences in the Quartier du Panier. If you’re not feeling the slopes and stairs, then explore all the highlights of the neighborhood with the Petit Train.
One of the main attractions right at the center of the district includes the Vieille Charite, which was once an almshouse, but now functions as a cultural center and museum for Mediterranean and Celto-Ligurian archaeology.
Its Baroque-style architecture, ellipsoidal dome, Corinthian columns, and a courtyard full of colonnades make it a stunning sight to behold.
The intertwining alleys connect to form pleasant squares, including the Place des Pistoles, which has terraces of a variety of popular restaurants with shading under plane trees, and the Place de Lenche, which has the historic Lenche theater, many restaurants and bars, and an excellent view of Notre Dame de la Garde.
Visit the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean
At the entrance of the Old Port, right in front of the medieval fortress of Saint Jean and Marseille Cathedral, is Marseille’s Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean.
Its 15,000-square-meter composition is divided into two squares, one inserted into the other to form the center of the complex, with two ramps in between.
The museum is divided into three sections, one of which is the fortress itself, the Conservation and Resource Center, and J4.
These sites amount to 40,000 square meters worth of capacity packed with nearly one million works organized in exhibitions, and permanent and temporary displays, all dedicated to the Mediterranean basin.
Additionally, one of the most attractive restaurants in Marseille with a stunning, panoramic view of the sea is in the former port mall. There is also an auditorium, a bookshop, and an exhibition area of 15,500 square meters.
You’ll find the first floor entirely devoted to the Mediterranean, and the second floor with temporary exhibitions.
Afterward, walk over to the fortress of Saint Jean by footbridge, in which you’ll be rewarded with a marvelous view of the entire city.
To complete your visit, head over to the Conservation and Resource Center, which showcases the behind-the-scenes of the museum.
Address: 1 Esp. J4, 13002 Marseille
Book your ticket here: Mucem Skip-the-Line Entry Ticket
Marvel at the Chateau d’If
Île d’If is 1.5 kilometers offshore from Marseille and is the smallest island in the Frioul archipelago.
On it is the famous Chateau d’If, which was built in the 16th century to defend the coast from invasion, in which you can take a short ferry ride from Marseille’s Old Port.
As you observe the port, you’ll notice the three towers, high walls, drawbridge, and the keep; its structure was designed to receive heavy artillery and military reinforcements– hence the gun platforms– to survey and supervise the sea and the royal galleys.
The castle is built in three stories, and the limestone island in which it is situated rises steeply from the ocean surrounding it.
However, throughout the course of its history, it also served as a prison until the 19th century.
From the Old Port, it’s about twenty minutes and one nautical mile away, and it even offers great views of Friuli’s Fort, as well.
Take a ferry with Frioul-If-Express ferries any day of the week, in which arrival and departure times of the ferry boat determine visit times and the scheduling.
Entrance into the castle is €6 at full price and €5 for reduced or group prices.
Address: Embarcadère Frioul If, 1 Quai de la Fraternité, 13001 Marseille
Book your City Pass: Marseille City Pass (includes the Castle!)
Day 2 in Marseille
Visit the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde
The emblem and icon of the city is without a doubt the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, which to the locals, is known as la Bonne Mère.
This Catholic basilica remains a popular pilgrimage destination for Assumption Day and is one of the best things to do in Marseille.
It is located on the top of the highest hill in Marseille and grants a stunning 360° panoramic view over the city, the islands of the Frioul archipelago, and the soaring mountains behind it.
The scenic stairway or funicular up toward the basilica leads you to the signature striped entrance into a world of mosaic tiles, ornate floors, and golden ceilings.
The interior has a single nave with several chapels on each side of the church, the first of which was built on La Garde hill in dedication to the Virgin Mary before it was replaced with a larger building in dedication to Angel Gabriel.
In the Romanesque crypt is the historic statue of the Virgin of the Bouquet, bordered by six chapels devoted to other saints, whereas the silver Virgin is situated on the top of a golden engraved pillar.
On the belfry and bell tower is the golden statue of the Virgin Mary with Christ as an infant.
Address: Rue Fort du Sanctuaire, 13006 Marseille
Head to the Abbaye Saint-Victor
Abbaye Saint Victor is a former abbey dedicated to a local saint, soldier, and martyr by the name of Victor, who was persecuted, killed, and thrown into the Old Port for his rejection of idolatry.
Prior to the construction of the abbey, an open-air quarry stood at its site and sheltered a necropolis, in which Saint Victor’s body was laid to rest.
Since then, an annual pilgrimage was established every February 2nd on Candlemas Day with a procession from the Old Port towards Saint Street, a basilica was created, and his invaluable relics were housed.
The fortified abbey church is an essential place to visit when studying the religious history of Marseille and can be accompanied by a visit to the Basilica, chapels, underground crypt, up to seven layers of sarcophagi, and the ancient caves from the 4th century, as well.
The abbey showcases early Christian artwork from the 4th and 5th centuries. The tower of the abbey is one of the symbols of the city and is often classified as a landmark of the city.
The sacred relics of the martyr and hero are buried in a tomb within the abbey, in which in its vicinity worship and mass were organized.
Address: Pl. Saint-Victor, 13007 Marseille
Top Marseille Restaurants and Cafes
Les Halles de la Major
Les Halles de la Major is a market hall with a variety of merchants, featuring a deli, a market with produce, gourmet goods, a pastry shop, a tapas bar, and a brasserie.
It is regularly privatized for events and parties. There are numerous restaurants, some of which are higher-end. It’s near the port and offers a grand view of the iconic cathedral.
The trendy ambiance of the venue in addition to the convenience of the stalls is a signature of Les Halles de la Major.
With a French stall, a salad bar, a fish corner, a pizza and pasta station, an Asian stall, a meat counter, a noodle bar, and a central bar that offers drinks– there are a variety of options to choose from, and the opportunity to mix and match to your heart’s content, all with excellent views of the city and the coast.
A popular selection is a charcuterie board with drinks and cocktails from the bar, which are often taken to the outdoor seating area to enjoy the scenery.
Popular dishes include the use of seafood, and the octopus salad, sea urchins, and oysters are recommended. From the meat counter, you can order a variety of burgers and even a rotisserie chicken.
Address: 12 Bd Jacques Saade, 13002 Marseille
The renowned chef, Guillaume Sourrieu, is known for his travels and immersive studies around France and his instinctive and innovative execution at his restaurant.
His native Marseille is where he decided to establish his waterfront and seafood fine dining establishment.
Book a table and coordinate in advance for a table near the window to catch the sunset, in which the room will illuminate in red and orange tones.
The fixed menu of local Mediterranean cuisine and an extensive wine menu offer a plethora of options, the most popular being the 7-course menu.
They emphasize local sourcing and the use of fresh, high-quality products.
You can find the restaurant in the small fishing port of Vallon des Auffes, which is nestled between the Catalans in the 7th district of Endoume, and in Malmousque.
This region is notable for its small fishermen’s huts and its tranquil quality of life. L’Epuisette is perched on top of a rock, offering a breathtaking view of Marseille’s cove, in which you can catch views of small fishing vessels passing by.
On the other side of the scenery, you’ll find views of the Frioul Archipelago’s islands.
The interior of the restaurant is modern and refined, with a warm and elegant ambiance.
Address: 158 Rue du Vallon des Auffes, 13007 Marseille
Get away from the tourist traps and head to the local favorite DAYO, a tiny restaurant with only 24 seats. Due to its small size and few tables, make sure to book in advance.
They are renowned for their 3-course dinner, offering a selection of authentic, fresh, and tasty cuisine, of primarily seafood, although not limited to.
From signature French dishes you know from the movies, such as escargot, crispy Iberico pork, and filet with bouillabaisse sauce, to lobster baked to perfection, you’ll find an interesting assortment to select from.
Enjoy an excellent parfait, fruitcake, a fragrant lemon meringue tart, or tiramisu after your homemade meal. The interior decor emits a homey ambiance, with its chalkboard showcasing daily specials.
The restaurant is located in the heart of Le Panier neighborhood on Rue Caisserie, and is only a stone’s throw away from the Old Port.
The staff is very attentive, and their excellent personnel goes out of their way to ensure that you are having a memorable experience.
The quality of the care, the delicious and fantastic presentation and taste of the food, and the prices form the holy trinity of eating out, and DAYO seems to play its cards right.
Address: 40 Rue Caisserie, 13002 Marseille
La Poule Noire
Enter the close-knit, artistic cafe hosting contemporary and seasonal dishes with a casual ambiance and a wine-pairing menu. It is the perfect thing to do during winter in Marseille if you’re fleeing the chillier weather!
The restaurant has 40 seats spread over 3 spaces, including an interior terrace, presented in a modern fashion. Damien Delgado and Fanny Sauvage introduce an innovative experience with bistro-chic flavors.
Learn about the minimal details of every dish from the well-informed waiters from the sourcing of the fresh ingredients to the expected flavor palette to the perfect wine pairings accompanying the respective dish.
They offer a Food & Wine pairing option, consisting of 3 dishes and 3 wines together.
With options ranging from starters of grilled octopus to main courses of a rack of lamb or king prawn, crispy risotto with confit pork cheek, grilled gilthead sea bream filet, their duckling filet with pistachio chips, or crispy risotto with confit pork cheek-bellota sobrassade, you can expect a wide range of flavors and dishes from La Poule Noire.
They also serve a variety of vegetarian dishes and can adapt on request to gluten-free diets!
Their famous traditional vanilla “egg” is a local favorite that melts in your mouth! Their “Formula Chic” menu offers a free choice from their menu of a three-course meal.
Address: 61 Rue Sainte, 13001 Marseille
La Bonne Mere
Originally called Bar du Repo, La Bonne Mere presents a welcoming, laid-back atmosphere in a family-run pizzeria using organic and fresh ingredients.
The establishment was created by two passionate and motivated individuals, Jeremy and Mahéva, who continue to put their heart and soul into their work, into which they are happy to represent Marseille.
The restaurant’s space is very small and contains only twenty seats, therefore it is recommended by the personnel to reserve ahead of time.
The pizza is sent hot to your table immediately as it’s finished.
There is an assortment of specialty pizzas to select from L’Italienne, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, gorgonzola, and raw ham; Manon, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, and after its baked, Parmesan Reggiano, dried tomato, and pistou pesto; La Briquette, with cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and honey; and the La Bonne Mere, with tomato sauce and after its cooked, buffalo milk, basil leaves and a drizzle of organic olive oil.
Their creme-based pizzas include options such as the Royal White, with cooked ham, finely sliced button mushrooms, and mozzarella.
For the desserts, you’ll have a medley of Mediterranean options, such as the La Fiadone, a Corsican cheesecake. Their wine list also presents white and red wines, in addition to rosés.
Address: 16 Rue Fort du Sanctuaire, 13006 Marseille
Feast on specialty coffee and cinnamon rolls at 7VB Cafe. Located in the Quartier du Panier, the urban cafe provides an excellent ambiance for studying, lounging, and tranquil socialization.
The light jazz playing through the speakers and the trendy menu provides the cafe-goer’s ideal aesthetic, especially for students and digital nomads.
Most notable for their cinnamon buns served fresh out of the oven with warm icing, and their innovative coffee drinks, 7VB Cafe also hails in a convenient location in the city– not too far from the renowned MUCEM, which has excellent views of the Old Port.
The customer service is highly raved, with attentive and helpful service, and both the food and beverage menus have options to accommodate those with specific dietary needs.
Albeit a stylish and modern café, the space is not the largest, however, at the same time, creates a cozy co-working space.
The cold dishes on the menu and the warm pastries are great for those on the go and looking to refuel efficiently, and for such a hot place during the summer, their air conditioning is appreciated.
Their cinnamon rolls & cream cheese, cookies, and muffins are a great complement to their chocolat chaud viennois, pumpkin spice latte, and latte matcha.
Address: 9 Rue Caisserie, 13002 Marseille
More Than 2 Days in Marseille?
Explore the Palais Longchamp and Musee des Beaux-Arts
One of the most magnificent monuments and sceneries in all of Marseille would be the Palais Longchamp; it is one of the Notable Gardens of France according to the French Ministry of Culture, and rightfully so!
The neoclassical architecture of the monument is actually a water reservoir designed to bring water to the city. In the 19th century, an excavation took place for an 85-kilometer canal in order to bring water from the Durance river all the way to Marseille.
After a decade, 18 aqueduct bridges of drinkable water were built to bring to the city.
The architect of the Notre Dame Basilica, Henry Espérandieu, gracefully fashioned the arrival of water from the aqueduct bridges to the Palais Longchamp monument.
This stunning building in each wing of its structure also houses museums: on the right wing, you’ll find the Natural History Museum, and on the left wing is the Musee des Beaux-Arts.
The art museum houses paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the 17th and 18th centuries, and in the back of the majestic monument is a popular park where locals and tourists alike gather.
The Palais’ central fountain presents sculptures of four large bulls and three women, behind which water flows down into the pond.
Address: Palais Longchamp Aile gauche, 9 Rue Edouard Stephan, 13004 Marseille
Visit the Marseille Soap Museum
The Marseille Soap Museum has soap-making demonstrations, objects, and artifacts on display for those curious about the history of the industry.
It was founded by Josette and Vittorio Quittard, two residents from the city who, in addition to creating the museum, had 93 exhibitions, wrote a book, and produced two films.
There are almost 250 objects on display in the three spaces provided within the museum, such as old soaps, stamps, washing boards, vats, beaters, photographs, and advertisements.
In the heart of the museum and factory is a room with a cauldron in which viewers can witness the saponification process first-hand of the various stages of Marseille’s specific method.
In addition to a complete tour of the factory, the charming venue also presents a complementary soap of 100 grams with a choice of 10 various scents, or for an additional €2.50 you can customize and personalize your soap by stamping it yourself.
There is also a souvenir shop from which you can purchase from.
The specialty soaps include Marseille Soap, with Olive and Extra Pure; Aleppo Soap, an ancient soap style from Syria made from olive oil and bay laurel oil, available in both solid and liquid form; and Black Soap.
Address: 25 Quai de Rive Neuve, 13007 Marseille
Stroll the Parc Emile Duclaux
For an excellent view of the Old Port, Parc Emile Duclaux is a great option to consider. The park includes the Palais du Pharo with its classic French lawn and stunning coastal views.
It consists of six hectares of land, which provides a panoramic view of all of Marseille, with views of all the major attractions: the Mucem, the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica, the Fortress of Saint Jean, the Saint-Ferréol les Augustins church, and many other Marseille monuments.
The Jardin du Prado is an inspiring place in the city, with a stunning garden with views of the Old Port and all its passing boats and vessels, a merry-go-round for children, and large shaded lawns for families to rest.
It surrounds the Palais du Pharo, which was commissioned by Louis Napoleon Bonaparte to be made for Empress Eugénie in the 19th century, who never stayed there.
Today, it is an international congress center for conventions, symposiums, and congresses, with 900 seats.
Additionally, there are options to rent a bike or a segway and journey through the park, or go for a pleasant stroll or run. There is a restaurant at the foot of the palace with enchanting views of the sea.
Address: 86 Boulevard Charles Livon, 13007 Marseille
Take a Day Trip to Aix-en-Provence
To the north is the magnificent town of Aix-en-Provence. The Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d’Aix-en-Provence is a token of the city.
The architecture includes Gothic influences, with an ornately decorated and carved cloister, baptistery and bell tower, carved doors, and Roman columns.
The Musée du Vieil Aix is a 17th-century mansion housing the cultural heritage of Aix.
It exhibits the aristocratic life of the city, with a painted entrance dome and grand staircase, and showcases paintings, models, masterpieces of craftsmen, and instruments.
It sits between a courtyard and a garden, where locals and tourists alike flock to during their breaks.
The Atelier Cézanne is another attraction and is the studio and museum of Paul Cézanne, a world-renowned 19th-century post-impressionist painter.
In the lively Place de L’Hôtel de Ville, you’ll find the magnificent town hall, a tall clock tower, and a Roman column with a golden laurel on top of it in its center.
The Grand Market has an abundance of shopping and is available three times a week, and the Hôtel de Caumont is a beautiful venue with attractive gardens and terraced restaurants.
Along the river is Parc de La Torse, and in the city, you’ll find free concerts on Musique dans la Rue.
Take a Day Trip to Avignon
Avignon is a fairy-tale-like city on the banks of the Rhône river, known for its majestic Palais de Papes, one of the most important and largest medieval buildings built in the Gothic style.
It was a palace, a fortress, and the official papal residency for a century.
The Romanesque Avignon Cathedral also has a nave, statues, and tombs of 14th-century popes, a stone altar, a collection of religious objects and relics at the chapel, artistic frescoes, and three statues of the Virgin Mary.
Pont d’Avignon is a medieval bridge across the Rhône river, where only four arches and the gatehouse survive today.
The Musée du Petit Palais is a museum and art gallery collection of Renaissance paintings, whereas the Musée Requien or Museum Requien is a natural history museum.
The Musée Lapidaire houses the classical sculptures and objects provided by the Calvet Museum and Foundation, from ancient Greek, Etruscan, Roman, and Gallo-Roman cultures.
The defensive stone walls that surround the city with impressive fortifications and towers are called the Remparts d’Avignon, and the cobblestone streets of Rue des Teinturiers sit in the shade of sycamores next to the canal, in which you can find many picturesque cafés and restaurants.
Book your tour: Provence Sightseeing and Wine Tour
Where to Stay in Marseille
If you’re looking for a great place to stay in Marseille, here are some top picks!
- App-Arte Marseille Vieux-Port (best option!)
- La Residence Du Vieux Port (amazing view!)
- Terrasse by MaisonMars (great location!)
Did we miss any amazing things to do during your 2 days in Marseille?
Let us know the best places for a Marseille itinerary in the comments. Thanks!
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Aram is a travel blogger and writer from Armenia who spends his time between Spain and his home country. He is passionate about music and football (the European kind) and covers a lot of Western European destinations on the blog. Aram is a laidback traveler who enjoys meeting new people and finding the best food in each city that he visits (hence his frequent trips to France, Italy, and Greece!). He has been featured in (or written for) Forbes, BBC, The Guardian, Fodor’s Travel, and more.