22 Best Things to Do in Bordeaux (for First-Time Visitors!)

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Are you looking for the best things to do in Bordeaux? This guide will help you track down the top Bordeaux attractions… and more!

Are you planning your trip to Bordeaux last minute?

If youʻre booking your trip to Bordeaux last minute, we have you covered. Below are some of the top tours, hotels, and more!

🇫🇷  Top Experiences and Tours in Bordeaux:

  1. La Cité du Vin Skip-the-Line Ticket & Wine Tasting (top rated!)
  2. River Garonne Cruise with Glass of Wine (another popular tour!)
  3. Bordeaux City Pass for 48 or 72 Hours
  4. Half-Day Saint-Émilion Tour and Wine Tasting (day trip option)
  5. Bordeaux Guided Bicycle Tour

🛌  Top Hotels in Bordeaux:

  1. Le Boutique Hotel (has a luxury spa!)
  2. Heym (has a pool!)
  3. Le Cros des Queyries (excellent location!)

🚗  Looking for the best way to get around Bordeaux? Click here to check rental car rates for France!

Bordeaux is one of the best cities in France for those who love wine, food, and learning more about the culture.

This guide will walk you through some of the most popular historic Bordeaux landmarks, including museums, cathedrals, and more.

Best things to do in Bordeaux France
Best things to do in Bordeaux France

Did we miss anything that should be on a Bordeaux bucket list? Let us know in the comments!

Best Bordeaux Tours & Tickets (to Maximize Your Time!)

If you’re looking for something more organized when in Bordeaux and the surrounding area, here are some awesome Bordeaux tours and tickets you should check out. 

These tours will help you maximize your time, which is especially important if you only have a short amount of time in the city! We listed a variety so that you can pick which one is most suitable for you (and many include multiple places!):

  1. La Cité du Vin Skip-the-Line Ticket & Wine Tasting (top rated!)
  2. River Garonne Cruise with Glass of Wine (another popular tour!)
  3. Bordeaux City Pass for 48 or 72 Hours
  4. Half-Day Saint-Émilion Tour and Wine Tasting (day trip option)
  5. Bordeaux Guided Bicycle Tour

Best Things to Do in Bordeaux

1. Dive into Wine History at La Cité du Vin

If you’re a wine enthusiast, then La Cité du Vin is something you don’t want to miss out on

The facility is both a museum and cultural center located on the banks of the Garonne River offering a unique and immersive experience into the history, culture, and diversity of wine across all cultures and civilizations across the ages.

You can easily spend 4+ hours in the unique modern-designed museum, touring the permanent exhibitions elaborating on the history of wine from ancient times to the present, the numerous grape varieties, as well as winemaking techniques, found throughout the world.

La Cité du Vin - MikeDotta - Shutterstock
La Cité du Vin – MikeDotta – Shutterstock

The exhibition has sensorial aspects as they are interactive, and the temporary exhibits and events throughout the year include workshops and wine tastings.

On the seventh floor of the museum is its on-site wine bar, Le 7ème, serving a wide range of wines from around the world with stunning views over the city.

Address: 134 Quai de Bacalan, 33300 Bordeaux

>> Book your skip-the-line ticket here

2. Enjoy a Half-day St. Emilion Wine Tour

Spend a half-day in the captivating town of St. Emilion, including a tour of its wineries. It is the most popular day trip from Bordeaux!

The city has a long history, dating back to the Middle Ages, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural beauty.

Once you arrive in the village, take a guided walking tour to explore the narrow and winding lanes, ancient churches, and ruins.

Wine-making in this area was first introduced by the Romans in the 2nd century and some of the estates still use the same methods.

St. Emilion
St. Emilion

Learn about the local regional history of wine-making whilst sampling a variety of these wines at one of the Classified Growth Chateaus.

Chateau Bellevue, owned by the renowned Angelus winery, is one example. The village’s name comes from the wandering hermit Émilian, who chose to live in a cave carved into the rock in the 8th century.

Follow your guide on a walking tour of the village to discover its main attractions.

>> Click here to check tour rates and availability

3. Wander around the Place de la Bourse

Place de la Bourse is named after its historic Stock Exchange building and is built along the river Garonne.

To the north is the Palais de la Bourse, which is now Bordeaux’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

To the south is the Hotel Fermes, which now functions as the National Museum of Customs and the Interregional Directorate of Customs and Indirect Rights.

The fountain in the center and buildings lining the square use neoclassical architecture and reflect Greco-Roman elements.

Place de la Bourse
Place de la Bourse

You’ll find statues of Neptune and Minerva overlooking the square from their respective buildings, and Zeus’ daughters, the three graces, Thalia, Aglae, and Euphrosyne ornamenting the Fuente de las tres Gracias.

On the other side of the street facing the square is the Miroir d’Eau, a shallow pool of water that reflects the surrounding architecture.

The pool is the largest of its kind, with granite slabs spanning over 130 meters (426 feet) long and 42 meters (137 feet) wide, making it the largest reflecting pool in the world.

This is one of the most iconic sights, even if you’re wandering the streets of Bordeaux in winter.

Address: Pl. de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux

4. Explore the Marche des Capucins

The Capucins Market is located in the historic Saint-Michel neighborhood and is one of the oldest and most popular markets in Bordeaux.

The market is open every day except on Mondays and Sundays, and it offers a wide variety of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and seafood.

Visitors can find everything from locally grown fruits, vegetables, and locally caught seafood to artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, and locally cultivated and produced wine.

Marche des Capucins - sylv1rob1 - Shutterstock
Marche des Capucins – sylv1rob1 – Shutterstock

The vibrant atmosphere and the colorful stalls also offer some street food vendors and small restaurants that serve traditional dishes and local specialties.

For many generations herbalists, shoemakers, roofers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and drapers also sold their services and goods at the market. However, today the market is primarily centralized around food.

The market has been working since 1749 and in 199, the hall was transformed into the glass-roofed venue that it is today, with a parking lot with ramps and lifts.

Address: Pl. des Capucins, 33800 Bordeaux

5. Walk around the Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts

The Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts is located in the Palais Rohan in the heart of Bordeaux and houses 8,200 works of European art.

The exhibition halls display a collection from the 15th to the 20th centuries and include paintings, sculptures, and artifacts.

The largest collection is composed mostly of paintings created by French and Dutch artists. You’ll find artwork from all major Bordeaux artists such as Albert Marquet, Odilon Redon, and André Lhote.

Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts
Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts

Other French artists include Chardin, Pierre de Cortone, Brueghel, Van Dyck, Corot, Delacroix, Van Goyen, Véronèse, Kokoschka, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Le Pérugin, Magnasco, and Rubens.

The collections are housed in two different places: in the north wing, artwork from the 19th and 20th centuries is on display, and in the south wing you’ll find halls showcasing art from the 16th to the 18th century.

Temporary exhibitions are more focused on contemporary art and emerging artists.

Address: 20 Cr d’Albret, 33000 Bordeaux

6. Check Out the Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux

The Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux is one of the city’s most important historical landmarks and a true architectural masterpiece.

The church dates back to 814 when it was originally a Carolingian and Romanesque church, however, it was transformed into the Gothic-style building we see today during the 12th century.

Its construction began in the 11th century and was completed several centuries later; it has undergone several renovations and additions throughout its history.

Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux
Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux

The intricate carvings and sculptures on the façade of the royal portal, include the famous “Last Judgment” tympanum and voussoirs depicting scenes from the end of the world of the Biblical Day of Judgement.

Inside, the nave’s decorative 16th-century lierne vaults and the pulpit on the right direct you toward the Grand Organ.

The cathedral’s stained glass windows are incredibly ornate. The central window in the axis chapel depicts the “Alpha and Omega,” and other windows depict Christ’s crucifixion.

Address: Pl. Pey Berland, 33000 Bordeaux

7. Spend an Evening at the National Opera of Bordeaux

The National Opera of Bordeaux, also known as the Grand Theater, was built in 1780 and is considered to be one of the finest examples of 18th-century architecture in France.

It underwent numerous renovations to preserve its neoclassical style. The Opera hosts a wide range of performances throughout the year,  from opera and ballet to classical music concerts.

The opera house also regularly hosts international productions and collaborations, making it a destination for performing arts enthusiasts from all over the world.

National Opera of Bordeaux
National Opera of Bordeaux

The Bordeaux International Dance Festival and the Festival de Musique de Bordeaux are two of the most popular special events and festivals held at the opera house.

The Bordeaux Ballet Company is one of the most renowned in France and presents both classic and contemporary ballets.

Take a tour of the building and marvel at the golden engraved columns and pillars in the performance hall holding up the mythological ceiling fresco.

Address: Pl. de la Comédie, 33000 Bordeaux

8. Visit the Musée du Vin et du Négoce

The Musée du Vin et du Négoce (Wine and Trade Museum) is located in the heart of the city’s historic wine district in the old quarries used as cellars in the 15th century during the Middle Ages and offers a fascinating glimpse into the past and present of Bordeaux’s famous wine industry.

Bordeaux is, after all, one of France’s best weekend getaways because of its renowned wine tastings and tours!

The exhibits here go over the history of wine-making in Bordeaux, from 2,000 years ago to the present day. You can learn about the different grape varieties used in Bordeaux’s wines, the winemaking process, and the impact of the wine trade on the city’s economy and culture.

Highlights of the museum include a replica of a traditional wine merchant’s shop and a collection of antique wine bottles, some of which date back to the 18th century.

A tour of the museum also includes a comparative tasting of 3 wines. There are also temporary exhibits, talks, and workshops year-round. 

Address: Cellier des Chartrons, 41 Rue Borie, 33300 Bordeaux

9. Discover the La Base Sous-Marine

La Base Sous-Marine is a submarine base that was built during World War II on the banks of the Garonne River.

It was built in 1942 and was used as a base by the German navy during the war and was left abandoned after the war.

The city of Bordeaux decided to restore the base and transform it into a cultural and event space during the 2000s.

La Base Sous-Marine
La Base Sous-Marine

It often hosts art shows and exhibitions, performances, concerts, and events in the evening. With a guided tour, you can learn more about the history of the trying times of the base’s construction and utilization.

About 12,000 m2 of the original 42,000 m2 of the base are open to the public today.

Address: 284 Bd Alfred Daney, 33300 Bordeaux

10. Hang Out at the Place du Parlement

Place du Parlement is a square located right in the heart of the historic district and old town of Bordeaux, and is lined with several important buildings as well as numerous charming restaurant terraces.

The square was designed in the Italian style and is particularly known for its mascarons, or sculpted stone heads, which can be found all throughout the city.

It was originally named Place Royale as it was the site of the former Royal Palace of Bordeaux but was later renamed after the Parliament after the French Revolution.

Place du Parlement - saiko3p - Shutterstock
Place du Parlement – saiko3p – Shutterstock

Located on the north side of the square is the Palais de la Bourse, which was built in the 18th century and was originally used as a stock exchange.

Today, it is home to the National School of Fine Arts. On the south side of the square is the Palais Rohan, also known as the Hôtel de Ville.

11. Admire the Grosse Cloche

The Grosse Cloche is a 15th-century bell and one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. It was located above a dungeon for juveniles on the site of the Porte Saint-Éloy XIII and weighs an impressive 7.75 tons.

The bell was rung as a signal to close the city gates at nightfall, to call the harvest, or to alert the citizens in case of fire or attack and call the citizens to arms.

As one of the two medieval entrances to the city, it served as a defensive fort along the city walls.

Grosse Cloche
Grosse Cloche

You can tour the walls and halls of the previous dungeon, and you may even hear the bell ring if you plan your trip right.

Today, it rings five times a year on New Year’s Day, Victory in Europe, Bastille Day, Liberation of Bordeaux, and Armistice Day. Visit on the 28th of August for the local Liberation of Bordeaux celebration!

Address: Rue Saint-James, 33000 Bordeaux

12. Visit the Palais Gallien

Located on the outskirts of the city are the ruins of the ancient Roman amphitheater dating back to the 2nd century AD.

Palais Gallien was built during the Roman occupation of France and was used as an arena for gladiatorial contests in addition to public gatherings.

It has since been excavated and restored to reveal its ancient architectural features since its discovery in the 19th century.

Palais Gallien
Palais Gallien

The remains include a monumental gateway, several arches, numerous wall remnants that are adjacent or even a part of surrounding houses, as well as basements.

It hosted double the town’s population and fit 20,000 spectators on its wooden benches to watch the games.

The amphitheater holds the only remains of the Roman past of Burdigala, the ancient name of the city, and was said to have rivaled the arenas of Arles and Nimes.

At the entrance is a building featuring a 3D reconstitution showing the original layout of the arena.

13. Have a Picnic at Jardin Public

The Jardin Public is a beautiful and well-maintained park right in the heart of the city; it’ll have you second-guessing yourself, thinking you’re actually in the countryside!

Take a leisurely walk along the paths and enjoy the sights of the pond encircled by trees and the 18th-century honey-colored buildings in the backdrop.

Bordeaux’s famous park was established in 1746 and consists of 11 hectares (27 acres) of green space, flowers, plants, a children’s playground, and the Guignol Guérin puppet show.

Jardin Public
Jardin Public

The park is also surrounded by a small botanical garden, an arboretum, charming townhouses, the Natural History Museum, and a bar-restaurant called  L’Orangerie.

Jardin Public is classified alongside one of many in the Jardin Remarquable de France.

The Jardin Botanique is a favorite of locals, with flowers in classical pots highlighting the green leaves embracing the historical architecture.

There are numerous statues and fountains dispersed throughout the park as well.

Address: Cr de Verdun, 33000 Bordeaux

14. Do a Wine Tasting at Bar à Vin

Bar à Vin is an elegant restaurant with a whole range of Bordeaux wines to choose from in a simply elegant and vintage setting.

Choose anything from reds, dry and sweet whites, to  Clairets, rosés, and crémants. The bar is located on the ground floor of Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Bordeaux’s headquarters – Maison du Vin de Bordeaux.

The building was constructed in the 18th century and was originally called the Hôtel Gobineau, a testament to the city’s relation with the ocean, the ship’s prow, and the port.

Drinking wine in Bordeaux is a must!
Drinking wine in Bordeaux is a must!

The bar was inaugurated in 2006 and was completely renovated and redesigned with neoclassical architecture and contemporary, minimalist furniture.

You’ll find paintings and artwork hung throughout the establishment evoking references to vineyards and all their tasks, from artists such as Marc Saint-Saëns and René Buthaud.

There are numerous options for seating inside, from high chairs at the bistro-style bar, to cozy armchairs at low tables, or an outdoor terrace with stunning views of the city.

Address: 3 Cr du 30 Juillet, 33000 Bordeaux

15. Climb the Pey Berland Tower 

The Pey Berland Tower is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

The 15th-century bell tower was built separately from the Saint-André Cathedral to provide the cathedral with a large bell without threatening its structure, and towers at 50 meters (164 feet) high.

The tower was built in the Flamboyant Gothic style and was named after Archbishop Pey-Berland, who commissioned its construction.

At the top of the tower is a golden statue of the Virgin with infant Christ, officially called the Notre Dame d’Aquitaine.

Tower Pey Berland
Tower Pey Berland

The statue measures a length of 6 meters (20 feet) and can be seen shining throughout the city when the sun is out.

The Pey Berland Tower is open to the public and visitors can climb 184 steps to the first terrace, or all 233 steps to the second terrace and the top of the tower to enjoy panoramic views of the city.

Online booking is required ahead of time if you want to climb to the top.

Address: Pl. Pey Berland, 33000 Bordeaux

16. Photograph the Miroir d’Eau

The Miroir d’Eau is in the heart of Bordeaux along the Garonne riverbanks and is one of the major attractions of the city.

It dates back three centuries and is located between Quai de la Douane and Quai Louis XVIII across from Place de la Bourse.

It is a pool that creates both a mirror effect and artificial misting over its reflected visuals of the surrounding architecture.

Miroir d’Eau
Miroir d’Eau

The water mirror is placed over a massive slab of granite and refills with water every twenty minutes. At that time it ripples for a bit before settling to become a mirror. It’s a great place during the summer to cool off!

Year-round you’ll find children running around and playing in it. The water mirror is a popular spot for photography, as the reflections of the surrounding architecture on the water mirror’s surface create a unique and captivating visual effect.

Address: Pl. de la Bourse, 33000 Bordeaux

17. Relax at the Bordeaux Lake Beach

Bordeaux Lake Beach is located just a short drive from the city center and offers a variety of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages.

The lake is surrounded by a beautiful park and gardens and is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking, as well as a variety of water sports, such as kayaking, paddle boarding, and windsurfing.

Consider taking a boat trip around the lake or renting a pedalo boat and exploring it at your own pace!

Bordeaux Lake Beach
Bordeaux Lake Beach

There are other recreational activities on land, such as mini-golf, tennis, and beach volleyball. Additionally, you’ll find designated playgrounds and areas dedicated to children.

Some restaurants and cafes offer traditional French cuisine and local specialties lined near the lake.

The pine forest picnic areas, however, are especially popular for picnics and thus you’ll mostly find visitors with their prepared meals enjoying the comfort of the prepared amenities. 

18. Explore the Chartrons District

​​The Chartrons is a neighborhood and district located on the banks of the Garonne River, is one of the oldest and most charming in the city.

It offers a unique glimpse into Bordeaux’s past and present, showcasing a mix of bourgeois and bohemian cultural heritage in the north of the neo-Aquitaine capital’s historic center.

Built around the Chartreux abbey, this ancient 14th-century neighborhood includes a diverse range of activities and hang-out spots, from wine shops, art galleries, and antique dealers, to bric-a-brac traders.

Its architecture and wine cellars have been restored and have transformed Bordeaux into the “Belle Attractive.”

Saint-Louis Church in Chartrons district
Saint-Louis Church in Chartrons district

The district hugs the Garonne River and includes the Public Gardens on the other side. It begins on Notre Dame Street and is where local businesses, trendy boutiques, and brand-name stores meet.

Shaded under the Saint-Louis church’s gothic steeples, it’ll direct you toward the marketplace and outdoor terraced restaurants before reaching Faubourg des Arts Street, where you’ll find artisanal workshops.

19. Spend a Morning at the Aquitaine Museum

The Aquitaine Museum offers a comprehensive look at the history and heritage of Aquitaine, from prehistory to the present day.

It features a wide range of exhibits, including artifacts from prehistoric times, protohistory, antiquity, Roman times, the Middle Ages, the modern era, and the 20th and 21st centuries.

There are a variety of archeological finds, such as pottery, jewelry, and tools, as well as art and objects from the region’s rich cultural heritage, on display throughout the museum.

There is also a section dedicated to the history of Bordeaux, including the city’s role as a major port and wine-producing center.

The port was the main force behind the growth of the city’s economy, which led to the golden age of railways and shipbuilding. In this permanent collection, you’ll find paintings, sculptures, drawings, and everyday objects, such as films, tools, and posters.

Additionally, the Aquitaine Museum features temporary exhibits of collections from all over the world.

Address: 20 Cr Pasteur, 33000 Bordeaux

20. Take a Historic and Gourmet City Tour of Bordeaux

Your tour guide will be waiting for you in the heart of Bordeaux at the Tourism Office where you will start your walking tour.

Together, you’ll discover the 18th-century UNESCO-classified city and see its main highlights and attractions.

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the famous pastry of Bordeaux: the canelé.

The pastry itself is in the shape of a striated cylinder, and it’s small in height, reaching up to five centimeters (2-inch feet), and has a small, circular depression in its center.

Food and wine in Bordeaux should be a huge part of your trip!
Food and wine in Bordeaux should be a huge part of your trip!

The delicacy is soft and tender with a thick and caramelized crust and is flavored with rum and vanilla with a custard inside.

Afterward, head over to a fromagerie and learn about the characteristics of famous cheeses from the cheese seller.

Some cheeses include Comté, Roquefort, and Brie. To finish the gourmet food tour, your final stop will be at a pork butcher shop where you will enjoy local delicacies on a charcuterie board with a glass of wine.

21. Shop at the Quais Market

The Quais Market in Bordeaux is an authentic shopping experience in the city located along the banks of the Garonne River at the Quais des Chartrons.

The market offers a wide range of products, from fresh produce to seafood, artisanal bread, cheeses, and pastries.

It’s open every Sunday morning and also has street food vendors offering a delicious selection of traditional French dishes, such as crepes, sandwiches, and seafood plates.

Visitors can also find a variety of local specialties, such as oysters and mussels, which are served fresh from the market’s seafood vendors, one of the main attractions of the market.

Quais Market
Quais Market

The wine stalls are another major stop for locals and tourists alike; pair your oysters with some wine for the ultimate Bordeaux experience!

A visit to the market includes a very pleasant walk with wonderful views of both sides of the river. Cash is preferred by the vendors, but not limited to – just a heads up!

Address: 157 Quai des Chartrons, 33000 Bordeaux

22. Walk around Place Darwin

Located on Bordeaux’s right bank is Place Darwin, a village square in the Bastide district that was once a former military barracks.

Today, it is an eco-rehabilitated village square and is one of the most visited places in the city.

The unique and vibrant neighborhood attracts a diverse crowd of people, from skaters and street artists to champions of sustainability, green economy entrepreneurs, and fans of new-age and electronic music.

You’ll find graffiti just about everywhere, with large frescoes adorning the entrances and throughout the walls enclosing the square.

Place Darwin - Mark Green - Shutterstock
Place Darwin – Mark Green – Shutterstock

You’ll find locals enjoying the skatepark facility or admiring the permaculture botanical and vegetable gardens at the Niel urban farm.

The largest bistro-dining hall in Europe is in Darwin – the Magasin General, which promotes and utilizes local products and businesses, and ensures an organic and zero-waste collaborative initiative amongst its partners.

You’ll find interesting shops and boutiques as well, with surf shops, apitherapy boutiques, and bookstores.

Things to Do in Bordeaux (On a Map!)

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Where to Stay in Bordeaux

If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Bordeaux for your trip, these are some of our top recommendations!

Did we miss any of the best things to do in Bordeaux?

Please let us know your tips for a Bordeaux bucket list below in the comments. Thanks!

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