Marseille: The Ultimate City Break Guide with tips and hacks for a Memorable Trip

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Overview of Marseille

Marseille, the oldest city in France, which offers an incredible blend of history, culture, and coastal charm. Founded by Greek sailors around 600 B.C., and its unique rich history has given rise to a cultural, architectural and gastronomical mix influenced by North Africa, Italy, and Spain. Known for its bustling Vieux-Port, historical neighbourhoods like Le Panier, and the stunning coastline make Marseille a must-visit destination. This Mediterranean gem has something for everyone. In this ultimate city break guide, I will share insider tips and travel hacks to help you make the most of your Marseille adventure.

Transportation Tips

Marseille has a well-connected public transportation system, including buses, trams, and metro lines. You will also find city bikes, electric scooters and taxis. You may want to consider purchasing a City Pass for unlimited travel and discounts on attractions. However, I managed and enjoyed discovering the main attractions, on foot.

Street Art in Marseille
Street Art in Marseille

For a more scenic mode of transport, hop on the ferry or boat from the Vieux-Port to discover surrounding villages, the city’s coastline or to visit the Calanques National Park. Plan your trip around the “happy hour” schedule to save some money on reduced fares during certain hours.

Travel from and to the airport – you have two options: taxis or buses. Taxis will cost you c. €40-€50 for a journey to the city, while the bus (line L91) will bring you directly to the city’s main train station for around €10. Save money by purchasing a return ticket.

Accommodation Suggestions

Marseille offers a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets. For the best deals, book your accommodation well in advance and compare prices on multiple booking websites, or consider travelling to Marseille off-season. Stay around the city centre close to the Vieux-Port or Le Panier to experience the city at its best.


I haven’t felt unsafe in the city and discovered it all on foot at different times of the day. You should still always be aware of your surroundings and safeguard your belongings.

Must-see Attractions in Marseille

Image of MuCEM Museum
MuCEM Museum
  1. Vieux-Port (Free) – Explore the city’s historic heart, where you can enjoy fresh seafood, admire yachts, and watch the world go by.
  2. Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde (Free) – Take a hike or use the Petit Train to reach this iconic hilltop basilica, offering panoramic views of Marseille.
  3. Le Panier (Free) – Wander the narrow streets of Marseille’s oldest neighbourhood, filled with colourful houses, street art, and artisan boutiques.
  4. MuCEM Museum (c. €11) – Visit this striking museum dedicated to Mediterranean civilisations, featuring both contemporary architecture and historic fortifications. The museum has permanent and temporary exhibitions, plus offers beautiful views of the city and its coastline.
  5. Calanques National Park – Embark on a hike or boat tour to discover the breathtaking limestone cliffs, hidden coves, and turquoise waters.
  6. Musée du Savon de Marseille (c. €2.50 – entrance plus a soap) – Discover the history of soap production in Marseille and craft your own customisable soap for an extra fee.
  7. Palais Longchamp – A beautiful palace that houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Musée d’Histoire Naturelle, surrounded by an impressive park and fountains.
  8. Jardin du Pharo – Stroll through this beautiful park and relax on the upper hill with a view of the Vieux-Port and the sea.
Image of Vieux-Port in Marseille
Vieux-Port in Marseille

Things to do in Marseille

  1. Explore the city on foot and enjoy the views over the city or the sea from different landmarks.
  2. Discover the history of a soap production in Marseille and how it influenced the city.
  3. Take a boat trip (with options for lunch or a romantic dinner with sunset).
  4. Sunbath on the city’s beaches.
  5. Watch the beautiful sunset at Vieux-Port.
  6. Snap a selfie with a big bear statue in La Penier.
  7. Enjoy the variety of foods the city has to offer.
  8. Discover some interesting street art.
View from Marseille at the sea
View from Marseille at the sea

Local Food

Marseille’s diverse culinary scene is not to be missed. Everyone will find something for themselves. As a port city, you can find plenty of restaurants serving fresh seafood and Italian food. Due to its North African influence, you can also find more exotic dishes such as Moroccan and Tunisian cuisine. Popular Turkish kebab places are also worth trying. Make sure to discover and enjoy a variety of pastries at many bakeries throughout the city. Restaurants tend to close after lunch and reopen later in the evening for dinner.

For a superb Italian food experience, I recommend visiting Ciel Rooftop, where you can enjoy a variety of drinks and the fantastic rooftop view. Be sure to book in advance to secure your reservation.

If you have a sweet tooth, you must visit Cookiss in La Penier for delicious cookies and hot chocolate.

Image of food from the Ciel Rooftop in Marseille.

Duration and season to visit

I highly recommend visiting Marseille during the summer or close to summer to enjoy the city’s outdoor activities in good weather and sunshine. Marseille is an ideal city break destination for a weekend or a few days visit at most.

Le Panier in Marseille
Le Panier in Marseille

Additional resources:

Official Marseille Tourist Website

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