How to Spend 48 Hours in Marseille: The Perfect Itinerary

by Sam
How to Spend 48 Hours in Marseille

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Founded in 600 BC by Greek sailors, Marseille is one of France’s oldest and most underrated cities, with many tourists flocking to its surrounding areas.

While exploring the South of France, I was lucky to stop by Marseille. I was heavily surprised by the array of activities, day trips, and picturesque hikes, which were enough to keep me busy and leave me with a jam-packed itinerary.

From an array of stunning beaches, historical monuments, adventure days out and, most importantly, delicious cuisine, there was nothing Marseille didn’t provide for an all-important cultural escape.

This guide will help you discover all the gems Marseille offers with tips and recommendations to help you cover Marseille in 48 hours. 

Where to stay in Marseille

The best area to stay in Marseille is by the Old Port. Choosing this location will provide more freedom to move around the city, allowing you to leisurely explore the itinerary as most famous attractions are within considerable walking distance of the Old Port.

Other recommendations:

Le Panier – Experience a unique and charming atmosphere by staying amidst the colourful streets of Le Panier, most known for its local art scene. 

Cassis – If hiking is your preference, stay in Cassis, just a short bus from Marseille. This is your perfect base point when planning to visit the wonderful Calanques National Park, which is only a short walk away. 

Cours Julien – For those eager to experience the bustling nightlife of Marseille, your best pick would be Cours Julien, known for its array of cafes and bars. 

Le Panier and Cours Julien are your budget-friendly options. Accommodation by the Old Port is often expensive. 

Colourful buildings in Le Panier Marseille
Your typical colourful buildings in Le Panier, Marseille.

How to get to Marseille

Marseille is located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeast France and has many transport links to the city, offering various options for travellers. Here are a few suggested ways to get to Marseille; 

By air travel – To get to Marseille by flying, take a flight to Marseille Provence Airport, the main city’s airport.

Once you arrive at the airport, catch the L91 bus just outside the airport by its bus depot. This will take you to Marseille St Charles Station (the main train station in Marseille), which is a 17-minute walk away from the Old Port. For more details, click here.

Train – Many transport links from Paris or other European cities can take you straight to Marseille St Charles Station. Tickets for trains can be bought at the station in your respective city or through the Trainline app, subject to admin fees.  

If you are travelling from the airport, you can use the free shuttle bus at the bus depot (platform 5) to take you to the nearest train station, Vitrolles-Aéroport-Marseille-Provence and then be on your way to Marseille St Charles Station. 

Buses/Coaches – Coach/bus travel to Marseille is available from neighbouring or European cities. Flixbus is your best bet for cheap and reliable coach travel to Marseille.

How many days you need in Marseille

It should take you around 2 days to explore Marseille. Although, allocating an extra day is recommended for a more leisurely stay.

Marseille offers an abundance of beautiful sights and attractions. But what should you do in the famous French city of Marseille in 2 days? Without further ado, let’s dive into it.

Best things to do in Marseille Pinterest image 

2-day Itinerary in Marseille: Best things to do

Looking for the best things to do in Marseille for your 48-hour adventure? I’ll dive into the must-dos in the city with tips, guides, and recommendations along the way. 

Day 1 – Exploring the city of Marseille

For day 1, its time to start exploring the beautiful port city of Marseille. With a jam-packed itinerary on the way, full of adventures, we will get the ball rolling with the first activity. 

Take a stroll around the Old Port of Marseille

Duration: 1 hour

Marseille’s Old Port is one of the busiest parts of the city. As you walk along the harbour, you’ll be greeted by its colourful buildings and boats gently bobbing on the port’s waters.

It is the hotspot for the city’s establishments, featuring a long strip filled with restaurants, cafes and mini-markets.

Tip: Be on the lookout for street performers next to the underground station of Vieux Port.

Vieux Port is known to feature some of Marseilles’ most talented street performers; the space near the underground is wide open, perfect for showcasing local talent. 

During my time there, I saw breakdancers, singers, magic performers, you name it!

Panoramic view of Old Port of Marseille

Have breakfast on the Old Port

Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hour

Whether you’re seeking a cultural experience with a traditional French breakfast with croissants and coffee or something more savoury like eggs and bacon, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your tastes around the Old Port.

It is also one of the most scenic places to eat! You’ll be sure to get stunning port views with a picturesque backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea. 

Recommendation: Head to La Caravelle for breakfast. It offers excellent views of the harbour from its balcony terrace and has a brilliant breakfast selection, all for a decent price! 

Strolling along the Old Port of Marseille in France

Catch a ferry to Château d’If

Duration: 1-2 hours

This little fortress, once an old prison situated offshore from Marseille, now stands as a cultural literature icon, gaining fame in today’s society through Alexandre Dumas’s novel ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’. 

Although Château d’If does cater towards its literature significance, it also delves into the island’s fascinating history of what was once used for the most notorious prisoners in France.

During your time on the island, you’ll explore from cell to cell, envisioning the conditions the prisoners once endured and learning about the treatment they received from the island’s guards.

It is well worth the visit for anyone travelling to Marseille. Also, the views on and off the island are stunning!

Château d'If in Marseille
Outside Château d'If in Marseille

How to get to Chateau d’If from Marseille

To get to Chateau D’If from Marseille, purchase your ferry tickets from Calanques – Chateau If terminal. The tickets cost €11.10 for a return, including the entrance to the island. 

Once you’ve bought your ticket, you’ll be given instructions on the next time slot for a ferry journey. They will be listed next to the kiosk building. You can also pre-book your tickets online with a different travel agency

Ferries run every hour to the island, for which you must spend at least 1 hour there until the next return slot is available. 

Note: The island is closed on Mondays.

Visit The Basilica of Marseille

Duration: 1-2 hours

Notre-Dame de la Garde is one of Marseille’s most beautiful and famous landmarks. It can be seen from almost anywhere in the city with its 30-foot golden statue of the Virgin Mary shining in the sun.

As it’s perched on top of a hill, it is, sadly, a little tricky to get to. For those walking anyway

How to get to Notre-Dame de La Garde

Public transport – To get to the Basilica via public transport, catch the number 60 bus from the Quai de Port bus stop. 

By foot – If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can climb to the top. Baring in the mind, this is not an easy climb. You must walk 30-40 minutes from the Old Port, with 50% of it going up a steep hill. The directions from the Old Port are here.

As you reach halfway, you’ll spot the Basilica in the distance ahead, confirming you’re on the right path. It proved to be a massive confidence boost that I even managed the walk with my undeniable physique. 

Walking to Basilica of Notre-Dame of la Garde Marseille

During your visit to Notre Dame de La Garde

Once you reach the top of the hill, you can enjoy some of the most breathtaking views across the city.

Massive bonus: The Basilica is free to enter! However, expect long wait times, especially during peak season. And be wary; it isn’t always open for visitors. It’s closed during mass and celebration times; you can view the schedule for those here

Note: To respect the sanctuary, you must keep your head uncovered when inside. 

It is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve been in. Its intricate mosaics, stunning stained glass windows and well-crafted sculptures make this a must-see attraction in Marseille.

Inside Marseille Basilica

Stroll around the Corniche Kennedy

Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hour

Perhaps one of the best-hidden gems of the city, this stunning seaside promenade takes you through some of the most beautiful shots of the Mediterranean Sea and Marseille’s surroundings. While you walk along its long road, you’ll pass many fishermen’s houses, historical monuments and mansions from the 19th century.

For those who are peckish, it does have a few cafes and restaurants that overlook the promenade, but this all comes at a hefty price!

If you don’t fancy forking out on expensive dining, maybe visit with an ice cream. It has many conveniently placed benches on the walkway, where visitors can simply relax and watch the world go by. 

View of the Mediterranean sea from Corniche Kennedy in Marseille

Walk along Cours Julien

Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hour

Le Cours Julien is one of the liveliest parts of Marseille and features some of its most beautiful street art on its walls.

Walk down its streets and experience the best of local culture. It plays host to many local markets.

The street is well worth visiting and seeing what souvenirs or delights you can find. Maybe you’ll pick up some of Frances’s finest cheese from the Farmer’s market! 

Le Cours Julien in Marseille France

Visit the Palais Longchamp

Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hour

A 25-minute walk from Le Cours Julien is Palais Longchamp, an impressive water tower that is a perfect place for a serene escape from the bustling port side of the city.

Its tranquil water fountains and pretty greenery are great to sit next to and relax in nature! 

Overlooking Palais Longchamp

Explore the Marseille Cathedral 

Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hour

This marvel features various architectural styles, including Romanesque and Byzantine, that will soon wow you at first sight. I remember seeing it from afar on the harbour and instantly doing a Google search to find out more.  

Just like the Basillique, the cathedral’s interior is breathtakingly beautiful, and better yet, it’s currently free to enter. We all love a freebie! 

Marseille Cathedral France

Immerse yourself in history at Mucem and Fort Saint-Jean 

Duration: 2-3 hours 

Mucem and Fort Saint-Jean are some of the must-see attractions in Marseille, offering an immersive experience through the history of the city and its region. 


While walking through the museum, you’ll find many artefacts, artworks, and exhibits that showcase the developments of the European and Mediterranean region over history.

While you’re there, make your way to the rooftop of the building. The views from here are stunning, offering 360-degree views of Fort Saint-Jean and the Mediterranean Sea. If you’re feeling peckish, you can also sit down at the Le Mole Passedat restaurant, where you can eat while soaking up the views. The food is expensive, though! 

Want to skip the waiting line to Mucem? You can pre-book your ticket in advance to ensure a hassle-free experience.

Fort Saint-Jean

Fort Saint-Jean was built in the 17th century as a fortress to protect Marseille from invaders. During your visit, you’ll learn how it corresponded with the city’s past and its prominence during rebellions and wars that have impacted the city. It is a well-recommended activity and also free!

Note: To access the Fort from Mucem, visitors can walk via the footbridge from the rooftop. 

The footbridge between Fort Saint-Jean and Mucem
The footbridge that connects Mucem and Fort Saint-Jean.

Hang out at the former tobacco factory

Duration: 1-2 hours

Friche la Belle de Mai is one of Marseille’s biggest cultural hubs that hosts a range of activities, events, exhibitions, and more. You name it! 

In addition, Friche la Belle de Mai also has a lovely rooftop bar with some of the city’s best views. It is perhaps best enjoyed with a glass of French red wine to go with it.

Dining at Les Grandes

Inside the old tobacco factory is this little restaurant with a vibrant aesthetic. Les Grandes has a decent-sized menu with various options for those with dietary restrictions. Highly recommended if you want a cosy and delicious meal


And there you have it, the end of day 1. It should leave you with a jam-packed day, full of Marseille’s best adventures to keep you busy. If you are visiting for 3 days, these can be spread across 2 days for a leisurely stay. 

Day 2 – A day trip to Calanques National Park 

A day trip to the wonderful Calanques National Park is a must-do for anyone visiting Marseille.

But what is Calanques? Calanques are rock formations made primarily from limestone and found around the Mediterranean Sea. 

The Calanques National Park requires a whole day, as to experience at its best, it’s important to make many stops and turns along the way!

Stop by the fishing village of Cassis

Duration: 1-2 hours

The Calanque National Park is enormous, so you’ll never get an accurate result when searching for a public transport route from Marseille. 

Cassis is the best way to get there from Marseille and is only a 26-minute walk to the start of the National Park. 

A trip to Cassis is a day out in its own right. This beautiful little fishing village is full of quaint cafes, divine restaurants, and small independent shops, perfect for a stop-off before your hiking adventure.  

Breakfast at Cassis

Cassis has plenty of food options along its harbour. For those looking for a great breakfast, Monsieur Brun was a delicious choice! I couldn’t resist having some French cheese piled with scrambled eggs and bacon.

They also serve light breakfast for those who can’t stomach a big meal early in the morning. It offers some of the best views of Cassis’s harbour! 

Plate full of scrambled egg, cheeses and more served in Cassis France
Overlooking the Cassis fishing port

How to get from Marseille to Cassis

In Marseille, go to the Castellane/Toulon bus stop and catch the L 78 bus towards Augustin Isnard (Cassis). Tickets cost €7.00 for return. The journey time is 44 minutes, and buses are every hour.

You will arrive around a 7-minute walk away from the port. For directions from the bus stop to Cassis Harbour, click here

Note: To purchase bus tickets in Marseille, ticket machines are placed by the bus stop. If, for any reason, there isn’t a ticket machine, then you will be able to purchase your ticket on board. However, they prefer a pre-bought ticket. Make sure you validate this ticket on the bus

They accept cash only on the bus. However, the ticket machines take both cash and cards. 

Visting the Calanques National Park

Duration: 2-5 hours

Now you have stocked up on your energy, it’s now time to make your way to the Calanques National Park.  

Follow this route to get to the start of the National Park at Calanque de Port-Miou. It takes 25 minutes to walk there! Once you arrive at the national park, you’ll have an array of hikes and stop-off points to choose from.

The recommended hike is to Calanque D’En-Vau, where you’ll get to see some of the best rock formations of the entire national park, with many stop-offs on the way, including the famous Calanque de Port Pin.

Stopping off at Calanque de Port Pin

At the start of Calanque de Port-Mio, walk along the skinny path until you come across a little incline. You’ll have to do a bit of climbing! It should take around 30 minutes to get to Calanque de Port Pin. 

Note: If you get lost, look for red and white engravings on the walls. They are marked ‘Port-Pin-Sugiton En Vau.’

Once you arrive, you’ll come across a  little rocky beach alongside a seating area. This gets extremely busy in the peak tourist months. However, it is a much-needed rest before you continue your journey towards Calanque D’En-Vau. It has a little beach adorned with crystal clear waters, all great for a swim and a cool down. 

Overlook the beach of Calanque de Port Pin in Marseille

Getting to Calanque D’En-Vau (30-40 minutes walk from Calanque de Port)

From Calanque de Port Pin,  you have two options.

Blue track – Best suited for experienced hikers* Focusing entirely on the coastline, this track offers constant panoramic views of the national park and the Calanque D’En-Vau beach. It does however, require more climbing.

White and red track – Best suited for beginners* This is the path I took, as I’m incredibly unfit! It still requires a hike, mind you. But it’s more gradual.

You can still get a beautiful view of the National Park’s rock formations and the beach. Just turn left when you hit a fork in the road. From there, you can walk along the coastline where the blue path usually takes you. 

Calanque D'En-Vau in Marseille

Getting to the beach – To get there from the top, choose the right path. Eventually, you should reach steep steps, where you’ll need to make your way down.

Note: The path to the beach is well-signposted once you are at the top.

Those visiting during spring/summer will have no trouble locating it. You’ll see plenty of tourists making their way there. Just follow them! 

Once you’re there, it’ll be worth it from that graft. You’ll be instantly rewarded with scenic views left, right, and centre! 

The view from Calanque d'En-Vau Beach in Marseille

Eat out in Cassis

There are plenty of delicious restaurants located throughout Cassis, with budget-friendly options or fine dining available. The most expensive eateries are right next to the harbour, for obvious reasons.

Here are my recommendations:

The best option (££-£££) – The best restaurant I tried in Cassis was O Rev Cassis. You’ll find it through the walls of the fishing village. Sadly, it doesn’t offer views of the harbour. However, this little hidden gem escapes the crowds, and the most important thing is that it serves delicious food, all delivered with attentive service. All you can ask from a restaurant!

Budget option (£) – Cheap food is tough to come by in Cassis, but my top pick would be La Fringale. This inexpensive outlet is situated in a little alleyway, in cute surroundings. Its atmosphere is incredible and, most importantly, serves good quality food.

And after dinner, why not head around the fishing village in the evening? It is beautifully illuminated, perfect for a late-night stroll! 

Cassis at night France

Finishing up in Marseille

Now, it’s time to head back to Marseille to settle down for the night. To get back to Marseille, catch the L78 bus on the opposite side of the road where you caught the bus in the morning. 

Once you’re back in Marseille, take a little walk around the Old Port harbour before the night ends and gaze upon the stunning views one last time before you leave. It’s truly an incredible sight! 

Marseille At Night


Sadly, that now marks the end of the jam-packed 2-day itinerary in Marseille. This could easily be spread to a 3-days but leaves you enough to decide what and how you want to experience this beautiful city.

Best day trips from Marseille

Are you looking to add more adventures to your Marseille itinerary? Well, there are plenty of places to visit from the coastal city!

AvignonThis hidden gem, set in the heart of the Provence region of France, is a perfect setting for a cultural getaway full of Medieval reminiscence and attractions to keep you busy. Its most famous attraction is Palais des Papes.

The journey to Avignon from Marseille is 1 hour and 10 minutes by train from Marseille St Charles Station.

Palais des Papes Avignon near Marseille

Aix-en-Provence – This little French charmer in the southern region is best known for its narrow streets and well-preserved medieval architecture.  

Explore its many museums and galleries that showcase the city’s most talented artists. Furthermore, Aix-en-Provence is surrounded by picturesque countryside, perfect for those looking to participate in outdoor activities.

The journey to Aix-en-Provence from Marseille is 45 minutes by train from Marseille St Charles Station.

Aix en Provence France

Nimes – For a well-rounded combination of Roman ambience and modern city feel, visit this beautiful location from Marseille. 

Explore the famous Nimes Amphitheatre or take a stroll around the majestic Jardin de La Fontaine. It’s one of my favourite places I’ve ever visited during my travels.

Outside Nimes Amphitheatre

Final thoughts on 48 hours in Marseille

And there you have it! During my trip to the South of France, I wasn’t expecting Marseille to wow me as much as it did. For me, it is one of Europe’s most underrated cities to visit.

If you have any questions regarding your trip here, fire away in the comments. I’ll be happy to share any more guidance on Marseille. Anyhow, safe travels! 

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