Marseille is found just off of France's Mediterranean coast and is one of the many beautiful cities in the country. Dating back at least 2,600 years, this city has an intriguing past that can still be appreciated today, especially in places like the Old Town. If you want to find out new facts about this historic port town or learn about other interesting topics, check out the best museums in Marseille.
Of course, there are other attractions offered within the city but the truth is that Marseille isn't focused so much on tourism. Those who really want to explore Southern France should consider traveling just outside the city limits to take advantage of the many day trips available from Marseille. Take a look at the ones that we've gathered below!
Marseille travel tip: You won't want to lug your shopping purchases or heavy items around with you all day so find a place where you can leave your bags in Marseille. Then, get ready to explore the region.
How to get out of Marseille
Getting around this port city can be a little fast-paced and hectic, especially if you don't know where you are going. If navigating new places is stressful for you, this guide on how to get around Marseille will help you out. When it comes to traveling in and out of the city things can be a little different, so keep reading for some travel tips.
Most people who have visited Marseille warn not to drive; the roads are very busy, scooters are everywhere and the parking situation is less than ideal. If you are staying inside the city center the best solution is to walk or rent an electric bike, and if you need to get in and out of town you should really rely on public transportation as much as possible.
You can get from the center of the city to its outskirts using the metro, buses and trams, and even boats can help you get around! The main transportation hub is the Marseille Saint Charles Station which is where most of the high-speed trains as well as both urban and regional buses can be found.
From Marseille to Cassis
Some say that Cassis is the prettiest of all the beautiful villages in France. This charming little fishing port is a wonderful place to relax and sightsee. With sprawling fields and vineyards it is a wine lovers paradise but anyone who appreciates natural beauty will absolutely adore it here. Although there is much to do, the city can easily be explored in a day making it the perfect destination for a day trip from Marseille.
Some of the things that you can do in this fishing village include going swimming in the crystal clear waters, taking a stroll down the streets to admire pastel colored houses, going hiking to see rare plant species in Les Calanques National Park, or taking a guided walking tour and wine tasting in the wineries.
While you are here make sure that you visit some of the city's landmarks, like the Fontaine des Quatres Nations castle from the 14th century! If you choose to explore Les Calanques you can either discover the area at your own pace by foot, take a boat tour, or even go scuba diving in the water by the islands.
How to get to Cassis
Cassis isn't very far from Marseille and you can get there easily using the buses and trains. Take the TER C6 to the Cassis train station and you will get there in just over an hour.
From Marseille to Nîmes
Take a detour just on the outskirts of the Provence region to visit Nîmes. This nice town is full of history and cultural heritage. Tourists love to come here to see the many impressive remains from the Roman times or to participate in the regular festivals, events and performances. For a nice place to go on a walk just make your way to one of the many beautiful greenspaces in Nîmes.
As for sightseeing, your first stop should be the Roman Amphitheater which is nearly 2,000 years old now and still in terrific condition. It is also the venue for events like the Festival de Nîmes which is held every summer. Other Roman monuments like the Maison Carrée temple and the Pont Du Gard, which is the longest and tallest aqueduct in the world, are definitely worth checking out as well. Make sure that you visit the beautiful Jardins de la Fontaine Park if you get a chance.
How to get to Nîmes
Nîmes is a bit further away from Marseille than some of the other cities but is well worth the journey. Take the bus to the Old Port of Marseille and then hop onto the Intercités 180A and TGV 812C train and you will be there in under two hours.
From Marseille to Arles
If you are someone who loves culture and can really appreciate history, then Arles is where you will want to go. This sunny town in the Provence region is so beautiful that Van Gogh even painted it! To get a sneak peek of what you are in for, take a look at his masterpiece called Terrasse du Café le Soir. It is a representation of the Place du Forum. Art enthusiasts who want to see more of his work should make time to travel on the Van Gogh Trail or the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh Arles while they are here.
Aside from art galleries, several historic buildings from long ago can still be seen here like the ancient Roman amphitheater from the 1st century B.C. This Roman colosseum has seen better days but is still in great shape and is even used as a venue for outdoor performances in the summertime.
If you want to see some ancient artifacts from this time stop, by the Musée de l'Arles Antique. Just walking around the city is amazing with all of the incredible Roman and Gothic architecture and is why it is on the list as a UNESCO world heritage site.
How to get to Arles
Getting between Arles and Marseille is a breeze and won't take you very long at all. If you grab a seat on the TER K4 and TER K9 trains you can get there in about an hour and a half. It is a very rewarding day trip, especially since it is so easy to get to.
From Marseille to Hyères
As the first designated resort destination for the French Riviera, you can easily see why Hyères is one of the best places for a day trip from Marseille. The area is absolutely stunning but the natural beauty is not the only reason that people come to visit. There are some fabulous places to go shopping making it the ideal destination for shopaholics. The pleasant cobblestone streets of the Old Town are nice places to go sightseeing as well.
If you happen to be visiting on a Saturday or a Tuesday you should absolutely visit the markets. There is a farmers market on Saturdays and Tuesdays throughout the year and Thursdays in the summer, as well as a traditional market selling all sorts of local goods on Saturdays. Afterward, go exploring around the city and visit the Tour Saint-Blaise or the Église Sainte-Catherine which are both from the 12th century. There are more monuments and beaches to check out, too!
How to get to Hyères
Getting to Hyères will take a little while but if you have the free time it is definitely worth a day trip. You can catch the TER T6 train from the Marseille Saint Charles Station which will take around two hours.
From Marseille to Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en-Provence was the capital city of the region up until the time of the French revolution, so it makes sense why this would be one of the best day trips from Marseille. Where other cities can be busy and fast-paced, Aix-en-Provence is slow and relaxing, making it a fantastic destination for those who want to take it easy while discovering old monuments and traditions. Every week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays there is a grand market where you can shop for artisanal products made by locals by hand.
This quaint village has a significant Roman influence that can be easily spotted while walking down its streets; it is even nicknamed the City of Fountains because of the well preserved monuments that were left from that time! Take a stroll down the cobbled streets of the historic center to admire all of them as well as some elegant mansions. This spot also served as inspiration for many artists and painters, namely the famous local genius named Paul Cézanne. There is a walking trail dedicated to him where you can stop by his childhood home and studio.
How to get to Aix-en-Provence
It won't be hard to find a way from Marseille to Aix-en-Provence. Both the buses and trains can get you there in about an hour or less making it an easy and rewarding day trip from Marseille. Take the L050 bus or the TER c2 and TER k2 trains to get here.
From Marseille to Château d'If
Situated on the sea just off the coast of Marseille is the Frioul archipelago which is made up of four islands. The smallest island is called If and it is home to a fortress and former prison called the Château d'If which has become famous thanks to its use as inspiration in The Count of Monte Cristo. Nothing is on the island apart from the fortress, which dates back to some time between 1524 and 1531. It was King François I who ordered the fortress to be built with the goal of defending the coastline and it is very heavily fortified.
Although the building was decked out with huge walls and an intimidating appearance it was never used in a battle which is why it was later transformed into a prison. Although this is the most popular of the city's main attractions, there are a few other things to see as well, like hiking paths and bars on the Ratonneau and Pomègues islands that are connected to If.
How to get to Château d'If
To get to the Château d'If and the Frioul archipelago islands you will need to use a boat. There is a ferry that leaves regularly from Marseille that can bring you there in just 20 minutes! Since it is so close to Marseille it is the perfect place to go on a spontaneous day trip.
From Marseille to Gordes
Gordes is one of the Luberon villages in the region of Provence. It is a pretty little hilltop village full of old buildings that make it look like a town from the Middle Ages. It is surrounded by breathtaking mountains and fields of lavender which are also some of its top attractions. It is a lovely place, and there are some pretty cool spots to visit.
If you decide to take a day trip to Gordes there are some places that you will have to see. Make time for the incredible old castle which was first constructed all the way back in 1031! Although it was rebuilt in 1525 it is still a magnificent structure. Combined with the lavender fields and medieval houses built into the rocks of the mountains, Gordes is a truly picture-perfect place. If we could make one suggestion it would be to bring a camera.
How to get to Gordes
Getting from Marseille to Gordes is a bit tricky since public transportation can't get you there. You will either have to rent a car and drive yourself, hire a taxi or sign up for a full guided day tour to get here. The drive will take a bit over an hour.
Venturing Outside of Marseille
Marseille is a fairly big city, but if you are visiting for a while and want a change of scenery then taking a trip outside of town can be a good idea. From fishing villages to towns from the Middle Ages, Southern France has attractions on both land and sea, and since most of them are only an hour or two away you can try to see a few of them during your vacation to Marseille.