2 Days in Marseille: The Perfect Itinerary (Local’s Guide)

Nestled along the sun-kissed coast of the Mediterranean, Marseille is a lively city full of history, culture, and charm. It’s a perfect blend of old and new, with its ancient architecture and modern amenities.

And, as the oldest city in the country, there’s a lot to do here.

I moved to France more than six years ago and have been to Marseille several times. I’ve explored every corner of this city and know all the top attractions.

In this post, I’ll share with you how to spend 2 days in Marseille. From popular landmarks to hidden gems, it has everything you need to guarantee an amazing stay.

There is the perfect 2 days in Marseille itinerary. It has everything you to plan an amazing trip.
The Perfect 2-Day Marseille Itinerary

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2 Days in Marseille Overview

If you’re short on time, here is a quick overview of this itinerary.

  • Day 1: Le Vieux Port, Notre-Dame de la Garde, L’Abbaye Saint-Victor, Navette de Marseille, Le Panier, Cathédrale de la Major, Cosquer Méditerranée, L’Estaque
  • Day 2: Marché aux Poissons, Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Marseille, Palais Longchamp, Parc National des Calanques, La Cité Radieuse – Le Corbusier, Plage du Prado

48 Hours in Marseille – Day 1

Explore Le Vieux Port

This is a photo of Le Vieux Port in Marseille at sunset. There are boats lined in the harbor in the water and in the distance there are buildings lit by the setting sun.
Le Vieux Port at Sunset

The Vieux Port, or Old Port, is where the ancient Greeks laid the foundation of Marseille in the 6th century BC. Since then, it has served as a gateway for traders, adventurers, and conquerors from across the globe.

Here you’ll find local fisherman selling their catch of the day, historical monuments like Fort Saint-Jean, and charming cafés lining the waterfront.

My favorite times to explore Le Vieux Port were at sunrise and sunset.

In the morning, you can watch the city come to life as locals set up their market stalls and tourists embark on boat tours.

Then, at sunset, the port transforms into a beautiful backdrop for street entertainers. It’s the perfect place to grab a beer and hang out.

Helpful Tip: This is where boat tours to the Frioul Islands, L’Estaque, and the Calanques National Park depart.

Nearest Metro Stop: Vieux Port (Line M1)

Discover Notre-Dame de la Garde

This is a photo of Notre-Dame de la Garde in Marseille. It is on a hill in the distance and in the foreground there is the Vieux Port filled with boats.
Notre-Dame de la Garde

Notre-Dame de la Garde stands on an outcrop overlooking Marseille and the Mediterranean.

It was built in the mid-19th century on the foundations of an old fort. Since then, it has become a symbol of the city, so much so that locals refer to it as “La Bonne Mère” (The Good Mother).

It features layered stonework and a bell tower topped with a golden statue of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.

But what I found the most impressive were the mosaics inside the church. These exquisite artworks showed different scenes from the Old Testament in incredible detail.

Then, outside, the terraces offer beautiful panoramic views over the area.

It’s open every day, but the church still hosts mass regularly. During these times, you can’t enter.

When I arrived, mass was about to begin, so I had to wait about an hour. But it was such a spectacular church, that it was worth the wait.

Helpful Tip: If you want a photo of Notre-Dame de la Garde for your Instagram feed, go to Passerelle Parvis-St. Jean. That’s where I took the photo above.

Address: Rue Fort du Sanctuaire

Nearest Bus Stop: Notre-Dame de la Garde (Line 60)

Visit L’Abbaye Saint-Victor

This is the exterior of L'Abbaye Saint-Victor. It's a large stone building with several lookout towers.
L’Abbaye Saint-Victor

The Abbaye Saint-Victor was founded in the 5th century and named after the martyr Victor of Marseille.

Today, it’s home to a crypt that contains ancient Christian artifacts and a black statue of the Virgin Mary. And, from its terrace, you’ll have a beautiful view over the Vieux Port.

It wasn’t as spectacular as the one from Notre-Dame de la Garde, but I was able to get a closer view of the boats and fishermen below.

Address: Place Saint-Victor

Nearest Bus Stop: Saint-Victor (Lines 54 and 81)

Try a Navette de Marseille

This is the inside of Four des Navettes. There are boards in the background showing the price per bag of Navette. Then there is the oven where they are cooked. Then, on a shelf in the front, there are bags of Navettes ready to be sold.
Four des Navettes

The Navette de Marseille is a traditional cookie that is eaten during religious celebrations.

It’s a small boat-shaped cookie made with flour, sugar, and orange blossom water.

They are meant to represent the boat that carried Saint Lazarus to the shores of Marseille, hence the name “navette” or “shuttle.”

And the best place to try one is at Four des Navettes, the oldest bakery in town.

They are sold in bags of 12, so I took 12 and ate every single one.

It’s a hard dry cookie, but the orange blossom flavor added a hint of freshness.

Address: 136 Rue Sainte

Nearest Bus Stop: Sainte Petit Chantier (Line 55)

Walk around Le Panier

This is Place de la Charité in Le Panier. There is a wall decorated with several different murals then in front of it people are sitting at tables drinking coffee.
Place de la Charité

Le Panier is the oldest neighborhood in Marseille and has a charming, bohemian vibe.

It’s filled with colorful buildings, narrow streets, and plenty of cafés and shops to explore.

I spent a few hours wandering around and soaking up the lively atmosphere.

It’s places like Le Panier that remind me how much I love traveling around France.

Then, if you’re a fan of street art, my favorite was at Place de la Charité (photo above).

When I visited in June, temperatures were on the rise, so I stopped by Glacier du Panier for an ice cream. I ordered three scoops (mango, raspberry, and coconut). Each flavor was bursting with freshness.

I have yet to find another way to beat the heat in Marseille!

Nearest Tram Stop: Said Carnot (Lines T2 and T3)

Marvel at the Cathédrale de la Major

This is the interior of the Cathédrale de la Major. It's the high altar. It's surronded by statues, candles, and there is a cross in the background. Then, the floor is made of marble.
Cathédrale de la Major

The Cathédrale de la Major was built between 1852 and 1896 on the site of a much older 12th-century church.

It features layered stonework that reminded me of Notre-Dame de la Garde but on a much larger scale.

The interior was equally awe-inspiring. The marble and mosaic decorations were beyond incredible, and the high altar was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in France.

I visited on a Saturday afternoon, and it was very crowded. If you can, I recommend going during the week when there are fewer people.

Address: Place Albert Londres

Nearest Bus Stop: Gare Maritime Internationale (Lines 82, 82S, and 582)

Tour Cosquer Méditerranée

This is the diving equipment that was used to discover the Cosquer Cave in the Cosquer Méditerranée. There are four tanks, flippers, and a system to fill the tanks.
Cosquer Méditerranée

The Cosquer Méditerranée is a museum that tells the story of the infamous Cosquer Cave that was discovered off the coast of Marseille in the 1990s.

The original cave, which has now been closed off, contains some of the oldest known cave paintings in the world, dating back to the Upper Paleolithic era.

Cosquer Méditerranée uses state-of-the-art technology to recreate the cave’s interior.

My visit started with an elevator ride simulating a descent into the cave, followed by an audio-guide tour in a small moving cart. It took me through realistic 3D reconstructions of the ancient paintings and engravings.

I learned about the history of the cave and the significance of the artwork. Each piece gave insight into what life was like back then and painted a picture of how these ancient civilizations existed.

It was one of the coolest museums I visited in this underrated French city.

Helpful Tip: Spaces are limited so I recommend buying your tickets as early as possible. To give you an idea, I bought mine one month in advance.

Address: Promenade Robert Laffont, Esp. J4

Nearest Bus Stop: Mucem St Jean (Line 60) and Fort St Jean (Lines 49, 60, 82, 82S, 83, and 582)

Visit L’Estaque

This is one of the colorful buildings and doors in L’Estaque. It's a stripped door with a cat on it then there is a cat sitting next to it.

L’Estaque is a small fishing district at the western edge of Marseille. It has long been a source of inspiration for artists like Paul Cézanne, who were drawn to its idyllic beauty and tranquil atmosphere.

The best thing to do here is follow the Chemin des Peintres or Painter’s Walking Trail. That’s how I started my visit.

The trail begins at Place François Maleterre in front of the Maison de Cézanne à L’Estaque. From there, signs and arrows are posted along the way.

Helpful Tip: I doubled back about five times because I missed some of the signs, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.

The entire walk takes about an hour, but the buildings and the views were so beautiful that it took me two hours.

This is a bag of freshly fried Panisse from Chez Magali. They are fried and round. They are stacked together in a white paper bag.
Panisse from Chez Magali

Afterward, I stopped at Chez Magali to try a local specialty panisse or chickpea fritters. They were addictively delicious.

Helpful Tip: The fastest way to get to L’Estaque is to take a navette from the Vieux Port. It runs every day, but only from April to September.

Nearest Train Station: L’Estaque

48 Hours in Marseille – Day 2

Stop by the Marché aux Poissons

This is a fish stand at the Marché aux Poissons. There are two men. One is holding a fish and showing it to the other. There is a box of fish sitting in water in front of both men.
Marché aux Poissons

If you’re looking to experience local life in Marseille, nothing beats the Marché aux Poissons or Fish Market.

Every morning, fishermen bring in their daily catch to sell on the harbor side of Le Vieux Port (Quai des Belges). It’s a bustling and colorful scene, with vendors and customers haggling for the best deals.

Not only is this market a great place to buy fresh seafood, but it also offers an authentic cultural experience. You can observe locals going about their daily routines, and, if you’re lucky, snap a photo of the action.

I arrived just as the market was opening and stood in the background with my camera. I was able to capture several photos, but my favorite is the one you see above.

Nearest Metro Stop: Vieux Port (Line M1)

Explore Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Marseille

This is The Jardin des Vestiges at the Musée d'Histoire de la Ville de Marseille. There are ancient ruins from the ancient port and mowed grass lawns in between the ruins.
Jardin des Vestiges

The Musée d’Histoire de la Ville de Marseille was built by accident. In the 1960s, construction workers uncovered ancient objects while building the adjacent shopping center, Centre Bourse.

Today, it houses an extensive collection of artifacts that date to ancient Greece.

But my favorite exhibit was the pieces from a 2nd-century ship.

I also enjoyed wandering around the Jardin des Vestiges, which is home to the remains of Marseille’s ancient port. It reminded me of the ancient ruins I visited in Lyon.

Address: 2 Rue Henri Barbusse

Nearest Tram Stop: Belsunce Alcazar (Lines T2 and T3)

Check Out Palais Longchamp

This is the Palais Longchamp. It's a large water fountain surrounded by statues and a semi-circle arch. There are several levels of cascading fountains that finish in a large pool of water.
Palais Longchamp

The Palais Longchamp was built in the 19th century to celebrate the completion of the Canal de Marseille, a vital waterway that brought an end to the city’s water shortages.

It features a central water tower, surrounded by elaborate sculptures, fountains, and columns.

Not only that but it also houses two museums: the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle.

The Musée des Beaux-Arts showcases European paintings and sculptures from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Meanwhile, the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle has exhibits on natural history and geology.

After I admired the fountain and toured both museums, I went for a walk in Parc Longchamp. There were beautiful gardens, shaded paths, and lots of benches.

It was easily one of the best free activities I did in Marseille.

Address: Boulevard Jardin Zoologique

Nearest Tram Stop: Longchamp (Line T2)

Hike in the Parc National des Calanques

This is the Calanque de Sugiton. It's a small inlet with water and is surrounded by limestone cliffs.
Calanque de Sugiton

The Parc National des Calanques is a breathtaking natural wonder that sits between the coast of Marseille and Cassis.

It features dramatic limestone cliffs, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and rich biodiversity.

There are also tons of hiking paths, lookout points, and calanques or steep limestone inlets.

If you’re only spending two days here, you won’t have time to hike them all.

I did quite a few, but two stood out.

The first was to the Belvédère de Sugiton. It was a steep climb to the top, but the views were beyond incredible.

The second was to Calanque de Sugiton. It’s more of a beach than a calanque, but it was perfect for swimming and relaxing after a difficult hike.

If you’re deciding between Marseille and Montpellier, the Parc National des Calanques is reason enough to pick Marseille.

Helpful Tip: During the summer, reservations are required to hike either of these trails.

Nearest Bus Stop: Luminy PN des Calanques (Lines 21JET, 24, and B1)

Visit La Cité Radieuse – Le Corbusier

This is the exterior of La Cité Radieuse – Le Corbusier. There are several stories with colorful windowsills. They are side-by-side and each one is a different color.
La Cité Radieuse – Le Corbusier

La Cité Radieuse was designed by the visionary architect Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris). It was completed in 1952 to solve the housing crisis after World War II.

But it was more than a place to live. It was a complete living environment. There was a school, grocery store, rooftop garden, movie theater, and more. The windowsills, doors, and hallways were brightly colored to create a place of happiness and joy.

Today, part of the building is a hotel, and the rest of the apartments are occupied by retirees.

This is an Apartment in La Cité Radieuse – Le Corbusier. This the living room. There is a wooden floor with a set of cabinets in the background. Then, on the right, there is a set of stairs leading to a second floor.
An Apartment in La Cité Radieuse – Le Corbusier

You can visit on your own or take a tour through the Office de Tourisme de Marseille.

I opted for the tour because I wanted to see the inside of one of the apartments, which you can’t do on your own.

Helpful Tip: Spaces are limited, so I recommend reserving your ticket as early as you can. I booked mine about a month in advance.

Address: 280 Boulevard Michelet

Nearest Bus Stop: Le Corbusier (Lines 22, 22S, 521, and B1)

Relax on Plage du Prado

This is Plage du Prado. I took this photo from a walkway that lead out on to the water. So there is the water in the foreground and the beach in the distance.
Plage du Prado

No trip to Marseille is complete without going to the beach. While there are many to choose from, my favorite was Plage du Prado.

It’s a long sandy beach with blue water and plenty of space to spread out. From sunbathing to swimming, there are tons of things to do here.

It, actually, reminded me of my visit to Dunkirk’s Plage de Malo-les-Bains.

And, if you do all the above activities, you’ll need a place to relax and unwind.

You’ll also find many cafés and restaurants nearby, making it easy to grab a bite to eat or a refreshing drink.

Helpful Tip: Plage du Prado is not far from La Cité Radieuse. It took me about 45 minutes on foot.

Nearest Bus Stop: Escale Borély (Lines 19, 19B, and 583)

Where to Stay

As the second largest city in France, you’ll find tons of places to stay. But for this itinerary, I recommend staying in the center. Below is a list of hotels that I recommend.

✓ NH Collection Marseille – A modern hotel with comfy rooms near Le Panier. It’s the perfect for exploring the city.

✓ La Residence Du Vieux Port – Located on the Vieux Port, you won’t find a better-located hotel. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and the views are incredible.

✓ Hotel C2 – A modern hotel with a ton of amenities. Breakfast is delicious, but not included.

Where to Eat

There’s no shortage of places to eat in Marseille. Below I’ve listed the places you can’t miss.

La Delicatesse – Restaurant Marseille – A traditional French restaurant with the best food in town. The staff is also friendly, which makes for an enjoyable experience.

Le Bouchon Provençal – Located on the Vieux Port, this French bistro serves some of the most delicious seafood in town.

La Poule Noire – A modern restaurant with seasonal dishes. The food is fresh and the wine pairing is unmatched.

Conclusion: A Weekend in Marseille

This weekend in Marseille itinerary is the perfect mix of culture, history, and relaxation. From exploring ancient ruins to indulging in delicious treats, there is something for everyone here.

My favorite activities were visiting the La Cité Radieuse and wandering around Le Panier. I also enjoyed hiking in Parc National des Calanques. The scenery and landscapes were beyond what I had imagined.

Now that your itinerary is planned, it’s time to book your plane tickets and reserve your hotel.

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Jen Ciesielski
Jen Ciesielski

Jen Ciesielski is the creator of Dabbling in Jet Lag. She has lived abroad for over ten years, traveled to more than 50 countries, and speaks French and English fluently. Her areas of expertise include moving abroad, learning languages, and travel planning. Originally from the United States, she now lives in France, where she has been for more than six years. She has also traveled extensively around the country. She shares her experiences as an expat living in France and helps thousands of people plan their trips every month.

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