48 hours in Marseille

Our city guide to discover the must-sees of Marseille in 48 hours! Whether you come for a weekend or a holiday, Marseille is a bustling city that will never cease to surprise you. We will take you on board for a sunny stopover, from the Old Port to Notre-Dame de la Garde via the Mucem and the Islands of Frioul…

Published on 8 July 2020

Around the Old Port


The heart of Marseille : the Old Port

For the early outters, the discovery of the fish market on the famous Old Port is a must do ! Iconic place of the city, fishermen come daily at the early morning to sell the fish at the auction. A very typical atmosphere! Looking for a great selfie spot ? Rendez-vous under Norman Foster’s « Ombrière » (shadehouse), a huge mirror ceiling inaugurated in 2013 that has now become an unmissable place.

A  must-see : Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica or la « Bonne Mère » (the Good mother)

To get to the basilica, take N°60 bus line  from the Old Port or choose fancier way by getting on ‘Le Petit Train’ (included in your Marseille Pass) or Hop on Hop off Cölorbus. As for sportspeople, walking up to the basilica will take a little more than 30 minutes from downtown. Once up there, the climbing is worth it ! The view over the city is breathtaking. The visit of the basilica is free of charge. Decorated with 19th century ‘ex votos’ (ship models , paintings, military medals or simple gifts) offered for good fortune, the basilica is open from 7am to 6.30pm in high season.

Lunch in Noailles

For a gourmet break downtown, new addresses in Noailles district will offer you a large range of places. « La Mercerie » restaurant for a bistronomic lunch, « Chez Sauveur » pizzeria, one of the best place to taste a pizza in the centre, « l’Epicerie idéale », perfect to eat on the go (very tasty !) or maybe « le Bistrot du Petit St Louis » with its retrochic atmosphere and tasty food.

Discovering « le Panier » traditional district

Located by the Old-Port, le Panier district is one of the most picturesque one. Tourists and locals stroll along its colourful streets all year round. It is a nice place for shopping, to discover traditional craftsmen, and to discover culture exhibitions at ‘La Vieille Charité’ museum (free of charge with the Marseille Pass) as well as the arty streets. For a sunny break, ‘le Panier’ offers plenty of nice squares with terraces such as ‘Place de Lenche’, ‘Place des 13 Cantons’ (famous for the shooting of « Plus belle la vie » TV soap opera) and ‘Place des Pistoles’. For the « pétanque » lovers, visit and buy a ‘ triplette’ (three balls set) at the must-see shop “Boule bleue” for an unusual souvenir. As for gastronomy, the Panier offers many restaurants, a lovely shop « les navettes des Accoules.” (famous traditional orange blossom flavoured biscuit). For gourmets, we  highly recommend the  great artisanal ice  cream shop  « Le glaçier du Roi » or the  chocolate shop “l’Espérantine” using olive oil basis!

The Tourist Office regularly schedules guided tours of  ” le Panier”.

Walking around the Major Cathedral and visit Mucem

A stone’s throw from the Panier district, do not miss this important religious building of Marseille also named « La Major ». Less famous than its sister, Notre Dame de la Garde basilica, standing opposite, the impressive building designed by Leon Vaudoyer in neobyzantine style dates from 1852. Next are public courts to play the game of « pétanque » (using your newly bought triplette set !) ; below the cathedral, shops and restaurants inside former voults will lead you to « Regards de Provence Foundation » and via the J4 Esplanade to the « Villa Méditerranée », future home to the Cosquer Grotto replica.

The Mucem (Museum of European and mediterranean civilisations) is now one of the iconic buildings of the city. Open from 10 am to 8 pm in summer (11am to 7 pm the rest of the year), you will enjoy a refreshing walk on the terrace free of charge. Sunbathe at Saint-Jean fortress and admire the magnificent view over the entrance of the Old Port.

Entrance fee to the permanent and temporaty exhibitions is 11€ and free of charge with the CityPass Marseille.

Trendy  dinner in ‘rue Sainte’

Marseille offers lots of restaurants ! heading to ‘rue Sainte’, only a few minutes from the Old-Port, you will discover a wide range of bars and various food spots: try some tapas at ‘La Ruche’, or ‘La cave à jambon’, enjoy a friendly and authentic atmosphere and at ‘Pastis et olives’, some typical Provençal dishes at ‘Le Caroussel’ or even bistronomic food at ’44 restaurant’. There is something for everyone ! During summer time ‘La passarelle’ restaurant will offer you a dinner out in the fresh air…

From the islands to the Velodrome


Take a ride to the Frioul islands and  visit the ‘Château d’If’ (If castle)

Getting to the island is so easy ! In good weather conditions, you can get a 20mns boat ride with the maritime shuttles from the Old-Port for 11€ return ticket (or free with the Marseille CityPass) and you can land on a true natural paradise offering turquoise waters, litlle creeks and secret and hidden beaches. The archipelago is made up of 4 islands : Pomègues, Ratonneau, If and Tiboulen. Like in a summer resort, you can swim, dive, picnic, fish or go to one of the small restaurants around the port. For the culture lovers, If island is accessible by shutlle boat as well. Visits are scheduled everyday (except Mondays) from 10am to 5pm during the high season according to weather conditions. During a two-hour visit- priced at 6€, you will discover the secrets of the fortress built in the 16th by King François 1er, turned into a prison which eventually became world famous thanks to Alexandre Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo novel.

Lunch break at the Vallon des Auffes

Little fishermen port on the Corniche J.F. Kennedy, « le Vallon des Auffes » is a haven of peace located in the city and easily accessible with the 83 bus line, just 10 min from the ‘Vieux Port’ (old port). In summertime, enjoy this idyllic place for a sunny lunch break on the terrasse of the restaurant ‘Chez Jeannot’, at ‘Fonfon’s’ with the best bouillabaisse (typical fish soup) or at ‘L’épuisette’ for a gastronomic meal. During the summer season, share some family time with a paddle rental or have a swim together.

Visit the Orange Velodrome stadium

The Vélodrome stadium is the mythical spot of the famous soccer team « l’O.M ». The stadium opens for visits from 10am to 5pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays in low season and on match days ! The visit costs 18€ per adult and 12€ per child (between 6 and 12 years old). You will discover the backstage of the stadium, the stadium corporate boxes and the club history.

Discovering  Longchamp Palace

Get back to ‘La Canebière’ right downtown where you can discover the ‘Palais Longchamp’. Amazing semi-arched construction, it was built in 1862 to celebrate the arrival of water in Marseille. The palace is easily accessible by different means of transportation (metro, tramway)  and only a 10 min trip from the ‘Vieux Port’. It is a majestic building, a must-see locate din the city centre. You can find magnificent fountain and family friendly designed gardens, ideal for strolling or sunbathing. The ‘Palais’ (Palace) is home to two museums (Fine Art Museum and Natural Sciences Museum).

Dinning in the friendly district of Cours Julien

The ‘Cours Julien’ is a trendy and young suburb of Marseille abounding in restaurants, bars and cafes. It is a remarkable place for artists, you can discover their street-art works during the regular dedicated visits led by our guide Alexandra. Le « Cours Ju» is also famous for its many restaurant : « La cantinetta », italian cuisine in a super patio, « Chez Romy », « L’escalié », « la Tosca or « Le cinéma la Baleine ».