What to Do in Just One Day in Marseille
The French city of Marseille is known for many things - glorious year-round sunshine, its charming Old Port, the culinary dish, Bouillabaisse, Savon de Marseille (soap) and delicious Navette de Marseille pastries.
There are several ways to experience the main tourist landmarks of the city in a day or less, from port Marseille cruise terminal.
Port of Marseille Map
There are two ports in Marseille, La Joliette, within a short distance of the city center and MPCT (Marseille Provence Cruise Terminal) eight kilometres away.
How to Get from Marseille Cruise Port to City Center
If you only have a short stay in the city and arrive at MPCT, take the port shuttle to and from Vieux Port to access the city center. It costs €11, or you can jump in a taxi for €17.
There’s also a No. 35 city bus (RTM) 20 minutes’ walk from the port. Disembark at Joliette and transfer to the No. 55 to the Old Port (€1,90) or walk there, or into the city center in around 15 minutes.
What to Do in Marseille if You Only Have One Day
It’s possible to see most of Marseille’s attractions in a day. The must-see highlights include the Old Port (Vieux Port), Le Panier neighbourhood, Mucem and Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde.
Suggested Itinerary for One Day in Marseille
If you have one day to spend at Marseilles cruise port, here is a suggested itinerary to make the most of your time in this fascinating city.
Explore Marseille Vieux Port
Vieux Port is a hive of activity, characterised by quays, cafes, shops, and fabulous seafood restaurants.
If you dock early, the lively fish market is open at Quai des Belges. You can also try the city’s famous bouillabaisse for lunch at one of the best restaurants in Marseille Vieux Port, Une Table au Sud.
Alternatively, hop on a ferry to the island of Chateau d’If, the former fortress and prison, made famous by Alexander Dumas’ tale “The Count of Monte Cristo”. The journey time is 20 minutes each way.
Discover Ancient Civilisations at MuCEM and Fort Saint-Jean
Culture buffs will adore visiting MuCEM near Vieux Port. The contemporary Museum showcases exhibits dedicated to Mediterranean civilisations, which may tie into your cruise itinerary. The museum is also located next to Fort Saint-Jean, so you can combine two attractions in one.
Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica
The Old Port is also a good starting point for a walk into the city center and to Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde. The Roman-Byzantine Basilica, sits at the highest point of Marseille, boasting incredible 360 degree views of the city, and is easily recognisable, courtesy of the Virgin Mary statue on the bell tower.
Wander Around Le Panier Neighbourhood
The neighbourhood of Le Panier lies north of Vieux Port with its narrow streets, pastel-hued houses, quirky shops, and galleries. It’s a perfect place to purchase Savon de Marseille and Navette de Marseille pastries. Time a visit to Le Panier for a late lunch or an early alfresco dinner, as the district boasts everything from tearooms and patisseries to tapas bars and traditional Mediterranean cuisine.
Marseille Cruise Port Excursions
If you only have a few hours to spend in Marseille, one of the best Marseille excursions from port to take is the free shuttle tour. The shuttle takes in all the main landmarks and operates every 30 minutes during high season. In addition, taxis offer tours and there are hop-on/hop-off Marseille cruise port buses.
Should you be blessed with a full day in Marseille, consider taking a short train ride (€9) to historic Aix-en-Provence with its outdoor markets and tree-lined squares.