Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Marseille is a port city and the second-largest in France. It is the capital of the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and has a long history that stretches all the way back to 600 BC when the Greeks founded it. This maritime connection has lasted over the years, bringing a diversity of culture, people, and attractions to Marseille that few cities can match.
Today, Marseille is filled with unique shops, restaurants, museums, and nightlife. That’s why a trip to Marseille is one of our top suggestions for visitors to France. You’ll need at least two days to visit Marseille to enjoy everything that this amazing city offers. If you have more time available, why not take a day trip from Marseille?
If you’re ready to explore the best places near Marseille, then here is where you should go.
Are you Looking for Day Trips from Marseille Cruise Port?
These shore excursions from Marseille, all included, are designed for cruise passengers stopping in Marseille. All these day trips from Marseille cruise port come with an expert guide.
Best Marseille Day Trips
Here’s the list of the best day trips from Marseille, top Marseille day trips for the independent traveler. For your convenience, we have also added a couple of Marseille day tours, all included, with an expert guide.
Marseille Day Trips in a Nutshell
Best day trips from Marseille by train: Cassis, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence.
Best day trips from Marseille by car: Côtes de Provence wine trips, Luberon villages.
Cassis is arguably one of the most beautiful coastal towns in France and one of the most rewarding day trips from Marseille. It’s around 32km from Marseille, but it feels like an entirely different world.
Cassis is a historic port town that sits over a picturesque bay backed by mountains. In the past, it was a hotspot for artists, and today it’s a recreation center for visitors from Marseille. The scenic atmosphere, pastel-colored houses, and natural wonders of this port town are ideal for anyone who wants to relax in beautiful surroundings. It also boasts several historical attractions, such as a 14th-century castle, the Fontaine des Quatre Nations, and the Calanques nearby.
Cassis is one of the best day trips from Marseille by train. A day trip to Cassis from Marseille is very easy to organize: regional trains (TER) to Cassis leave hourly for a 22-minute ride. At Cassis’ train station, take a shuttle bus (10 min) to the town’s center – Click here to buy your train tickets to Cassis
2. Calanques of Marseille-Cassis
The Parc National des Calanques de Marseille-Cassis offers some of the most visually stunning scenery in the Mediterranean. Located along the coast between Marseille and Cassis, it’s about half an hour and 15.6km from Marseille and is a national park that includes both land and sea.
At this park, you’ll see amazing limestone cliffs, narrow coves, and bright turquoise water, as well as lots of wildlife and rare plant species. There are several popular ways to explore this park on day trips from Marseille. If you’re the active type, try a half-day hike which will get you up close with parts of the park that few visitors ever see. You can also take a kayak tour that will take you through some of the local creeks or go the luxurious route with a 5-hour cruise and lunch.
3. Château d’If
Château d’If is one of the best castles in the South of France. It is located on the smallest island in the Frioul archipelago, about 1.5km offshore from Marseille. It’s a fortress and former prison and was one of the settings in the famous novel The Count of Monte Cristo.
The island is uninhabited apart from the fortress, built around 1524-31 to defend the coastline on the orders of King Francçois I. The fortress is heavily fortified, with sheer walls rising from the cliffside like a silent threat to the uninvited, but it never saw any battles. It was later used as a prison because of its isolation and the dangerous currents offshore and saw mostly political and religious prisoners.
You can reach the island by boat from Marseille’s old port. The visit to the château is interesting, and there’s a restaurant with great views – Click here to buy your tickets to Château d’If
Avignon is easily one of the best day trips from Marseille by train. The city is located on the banks of the Rhône River, about 102.8km from Marseille, and it only takes 35 min from Marseille to Avignon by train (TGV) – Click here to buy your train tickets to Avignon
Avignon has a long history, but it’s best known for being the city the Popes fled to in the 14th century when escaping the clutches of Rome.
While in Avignon, Popes Benedict XII and Clement VI built a magnificent Gothic-style palace that became the Palace of the Popes or Palais des Papes. The Palace of the Popes is the largest Gothic palace in all of Europe and one of the top attractions in Avignon.
This city was also named a European Capital of Culture in 2000 and is filled with cinemas, theaters, and art galleries, as well as the world-famous Avignon Theatre Festival, held in July.
Aix-en-Provence is one of the best places to visit in Provence. Aix was the capital of Provence until the upheaval of the French Revolution, yet it still feels like a country town, albeit one with all the elegance and grace you would expect from France. It’s located around 33.2km from Marseille, 45 min by regional train (TER), making it the ideal destination for a day trip from Marseille by train – Click here to buy your train tickets to Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en Provence boasts well-preserved monuments going back to the times of the Romans. It’s filled with fountains, winning it the nickname of the “City of Fountains,” and you’ll find some of these water features in the most unusual places. The city is also filled with vibrant, bustling squares and has a weekly market where you can buy goods and crafts created by local producers.
Aix-en-Provence is also designated as a “Ville d’Art” or “City of Art” and has several must-see museums, including the Musée des Tapisseries and the Musée Granet, where you’ll find works by Cézanne.
6. Provence Wine Tours from Marseille
One of the lesser-known French wine regions, Provence produces excellent wines. Due to the warm climate and proximity to the ocean, the wine of Provence has a wide range of excellent grapes that are often full-bodied and absolutely perfect table wine options. You can find red wines like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cinsault here, as well as whites like Grenache and Clairette and some absolutely fantastic rosés.
In Provence, the Cassis appellation title covers white, rosé, and red wines produced from about 200 hectares of vineyard, all of which are within two or three kilometers of the Mediterranean.
Bandol is another key appellation of the Provence wine region. It covers red, white, and rosé wines from roughly 1550 hectares of vineyards around the Mediterranean coastal town of Bandol.
The region of Provence is dotted with vineyards and wine shops all over, many of which offer their own wine tasting in Provence experiences. Because wine-tasting and driving are far from perfect partners, we recommend taking a wine day tour from Marseille with an expert guide.
This Luberon Wine Tour from Marseille is for 8 people maximum and covers three separate wineries with free time for lunch in the lovely village of Lourmarin. See vineyards, bottling rooms, cellars, and more, and sample wines from the region’s celebrated rosés to well-balanced reds and lively whites.
This Bandol and Cassis Wine Tour from Marseille explores the wines from ‘AOP Cassis’ (whites) and ‘AOP Bandol’ (reds) and the amazing landscapes of this area of Provence. The tour includes free time in Cassis to explore this lovely town.
TIP: If you have a car, check out this list of the best wineries near Marseille, offering tours with tastings in English and French (advance online booking is a must).
Nîmes, in the Occitanie region, is about 1hr 25 min from Marseille by train. This makes it one of the best day trips from Marseille if you want to experience the culture of a different region in France. The city is known for its gorgeous southern sunshine and its rich history.
Nîmes has several well-preserved Roman monuments, including the Roman Colosseum and the Maison Carrée, a classical Roman temple that’s completely intact. If you aren’t that interested in history, then you can wander through the shady streets of the city’s historic center, visit tiny cafés, and explore the city’s burgeoning art scene.
If you visit in June or July, make sure to check out the Festival de Nîmes, a series of musical concerts held at the Ancient Roman Amphitheater. – Click here to buy your train tickets to Nimes
If you’re looking for Marseille day trips that have a touch of luxury, then you can’t miss out on Cannes. The famous host of the Cannes Film Festival, Cannes is just under 2 hours from Marseille by train – Click here to buy your train tickets to Cannes
You don’t have to wait for the film festival in May to enjoy Cannes. This city is on the French Riviera and boasts spectacular natural beauty and many high-end casinos and restaurants. This makes it an expensive destination but one that’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, complete with beautiful French architecture and a visually stunning harbor area.
9. Villages of the Luberon
The Luberon region is 70 km north of Marseille and includes parts of the Vaucluse and the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence departments. This is an area of extreme landscapes, as well as picturesque hill towns steeped in history.
The best way to explore the hilltop villages in Luberon is by car. Driving around this gorgeous region is a revelation and a great way to see as much as possible.
Create your Marseille day trip itinerary with the list of the best villages in the Luberon. Each of these Luberon villages is uniquely different, but you can expect to be wowed by countryside vineyards, vibrant lavender fields, cobbled streets, and authentic old French charm.
The villages of the Luberon is also one of the most popular day trips from Marseille cruise port. Check out these Villages in the Luberon shore excursion from Marseille (7 hours), which always gets good reviews.
Marseille Day Tours
If you want to see the absolute best sites around the city, then you should take a Marseille day trip with an expert guide. A guided tour will give you the guidance of a knowledgeable guide as well as a reliable and comfortable car to make your travels that extra bit convenient and special. Here’s the list of our favorite Marseille day tours, with something for every traveler:
- Full day Valensole Lavender Fields tour (seasonal)
- Highlights of Provence tour: Avignon, Châteauneuf du Pape, Pont du Gard, Les Baux de Provence
- Arles, Les Baux and Saint-Rémy de Provence
And there you have it, the best day trips from Marseille, France. Which Marseille day trips tempt you most?