10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Marseille at Least Once

There are lots of great reasons to visit Marseile, not least because of the MUCEM building
There are lots of great reasons to visit Marseile, not least because of the MUCEM building | © JeroSig / Flickr
Alex Ledsom

Marseille is often bypassed for its more glamorous neighbors like Nice, Cannes, and St. Tropez. But Marseille is a vibrant and interesting city. It’s a place to experience the mix of African and French culture. It doesn’t take itself seriously and it’s a ton of fun. Here are our top ten reasons why you should go.

It Has Some of the Coolest, Edgiest Cultural Spaces

Marseille is a city on the up. And just like many cities undergoing massive regeneration, many of its old, disused, and unloved spaces are being reclaimed. La Friche is an old tobacco factory next to the city’s station (St. Charles) that is now a cutting-edge cultural space. It’s massive and home to a skateboarding park, a playground, startup offices, a cool bookstore, and a wonderful terrace bar and restaurant. You’ll find a different cultural event every weekend. Alternatively, head to the Cours Julien, which is one of the edgiest neighborhoods (that you want to be hanging out in). It’s full of some of the best bars, clubs, and restaurants in the city.

La Friche looks edgy and scary but is an amazing cultural space that feels as if it belongs to the city, with great festivals and events

To Jump, Run, and Dive Off the Rocks Into the Sea

1. To Discover the Ancient Buildings


It’s sometimes hard in Marseille to discover the great buildings, as it can be a hard to get around (there is so much construction work still going on). The Natural History Museum and the Art Museum are both housed in the Palais Longchamp and are not to be missed. Alternatively, the Villa Valmer is a great place to camp out for an afternoon along the Corniche Kennedy. If you’re after seaside architecture, head to the Palais Pharo, built by Napoleon III for his Princess Eugenie.

2. To View the Amazing Art

Marseille has some lovely choices for art. For street art, head to the edgy Cours Julien—everything that is bolted to the floor has some spectacular graffiti on it somewhere. The MUCEM, along the seafront, has some fantastic modern art exhibitions, while the Musée des Beaux Arts houses paintings from 1500 to 18oo.

The Cours Julien area has simply stunning street art |© Jeanne Menjoulet / Flickr

To Eat and Drink

The Riviera is known for its fantastic Mediterranean food and Marseille has a lot of options. Head to the Old Port (le Vieux Port) for a fantastic meal with a spectacular view over the harbor. Or you can try the local delicacy Bouillabaisse in one of several fantastic locations around the town.

To Stroll in the Parks

Marseille isn’t thought of as a green city, but it has some wonderful parks. The Parc Borély is one of the biggest with its lake and bike tracks (you can hire little four-wheeled carts). It’s where you’ll find everyone on a Sunday afternoon. The Parc Longchamp is a great pit stop after visiting the nearby Palace. Or try the small but perfect Parc Valmer along the seafront. It’s a great place to get some shade from the seaside sun.

3. To View the Wonderful Architecture

Marseille has lots of historical buildings to discover but it’s also home to some rather modern gems too. In the 1950s, the French architect Corbusier built the Cité Radieuse in Marseille. At the time it was a way of housing lots of people cheaply after the war, because it was built out of cement. Now, the flats inside are really sought after and very expensive. It’s an entirely self-contained city with a supermarket, school, doctor’s office, nursery, library, and café. The other modern architectural wonder is the Museum of European and Mediterranean Culture (MUCEM) and the Fort St. Jean, next door. Both have been connected via a metal walkway that will take your breath away. Both buildings showcase some great art, but they’re worth visiting for the architecture alone.

Corbusier’s “Cité Radieuse de Marseille” is simply stunning |© Emmanuel Rémoleux

4. Because of the Wonderful Shopping


Marseille is a great place to shop. The new Terrasses du Port is the must-go destination of the moment. It’s a new three-story mall that has all the high street stores as well as high-end fashion. Head to the roof for spectacular views and good restaurants. If you want the same kind of shops, but don’t like malls, head to the Old Port area, and the rue Saint-Ferréol. For a more alternative experience and more independent shops, head to the Cours Julien and wander the winding streets.

It’s a Great Place to Party

The locals love a good party. Start your evening with an apéro (a pre-dinner drink) in one of the fantastic bars or trying the best local wines from Provençal vineyards. Alternatively, most weekends in summer, there’s a bar and DJ on the massive roof of the old tobacco factory at La Friche (by the St. Charles station).

To Witness the Wonderful Blend of African and European Culture

Marseille is a melting pot of European and African culture and it’s a great place to immerse yourself in something a little different. You’ll find lots of couscous restaurants down by the Old Port and Noailles area, which offer great value. If you want to go even more local, head to one of the grill shacks by the St. Charles station for even cheaper food. The streets to the East of the Cours Julien are a great place to try a sit-down African dinner that maybe you wouldn’t have thought about trying; it has food from just about every country.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article