There are plenty of things to do in Marseille on a small budget. One of the oldest cities in France, it’s a multicultural melting pot in which Africa meets Europe in a warm and animated atmosphere. From historical landmarks to awe-inspiring coastal landscapes, Marseille is an attractive place to spend a vacation.

You’ll be amazed by the lively ambience of the city and its inhabitants, as well as by their unpretentious warmth. Holidays in Marseille don’t have to be expensive, so follow us for a virtual tour through the attractions and activities at hand for budget travelers in the second largest city in France, with a few helpful tips along the way.

  • 1

    Use public transportation and get a City-Pass

    Spend less on travel around Marseille

    Use public transportation and get a City-Pass
    • Budget

    Marseille has an efficient public transportation system which includes a metro, buses, trams, bicycles and ferry boats. They’re the most economical ways of getting around the city. A single ticket is valid for 1 hour and cost less than €2. There are 24- and 72-hours passes available. If you plan to visit many museums and attractions, you should buy a City-Pass, which includes the use of all public transportation and free access or discounts for most exhibitions in Marseille.

    photo by Ianaré (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

  • 2

    Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations

    A great museum in an exceptional setting

    Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations
    • Budget
    • History
    • Photo

    Settled in a complex that links the bygone Fort Saint-Jean to a modern cubic building just north of the Old Port, the aptly named Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations takes you for a journey through the rich history of the region. The entrance to Fort Saint-Jean is free, but it costs about €9.50 to get into the exhibition area (though it’s free on the first Sunday of each month). Do not miss the views of the city from the rooftop restaurant.

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    Location: 7 Promenade Robert Laffont, 13002 Marseille, France

    Open: Wednesday–Monday from 11 am to 7 pm (closed on Tuesdays)

    Map
  • 3

    Fort Saint-Jean

    Walk the ramparts of a medieval military fortress

    Fort Saint-Jean
    • Families
    • History

    Fort Saint-Jean is a historic fortification that dates to 1660 and connects to a historical district and the first French national museum outside of Paris. Here you can walk the parapets that overlook the city and ocean and explore the structure that protected the city from invasion during the Middle Ages. It served as a military outpost and barracks up through the 20th century and played a critical role in World War II. With easy access to the neighboring Le Panier historic district and the old harbor, it's an enchanting place to walk in the footsteps of history.

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  • 4

    Park Longchamp

    Check out a quirky yet stunning zoo in the city center

    Park Longchamp
    • Budget
    • Families
    • Photo

    The Palais Longchamp is a stunning 19th-century edifice in the center of Marseille. Listed as a Historic Monument, it hosts 2 museums and an elaborated fountain. Its large park features splendid gardens and the picturesque buildings of a former zoo, which closed in 1987. Renamed the Funny Zoo, colorful cement animals have replaced the live animals in the cages. It’s now a popular place for a stroll with the family.

    Location: Boulevard Jardin Zoologique, 13004 Marseille, France

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 5.15 pm (open till 7.45 pm in summer)

    Map
  • 5

    L’Estaque

    Search for Cézanne's painting spots

    L’Estaque
    • Budget
    • Photo

    L’Estaque is a village that has become a neighborhood of Marseille, 9 km north of the Old Port. With a nice range of colors, from red rooftops to green vegetation to ochre hills to turquoise blue sea, it attracted many talented early-20th-century impressionist painters, including one of the most famed of them all: Paul Cézanne. Searching for Cézanne’s painting spots in L’Estaque will help you explore this quaint district of Marseille.

    Location: L'Estaque, 13016 Marseille, France

    Map

    photo by ignis (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

  • 6

    Le Panier

    Lunch in one of the oldest neighborhoods of Marseille

    Le Panier
    • Budget
    • Food

    Le Panier is one of the oldest districts in Marseille, just north of the Old Port. It’s a lively, multicultural neighborhood that hosts museums and quaint boutiques. Le Panier is famed for the splendid paintings that adorn many of its walls. Here, you’ll also find a good choice of affordable restaurants, such as Maison Geney on Rue Caisserie, Sur le Pouce Resto on Rue de la Joliette and Montréal Café on Rue Saint-Thomé.

    Location: Le Panier, 13002 Marseille, France

    Map
  • 7

    Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde

    Pay respect to ‘the Good Mother’ of Marseille

    Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde
    • Budget
    • History
    • Photo

    The Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde is the most iconic landmark in Marseille. Sat on a hill overlooking the Old Port, it’s also the best view point in the city. On foot, it takes roughly around 40 minutes to reach ‘La Bonne Mère’ – ‘the Good Mother’ as it’s called in Marseille – from the Old Port. You can also get up there on bus 60. Besides the breathtaking panoramic views, the interior of the basilica is worth the visit.

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    Location: Rue Fort du Sanctuaire, 13281 Marseille, France

    Open: October–March: daily from 7 am to 6.15 pm. April–September: daily from 7 am to 7.15 pm

    Map
  • 8

    The Calanques

    Challenging walks between Marseille and Cassis

    The Calanques
    • Adventure
    • Budget
    • Photo

    The Calanques is a National Park stretching for 16 km along the coast between Marseille and Cassis. Walking on narrow, rocky trails on the side of a limestone cliff can be challenging, but it’s really worth the effort. It’s obviously best to rental a guide, but you can make it by yourself with a good pair of shoes, sunscreen, water and snacks. Walking the whole track takes about 3 hours. It’s best to go early in the morning. Do not forget your camera as the landscapes are spectacular.

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    Location: Bât A4, Parc Valad, Impasse Paradou, 13009 Marseille, France

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  • 9

    Marché des Capucins

    Take a stroll in a lively market

    Marché des Capucins
    • Budget
    • Food
    • Shoppers

    Also known as Noailles’s Market, the Marché des Capucins is a farmers’ market boasting the multicultural character of Marseille. Animated and noisy, the market hosts many fresh produces stalls, but also a good range of North African stands at which you can find spices, dried fruits and nuts. Freshly baked pizzas and other inexpensive street snacks can easily make your lunch, but keep your valuables safe when it gets crowded.

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    Location: 5 Rue du Marché des Capucins, 13001 Marseille, France

    Open: Monday – Saturday from 8 am to 7 pm

    Map
  • 10

    Musée Subaquatique de Marseille

    Sculptures under the sea

    Musée Subaquatique de Marseille
    • Adventure
    • Budget
    • Photo
    • Unusual

    Musée Subaquatique de Marseille is an underwater art museum 100 meters from Plage des Catalans beach. A small but intriguing collection of 10 sandstone sculptures lies 5 meters below the surface, each covered in a thin movie of sea moss.

    Strong swimmers are welcome to explore the site for free at their own risk. Bring a snorkel, fins, and a wetsuit to Plage des Catalans, then swim west toward the bobbing yellow buoys. Alternately, the museum organizes paid snorkeling and diving trips throughout the warmer months. More than just an underwater marvel, the project raises funds to protect marine biodiversity in the region.

    Location: Plage des Catalans, 13007 Marseille, France

    Phone: +33 (0)6 24 82 27 01

    Map
Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveler