8 Things to Do in Marseille on a Small Budget

Holidays in Marseille Don’t Have to Be Expensive

    Even on a small budget, Marseille has a lot for you to enjoy. 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.


    Use public transportation and get a City-Pass

    Spend less on travel around Marseille

    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.

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    photo by Ianaré (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Must-See: Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations

    A great museum in an exceptional setting

    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.

    Location: 7 Promenade Robert Laffont, 13002 Marseille, France

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

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    Explore the fake zoo at Park Longchamp

    Check out a quirky yet stunning zoo in the city center

    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 8am to 5.15pm (open till 7.45pm in summer)

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    Search for Cézanne's painting spots in L’Estaque

    Wander in a quaint district of Marseille

    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

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    photo by ignis (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Eat for less in Le Panier district

    Lunch in one of the oldest neighborhoods of Marseille

    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

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    Take in the views at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde

    Pay respect to ‘the Good Mother’ of Marseille

    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.

    Location: Rue Fort du Sanctuaire, 13281 Marseille, France

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

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    Go hiking in the Calanques

    Challenging walks between Marseille and Cassis

    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.

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

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    Get into African culture at the Marché des Capucins

    Take a stroll in a lively market

    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.

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

    Open: Monday – Saturday from 8am to 7pm

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    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveler

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