How to spend 48 hours in Marseille, France

After spending a wonderful week in Saint-Tropez with friends celebrating Fête des Belges, it was time for my friends to go home. I, however, was not ready to leave the South of France so I decided to discover Marseille in 48 hours on my own. 

Before visiting Marseille, I read two very different opinions about Marseille. Some people did not like the city. They found it dirty, unsafe and encouraged people to visit other cities in the south like Nice. And some people loved Marseille and said not to listen to all the bad stuff. In the end, my curiosity won so I decided to visit this city.

Disclosure: When you decide to purchase any of the shared links, I will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you! This will make a huge difference to Finding Falke and ensure I can keep sharing many more travel tips and tricks.

How to spend 48 hours in Marseille

Getting there

A week before visiting the city, I arrived in Marseille by train. We hired a car near the station to drive to Saint-Tropez. I also took the train from Marseille to go back home so I couldn’t recommend more doing the same if you have the chance. It’s super easy and cheap. 

The Gare De Marseille-Saint-Charles railway station is worth a visit on its own. The architecture is beautiful and when you walk out onto the forecourt you’ll find a terrace with fabulous views over the city. Because of the height difference, the station is linked to the city centre by a massive staircase. 

If you’re travelling with a lot of luggage, you might want to walk right around the building so you’ll be at street level so you won’t have to lug your suitcases down the stairs.

Where to stay

The People Hostel 

I loved staying in this beautiful hostel. The staff were incredibly nice, it was clean and if you want you can have breakfast for a very small fee at the hostel. 

A mistake had happened with my booking but they immediately told me not to worry about it and solved it. I even got a private room with a private bathroom while I actually booked a bed in a female dorm. 

Day one

Breakfast at Marseille’s Old Port

Start your day by walking to Marseille’s Old Port. This place is a great starting point to walk anywhere in the city or in some cases to take the Petit Train. 

If you have not had breakfast yet, I recommend searching for a little breakfast spot for a croissant and a coffee. Having breakfast with a view of the boats in this picturesque port doesn’t sound so bad, does it? 

Visit the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde

The Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde is one of the most iconic places of Marseille and is without a doubt worth a visit. Inside you will find some magnificent decorations and murals inspired by the local shipping. And if this hasn’t convinced you yet, it is free to visit the Basilica. 

To go to the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, you have two options. Or you walk all the way up to the highest point in Marseille where the Notre-Dae de la Garde is located, or you take the Petit Train from the Old Port that takes you on a scenic trip to the top. 

Don’t forget to check the timetable for the Petit train to make sure you don’t miss it! 

Wander around in Parc Longchamp

Time for lunch? Get some lunch at one of the supermarkets or at a little boulangerie and have a picnic in Parc Longchamp. This park is a beautiful garden that used to be a zoo till 1987 and it’s the perfect spot to soak up some sun. 

After your lunch, you can stroll around for a bit and discover my personal favourite building in Marseille. The magnificent Palais Longchamp was created to celebrate the construction of the Canal de Marseille and is one of the most Instagrammable places in this city. 

Shop at Cours Julien

Continue your little afternoon stroll towards Cours Julien. It’s Marseille’s bohemian quarter and is a great spot to explore the street art, listen to musicians and shop for vintage clothes.

Get lost in ‘Le Panier’

If you have some time left, there is one neighbourhood you should not skip. Le Panier is Marseille’s oldest district. To make the most of this lovely area, the best way is to wander around until you get lost in the narrow streets filled with terraces of small cafés, colourful walls and small shops. 

If you are staying at The People Hostel, Le Panier is very close by. Perfect for a little evening walk! 

Day 2

Discover Port du Vallon des Auffes

Start your second day in Marseille by having breakfast at your accommodation or a nearby cafe. When you’re done, walk down to the Port du Vallon des Auffes. Or you can enjoy another breakfast at the Old Port and take the bus 83 there. In 15 minutes you’ll be at Port du Vallon des Auffes. 

This stunning spot to soak up some sun! You won’t find a real, typical beach here but you can have a little swim at ‘la piscine du Vallon’.

This little fishing village hosts some amazing restaurants so you can definitely also visit this part in the evening and switch it around with the second part of this day.

Swim to Îles de Frioul

Just kidding! You don’t actually have to swim to these islands. Just jump on one of the many ferries and escape to these beautiful islands that are part of the Calanques National Park. 

Facing Marseille, the Frioul archipelago is made of four islands: Pomègue, Ratonneau, Tiboulen, and If. Not only do you get to enjoy the beautiful beaches but you are able to visit the famous Château d’If, known from Alexandre Dumas’ novel ‘The Count of Monte-Cristo’, and Caroline hospital which used to be a quarantine hospital. 

Day trip from Marseille

If you have the time, go on a day trip to Calanques. The cliffs of the Calanques are a natural wonder nestled between Marseille and Cassis. The park is known for its striking turquoise water and limestone cliffs. Perfect for hiking or swimming!

If you visit these beaches or the Calanques, you will definitely need a good pair of water shoes

Overall

In my opinion, Marseille offers some beautiful monuments and it is a great city to stay in when making a day trip to Îles du Frioul and the Calanques, but you have to take some safety measures as a tourist and especially as a female solo traveller. 

My phone got almost stolen right out of my hands so my opinion about Marseille might have gotten affected by that incident. In other words, watch out for pickpocketing! This is a big problem in Marseille, as in many big cities. 

Don’t let this stop you from visiting the city if you’re curious! There are still lots of people who love Marseille so this might be you too!

Disclosure: When you decide to purchase any of the shared links, I will receive an affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you! This will make a huge difference to Finding Falke and ensure I can keep sharing many more travel tips and tricks.

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