Is Marseille Worth Visiting?

Is Marseille Worth Visiting? It’s a question that often lingers in the minds of travelers seeking the perfect destination. Marseille, with its rich history, diverse culture, and Mediterranean charm, is a city that’s been captivating hearts for centuries. In this post, we’ll dive into the beauty of Marseille, exploring its hidden gems, vibrant neighborhoods, and the countless reasons why this coastal gem is indeed a must-visit destination for any traveler.

Is Marseille Worth Visiting?

Let’s explore if Marseille is worth visiting.

Is Marseille Expensive?

Marseille didn’t strike me as particularly pricey when compared to European standards, though it also wasn’t exceedingly budget-friendly. The cost of living in Marseille falls within a moderate range, which is pleasantly surprising considering the initial assumptions about the expenses associated with the French Riviera.

For a middle-of-the-road vacation encompassing dining out, occasional drinks, and visits to prominent tourist spots, we would suggest setting aside approximately €75 to €90 per person per day. This estimate excludes hotel expenses. If you’re considering a stay at a 4-star hotel in the Old Port area, anticipate a nightly cost of approximately €200. With our discount partner, you can get that cost a little lower to around €130-150.

We can make these recommendations for 4 ⭐️ hotels in the Old Port area:

New Hotel Le Quai Vieux Port ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Radisson Blu Marseille Vieux Port⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Maisons du Monde Hôtel & Suites Marseille Vieux Port ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

For 3 ⭐️ or less hotels, go here – there are still some great options.

When it comes to dining, a meal for two at an upscale restaurant accompanied by wine averaged around €80. On the other hand, a glass of wine typically came to around €5. While Marseille might not offer the rock-bottom prices found in destinations like Lisbon or Prague, it also doesn’t reach the costliness level of cities such as Oslo or Copenhagen.

📌 Check out the best restaurants to suit your taste and budget here.

What Language Do They Speak in Marseille?

The official language spoken in Marseille is French. Acquiring a foundation in basic French phrases can prove incredibly advantageous during your time here. It’s important to note that there exists a prevailing tendency for locals to converse in French, rather than English. This inclination is quite logical given that you are, after all, in France. Nevertheless, in other countries like Croatia or Germany that we’ve visited, individuals tend to readily communicate in English when feasible.

It’s valuable to refrain from presuming that English will be the default mode of communication. Equipping yourself with basic knowledge of food-related terms in French can also prove immensely helpful. For instance, understanding that “le poussin” signifies chicken, while “poisson” indicates fish. Given that many menus are presented exclusively in French, some aspects might require a bit of guesswork. However, with even a rudimentary grasp of the language, like Dave and I have, navigation is quite manageable.

Is Marseille Easy to Get To?

Reaching Marseille is a straightforward endeavor, offering several convenient options. To start, a multitude of European and international airlines provide service to Marseille. Additionally, numerous low-cost European carriers like RyanAir and EasyJet operate flights to this destination.

✈️ To check out flight options from or via London: go here

Upon arrival at the airport, the most expeditious means of reaching the city center is by car. The travel time by car is approximately 20 minutes, with a fare of around €40. This mode of transportation is particularly advisable for late-night arrivals. Alternatively, there exists a bus option that transports you to Saint Charles train station; however, it’s worth noting that this route might be considered somewhat less secure. To arrange transfers from Marseille airport or other locations, go here.

Opting for the bus offers a more economical choice, with a cost of approximately around 7 euros per person, and a travel duration of around 30 minutes, contingent on traffic conditions. Remember, though, that you’ll still need to arrange transportation from the station to your hotel.

How Long Should I Spend in Marseille?

Dedicating 3 days to Marseille provides an optimal timeframe for a thorough exploration of the city, taking in its attractions, and savoring its exceptional cuisine. Navigating around Marseille to reach its major points of interest proves both swift and convenient, minimizing the time spent in transit. However, should you have intentions of embarking on day trips, particularly to the Calanques National Park, a slightly extended stay might be warranted. Otherwise, a 3-day stay should adequately suffice for a comprehensive Marseille experience.

Is Marseille Safe?

People have encountered numerous tales of cautionary experiences associated with visiting the city. My apprehension grew even stronger when everyone I spoke to about the journey seemed to emphasize the city’s rugged nature.

Marseille didn’t prove any more challenging than certain districts in Rome or Paris. While we did encounter pockets that induced a mild sense of unease, adhering to the main tourist areas generally ensured our well-being. We adopted several precautions during our visit. For instance, it’s good to avoid solo strolls during nighttime and to thoroughly research the locales you intend to explore. It’s commonly recommended to steer clear of the northern neighborhoods in Marseille, although investigating each area before your visit is wise.

An issue of note is pickpocketing, which is prevalent in Marseille, particularly in high-traffic tourist regions like the Old Port. Vigilance is paramount; keep your belongings within reach and avoid wandering alone late at night. Generally, this approach should serve you well.

Don’t let safety anecdotes discourage you from experiencing Marseille’s true charm.

Is Marseille Worth Visiting Compared to Other French Cities?

Marseille undeniably possesses a distinctive atmosphere and cultural essence, setting it apart from other French cities we’ve explored. Its character diverges notably, even from my encounters with other locales within France. Notably, it tends to be a touch more budget-friendly than its counterparts along the French Riviera, such as Nice, exuding an urban edge combined with a bohemian ambiance. The city’s picturesque port and diverse range of beaches render it an enticing substitute for the allure of Paris. In summation, we firmly believe that Marseille warrants inclusion on your list of French must-visit destinations.

What Is There to Do in Marseille

Here are quite a few nice things that you can do in Marseille. And if you would like to browse further options, go here.

Vieux Port (Old Port)

Serving as the vibrant heart of Marseille, Vieux Port was once a bustling trade and immigration center, now transformed into a tourist hotspot. A myriad of French cuisine and seafood-serving cafes and restaurants encircle the port. The early morning Fisherman’s market is a unique highlight, and it’s also the prime location for booking boat tours.

Petit train de Marseille

For a whimsical exploration of Marseille, consider hopping aboard the Petit train de Marseille. With three distinct routes leading to different parts of the city, it offers a novel way to take in the sights.

MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations)

A premier attraction near the Old Port, MuCEM not only stands out architecturally but is also a museum dedicated to 21st-century civilizations and Mediterranean culture.

Cathédrale de la Major (Major Cathedral)

In the vicinity of the Old Port, Cathédrale de la Major was constructed in the 19th century—a unique occurrence as no cathedrals had been built for two centuries prior. The design cleverly incorporates Oriental and Roman elements, symbolizing the city’s multicultural essence. The cathedral, offering free entry, serves as a serene respite from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Is Marseille Worth Visiting for Solo Travellers?

If you’re a solo traveler embarking on a journey to Marseille, generally speaking, your visit should be manageable. Nonetheless, it’s wise to exercise a certain degree of caution and adopt safety measures. Here are some recommendations to consider:

1. Avoid Solo Night Walks

It’s advisable to steer clear of walking alone at night. Opt for well-lit and bustling areas, and if you need to get around during the nighttime, consider taking a taxi rather than relying on public transportation, especially the metro.

2. Choose Secure Transportation

Prioritize secure modes of transportation, particularly during nighttime travels. Taxis and rideshare services are often safer options than navigating public transit after dark.

3. Stay in Tourist-Friendly Zones

Concentrate your exploration efforts on areas known for their tourist-friendly environments. Well-frequented and well-lit spots are typically safer.

Is Marseille Worth Visiting for Foodies?

The city’s gastronomic scene is a true treasure trove, enriched by a diverse array of international influences. Particularly noteworthy is the prevalence of Middle Eastern and African flavors, adding a unique dimension to Marseille’s culinary tapestry.

An iconic dish of Marseille is bouillabaisse, a hearty fish stew infused with garlicky goodness. When indulging in this delicacy, it’s crucial to conduct some research to identify the best establishments. It’s generally recommended to avoid options priced below €60 for bouillabaisse, as these might not offer an authentic experience.
Marseille abounds with genuinely authentic eateries that serve exceptional cuisine and delightful drinks, often at very reasonable rates.

To savor the true essence of the city’s culinary offerings, consider avoiding venues with English menus. Instead, opt for places featuring French menus on display and specializing in a select range of dishes.

Is Marseille Worth Visiting for History Buffs?

Marseille, recognized as the oldest city in France, holds an irresistible allure for history aficionados. Its captivating narrative spans from ancient Phocaean settlements to its enduring history of trade and immigration.

To fully immerse yourself in the city’s rich historical tapestry, be sure to visit iconic sites such as the MuCEM (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations), Château d’If, Palais Longchamp, and the evocative historical district of Le Panier. These landmarks collectively provide a profound understanding of Marseille’s past, making it an essential destination for those with a passion for history.

Is Marseille Worth Visiting in the Summer?

Marseille experiences its peak tourist season during the summer months. This period presents an ideal opportunity to relish the beaches, engage in water-based activities, or simply unwind while sipping cocktails. The temperature range hovers between 23 to 30 degrees Celsius, offering generally agreeable conditions.

It’s worth noting that despite the warmer climate, many locals opt to depart for cooler northern destinations during this time. However, tourists continue to pour into the city in large numbers. If a summer trip to Marseille is on your agenda, ensure you secure your accommodations well in advance, given the high demand during this bustling season.

Is Marseille Worth Visiting in the Winter?

Winters in Marseille maintain a relatively mild climate, encompassing temperatures spanning from 5 to 13 degrees Celsius. Rarely does the temperature drop below zero, although the season is marked by dampness and occasional wind. Characterized as the low tourist season, winter in Marseille can present an opportunity for a more budget-friendly vacation. While the weather might not be as inviting for outdoor activities, there remains a host of indoor attractions to explore, such as museums or leisurely strolls through the charming streets of Le Panier. It’s important to bundle up warmly to stay comfortable.

However, the beauty of Marseille lies in basking along the coastline and enjoying drinks in the sunshine, which makes winter less appealing. However, the decision to visit during this season hinges on your vacation preferences and priorities. If indoor attractions and a more subdued atmosphere align with your holiday objectives, then winter in Marseille could be an intriguing option.

So Is Marseille Worth Visiting?

Undoubtedly, you might be pondering whether Marseille merits a visit. From my standpoint, it certainly does. We empathize with the initial concerns about safety, and while Marseille does have its less-polished areas, we firmly believe that with a vigilant approach, the city is undoubtedly worth experiencing.

Behind the initial uncertainties lies a wealth of captivating locales waiting to be discovered, and we enthusiastically encourage you to explore them. If your passions align with a love for exceptional cuisine, abundant sunshine, and vibrant street art scenes, then Marseille is the ideal destination for you.

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Anna Roffey Lawyer, World Traveller, Blogger... 🧡