One Day in Marseille From Cruise Ship: Ultimate Itinerary

One Day in Marseille From Cruise Ship: Ultimate Itinerary

he bustling Marseille Old Port filled with boats and yachts, surrounded by buildings with the Notre Dame de la Garde basilica sitting on a hill in the background."

Are you wondering about how to spend one day in Marseille from the cruise ship? Then I got you covered!

Marseille is a beautiful city in the South of France that has a lot to offer. So much, that it can be extremely hard to choose what to do on your cruise day.

Luckily for you, I have just returned from my cruise on the MSC Divina. And we had an absolutely amazing day in Marseille.

Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know before your shore day in Marseille.

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What To Do in Marseille From Cruise Ship – In Short

When docking in Marseille with your cruise ship you’ll have a couple of options. This post will mainly focus on exploring the city itself, but there are alternatives.

Here is what you can do in one day in Marseille from the cruise ship:

  • Explore the city of Marseilles on foot
  • See the Calanques National Park
  • Explore Cassis, Aix-en-Provence or La Ciotat
  • See Luberon village
  • Do a wine tour through the Provence

My advice: we opted to see Marseille itself and do the walking tour because the weather was not great (fall). On a beautiful summer day, I suggest to do a different excursion instead, where you can see some of the beautiful nature.

One Day in Marseilles – Walking Tour Itinerary

Distance: 8,5 km (5 miles)

Time: 2 hours walking / 6 hours with sightseeing

google maps showing one day in marseille walking tour
  • Abbaye Saint-Victor
  • Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde
  • Opera de Marseille
  • Marseille History Museum
  • Old Port
  • Eglise Saint Laurent / Fort Saint Jean
  • Old Charity Center
  • Porte d’Aix
  • Eglise Saint Vincent de Paul
  • Palais Longchamp

The Marseille Cruise Port

map of the marseille cruise port showing where you'll start your one day in marseille from cruise ship

Distance From City: 8 km (5 miles) – about 25 minutes with car

Taxi Cost Cruise Port – Old Town: EUR 25 per ride

Rental Cars: not available

view of the marseille cruise port with stunning blue water from the cruise ship. in the background you can see the city center, one of the options to see on one day in marseille from cruise ship. anoramic view of the Marseille cruise port with a clear sky, showcasing the long docks, moored ships, and the cityscape in the distance."

Abbaye Saint-Victor

First stop on our one day in Marseille walking tour is the Abbaye Saint-Victor.

The Abbey of Saint-Victor in Marseille is a historic monument known for its ancient crypts and religious significance. Founded in the 5th century, it’s one of the oldest places of Christian worship in France.

The abbey is famous for its beautiful architecture and its role in the spread of Christianity in the Mediterranean.

You can either go inside or enjoy the stunning view from the outside.

The ancient stone faade of the Abbey Saint Victor in Marseille under a blue sky, showcasing the fort-like structure with twin towers flanking a central arched entrance."

Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde

The Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, also known as “La Bonne Mre,” is a famous symbol of Marseille. This is one of the spots you must see on your shore day in Marseille.

You can find the church sitting on top of a limestone hill, and it is quite a walk to reach it. But the views are well worth it, in my opinion.

The 19th-century Neo-Byzantine offers beautiful mosaics, marble, and a stunning gold-leaf statue of the Virgin Mary on its bell tower.

Aerial view of the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde in Marseille, with its grand architecture and statue of the Virgin Mary atop a bell tower overlooking the city."

Opra de Marseille

Our walk through Marseille leads us through the beautiful quarters around the Opra de Marseille. This area is home to beautiful buildings, cute restaurants and a shopping center.

The Opra de Marseille is not only pretty from the outside, but it also has a rich history. Established in 1787, the original building was destroyed by fire in 1919 and later rebuilt in the Art Deco style.

It’s home to the Orchestre Philharmonique de Marseille and the Ballet National de Marseille. Even if you don’t see a performance, the building is nice to see.

beautiful picture of the marseille opera house in fall with a carousel and orange leaf trees in the foreground

Lunch Break

After all that walking, it is probably time for a lunch break. There are lots of cute restaurants along the sides of the Old Port (Vieux Port).

We chose to eat at Brasserie L’OM Cafe. They had awesome steaks and seafood dishes for a great lunch menu price.

There are also lots of cute restaurants with flower decorations, which I adored for a coffee.

Old Port of Marseille (Vieux Port)

The Old Port of Marseille, known as Vieux-Port in French, is the historic heart of the city. It is my favorite part of the city.

Dating back to 600 BC, it has been the center of maritime activity in Marseille. The old port is surrounded by beautiful quays and lined with charming cafs, restaurants, and shops.

You can take a walk around and enjoy the views of the boats and yachts. The port is guarded by two forts on both sides: Fort Saint-Nicolas and Fort Saint-Jean. That makes it look extra cool.

he bustling Marseille Old Port filled with boats and yachts, surrounded by buildings with the Notre Dame de la Garde basilica sitting on a hill in the background."

Eglise Saint Laurent / Fort Saint Jean

Next our Marseille walking tour will lead us by the Eglise Saint Laurent and the Fort Saint Jean, which are right next to each other.

Eglise Saint-Laurent is a medieval church dating back to the 12th century, primarily built in the Provenal Romanesque style. Its a religious place, especially for fishermen. It is nice to see, even if you don’t go inside.

The Fort Saint-Jean is a fortress that was constructed in the 17th century to protect the city and its port from potential invaders. It is quite impressive to see. If you are interested, you can hop into the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (they are connected.

Beautiful shot of the eglise saint laurent from the ocean

Old Charity Center

The Old Charity Center, known as “La Vieille Charit” in French, is a beautiful building you should see, located in the Panier district of Marseille.

It was built in the 17th century as a shelter for the poor and homeless. I found the courtyard the most beautiful feature, make sure to head in there.

Today, it houses some cool museums, like the Museum of Mediterranean Archaeology and the Museum of African, Oceanian, and Amerindian Arts.

The serene courtyard of the Old Charity Center in Marseille, lined with arches and featuring a central chapel with a dome, under a partly cloudy sky."

Eglise Saint Vincent de Paul

After a bit of a walk, we’ll reach the Eglise Saint Vincent de Paul, another super stunning building. On the way, we’ll pass by the Porte d’Aix, another cool landmark.

Eglise Saint-Vincent de Paul, also known as Les Rforms, is a beautiful church located at the top of the Canebire, the main street in Marseille.

That street is super busy, but you can do some cool shopping on the way. Honestly, the walk was not so nice because of the masses of people. If you wanna grab a cab, go right ahead.

The faade is decorated with statues of saints and biblical figures, so make sure to walk up close.

Gothic-style Eglise Saint Vincent de Paul in Marseille, featuring two soaring spires, a rose window, and a bridge crossing over a waterway in the foreground.

Palais Longchamp

Last and most impressive stop on our one day in Marseille itinerary is the Palais Longchamp.

The Palais Longchamp consists of a central building flanked by two wings, each housing a museum. On one side is the Muse des Beaux-Arts, showcasing a collection of fine art, and on the other is the Musum d’Histoire Naturelle, dedicated to natural history.

My favorite part is the stunning water fountain in the middle. The palace was built to celebrate the importance of water to the city, so it is really fitting.

From here, you’ll probably want to take a cab back to the cruise ship. This is the perfect end to one day in Marseille from the cruise ship.

he grand Palais Longchamp in Marseille during sunset, displaying its ornate staircase, sculptures, and fountains, with lush greenery in the foreground."

Our Take On Marseille

On our 10 day Western Mediterranean cruise, Marseille was our least favorite stop. Don’t get me wrong, the city was beautiful and we loved seeing the monuments.

But we thought the locals were not too friendly and there were a lot of homeless people and people on drugs making us feel uneasy.

We had a great time on our walking tour, but especially on a nicer day we would have opted for a tour through the Provence or the National Park instead for sure.

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Conclusion: One Day in Marseille From Cruise Ship

To sum it up, our day in Marseille from the cruise ship is spent best on a walking tour. As mentioned, you can also book one of the stunning nature excursions alternatively.

I suggest to see the city if the weather is not awesome. For hot summer days I would pick a different excursion, for example through the Calanques National Park.

We enjoyed our walking tour, even though Marseille was not our favorite stop on this cruise. The tour led us by stunning churches and forts, and of course alongside the Old Port.

I hope you’ll have a beautiful day in Marseille, just like we did. If you are not done yet checking out France, I got you covered as well.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Marseille walkable from cruise port?

No, you can’t walk to Marseille from the cruise port. You’ll need to take a cab, which costs about EUR 40,00 in each direction and takes about 20 minutes per ride. Luckily, there are many cabs available at the cruise port.

What to do in Marseille off cruise ship?

In Marseille, stroll along the Vieux-Port, visit the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica for panoramic views, explore the historic Le Panier district, and enjoy fresh seafood at local restaurants. Don’t miss the MuCEM for contemporary art and the Palais Longchamp for its museums and gardens. For a relaxing day, take a boat trip to the Calanques National Park.

Where do cruise ships dock in Marseille?

Cruise ships in Marseille dock at the Marseille Provence Cruise Terminal, located in the Joliette district, north of the Old Port. The terminal is well-equipped to accommodate large cruise ships and is a short distance from the city center, providing easy access to Marseille’s main attractions. From the cruise port to the city center, it is a 20 minute drive.

blonde girl pink dress in front of blue door santorini

About the Author

Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator, based in New Mexico. She spends about half of the year traveling to various destinations together with her husband.

She provides slow-paced itineraries that focus on quality over quantity. Sabrina wants to help her readers to get more out of their travel experiences – while doing less. Read more.