The Marseille cruise port is a beautiful destination for cruise ships sailing the Mediterranean. Marseille is Situated in the Provence region of southern France and is a popular port for cruise ships to dock in. Marseille is also known as the Sunniest place in France as well as the biggest city. If you’re lucky enough to stop at this historic city, there are so many things to keep you entertained.
For the most part—despite Marseille’s size—most of its attractions surround the Old Harbor. So you won’t have to travel far once you’re in the city.
With convenient transportation options and attractions to cater for everyone, the port of Marseille will be a stop on your cruise that you’ll remember for a lifetime.
To help you plan your day out in Marseille, we’ve put together a guide with the city’s most popular attractions. You need to know everything about where to go and things to do in Marseille from the Port when your cruise ship Docks. So, whether you like discovering unique architecture or shopping until your heart’s content in local markets, here’s what to look out for when visiting Marseille cruise port.
How to get into the Town From the Port of Marseille
The cruise port of Marseille is roughly a 15-minute drive from the city centre. So if you haven’t already booked any shore excursions, you’ll need to find your own way into Marseille. Luckily, there are plenty of transportation options from the Marseille Provence Cruise Terminal (MPCT)—both public and private.
One of the easiest and quickest ways to get into the city is by hailing a taxi or booking an Uber. It should cost you around €20 one way—picking you up as soon as you exit the cruise port terminal.
Alternatively, you can opt for public transportation. You can find tram, bus, and metro stops just outside the Môle Léon Gourret cruise port terminal. And although you may need to wait a little longer for the bus to arrive, it is cheaper than an Uber or a Taxi.
Free shuttle bus
If you don’t mind walking a bit further and do not want to pay for the cruise ship port buses, a 10 to 15-minute walk will take you out to a free shuttle bus Depending on where your ship is docked. The free shuttle buses run from cruise port 4 to La Joliette in Marseille’s city—travelling southeast along the waterfront. However, on the way back to the port, you’ll drive down the motorway. In our opinion, the shuttle is a great way to see the beauty of Marseille—and it’s free. So what more could you want?
Things to see in Marseille Cruise Port
Marseille is the oldest and second-largest city in France. So, I’m sure you can only imagine how beautiful and captivating its popular attractions are. From the city’s hilltop cathedral to a 3 km waterfront promenade, there is something in Marseille for everyone. There is even a mini train that takes you on a tour of the whole city and right up to the Basilica.
If you haven’t yet decided where to go from the Marseille cruise terminal, here are some of the city’s most popular attractions.
Basilica of Notre-Dame of la Garde
The Basilique Notre Dame de La Garde is an architectural wonder. Perched on top of the city’s highest point, the cathedral offers breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea and the expansive city below.
Constructed in the mid-19th century, the Basilica has a distinctive bell tower—featuring a golden statue of the Virgin Mary—and intricate mosaics throughout its interior. With stained glass windows and magnificent sculptures, the cathedral is one of Marseille’s most iconic landmarks. And one that’s definitely worth the effort it takes to get up there.
One thing we will say is there are a lot of stairs to climb to get to the church. If you find walking or climbing stairs difficult, the cathedral may not be the Marseille activity for you.
Another 19th-century architectural masterpiece that tourists to Marseille must visit is the Palais Longchamp. Serving as a tribute to the importance of the city’s water, the Palais Longchamp features a grand 19th-century foundation—the water castle—and a park that is frequently visited by local families.
Marseille built the Palais Longchamp to celebrate the completion of the Canal de Marseilles. And now, visitors to the monument can enjoy Marseille’s oldest museum—Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille—which sits inside. The gallery houses artworks from regional and Italian artists, most of which date back to the 16th century.
The palace also has a natural history museum and buildings which were once part of a zoo. The park Zoological is behind the fountain, and the bases of former animal cages are still in the park.
Marseille Cathedral – Cathédrale De La Major
the La basílica catedral de Santa María la Mayor is a beautiful Catherdal for History and architecture buffs who will simply be in awe when visiting Marseille. The city really is home to some of the most beautiful buildings and has many churches to explore, that includes two major Cathdrals, one being the Marseille Cathedral.
Situated on the Vieux Port, the cathedral took four decades to complete. And with just one look at it, you can understand why. The cathedrals striking twin towers and domes are striped with dark green Florentine marble and Cassis stone giving it a unique, captivating finish.
And if you thought the outside of the cathedral was beautiful, wait until you see the inside. The same striped pattern continues throughout the cathedral’s interior. And with ceilings covered in colourful, detailed mosaics, your eyes won’t even know where to look.
The stunning Basilica of Notre-Dame of la Garde in Marseille
The stunning Basilica of Notre-Dame of la Garde in Marseille stands high on a hill overlooking Marseille. With magnificent 360 degrees view all over the city, the basilica is a top tourist attraction. The Basilica of Notre Dame of la Garde is 2 miles outside of the city but is well worth the visit. There is car parking at the top, but you will still have many steps to climb. The No. 60 bus from the city centre makes a stop at the Basilica.
The views from the church are well worth the trip up. Depending on the day, you may or may not be able to go inside, but there is a small crypt to visit composed of a nave with a vaulted ceiling. You can find out more on their Basilica website.
Old Harbour – Le Vieux Port
The Vieux Port—also known as the Old Harbor or Old Port—is a historic waterfront destination in Marseille. Connecting the past with the present, the Old Port of Marseille is lined with quays, cafes, a fish market, and fishing boats. And whether you enjoy immersing yourself in the hustle and bustle or sitting back and watching the world go by, the port will transport you back in time while showing you the vibrant spirit of modern-day Marseille.
The port is lined with shops and restaurants around the edges, but it is nice to wander further to one of the back streets to grab a table and have a glass of wine.
The Old Quarter the Le Panier
Marseille’s Old Quarter—Le Panier—is steeped in history and is the city’s oldest district. Showcasing a blend of architectural styles, boutique shops, and quaint cafes, Le Panier celebrates traditional and contemporary French culture.
A maze of limestone alleys and unique—but tasteful—street art, the Old Quarter can entertain you for hours on end. And if you do plan to visit, be sure to stop by the 17th-century La Vieille Charité to enjoy its chapel, courtyard, and museums.
La Plaine and Noailles
Noailles and La Plaine are two neighbourhoods located in Marseille, France. La Plaine—renowned for its vibrant atmosphere—has bustling markets, charming cafes, and colourful street art. And if that wasn’t enough, come nightfall, the area transforms into a hub of nightlife with bars and live music.
On the opposite end of the scale is Noailles, which offers a one-of-a-kind cultural experience. Combining diverse communities, the markets of Noailles serve up dishes from North Africa, the Middle East and traditional delicacies for all to enjoy. If you enjoy your food, Noailles is a must-visit, as the smells of the markets alone are sublime.
Located on a small island just off the coast of Marseille is the Chateau D’If. Originally built as a defensive stronghold in the 16th century, the Chateau D’If later turned into a state prison. What really made the fort famous, however, was writer Alexandre Dumas. In his classic novel, “The Count of Monte Cristo,” Dumas’s protagonist, Edmond Dantes, was imprisoned on the island before orchestrating his escape.
And now, although now the fortress is simply just a monument, it fascinates history and literature lovers all over the world.
To get over to the fort, passengers can hop on The Frioul If Express shuttle boat which departs from Marseille’s Vieux Port. Tickets from Quai des Belges are €10.80 for a round trip. And you’ll need to pay an entrance fee once you reach the island.
The MuCEM, Museum Of Civilizations Of Europe And The Mediterranean
Established in 2013, the Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM) is a popular tourist destination in Marseille. The striking modern architecture of the MuCEM combined with its black metal footbridge to the 17th century Fort Saint-Jean is the perfect example of juxtaposition.
Showcasing art, artefacts, and anthropological treasures take you on a journey through time. Learning about the region’s past and how it influenced its present really helps you understand Marseille and its rich human heritage.
History Museum – Musée D’Histoire De Marseille
In the heart of Marseille is the Musée d’Histoire de Marseille which spans 2,600 years of history. Originally founded in 1983, the museum displays exhibits, archaeological finds, and artefacts from the city’s ancient Greek, Roman, and medieval periods.
With information on maritime trade, seafaring ventures, and the city’s multicultural heritage, you can learn all about Marseille and its interesting past.
Musée des Docks Romains
When we say Marseille is a great destination for history buffs, we truly mean it. Another museum in the city is the Musée des Docks Romains which offers glimpses into the ancient Roman era.
Once the site of a bustling Roman port, the museum takes you back through Marseille’s maritime past. While strolling through the museum, you’ll come across] well-preserved ancient ship remains, coins, pottery, and sculptures—all while learning about how the Romans who inhabited the area once lived thousands of years ago.
Other areas to visit when you dock at Marseille cruise port
The picturesque coastal road of La Corniche meanders alongside the Mediterranean Sea—offering breathtaking and unparalleled views. This iconic stretch of road that begins at the Old Port extends all the way to its southern beaches.
Lined with colourful gardens, gorgeous cafes, and charming villas, a stroll along La Corniche is a must-do when visiting Marseille. You can even take some postcard-worthy pictures—especially at sunset.
If you want to explore areas surrounding Marseille, then the city of Arles is a wonderful option. The historic city—about an hour’s drive west of Marseille—has a mixture of UNESCO-listed Roman and Middle Age buildings.
One of the most beautiful buildings is the Arles Amphitheatre—a building strikingly similar to the Colosseum in Rome. Still used today as a venue for non-lethal bullfighting, the amphitheatre—which you can purchase tickets for—is a sight not to be missed.
If ancient buildings aren’t your thing, then the city of Arles also has a rich art heritage. While strolling through Arles’ streets, you may come across an extremely familiar cafe—one that shines yellow come nightfall. The cafe inspired famous painter Vincent Van Gogh in the 1800s. And you can still stop for a coffee in the cafe today!
With tours of olive oil groves, mountain ranges, and walking tours of the Les Baux-de-Provence village, Arles will suit everyone.
Explore Aix-en-Provence by train
Aix-en-Provence is another interesting city roughly 40 minutes outside of Marseille. Getting a taxi to the city would be expensive. So instead, you could jump on a train or a bus near the cruise port.
You can get a train from the Marseille St Charles station to the Gare d’Aix en Provence for around €9. And it’s fairly straightforward and easy to do so.
Once you reach Aix-en-Provence, you’ll understand why so many people visit the city time and time again. Home to cobblestone streets, local food markets, cosy cafes, and the Montagne Sainte-Victoire. As well as nearby lavender fields, vineyards, and the gardens of Parc Jourdan, Aix-en-Provence is the perfect day out for those who enjoy being surrounded by nature.
Avignon is just over an hour away from Marseille. But it captivates visitors with its rich history and is another great place to visit.
Renowned for its medieval architecture, Avignon is best known for its Palace of the Popes—a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the 14th century, the Palace was home to the Avignon papacy. However, it’s not the only reason to visit the city.
Local cafes, art galleries, and bustling markets add to Avignon’s cultural allure. And if you have the time to visit, it’s a trip that you won’t forget.
Overall you will be split for choice on your visit to Marseille cruise port