Visiting Marseille is always a great idea. The second largest city in France is also its oldest. Marseille is a beautiful Mediterranean city with tons of heritage and distinct neighborhoods. It is also a place of great contrasts. In some places you want to stay and in some not. Therefore, you should choose well where to stay in Marseille.
We’ve been to the city several times and know it by heart. Most tourists visit Marseille for its cultural attractions. Therefore, it makes sense to stay in the historic area. We are talking about the colorful Old Port and the cosmopolitan City Center.
Marseille’s best hotels are around the Old Port. The Greeks founded the port in 600 BC. Since then, it has always been the city’s lifeline. The City Center, east of the port, is full of busy shopping streets and charming squares. The rest is less interesting, except for a few architectural gems and beaches.
The Best Places to Stay in Marseille
Old Port of Marseille (Vieux Port)
Hotel de Ville
The area north of the Old Port starts at the Town Hall (Hotel de Vile) and goes all over the adjacent hill. The neighborhood known as Hotel de Vile is the best place to stay in Marseille.
Elegant palaces dot the colorful seaside promenade Quai du Port. It starts east at the 16th-Century Saint Ferréol les Augustins Church and ends west at the monumental Fort Saint Jean. Enter the fortress, and you’ll be blown away by the views.
Opposite the fort, we find the uniquely shaped Mucem Museum. Built on reclaimed land, the museum combines great architecture and art. Do not miss the Church of Saint Laurent on the other side of the fort. It is one of the oldest in the city.
We Recommend These Hotels in Hotel de Ville:
Hotel Dieu Intercontinental Marseille
If you love culture and history, stay at the spectacular Hotel Dieu Intercontinental Marseille. The lavish hotel was once a hospital built over an old chapel with Roman mosaics. You can still see them inside the hotel. Book a room with a port view, and you’ll never want to leave. This is one of the best 5 star hotels in Marseille.
La Residence du Vieux Port
We wholeheartedly recommend the La Résidence Du Vieux Port, directly at the port. You’ll love its modern rooms and suites with panoramic views. The best ones come with a balcony. The hotel’s restaurant Le Realias 50, is one of Marseille’s best.
The hill north of the Hotel de Ville is called Le Panier. This is Marseille’s medieval neighborhood with curvy streets and colorful buildings. Le Panier is the city’s bohemian area. Some of Marseille’s best bars and restaurants are here.
The neighborhood centers on the Rue de Panier and the Place des Pistoles. Stop by La Vieille Charité, a popular cultural center. Street art, flower pots, and colorful flags decorate the streets of Le Panier. The spectacular Marseille Cathedral is to the west of the neighborhood.
Though it is a beautiful and safe neighborhood there aren’t any hotels in the center or near the Cathedral. Therefore, we strongly recommend the north of Le Panier. The hotels here are great value for money.
We Recommend These Hotels in Le Panier:
We love the location of Residhome, north of Le Panier and very close to the Euromed – La Juliette District. The modern property has fully equipped apartments perfect for friends and families. They’ve got onsite private parking.
NH Collection Marseille
The NH Collection Marseille is close to the Rue de la Republique, one of the city’s most elegant avenues. Napoleon III himself opened the 19th-Century palace. We love its splendid garden. The hotel has a fitness center and a super cool cocktail bar. The rooms come with a coffee machine.
The Opéra neighborhood is east and south of the port. It got its name from the majestic 18th-Century Opera House. Verdi’s Aida and Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West had their French premiers here. If you want to be in the most central area of Marseille, this is where to stay.
The entire area around the Opera house is pedestrian. Don’t forget to walk north to check the city’s main drag, La Canebière. Rue Saint Ferréol, the shopping street, is to the east. Since we don’t like cars, we spend a lot of time here!
You have three grand squares to discover. General de Gaulle Square is across the Stock exchange by La Canebière Street. Ernest Reyer Square is in front of the Opera. Finally, Honoré d’Estienne d’Orves is a large pedestrian square full of restaurants.
We Recommend These Hotels in Opéra:
Maisons du Monde Hôtel & Suites
Our favorite hotel near the Opera is the Maisons du Monde Hôtel & Suites. We love the jungle-style décor and the delicious complimentary breakfast. Book a deluxe room to enjoy epic views of the old port.
Hôtel Maison Montgrand – Vieux Port
The Hôtel Maison Montgrand – Vieux Port is one block away from the Opéra neighborhood. That’s exactly why we like it. The hotel is an oasis of peace in the middle of it all. The hotel hosts a grand courtyard with a boule pitch and a concept store.
Saint Victor and Le Pharo
The historic neighborhood of Saint Victor is west of the Opera. Saint Victor is one of the best places to stay in Marseille and France if you are into food. You will want to try everything at the food market, delicatessen shops, stylish bars, and restaurants that dot the area.
The fortified Abbaye of Saint Victor is the star of the neighborhood. Built during late Roman times, its crypt contains the remains of an even older Greek quarry. The Notre Dame de la Garde Church is in the south of Saint Victor. The beautiful temple crowns a hill overlooking the city.
West of Saint-Victor is the elegant Pharo neighborhood. The Palais du Pharo is at the northern tip. To the south, we find the imposing Fort Saint Nicholas, a 17th-Century citadel. You can walk west of the neighborhood to a small beach called Plage des Catalans.
We Recommend These Hotels in Saint Victor and Le Pharo:
Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port
We’ve stayed in the Sofitel Marseille Vieux Port a couple of times and are convinced it has the best views in the city. The elegant property features a fantastic roof terrace with panoramic views where you can sip your favorite cocktail. The best rooms have a private terrace. The spa is one of the best in the city.
Les Bords de Mer
Les Bords de Mer is a bit away from the Old Port, but overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, the small Plage des Catalans is just a step away. There is a spa and an outside swimming pool. Most of their rooms have sea views. Le Bords de Mer is one of the best hotels in Marseille near the beach.
Belsunce and Noailles
Marseille’s City Center is east of the Old Port. The term downtown refers to the neighborhoods of Belsunce and Noailles. Both metro lines and all three tram lines meet here, making it the best-connected area in the city.
Belsunce starts at the Old Port and goes all the way to the Train Station Marseille Saint-Charles. The neighborhood got its name from the Cours Belsunce, its main street. Do not miss the triumphal Port d’Aix, the Alcazar Theater, and the Port Antique.
Noailles is south of Belsunce and east of the Opéra. It is one of Marseille’s most multicultural neighborhoods, full of shops offering products from all corners of the world. Several renowned theaters are here, including the Daki Ling Le Jardin Des Muses and the Mazenod Theater.
We Recommend These Hotels in Belsunce and Noailles:
Mercure Marseille Canebière Vieux Port
You can’t beat the location of the Mercure Marseille Canebière Vieux Port. The elegant property is on Marseille’s main street. Thus, you can walk everywhere in no time. The rooms are comfy.
Alex Hotel & Spa
If you plan to take a train, you should consider staying at Alex Hotel & Spa. This three-star hotel offers well-appointed rooms and a nice spa. It is one of the best hotels near Marseille train station.
Prefecture and Castellane
Prefecture and Castellane are south of Noailles. The best affordable accommodation in downtown Marseille is here. It’s a great transport hub with good connections to the beaches and the iconic Unité d’habitation.
Prefecture is the small area around the Prefecture building. The monumental palace from the 1860s is the seat of the Bouches-du-Rhône department. The pedestrian Saint Ferréol Street starts here. It’s another popular shopping district.
Castellane is south of Prefecture. It should not be confused with a neighborhood with the same name in the 15th arrondissement. The star of the neighborhood is the large roundabout with the iconic Cantini fountain. Locals flock to the area at night to eat and have a glass of wine.
We Recommend These Hotels in Prefecture and Castellane:
If you like to stay in unique places, The Maison Juste is a one-of-a-kind mansion that combines a hotel, an Airbnb, and co-living. The tastefully decorated rooms are comfy. We like the property’s lounge and garden. It’s a great place to socialize with fellow travelers and locals.
Citadines Castellane Marseille
You won’t get self-catered apartments in downtown Marseille at a better price than at the Citadines Castellane Marseille. Each of their spacious apartments includes a comfortable seating area and a fully equipped kitchen.
Notre Dame du Mont and Thiers
Notre Dame du Mont and Thiers are east of Noailles. Though very central, both feel slightly more local. This is the best area to stay in Marseille if you are into bars and clubs.
You’ll easily recognize Notre Dame du Mont for its street art, vintage shops, and underground music venues. The neighborhood’s center point is the lively Cours Julien Square with eccentric bars and chill-out cafés.
Thiers has a more relaxed vibe. It got its name from the Lycée Thiers, the oldest school in Marseille. Several cultural institutions dot the area including the wonderful Théâtre du Gymnase. The impressive neo-gothic Église Saint Vincent de Paulis is here too.
We Recommend These Hotels in Notre Dame du Mont and Thiers:
Un Mas en Ville
We stayed in Un Mas en Ville once with friends and had a great time. The one-of-a-kind property is in the heart of Marseille. The whole guesthouse looks like a traditional Provencal farmhouse but has modern-day amenities. There is even a Jacuzzi, a swimming pool, and a beautiful courtyard.
Mama Shelter Marseille
Mama Shelter is a quiet getaway perfect to rest, work, and meet new people. They offer super comfy rooms, three ateliers, a sunny terrace, and an open kitchen bar. Every room is different.
Le Chapitre, Saint Charles and Cinq Avenues
Le Chapitre, Saint Charles, and Cinq Avenues are three neighborhoods east of Belsunce. This is where the city center meets posh residential Marseille. Tram line No.2 crosses the area from west to east.
Chapitre is the most central of the three neighborhoods. Marseille’s Central Train Station is to the north. Trains to Paris, Lyon, Nice, Montpelier, Bordeaux, and other national and international destinations stop here. Saint Charles is the neighborhood around the station.
Cinq Avenues is one of Marseille’s most elegant neighborhoods. The beautifully tailored Longchamp Park is in the center. You can spend hours admiring the plants. Don’t forget to visit the Palais Longchamp, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Marseille Observatory inside the park.
We Recommend These Hotels in Le Chapitre, Saint Charles and Cinq Avenues:
There are very few hotels or guesthouses in the area. Without a doubt, Maison Dormoy is the best. You can choose between deluxe double rooms and two-bedroom suites. It’s a charming little building in a fantastic location.
Another great option is to stay in a private apartment. Le Madeleine is a two-bedroom apartment with a fully equipped kitchen, a bathroom, and a balcony. The tram stops right by the corner.
How Long to Stay in Marseille
Marseille is a very special place. The way its architecture blends with nature is simply stunning. The area around the old port is one of the nicest in the Mediterranean. Historic churches, colorful neighborhoods, and cool modern architecture complete the feast.
To our surprise, Marseille is not overly touristic. Many tourists visit on their way to the Côte d’Azur. That’s why the city feels very local, even during high season. You can easily spend weeks in Marseille discovering new neighborhoods!
However, none of us has unlimited time. Thus you are probably wondering how many days you need in Marseille to cover the basics. We believe you should spend at least two days visiting the main sights. If you have more days, go on a day trip to Aix-en-Provence or Arles.
Moving Around Marseille
Marseille is a big city, but most of its sights are not far from each other. Thus, walking about is the best option. Most of the city center is flat, and the sidewalks are wide everywhere. Therefore, walking is a delightful experience.
Marseille has a metro and a tram system. Actually, there are two metro lines and three tram lines. They connect the city center with the residential neighborhoods. Most main sights are close to a metro or a tram station.
If you want to spend some time at the beaches, take public bus number 19 from Castellane Square. To get to the Unité d’habitation, take bus B1 on the same square. Biking is a good option too, but there aren’t many bike lanes.