Bordeaux is famous worldwide for having the finest wines and outstanding vineyards, but this dynamic and cosmopolitan city has much more to offer, whether you’re a wine lover or not.
The city’s rich cultural heritage is evident in its stunning architecture, which will make you travel back in time. Learn about the Roman times at Palais Gallien, stop by the Medieval Gates or visit its gothic cathedrals and baroque palaces. With over 350 historic monuments, Bordeaux never ceases to amaze us with new fun things to do, including a wealth of fantastic museums (with the Museum of Fine Arts being the oldest), art centers and concert halls.
After exploring the city’s monumental squares, such as the iconic Place de la Bourse, wandering through its lively streets and, of course, a lot of wine tasting and eating all of the magnificent food, make the most of your stay with a day trip. Try surfing at the beaches of Lacanau or exploring historical chateaux and vineyards in the charming Aquitaine countryside.
1 – Discover the history of wine at La Cité du Vin
Are you a wine enthusiast who would like to learn all they can about the history of the world’s great wines? La cité du Vin is a museum and exhibition space that examines how wine has shaped lives and lands around the globe for millennia.
Explore 20 interactive digital spaces that take you back in time to Egyptian tombs, Greek banquets and Roman taverns. La Cité du Vin is a must for anyone interested in Bordeaux’s most famous export.
2 – See the city’s Medieval Gates
The city of Bordeaux has many ancient gates that were integrated into the city walls.
One of the most impressive is Porte Cailhau which was built in 1494 and remains virtually unchanged.
Porte de la Grosse Cloche is another of the city’s magnificent gates and used to be the bell tower of the old town hall. For other fine examples around the city check out Porte Dijeaux, Porte d’Aquitaine, Porte de la Monnaie and Porte de Bourgogne.
3 – Experience the city’s wine & cheese on a tasting tour
Bordeaux is world-famous for its splendid wines. Why not take a walk through the Chartrons to sample some of the finest wines of the region? Take a guided tour with a professional sommelier to learn about the different grape varieties used in Bordeaux wines.
Taste a variety of local cheeses and learn how to choose a bottle and read wine labels like a pro. This is an absolute must for the wine connoisseur!
4 – Admire the impressive Place de la Bourse
The Place de la Bourse is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. The square is next to the Garonne River and in the historic part of the city recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
The Place de la Bourse has many fine examples of classical 18th-century architecture. It is also home to the Fountain of Three Graces and the world’s largest reflecting pool, Le Miroir d’Eau, which was constructed in 2006.
5 – Take a day trip to Saint-Emilion
Saint Emilion is one of the Bordeaux region’s treasures. It has fantastic wines and world-class vineyards in picture-perfect surroundings. The city has been settled since prehistoric times and its wine heritage dates back thousands of years.
Take a tour of the surrounding area and visit a chateau for a wine tasting. Learn how the area’s distinct soil type and climate add to the flavors of the wine. Take a walking tour of Saint Emilion and discover the charming city for yourself.
6 – Visit Médoc for an afternoon wine tasting trip
The Médoc is the larger of the area’s wine-growing regions. Its centuries-old vineyards, picturesque chateaux and dense pine forests make it a wonderful stop on any tourist’s itinerary.
Take a guided tour of the Médoc and visit two chateaux where you will tour the vineyards. Taste local wines and delicacies and hear learn the history of agriculture in the area. This is not to be missed by lovers of French wines and history.
7 – Experience the city’s delicacies on a food tour
Bordeaux is a heaven for food lovers especially those wanting to sample regional French cuisine. The city’s famous cannelés, a custard-filled pastry flavored with rum, should be sought out by those with a sweet tooth. The market of Marché des Capucins is a great place to shop for cheese, meat, vegetables and bread.
Alternatively, try a walking food tour where you will visit some of the city’s most iconic eateries. Sample delicious french coffee and pastries, traditional baguettes and cheeses like comté and brie and fine local sweets.
8 – Embark on a Garonne River sightseeing cruise
The Garonne River runs right through the center of the city. The central harbor dates back to the middle ages and is known as Port de la Lune, or Port of the Moon, due to its crescent shape. The area around the harbor is renowned for its beautiful architecture and remarkable views across the city.
Take a cruise along the Garonne and discover the city in style! Lunch and dinner cruises are popular options and visitors can enjoy a three-course meal and local wine while they admire the sights.
9 – Travel back in time at Musée d’Aquitaine
The Musée d’Aquitaine has a collection of over 1.3 million artifacts from Bordeaux and the larger Aquitaine region. The museum’s most important items include a decorative gold torque and gold coins from the 1st century B.C discovered in the historic nearby village of Tayac.
The exhibits cover the pre-historic, iron age, medieval and modern periods attesting to the area’s rich culture. The museum also has a collection of pieces from Africa, Oceania and the Americas.
10 – Visit the Palais Rohan
The Palais Rohan was built in the 1700s at the direction of the Archbishop of Bordeaux as his main residence. It took 13 years to construct and was completed in 1784. Seven years later during the French Revolution, it would become the Gironde Department Prefecture.
This stately building is now the Bordeaux town hall and reportedly has one of the finest staircases in all of France. Tours are available on Wednesdays and Fridays and must be booked in advance.
11 – Hit the streets on a sidecar tour
If you’re looking for a really unique sight-seeing experience a sidecar tour has to be it. Climb on board and let your guide tour you through the city’s most notable landmarks. Motorcycle tours offer a thrilling and personal experience that is tailored for the individual.
Hear anecdotes and history about the town and visit hidden gems that you might otherwise miss. These sidecar tours are by far one of the most fun things to do in Bordeaux.
12 – See the historical Bordeaux Cathedral
Bordeaux’s Saint André Cathedral was constructed between the 12th and 14th centuries. It is on the Saint Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage route and its grand architecture was important in drawing visitors to the church. In 1137, the future king of France, Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine were married at the church.
It is primarily gothic in style but has been remodeled and repaired through the centuries. During times of political upheaval, the cathedral has been used as a storage facility for animal foods.
13 – See the city from Pey Berland Tower
Pey Berland Tower is a freestanding belltower next to Bordeaux’s cathedral. It was built in the 15th century and was designed freestanding so the weight of the bell would not affect the cathedral’s structure. The largest of the towers 4 bells, the bourdon, weighs over eight tons.
The tower is 66 meters high and is crowned with the golden statue of Notre-Dame d’Aquitaine. Visitors can climb the winding staircase to the top of the tower and enjoy spectacular, 360-degree views of the city.
14 – See masterpieces at the Museum of Fine Arts of Bordeaux
The Musée des Beaux-Arts is the city’s oldest public museum. Its permanent collection is a cross-section of European art from the 15th to 20th Centuries. It includes paintings, prints, sculptures and drawings and is internationally revered.
It has works by Titian, Perugino, Van Dyck, Rubens and Picasso and it pays special attention to regional artists like Lacour, Dupas and Lhote. The Musée des Beaux-Arts is a must-see for art lovers.
15 – Climb the Dune of Pilat on a day trip
The Dune of Pilat is a sight to behold and a truly unique natural phenomenon. It is thought to be Europe’s largest sand dune and is located just southwest of Bordeaux. It towers 100 meters above sea level and is sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and a huge pine forest.
The steep angle of the dune makes it a popular launching point for parasailing and it is an equally good place to stop and snap a few photos. This dramatic natural landscape is definitely worth a trip if you’re in Bordeaux.
16 – Discover nearby Arcachon
Just north of the Dune du Pila is the seaside town of Arcachon. It is famous for its mild climate, sandy beaches and oysters which are harvested from the triangular Arcachon bay. Its fresh sea air and extensive forests make it a great destination for nature lovers and people seeking outdoor adventures.
Discover hiking trails and cycling routes or find idyllic surf spots all within a short distance of the town.
Check out the best hotels in Arcachon.
17 – Explore Cape Ferret
Across the bay from Arcachon, you can find the chic resort of Le Cap Ferret. The area is a peninsula that separates the Atlantic from Arcachon Bay, offering calm bathing waters on one side and wild surf spots on the other. The resort is prized for its unspoiled nature and traditional villages.
The iconic Phare du Cap Ferret lighthouse has some of the best views around. Visitors can climb the 258 steps to view the whole of Arcachon Bay over to the Dune du Pila.
18 – Travel the city on a bike tour
Take a bike tour through Bordeaux and visit the city’s highlights in a relaxed and environmentally friendly way. Strap on your helmet and let your guide lead you through the winding streets. Explore the historic center of the city and hear anecdotes and history of the areas.
Head along the Garonne River banks to the more modern districts and get a feel for the character of the city. A bike tour is an informative and really fun way to see the city.
19 – Make your own cuvée of Bordeaux wine
Have you ever dreamed of creating your own signature wine? Take a fun and easy-going winemaking class in Bordeaux. Create your own blend, or cuvée, with the help of knowledgeable winemakers.
Sample the three main wines from the region then mix your own blend using the different grape varieties. Get the chance to bottle and label your wine and then take it home and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
20 – Take a surf & beach day trip to Lacanau
Lacanau is the ideal day trip from Bordeaux if you are looking for surf or a fun beach day. The resort’s Central Beach is home to the Lacanau Pro surf competition and is famous for its barrelling beach breaks. First-timers and amateurs can take surf lessons nearby on more beginner-friendly waves.
Lacanau’s long golden beaches and surrounding pine forests make it a popular getaway for those looking for a fun and relaxed beachside atmosphere.
21 – Visit a historic cellar at the Wine & Trade Museum
Bordeaux’s wine and trade museum pays homage to the region’s world-famous wines and the industry that surrounds them. Its exhibition covers three hundred years of winemaking and trade including coopering and barrel-making traditions.
The museum is set in historic merchant’s cellars which were built in 1720. Visitors can see how the wines were transported, barreled and stored. The Wine and Trade Museum brings the history of Bordeaux wines to life.
22 – Be immersed in art at Bassins de Lumières
Situated in a former submarine base, Bassins de Lumières is the world’s largest digital art center. The exhibitions project images onto the expansive concrete surfaces and deepwater basins of the space allowing visitors to feel like they are inside the paintings.
See the paintings of Renoir, Money, Chagall and Gustav Klimt like you’ve never seen them before in this truly immersive art experience. Exhibitions rotate around short contemporary exhibitions and longer ones for major artists. Art lovers have to check this out!
23 – Jet ski on the Garonne River
To see the city from an entirely different perspective why not take a jet ski tour on the Garonne River. See the major sites as you speed along the city’s main waterway on a thrilling high-speed ride.
See the treasures of the city like the Place de la Bourse and its reflecting pool, the Miroir d’Eau. Pass beneath the many elaborate bridges and see picturesque vineyards and castles. Jet skiing on the Garonne has to be one of the most fun things to do in Bordeaux.
24 – Explore the Museum of the Sea and the Navy
Bordeaux was once the largest port in Europe and the Musee Mer Marine presents its maritime history. The museum blends art and history and contains over 10,000 marine artifacts from millennia of navigation.
Visitors will find full-size boats and scale models, instruments maps and atlases. Permanent exhibitions cover the changing relationship of people with the Ocean. The Museum also has contemporary art pieces that are centered around the sea and wet docks with historic vessels on display.
25 – Visit Cognac and learn about the spirit on a day trip
Would you like to know more about the famous French brandy? Why not take a day trip to the town that lends its name to the drink. Visit local barrel makers and the Cognac Arts Museum. Enjoy a typical Charente-style lunch in the town and a Cognac tasting session.
Try famous cognacs like Hennessy, Courvoisier, Camus, Rémy Martin and Martell. Learn the secrets of the distillation techniques and the grape varieties that are used to make the finest spirits.
26 – Relax in Place des Quinconces
The enormous Place des Quinconces is one of the largest squares in Europe covering 12 hectares in the center of the city. It is a popular tourist spot and landmark in the city and its scenic riverside position makes it a great place to relax and watch the world go by.
There are a number of monuments here including the towering Monument aux Girondins, dedicated to those who were killed in the French Revolution. You can also find various fairs and events occurring here throughout the year.
27 – Get inspired at CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art
CAPC is one of the city’s most important cultural institutions and is highly regarded on a national and international level. It was founded in 1973 has since occupied the same space in the historical Entrepot Laine warehouse buildings.
Its collection includes over 1000 works by 189 artists, some of which are on permanent loan from the National Museum of Modern Art. It has a rotating program of exhibitions and site-specific works by Keith Haring, Christian Boltanski, Max Neuhaus and Richard Long.
28 – Visit the Roman-era amphitheater, Palais Gallien
The ruins of the Palais Gallien hark back to the Roman era when the city was still known as Burdigala. The Palais Gallien amphitheater was the site of historic gladiator battles and could hold up to 20,000 spectators seated on wooden benches around the perimeter.
A huge stone gateway and several arches give an outline of the grandeur of this ancient building. Visitors can see a 3D reconstruction of how the building would have looked at the entrance.
29 – Learn about robots at Cap Sciences
Cap Sciences is a center for promoting scientific and technological learning through its series of exhibitions, workshops and events. It makes science accessible to the public and has special educational programs for 15 – 25-year-olds.
The center’s main building on the city’s quays has engaging technological exhibits which include artificial intelligence, robotics, astronomy and biodiversity. A visit to this interesting hands-on museum is a great way to spend the afternoon.
30 – Visit Royan on a day trip
Royan is a popular day trip destination from Bordeaux and is situated about 80 miles north of the city at the mouth of the Gironde estuary. It became a fashionable resort in the early 1800s and is renowned for its modernist architecture which is most evident in the sharp concrete lines of Notre-Dame de Royan cathedral. It also has attractive villas from the Belle Époque period.
The area has a number of great beaches most notably the Plage de la Grande Conche, Plage du Chay and La grande Cote.
31 – Take part in a workshop at Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez
The Bernard Magrez Cultural Institute was set up in 2011 as a private initiative to promote art especially contemporary and street art. The institue is housed in the historic Château de Labottière. Its mission is to connect the public with great contemporary art and the artists themselves.
It offers studio spaces to artists and exhibits a variety of works to suit all tastes and age brackets including industrial design, oil portraits, photomontages, illustrations and graffiti. Why not go along and take part in a workshop with one of the resident artists?
32 – Take a picnic at Jardin Public
Bordeaux’s Jardin Public has been a favorite local hangout since it was created in 1746. It is the ideal place to take a picnic, go for a stroll or just enjoy some fresh air. The park has classic sandstone buildings and monuments, a picturesque pond with ducks and large old trees to sit beneath.
It has a number of attractions including the Guignol Guérin puppet show, a botanical garden, restaurant and carousel.
33 – Cross the Pont de Pierre & Visit Bastide district
The Pont de Pierre was the first bridge built across the Garonne river at Bordeaux. The original bridge was constructed at the beginning of the 19th century at the request of Napoleon I to quickly move troops across the river.
The bridge joins the left bank at Cours Victor Hugo and the right bank’s trendy La Bastide district. La Bastide is a former industrial zone that has recently undergone a major renovation. It offers great views of the left bank, late-night bars and cultural and cinema complexes.
34 – Take a closer peek at the city in a scavenger game
Taking part in a scavenger game is a great way to explore a new city. Gather your friends and family and see hidden sights that even locals don’t know about. Follow an app to locations throughout the town. Decipher clues and solve puzzles to discover your next location.
Taking part in a scavenger hunt is a memorable and seriously fun thing to do in your time in Bordeaux.
35 – See the baroque Church of Notre-Dame de Bordeaux
This attractive tucked-away church is located in the quiet Place du Chapelet. It was built in the 17th century and then restored in the 1980s. It is the city’s finest baroque church and features an intricately decorated facade with a relief of the Virgin Mary.
The interior has a series of paintings by Brother Andre dating from the 17th-18th Centuries and an impressive stained glass window. The church’s organ is from 1775 and is still used for concerts throughout the year.
36 – Visit historical castles
The Bordeaux region is a land of historic castles and many are open to the public to visit. The Château de la Brède was the birthplace of the 17th-century philosopher, Montesquieu and his lifelong home. The castle itself is thought to be at least 800 years old and is set in vast landscaped gardens.
Other famous castles in the area include Château de Vayres which belonged to the Albret family, Château de Cazeneuve which was once owned by King Henri IV and Queen Margot and the fortified 12th-century Château de Roquetaillade.
37 – Discover the Lemur Labyrinth at Zoo de Bordeaux Pessac
The Zoo de Bordeaux Pessac is a fun place to spend the day during your time in the city. It is not a very large zoo but has a wide variety of animals to meet. The energetic Lemur Labyrinth is sure to be hit with the kids.
The zoo offers the chance to feed smaller animals such as lorikeets and otters at certain times of the day. Some of the zoo’s larger residents include giraffes, zebras, lions, tigers and jaguars.
38 – Explore biodiversity at Muséum de Bordeaux – sciences et nature
Bordeaux’s natural history museum is located in a grand townhouse near the Jardin Public. It presents interactive multimedia exhibitions which strive to show the place of people within nature.
It has many large displays which include a skeleton of a whale and has 3,500 specimens on show. Current permanent exhibitions cover themes such as biodiversity, the Aquitaine coast and a special exhibition aimed at children under six years old.
39 – See the crypts at Basilica of St. Michael
The Basilica of St.Michael is another of the city’s magnificent churches. It dates from the 14th – 16th century and is a UNESCO World Heritage site as it is part of the St.Jacques de Compostelle pilgrimage.
The church has an ornate altar featuring a design of St.Michael slaying the dragon. Its crypts formerly exhibited mummies that were found in a nearby churchyard. Like the city’s cathedral, it also has a freestanding bell tower known as the Flèche (spire) Saint-Michel.
40 – Visit the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design
Madd-Bordeaux has a collection of permanent and temporary exhibitions of decorative art and design. The themes often focus on food and the environment as well as tableware, highlighting the importance of food and drink in the region’s culture.
The Museum is located in an impressive townhouse that dates from the 18th century. As well as the exhibits it has furniture and objects from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries which also make it a fun historical place to visit.
41 – Discover the historic Église Sainte-Croix de Bordeaux
The Church of the Holy Cross is one of Bordeaux’s oldest churches and dates back to the 11th Century. It was formerly the church of the nearby Benedectine abbey, which now houses the city’s school of fine arts.
The church’s organ was built in 1750 by the monk and master pipe organ builder Dom Bedos de Celles. The facade was restored by Paul Abadie in the 19th Century and a bell tower was added to the left side for aesthetic balance.
42 – Grab a coffee in Place du Parlement
Place du Parlement is one of the city’s most attractive squares and is conveniently located in the heart of the historic center. It was previously the site of the city’s parliament until the French revolution in the late 1700s.
The square has a central fountain and plenty of bars and restaurants with outdoor terraces in which to enjoy the beautiful surrounding buildings. This is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike and an ideal place to stop in for a coffee and a snack.
43 – See a show with your friends
The city is home to a number of large stadiums for sporting events and concerts.
The Patinoire de Mériadeck sports complex hosts ice hockey games and concerts throughout the year. The larger Bordeaux Métropole Arena, also known as Arkéa arena, hosts the major concerts and events that pass through town.
Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux is home to the city’s Ligue 1 football team FC Girondins de Bordeaux. The team has counted famous players such as Zinedine Zidane, Bixente Lizarazu and Miguel Pauleta among its ranks.
44 – Learn about smuggling at the National Customs Museum
What better place for a museum devoted to trading taxes than the country’s former largest port! The National Customs Museum follows France’s history from Roman times to the present day from the perspective of one of its oldest institutions.
The museum displays over 13,000 objects including furniture and clothing, musical instruments, models and sculptures. It also has works of art by Claude Monet and Salvador Dali.
45 – Tour the passage ways of Citadelle de Blaye
The Citadelle of Blaye was built by famed French military engineer Vauban at the request of King Louis XIV. Vauban improved the previous medieval fortifications and built three new forts nearby the site.
There are a lot of fun things to do here. Visitors can check out the imposing ramparts, gate and heavy fortifications of the citadel. Why not join a tour through the underground passages or take an escape room challenge in the old dungeons.
46 – Cruise the streets on a segway tour
Segways are lots of fun! Why not join a segway tour of Bordeaux and explore the city like you never have before? See major sites like Place des Quinconces, Place de la Comédie and Bordeaux Cathedral. Learn about the historic center of the city from a knowledgeable guide while you discover its streets on two wheels.
This tour is ideal for first-timers. If you’ve never ridden a segway before don’t worry, it is very easy and you will be given a short lesson on how before you begin.
47 – Dine in style at the city’s Michelin-starred restaurants
The city of Bordeaux is home to no less than 20 Michelin-starred restaurants and has fast become recognized as one of the best “foodie” destinations in France. The area’s best restaurants blend a selection of influences to produce modern and creative cuisine.
L’Observatoire du Gabriel has possibly the nicest setting and is located in Place de la Bourse. Other outstanding restaurants such as Soléna, Garopapilles and Tentazioni will not disappoint.
48 – Take a Citroen 2CV tour
The Citroen 2CV is iconically French. Though not renowned for its speed or comfort it holds a special place in the hearts of many for its quaint looks and strong spirit. So what better way to explore Bordeaux than in a private 2CV tour?
Visit all the major sites in the historic center in a soft-top 2CV. Be chauffeured around by a local guide and see the city’s highlights on one of these fun vintage cruises. This is, without doubt, one of the most fun things to do in Bordeaux!
49 – Attend an unforgettable candlelight concert
For a really special evening in Bordeaux why not attend a candlelight concert? Some of the city’s most iconic venues play host to year-round musical recitals bathed in an elegant candlelit ambiance.
Hear the timeless music of Chopin, Rossini, Mozart and Schubert or the rousing film scores of Ennio Morricone and Hans Zimmer. See solo pianists, quartets and orchestras perform in some of the city’s finest buildings. What could be better?
50 – Visit the opera at Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux
The Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux is considered to be one of the finest theaters in the world for its stunning architecture and acoustics. It was designed by renowned architect Victor Louis and first opened in 1780.
It has hosted some of the all-time opera greats and has a varying program of opera, ballet, jazz and orchestral performances. A visit to the Grand Théâtre promises to be a fantastic night out.
51 – Live your fairytale and Sleep in a castle
Have you ever dreamed of staying in a real-life historical castle? Many of Bordeaux’s châteaux offer 5-star accommodation in magnificent surroundings. Why not try a spa break at Château Hôtel Grand Barrail and indulge yourself with a trip to the sauna or outdoor pool.
Try the Michelin-starred restaurant at Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, enjoy your own private terrace at Chateau Prieure Marquet or the vineyard views at Château Cordeillan-Bages. These glamorous residences are sure to make your stay in Bordeaux a memorable one.
We hope you enjoyed reading our selection of things to do in Bordeaux. If you have other fun places to recommend don’t hesitate to leave us a message.
If you have not booked your accommodation yet, check out the best hotels in Bordeaux.
Where next? Check out the best places to visit in France.