Proudly shouldering the responsibility of being France’s oldest city, Marseille is one of the most charming port towns on the Mediterranean coast. It’s the capital of Provence, and despite its size, has retained that small fishing village vibe.
Free walking tours in Marseille are a popular way to explore the historic city. You’ll be discovering how everyone from Julius Caesar to the Mafia has influenced Marseille, as you soak up the ancient atmosphere.
How do free walking tours in Marseille work?
The best way to discover the city highlights is on a free walking tour. Marseille lends itself very well to exploring on foot, especially when you have an expert local guide at hand.
There are no set prices for these tours. Instead, you just tip the guide afterward if you’ve enjoyed the experience. Take some cash with you on the day and pay what you think the excursion was worth.
How much should you tip for a free walking tour in Marseille?
Although free walking tours in Marseille have no upfront costs, it is expected that participants give the guide a tip at the end. Most visitors pay between €10 and €15 per person, while some offer a little more if they’ve had a particularly fun time.
You should think about the excursion length and how informative the guide has been and then tip appropriately.
What are the best free walking tours in Marseille?
All free walking tours in Marseille have a historical theme, taking you on a whirlwind jaunt through time. The Old Town is quite compact, which means it’s easy to tick off all the top landmarks as you explore.
If you have time, why not book more than one tour to really get a feel for this secretive and sunny city.
Historic free walking tours
Journey from the Middle Ages through to the splendor of Imperial Marseille and beyond on these traditional walking tours. You’ll be delving deep into the past as you stroll along the ancient streets and city walls, stopping at all the major Old Town sights on the way.
Discover how this pretty yet complex city has been impacted by everything from the French Revolution to the Second World War. Stop at the Jardin des Vestiges to see the Greek and Muslim ruins before wandering through Le Panier – the oldest district in Marseille.
Of course, you’ll be taking in the magnificent 17th-century cathedral, as well as the imposing Fort Saint-Jean which has kept watch over the city for over 400 years. The famous Capuchin Market is a fun stop too, selling a diverse range of goodies including the famous local soap.
Other highlights include the historic Place des Moulins and the grand Marseille Opera House which is resplendent with its Art Deco façade. Some tours also admire the contemporary architecture of Mucem – the Museum of the Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean.
Free walking tours around Marseille’s Old Port
This Marseille walking tour focuses on the Old Port, which is home to several of the city’s most interesting sights. On this unique excursion, you’ll learn how important the port has been to Marseille, and how it was the birthplace of the city.
First up is the beautiful National Theatre of Marseille – La Criée – which has been graced by many a famous performer over the years. Continue along the dockside to the 17th-century Fort Saint Nicolas, which stands on a rocky promontory protecting the city from seagoing invaders.
The majestic Palais du Pharo lies further along at the entrance to the port. Built by Napoleon III, this former imperial residence is now a convention center. Your final stop is the Abbey of Saint-Victor, which was founded by the Romans and boasts stunning views out over the Old Port and the Mediterranean coast.
In which languages are free walking tours in Marseille operated?
Free tours in Marseille are conducted in either English or Spanish. Many people in Marseille speak English so you should have no problem finding a tour to suit your requirements.
Where do free walking tours in Marseille start?
There are several different meeting points for free walking tours in Marseille. The most popular is outside Marseille Town Hall at the Old Port. Guides often have colored umbrellas to differentiate between groups so check your joining instructions for further information.
Other tours start at the foot of the Basilica staircase by the bus stop, or at the “Vieux Port” Metro exit by the Grand Hotel Beauvau. One excursion even meets outside Burger King, which is handy if you’re feeling hungry.
How long do free walking tours in Marseille last?
Most free tours in Marseille last either 2 or 2.5 hours. This gives you enough time to check out the major sights and learn about the city’s heritage.
Short on time? Then there is an excursion that lasts just 1 hour and 15 minutes if you fancy a whistle-stop tour.
When is the best time to join a free walking tour in Marseille?
The majority of free walking tours in Marseille are during the morning, which is good news because this is when the streets tend to be quieter. There are also a few excursions taking place in the afternoon if you prefer a later start.
Joining one of these tours on your first day in the city is a fun way to get your bearings and see the top landmarks. Your guide might also give you some pointers on the best places to eat during your stay.
Should Marseille free walking tours be booked online?
We always recommend booking ahead when it comes to free walking tours in Marseille. They are pretty popular, and places do fill up fast, so don’t miss out by leaving it until the last minute.
Having your first tour already booked means you can make the most of your time in Marseille, instead of having to research the best things to do. By reserving online, you can also make sure you get your pick of the time slots!
There are no upfront fees to pay when booking your place, and cancellation is free too if you change your mind.