Updated August 2023
If you’re looking for things to do while visiting Bordeaux, look no further. Bordeaux is a lively and historic city, and it has become one of my favorite places in France. Spending half of the summer here with my family was seriously a dream. In fact, I was a bit surprised to find just how much this city actually offers.
While there are of course the classic spots and sights, Bordeaux is also rich in amazing restaurants, wine, coffee, art, and culture. I would recommend spending at least three full days to get to see everything the city has to offer. For those wanting to explore the region, Bordeaux also makes for a great base to do day trips from as well.
That said, I’ve rounded up this list of the 30 coolest things to do in Bordeaux so that you can plan a fun-filled itinerary.
Planning a Trip to Bordeaux? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Hotels in Bordeaux:
- Mama Shelter, for the coolest hotel
- Hôtel de Sèze & Spa, for the best luxury hotel
- Hôtel La Zoologie, for the best new hotel
- Yndo Hôtel, for the best boutique luxury hotel
For a more in-depth of where to stay in Bordeaux, read my full list of the best hotels in Bordeaux, France.
30 Coolest Things to Do in Bordeaux
1. Stroll the Old Quarter
The Old Quarter is home to so many historic streets that truly transport you back in time. If you’re looking for a solid starting place to explore the city, the Old Quarter offers a great taste of Bordeaux. It is home to over 300 historical monuments, so there is plenty of history to take in. See things like Port Cailhau, the Saint Michel Flea Market, the Sainte-Croix Church, and Place de la Bourse.
2. Sunday Market at Quai des Chartrons
During our time in Bordeaux, we went to the Sunday Market every weekend. It’s located right along the Quai des Chartrons and takes place during the morning. One of the most popular things to get at this market is freshly shucked oysters. Most vendors offer it with bread, butter, and a glass of wine so you can fully appreciate the experience. I would recommend showing up by noon before the vendors sell out.
3. See the Grosse Cloche du Bordeaux, but with Coffee
The Grosse Cloche du Bordeaux is one of the most popular sights to see in Bordeaux. However, most travelers don’t know there is an incredible coffee shop right on the street. Books & Coffee offers an amazing view of the Grosse Cloche. Just do your best to snag a table outside on the sidewalk.
4. Rent a Bike and Explore the City
While most areas are pretty walkable, Bordeaux is best explored by bike. It’s super easy to pick up a bike almost anywhere in the city by using the Uber app. Strolling along the Garonne River is so beautiful, and it’s the perfect daytime activity.
5. Try Artisanal Coffee at L’Alchimisite
L’Alchimisite Cafe Boutique is hands down one of the best coffee shops in Bordeaux. This beautiful coffee hotspot is split up into three different areas. From the coffee bar to the forest-themed sitting area to the small gallery that regularly rotates its art, this is the perfect spot to enjoy an aromatic and strong cup of artisanal coffee. We love their downtown location!
6. Go to the Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design
The Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design is a mansion museum that houses a variety of stunning ceramics and glassware. Those interested in interior design or decorative arts will appreciate the unique niche that this museum displays.
7. Spend a Sunday Morning at Marché des Capucins
Marché des Capucins is considered to be the gourmet center of the city. It is a true culinary highlight of Bordeaux that foodies will not want to miss. I highly recommend trying the local delicacies and dishes. Marché des Capucins is also great for indulging in amazing seafood.
8. Stroll the Chartrons Neighborhood
From bistros to pubs, there is plenty to explore in the vibrant neighborhood of Chartrons. If you’re looking to do some shopping, head to Rue Notre Dame for some super cute stores and charming restaurants.
9. See an Opera at the Opera of Bordeaux
Seeing an opera anywhere in France is always a treat. That said, the Opera of Bordeaux is a stunning theater that puts on some amazing productions. This website is where you can find everything about scheduling, shows, and more.
10. Try the Dune Blanche at Chez Pascal
Chez Pascal is a beach-themed patisserie that is famous for its fluffy and delightful Dune Blanche pastries. These cream-filled pastry puffs are beyond decadent, and take more than 16 hours to prepare.
11. Sip Wine at Le Bar à Vin
Located on the ground floor of Maison du Vin de Bordeaux, Le Bar à Vin is a beautiful spot to taste some local wines. You can also enjoy wines by the glass here. The wine list is very extensive and Le Bar à Vin also offers very interesting educational tours.
12. Have a Beach Day at Bordeaux Lac
While I feel that a visit to Bordeaux Lac qualifies as a “beach day,” this body of water is technically a lake. That said, the bright blue water is breathtaking and looks very reminiscent of the ocean. Bordeaux Lac is only about 15 minutes away from the city via tram, so it’s super easy to get to.
13. See the Bordeaux Cathedral
Taking the time to appreciate and admire the incredible architecture of the Bordeaux Cathedral is an absolute must. Even if you don’t normally have a lot of interest in touring cathedrals while traveling through Europe, I think this one is worth it.
14. Grab Rooftop Drinks at Mama Shelter
Mama Shelter is a hip and stylish hotel chain that is famous in Europe (there is also one in Hollywood that is pretty popular). The colorful rooftop at the Bordeaux location is the perfect spot to enjoy a craft cocktail at sunset.
15. Have a Hammam Spa Day at Les Cent Ciels
If you find yourself craving some relaxation and restoration, a trip to Les Cent Ciels should do the trick. Definitely get a body scrub or massage before spending some time in the steam room. I spent my birthday here and it was super relaxing.
16. Enjoy a Brunch at Café Piha
Café Piha is a popular brunch spot that has been buzzing with locals and visitors alike since opening in 2017. Though it is most famous for its bold brew, Café Piha also has delicious food options like avocado toast, pancakes, and a variety of pastries.
17. Experience Local Art and Culture at Darwin Eco-Center
The Darwin Eco-Center is one of the most visited places in Bordeaux. The architecture is beyond unique as the site was once used as military barracks. It has become a pretty trendy place that is home to some amazing shops, restaurants, and art galleries.
18. Have a Picnic in Jardin Public
The Jardin Public is a beautiful public green space that has everything from a picturesque lake to an adorable puppet theater. This is the perfect spot to settle in with a baguette and some gourmet cheeses for a mid-day picnic.
19. Visit the Natural History Museum
If you’re traveling with kids, a visit to the Natural History Museum is a wonderful activity to include in your itinerary. It is located right in the Jardin Public, and there are plenty of activities and exhibits to keep the little ones entertained.
20. Tour La Cite du Vin
La Cite du Vin is a wine-lovers dream. This modern museum centers around all things vino, and it is actually the largest wine museum in the world.
21. Catch an Exhibit at Base Sous-Marine
Base Sous-Marine is a former submarine base turned art exhibit. It’s currently featuring a Bassins des Lumières expo that is super cool and definitely worth checking out.
22. Eat Dinner at Iconic Chez Dupont Brasserie
Chez Dupont Brasserie has been around since 1988, serving up refined brasserie food in an elegant setting. It is located in Chartons, and reservations are definitely required.
23. Take a Day Trip to Saint-Émilion
Traveling to Saint-Émilion from Bordeaux is super simple and well worth the trip. This is the ultimate destination for wine tasting, and it is even designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can visit by car or public transport as well.
24. Try Regional Food at Les Halles des Bacalan
Les Halles des Bacalan is a wonderful food hall that is great for trying the local fare. There are also some wonderful restaurants to explore here. I highly recommend coming hungry and hopping from place to place for a food-centric day.
25. Taste the Regional Pastry, Canelé
A canelé is a Bordeaux specialty that features a soft custard center with a thick, caramelized crust. This sweet treat is a must when visiting the area, and it originated some time between the 15th and 18th centuries. The best ones we tried were at Chez Baillardran and Chez la Toque Cuivrée.
26. Explore the Famous Antique Shops of Chartrons
Chartons is a charming district that is famous for its renowned and one-of-a-kind antique shopping. Most of the shops are located on Rue Notre Dame, making it easy to walk from destination to destination.
27. See the Miroir D’eau
The Miroir D’eau covers more than 37,000 square feet, making it the largest reflecting pool in the world. This is a truly stunning sight to see and also provides some great photo opportunities. It’s located right in front of the Place de la Bourse, providing a beautiful backdrop to the pool.
28. Enjoy Lunch Along the Quai with Garonne River Views
This one is a must for foodies who love a nice ambiance. My favorite restaurant was Symbiose, which offers a lovely and delicious French farm-to-table experience. However, if you catch a craving for pizza, Papà Lello serves up some amazing Neapolitan-style pizza.
29. Visit Parc Majolan
A picnic at Parc Majolan is the perfect way to take advantage of a nice day in Bordeaux. The park tends to be pretty quiet, and there are cute ducks and other animals that you’ll see. Parc Majolan is a solid spot to visit with kids if you’re looking for a more outdoorsy activity that is really peaceful and charming.
30. Take a Day Trip to Soulac-Sur-Mer
Soulac-Sur-Mer is an idyllic beach town that is less than two hours from Bordeaux. This is a great place to enjoy a beach day and soak up some sun (depending on when you visit). That said, though you can take the train to some surrounding cities, Soulac-Sur-Mer requires a car.
Save This Post For Later On Pinterest
PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!
These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.
1. Book Your Flights
Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.
2. Book Your Accommodations
Use Booking.com for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.
3. Book Your Tours & Experiences
4. Book Your Car
Use Discover Cars or Rentalcars.com to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.
5. Don’t Forget Airport Lounge Access
Get a Priority Pass membership to gain access to 1,400+ VIP lounges and airport experiences worldwide. The Priority Pass app is the first thing I check when I have a layover. I’ve been a member for over a decade, and having a comfortable place to relax before and between flights makes air travel so much more enjoyable.
6. Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
I never leave the country without travel insurance. It provides comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong (ie. illness, injury, theft, and cancelations, etc.). I use it frequently for my travels to stay protected.
My favorite companies that offer the best coverage and rates are: