Bordeaux is famous all over the world for its wine. Visit prestigious chateaux and their vineyards around the city and taste their delicious grapes. On top of that, discover the rich history, cultural treasures and culinary hot spots of the capital of wine.
Bordeaux is packed with very charming narrow streets and versatile quarters from a trendy and Mediterranean flair to classical scenes that will take you to an extraordinary atmosphere. Experience the city and its diverse facets.
If you appreciate good food, wine and cultural activities, then Bordeaux is undoubtedly a great destination.
Where to stay in Bordeaux
The Garonne river splits Bordeaux into two parts. The western side of the river forms the center with many places worth to visit. However, the eastern side of the Garonne has changed a lot in the last years and has some sweet spots you should not miss.
The most charming area of the city is probably the historical center, which has been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 2007. As it hosts the main sights and offers countless restaurants almost in a row, it is an ideal place to stay. However, the city of Bordeaux is not too big, so you can also book accommodation in the immediate vicinity such as in the areas south of the quarter Bacalan.
The city itself is very flat, and there are many pedestrian areas which make it very suitable for walks. You can visit many points of interest by foot, as the center is not huge. If you prefer, you can also rent a bike very quickly or take the public transports for reasonable prices.
Every quarter has a different atmosphere, so no matter where you stay, you will be able to discover the unique sites of the city.
Find your accommodation in Bordeaux
Things to do in Bordeaux
The city boasts a wealth of cultural institutions, events for every taste, top-notch restaurants, local bistros, wine bars and much more. If you’ve planned two days for your trip, you can visit the main sights in a comfortable pace. With more time available, you can discover some medieval-looking villages close by, visit a chateau or head to the ocean.
To save your wallet and get the most out of your Bordeaux visit, you should consider the CityPass. It grants you admission to many museums, unlimited use of public transport, discounts on wine tours and many more extras. You can find more information on the official website.
Good to remember is also that, if you happen to be in Bordeaux on the first Sunday of a month, you can visit the city’s major museums for free.
Place Pey Berland
The Pey Berland square surprises visitors every day. As you are standing in front of the magnificent Saint-André cathedral, you can marvel at the many ornaments along the main entrance. Take a look inside as well. If you turn right at the cathedral, you can gaze at the remarkable Rohan Palace, which serves as town hall.
Next to the cathedral, you can also get another perspective on Bordeaux on top of the Pey Berland tower. It requires around 230 stairs up, but the fabulous view is worth the effort. You will notice the boundaries of the old, central part of Bordeaux and catch sight of both sides of the Garonne river. Information signs on the tower point to the city’s sights, so you won’t even miss them from above.
La Cité du Vin
Bordeaux shows its dedication to wine with a museum focused on these precious grapes. Discover the country’s rich history and culture of wine and learn about the meaning of wine all over the world. As a visitor, you embark on a journey across time and space on eight floors and around 13.000m2. Explore wine with five senses, follow the path of global wine civilizations and enjoy projected flights over vineyards around the world and much more. At the end of your tour, you can enjoy a free glass of wine at the rooftop bar of the museum, with a great view of the Garonne river.
If you are curious to visit it, check out detailed information on the museum website. It is also good to know that the city passes include the entrance for Cite du Vin.
Place de la Bourse
One of the most photographed attractions of Bordeaux is probably the Place de la Bourse. This massive square certainly is a pretty good choice to take a picture in front of the large pool of very shallow water. Thanks to this water mirror, you will get the whole place, including the majestic palace, double on your snapshot. Unfortunately, in winter there is no water on this big surface. Yet the impressive construction is in itself reason enough to stop by and take pictures.
If you look at it from the front side, the left building accommodates the customs museum and the right one serves as chamber of commerce and hosts different events as well.
Place de la Comedie and Grand Theatre
Before heading towards the longest shopping street in Europe, called Rue Saint Catherine, stop at the Place de la Comedie and look around.
On one side of this square, you have the Grand Hotel where you can spoil your taste buds à la Gordon Ramsay. At the opposite side, you will find the Grand Théâtre from the 18th century, decorated with 12 statues at the exterior and an interior design that lets you imagine how opera was over 200 years ago.
If you want to get away from the busy city centre, on the eastern side of the river, you will find the former military barracks, filled with innovations and activities. It is the place to be if you are looking for a green hub. There is an urban farm, organic shop, art area, skate park and one of the most significant organic restaurants in France. Treat yourself with their specialties and the own brewed Darwin beer. You won’t see anything similar anywhere else in the city. There are many events throughout the year, which makes it worth a short visit at any time.
Things to do for families
Natural History Museum
If you want to discover the world’s most fascinating animal creatures, the natural history museum is the perfect place to go for old and young. It hosts more than 1 million species and is one of the largest of its kind in France. This place will undoubtedly surprise you. If you need more information, check out their website.
When you are already close by, have a stroll through the public garden, called ‘Jardin public’, which is especially lovely during sunny days.
Are you ready for a journey to the fascinating sides of science and industry? Then head to the Cap Science, right at the riverbank. This activity and exposition centre introduces kids and adults to science, engineering and the industrial world in an entertaining format.
There are different workshops for kids. It is perfect if you want your kids to experience a day as an astronomer, a chemist or a scientist. You can even let your small ones learn about becoming a chef with a tasting as the grand finish.
Shopping in Bordeaux
Rue Saint Catherine
If you want to bring some souvenirs with you, fine wines or equip your wardrobe, then head to the shopping street, Saint Catherine. It runs from the north at the Place de la Comédie to the Place de la Victoire.
With more than one kilometer of shops in a row, the pedestrianized street will invite you to shop at some of the prominent French chains or experience a different atmosphere in the south – a more multicultural flair. The road is usually rather busy, but still worth to have a walk.
While you are heading down the street, countless restaurants are inviting you for a break, especially in parallel or adjacent streets. Treat yourself with a decent lunch or coffee breaks and some delicious local sweets.
Are you looking for a luxurious shopping experience? Then stroll through the Golden Triangle, marvel at designer fashion and get yourself some extraordinary pieces.
Marche des Capucins
If you are up for the city’s main market hall, called Marche de Capucins, you can taste local food from the French South-West. The doors are always open from the early morning till 2.30 pm. It is no architectural marvel, but you can spoil yourself with delicacies.
Quai des Chartrons
Check out the Quai des Chartrons which lets you combine shopping and tasty food with a river view. Especially during summer and sunny weekends, the quayside is very lively. It is a great spot to sip a drink while soaking in the sun.
What to bring from Bordeaux?
Canéle - If you have some space in your luggage, you can treat your friends and family with some delicious tiny custardy cakes called Canelé. Note that they usually contain alcohol. As they are growing in popularity among locals and tourists, the two principal producers Canelés Baillardran and La Toque Cuivrée are in kind of a famous competitive battle. You can find their shops all around the city. It might be worth to try both of them.
Wine - If you still have some room in your luggage, a bottle of Bordeaux wine would undoubtedly be a delightful souvenir. There are so many great wine shops in the city centre that it is hard to recommend only one of them. Even if you are not a wine enthusiast, it is fun to visit the shop, called L’Intendant, especially for its unique interior design. Along a spiral staircase, you will find everything from affordable wines to old vintage wines. All that a wine lover’s heart desires.
Food and restaurants in Bordeaux
With more than 3000 restaurants, gourmets will certainly not miss out in Bordeaux.
Whether you want to try some typical French dishes or taste international cuisine, the city offers countless culinary opportunities. Nowadays, Bordeaux is one of the top-rank gourmet scenes in France. It is not all just baguette. From creperies, little bistros, traditional brasseries, Michelin star restaurants, to cozy cafes, discover excellent spots on almost every corner.
The Rue Saint Remi is almost like a food mile. If you are not sure which dish you are longing for, you will probably make the right choice in visiting this street and the close by areas. Also, the Place du Parlement, the Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges, the Rue des Faussets and the roads around the Saint-Pierre church welcome you with unique culinary treats. If you head to the Fernand Lafargue square, you will find many great spots to dine as well. It is not a definitive list, as there are too many excellent suggestions to fit them all in one holiday.
Yet another very charming neighborhood is Chartrons. You will find many fantastic restaurants there and get to enjoy a bit a calmer area within the city centre.
France is famous for its high-quality cheese variety. The gastronomic scene also reflects this. Many restaurants, bistros and wine bars also offer plates with delicious cured meat and sausages, called charcuterie. If you like both, go for a mixed cheese and meat plate. Another regional specialty is duck or goose liver, called Foie Gras. It might not be for everyone, but it is tasty. All of those dishes fit perfectly with a glass of fine wine. Let these delicacies melt in your mouth.
Another delicious treat for every sweet tooth is the “dunes blanches”, inspired by the mighty dune, which is at the south of Arcachon at the Atlantic coast. These cream-filled pastry balls are worth a try at any time of your visit!
Drinks and nightlife in Bordeaux
The old centre of Bordeaux has plenty of charming squares and pedestrian areas which turn into perfect spots for night owls. The bars around become very lively when the sun goes down. The doors usually close at about 2 am. However, you can continue your night out at a club at the quay ‘de Paludate’, which is popular with students.
If you want some change from the old part of the city, head to the trendy ‘Bassins à Flot’ to party on a boat or the quay. You can also stay in the very centre around Rue du Pas-Saint-Georges, Place de la Victoire, Quinconces square or Place de la Comedie. There you can find different types of venues.
If you are at least a bit into wine, you definitely should not skip having a glass of red or white. The palette is so diverse. Ask at the bar for an advice, if you are unsure about your choice.
One particular type of Bordeaux wine is called Clairet, which is different in color, the manufacturing process and the taste. It is not the most prestigious wine but if you want to try something less international, it is worth a glass.
Bordeaux - events and holidays
Bordeaux wine festival (18th – 21st June)
Come to celebrate at the river promenade, enjoy an exquisite walk through a 2-kilometre wine route and finish with gazing at a firework over the Garonne. You can taste a variety of wines with just one pass. This four-day event takes place every even year.
River festival (18th – 20th June)
Every odd year you can marvel at and visit fascinating ships, amongst them the world’s two biggest sailing ships. Moreover, there is a possibility to participate in nautical activities, enjoy the white wine festival and a fireworks finale.
Christmas market (End of November – 29th of December)
If you happen to be in Bordeaux in December, warm up at the Christmas market and get yourself in the festive mood. As a plus, you may return with some presents for your loved ones.
Open house days in wine castles (several weekends throughout the year)
Every year there are open house days in the different wine regions where you can explore multiple castles. It is a great moment to dive into the wine culture of the city and visit one of the castles in the surroundings of Bordeaux. You have the opportunity to appreciate the castle's wine for free and enjoy a tour around their property. If their wine pleases your taste, you can take a souvenir with you.
Curious about the other events happening around the year? Find out more information.
Day trips from Bordeaux
Arcachon and Dune du Pilat – Experience fragrant pine forests and the highest dune in Europe
Perigord - A fascinating historic area with some of the most beautiful villages in France
Saint Emillion - A medieval town in the heart of the vineyards
Prices in Bordeaux
The price level of restaurant and accommodation services are above the average in European countries. Below, you will find examples of hotel and restaurant prices in Bordeaux. The prices of hotel rooms are median prices at Booking.com.
Pizza in restaurant
33 cl beer in restaurant
Hotel room, 3-4* (April)
Hotel room, 3-4* (July)
From the airport
The airport is around 45 minutes away from the city centre by public transport. You can take the public bus from the airport for as little as 1.70€ for one way. If you plan to visit the city mainly with public transports, you should consider the day tickets, which you can use in buses, trams and even the river shuttle. Check out the public transport website.
If you prefer to take a taxi, you will find several of them in front of the airport. Prices range from €30 to €50 to get to the centre, depending on the day time and traffic. The airport website lists several taxi companies if you prefer to book it in advance.
Weather and when to travel to Bordeaux
The best time to visit Bordeaux is from May to November. However, it depends on your planned activities.
Winter: During the winter months, it can be somewhat rainy. The weather is unpredictable, and temperatures vary around 0 to 15 degrees. However, the Christmas decorations create a magical atmosphere in the city, which brightens the mood even on bad weather days.
Spring: March and April can be a bit unstable, although in April temperatures are getting more pleasant. Temperatures vary between 10 to 23 degrees. May is usually a convenient month to see Bordeaux and its surroundings.
Summer: June can be great for visiting Bordeaux, especially if you want to explore the vineyards around. However, in July and even more in August temperatures can get very high in the city and many tourists are hitting the town. For this period, it could be a great option to plan a day at the Atlantic Ocean to cool down.
Autumn: September is usually the wine harvest time which can be an excellent time to take a tour on one of the many vineyards around Bordeaux. The weather in September is generally enjoyable and often more comfortable than the hot August days. October is still mostly good. Temperatures are between 10 to 25 degrees. In November it can get humid, similar to the winter months.
Text: Katrin Lindenbauer
Photos: Katrin Lindenbauer & Adobe Stock
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