Bordeaux is more than just a single city in France. It’s an entire region in the southwestern pocket of the country that is known for producing some of the best wine in the world. If you have 2 to 3 days in Bordeaux, you have enough time to see the city’s main highlights as well as venture out to explore the surrounding Bordeaux wine region.
Your Bordeaux itinerary will be chock-full of great wine, mouth-watering food, and beautiful scenery. Here is everything to know when planning your trip to Bordeaux, France.
How Many Days in Bordeaux?
How many days to spend in Bordeaux depends on how you plan to experience this region of France. If you want to use the city as your home base for exploring the surrounding areas such as the Dordogne area, 3 days in Bordeaux is necessary.
This grants you enough time to wander the posh neighborhoods of Bordeaux city itself and maybe even take a wine-sampling cruise on the river. You can explore the city at your leisure or use one of the three days as an opportunity for a day trip beyond the city.
With 2 days in Bordeaux, you’ll have to prioritize how you spend your time. You can either spend both days in Bordeaux or split your time between the city and the nearby local wine region. Depending on your level of interest, it could be a great experience to spend a night or two in a small town near the vineyards.
Getting To & Around Bordeaux
By far the quickest and easiest way to reach Bordeaux is by plane. It’s about a short flight to Bordeaux airport from most major cities in France and there are also connections from other cities in Europe. From the airport, you can hop on a shuttle, take a bus or organise a private transfer.
Another option is the TGV high-speed train. There are direct trains from Paris that take around two hours total. Most moderately-sized cities (such as Toulouse or Montpellier) will have a train station, so you can easily reach Bordeaux no matter where you’re arriving from. You can view train schedules here.
Once you’ve arrived in Bordeaux, there are a variety of methods to get around the city. Urban buses, tramways, and readily available cabs make it easy to travel longer distances in the city.
Many of the major landmarks are clustered together in the center of town, which is also most likely where you’ll be staying. Walking between these sites is easy.
You can opt to purchase a Bordeaux City Pass that grants unlimited travel on all local buses and trams for a certain number of days. The pass also includes entry into a number of museums along with a complimentary city tour, perfect for giving you more context when exploring Bordeaux.
If you want a slightly more unique way to get around, consider hopping on the Garonne River shuttle.
2 to 3 Days in Bordeaux Itinerary
A great Bordeaux itinerary is one filled with historic landmarks and delicious cuisine. Here are some of the city’s highlights and recommended day trips to consider adding to your trip agenda. The city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is an absolute joy to explore.
Day 1 – Central Bordeaux Highlights
Whether you’re seeing Bordeaux in 2 days or 3, you cannot go wrong with spending your first day exploring the center and old town of Bordeaux.
There is a lot to see in this beautiful area so take your time to get lost in the lovely, winding streets. You can opt to take a walking tour or book a bike tour to learn more about the area with a guide.
Place de la Bourse
Here is one of the most iconic sites in all of Bordeaux. The Place de la Bourse is a sprawling palace that curves around a large square. A long and narrow reflecting pool sits in the center of the square.
Water comes and goes from the pool—small fountains slowly fill the pool with water to set the scene for the famous photo of the palace being reflected in the water.
When the water drains and the fountains kick back on, you’ll see local kids splashing through them to cool off on a warm summer day. It’s a beautiful place at dusk when the palace lights up.
The Place de la Bourse is centrally located not far from the other famous square — the Place des Quinconces –, making it a great landmark to see on your first day in Bordeaux.
The historic heart of Bordeaux is located behind the Place de la Bourse. Here is where you’ll find the stunning medieval Church of Saint-Pierre.
The church was built on a former port from the Middle Ages. The surrounding area was cleared to make way for this church and the palace. Since then, this area has become one of the most bustling and vibrant sections of Bordeaux.
Between the landmarks are cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating, so you can enjoy the church architecture while sipping on a glass of regional wine from a local wine bar. Inside the church is an ornate and intricately-designed space that attracts both visitors and locals.
If you want to spend even more time wandering in the old town, also make sure to make a 10-minute detour to the Bordeaux Cathedral or the Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux. This is a gorgeous Romanesque church that dates back to the 12th Century, entry is free and visiting is one of the best things to do in Bordeaux.
If you only catch a glimpse of Porte Cailhau, you’ll think it was a medieval castle misplaced in the center of a large city. In fact, this castle-like exterior was built in 1495 as the main gate to the city. It’s tucked between buildings along the Palace Square near the riverfront.
Visitors can walk through or climb inside the monument for excellent views of the city. A fun fact for your visit: no one really knows what the word “cailhau” means. Historians have theories, but none have ever proven conclusive.
Walk Pont de Pierre
Should you climb to the top of Porte Cailhau and look out over the city, one of the first landmarks you’ll notice is a sprawling bridge that connects either side of the river Garonne: the Pont de Pierre. Pont de Pierre or “stone bridge” was completed in 1822 and was the first stone bridge ever built in Bordeaux.
The bridge has 17 spans that support the bridge and make it a comfortable walk across the river. Once you’ve reached the other side, look back on the beautiful and historic center of Bordeaux.
Bear in mind that traffic laws concerning the bridge are underway in an effort to reduce traffic on the bridge. If you’re driving in Bordeaux, don’t plan on crossing the bridge by car.
Place du Parlement
Close out your first day in Bordeaux with a visit to the Place du Parlement. This historic square was named after the nearby parliament building that existed from the 15th century to 1790. Here is one of the most beautiful squares in France that is lined with restaurants and cafes.
At night, the square comes to life with warm lighting and burbling fountains. There is plenty of outdoor seating. Consider ending your first day in Bordeaux with dinner in the Place du Parlement. It’s located near the main attractions you’ve visited today, so you can kick back and relax after a long day of exploring the city.
Day 2 – Bordeaux Museums & Markets
Day 2 of this itinerary takes you out of the old town and into the Bacalan district. Here, you can visit a number of museums and learn more about the gastronomic scene in the Bordeaux region.
CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux
The Bordeaux Museum of Contemporary Art was established in 1973 and has since become the heart of the city’s modern art scene. CAPC showcases the work of modern artists from France and around the world while teaching its visitors about the technical side of modern art.
The building was a former food warehouse that was transformed into a culture space. It’s an easy stop to make as you head away from Bordeaux’s city center and closer to the Bacalan district.
You can treat your day 2 in Bordeaux as the day of museums—experience the art, culture, and history that makes this city unique.
Bassins des Lumières
This is the largest digital art center in the world and well worth a visit during your trip to Bordeaux. It’s an immersive digital exhibition that captures the work of artists from impressionism to modernity through digitizing their art on the walls of the museum.
Massive projectors depict moving art on the walls and pools of water in some exhibits. If you want a fresh perspective on classic art from many different creative eras, pay a visit to the Bassins des Lumières. You can pre-book tickets here.
Les Halles de Bacalan
Foodies flock to Les Halles de Bacalan. This massive food and drink market opened in 2017 and is located right across the street from La Cite du Vin.
Here, you’ll find over 20 different artisans and merchants that were carefully selected based on the quality of their products. Food and drink in Les Halles de Bacalan tends to be on the pricier side, so keep that in mind when visiting.
Most weekends bring cooking workshops, live music, and activities for families. It’s a great place to stop for a glass of wine and tapas before heading to Bordeaux’s famous wine museum.
La Cite du Vin
This bizarrely-shaped building will catch your eye. Its shape is meant to replicate the movement of wine as you swirl it in your glass. This is fitting as La Cite du Vin is the wine museum of Bordeaux, meant to celebrate wine culture from the region and around the globe.
It opened in 2016 but has seen many enhancements and renovations since. The museum is a fascinating look at the history of wine and the science of winemaking. It’s filled with multimedia elements and interactive exhibits that make it enjoyable for everyone.
Though Bordeaux is certainly not the only wine region in France – fantastic wines are grown everywhere from the Loire Valley to the Champagne region to Provence – this museum is a great way to educate yourself about the specific wines from this region.
Round out your visit with a wine-tasting experience from the eighth floor of the museum. Grant yourself a few hours to enjoy the museum and tasting—it’s well worth your time. You can pre-book tickets here.
Day 3 – Bordeaux Day Trips
If you’re seeing Bordeaux in 3 days, then plan to use your final day as an opportunity of a day trip to the surrounding region. Whether you’re going wine tasting or visiting a lovely little village, you’re spoilt for choice here.
Day trip to Saint Emilion
If you have 3 days in Bordeaux and wish to explore the surrounding wine region, head to Saint Emilion. This is one of the most popular day trips from Bordeaux. It’s a charming medieval town that is surrounded by some of Bordeaux’s most famous vineyards and go wine tasting at a chateau.
The easiest way to reach Saint Emilion is by train. There is a direct line from Bordeaux that takes around 35 minutes. This is a good option if you want to explore the town and visit a nearby winery.
If you’re hoping to venture further out into the region on your own, a rental car is helpful. Alternatively, there are a number of guided tour options such as this half-day tour or this full-day tour that will take you to the town and wineries that you might not have the opportunity to visit on your own.
Visit Arcachon Bay and Dune of Pilat
Maybe after 2 days in Bordeaux you’re looking for a wine trip to somewhere other than a vineyard. If that’s the case, head to Arcachon Bay. This is an area of the coastline that is rising in popularity for locals and tourists alike.
These dreamy beaches and delicious seafood make it a nice way to escape from the hustle and bustle of Bordeaux. Because it’s lesser known by tourists, it’s more off-the-beaten-path. Don’t expect languages beyond French to be spoken.
One of the most famous sites is the Dune of Pilat. This massive sand dune is a huge hike to reach the top, but once you do the panoramic views make your efforts well worth it.
There is a local train station at Arcachon, so it’s easy to reach the town from Bordeaux. Alternatively, you can book a half-day tour.
Where to Stay in Bordeaux
Hôtel Madame – This 3-star hotel is an excellent choice for mid-range travelers looking for a great place to stay in Bordeaux. They have a range of rooms to choose from, a great location and breakfast available in the mornings. Click here to check availability
Le Boutique Hotel & Spa – This opulent, 5-star hotel is perfect for those who want to splash the cash when visiting Bordeaux. They have a number of plush rooms to choose from, great amenities including a spa/wellness center and an excellent location for exploring the city and region. Click here to check availability
Aparthotel Adagio Bordeaux Centre Gambetta – If you’d like your own self-catering accommodation in Bordeaux but also want the convenience of all the amenities a hotel offers, then this aparthotel is an excellent choice. They have a number of flats to choose from along with a great location in central Bordeaux. Click here to check availability
Central Hostel – This hostel is a great choice in central Bordeaux if you’re travelling on a budget or are looking for a social atmosphere. They offer both private rooms and dorms, have self-catering facilities, and a great location for exploring the city. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Bordeaux hotels!
Bordeaux is a city filled with art and culture that offers a little something for every kind of traveler. Take these suggestions as you create your Bordeaux itinerary and soak up everything the city has to offer.
Are you planning to visit Bordeaux? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!