one day in bordeaux cover photo

The Perfect One Day in Bordeaux Itinerary (2023)

Are you planning to spend one day in Bordeaux and wonder what to do in Bordeaux for a day?

I’ve got you covered!

Bordeaux is an excellent destination to add to your backpacking France itinerary.  Thanks to the TGV fast train, you can even visit Bordeaux on a day trip from Paris!

While you could easily spend over a week in the region, I want to show you how to make the most of your short time in the city!

I’ve lived in Bordeaux for more than a year now and I like to consider myself a local. It is truly one of the most unique places in France. It is no surprise it is quickly becoming the most popular place to move to!

Keep reading to find out what to do in Bordeaux in one day!

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and I may earn a commission if you make a purchase using my link, at no extra cost to you. I hope you find the information here useful! 

bordeaux cathedral square

What To Do In Bordeaux For A Day

This Bordeaux in one day itinerary contains a lot of walking and might seem a bit intense to some. However, you are allowed to adapt it to your rhythm.

You will start your day at the Bordeaux train station, regardless if you arrive by train, bus or plane (and then shuttle bus), they will all leave you there. 

From the train station, you can walk or take the tram C/D to our first destination. 

1. Discover Saint Michel quarter

The first stop of the day is the Saint Michel’s quarter around The Basilica of St Michael, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1998. 

The quarter is becoming popular with its narrow streets, lively atmosphere, mix of cultures and numerous cafes.

The Basilica of St Michael
st michele quarter bordeaux

2. Grab breakfast at Michel MaBelle vegan bakery

Michel MaBelle is the only fully vegan bakery and cafe in Bordeaux. So, it makes for a perfect breakfast spot if you are looking for vegan croissants and other pastries! 

Their vegan cakes are delicious, they serve speciality coffee and matcha. You can’t miss this spot!

3. Marché des Capucins

Marche de Capucins Market is an optional stop. Still, markets are one of the quintessential french experiences. 

Marche de Capucins is the biggest daily fresh produce market in the city. It is busy every morning with locals buying ingredients for that day’s meals. 

Markets like this are a perfect spot to grab some fresh fruits, baguettes and other food to snack on later!

TIP: Rue Gintrac connecting Marche des Capucins and Place de la Victoire is a bit intense. It is not dangerous, but just be aware that maybe you’d rather walk on the main road, Cr de la Marne.

Planning a trip to Bordeaux? Check out the rest of my Bordeaux, France series:

4. Check out Place de la Victoire and Porte d’Aquitaine

Place de la Victoire and Porte d'Aquitaine

Place de la Victoire is a lively square and home to an interesting monument to wine. 

The column in the middle of the square represents the myths and the history of wine and vineyards. Concentrating on the Bordeaux region. Next to the column, you will find two bronze turtles referring to wine culture. 

Porte d’Aquitaine is one of the five old gates of Bordeaux that are still standing today and marking the borders of old Bordeaux. 

5. Stroll Rue St. Catherine 

Rue St. Catherine is the longest pedestrian street in France. It is largely a shopping street with the more popular part being in the north, and the south being a food area. 

grosse cloche bordeaux
gross cloche bordeaux view through the gate

6. Admire Grosse Cloche and other old gates of Bordeaux

Grosse Cloche is another one of the five gates to the city. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful, along with Porte Cailhau.

Named literally “Big Bell” this gate was built in the 18th century and served a defensive purpose and as a juvenile prison!

7. Wander the cobblestone streets of the historic centre of Bordeaux

Did you know that since 2007 most of Bordeaux’s city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site

From the inner boulevards down to the river, roughly half the entire city area! That makes it the largest urban area to receive recognition for such a vast space.

Therefore, just let yourself enjoy wandering the cobblestone streets, and don’t forget to look up as there are many intriguing decorations on these old buildings.

girl in the historic centre of bordeaux
Pey-Berland Tower street view

8. Admire Bordeaux Cathedral and climb Pey-Berland Tower for the best view 

Bordeaux Cathedral is another UNESCO world heritage site! Officially known as the Primatial Cathedral of St Andrew of Bordeaux, it is a Roman Catholic church built in a gothic, Romanesque

Pey-Berland Tower is the bell tower of the Cathedral. For a small fee, you can climb the tower and enjoy the best view of the city! Check up-to-date prices and book your ticket in advance on their official website!

  • If you plan on visiting multiple Bordeaux tourist attractions, you should consider getting Bordeaux Metropole City Pass. It is valid for 1-3 days and includes entry to 15 museums, one free city tour and unlimited public transport.

9. Find the remains of the Roman history

the ruins of roman amphiteatre in Bordeaux - Palais Gallien

Palais Gallien is what remains of the 2nd-century Roman amphitheatre. It is one of the few reminders of Gallo roman town Burdigala.

If you just want to see the amphitheatre without paying for the visit, come from Rue de Colisee for the best view. 

10. Picnic in Jardin Public

jardin public bordeaux, peopele having picnic in the parc

There are quite a few green areas around Bordeaux. Yet, Jardin Public is by far the most popular and the largest park in the city centre. 

As warm days roll around, expect to find locals sitting in the grass and enjoying picnics. 

Have a quick picnic lunch in Jardin Public if you got a snack in Marche de Capucins or picked up takeout in one of many vegan lunch spots in town. 

11. See the reflection of Place de la Bourse in Miroir d’eau

place de la bourse bordeaux

The 18th-century Place de la Bourse is one of the most recognizable symbols of Bordeaux. It represents the end of the medieval era of the city surrounded by walls. 

Miroir d’Eau is a newer addition to the touristic highlights. Ideally, you should see the reflection of Place de la Bourse in the long, shallow rectangular pool. Realistically, if you visit in the summer, it will be filled with children enjoying the water.

girl in place de quinconces bordeaux
porte Cailhau bordeaux

12. Enter the historic Bordeaux through Porte Cailhau

Porte Calihau is the most impressive gate of Bordeaux, as it looks like a fairytale castle! Despite being built in the 15th century, it remained mainly unchanged all these years!

You can visit Porte Calihau for a small fee and enjoy a stunning panoramic view of Bordeaux. 

Enter the historic city, and discover some of the local favourites, like the narrow streets around Saint-Pierre Church, Place du Parlement and Place des Quinconces.

Walk towards the north of Bordeaux and discover the charming quarter of Chartrons. It is becoming one of the most popular neighbourhoods with interesting galleries, quirky shops and upscale vibes.

13. Rent a bike and cycle along the river

Alternatively, if you are in the mood for an active holiday, rent one of the city’s bikes and cycle along the Garrone! You can find self-service city bikes V3 for rent all over the town!

There are bike lanes along the river, and being a pedestrian zone, it is the best area to cycle in town! You can do the whole circle, crossing Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas in the North and coming back through Pont de Pierre in the south.

pont pierre and Porte de Bourgogne with st michele cathedral in the background

14. Cross to the other side by a TBM boat

Of course, you can walk the beautiful Pont de Pierre from Porte de Bourgogne to the east coast of Garrone, but did you know Bordeaux has a public transportation boat service?

Taking a BAT3 boat is the cheapest way to experience cruising the Garrone! 

Check out the departure schedule and enjoy the ride! If you get a daily TBM ticket, the boat is included in it.

The BAT3 boat is included in your Bordeaux Metropole City Pass!

15. Visit La Cité du Vin

This modern building in the north of the city is worth a visit even just to admire the architecture. Apart from being a modern architectural masterpiece, it is also home to the most popular museum in the city – The Bordeaux wine museum!

You might not be able to squeeze in the visit to La Cité du Vin if you only have one day in Bordeaux. The average visit to the Permanent Exhibition takes between 2 and 3 hours. However, it is good to keep it in mind if you visit Bordeaux on a rainy day.

A visit to La Cité du Vin is included in your Bordeaux Metropole City Pass if you come before noon. Otherwise, it is 5€ extra.

Is 1 day enough for Bordeaux?

One day is enough time to see all the main highlights and get a taste of the city. You can experience everything on this itinerary on a day trip to Bordeaux. 

However, it is not enough time to discover the city in depth, enjoy the vibrant city atmosphere, or visit the wineries and the rest of the region. 

Ideally, you would spend at least three days in Bordeaux to truly experience the city and the region. 

If you are short on time and want to see most of the city, consider joining a Bordeaux bike tour! It is an excellent way to hit all the hotspots in one day.

What to do in Bordeaux in 2 days?

Bordeaux is the perfect base to explore southwest France. You don’t need a car, as you can take many day trips from Bordeaux by public transport.

The most popular day trip to add to your Bordeaux itinerary is the medieval town of St. Emilion. If you are a wine lover, St. Emilion is a must-visit as there are countless chateaux where you can do wine tastings.

If you are visiting Bordeaux in the summer, you must visit the beaches on the Atlantic coast. While Bordeaux itself is not a beach destination, you will find charming seaside towns just an hour away from the city.

The most popular beach destination close to Bordeaux is Arcachon. As the city is located inside the bay of Arcachon, the sea is the perfect swimming temperature in the summer. Also, it is close to the famous Dune du Pilat, the largest natural dune in Europe!

However, nothing compares to the sheer beauty of the Atlantic coast and the magnificent unobstructed view of the Atlantic ocean. For movie-like long sandy beaches, go for Lacanau or Cap Feret!

Check out my guide on the best beaches around Bordeaux for the complete list of places where you can swim in the Bordeaux region. 

st emilion village in gironde france

How to incorporate one day in Bordeaux into a backpacking France itinerary?

Bordeaux is well connected to the rest of France and Europe by an extensive public transport system. 

The French railway is well thought out and connects Bordeaux with many french cities. The fast TGV train connects Bordeaux with Paris in just two and a half hours! That makes Bordeaux a perfect day trip from Paris.

If you’ve already visited the capital, you can continue your trip to the South of France. You can choose between multiple daily departures from Bordeaux to Toulouse or Montpelier and the rest of the Cote Azure. 

If you are backpacking Europe, Bordeaux is the perfect destination before continuing to Spain. Flixbus has a daily line connecting Bordeaux with Bilbao and Saint Sebastian in the north of Spain. With tickets starting at 9,99€, if you book in advance, it is a great way to save money as a backpacker!

Alternatively, you can take a train to Madrid and continue your trip backpacking Andalusia. Trains are more expensive than buses. However, they are also quicker and more comfortable for long journeys.

My favourite website to book international train tickets is Trainline, as they scan through all national train operators and create a trip. That way I don’t have to struggle trying to figure out the itinerary on different national railway websites.

Best Time To Visit Bordeaux

Most activities in Bordeaux are not weather-specific, so it is possible to visit any time of the year and have a good time. 

However, the most popular time to visit is from April to November

The best time to visit Bordeaux is in the Spring or Autumn as the weather is perfect for exploring the city. It comes alive in the spring as the days quickly get longer and warmer.

Summer is the best time to visit if you want to enjoy the beaches in the region. Keep in mind that the temperature has been over 30°C every day since the 1st of July this year, with most days around 35°C!

Bordeaux is not a Christmas market destination, so if you are looking for the best Christmas markets in Europe, you should avoid Bordeaux in December.  Winters in Bordeaux are mild, so it is possible to explore the city. But, it tends to rain. 

How to get to Bordeaux?

You can reach Bordeaux by land or air. The city is well connected with the rest of the world. 

Bordeaux has an international airport located approximately 15 km from the city centre. 

It is a Ryanair and Easyjet hub, so there are many budget-friendly flights. 

If you want to keep the ticket price low, consider packing in a personal item only so you don’t pay baggage fees!

Take TRAM A from the Airport to the city center, it takes about 30 minutes to reach the center.

If you get Bordeaux Metropole City Pass, TMB tickets are included in your pass.

If you are coming from Paris, a TGV fast train will get you to Bordeaux in just over 2 hours and 30 minutes!

The cheapest way to get to Bordeaux is by long-distance buses, like Flixbus and Blablabus. Still, they are the lengthiest option. 

Getting Around Bordeaux

Bordeaux is a walkable city. The city centre is not small, but it is possible to explore it on foot. That is mainly because the city centre is so aesthetically pleasing and picturesque that you will want to experience it on foot.

a tram passing by the national opera/ grand theatre in bordeaux

Public transport in Bordeaux

You don’t need a car for one day in Bordeaux. On the contrary, a car would just make it more complicated. Therefore, even if you come by car, park it for a day and take advantage of public transport. 

The public transport operator in Bordeaux is TBM. TBM network has 4 main tram lines and over 50 bus lines linking virtually every part of the city. 

One ticket is 1,70€ and valid for an hour. Depending on where your accommodation is if you’re spending a night, you might need to use public transport more than once. In that case, it is worth considering a 24h ticket. Check all the TBM ticket prices here

Unlimited public transport is included in your Bordeaux Metropole City Pass if you decide to go for it!

Can you bike in Bordeaux?

Yes, you can bike in Bordeaux. There are self-service city bikes V3 for rent all over the town!

The V3 system might seem complicated, but it is not. 

You pay a daily subscription fee, and then you pay per usage. The first 30 minutes are free, then the fare is 2€ per hour. You will also have to pay a deposit of roughly 200€, and they will reimburse you in 2-3 days. Here are the up-to-date prices.

However, the trick to keep it cheap is to return the bike to the station every 30 minutes. Yes, you can return the bike and take it out immediately after, and your 30 free minutes will be restarted!

Here is the map of the V3 network so you can plan your bike trip!

Biking might not be as popular in Bordeaux as in some other french cities, but it is a great way to discover the city if you only have one day in Bordeaux! 

two biked next to the blue door in the city centre
bordeaux streets and buildings

Where to stay in Bordeaux

The best area of Bordeaux to stay in is the city centre around Chartrons and Jardin Public. It is in the city centre, but outside of the main hotspot. 

The areas around Pl. de la Victoire and Capucins tend to be busy and noisy at night.

The best-rated hostels in Bordeaux are:

Hostel bed prices in Bordeaux are above average, so if you are travelling in a couple or as a friend group, it might be cheaper to stay in a private room!

Some of the best-rated budget hotels in Bordeaux are:

jolly vegan ice cream bordeaux
st james vegan cake bordeaux from cassonade

Vegan Bordeaux Guide

If you are vegan, you will be happy to know that there are many restaurants with vegan options in Bordeaux!

Vegan breakfast in Bordeaux

  • Michel MaBelle – a fully vegan bakery for your daily dose of french pastry
  • Contrast – offers amazing vegan brunch and sweet and savoury vegan breakfast options

Vegan lunch in Bordeaux

Vegan dinner in Bordeaux

  • Dis Leur – vegan fine dining in Bordeaux, the most refined vegan restaurant in Bordeaux
  • The wild note – fully vegan, fast food and burger spot in Bordeaux

Vegan dessert in Bordeaux

  • Cassonade – small cafe and a perfect place to try traditional bordelaise vegan canneles and St. James cake
  • Jolly Chocolat – you’re in France, so head here for vegan crepes and waffles!

I have a whole article on the best vegan ice cream in Bordeaux, so check it out for more dessert options!

Is Bordeaux expensive to visit?

France is not a cheap country and Bordeaux is not a cheap city to visit. Prices in Bordeaux are similar to prices in Paris, which makes it one of the more expensive places in Europe.

However, you can visit Bordeaux on a budget, as there are ways to save money backpacking France. 

  • Accommodation will be your most significant expense. A bed in a hostel dorm is on average 35€ per night, while hotel rooms start at 60€ and upwards. It might be cheaper to book a hotel room if you travel in a couple!
  • Your transportation budget can be 0€ if you choose to walk. The city is walkable, so it is achievable! Otherwise, budget anywhere from 1,70€ per ticket to 5€ 24-hour pass.
  • You should expect to spend 15-50€ on food and drinks. It will depend on whether you are having all your meals in a restaurant or grabbing your lunch in a supermarket and having a picnic. 
  • A meal in a vegan restaurant will take you back around 15€ per person. Coffee or matcha with soy milk is 5-6€. Ice cream is around 3€.
  • Cocktails and other alcoholic beverages in bars are on average 8€.

As you can see, your budget can vary drastically depending on if you spend a night in the city and how much you choose to consume.  

girl in front of palais galliene

Is Bordeaux safe for solo female travellers?

Bordeaux is a relatively safe French town. I’ve read here that it has one of the lowest crime rates for big cities in France!

However, it is the only city in which I ever got pickpocketed. Yep, somebody stole my phone from my pocket (you could say I was asking for it) in the middle of the night, in an empty street, without me even noticing it. 

Therefore, the same safety rules apply as always.  Keep your valuables safely stored. Always zip or close your bags, and do not carry your phone in your back pocket.

General advice is, do not do anything you would not do at home. 

Use your common sense and avoid unnecessarily risky situations, like walking home intoxicated alone. For nights out, check out my guide to enjoying nightlife as a solo female traveller

one day in bordeaux itinerary pinterest
bordeaux backpacking travel guide pinterest

Final Thoughts: One Day in Bordeaux Itinerary, Bordeaux Travel Guide

And that is everything you need to know about how to spend one day in Bordeaux! Hopefully, your Bordeaux itinerary is now full of the best things to do in the city.

Have you visited Bordeaux before? Is there something I missed that should be on the list? Let me know in the comments!

If you enjoyed this One day in Bordeaux itinerary, let me know in the comments, pin this article for later and share it with your friends who should visit Bordeaux!

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