Things to do in Bordeaux – the ultimate guide

Place de la bourse Bordeaux

A weekend in Bordeaux! What on Earth can be better?

After living for a while in Paris, I got hungry to discover other big cities in France and, Bordeaux was always one of the first in the list.

While I had 3 days in the city, you could stay for 2 if you are in a rush to see more of France, or 4 if you prefer a slow type of travel.

Let me tell you a little bit about the top things to do in the city of wine:

What to see and do in Bordeaux, France – the ultimate guide

When to visit Bordeaux

Things to do in Bordeaux - the ultimate guide bordeaux 2

There is no touristic season in Bordeaux, the number of tourists is pretty stable throughout the year. Only December is lighter with tourists as I have heard.

So what attracts the mass of tourists there around the year? Do you think it’s the good weather?

Do you know anything about Bordeaux?

It’s all about wine, admit it! Well, that’s what I knew before I visited it too, so no shame in saying it out loud. Bordeaux is most famous for its wine, and for good reason!

Before I get to amazingly descriptive details about the wine experience, let me tell you, there are plenty of other things to see and do in Bordeaux. Still, I’ll start with…

Where to drink wine in Bordeaux?

maison du Vin Bordeaux

Everywhere, duh!

There are tons of wine bars in Bordeaux. And I’d like to suggest Maison du Vin as the place where you can find one of the best wine tours in Bordeaux. The prices are ranging between 2 and 8 euros for a glass of wine. The cheese plates are quite generous and I suggest you combine them with a few glasses of Bordeaux wine, as they will for sure enrich your tasting experience.

It was really hard to find their working hours on the internet, so I will tell you – they work from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Jardin Pablique bike Bordeaux France

If you have more time, you can book a tour for wineries around the city. There are tons of them with prices between 38 and 200 euros. The best place to find the best tour for yourself is the official tourism center which is just across from the Maison du Vin bar. Even if you want to use any other tour, I recommend just to stop by their office and take a vineyards map from there. This is one of the most organized tourism offices I have seen, you will get a lot of info from them.

The wine tour 

wine tasting tour Bordeaux

I took this tour because I only had half a day left, but I definitely recommend going for something longer if you have more time.

We managed to visit 2 chateaux (I don’t name mine, as there are so many chateaux around Bordeaux, the wineries in the tour vary from week to week). We were shown and explained a lot about the wine production in the area, and, of course, tasted some wine! Everyone in tourism speaks good English, but you have to be ready for some strong French accent. I guess that just adds up to the atmosphere.

Here is the map of the Bordeaux wine region, I recommend checking out Medoc and Saint Emilion, they both are considered to have some of the best wineries in France (Medoc is my personal favorite!).

If you want to go for a Medoc private tour, some of the best wine tour I can recommend is this full-day tour.

If you choose St. Emilion this wine tasting tour will take you to some breathtaking chateaux!

Map Bordeaux region

In case you have a time to visit only 1 region, I would say go to Saint Emilion. You will see more or less the same in terms of the wine production, but much more in terms of sceneries.

Enjoy the best wine in Bordeaux and don’t forget to take pictures!

OTHER MUST-SEE ATTRACTIONS IN BORDEAUX

Other than wine tours, let’s see what are the best things to do in Bordeaux, France. To get a great feeling of the city I suggest you hop on a bike and go through its many pedestrian streets. All the sights are really not far from each other if you bike. Otherwise there are bike paths mostly everywhere where they are needed.

Bordeaux is a very special city which any history lover would appreciate, so while you’re biking through Quais de Bordeaux, a splendid place near Garonne’s waterfront, you should continue your journey by bike through these places too:

Place de la Bourse (Miroir d’Eau)

Miroir de l eau Bordeaux bike2

This the most well-known square in Bordeaux and a perfect spot to relax after a day of visiting. Place de la Bourse is famous for its Water Mirror, but they actually created a great attraction out of it and it’s worth to spend a couple of hours there. The Water Mirror is actually the largest reflecting pool in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s only 2 cm deep and it creates a mesmerizing mirroring effect that reflects Place de la Bourse and all the other beautiful buildings around. The water is programmed to have 3 sequences – fog, mirror and pool, so if you would like to spend at least 20 minutes there you can see it shifting from a mirror to a misty fog and so on!

Price: Free

Jardin Publique de Bordeaux

Things to do in Bordeaux - the ultimate guide public garden

This beautiful park dates from 1746, when it was created in order to offer the rich people of Bordeaux a nice place where they could relax. This English-style park is wonderful even today and I recommend you go there go gaze at the historic statues, bridges and fountains. This is a sophisticated place where you can enjoy a picnic, some good books and coffee in Bordeaux or the wine you have with you and get a glimpse of the 18th Century Bordeaux.

Price: Free

Place de la Victoire (Victory Square)

Place de la victorie Bordeaux

Place de la Victoire is another pretty square in Bordeaux that’s worth adding to your list of must-see attractions. It’s true that it’s a rather busy place, full of bars, restaurants and pretty cafes, so I suggest you go there to relax while sipping some wine, but also to admire the gorgeous architecture. You can go there to find some of the best places to eat in Bordeaux. In the middle of the square you will see a piece of public art made by the Czech sculptor Ivan Theimer. This is a marble column and it was installed in 2005 in order to celebrate the famous Bordeaux viticulture. There are also plenty of parties, concerts and events organized there, so you will be greeted with good music and good people!

Price: Free

Musée d’Aquitaine

Things to do in Bordeaux - the ultimate guide bordeaux 4

If you’re only going to see one museum in Bordeaux, then Musée d’Aquitaine is the one you should pick!

It features historical collections from all around the Aquitaine region, so go there for a taste of history and tradition dating back to prehistory. You will also find there some collections from far away lands, since the age of great discoveries. If you’re a history lover, then this is the place to be while in Bordeaux!

Note: The museum is closed on Monday, so see how you can schedule it to suit your itinerary!

Price: 5€ full rate, 3€ reduced rate (for students, groups of at least 10 people etc). Access to the museum is free for all visitors on the first Sunday of each month (except July and August). Check the updated prices here.

La Cité du Vin

Things to do in Bordeaux - the ultimate guide cite du vin

You can enjoy the wine and wineries in Bordeaux, but your tour won’t be complete without going to La Cité du Vin.

This is a super-modern, futuristic cultural center that will teach you everything about wine production all around the world. If you’re a wine aficionado, you can easily spend an entire day there, soaking up information and listening to the comprehensive audio guide. At the end of the tour you can go up to the 55-metre tower and enjoy a glass of wine in their amazing bar.

Price: 20 for the skip-the-line ticket and wine tasting.

Rue Saint-Catherine

Things to do in Bordeaux - the ultimate guide rue sainte catherine

If you’re a shopping lover, this is the place to be in Bordeaux!

Rue Saint-Catherine is actually the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe, as it’s 1.2 kilometers long! This famous street is always full with people wandering through its dozens of cafes and many shops. In case you’re on a shopping spree, I’m pretty sure you will find countless of brands here in more than 250 stores or you can at least relax while sipping on a coffee or a glass of wine and admire the tourists!

Esplanade des Quinconces

Things to do in Bordeaux - the ultimate guide monument girondines

How does a 12-hectare open public space where all important events and concerts take place sound to you?

This is a very popular and nice place where you can come for leisure, but also to have a taste of history, especially regarding the French Revolution. Esplanade des Quinconces is one of the most beautiful things to see in Bordeaux and I recommend you do not miss it! This is actually the largest public square in France where you can see the Monument aux Girondins (Girondist Monument) – a historical column dating from 1902 and one of the landmarks of this city. It is 54 meters high and you can find the beautiful Fontaine des Girondins (Girondist Fountain) with majestic bronze horses at its base. The entire monument was built in order to celebrate the influence that the Gironde political group has had in the French Revolution.

You can go to Esplanade des Quinconces for a nice walk and to take pictures!

Price: free

Tour Pey-Berland

Tour Pey-Berland

Complete your Bordeaux experience by going up the monument and enjoying the panoramic view of the city! Even though it’s lovely to look at it from down below, you will get to see a whole new world when you’re up there. Even though you’ll have to climb the 229 stairs, the view is definitely worth it!

Price: 6€ per adult. You can check the prices and the schedule here to see if the monument is open on your chosen date.

Some other suggestions to keep in mind

  • Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux – I recommend you go to one of the representations of Bordeaux National Opera if you can. This way you’ll get to see this beautiful building on the inside too and enjoy some good classical music!
  • Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas – the tallest vertical lift bridge in Europe and one of Bordeaux’s most recent landmarks. The best time to admire it is at night, when beautiful lights can be seen all over its columns.

CITY PASS

Things to do in Bordeaux - the ultimate guide bordeaux 1

Most of the attractions that I mentioned above are free to enter if you have the Bordeaux Metropole City Pass You have three options that you can choose from: for 24, 48 or 72 hours and, besides free access to plenty of monuments and cultural attractions, you will get unlimited access to Bordeaux’s public transportation system for your selected period of time (tramway, bus and river shuttle). You will also get discounts for some selected wine tours, lunch or dinner cruises. The 3-days pass will offer you a free guided tour in underground Saint-Emilion and more! Once you have your Bordeaux city pass, you can book your tours at Bordeaux Tourist Office. You can check all the details and discounts here.

Price: 29€ for 24 hours, 39€ for 48 hours and 46€ for 72 hours.

DAY TOURS FROM BORDEAUX

In case you have more time to spend in the area and you wish to see more than just Bordeaux’s wine chateaux, I have two day tours to recommend:

Arcachon & Pyla Dune Tour

Things to do in Bordeaux - the ultimate guide pilat dune

If you’re passionate about nature and bio diversity, then a day trip to Arcachon might be the highlight of your trip!

Arcachon is a famous swimming destination located 55 kilometers away from Bordeaux. It is basically a beautiful bay surrounded by sand dunes and the Landes Forest. One of its most famous sand dunes is Pilat (Pyla) Dune which offers a great view over the entire natural reserve and you can observe how the enormous sand dunes have moved in time and how they are swallowing up the Lande Pine Forest. You will be able to admire Arguin Bank, which was a lagoon long time ago that is now used for oyster farming.

With this day tour you will get to visit the area and the sand dunes, you will see the 19th century houses, admire the panoramic view from Pilat Dune and get to taste some delicious seafood and Arguin Banc oysters (a local delicacy).

Price: 200

Basque Country Tour

Things to do in Bordeaux - the ultimate guide basque country

Basque Country is an autonomous community situated in northern Spain, between the Pyrenees Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, 4 hours away from Bordeaux. On this day trip you will get on the route from Bordeaux to Basque Country and you will stop along the way to see some beautiful, authentic 15th century farms, the foothills of the Pyrenees, the famous Grottes de Sare (Sare Caves) –  prehistoric salt caves dating from 2 million years ago, Mendiguren Citadel and more! You will also go to Biarritz market where you will get to see a lot of Basque specialties (spices, ham, Basque-style cake), all of them local-made in Basque Country!

Price: 220€

Where to stay in Bordeaux

Bordeaux does not have a lack of accommodation and there is something for everyone. The choice is yours, however since Bordeaux is pretty big, I suggest being in walking distance of the old center.

I was fortunate to be invited to stay in an elegant hotel called Yndoa unique establishment that perfectly combined elegance and coziness under its roof.

This is a gorgeous 5-star hotel in Bordeaux!

Yndo is located in a building from the beginning of the 19th century that look like a castle. The decorations and even the painting were done by the owner, a charming lady called Agnes, with much passion and attention to every little detail!

My rooms was called a Crazy room. 🙂  Decorated in truly French chic manner, it had everything you would ever wanted – from iPad to Hermes and Bvlgari toiletries.

I absolutely loved the huge bath tab right in the room, beautiful glass roof (the perks of having the top floor) and the automatic curtains that you can close if it is too sunny, or open to enjoy the sky!

Yndo hotel Bordeaux

fun things to do in Bordeaux

Oh, how much I enjoyed those custom-made breakfasts on the sunny terrace! They could basically cook anything you want, you name it! Really, name it, as the staff speaks perfect English. Everything home-made fresh from Bretagne right to your table!

Hotel Yndo Bordeaux 5 etoiles

In short, Yndo hotel is one of the best 5-star hotels in Bordeaux and a great choice for both business and leisure or a special occasion. It combines top notch service of a prestigious establishment with the friendliness and care of a family ran business!

Check rates/ Book your stay with YNDO hotel here!

hotel Bordeaux France2Other accommodation options to stay in Bordeaux, France:

Depending on your budget, I have some alternative great hotels and apartments for rent in Bordeaux to recommend to you:

Luxury stayYndo hotel – the wonderful hotel where I have stayed, please see the photos& description above; Le Clos d’Emile – an exceptional hotel that gets sold out really fast probably for its love to decor and attention to guests;

Great value/money hotelsLa Maison Des Vignes – if you hurry up, you can get their King’s suit for less than US$100, which is just fantastic!; Chambres à Bord’O – located in the city center, this places is a mix of contemporary and classic decor, your breakfast will be served in a beautiful courtyard;

Budget stay: Honestly, it is not that easy to find a budget accommodation here and I wasn’t able to find many recommendations for a bed and breakfast in Bordeaux. There are a couple of places that are less than US$50 per night and have good reviews. Let me know if you find something cheaper/better in the comments!

Premiere Classe Bordeaux Nord – Lac  – this affordable accommodation is located near Gare Saint-Jean as well, free Wi-Fi access, private bathroom, air conditioning and satellite TV is included in the price of the room.

How to get to Bordeaux from Paris

Easy- peasy – by train! If you plan well enough in advance, it will be quite cheap (I got my ticket for 40 euros round trip from SNCF the official railway site). Alternatively, if you are not a good planner (like me) and prefer to go last minute, I always recommend BlaBlaCar.Even if you decide today that you want to go tomorrow, the price for the rideshare from Paris to Bordeaux (600km) will cost you 30 euros one way.

Isn’t it just fantastic? One day I will write a whole article about it. Let’s just say, if not for BlaBlaCar, I would visit way less French cities than I did.

What should be in your packing list for Bordeaux

Bordeaux is a sunny destination, here’s what I think you should not miss fom your backpack while visiting this city:

BEFORE I LET YOU WANDER

Bikes through the city, wine glasses of deep red colors, the great architecture in the old town, the vineyards around the city, that wonderful mirror fountain and all the music and happy people. That was Bordeaux for me, and I wish you go there as soon as you can and add experiences to this list while you make your own adventure. However, if you discover something amazing, do let me know in a comment below!

A bientôt!

Please share this article if you liked it!

Yulia

By | 2018-06-21T16:01:28+00:00 September 3rd, 2015|Bordeaux, Europe, France, Popular|17 Comments

About the Author:

Yulia is originally Russian but truly is a world citizen in heart. She was traveling around the world for over 4 years now. Her blog MissTourist.com is created with the purpose to inspire people to travel more and to share her advice of how to travel "smart".

17 Comments

  1. Natalie 14.04.2016 at 18:42 - Reply

    This is the first time I have read you blog and will be the last. It may surprise you to know that people actually run businesses to make money not support freeloaders. I commend this tour company for not allowing itself to be extorted by people like you. I’m sure it would have got a glowing review had you received a significant discount. I also review hotels, restaurants and tours my reviews are unbiased as I pay full price and the service does not even know I have been.

    • Yulia 22.05.2016 at 12:39 - Reply

      hi Natalie and thanks for the comment!
      Many people do not understand that running a blog takes a lot of work (in fact, much more than a regular 9 to 5 job).
      I take my time to describe my travels for my readers, and I do it in an honest way, so that people do not repeat the mistakes that I have probably made.
      It is a business for me as well.
      While you of course do not have to read this blog, I am always honest with my readers disclosing if I was invited to a hotel, while many other blogs don’t bother to do so.
      You are free to decide which blog you are going to trust more.
      And now excuse me, I have to go run my business 😉

    • Ron 13.07.2017 at 15:59 - Reply

      Hi Natalie,

      This blog is totally refreshing and honest, but your comment is in real poor taste and reeks of racism. I’m free to make assumptions, the way you did with calling the author and the likes as freeloaders, probably because a Julia might have sounded less of a freeloader to you than a Yulia. I think the reader who value the honesty of this author are better off not having people like you drop by with your negativity and entitlement and dropping 2 pennyworth entitled yet pretty useless reviews. And by the way, I’m from a different part of the world from the West or whichever piece of geography in the world map you inhabit, and yes, I am writing in English and am a bit of a freeloader myself, as is a large portion of the world, because we do spend a lot of money and contribute to tourism revenues and can potentially bring in new tourists as well (Oh you hate them don’t you).

      @Yulia, for people who really value good returns on a budget, your blog is totally amazing and may I add very well written, rich in its simplicity, brevity and humor. Keep writing and don’t be for a second be let down by the likes of Natalie. Perhaps a Natalia might enjoy your blog more.

      Cheers
      Jay

  2. Oscar EoFrance 29.06.2016 at 12:15 - Reply

    Hi Yulia,
    It is a very nice article. For those who have more time, I also suggest to take a local train to the village of Saint Emilion. Trains departs every hours and the travel time is 40min. The ticket is 9€. You are then literally surrounded by vines and the village is absolutely charming.

  3. cristen woodring 23.08.2016 at 11:40 - Reply

    Hey ! I loved the post, merci beaucoup!

  4. Jerli Dawn 06.02.2017 at 02:31 - Reply

    Hey, I’m going to bordeaux soon for valentine’s and reading this post is just what i needed! Can you suggest any nice restaurants that yo went to?

    • Yulia 08.02.2017 at 07:26 - Reply

      Hey Jeril!
      I was there during the Fete de la musique festival, the city was absolutely crazy with all kinds of food in special outside temporary food courts, thats is where I ate.
      Cant recommend any restaurant sorry. The Maison du Vin was amazing though, I recommend checking it out for a snack and wine tasting!
      have a great St Valentine’s! 🙂

  5. Val 24.03.2018 at 06:17 - Reply

    Hi! How is the shopping in Bordeaux?

    • Yulia 24.03.2018 at 15:16 - Reply

      Not sure what shopping exactly, but it is a big city and it has pretty much everything you might want to buy

    • Ira 04.04.2018 at 22:42 - Reply

      Hi Val
      I moved to Bordeaux from Paris several months ago. This city is developing in a very cool direction but I would say that the shopping scene is still not at its best. Like Yulia is saying it’s a big city so of course you have all the big chains (mango, zara, h&m etc.). Most of them are located on rue saint Catherine (the main commercial street) and in big shopping malls in the outskirts of the city. However, I feel that there are not so many boutiques in the center of the city (maybe as I am comparing it to Paris). You have very fancy boutiques close to the opera and then some chic boutiques not far from Saint Pierre. So it’s not much but I do feel that there are more and more of them and that in a year or two there will be a great shopping scene in Bordeaux.

  6. Val 24.03.2018 at 16:03 - Reply

    Thanks Yulia!

  7. Tanvi 10.04.2018 at 11:12 - Reply

    I am confused between Bordeaux and Normandy. Any suggestions?

  8. Ira 02.06.2018 at 20:03 - Reply

    Thank you so much for this post Yulia!!
    I moved to Bordeaux with my family a year ago and completely fell in love with this beautiful city, Your post was one my initial resources to discover what to do here.

  9. Jessica 24.06.2018 at 14:46 - Reply

    What a brilliant read.. I’ve been struggling to plan my trip to France and after reading this. You have made my decision complete. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  10. Wes 27.06.2018 at 19:06 - Reply

    Hi Yulia, thank you for this great post! We are spending a week in the Bordeaux region in July and we love some of your ideas. The links to the wine tours that you recommend in Medoc and St Emilion do not seem to be directing to the specific tours that you are referencing, rather a large search page. Would you mind letting us know exactly which tours your enjoyed in these regions? Thank you!

    Wes

    • Yulia 28.06.2018 at 17:37 - Reply

      Hello Wes,
      happy you found the post helpful!
      About the tours – sorry it is confusing, I think the company is testing the new interface at the moment. The first one in the list is exactly the tour that I recommend! 🙂

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

+1
Tweet119
Share216
Share
Pin6K
6K Shares