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Best things to do & places to stay:

Last updated: 03 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros

Synonymous with the world’s finest wines, Bordeaux itself has flamboyantly popped the cork after a grand 15-year facelift. Its elegant 18th-century architecture once earned it the nickname of ‘Little Paris’, and it has since been bestowed with World Heritage status.

The recent additions of a beautiful riverfront park and gourmet restaurants add to the joie de vivre that radiates from the busy outdoor cafés, while old riverside warehouses now house art galleries and cocktail bars.

Join the jolly crowds at either the colourful Marche des Capucins or the Marche des Quais: the latter is perfect for a Sunday brunch of white wine and fresh oysters. It’s perfect for a romantic weekend – or make it your base for visiting the great wine chateaux of the wider area, or the sandy beaches and dunes at Arcachon.

Orientation

Located where the Garonne flows into the Gironde estuary, Bordeaux is surrounded by gravelly landscapes and low hills covered with vines. Medieval Bordeaux survives in the Quartier Saint-Pierre, but much of the city was rebuilt during the 18th century – including the construction of one of Europe’s most elegant waterfronts, around a bend in the river known as Port de la Lune. The riverfront Place des Quinconces separates this from Chartrons, the picturesque wine merchants’ quarter.

The bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination

Bordeaux Wine Region

Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

France’s premier wine-growing region is home to over 8,500 wineries (or chateaux) producing some 800 million bottles a year, 89 percent of which are red wines, including the legendary Grands Crus or ‘First Growths’ of the Medoc.

Best for ages: 18+ | £40

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Wine City

Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

A museum dedicated to the history of wine and its relationship with Bordeaux, housed in a spectacular modern architectural jewel.

Best for ages: 18+ | £18

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest

A statue of a figure reclining
Experience

Aquitaine Museum

Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

This compelling history museum is home to over 1.3 million artefacts that document the history of Bordeaux and the entire Aquitaine region, from prehistory (including Paleolithic Art and the Lascaux Cave) to the modern day.

Best for ages: 18+ | £4

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The exterior of the cathedral and its two spires
Experience

Bordeaux Cathedral

Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Bordeaux’s enormous Gothic Cathedrale Saint-Andre is the city’s most majestic medieval landmark; the church dates back to 814 AD, but it was predominantly constructed in the 14th and 15th centuries. Don’t miss the sculptures of the Porte Royale and a climb up the Tour Pey-Berland belltower for a bird’s-eye view over the city centre.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free

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The exterior of the museum on a sunny day
Experience

Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts

Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Inside the elegant Palais Rohan, the museum displays works by some of Europe’s finest painters, including Titian, Perugino, Rubens and Van Dyck, as well as famous local artists from various periods. The south wing is devoted to art from the 16th to 18th centuries, and the north wing focuses on the 19th and 20th centuries.

Best for ages: 18+ | £4

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

2-Hour Bordeaux Segway Tour

2-Hour Bordeaux Segway Tour

Bordeaux

Explore UNESCO–listed Bordeaux in style and discover top attractions with ease on this 2-hour Segway tour. Follow a guide through the street...

€55 | Rating 4.63 / 5 [19 ratings]

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Bordeaux City - Private Guided Walking Tour with Local Sophia

Bordeaux City - Private Guided Walking Tour with Local Sophia

Bordeaux

Personalised private tour. This tour is a great introduction to the city and will help you gather your bearings whilst discovering hidden tr...

€85 | Rating 4.98 / 5 [68 ratings]

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Bordeaux Essentials Sightseeing Bike Tour with a Local Guide

Bordeaux Essentials Sightseeing Bike Tour with a Local Guide

Bordeaux

Meet your guide in the city center of Bordeaux, a few steps from Saint-Andre cathedral.  This friendly and passionate character will explai...

€30 | Rating 4.85 / 5 [106 ratings]

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Private - Best of Bordeaux Walking Tour

Private - Best of Bordeaux Walking Tour

Bordeaux

DISCOVER THE BEST OF BORDEAUX ON THIS TAILORED MADE WALKING TOUR EXCLUSIVELY DESIGN TO SEE THE BEST OF BORDEAUX WITH A FRIENDLY & EXPERIENCE...

€35 | Rating 4.93 / 5 [175 ratings]

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Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay in this destination

L’Hotel Particulier Bordeaux

Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

Once a cardinal’s luxurious townhouse in the heart of Bordeaux, now a charming little hotel with characterful guestrooms and apartments. An excellent base for first-time visitors.

Official star rating:

Hotel de Tourny

Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine , France

This stylish but friendly and unfussy boutique hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Bordeaux. Perfect as a base for sightseeing, and great value for the location too.

Official star rating:

Le Burdigala Hotel

Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

This comfy, chic boutique hotel is within walking distance of the city’s historic centre, with excellent food and drink.

Official star rating:

Hotel de Seze

Bordeaux, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France

An historic, elegant 18th-century hotel ideally located in Bordeaux’s swish Golden Triangle, with a locally-rated spa and restaurant.

Official star rating:

When to go

Cultured Bordeaux is a year-round destination, although winters can be wet and grey, dulling the joys of its wine tourism. The main tourist season begins around Easter, when it’s warm and sunny enough to sit outside and the vines sprout their first leaves.

By June, it’s warm enough to swim at Arcachon – summers can be hot, but rarely uncomfortably so. Mid-June to mid-July is the prime time for local festivals; while September and October offer mild temperatures, the excitement of the grape harvest and the dazzling autumn colours of the vines.

Getting there and away

Bordeaux–Merignac Airport (BOD) is a 30-minute drive from the city centre. Jet’Bus services link the airport with the centre and main train station, departing every 45 minutes. Alternatively, the Liane 1 bus runs from the airport to Place des Quinconces, linking up with Bordeaux’s three tram lines. Taxis are also a decent-value option.

Getting around

Most sights in Bordeaux’s centre are within walking distance, with sleek trams and a city bus on hand for longer distances. A riverboat shuttles between Quai Richelieu and Place Aristide Briand. The city has a municipal bike hire scheme (VCub) and taxis are plentiful, with stands in key locations. There are numerous parking garages for road-trippers – but driving in the city centre isn’t much fun, with one-way streets and traffic galore.

Where to stay

The city centre (around Place de la Comedie, Place Gambetta and Place des Quinconces) and the medieval Quartier Saint-Pierre are ideal areas for first-time visitors who want to see the sights and enjoy the city’s cafés, restaurants and nightlife. Wine tours nearly always depart from the city centre.

Wine buffs or anyone after a rural retreat will enjoy staying at a hotel or château in the vineyards; those on the slopes around Saint-Emilion are exceptionally pretty, and only about an hour’s drive out of the city.

Our writer’s recommended itineraries for this destination