Last Updated on 28th October 2022 by TSM Media
Beautiful Bordeaux is a sunny city in the south of France that is characterised by its fantastic weather, proximity to world-famous eponymous wines, and a surprising abundance of Haussmannian architecture. Even if you only have a short time to enjoy the French city, then the proximity of all of its major attractions means that you can still pack plenty into a trip. Here’s your ultimate guide on how to spend the perfect one day in Bordeaux itinerary.
- Is one day enough time in Bordeaux?
- What is the best time of the year to visit Bordeaux?
- Suggested itinerary for one day in Bordeaux
- Where to stay in Bordeaux
- What to wear when exploring Europe
Is one day enough time in Bordeaux?
Ideally you would set aside two or more days to visit the city, particularly considering that the Musée du Vin will take up a large portion of your time if you want to enjoy the whole experience (and considering the price of tickets, you certainly will want to).
With this being said, the majority of Bordeaux’s main attractions can be covered over the course of 24 hours or so, meaning that you can certainly get a feel for Bordeaux in a single day. If you have more time in the city, be sure to check out our suggested weekend guide to Bordeaux.
What is the best time of the year to visit Bordeaux?
The best time to visit Bordeaux is during the European shoulder seasons, that is to say spring or fall. Summer is high season to visit Europe, including France, and so this is when tourist crowds are at their largest (read: extra queuing time at every attraction) and prices are most elevated.
Late spring and early fall offer visitors the chance to enjoy the best weather, albeit with more reasonable prices and fewer crowds. Planning a trip to see the area surrounding Bordeaux in the fall is also a fantastic idea as you’ll get to see the vineyards as they transform from bright green to golden hues.
Suggested itinerary for one day in Bordeaux
Breakfast at Contrast Café
Begin your short stay in Bordeaux by heading to one of the quaintest coffee shops in town: Contrast Café. Brunch is served all week, with the exception of Thursday (when the coffee shop is closed).
Once inside, you can order a set brunch menu for just over €20. There are vegan and classic options available, making this one of the best brunch spots in Bordeaux. Alternatively, if you’re not feeling as hungry, simply opt for items a la carte.
Although Contrast doesn’t take bookings, be sure to arrive earlier in the day (and even up to ten minutes before opening) to ensure that you get seated and won’t have to queue for the limited space. Another reason to visit earlier in the day is that once the food runs out for the day, it runs out and Contrast remains open only for drinks.
After enjoying your breakfast, head to the water mirror, which is just a short walk away from the café. This modern fountain is such a popular spot in Bordeaux that it has since become as emblematic of the city as the good weather and even the wine itself.
The Miroir d’Eau is the largest reflective pool in the world. Perfectly reflecting the Place, the water feature spans 3450 metres squared and was put in place in 2006. It is one of the best photo spots in the city so be sure to snap a photo here!
Porte de Cailhau
One of the most impressive spots in all of Bordeaux is Porte Cailhau, a grand gateway that once upon a time would have been the main entryway to the city of Bordeaux (when it was surrounded by fortified walls).
Today, the 14th-century gateway is free to admire and is best seen in the morning when the sunlight shines through the gateway and illuminates everything in its path. The Porte de Cailhau is just a short walk away from the Miroir d’Eau and is the entryway into old town Bordeaux.
Visit the Cathedral
After seeing the Porte Cailhau, it’s time to stroll the ten minutes or so of cobbled lanes to reach the star of the show when it comes to attractions in old town Bordeaux. The Cathedral is free to visit and is easily one of the top cathedrals in France.
Dedicated to St Andrew, the ecclesiastical building finds its roots as early as the 9th-century when there was already a church dedicated to Saint André in the area. The church you see today was built between the 11th and 15th-centuries and is on the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France.
Explore the old town
The best way to explore the old neighbourhood of Bordeaux is to simply wander around the cobbled lanes and allow the district to reveal itself to you. One of the greatest highlights of the old town is the clock tower, though the old town also boasts a variety of hidden gems.
Shop on the longest street in France
Throughout the city, there are a myriad of tiny boutiques and small shops, each one more quaint than the last. I especially enjoyed perusing the shops close to the Grosse Cloche.
For those who are looking to see more of the high street chains which can be found all over France, Rue Sainte Catherine is the longest pedestrian shopping street in Europe and stretches for a far way across the city!
After a morning of exploration, you’ve no doubt worked up an appetite and so it’s time to head out to lunch. As much of the rest of the day will be focused on foodie experiences, I would suggest something light, particularly as you’ll be going out for dinner in the evening.
Thanks to its status as one of the largest cities in France, Bordeaux has no shortage of restaurants and takeaway shops serving every kind of cuisine you can imagine. BAG_Bakery Art Gallery is a great gluten-free option and also offers a number of vegetarian options.
Spend the afternoon at Cité du Vin
Wine in Bordeaux is a veritable institution and so it only makes sense that at least some of your stay in Bordeaux will be dedicated to learning more about the city’s most famous export. The most popular place to head to in the city for those who wish to go to a tasting and learn more about the famous tipple is the Cité du Vin.
Opened in 2016 by the President of France, the Cité du Vin (City of Wine) lies alongside the banks of the River Garonne and is a metropolis of glistening buildings, all dedicated to the history and culture of wine in Bordeaux.
Featuring exhibitions, shows, and wine tastings, no visit to Bordeaux would be complete without checking out this museum. It takes three to four hours to truly soak up all that this cultural institution has to offer. To visit the Cité du Vin, purchase your tickets in advance here.
Have a canelé
One of the most famous sweets to have emerged from the canelé, a sweet pastry that can now be found in French bakeries all over l’Hexagone. This Bordelais speciality comprises of a small pastry flavoured with rum and vanilla. Custard-like in texture, one of the best places to try this south-west delicacy is at la Pâtisserie San Nicolas.
Have a drink in a bar
Of course, one of the simplest and most pleasurable ways of enjoying a city is to do just as the locals do. In Bordeaux, this is sitting out on a café terrace and ordering a glass of wine together with friends.
Some of the most popular spots in the city to sit in a café and watch the world go by include around rue de la Devise and around rue des Ayres. Alternatively, book to go on a river cruise of the River Garonne where you can enjoy a glass of wine aboard the boat. Check prices and availability here.
Go out for dinner
End your day by discovering one of Bordeaux’s greatest assets: its culinary scene. The best restaurants in town fill up fast and so you’ll want to reserve a table for your nighttime meal a few days in advance either online or over the phone.
Another option if you’re a foodie and want to dive deeper into the foodie scene of the city is to book a night tour with food, wine tasting, and a canelé. For more details, check out all the tour details here.
Where to stay in Bordeaux
Thinking of planning a weekend in Bordeaux (or even three days in Bordeaux) for yourself? Be sure to book plenty in advance. This is especially true of accommodation as, during the peak season (i.e. in the summer months), accommodation tends to sell out pretty quickly. Here are some of the best places to stay in Bordeaux (based on web reviews and location):
Yndo Hotel, 108 Rue Abbé de l’Épée, 33000 Bordeaux: Located on the outskirts of the historic city centre, this well-reviewed hotel is a luxurious five-star retreat complete with turrets and all the amenities you would expect from a luxury place to stay. Check prices and availability here.
Villa Reale, 9 Place du Parlement, 33000 Bordeaux: Constructed in the 18th-century, this villa offers several self-catering apartments in the centre of the city. Set amidst a backdrop of five-star style luxury, think of this as your home away from home. Check prices and availability here.
What to wear when exploring Europe
In the summer, you can’t go wrong by pairing a cute midi dress with classic white tennis shoes for a laid-back smart casual look that’s just as chic for walking around a city’s cobbled lanes as it is for wandering coastal paths. I love this dress and have it in several colour ways. In terms of tennis shoes, this is my go-to shoe.
When it comes to winter in Europe, most places (with the exception of a few islands) can get pretty cold and so warm layers is a must. I find that cute ankle boots like these ones are the perfect mix of practical meets cute.
Shoulder seasons (spring and summer) in Europe tend to come with a mix of rainy and sunny days and so, again, layers are a must. Trench coats and sneakers are the best uniform to explore the continent in.
Finally, a cross-body bag like these ones is a must. I personally use a crossbody bag by this brand and love its shape, size, and versatility. As well as being convenient and compact, it’s one of the safest ways to transport your valuables, all the while looking chic. I also recommend bringing along a travel adapter like this one so you can charge all of your electronics during your stay!
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TSM Media loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A fan of all things France related, she runs TSM.com when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She currently lives in Paris. Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.