Best Things to Do in Bordeaux

Bordeaux stands out for its mix of medieval and modern cultures and its breathtaking cityscape. You will love its gastronomy and vibrant nightlife.

Andressa García

Andressa García

12 min read

Best Things to Do in Bordeaux

Vista de Burdeos |©Vince Gx

For starters, there are plenty of museums to explore, such as the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum des Beaux Arts and the Museum of Natural History. That's why in this article I will show you some of the best things to see and do in Bordeaux.

There are also plenty of restaurants and bars you can visit if you want to try French food and drinks. If you are a sports lover, you can visit the Bordeaux Municipal Stadium, which hosts soccer matches and other sporting events.

1. Take a trip to castles and wine tasting in Medoc or St-Emilion

St Emilion|©TM Photography
St Emilion|©TM Photography

During your tour of Bordeaux, you can spend an afternoon tasting in the French countryside in Saint-Émilion or Médoc, one of the two famous wine regions, amidst a must-do activity to do if you visit the city, which is none other than one of the best wine tours in Bordeaux.

On the half-day tour you will be able to visit two impressive châteaux and taste at least four of the local wines, French cheese and bacon on freshly baked bread. At the end of the tour you will have a short lesson where you will learn some wine tasting tips from an expert.

Details of interest

  • Price: This experience has an approximate cost of 110 euros per person.
  • Time: It will take you about 5 hours and 30 minutes to complete the experience.
  • How to get there: You will get to the meeting point which will be the Quinconces Square, and from there you will get into the car in which you will do the whole tour. It is important to be there at least ten minutes before the tour starts.

Book a tour to Saint Émilion

2. Tour the Saint Pierre district

Place Saint-Pierre|©Hans Nerstu
Place Saint-Pierre|©Hans Nerstu

The Saint-Pierre district is the historic center of Bordeaux, so it is precisely in this place that you should start touring the city of Bordeaux. You will love to get lost in the thousands of cobblestone streets, to discover the true essence of the city.

In one of these streets you will have the opportunity to meet medieval jewels, such as the Grosse Cloche, an ancient bell tower that stands out as one of the most beautiful in France. You can also look and meet some craft stalls and restaurants ideal for lunch.

You can stroll through the historic center at any time of the day, but if you go in the evening**, you will be delighted to see how the living stone frames the terraces of cafes, restaurants** and several of the bars where the night begins. In these restaurants and bars you will be delighted to learn about culinary traditions from around the world.

On the other hand, if you stroll around San Pedro during the day, it will be a good plan to take a walk to explore the stores, eat an ice cream or take pictures of every corner of the city. Many of the best full-day excursions from Bordeaux depart from St. Pierre.

Details of interest

  • Price: You have the option of doing a self-guided tour for free, or you can do a paid tour which can cost around 50 euros per person.
  • Hours: You can visit the Saint Pierre neighborhood both at night and during the day, so you can have a different tour each time.
  • How to get there: To get to the Saint Pierre neighborhood you can do it by private car or even walking, to visit each of its spaces comfortably.

Book a private tour

3. Visit the Saint-André Cathedral

Bordeaux - Saint-André Cathedral|©Falupe Viaggiatore non per caso
Bordeaux - Saint-André Cathedral|©Falupe Viaggiatore non per caso

The Saint-André Cathedral is perhaps one of the most important historical sites in Bordeaux. It is a Gothic style church that has been declared a World Heritage Site and is part of the Way of St. James. It is very special thanks to its unexpected appeal and incongruous facade, as well as its free-standing bell tower.

A devastating fire in the 19th century destroyed much of the church, so a great effort has been made to rebuild it. One of its doors, precisely the one on the north façade, is the closest to the French Gothic style of the 13th century. After the restoration, the cathedral returned to its original appearance.

To visit it you will have to go to the Place Peberin, which is opposite the Palais Rohan, where the town hall is also located. What you will find most interesting about this St. Andrew's Cathedral is that it marks the border between the old town and the modern city of Bordeaux.

If you want to visit the free-standing bell tower, you will have to keep in mind that the visit is a bit demanding, since you will have to climb about 229 steps to reach the top, about 50 meters approximately. From there you will be fascinated by the extraordinary view of the city and its ruins, worthy to include in your tour of Bordeaux in one day.

Details of interest

  • Price: To enter the Cathedral you will not have to pay anything because the entrance is free.
  • Opening hours: The cathedral is open between 14:00 and 19:00 on Mondays. On Tuesdays and from Thursday to Saturday it opens between 10:00 and 12:00. It is also open from 14:00 to 18:00 on Sundays.
  • How to get there: You can get there by private car, using public transport or on foot to Place Pey Berland.

Book a bike tour

4. Take pictures of the Water Mirror

Miroir d'eau|©Gérard
Miroir d'eau|©Gérard

Not in vain the "Miroir d'eau" can easily be the most photographed place in Bordeaux, since it is an esplanade flooded with about two centimeters of water that recreates a mirror effect. It is undoubtedly one of those places you have to go if you visit Bordeaux with children, because they are the ones who most enjoy playing on the esplanade.

This place is a good option to include among the best things to see and do in Bordeaux in July, a month that stands out for its hot summer weather, a season in which you will love to take refreshing walks with your feet in the water of the esplanade. It is located right in front of the elegant Palacio de la Bolsa.

If there is something to highlight about this Water Mirror, it is that it is one of the most emblematic works of French architecture of the eighteenth century, it is also considered Contemporary World Heritage. You have to take beautiful pictures of this place.

Details of interest

  • Price: You don't have to pay anything to visit the site.
  • Schedule: You can go at any time of the day, although it is better to do it in the afternoon, when the sun is already setting, because the landscape becomes much more beautiful.
  • How to get there: To get to this place you have to go to the Palacio de la Bolsa and to get there is very simple, you can do it on foot or using public transport. You can also go by private car.

Book a guided tour of Bordeaux

5. Cross the Stone Bridge

Le Pont de Pierre, Bordeaux|©Dan
Le Pont de Pierre, Bordeaux|©Dan

One of the tourist attractions in Bordeaux that you cannot miss is the famous stone bridge or pont du pierre. This bridge crosses the famous Jarun river and is the only way for locals and tourists to admire the river and its landscape. You can cross it by car, streetcar, on foot or by bicycle.

It is definitely a must to include in any Bordeaux itinerary in 2 days or less, because it is worth going to enjoy the most beautiful sunset in the city from the bridge. I recommend this place because in a matter of minutes you will be able to take some of the most beautiful panoramic views of the city.

Besides having a long history, since its construction began in 1810 by order of Napoleon I, it is also a structure full of curious stories. For example, the 17 arches of the bridge correspond in number to the number of letters of Napoleon Bonaparte.

It was the first bridge to be built and has since become one of the most prominent symbols of the city.

Details of interest

  • Price: You don't have to pay anything to visit the bridge and cross it, so it's a good plan if you are on a budget in the city.
  • Hours: You can get to this place at any time of the day.
  • How to get there: To get to the Stone Bridge, you will have to go by private car, public transport or walking.

Book a sidecar tour

6. Tour the Place de la Bourse

Place de la Bourse|©Txaro Franco
Place de la Bourse|©Txaro Franco

Whether you choose to visit Bordeaux in 3 days, two or less, La Bourse should always be at the top of your list of places to see in the city. It is a classic 18th century structure that will definitely not leave you indifferent. It was built between 1730 and 1775, thanks to the creativity of Anges Jacques Gabriel and served as a first breach for the medieval walls in Bordeaux.

The square was originally expected to function to house an equestrian statue to honor Louis XV, one of the most famous kings of France, but the French Revolution destroyed it. A few years later, in 1749, the Place de la Bourse was finally inaugurated, and since then it has become one of the symbols of prosperity and modernity for Bordeaux.

Details of interest

  • Price: Visiting the Place de la Bourse is free so it is one of those places you can include in your visit if you are traveling on a budget.
  • Hours: You can visit the Place de la Bourse at any time of the day, because at every moment you will find a different landscape.
  • How to get there: To get to the Plaza de la Bolsa you will have to do it by car or public transportation, although you can also walk there if you are staying near it.

Book your cruise with brunch

7. Learn about wine at the Wine & Business Museum

Architecture in Bordeaux|© Aureli Serrat
Architecture in Bordeaux|© Aureli Serrat

If there is one place you can't miss in Bordeaux, it is the Wine and Business Museum, founded in a warehouse, which gives you the opportunity to scrutinize the history of wine in Bordeaux. During the tour of the museum you will be able to know different relevant features about the practice of wine in the city.

You will also have the opportunity to learn about the history of many winemaking families in the region, the classification of the wine factories, and above all you will learn about the importance of the port's role in the city. Inside the Bordeaux Museum of Commerce and Wine you will also learn about the great wine merchants and their history in the city.

You will be able to see a wide range of illustrative images, while learning more about wine preservation. You will also taste products from Bordeaux's vineyards. It is a good plan to include among the things to see and do in Bordeaux in May, when it is not yet summer season, to join the wine route in the city.

Details of interest

  • Price: To enter the museum and enjoy the visit and tastings, you will have to pay around 7 to 8 euros per person.
  • Hours: You can visit the museum from Tuesday to Friday between 9:30 am and 1:30 pm, as well as between 5:00 pm and 8:30 pm. On Saturdays it is open from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 17:00 to 20:30; while on Sundays it is open in the morning between 10:00 and 14:00.
  • How to get there: It is located in the Royal Louis XV Arcade building, so you can get there in any way: on foot if you are near the place, by private car or using public transport.

Buy tickets for the Museum of Wine and Commerce

8. Watch an interesting movie at the Utopia Cinema

Ciné Utopia|©Europa Cinemas
Ciné Utopia|©Europa Cinemas

Believe it or not, one of the best things to do in Bordeaux in October, when autumn sets in and the cold starts to set in, is to check out the Utopia Cinema, which is far from being like other cinemas. It is a movie theater located in a former 15th century church.

The place is classified as an independent cinema and it is amazing because it offers a diverse program, so if you are a person who loves interesting and socially relevant topics, this is your place. In this cinema you will be able to see the screening of movies from small independent producers and distributors, as well as you will be able to see movies with enough budget.

If you are one of those who like to give your opinion about everything you have seen on screen, you will surely love Utopia Cinema because it is a participatory type of cinema, where you can give your opinion and discuss about the topic you have just seen. Utopia is considered the most international cinema in the city, because the projection of foreign films is in their original language and with subtitles.

Interesting details

  • Price: The ticket price is quite moderate compared to the normal cinema. You can pay between 3 and 4 euros approximately per ticket.
  • Schedule: The screenings usually take place during the night, so you will have to look at the billboard before entering.
  • How to get there: The cinema is located at 5 place Camille Jullian, which you can reach by car or by public transport, which is generally the best option in the city.

9. Visit the Grand Théâtre and Place de la Comedie

Place de la Comédie|©Guy Rougier
Place de la Comédie|©Guy Rougier

A construction dating from 1780, this theater is declared a French historical monument. It serves as the headquarters of the National Opera and Ballet of Bordeaux, and naturally, it is also the place where the best shows are projected. It is located in the Place de la Comedie, which is also one of the most influential places in the city.

In the whole complex there is a specific area that will surely catch your attention and it is the dressing rooms of the Bordeaux Opera Company. You will be impressed because many of them are still original. If you enter the place on a guided tour you will see how the stone is meticulously carved and impressive details in the middle of a space that is very similar to the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles.

Almost all the enclosure is structured mainly by pieces of wood, which are key to achieve excellent acoustics. Overall the place will leave you wanting to take lots of pictures and appreciate the incredible architecture. If you include this visit on your list of things to see and do in Bordeaux in June, you can probably catch a couple of shows.

Details of interest

  • Price: To get in to see this place, you will have to do so with a guided tour which can be priced around 6 euros per ticket. However, children and young people under the age of 18 get in for free.
  • Hours: You can visit the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux from Thursday to Saturday between 13:00 and 18:30.
  • How to get there: The Grand Théâtre is located in the Place de la Comédie in Bordeaux, so you can access it on foot if you are nearby, by private car and park nearby; or you can go by public transport.

10. Admiring the Great Bell of Bordeaux

Grosse Cloche and l'église Saint Eloi|©Bernard Blanc
Grosse Cloche and l'église Saint Eloi|©Bernard Blanc

The Grosse Cloche, also known as Porte Saint-Eloi, served as one of the main gates of the wall after the expansion of the city of Bordeaux. This huge building in front of the Church of Sant'Eloi will catch your attention, because it is located on the route to Santiago de Compostela.

It is a 13th century town hall bell tower, which over time and thanks to its strategic location, has become the voice of Bordeaux, both to announce joy and to bring sadness through its sound.

Today the bell tower rings six times a year to commemorate important celebrations: January 1 for New Year's Day, May 1 for Labor Day, May 8 for Victory Day 1945, July 14 for France Day, August 28 to commemorate the liberation of Bordeaux from German occupation, and November 11 for Armistice Day 1918.

The bell also rings every first Sunday of the month at 12:00. A good way to tour this place is by boarding a panoramic bus from which you can admire the tower while listening to a 70-minute audio guide in which you will not only learn interesting details about the bell tower, but also about other monuments relevant to Bordeaux.

Interesting details

  • Price: You don't need to pay anything to admire the bell tower from the outside. However, a visit inside can cost about 5 euros per person.
  • Hours: You can take a guided tour of the tower between March and May and from October to November between 14:00 and 17:00 on Saturdays only. From June to September you can sign up for a guided tour every day between 13:00 and 19:00, with entrance every 45 minutes. If you want to visit it on your own, you can go at the same times, only on your own.
  • How to get there: To visit the Great Bell you can do it by private car, public transport or on foot, taking into account that it is located in the heart of the city of Bordeaux, exactly at 45 Rue Saint-James, between rue Saint James and rue de Guienne.

Buy the Bordeaux City Pass