One Day in Bordeaux Itinerary La Cité du Vin

The Perfect One Day in Bordeaux Itinerary: How to See Bordeaux in a Day

Are you planning a road trip in France and wondering how to spend one day in Bordeaux and if visiting Bordeaux, France is worth it? 

This Bordeaux itinerary gives you a little bit of everything – wine, culture, history, architecture. While we actually spent 2 days in Bordeaux, here’s how we would see Bordeaux in a day based on our experience.

Get to know the best of what this gorgeous French city has to offer. Here’s how to plan a perfect 1 day in Bordeaux, France including the best things to do, restaurants you will love, and where to stay for all budgets.

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Planning your trip to Bordeaux last minute? Here are the tours and hotels we recommend. The Best Luxury & Boutique Hotels in Bordeaux and the Most Beautiful Places in France are also helpful in planning a trip to Bordeaux.

One Day in Bordeaux France

Is Bordeaux Worth Visiting?

Absolutely, Bordeaux is a dynamic city in Southern France that is more than worth the visit, even if you are not interested in wine. Bordeaux offers a perfect blend of history, culture, gastronomy, and vibrant energy – even with just one day in Bordeaux.

From its cobblestone streets to landmarks like the Cathédrale Saint-André and the Place de la Bourse, there are many exciting things to do in Bordeaux.

Add to that the French markets, picnics in the park, cycling through town, and exquisite Bordeaux wine tours, and you’ll quickly fall for Bordeaux.

Is One Day in Bordeaux Enough Time?

If you visit Bordeaux for one day, you’ll have enough time to see all the main sights. Granted it will be a busy day, but if you can also stay overnight, it allows you to take advantage of a day trip and Bordeaux at night.

We arrived late afternoon and stayed 2 nights in Bordeaux. It allowed us to have the first evening, one full day of sightseeing with an afternoon trip to Saint-Émilion, and the morning of the next day. In total, it was less than 48 hours.

This Bordeaux itinerary will work for one or two days in Bordeaux. If you can squeeze in a second day, you’ll be able to see the city at a more leisurely pace.

The Perfect One Day in Bordeaux Itinerary

Grosse Cloche One Day in Bordeaux

Enter under the Grosse Cloche & Stroll Through the Historic City Center

Start your 1-day Bordeaux itinerary by walking through the Grosse Cloche, the 15th-century arched gate and bell tower that takes you into the Old City. It served as both a defensive fort during the Middle Ages and as a prison for juveniles.

Due to its old age, the 18th-century bell is only rung five times a year. You can hear the bell on New Year’s Day, Victory in Europe Day in May, Bastille Day on July 14th, Liberation of Bordeaux on August 28th, and Armistice Day on November 11th.

After you walk under the Gross Cloche, you will arrive at one of the best streets of Bordeaux. The cobblestoned Rue Saint James is full of boutique shops, restaurants, and wine bars. It’s a great place to quickly shop with just one day in Bordeaux.

Stop by the Capucins Market

As you meander through the historic center, pause at the Capucins Market. This amazing local market is one of the best things to do in Bordeaux, France.

Here you can shop for local cheeses, seasonal produce, Bordeaux wine, fresh coffee, and light bites. Many of which make for perfect souvenirs.

Indulge in whatever you’re into while at the market. They have charcuterie plates with cured meats and artisan cheeses, fresh oysters and mussels, and even a Spanish tortilla bar.

Try a Canelé

When you’re in Bordeaux, trying a canelé is a must. These French pastries resemble miniature bundt cakes flavored with rum and vanilla.

You’ll see these pastries all over but where you get one matters. La Toque Cuivree is a popular choice with multiple locations across Bordeaux. For a vegan version, Cassonade is excellent.

I tried them in Saint Émilion, but the bakery was a bit disappointing. Stick to the best spots in Bordeaux for a delicious canelé experience.

Cathedrale Saint Andre Bordeaux
Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux

Visit Cathédrale Saint-André de Bordeaux

When you’ve got just one day or a weekend in Bordeaux, you’ll have to stop by Cathédrale Saint-André. This old-world beauty stands tall and is full of all the intricate details Gothic architecture is known for.

And since you’re there, climb up Pey Berland Tower for some of the best views of Bordeaux. It’s well worth the €6 entry fee (free for anyone under 18).

Yes, it’s a bit of a climb with 233 steps, but the view from the second terrace is worth it. You’ll see Bordeaux in a whole new light. Just take your time, enjoy it, and watch the view unravel.

Lunch at Les Halles de Bacalan

The French prioritize buying fresh from local markets. That’s why you’ll find so many markets in this region. Les Halles de Bacalan is unique for its selection of gourmet and upscale bites.

There are also cooking classes, tapas nights, kids activities, concerts, and other local gatherings.

Since it’s right across the street from La Cité du Vin, it’s a perfect place to pick up lunch for a picnic in Bordeaux or enjoy the open-air seating onsite.

2 Days in Bordeaux La Cité du Vin
Stop at the wine shop after the tour at La Cité du Vin to buy a bottle or enjoy the beautiful display.

Afternoon: Visit La Cité du Vin or Take a Wine Tour to Saint-Émilion

After lunch, dive into the Bordeaux wine scene. Most likely you will have to choose between the following two options if you are only planning to be in Bordeaux for a day.

La Cité du Vin Museum

La Cité du Vin Museum is an excellent place to sample Bordeaux wine and learn its history. The museum is a wealth of information filled with immersive and interactive displays.

On average, visitors should plan to spend approximately 2 to 3 hours exploring the museum. If you plan to participate in wine-tasting sessions or workshops, you should allocate additional time.

I highly recommend buying the Cité du Vin skip-the-line entrance ticket with wine tasting, especially during the high season.

Afternoon Saint-Émilion Wine Tasting Trip

Touring the picturesque Saint-Émilion will put you at the heart of some of France’s best wines, particularly Merlot

During the Afternoon Saint-Émilion Wine Tasting Trip that we took, we were driven through beautiful vineyards and scenery before arriving at the town of Saint-Émilion – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Then we went to three château that felt so quintessentially French. We tried several different wines while learning more about the Bordeaux wine process and the history of the region. It was a blast!

Since we spent 2 days in Bordeaux, we opted for the afternoon tour of Saint-Émilion on our full day in Bordeaux and La Cité du Vin the following morning.

If you only have one day in Bordeaux, you will have to choose. Pick Saint-Émilion if you want to see the beautiful countryside and La Cité du Vin if you want to spend most of your time in the city.

On both tours, you will learn about French wine regions, appellations, terroir, grape varieties, wine production, tasting techniques, wine and food pairing, and more.

Bordeaux Itinerary Miroir dEau
The Miroir d’Eau is a great place to take the kids so they can jump around in the water and enjoy the reflections.

Visit Place de la Bourse and the Miroir d’Eau

The Miroir d’Eau and Place de la Bourse form a stunning ensemble in the heart of Bordeaux, France. Place de la Bourse, an iconic square, showcases elegant 18th-century architecture.

Adjacent lies the Miroir d’Eau, a contemporary marvel inaugurated in 2006. This water mirror is the largest reflecting pool in the world at 37,100 square feet (3,450 sq. meters). The view it creates is absolutely stunning.

The Miroir d’Eau reflects the architectural splendor of the square and, from an artistic perspective, offers an interplay of water and light.

From a purely entertaining perspective and one of the best free things to do in Bordeaux with kids, you can play in the misting water, while enjoying the breathtaking scenery along the Garonne River.

It’s fun to watch everyone enjoying this interactive experience and capture beautiful photos of Bordeaux.

Picnic in the Park Bordeaux France Jardin des Lumières
When it’s warm out picnickers sit in between the long flower beds of Jardin des Lumières and enjoy the early evening.

Picnic in the park at Jardin des Lumières

If you stocked up on goodies at some of the markets in Bordeaux already, a picnic at Jardin des Lumières is the perfect spot to enjoy a warm evening.

Locals set blankets between the long flower beds and enjoy the evening with wine, cheese, baguettes, and the company of friends.

Don’t forget a wine opener! Luckily many wine shops will happily uncork the bottle for you if you don’t have one.

Plus, it’s right off Place de la Bourse and overlooks the Garonne River. It’s a treat!

Dinner in Place Fernand Lafargue
Eat with the locals in Place Fernand Lafargue at Kokomo for delicious burgers or Umami Ramen for Asian fare.

Dinner in Place Fernand Lafargue

For dinner, consider heading to Place Fernand Lafargue. This lively square is home to some of the best options when it comes to where to eat in Bordeaux.

During our 2 days in Bordeaux, we dined at Kokomo the first night, a super popular restaurant known for its oversized, artisan burgers. It was delicious and lived up to the hype.

The second night, we went to Umami Ramen. It’s very cute with a Tokyo market feel. If you’re into Japanese stir fry, ramen, and gyozas, you’ll love it. They have great vegan options and mochi for dessert.

Walk Around Bordeaux at Night

As your day trip to Bordeaux reaches sunset, take some time to wander through Bordeaux at night.

Place des Quinconces is a grand and historic square with a Ferris wheel, offering panoramic views of Bordeaux and the Garonne River.

The Ferris wheel looks beautiful lit up at night, framed by two rostral columns that welcomed sailors, and commemorated maritime victories.

At the center of the square rises the imposing Monument aux Girondins, a tribute to political martyrs. The monument features a soaring 50-meter-high white marble column adorned with intricate statues and allegorical figures.

From Place des Quinconces, walk towards Old Bordeaux for the next stop, and don’t forget to check out Place de la Bourse when it is all lit up.

Bordeaux National Opera
Take a tour of the National Opera by day or catch a performance at night.

See a show at the National Opera (Grand Theater) 

Make the most of your time in Bordeaux France by finishing off the night with a show at the National Opera in the 18th-century Grand Theater. This is a very timeless and memorable way to get the most out of this beautiful city.

Before you go, check the schedule to catch a show that aligns with your interests. They put on a bit of everything, from ballet and opera to jazz and symphony orchestras.

Consider booking your tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons, as popular shows can sell out quickly.

What to do with More than One Day in Bordeaux

Bordeaux Day Trip to Saint-Emilion
DRESS: Amazon | HAT: from a tour but this packable straw hat from Amazon is the best.

Saint-Émilion Guided Wine Tasting Tour From Bordeaux

Embark on a half-day Saint-Émilion Wine Tour and indulge in the exquisite world of Bordeaux’s renowned vineyards. 

During the tour we booked, we drove through the French countryside to the picturesque medieval village of Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with cobblestone streets and historic architecture. 

Our expert tour guide, who has a college degree in Viticulture, took us on a walking tour through the ultra-charming town before we explored three prestigious châteaux and boutique wineries.

We sampled several world-class wines, including Merlots and Cabernet Francs, while our guide told us more about the rich viticultural history of the region, the winemaking process, wine pairing, and the unique terroir that shapes each vintage.

Additionally, we met a winemaker who gave us a deeper appreciation for Bordeaux’s winemaking traditions, making it a memorable and wonderful afternoon!

Book Your Saint-Émilion Tour in advance!

Garonne River Cruise One Day in Bordeaux
Take a sunset cruise on the River Garonne for a different vantage point of the city.

River Garonne Cruise with Glass of Wine

The River Garonne winds from the Spanish Pyrenees through to the French port of Bordeaux. Booking a River Garonne Cruise is one of the best things to do during a weekend trip to Bordeaux.

If you book this tour, you’ll get to cruise around the river to see the city from a new perspective and get a complimentary glass of wine and a canelé to go with it.

Expect to see the Gothic cathedral, the scenic river banks, and numerous 18th and 19th-century mansions. If you’re seeing Bordeaux in 2 days, this is a beautiful addition to your itinerary!

Best Luxury Boutique Hotels in Bordeaux France
Stay in central Bordeaux or choose a luxury hotel in the country.

Where to Stay in Bordeaux for One Day or Two

We recommend staying somewhere in the city center to make the most of a Bordeaux 1 Day itinerary. Here are some options for the best places to stay in Bordeaux, France.

    • Yndo Hôtel (9.2) is nestled in the heart of the historic district. It is the most charming boutique hotel in Bordeaux in a 19th-century mansion with impeccable decor.
    • InterContinental Bordeaux Le Grand Hotel (8.6) is a gorgeous luxury hotel (palace, if you will) that is located at the heart of the city with a fantastic rooftop bar and a hammam. If you want to splurge, this is a great pick.
    • MEININGER Hotel Bordeaux Gare Saint-Jean (8.5) – we stayed in this hotel, and while it’s a budget accommodation, it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Near the train station, it’s a 20-minute walk to the city center or there’s a tram. The modern and spacious rooms can accommodate up to 6 people – perfect for families.

If you want a stay in a luxury boutique hotel in Bordeaux, we’ve rounded up the 12 best luxury accommodation options in Bordeaux.

How to Get Around in Bordeaux
Bikes are the most popular way to get around the center of Bordeaux.

How to Get to Bordeaux & How to Get Around Bordeaux

  • Bordeaux Airport: If you’re flying in, Bordeaux Airport is the gateway. It’s well-connected with various international and domestic flights.
  • Train from Paris: If you’re going from Paris to Bordeaux, the high-speed train (TGV) makes the journey comfortable and offers scenic views along the way.
  • Rental Car: A road trip in France is the best and there are a lot of cool places to visit around Bordeaux if you have a car. In Bordeaux parking is a pain and expensive. There are parking lots around the city with signs telling you the amount of spaces. It’s best to park your car somewhere and get around the city on foot, by bike, or public transportation.
  • Walk: Bordeaux is a city that rewards exploration on foot. The historic center is very pedestrian-friendly, so you can easily meander through its charming streets and get to know Bordeaux more intimately.
  • Bike: This is the most popular way to get around the city. You can also take a Bordeaux Historic Center & Chartrons District Bicycle Tour for a fun way to explore what to do in Bordeaux for a day.
  • Public transit: Bordeaux has an efficient public transit system with both buses and trams. The network covers the city and its outskirts.

What to Pack For A Trip to France

Before you visit France, there are a few items that you don’t want to miss. With France being so fashion-forward, we usually take it up a notch, but you also need to remember that you’ll be walking on cobblestone streets and the weather can be HOT!

  • A cute dress – people are stylish in Bordeaux and there are lots of dresses. It also works well when the weather is hot.
  • Comfy walking shoes – sneakers are the best shoes for cobblestones. Everyone in Europe wears them.
  • A packable hat is very useful because there are many spots where you are in direct sun.
  • Use an anti-theft Crossbody bag or anti-theft backpack. Bordeaux is relatively safe but be wary of pickpockets.
  • Travel Adapter – this universal adapter works in 150 countries including France

Final Thoughts About What to Do in Bordeaux For a Day

This French city is compact enough that you can get a lot done in just 24 hours in Bordeaux. Prioritize walking from place to place and embracing cultural experiences like picnics by the River Garonne and enjoying a glass of Bordeaux wine (or two).

Enjoy your weekend in Bordeaux!

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2 Days in Bordeaux France Itinerary

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