HOW MANY DAYS IN BORDEAUX IS ENOUGH?
Are you contemplating how many days is enough to truly experience the enchanting charm of Bordeaux? If so, you have arrived at the perfect starting point. Throughout this guide, we will explore the optimal duration for your Bordeaux trip, providing insights into what can be accomplished in two, three, four, and five days.
From immersing yourself in the city’s history and architecture to embarking on wine tastings and day trips to nearby regions, I shall help you craft the perfect itinerary for your time in Bordeaux. So, whether you’re an ardent wine enthusiast, an art aficionado, or simply a traveller seeking to be captivated by the charms of a remarkable city, in this guide you’ll find all the information needed to make your vacation a timeless experience.
My visit to Bordeaux, France
During my visit to Bordeaux, I had the incredible opportunity to immerse myself in the city’s rich history, vibrant culture and renowned wine heritage. With my experiences in Bordeaux and the surrounding areas of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, I am well placed to share first-hand experiences and good reliable information with you.
A comprehensive account of my Bordeaux journey is embedded in various articles (links to these articles are further down this post) along with my recommendations in this article on how many days you need to spend in Bordeaux. I also share my experienced tips, providing you with the confidence to plan your unforgettable adventures in Bordeaux, no matter how many days you decide to spend in this enchanting city.
ABOUT BORDEAUX, FRANCE
Nestled in the picturesque southwestern part of France, Bordeaux entices visitors with its rich heritage, architectural grandeur, and world-class wines. As you step into its well-preserved historic centre, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, you will be mesmerised by the elegant facades, winding cobblestone streets, and an atmosphere that exudes both sophistication and warmth.
While Bordeaux is renowned as a wine lover’s paradise, with its prestigious vineyards and renowned wineries, it offers so much more. The city boasts a vibrant cultural scene, with art galleries, museums, and theaters showcasing a diverse range of artistic expressions. Moreover, Bordeaux’s gastronomy is a delight for the senses, with a delectable fusion of traditional French cuisine and innovative culinary experiences.
So, read on and discover how many days is enough for the enchanting charms of Bordeaux which you’d like to uncover.
HERE’S WHAT IS COVERED IN THIS ARTICLE
- Adding depth to your Visit in Bordeaux;
- The ideal minimum: How many days should you allocate for Bordeaux?
- What to do if you have more or less than three days in Bordeaux;
- Two days in Bordeaux: Making the most of a short visit;
- Is 4 days enough in Bordeaux?
- Is 5 days enough in Bordeaux?
- Enhance your experience in Bordeaux;
- Immerse in Bordeaux’s culinary delights;
- Factors to consider: Determining the ideal duration for your Bordeaux trip.
ADDING DEPTH TO YOUR VISIT IN BORDEAUX
Add depth to your visit in Bordeaux by incorporating a few carefully selected tours into your itinerary. I’ve been on some of these and find them a great way to gain insights, expert guidance, and the opportunity to delve deeper into the city’s rich culture, history, and culinary scene. In addition, transport is included, and I can sit back and enjoy the ride.
The Best Tours to undertake to add depth to your visit when in Bordeaux:
- A day trip visiting the two top appellations, Saint-Emilion & Médoc. This trip includes a guided tour of Saint-Emilion, visits to wineries, wine tastings and lunch.
THE IDEAL MINIMUM: HOW MANY DAYS SHOULD YOU ALLOCATE FOR BORDEAUX?
If you’re wondering about the ideal minimum duration, I’d recommend to plan for at least three days in Bordeaux. While it is possible to experience Bordeaux in a shorter time-frame of two days, know that both of the days will be choc full of activities, leaving very little time for relaxation.
Three days in Bordeaux will provide a more comprehensive experience, allowing you to immerse yourself in the city’s culture, history, and wine heritage. Here’s a breakdown of how you can make the most of your three-day visit to Bordeaux:
This is how your 3 days in Bordeaux may look like
Day 1 of 3 days in Bordeaux
On your first day, focus on discovering the charms of Bordeaux’s historic center.
MORNING: Start your exploration at the iconic Place de la Bourse, where you can admire the impressive water mirror reflecting the stunning architecture. From there, wander through the narrow streets of the Old Town, lined with boutique shops, cafes, and charming squares. Don’t miss a visit to the Bordeaux Cathedral, an architectural masterpiece.
AFTERNOON: In the afternoon, delve into the city’s history at the Musée d’Aquitaine or the Musée des Beaux-Arts, where you can admire a vast collection of art and artifacts.
EVENING: Head to La Brasserie Bordelaise. Located in the heart of Bordeaux, La Brasserie Bordelaise offers a traditional brasserie experience with a menu featuring regional specialties. Try the tender and flavourful entrecôte steak or indulge in their famous cannelés for dessert.
Day 2 of 3 days in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is world-famous for its wine production, so dedicating a day to exploring its wine culture is a must.
MORNING: Start your day with a visit to the Cité du Vin, an interactive museum that showcases the history and diversity of wine. Learn about the winemaking process, enjoy wine tastings, and indulge in panoramic views from the museum’s observation deck. Get your Cité du Vin entrance voucher here.
AFTERNOON: In the afternoon, embark on a wine tour to one of the nearby vineyards. Choose between the esteemed appellations of Saint-Émilion, Médoc, or Pessac-Léognan, where you can visit renowned châteaux, learn about the winemaking techniques, and sample exquisite wines.
Alternatively, embark on a Food & Wine Do Eat Better Tour, Cheese and Wine Tour or a Tour of Boulangeries in Bordeaux. You can also join an immersive city tour by bike or the unique No Diet Club Food Tour.
Day 3 of 3 days in Bordeaux: Day trip to Saint-Émilion
If you have opted for a food walking tour on day two of your three days in Bordeaux, you may want to dedicate day three visiting the esteemed appellations of Saint-Émilion, Médoc, or Pessac-Léognan. You can visit Saint-Émilion and Médoc in one day with this day trip option.
Alternatively, you can opt to take the train from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion and spend time exploring the village at your own pace. The picturesque town of Saint-Émilion, is located just a short distance from Bordeaux. This charming medieval town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a haven for wine enthusiasts.
Explore the cobblestone streets, visit underground cellars, and indulge in wine tastings at local wineries. Take in panoramic views of the vineyards from the bell tower of the Monolithic Church, and savour a leisurely lunch at one of the town’s inviting restaurants.
Return to Bordeaux in the late afternoon or evening to conclude your three-day adventure.
TIP: If you prefer to combine adventure with a winery visit, you could visit Dune du Pilat in Arcachon in the morning and visit the village of Saint-Émilion along with two winery visits in the afternoon.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE MORE OR LESS THAN 3 DAYS IN BORDEAUX
While three days provides a solid introduction to Bordeaux, extending your stay to four or five days allows for a more relaxed and immersive experience. With additional time, you can explore more vineyards, visit the nearby Dune du Pilat, the largest sand dune in Europe, or take a boat trip along the Garonne River. You may also have the opportunity to attend cultural events, such as concerts or exhibitions, depending on the season.
However, if your time is limited and you only have a weekend or a couple of days in the week, it is still possible to visit Bordeaux in two days and have an immersive visit. Take a look at an in-depth two-day itinerary on Bordeaux which I have curated following my visit. I have thrown in a visit to Saint Emilion as well, one that is not usually endeavoured by visitors on a short visit to the city.
Recommended read: A Comprehensive Guide to Making the Most of Two Days in Bordeaux.
TWO DAYS IN BORDEAUX: MAKING THE MOST OF A SHORT VISIT
If you have just two days to spend in Bordeaux, don’t worry! With careful planning, you can still experience the highlights of the city. Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your short visit:
Day 1 of Two days in Bordeaux
Depending on your interests and how much of the city you would like to cover in two days, I suggest the following itinerary in this article and an alternative from my two day guide.
In this article, I suggest that you can begin with a visit to the Water Mirror in central Bordeaux and the historic centre. This is usually the starting point for tour groups and for most visitors to the city.
Alternatively, in my 2-day itinerary guide, I suggest that you begin your day at Les Bassins des Lumières in the north district. By starting from the furthest point, you can walk along the Garonne River, dotted with landmarks. This suggested itinerary involves lots of walking and you cover more ground. You’ll also need the 24H Bordeaux City Pass which includes free use of public transport and free entry to museums and attractions included in the itinerary.
For now, let’s take a look at how your day goes if you start at the Water Mirror.
MORNING: Start your first day by exploring and immersing yourself in the historic center of Bordeaux. Begin at the Place de la Bourse, and make a quick stop at the world’s largest reflecting pool, the Water Mirror. Admire the architectural beauty of this iconic square. Take a stroll along the charming streets of the Old Town, lined with boutique shops and cafes. Don’t miss the Bordeaux Cathedral, a magnificent structure showcasing Gothic architecture.
AFTERNOON: In the afternoon, delve deeper into Bordeaux’s history and culture by visiting the Musée d’Aquitaine or the Musée des Beaux-Arts. These museums house impressive collections of art and artifacts that will enrich your understanding of the region’s heritage.
Day 2 of Two days in Bordeaux
On this day, you can delve into Bordeaux’s wine culture and gastronomy.
MORNING: On the morning of your second day, embark on a half-day trip to the enchanting town of Saint-Émilion. Located just a short distance from Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its vineyards and medieval charm. Explore the town’s narrow streets, visit underground cellars, and enjoy wine tastings at local wineries. Take in panoramic views of the vineyards from the bell tower of the Monolithic Church. Return to Bordeaux in time for lunch to indulge in the city’s gastronomy.
AFTERNOON: Head to Cite du Vin and spend some exploring the magnificent collection and interactive activities. Sample delicious French cuisine at the Belvedere and watch a stunning sunset over Bordeaux.
Alternatively, visit one of Bordeaux’s renowned restaurants or enjoy a leisurely wine and cheese pairing experience. You can also take a leisurely stroll along the Garonne River, enjoying the picturesque views over Pont de Pierre and the vibrant atmosphere of the city.
Although your time is limited, these two days will give you a taste of Bordeaux’s history, culture, and wine heritage. By prioritisng your interests, you can make the most of your time in this captivating city. While there’s always more to explore, this itinerary ensures that you leave Bordeaux with unforgettable memories of its charm and elegance.
IS 4 DAYS ENOUGH IN BORDEAUX?
What to do in Bordeaux for 4 days?
If you find yourself with four days to spend in Bordeaux, you’re in for a treat.
While Bordeaux has a wealth of attractions and experiences to offer, four days can provide a well-rounded and fulfilling visit. Here’s a breakdown of what you can do to make the most of your time in Bordeaux:
Day 1 of 4 days in Bordeaux
On your first day, explore Bordeaux’s historic centre. Immerse yourself in the city’s history and architecture. Begin at the Place de la Bourse, a stunning square overlooking the Garonne River. From there, wander through the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, admiring the beautiful facades and charming squares. Visit the Bordeaux Cathedral and explore the Musée d’Aquitaine or the Musée des Beaux-Arts to gain insights into the region’s rich heritage.
Day 2 of 4 days in Bordeaux: Wine Tasting and Vineyard Visits
Bordeaux is renowned for its exceptional wines, so dedicate a day to exploring its vineyards. Take a wine tour to the nearby regions of Saint-Émilion or Médoc, where you can visit renowned châteaux, learn about the winemaking process, and sample a variety of wines. Indulge in wine tastings, soak up the picturesque vineyard landscapes, and embrace the essence of Bordeaux’s wine culture.
Day 3 of 4 days in Bordeaux: Day Trip to Arcachon and the Dune du Pilat
Venture beyond Bordeaux and spend a day exploring the coastal town of Arcachon. Take a boat ride across the bay, savour fresh seafood at the bustling market, and enjoy the sandy beaches.
Then, make your way to the Dune du Pilat, Europe’s largest sand dune. Climb to the top for breathtaking panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding landscapes. This day trip offers a perfect blend of coastal beauty and natural wonders.
Day 4 of 4 days in Bordeaux: Cultural and Artistic Discoveries
On your final day, delve into Bordeaux’s cultural scene. Visit the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art, known for its thought-provoking exhibitions and innovative artworks. Explore the Musée des Beaux-Arts, where you can admire a vast collection of historical artworks spanning centuries.
Additionally, discover the unique architecture of La Cité Frugès-Le Corbusier, designed by the renowned architect Le Corbusier, and visit the La Base Sous-Marine, a converted submarine base hosting contemporary art exhibitions.
Throughout your four-day visit, indulge in the local gastronomy, savouring Bordeaux’s culinary delights. Sample regional delicacies at traditional restaurants, visit local markets, and indulge in the city’s world-class wines. (More about places to eat a little further down this article).
Don’t forget to leave some time for leisurely walks along the Garonne River, exploring the city’s squares, and simply immersing yourself in the charming atmosphere of Bordeaux.
Four days in Bordeaux allows you to see most of the city has to offer. It provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, experience its history, wine culture, coastal beauty, and artistic treasures.
IS 5 DAYS ENOUGH IN BORDEAUX?
What to do in Bordeaux for 5 days?
With five days in Bordeaux, you have ample time to explore the city’s highlights, immerse yourself in its cultural offerings, and even venture beyond its borders. Here’s a suggested itinerary to make the most of your five days in Bordeaux:
Day 1 of 5 days in Bordeaux:
On your first day, discover Bordeaux’s Historic Centre:
- Visit Place de la Bourse and admire the elegant architecture.
- Explore the picturesque streets of the Old Town, including Rue Sainte-Catherine, a vibrant shopping street.
- Discover Bordeaux Cathedral and climb the Pey-Berland Tower for panoramic views.
- Enjoy a meal at a local restaurant, savouring the city’s culinary delights.
Day 2 of 5 days in Bordeaux
On your second day, indulge in Wine Tasting and Vineyard Excursion:
- Join a wine tour to Saint-Émilion, Médoc, or Pessac-Léognan and visit renowned châteaux.
- Learn about the winemaking process and indulge in tastings of exceptional Bordeaux wines.
- Take in the stunning vineyard landscapes and enjoy a leisurely dinner at a wine bar.
Day 3 of 5 days in Bordeaux
Day 3 is a focus on Cultural Delights and Artistic Treasures:
- Visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts and admire its impressive collection of artworks.
- Explore contemporary exhibits at the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art or the Base Sous-Marine.
- Discover architectural wonders like La Cité Frugès-Le Corbusier and Palais Rohan.
- Attend a performance at the Grand Théâtre to experience Bordeaux’s cultural scene.
On Day 4 of 5 days in Bordeaux
On your fourth day, plan for a Coastal Escape and Arcachon Adventure:
- Take a day trip to Arcachon and enjoy a boat ride to explore the Arcachon Bay.
- Indulge in fresh seafood at local restaurants and relax on the sandy beaches.
- Climb the Dune du Pilat for breathtaking panoramic views of the coast.
- Return to Bordeaux and savour a meal featuring regional delicacies.
Watch this Instagram reel which I posted about my visit to Dune du Pilat, Arcachon.
Day 5 of 5 days in Bordeaux
On the fifth day, go on a day trip to Blaye.
Head to the town of Blaye and take a guided tour of its impressive citadel.
Wander through the charming town and relish a meal highlighting local flavours.
Alternatively, Enjoy your time exploring the city, its surroundings, and the unique atmosphere of Rue Sainte-Catherine, one of the city’s bustling shopping streets. Take your time to soak up the atmosphere, browse boutique shops, and enjoy a delicious meal at a local restaurant.
By following this 5-day itinerary, you’ll have a well-rounded experience of Bordeaux and the surrounding areas. You’ll experience its historic center, wine culture, art scene, coastal beauty, and nearby towns.
When it comes to 5 days in Bordeaux, you have plenty of flexibility. Be sure to adjust the itinerary based on your preferences and interests. Whether you’re sipping Bordeaux wines, exploring cultural landmarks, or embracing the coastal charm, your five days in Bordeaux are sure to be filled with unforgettable experiences.
ENHANCE YOUR EXPERIENCE IN BORDEAUX
As already mentioned, with three days in Bordeaux or more including four or five days visits, you can enhance your experience by venturing beyond Bordeaux with day trip options:
Bordeaux serves as an excellent base for day trips, offering a multitude of options to enhance your experience and discover even more of the area’s beauty. Some enticing day trip options to consider are Saint-Émilion, Arcachon and the Dune du Pilat, Médoc Wine Route, and Blaye and the Citadel.
You already have some ideas about Saint-Émilion, Arcachon and the Dune du Pilat as these have been covered earlier in this post. Here, I’ve included some basic info about the Médoc Wine Route, and Blaye and the Citadel for context.
Médoc Wine Route
If you’re a wine enthusiast eager to explore beyond Bordeaux’s city center, consider embarking on the Médoc Wine Route. This scenic route takes you through some of the most prestigious vineyards in the world, including renowned châteaux such as Margaux, Pauillac, and Saint-Julien. Enjoy tastings of exceptional wines, take guided tours of the vineyards, and gain insights into the wine making process while surrounded by stunning landscapes.
Blaye and the Citadel
Journey to the charming town of Blaye, located on the right bank of the Gironde Estuary. Explore the impressive Blaye Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and take in its fortifications and panoramic views of the estuary. Enjoy a leisurely walk through the town’s narrow streets, discover its historical landmarks, and indulge in a meal at one of the local restaurants, savouring the regional cuisine.
By adding a day trip to your itinerary, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of Bordeaux’s surrounding regions and expand your exploration beyond the city itself. These day trips offer a chance to discover new landscapes, experience different wine appellations, and appreciate the diverse cultural and natural heritage of the area. Each option promises its own unique charm and contributes to a more comprehensive and enriching Bordeaux experience.
IMMERSE IN BORDEAUX’S CULINARY DELIGHTS
Throughout your visit, make sure to fully immerse yourself in Bordeaux’s gastronomic scene, savouring the city’s culinary delights. Here are some specific details and recommendations to help you indulge in the local gastronomy:
Sample Regional Delicacies
Start your culinary adventure by trying Bordeaux’s famous cannelés, small pastries with a caramelized crust and a soft custard-like center. They can be found in various patisseries throughout the city.
Taste local charcuterie such as jambon de Bayonne (Bayonne ham), saucisson (dry-cured sausage), and pâté.
Don’t miss out on enjoying fresh oysters from the nearby Arcachon Bay. Visit the city’s seafood markets or dine at oyster bars for a true taste of the sea.
Le Gabriel: Experience fine dining at this Michelin-starred restaurant, offering a refined menu that showcases the best of Bordeaux’s cuisine using locally sourced ingredients.
La Tupina: Known for its rustic charm, La Tupina serves traditional Gascon cuisine, including hearty dishes like confit de canard (duck confit) and entrecôte steak cooked over an open fire.
Le Clémenceau: This cozy restaurant is a new seafood brasserie and serves refined cuisine.
We dined at Le Clémenceau one evening and we spent hours, thoroughly enjoying our three-course meal and the recommended wine and dishes. The food was good and well presented. We had a seafood platter as a starter, Entrecote Bordelaise and Scallop Risotto for mains along with dark chocolate ice cream for dessert.
Visit Local Markets
Marché des Capucins: Explore Bordeaux’s largest food market, where you’ll find a vibrant array of fresh produce, cheeses, meats, seafood, and other regional specialties. Engage with local vendors, sample their products, and soak up the lively atmosphere.
Visit one of Bordeaux’s many wine bars and indulge in a tasting of the city’s world-class wines.
Le Bar à Vin, located on the ground floor of Bordeaux’s 18th century presently Maison du Vin de Bordeaux. The wine bar is a major chic place in town and offers an extensive selection of wines from the region.
A guided wine tour to one of the nearby vineyards, such as Saint-Émilion or Médoc, is always a winner. You can sample exceptional Bordeaux wines directly from the source and learn about the wine making process.
Remember to pace yourself and savour each culinary experience. Bordeaux’s gastronomy is a true delight, with a diverse range of flavours and influences.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER: DETERMINING THE IDEAL DURATION FOR YOUR BORDEAUX TRIP
As you know, when planning your trip to Bordeaux, one of the crucial decisions to make is determining the ideal duration for your stay. The length of your visit can greatly impact your experience and the depth to which you can explore this enchanting city and its surroundings.
Having read the various suggested itineraries above, you now have a firm idea of what you may want to see, do and experience during your visit. You may also add a day trip to your itinerary.
While keeping all of the above suggestions in mind, to help you make an informed decision, here are some key factors to consider when determining the duration of your Bordeaux trip:
Your Interests and Preferences
Consider what aspects of Bordeaux you wish to explore and how deeply you want to immerse yourself in its offerings. Are you primarily interested in wine tasting and vineyard visits? Do you want to delve into the city’s history and cultural attractions? Identifying your priorities will help you allocate the right amount of time to each activity.
Bordeaux is synonymous with world-class wines, and if you are passionate about oenology, you may want to allocate more time to wine-related experiences. Visiting vineyards, attending tastings, and exploring wine museums can be enriching experiences that require additional days in your itinerary.
Day Trips and Surrounding Regions
Bordeaux serves as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding regions. Consider whether you would like to venture beyond the city and discover nearby attractions such as the charming town of Saint-Émilion or the beautiful beaches along the Atlantic coast. Day trips can add an extra dimension to your Bordeaux experience, but they will require additional time in your schedule.
Pace of Travel
Think about your preferred travel pace. Are you the type of traveller who likes to take things slowly and savour each moment, or do you prefer a more fast-paced and efficient approach? This will help determine whether you want to spend more or fewer days in Bordeaux to strike the right balance between exploration and relaxation.
Season and Weather
Consider the time of year you plan to visit Bordeaux and the impact it may have on your activities. The summer months tend to be busier and offer longer daylight hours, while the shoulder seasons can provide a more tranquil atmosphere and potentially better deals on accommodations. Factoring in the weather and seasonal variations will help you make the most of your time in Bordeaux.
Recommended read: An In-depth Guide to the Best Time to Visit Bordeaux.
Budget and Time Constraints
Your budget and time availability will also influence the duration of your trip. Assess how many days you can realistically allocate to your Bordeaux visit within your budget and time constraints. Remember to book your tours in advance to avoid last-minute price hikes. Factor-in travel time to and from the city as well.
By carefully considering these factors, you can determine the ideal duration for your Bordeaux trip. Whether you have a few days or a week to spare, Bordeaux offers a range of experiences that can be tailored to your preferences.
RELATED ARTICLES TO READ BEFORE YOU GO TO BORDEAUX
Read the following essential guides that uncover the city’s hidden gems, offer insider tips, and provide valuable insights to ensure you make the most of your visit. From must-visit attractions to off-the-beat delights, these articles will help you plan and navigate Bordeaux with confidence. Allowing you to create unforgettable memories in this enchanting French destination.
In sum, I sincerely hope that this article has offered you good ideas and an effective overview of what you can do in Bordeaux. How many days is enough in Bordeaux depends on your personal preferences, available time, and desired level of exploration.
A minimum of two days is doable. Three days allows for an experience of the city’s highlights. Allocating four to five days provides a more comprehensive and immersive experience. This time-frame allows you to delve into Bordeaux’s historic center, indulge in its gastronomy, embark on wine tours, discover nearby towns, and explore its cultural and artistic treasures.
Ultimately, the more time you can allocate, the deeper your connection to Bordeaux’s charm. With more time, you can fully appreciate the region’s rich heritage, delightful wines, and enchanting atmosphere. Plan accordingly and prepare for an unforgettable journey in Bordeaux.
To plan and create a travel itinerary that works for you, head to this page about tips for seamless travel.
Have a great time exploring Bordeaux, xx