Navigating Marseille, one of France’s populous cities, is relatively straightforward. The public transportation system, less intricate than Paris’s, comprises efficient and reliable metro, tram, and bus lines.
The metro connects key tourist attractions and vibrant neighborhoods, while the more extensive tram system provides a scenic way to explore the city. The bus system is useful for day trips beyond the city center, and a ferry boat offers a unique way to traverse the Old Port.
Tickets are interchangeable across the metro, tram, and bus, and can be purchased from various outlets across the city. Despite its size, Marseille is also walkable, especially in the city center and Vieux Port area.
Here’s our guide to getting around Marseille.
How to take the metro in Marseille
The Marseille Metro is an excellent way to travel between tourist attractions, shopping areas, and vibrant neighborhoods. With only two lines, it connects the city center, the Vieux Port (Old Port), Notre Dame du Mont Basilica, the Canebière shopping district, and the Prado beaches district. Use either line to explore the city center and enjoy an afternoon in the sun.
Hours: Daily, 5 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Fares: Metro tickets can be used on buses and trams, with prices varying depending on the purchase method and number of trips. Transfers within an hour are free.
Routes: Line 1 serves 18 stations, including the Vieux Port, Marseille Saint-Charles train station, Canebière shopping district, and Cinq Avenues district. Line 2 serves 12 stations, including Rond Pont du Prado, Notre Dame du Mont, Cours Julien district, and the Noailles stop.
Guide to Marseille’s tram system
Marseille’s tram system is more extensive than the subway and offers a good way to see the city. Three tram lines (T1, T2, and T3) operate daily from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Line T2 is best for popular attractions such as the Old Port, Canebière shopping district, Cinq Avenues (museum district), and Joliette.
Safety and Accessibility: Be cautious around trams and tracks. All trams and most buses are wheelchair accessible.
What about buses?
While not always necessary, Marseille’s bus system may be useful for day trips beyond the Metro and tram system, such as to beaches or the Calanques National Park. Over 100 bus lines, including night services, are available. Check the Marseille Transport Authority (RTM) website for information.
Marseille Ferry Boat
The Ferry Boat is a fun, inexpensive way to cross the Old Port, operated by the RTM.
Ticket Purchasing and Usage
Ticket machines are available at most metro and tram stations, while bus tickets can be bought onboard. Tickets are also sold at tourist information offices, train stations, and tabacs. Always validate your ticket before each ride, and be aware of fines for non-compliance.
Consider acquiring the Marseille City Pass, which offers unlimited trips on city public transportation, discounts for several museums and attractions, and additional benefits. Choose from 24, 48, or 72-hour validity cards.
How do I get in and out of the airport?
When travelling from Marseille-Provence Airport to the city center, you have two public transportation options. One is to board a bus directly to the Marseille Saint-Charles train station which takes about 25 minutes. Alternatively, a free shuttle from the airport can take you to the Vitrolles-Aéroport train station, from where you can catch a train to the city center. The shuttle departs every 10 to 15 minutes and the journey takes about 5 minutes. The subsequent train journey takes approximately 20 minutes.
Tips for Getting Around Marseille:
- Use the Metro until 1 a.m. for nightlife, but consider taxis for late-night transport.
- Taxis are generally not recommended due to heavy traffic.
- Explore the city center and Vieux Port on foot when possible.
- Carry a print map of the city.
- The city center is not especially bike-friendly, but cycling around beach areas like the Plages du Prado can be an enjoyable experience during summer. The city offers a bike rental scheme, but helmet rentals are not provided.