Bordeaux in 1 Day: all you need to know

24 hours is enough time to explore the city of Bordeaux and discover many of its wonders. I invite you to follow the itinerary I have prepared for you.

Keyvis Montilva

Keyvis Montilva

9 min read

Bordeaux in 1 Day: all you need to know

Bordeaux |©Philippe B..

Bordeaux is a very diverse city that offers a wealth of plans and activities throughout the year to its visitors. Likewise, some of the best things to do in Bordeaux have to do with exploring the historical heritage seen in those buildings and parks that remain open and available all year round, keeping the city's social agenda alive.

So I have put together an itinerary where you can visit a large part of the city's tourist centre so that by the end of your visit you can say that you know the main attractions of Bordeaux, which are characterised by their beauty as well as their cultural importance.

1. Start your day at the Parc Aux Angeliques and the Bordeaux Botanical Garden

Garden with lake|©Bernard Blanc
Garden with lake|©Bernard Blanc

Bordeaux is a city that stretches mainly along the western bank of the Garonne River, although it also has a large part of its city centre on the other side of the river. On this other side is the famous Parc Aux Angeliques, which is a tree-filled public space that stretches along a large part of the river bank.

As such, it offers a very privileged view of the historic centre, which is just opposite, I recommend that you start your urban tour in this corner of Bordeaux.

You should also note that the city's Botanical Garden is located next to this park. As both sites are open from the early hours of the morning, they are an ideal place to start your sightseeing day, especially in the spring.

Admission to both sites is completely free and should not be missed even if your trip is in the cold season, as they are certainly one of the best things to do in October in Bordeaux or in other autumn months for the opportunity to enjoy the falling leaves of the trees over the cityscape.

Book a guided tour of Bordeaux

2. Cross the Pont de Pierre and head to Place de La Bourse

Bordeaux_Pont_De_Pierre|©RacsokaR OzyriS
Bordeaux_Pont_De_Pierre|©RacsokaR OzyriS

From this point in Bordeaux you would have to cross a bridge to continue with the rest of the itinerary I have prepared for you and the closest of them all is the famous Pont de Pierre. It is a structure more than 150 years old and was commissioned directly by Napoleon. Nowadays a railway line crosses it as well as different vehicular and pedestrian lanes, which allow traffic in both directions. Therefore, I advise you to cross it by bike if the idea sounds interesting to you.

One of the most convenient aspects is that this site is less than a 10-minute walk away that will take you to the Place de la Bourse, which has a name that translates as Stock Exchange Square and is known as the most representative space in the city.

On the way from the bridge to the Place de la Bourse you will come across different tourist attractions of the city such as the famous Porte de Bourgogne which was built in 1750 as a symbolic entrance to the city. The Porte de Cailhau, which is a monument built hundreds of years ago, has a façade very similar to that of a castle.

Note that the Place de la Bourse is a landmark within the city and, in fact, is often the meeting point for some of the best day trips in Bordeaux, which are a good opportunity for those who have a long visit to the city and want to see the surrounding area.

Book a Bordeaux bike tour

Take the opportunity to see the Miroir d'Eau

When you're at the Place de la Bourse you should take the opportunity to capture photographic memories at the Miroir d'Eau. It is a large reflecting pool that cools tourists during the high summer temperatures and entertains them during the rest of the year.

The visual effect generated by this site makes it a much-loved tourist destination in the city. You should also know that the Bordeaux National Customs Museum is located here and could be an interesting activity if you don't want to follow the rest of the itinerary.

3. Then go to the Opera National de Bordeaux and have lunch if you haven't already done so

National Opera of Bordeaux|©-.- ЯR -.-
National Opera of Bordeaux|©-.- ЯR -.-

Near this square heading north is the National Opera of Bordeaux. The building is notable for being a large theatre with an impressive structure dating back to 1780 and today it is the venue for the main entertainment events in the city. Especially those having to do with classical music and opera.

At the same time, there is the fact that the surroundings of this building are full of restaurants and commercial establishments. For this reason, it is highly recommended that you have breakfast or lunch depending on what you fancy. Especially because, depending on the time you start your itinerary, it may already be midday.

However, I advise you not to stray too far from this building because the next stop on the itinerary is just around the corner and a journey of less than 24 hours should be used every available minute.

4. Arrive at the Place des Quinconces and be amazed by its size

Wheel of Fortune|©Joan
Wheel of Fortune|©Joan

The famous and impressive Quinconces Square is a public space in the city of Bordeaux and is located less than 200 metres from the National Opera. The square was built in 1820 and the inclusion of various commemorative monuments and its large size have made it one of the tourist wonders of this community.

In fact, its size is so significant that the 12 hectares of its structure make it the largest continuous square in Europe. Its history has a lot to do with the French Revolution in Bordeaux and today it is a popular space that attracts both tourists and event organisers who hold fairs and concerts here.

The Monument aux Girondins and its respective fountain is another of the characteristic elements of this square and you should know that this place is one of the best things to see or do in Bordeaux during the month of July. This is due to the fact that there is usually a famous open-air market selling antiques that attracts all kinds of collectors.

5. Take a break in the beautiful Jardin Public

Bordeaux - Jardin Public|©RG1033
Bordeaux - Jardin Public|©RG1033

By the time you've walked the long Quinconces Square, you're probably feeling a little tired and, for your convenience, the city's most famous park is less than two streets away. I'm talking about the Jardin Public, a perfectly designed public park with a lake, a history museum and a puppet theatre.

Access is completely free and it might be a good place to rest your strength and legs before continuing your sightseeing exploration, as Bordeaux still has a lot to offer and there are other areas of the city just as interesting that you will have already explored.

6. From there you could take a taxi to the Cite Du Vin

cité du vin à Bordeaux|©Adrien Sifre
cité du vin à Bordeaux|©Adrien Sifre

When you finish your break, it will probably be two or three o'clock in the afternoon and that means you still have many hours of sunshine left. For this reason, I recommend that you take a taxi as soon as you can and head straight to the Cité Du Vin, a museum located a couple of kilometres north in the Quartier des Chartrons neighbourhood.

This site I recommend you visit is an institution dedicated to exploring the history of wine and its cultural importance through interactive exhibits and tastings that are included in the entrance fee. Its structure is also worth mentioning, as it is an extremely modern building that stands out in the landscape for its size and curvature.

The site is definitely part of some of the best wine tours in Bordeaux, which tend to focus on visiting wineries on the outskirts of the city, as well as wine museums within the city centre.

Right next door is the Cap Sciences, and it's a very family-friendly place to visit

If you cross the bridge next to the Cité Du Vin and walk south, you will find another of Bordeaux's great attractions. I'm talking about Cap Sciences, a science museum located in a former warehouse that has been renovated to contain permanent and temporary exhibitions aimed at science and nature education.

The place has a very appropriate approach for the youngest members of the family and teenagers. It is therefore one of the best things to do with children in Bordeaux. You should also know that one of the city' s most iconic bridges of modern architecture is right next to it, and if you get to see its platform rise, you'll be witnessing one of the great wonders of modern engineering.

7. Take the opportunity to wander around the eclectic Bacalan neighbourhood

Bordeaux Bacalan|©lina.schenker
Bordeaux Bacalan|©lina.schenker

When you've finished touring either of these two museums, you'll still have a few hours left before dusk sets in, or at least before it's dark enough to be tired. That's why I advise you to take advantage of your presence in the north of the city to get to know the Bacalan neighbourhood.

This area is known for having been an industrial centre of the river port, but today it has been modernised and has the best fashion, gastronomy and art establishments. All while functioning as Bordeaux's most diverse community neighbourhood.

It's a great place where you can enjoy both fine dining in French gastronomy and any other culinary style. This is because food from all over the world is present in this quirky residential area.

In fact, it is a part of the city that you would have to explore with more enthusiasm and willingness if you had a three-day visit to Bordeaux, as it is one of the three favourite areas for sightseeing and nightlife entertainment in Bordeaux.

8. Go back to the centre to see the Cathédrale Saint-André in the evening

Cathédrale Saint-André|©Abariltur
Cathédrale Saint-André|©Abariltur

When you feel you are ready to end your sightseeing exploration of Bordeaux, it is appropriate to return to the city centre. Especially since you will still have one attraction left that deserves to be seen during the night.

This is the city's cathedral, a building of Romanesque architecture dating back to the 11th century and characterised by a bell tower that stands apart from the rest of the structure.

It is a night-time attraction for the simple fact that it is illuminated from the outside in such a special way that it attracts the attention of locals and tourists alike. In fact, the beauty that characterises this cathedral at night makes it one of the best things to do in Bordeaux during the month of May, when a series of free concerts are held inside the cathedral.

At this point in your visit, you can either head straight back to your accommodation or head to the city's airport or the famous and impressive train station. This is in case you need to leave the metropolis for your next destination in France or the rest of Europe.

Tips to make the most of your 1-day visit to Bordeaux

Streets of Bordeaux|©Philippe B..
Streets of Bordeaux|©Philippe B..

It is also likely that during your one-day visit to Bordeaux you may want to skip some of the recommendations I've made, which would imply a logistical mismatch. So, to help you avoid feeling out of place, here are some recommendations that may help you organise your own sightseeing by including some of the alternatives I have given you.

Walk a lot

Bordeaux is a big city, but it is also very walkable. For this reason, many agree that the best way to appreciate its beauty is to walk its streets outside of a vehicle. This means that if for some reason you get tired, it's best to go into a restaurant and recharge your batteries.

If you don't, you will be missing out on buildings of significant beauty, which after all are those corners that truly mark the essence of this city.

Don't waste time on food

If you will be in the city for less than 24 hours and are really interested in getting to know it, then it is appropriate that you don't waste time on dining alternatives that require too many minutes of waiting. Luckily for you, most of the places I've mentioned have several dining options around them. So you'll always have the alternative of eating a hearty meal when you're really hungry.

The Centre-Ville district has it all if you're tired of too many activities.

If the idea of taking a taxi to Bacalan doesn't appeal to you because you're travelling with too many companions, then you should know that the Centre-Ville neighbourhood also has other major tourist attractions. These include the city's cemetery and the Mériadeck shopping centre.

In fact, it's a great area to stay in even if you decide to follow the itinerary I've laid out for you to the letter. Especially since it has bars and nightclubs that can keep you entertained as well as quiet areas that resemble the financial districts that are present in most city centres.

So if doing too many activities in one day is a challenge, you can spend your 24 hours touring this area on your own and you'll still be doing a great tour.