Bordeaux in 2 Days: everything you need to know

Bordeaux is a historical and cultural treasure that exudes elegance and sophistication at every turn, and here's everything you need to know to make the most of your weekend getaway.

Carla Yaquer

Carla Yaquer

9 min read

Bordeaux in 2 Days: everything you need to know

Vista de la ribera del río |©Iria Rodríguez Losada

From the bustling city centre, to its tranquil countryside, winding streets, neoclassical buildings and charming riverside promenade, a visit to the world's wine capital is a feast for all the senses. Whether you're visiting for the first time or not, there's always something new to discover. Read on to discover the top places and plans for your trip to Bordeaux in 48 hours.

Day 1: Stroll through the old town

Grand Theatre and place des Quinconces|©ceronne
Grand Theatre and place des Quinconces|©ceronne

From quaint cobblestone streets to charming historic buildings, Bordeaux offers a delightful mix of old-world charm and modern sensibility. And on the first day, I invite you to stroll through its tree-lined streets and make strategic stops to make the most of your visit.

The map of the day brings together 10 must-see stops that you can explore on your own, with a tour or if you're looking for a more original plan you can book a game of exploration through Bordeaux's old town. One way or another, include the following stops in your 3.8-kilometre itinerary.

Book an exploration game in Bordeaux Old Town

Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux

To start the tour, the first stop is the Museum of Contemporary Art of Bordeaux, an inspiring place located in a renovated former warehouse.

The CAPC represents the heart of the city's modern art scene and has been exhibiting cutting-edge exhibitions and installations since 1973. Moreover, the building itself is a testament to Bordeaux's cultural renewal. When you visit, head up to its terrace for a breathtaking panoramic view.

Book the Bordeaux City Pass

Take a seat at the Place des Quinconces

Next stop is Place des Quinconces, a 12-hectare monumental square built at the end of the Hundred Years' War that, before being Bordeaux's most Instagrammable gathering place, emerged as a space to contain a rebellion. Here you'll find statues of Montesquieu, Montaigne, as well as the famous monument to the Girondins and the Republic. It is one of the key stops if you book a bike tour of Bordeaux.

Book a bike tour

Don't miss the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux

Next, cycle down Cours de l'Intendance to the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux passing by the Bordeaux Métropole Tourist and Congress Office. This theatre, known as the home of the Bordeaux National Opera, opened its doors in 1789 after the work of Victor Louis, who was also responsible for the garden of the Palais Royal de France.

The Grand Théâtre boasts one of the finest buildings in France. In fact, it was taken as a reference by the architect Charles Garnier to build the Paris Opera House.

Book the Bordeaux City Pass

Go to Place Gambetta

The Place Gambetta is another 18th century jewel that marks the beginning of the Cours Gambetta and the Golden Triangle, the most exclusive area of Bordeaux. The central point of the square is occupied by a beautiful public garden and around it you will find hotels and restaurants with terraces open all year round.

The square is also home to the Dijeaux gate leading to the shopping area. The surrounding 17th century buildings create a visual harmony that will transport you to another era.

Book a guided tour of Bordeaux

Step inside the Museum of Fine Arts in Bordeaux

The Museum of Fine Arts is a must-see in Bordeaux. Considered one of the region's leading art museums, you can get in for free if you book the Bordeaux City Pass.

From classical European paintings to contemporary installations, this museum features works by artists such as Rubens, Renoir and Matisse. But what makes MUSBA really special is its setting: an 18th-century palatial building that is a work of art in its own right. Being part of the Rohan Palace complex, the architecture alone is worth the trip. The museum gardens are also beautiful and ideal for relaxing in the summer.

Book the Bordeaux City Pass

Be dazzled by St. Andrew's Cathedral

St. Andrew's Cathedral is another must-see in Bordeaux. Located in the city centre, opposite the town hall, this church built in the 11th century is an impressive Romanesque monument that was extended during the British period. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will be impressed by its entrance guarded by Gothic-style gargoyles.

You can also climb the Pey Berland Tower for a panoramic view of the city, or stroll along Rue du Loop for a different view of the tower or browse the second-hand shops.

Book the Bordeaux City Pass

Stop for lunch

Your next stop is the Place de la Bourse or Place de la Bourse in Bor deaux and although you'll pass the Place du Parlement and the Cinéma Utopia on the way, which are worth your attention, this route is actually recommended because you're in the best place to make your lunch stop and even book a gastronomic tour to discover the wonderful local cuisine.

Rue Saint-Pierre and Rue Saint-Rémi enter the trendy French quarters with a wide offer of tascas, terraces, restaurants and bars awaiting you with options for all tastes.

Book a gastronomic tour

Continue on to the Place de la Bourse in Bordeaux

Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux|©Luis Rey
Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux|©Luis Rey

After enjoying a delicious lunch, an essential stop on your tour is Bordeaux's Place de la Bourse and its respective Palais de la Bourse. This is one of the 15 most charming squares in Europe, located in the centre of the city since the 18th century. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is included in all private tours of Bordeaux.

The Palais de la Bourse is a magnificent example of classical French architecture and is the most emblematic building in the city. Its imposing façade will amaze you with its architectural details. In the square you will see the fountain of the "Three Graces", a magnificent work of bronze and marble representing the daughters of Zeus, which was inaugurated in 1869. Take time to enjoy the details designed by Louis Visconti and sculpted by Charles Gumery.

Finally, another detail that should not be overlooked is the largest water mirror in the world. It is a work created in 2006 by the landscape architect Michel Corajoud on the banks of the Garonne River. Behold the work of art that creates a magical moment, and it will be a very good time to do so. The sun sets behind the neoclassical building that now houses the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, while the mirror of water reflects the beauty and majesty of the surrounding buildings.

Book a private tour of Bordeaux

Tour the Musée National des Douanes

Flanking the Place de la Bourse, you will find the Musée National des Douanes or National Museum on the history of French customs, another work that goes from the building to its interior.

This national museum offers a fascinating look at the history of customs and trade in France, and boasts an impressive collection of related objects and artefacts. It also houses an interesting insight into the evolution of trade and customs in France from the 18th century to the present day.

Book the Bordeaux City Pass

Marvel at the Porte Cailhau

The Cailhau Gate is an impressive medieval defensive structure in the centre of Bordeaux. Built between 1493 and 1496, the Cailhau Gate has undergone renovations over the years, yet it still evokes its original appearance.

From inside, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the city, including the old historic centre, the Pont de Pierre or "stone bridge" and the quays of the Garonne River.

Interestingly, the meaning of the word "cailhau" remains a mystery. Although historians have put forward various theories, for the moment we are content to know that it owes its name to the Caillau quay on which it is located.

Book a guided tour of Bordeaux

Spend an unforgettable evening

To start the evening, an ideal and different plan is to book a sidecar tour of Bordeaux.

Once you've finished, head to the promenade, a space that not only immerses visitors in architecture and history, but also offers Bordeaux's culinary delights and a number of bars and terraces that are perfect for a night out. Sample the area's most popular gastronomic dishes, such as savoury duck confit, buttery canelés and mouth-watering macarons in the nearby boutique patisseries.

After dinner, you may want to head to Ambrosia Bar for a glass of Bordeaux wine or one of their signature cocktails. Let your senses guide you as you enjoy the sights and sounds of this magnificent promenade and all that Bordeaux has to offer.

Book a sidecar tour of Bordeaux

Day 2: Learn why Bordeaux is an avant-garde wine capital

Rue d'entrée à Saint-Émilion|©Abariltur
Rue d'entrée à Saint-Émilion|©Abariltur

For your second day, I propose a different dynamic. Take advantage of the morning to go on an excursion to the wine cellars of Saint-Emilion, an oenological stroll among the cellars and wines.

When you return to the historic centre of Bordeaux in the afternoon, complete your tour of the "wine capital" by making four stops which you can find on this map.

Take a trip to Saint Émilion

Booking a trip to Saint Émilion is the best way to spend a morning if you're in Bordeaux for two days. This picturesque village is home to the region' s winemaking tradition and boasts a historic old town full of wine shops, wineries, elegant restaurants and medieval monuments. The entire region is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its natural landscape and rich history.

Among the highlights of Saint Émilion is the monolithic Church of Saint Émilion, carved into a limestone cliff. It is a unique attraction dating back to the 11th century.

In addition, the village boasts over 800 wine producers, which means there are plenty of vineyards to explore. Some of the best wineries in the region include Château de Pressac, Château Coutet, Château Saint-Georges, Château Guibeau or Chateau Bellevue, known for its Angelus cellar. In all of them you can enjoy not only good French wine, but also beautiful architecture and inspiring landscapes. The best wine tours from Bordeaux to Saint Émilion often include transportation, wine tastings, guided tours, walks through châteaux, vineyards and cellars to experience its true wine culture.

Book a tour to Saint Émilion

Visit Les Bassins des Lumières

Once you're back in Bordeaux, enjoy admission to Les Bassins des Lumières, one of **Bordeaux'**s best museums, so it's no surprise to see it in Time Out's top recommended experiences. It was built on a former submarine base that was transformed into an impressive digital art centre, the largest in the world, which uses technology to project images onto the walls, ceilings and floors of the water tanks of yesteryear.

Visitors can immerse themselves in a multi-sensory experience where colours and sounds dance in rhythm, while admiring works of art by famous artists from around the world, from Monet and Van Gogh to contemporary artists such as Klimt and Hundertwasser.

In addition, Les Bassins des Lumières is accessible to all. If you fancy a new perspective on classical and contemporary art in an environment where infinity is the limit, you must visit Les Bassins des Lumières.

Don't miss the Cite du Vin

The Cité du Vin|©Alain COSTE
The Cité du Vin|©Alain COSTE

Another must is to book a ticket for the Wine and Trade Museum. The building was designed with the idea of imitating the movement of wine when shaken in the glass. It's fitting, as La Cite du Vin is **Bordeaux'**s wine museum, often referred to as "the City of Wine", offering a must-see immersive experience not only because it celebrates local, but global wine culture.

This sleek, modern building is an architectural icon with interactive exhibits that explore the history and culture of wine. It also offers wine tastings, workshops and special events.

Visitors can explore the world of wine through multimedia technology and learn about the production and history of this precious elixir of the grape while enjoying a wine tasting. In addition, the panoramic view of Bordeaux from the top floor terrace is breathtaking and the best Bordeaux wine tours include this stop.

Book your ticket for the Wine and Trade Museum

Enjoy the cuisine of Les Halles de Bacalan

For foodies, a visit to Les Halles de Bacalan in Bordeaux is an experience not to be missed and is located opposite La Cite du Vin. This covered market is home to a wide variety of vendors offering fresh local produce, from seafood and meats to cheeses and pastries.

Les Halles de Bacalan has a large selection of products from the Bordeaux region, including fresh oysters, foie gras and high quality wines. Visitors can taste and buy local produce directly from the producers and talk to them about the production processes and gastronomic culture of the region.

In addition to food, Les Halles de Bacalan also has shops selling artisan products and souvenirs.

Book a gastronomic tour

Immerse yourself in the Chartrons neighbourhood

The Chartrons district is another must-see and do in Bordeaux. A place not to be missed on a 48-hour itinerary in Bordeaux.

This neighbourhood has a unique and bohemian charm thanks to its cobbled streets that preserve the essence of the bourgeoisie of yesteryear. In addition, the neighbourhood offers a large number of art galleries, restaurants, cafés, antique shops and fashion boutiques.

Rue Notre Dame, one of the main streets of the district, is the place that sums up the contrast of Bordeaux. It is a district that looks to the future without forgetting its past. It is therefore the best place to say goodbye to this wonderful city.

Book a guided tour of Bordeaux