While Cannes is famous for its Film Festival, there is more to the small coastal city of the French Riviera. Find out the best things to do in Cannes, in the city but also around as a couple of day trips from Cannes will take you from stunning island to cute Provence villages.

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Best Things to Do in Cannes France

Most of the things to see are located, no surprise here, in the downtown area, but the nearby Old Town is also a must-see. So here are the best of Cannes things to do!

Palais des Festivals

By far the better-known complex and one of the top attractions in Cannes, the Palais des Festivals is what you see every June come the Cannes Film Festival. Feel like a star as you step up the stairs!

Interested in glamour? Check this History, Glamour & Cinema tour

Best Things to Do in Cannes France // Palais des Festivals - Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay

Palais des Festivals – Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay

Casino Barrière

Right under the Palais des Festivals is the Casino Barriere. So if you are looking for a thrill Vegas-style but with a touch of stardom, that’s the place to go. Try your luck at slot machines, table games, and even Poker!

Promenade de la Croisette

From the Palais, stroll along the Croisette and take in the scenery from the small marina. Walk by luxury shops and let you tempted by Dior, Chanel, or Dolce & Gabbana. Shoppers looking for more budget-friendly stores should head to nearby Rue d’Antibes.

Centre d’Art La Malmaison

When on the Croisette, stop at La Malmaison Art Center if you are into modern art. From Matisse, Picasso, or Miró, renowned painters are featured as part of the different collections presented by the center.

Square Mérimée

If you want to take a break from your exploration, spend some time at the Mérimée Plaza. Stop for ice cream at one of the closeby “Glaciers”. Or watch local people playing a game of petanque for those who like people watching.

Eglise Notre Dame de Bon Voyage

The small 19th-century Gothic-inspired church is built over a 15th-century Notre Dame des Sables and offers a quiet pause from the bustling city activities. And the cool temperatures are always welcome in the hot summer months.

Best Things to Do in Cannes France // Cannes Old Port - Image by Adonis Villanueva from Pixabay

Cannes Old Port – Image by Adonis Villanueva from Pixabay

Vieux Port de Cannes

The old port on the Quai St Pierre, dated back from the mid-1800s, is usually packed with small yachts and old sailing boats and is located right by the Palais des Festivals but also close to Le Suquet, Cannes old town.

Le Suquet

The old quarter of Cannes, with some houses at least 400 years old, sits on the hilltop and offers incredible views of Cannes, the Lérins Islands, and the Mediterranean Sea. Explore the city walls, the Musée de la Castre, the 17th-century Gothic-style Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance and its square tower, and spend some time grocery shopping at the popular Marche Forville (Forville market). Another one of the top Cannes attractions!

Best Things to Do in Cannes France // Le Suquet Tour Carree - Image by 123097 from Pixabay

Le Suquet Tour Carree – Image by 123097 from Pixabay

Musée des Explorations du Monde

While you are at the Suquet, check what was formerly named the Musée de la Castre (Castre Museum), which features a large antiquities collection, especially from the Mediterranean and the Middle East. But the museum also offers artifacts from the Himalayas, pre-Columbian America, and even Oceania.

Check the Côte d’Azur France Pass for entrances to museums in Cannes

Villa Rothschild and Gardens

A historic house for Betty Rothschild in 1881, the villa is known for its impressive gardens. Expect fountains, a Japanese garden, a tropical garden, and more. Inside the house can also be visited.

Iles de Lérins

The Lérins Islands are right off Cannes and easily reached in a short boat ride. There are four islands, though only the largest two islands are accessible by ferry: Île Sainte-Marguerite and the Île Saint-Honorat. Visiting the Lérins is for sure one of the top activities in Cannes!

Best Things to Do in Cannes // Abbaye de Lerins

Abbaye de Lerins

On the Île de Saint-Honorat is the monastery of Lérins founded in 410. Today, the Cistercian monastery is still active, and the local monks still live on the island. On the Île Sainte-Marguerite, the remaining fortress was the last “residence” of the Man in the Iron Mask, a captive wearing an iron mask and whose identity was never released. His story was covered in the 1840s by Alexandre Dumas in his D’Artagnan saga.

Book your Lerins Island ferry tickets here!

French Riviera Itinerary: 3 Days in Cannes

We hope that the list of these top attractions answers any question about what to do in Cannes France. Now, let’s see how to organize and plan your Cannes 3-day itinerary.

Day 1: Cannes Sightseeing

Start from the Croisette, making your way towards the Palais des Festivals and the Old Port. Then head to the Suquet where you can explore the older part of the city, with beautiful views around. Then make your way back to the Square Mérimée et enjoy well-deserved ice cream!

A couple of options to make your Cannes visit more enjoyable:

Day 2: Glamorous Cannes 

Cannes Shopping

Shopping in Cannes takes on a different level. Shop for souvenirs at the small shops by the Old Port. Treat yourself to haute couture at Dior, Chanel, or Dolce & Gabbana on the Croisette. Shoppers looking for more budget-friendly stores should head to nearby Rue d’Antibes. And don’t miss the Rue Meynadier, a commercial street since the 16th century when horse carriages were already traveling along the cobblestones. Or visit the Marché Fortville to pack on fresh bread, meat, and fruits. Perfect for your lunch on one of Cannes beaches, where you can work on your tan or build a sandcastle, depending on your expectations and the seasons.

Cannes Beaches

Chill at one of the numerous Cannes beaches. Among the most popular beaches, check the Moure Rouge that faces the Lérins Islands, Plage du Casino Beach, Port Canto (Bijou) Beach, Plage du Midi, Ile Sainte Marguerite Beach, all public beaches.

Other beaches like Carlton Beach and Long Beach are private and managed by Hotel Carlton and Marriott Hotel respectively. Fees are required to access these beaches.

Best Things to Do in Cannes France // Cannes Carlton Hotel - Image by MrJayW from Pixabay

Cannes Carlton Hotel – Image by MrJayW from Pixabay

An Evening on the French Riviera

Eat at one of the several seafood restaurants along the Old Port. Or for an ultimate luxurious treatment, head to Monaco for a Monte-Carlo dinner.

While in Cannes, don’t miss a chance to try local Provence cuisine. Think beignets de fleurs (courgette flowers), bouillabaisse (fish stew), pissaladière (Caramelised onion & anchovy flatbread)!

Day 3: Visit the Lérins Islands

Board a ferry towards the Lerins Islands. Start with Saint-Honorat where you can visit the Abbaye de Lérins and enjoy lunch there, either at the restaurant or if you packed your own. Then board the ferry to Sainte-Marguerite and learn the story behind the Iron Mask. Book your Lerins Island ferry tickets here!

Outdoor Activities around Cannes

Now if you have more days to stay in Cannes, there are plenty of things to do! From outdoor activities to day trips, find another activity in Cannes to do.

Go Boating

Board a Catamaran or a Sailboat tour from Cannes. Looking for a taste of what stardom feels like? Rent a private yacht with your own skipper for the day!

Check boat tours prices and availability: Catamaran from Cannes | Sailboat from Cannes | Private Yacht with Skipper

Go Snorkeling

Enjoy the warm Mediterranean Sea and go on a snorkeling tour!

Try an electric foil

Fly over the water of the Mediterranean Sea thanks to the electrical foil that can sail up to 25-mile (40-km) per hour! Find out more here and reserve your electric foil now!

Hiking the Massif des Maures

Stretching from Cannes toward Toulon, the Maures mountain range will take you through vineyards, forests, most with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Rent a Bike

Biking around Cannes and along the Croisette Boulevard is a great way to explore Cannes. Book your bike rental now.

Go Kiteboarding

Different spots are available for kiteboarding in Cannes and around. From the Palm Beach in Cannes, or in Mandelieu.

Join a Segway Tour

Ride along the Palais des Festivals, the old Port, and more. Book your segway tour, or check the Côte d’Azur France Pass for cool activities!

Day Trips from Cannes

Cannes Travel Tips

  • When to visit Cannes? Summer is the most popular period but tends to be crowded. Spring and Fall are good seasons as well, though June and September are the best alternatives as temperatures are usually warm but with fewer visitors.
  • While the summer temperatures and the close access to the beach, many wear swimwear but don’t forget to add a few cloth items as soon as you leave the shores.  Dressing in only swimwear is not allowed outside the beach. For ideas on what to wear, check out our hot climate clothing suggestions.
  • Grab a copy of Lonely Planet Provence & the Côte d’Azur travel guide, and don’t forget your English-French phrasebook.

We hope you found this France travel blog useful. If you are looking for other France blog posts, check about our other French experiences.

Do you have any other travel tips for France to add? We would love to hear from you in the Comments section.

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