Cannes is famous for its annual film festival, but it makes a great seaside town to visit from the spring through till early autumn. It’s one of the most iconic towns on the French Riviera and is often visited for a short stay as part of a multi-centre holiday, or for a weekend city break. We recommend you spend at least 2 days in Cannes; it’s plenty of time to see what the town has to offer! Use our Cannes 2 day itinerary to help you make the most out of your trip. We’ve included most of the top sites, our tips and recommendations and enough relaxation time to enjoy the hot Riviera sun.
Day 1 – Morning:
Marché Forville – Wake up bright an early for a morning of exploration, followed by an afternoon of relaxation. Start your day at Marché Forville, a traditional French market. Although it’s mainly for fresh produce, browsing the bright colours of the market and soaking in the atmosphere is a great way to start your morning. Stop buy a bakery stall to pick up some fresh pastries for later – we recommend the specialist Provencal bread.
Le Suquet – Next on your itinerary should be La Suquet; the medieval quarter of Cannes. Le Suquet is our favourite area of Cannes. It’s very quiet and is made up of quaint old buildings, boutique shops and restaurants and a must-see church and castle. Step back in time, into Cannes medieval past and spend a couple of hours wandering the streets and taking pictures.
Eglise Notre Dame d’Esperance – This Cathedral is right next to the castle at the top of the hill in La Suquet and it definitely has some of the best views of Cannes. It can be a bit of a workout to get to the top but once there you’ll find free entry to this beautiful church and panoramic views of the promenade and bay area. This is where you’ll capture your best photos!
Musée de la Castre – Musée de la Castre is a free museum which is worth a look as a break out of the sun. It has an interesting collection of artefacts and the outdoors gardens often have live music and performers. Take your time to take a breath at the top of the hill before heading down. Oh, and did we mention the views? You’ll also take some great photos from the castle view-point!
Stop by one of the many La Suquet cafes on the way down for a bite to eat for lunch.
La Croisette – La Croisette is the famous 3km promenade in central Cannes. Take a stroll alongside the famous Cinema de la Plage (Cannes Film Festival), luxury hotels, casinos, boutique fashion stores and yachts in on glamorous walkway. It’s a great place to soak up the atmosphere, where you’ll find everyone from the rich and famous to street salesmen selling cheap sunglasses. Be sure to stop for an ice cream in one of the beach facing cafes.
Star Studded Floor – being the centre of the glitz and glam during the Cannes Film Festival, the town has naturally welcomed many of Hollywood’s A list actors and actresses. Stop by the ‘Star Studded Floor’ just outside the tourist office on La Croisette to check out this small version of the famous Hollywood pavement. It is quite small but it’s worth checking out the famous names as you pass by.
Plage Mace beach – Place Mace is the main beach just off the promenade. It makes a great place to relax after a morning of sightseeing, and hopefully enjoy the hot French Riviera sun. We’d recommend this beach over the nearby private beach due to cheaper rental prices and refreshments. The beach is clean, free and relaxing – a perfect place to wind down until the late afternoon.
Dinner – In true World Travel Toucan tradition, we chose to only eat the local cuisine in Cannes and the variety of French restaurants here is excellent. Although you’ll find many top-rated restaurants in the main tourist area, we opted for La Mome, a trendy restaurant in the La Criosette area, which was a great setting before hitting the local bars. The atmosphere is lively and the food is delicious. Meal wise, we’d recommend the sea bass, although the homemade pastas looked particularly exciting. If you’d prefer somewhere quieter and more intimate, check out La Brouette de Grand-Mere.
Nightlife – If you wish to extend your evening and partake in Cannes’ vibrant and exclusive nightlife scene, best head over to La Baoli for a drink in this glamorous venue, often frequented by movie stars during the film festival. Once you’ve soaked in the atmosphere, head to Rue Mace just off La Criosette promenade for a number more affordable late-night bars and clubs. We particularly liked Morrisons Irish Pub and Be First.
Day 2 – Morning:
Ile Sainte-Marguerite island tour – Although it’s not directly located inside Cannes, the island of Ille Sainte-Marguerite is located a short ferry ride away and is well worth the visit, even if you’re only spending 2 days in Cannes. The island itself is a natural beauty that can be explored on foot. Spend your time hiking through the pine forests to find excellent mountain views, exploring the famous Fort Royal where the man in the iron mask was held and relaxing by the beach.
The ferry leaves Cannes harbour roughly every hour and it costs around 15 per person for the round trip. Bring plenty of snacks, drinks and a picnic with you, as there isn’t a great deal of lunch choice on the island. You can walk the length of the island in 30 minutes but it takes around 2-3 hours to see everything.
Hiking – Whilst it’s still relatively cool and your energy is at full force, start your morning with a hike amongst the pine and eucalyptus forests. You’ll find some great views of the French mainland and island itself to take pictures of.
Fortress – Port Royal fortress is the must-see historic attraction of the island, made famous by ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’. Entry costs just a few Euros and you’ll find an interesting history into the fortress and island location, as well as picturesque views of the bay. We’d recommend visiting the fortress first before relaxing on the beaches. The weather will be cooler for the trek in the morning.
Picnic – Stop for lunch on one of the many grassy or seated areas and enjoy a homemade picnic. There are two restaurant options on the island but they tend to be overpriced and (in our opinion) don’t have a great variety of food. We much prefer eating snacks of our choice with the beautiful scenery to look at.
Relaxing on the beach – the water around the island is warm and clear in the summer, making it a perfect place to swim and snorkel. Be careful on the beaches though; you’ll find they’re covered with jagged rocks and sea debris, so always wear your shoes. Jellybean style swimming shoes come in particularly handy here and you can pick these up on the main Cannes promenade.
One of our favourite things about Ile Sainte-Margarite is the pure tranquillity and peacefulness of the surroundings. It’s a breath of fresh area from the densely tourist populated Cannes promenade.
Alternative: Ile Sainte-Honorat – Ile Sainte-Honorat is the smaller island located to the south of Margarite and is just as peaceful and beautiful. This island is home to a traditional French monastery which is still in use today, with locals producing fine wines to rival that of any of Southern France. Top things to do on this island include visiting the Abbey and surrounding churches, hiking through the forest, wine tasting and relaxing by the beach. Choose Ile Sainte-Honorate over Ile Sainte-Margaret if you prefer somewhere smaller and quieter – or if you haven’t been to one of them before!
Rue d’Antibes shopping – Once you’ve returned from your relaxing day of island exploration, what better time to head to the stores for some last-minute gifts and personal shopping? Rue d’Antibes is a long street packed full of high street favourites such as Zara, Pandora, Footlocker, Lacoste and many more. If you’re looking for more high-end fashion, the nearby La Croisette area has all of the famous French and Italian boutique stores.
Dinner – Being your final night, we’d recommend reserving a place somewhere extra special for dinner. We’d heard great things about L’eponyme so just had to go. The set menus (between 30 – 45 per person) are surprisingly good value and give a great taste of traditional (and fancy) French food.
Le Croisette Casino Barriere de Cannes – Casino’s aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but even if you don’t gamble, Le Criosette Casino is worth a visit. This large and modern structure is tucked back behind the marina and is a great place to get dressed up on your last night and enjoy a few cocktails. It’s the biggest casino in Cannes and has all of the usual games and slot machines you’d expect. Chill at the bar listening to the live music or try your luck at the roulette table.
Other popular attractions to visit if you’re in Cannes for longer:
- Cannes film festival (if you’re visiting in May)
- Kayaking, surfing or paddle-boarding in the bay
- Villa Domergue
- Musee de la Mer
- Mediatheque de Noailles
- Visit a spa
Top tips for visiting Cannes
- Many people visit Cannes as part of a short city break or as part of a multi-centre trip. We’d recommend spending 2 days in Cannes and then visiting other parts of the Cote d’Azur, including Nice, Monaco, Toulon and St Tropez, to name a few.
- Cannes can be particularly expensive if you want to enjoy a grand nightlife and like to eat out. Budget to spend more than you would in other European cities. Of course, there’s dining options to suit all budgets and you can always enjoy some of the fine wines from local supermarkets to save money before heading out.
- The Cannes city centre and promenade area is very compact and everything is within walking distance. Plan your itinerary around attraction and restaurant locations in relation to your hotel so you’re not doubling back on your path.
- Cannes maintains its upmarket and vibrant nightlife film festival persona throughout the year and is well worth visiting from April to September for idyllic weather. If you’re visiting during the film festival dates, be sure to book as far in advance as possible as hotels fill quickly and rooms become expensive.
We hope we’ve given you plenty of ideas for how to spend 2 days in Cannes. Use our Cannes 2 day itinerary to plan your own trip and customise it with all of your must-see attractions. It’s a charming town where you can simply go for a long walk and relax by the beach, relax in a corner cafe or go sightseeing.