Bordeaux, the Aquitaine region’s capital, is a city in southwestern France, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It has also been on the list of recommended cities to visit by Lonely Planet, and we have visited it twice now.
Best Things to Do in Bordeaux in 1 or 2 days
The first time we went to Bordeaux, we arrived in the afternoon/night with the idea of taking a walk and resting, as our current trip was in England and Scotland.
But we could do some sightseeing in Bordeaux, and we loved what little we saw of the city. So on this second trip, we spent a little more time getting the full experience.
So if you are looking for information on what to see in Bordeaux and what to visit in a day or two in this city, this is the right article for you.
We did the circuit of the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Bordeaux to experience and visit the places and monuments that led UNESCO to distinguish this city as a World Heritage Site.
Visiting Bordeaux: UNESCO World Heritage Tour
Monument des Girondins
This route begins at the monument to the Girondins, which was erected in tribute to these deputies who were guillotined because they were accused of conspiring against the Republic in 1793.
In their honor, this 43-meter-high column was erected between 1895 and 1901.
This building is called the Flatiron Bordeaux. If you have been to New York or have seen photos, series or movies you will know this famous building.
And… in Bordeaux, they have their own Flatiron that was built in 1788, and inside you’ll find the houses of the Interprofessional Council of Bordeaux Wine and its wine bar.
They say that the staircase of this beautiful building inspired the architect of the Opéra Garnier in Paris, and it’s a must-visit place in Bordeaux.
A portico precedes it with twelve stone statues; nine muses accompanied by Minerva, Venus, and Juno. Access can be done with the City Pass.
The Church of Notre Dame has nothing to do with the Parisian of the same name. It was built by the Jacobins and had a Baroque style. The entrance square has been used to shoot several films.
It has been the gateway to the western part of Bordeaux since Roman times. Voisin built the one we see today between 1748 and 1753. It bore the name of Gate of the Dolphin until the French Revolution.
You’ll continue walking along Rue des Remparts and arrive at Rohan Palace and the City Hall.
This palace was first an archbishop’s palace in 1784. Later in 1800, it became the prefecture of Gironde, imperial palace, royal residence, and then in 1837, it became the town hall.
It’s accessible with the City Pass.
Saint-André Cathedral and Pey-Berland Tour
We find the Cathedral Saint-André and the Pey-Berland Tower a few steps away. It was built between the 12th and 16th centuries. It is a Cathedral in Gothic style.
Two royal weddings were held here, one between Leonor of Aquitaine and the future Louis VII and later, between Anne of Austria and Louis XIII.
The Tower of Pey-Berland is a bell tower separated from the cathedral, and you can visit and contemplate the fabulous views that it has to offer of the city.
It is the museum of the history of Aquitaine, and in particular of Bordeaux, from prehistory to the present day.
You can access it with the city Pass, if you visit it, tell us what you think, since we only passed outside.
It is the historic bell tower of the city and a vestige of the old defensive gate of the thirteenth century. Their bell weighs 7800 kilos! (17196 pounds which are roughly 8.5 tons!)
It’s one of the prettiest gateways to a city I’ve ever seen. But, of course, you have to visit it on your trip to Bordeaux and tell me what you think.
A few centuries ago, it was the market square and is where the town installed the pillory, and today together with the Rue de Saint James, it is one of the most fashionable places in Bordeaux. Here you can stop for a drink.
This beautiful gate dedicated to King Charles VIII was the former defensive gate of the city between 1493 and 1496.
It is located in front of the Garonne River and can be accessed with the City Pass. Don’t you tell me it doesn’t look like a little castle!
*Note: our tour of Bordeaux’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites stops here, and we’ll have dinner at The Central Pub, which is just across the river by the Pierre Bridge.
More dinner options
The tour continues here, although we ended up skipping this point and the next on our trip.
This church was built between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries on an ancient Gallo-Roman port site. The square and the narrow alleys around the area make up old Bordeaux.
Place du Parlament
You’ll find this Italian-style square behind the Place de la Bourse. It was created in 1754 by the decision of Mayor Tourney, and in the center, you can see a fountain from 1865.
Place de la Bourse
If you’ve completed the tour by stopping for dinner and going to The Central Pub or taken a boat tour of the river, take the opportunity to take photos or just look at this beautiful square at night; the lighting is awesome.
Place de la Bourse is a creation of the Century of Lights. Then go a little further, slowly, until you reach the Water Mirror.
Water Mirror (Miroir d’eau)
The good thing about going back to the places you’ve visited is that there are times that by some event you cannot fully enjoy your trip.
In our case, we were lucky the first time we went to Bordeaux and were able to see the water mirror in operation.
But we weren’t as lucky this last time, as this area was being used as a goal of the Bordeaux Marathon, so my sister and brother-in-law were left unable to see this emblem of the city and in one of the places preferred by the people of Bordeaux and children.
How to Get to Bordeaux?
By Car: As the road trippers that we are, we’ve traveled to Bordeaux in the car the two times we went. Although you can also do it in a rental car, you can get there by plane.
By Plane: Getting to Bordeaux by plane is an excellent option, as many low-cost flights bring you to this magnificent city which is ideal for a weekend getaway.
Where to Sleep in Bordeaux?
As we mentioned in our road trip itinerary through Bordeaux, Paris, and the Alsace. In Bordeaux, we slept in an apartment a few meters from the Cathedral.
The apartment cost us 124 euros to divide it between four people. In other words, we were each paying 31 euros per night which was an excellent deal given its location in the city.
The name of the apartment is LumineuxT2, “Hotel de Ville & Pey-Berland,” and we made our reservation through Booking, but it seems that it is no longer on this platform.
From here you can get to know Bordeaux by walking and forget about the car for 1 or 2 days. Also, if you plan to stay for more than a few days and your budget is tight, you can have breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the apartment.
Where to Eat in Bordeaux?
We ate at noon in Utopia, and at night we had dinner at The Central Pub.
- Utopia: It is an old church that has been transformed into a movie theater and has an area to eat sandwiches and salads and the good thing is that the kitchen works late.
- The Central Pub: We’re repeating again. We loved this pub the first time and are back again this time! The place is very nice, and you have food for all tastes. Furthermore, there are few tourists (but it is always full, which is always a good sign) and you can enjoy magnificent views. What more can you ask for?
These two boat trips around the Garonne look very nice, ideal for a romantic getaway. Take a look and tell me which one you’re staying with!
Plan Your Trip To France
- Free Food Tour of Bordeaux
- Bordeaux Dinner Cruise
- More Tours and transfers in Bordeaux
- How to Plan a Trip to Paris
- What to see in Paris
- Things to do in la Rochelle
Do you know Bordeaux? Tell me about your experience!
Last Updated on 9 October, 2023 by Veronica
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Vero, a seasoned traveler, has explored 25 countries and lived in five, gaining a rich perspective and fostering an infectious passion for travel. With a heart full of wanderlust, Vero uncovers the world’s hidden gems and shares insights, tips, and planning advice to inspire and assist fellow adventurers. Join Vero and let the shared passion for travel create unforgettable memories.