Want to get the inside scoop on Brittany before you book? You’ll find our full Brittany travel guide below, full of tips, inspiration and great things to do.
The atlas says it’s in France, but Brittany feels like a whole different country. In fact, this distinctive Atlantic region was independent until the 16th century and many inhabitants still regard it as a separate entity. It has its own language and Breton culture: the sounds of biniou (French bagpipes) ring out from inns and locals dance well into the night at one of their festou-noz (traditional music concerts).
When to Visit?
Brittany’s photogenic coastline naturally appeals to tourists in summer, and this is when the region is at its busiest. But with a mammoth 2,800 kilometre of coastline, there is no shortage of swimmable and surfable bays. Outside of July and August, the weather will still be warm and you’ll also have less competition for a spot by the sea. In spring, you can expect to wander freely around heritage sights like Ville Close and Vannes and find the streets of the major towns emptier. Many of the coastal resorts that rely on the tourist industry shut up shop in winter, and will be extremely quiet between October and March.
Bretons love to celebrate and you can time your trip to coincide with one of their lively festivals. Festival Inter-Celtique is the biggest in the region, and is held in August. Quimper’s festival takes place in July and August and Rennes’ hosts celebrations in July and December.
- Belle Ile – Go beach-hopping on this idyllic little island.
- Chateau de Josselin – Take a guided tour around the vast libraries and elegant gardens of this fairytale castle.
- Saint-Malo – Circumnavigate the walls of one of Brittany’s most attractive port cities.
- Gulf of Morbihan – Float between the islands of a picturesque natural harbour.
- Dinan – Stroll around the historic centre and mighty chateau of this picturesque trading town.
- Airport: There are several airlines that fly to Brittany’s convenient airports from the UK and Ireland – Airports include Brest, Dinard and Nantes.
- By car: Driving around Brittany has its advantages: not only are the roads toll-free but you’ll also be able to access some of the smaller destinations that remain unreachable by train. Be warned though, Brittany has surprisingly meticulous road laws that require every car to have high-vis vests and breathalysers
- Public transport: The local train network, or TER, runs throughout Brittany with hundreds of services each day. Several tourist trains, including a busy route between Auray and Presqu’ile de Quiberon, supplement the service. Each of Brittany’s four departments – Finistère, Côtes d’Armor, Morbihan and Ille-et-Vilaine – have their own regional bus and coach services.
- By bike: Brittany is home to eight major cycle routes including a portion of the epic La Velodyssée, which ultimatly links Roscoff in the north of France to Hendaye in the south. SNCF, the national rail network, have many options for combining bike and train travel.
- The bustling city of Quimper is often overlooked by blinkered tourists who only have eyes for the coast, but its medieval city centre and imposing historic architecture are definitely worth a wander. Make sure you walk along the leafy riverbanks and visit the twin-spired Gothic cathedral.
- The beautifully preserved Le Faouët, a rural village in the mountainous inland province of Kalon Breizh, seems to be stuck in the past. During the 19th century, artists flocked here, and it’s easy to see why: the stone streets, old churches and tree-covered surroundings look as if they have come straight from a painting.
- Clamber up the boulders of Parc d’Amorique, which is found in the centre of the region. You’ll find scenic walking routes and idyllic villages such as the picturesque lakeside commune of Huelgoat.
- Watch a salt harvest in Guérande, where piles of the unrefined condiment are gathered in by paludiers (salt-marsh workers) from rectangular marshes. The Maison des Paludiers has a little museum dedicated to the traditions and processes of salt harvesting.
- Browse the bookshops of Bécherel, a quaint inland town full of old stone houses. The town hosts an annual book fair around Easter, but it’s the perfect destination for bookworms throughout the year with plenty of outdoor cafés ideal for reading.
- Hop on a boat in Roscoff to head out to Ile de Batz. The small island offers coastal walks, a stunning exotic garden and Bronze Age burial sites. The 44-metre lighthouse is the best viewpoint on the island, with panoramas out to sea and looking back at the mainland.
Brittany is a land of adventure, with woods and castles that look to have jumped from the pages of a storybook and exciting activities that can turn even the most timid visitor into a bold explorer. You’ll discover fun parks, aquariums, open-air museums and landscapes so beautiful you’ll come out breathless.
Find the perfect family rental in the region and make that your starting point for a week or two of quality family time – you might even want to take your dog with you too. Spend time storming castles, riding waves and chasing fairies in the forests. Children will love hearing about Brittany’s mystical folk tales and taking part in a wide array of activities, yet such is the spellbinding charm of the region that adults are bound to get caught up in its magic too. Before you hop over to Brittany by air or by sea, pencil in a few of these fun family-friendly activities.
Best Family-Friendly Activities in Brittany
- We’ve said it before here and we’ll probably say it again – the beaches of Brittany make for a fantastic day out whatever your age. Better yet, you won’t just find an amazing range of beaches but some fantastic family activities to enjoy while you’re there!
- Hit the waves with 29 Hood Surfclub, where you and the whole family can learn the ins and outs (and falling-ins) of surfing from the friendly and supportive teachers.
- Or you could try messing about in boats with Eulalie Paimpol, which can take you on a tour of the coast while the kids hoist the mainsail and splice the mainbrace.
- There are tons of little villages and towns dotted throughout Brittany’s landscape, and while they might not offer everything the kids look for in a holiday there’s often markets, small museums and ice cream shops that’ll keep them sweet.
- Alternatively, head to a village that puts kids right at the centre of the action! Village de Poul-Fetan is a living museum where the kids can explore and authentic Breton village and learn all about the Breton lifestyle. There’s even a treasure hunt for younger visitors.
- And as with much of the rest of France, Brittany has its fair share of theme parks for memorable days out. Water parks, roller coaster rides and even more eclectic activities await adventurous families!
Check our complete post on kid friendly activities in Brittany for more recommendations.
The Best Family-Friendly Beaches in Brittany
- Dinard is found in the north-east of Brittany and is a favourite haunt of British travellers and older French couples – children of all ages are more than welcome to join in the fun.
- Carnac has a wonderful sandy beach (perfect for a bit of time with the bucket and spade) and warm, gentle waters that mean everyone can enjoy a paddle.
- The alluring coastal town of Bénodet boasts some great beaches, but Plage du Trez is probably the most popular. There’s even a sailing school if the kids fancy getting out on the water.
- Erquy’s beach is huge when the tide goes out, so it’s ideal for exploring rock pools and building huge sandcastles.
Brittany’s great outdoors entices group visitors: the rolling hills and shimmering blue seas promise luxury and relaxation as well as adventure. On the coast, cruises, sailing and fishing supplement the regular seaside fun, while inland offers spas, exotic gardens and gorgeous landscapes that can be crossed on foot, by bike or even by donkey. Choose a secluded chateau deep in the heart of the Breton countryside and join the in-the-know Parisians who have been hiding away in this beguiling part of France for years.
It’s not all about nature in Brittany, however, and the towns and cities here are equally appealing. Roam the streets of Rennes and Carnac on two wheels – bike or Segway – and tour the abundance of historical sights. The museums and heritage attractions are great to explore on foot; follow a guide for the day or simply strike out by yourself on a walking tour of whichever medieval village or walled city you end up in.
We’ve come to believe that group holidays work best when you mix up lazy days with the odd activity, so pick your favourites from our list below and get planning.
Adrenaline-Fuelled Activities in Brittany
- Some of the best experiences you can have with your group of friends in Brittany will be water-based. With so much wonderful coastline there’s a ton of activities to explore, but one of the most exciting is scuba diving!
- Saint-Malo Plongée Émeraude organises dives around Saint Malo, which offers two shipwrecks to explore as well as appreciating all the mesmerising marine wildlife.
- A boat trip is also a great way to see the Breton sights in a whole new way, and the islands that are found off the coast make a great destination for an unforgettable picnic with some local wine and treats.
- Voiles et Traditions are the ideal people to talk to about a boat trip, as their wooden boats provide a charming way to experience the coast of Brittany. You can even get involved and hoist a few sails if you’re feeling energetic.
- Does island-hopping sound more your cup of tea? Croisières Izenah can sort you out with an excursion around the Gulf of Morhiban to visit beautiful, ancient-looking fishing villages.
You can scroll through more group activities in Brittany.
More Laid Back Activities in Brittany
- There are plenty of delightful and charming villages throughout Brittany, and there’s nothing more relaxing (and enlightening!) than taking a tour around them.
- Saint Malo is the jewel in the crown of Brittany’s coastal towns, and Saint-Malo Guide really gets to the heart of the town’s history and wonderful architecture. Well worth a trip!
- Biking is a great way to experience the culture and landscapes of Brittany, and the whole region is criss-crossed with trails and paths to follow. Whether you’re looking for a gentle jaunt between villages or something a little more challenging, you’re bound to find the right ride to suit.
- If you’re looking to hire a bike for you and your friends, check out Abicyclette. They can even help you plan a route!
- The landscapes and gardens of Brittany are as stunning as they are verdant. If you’ve got green fingers (or just enjoy a good view) then head out to the grounds of a local chateaux or manor house – or just up a nearby hill if you’re feeling lazy!
- The Jardin du Conservatoire Botanique National de Brest is home to more than 1,700 species of plants from around the world – and they’re even grouped into their home countries so you can brush up on your geography while you’re smelling the roses.
Brittany is the home of the crêpe and there are an incredible number of quality pancake-producing points in the region offering more kinds of fillings than you could possibly imagine. If you only try one, make it the classic complete – a combination of ham, egg and cheese on a galette (a buckwheat crêpe). We know, Breton crêpes are seriously good, but if you can resist the temptation to spend your entire holiday in Brittany gorging on them, you’ll be delighted with what you will discover.
Brittany’s food scene is vast and varied and includes everything from seafood-oriented haute-cuisine to hearty staples such as canned fish. And there’s a wide selection of alcohol on offer too, from dry whites likes Muscadet and Gros-Plant to locally produced beer. The region’s most famous and most commonly consumed alcoholic drink, cider, is the perfect accompaniment to any meal here, and has the power to convert even the most hardened sceptics. Don’t leave Brittany without trying out some of these fantastic dining experiences.
The Best Restaurants in Brittany
- Bistro Autour du Buerre, which is found in Noyal-sur-Vilaine, is a celebration of all things dairy. One particular product is put front and centre in many of the restaurant’s dishes – butter. Dig in, and try not to think too much about the calories!
- For a true taste of luxury, Plomodiern’s L’Auberge des Glazicks has been awarded and impressive two Michelin stars thanks to its inventive use of under-appreciated ingredients like pig’s feet, and there’s even a tasting menu if you can’t decide which dish you want.
- With so much beautiful coastline, it’s hardly surprising that Brittany’s seafood is well worth searching out. Restaurant le Coquillage in Cancale is an intimate restaurant that makes the most of the freshest fish and shellfish available. There’s even a cookery school on-site if you want to learn a thing or two as well!
Check out our full range of foodie experiences in Brittany.
Dishes to Try in Brittany
- Whether you prefer them sweet or savoury, Brittany’s buckwheat pancakes make a tasty snack if you need something quick to eat, and they can be found pretty much everywhere.
- As well as a tempting range of other seafoods, Brittany’s oysters are prized by gourmands from around the globe.
- The salt marshes you’ll find in coastal areas through Brittany are great grazing ground for sheep – meaning Brittany’s lamb is a dish well worth ordering if you see it on a restaurant menu.
- Brittany also grows wonderful artichokes – they make a great starter, often served with melted butter or mayonnaise.
The Best Foodie Experiences in Brittany
- Au Rythme des Marées in Baden is a treat for any seafood fan – it’s an oyster farm that tells you everything you need to know about these tasty crustaceans, from how they’re farmed to how they’re eaten.
- Surprisingly, the drink of choice in Brittany isn’t wine, but cider. Domaine du Kinkiz in the delightfully named town of Quimper is a great way to get into this Breton tradition, and after you’ve finished exploring it’d be rude not to indulge in a drop.
- As well as cider, you can try another unusual French tipple if you’re heading through Plomelin – the Distillerie des Menhirs produces whiskey from buckwheat (the same thing Brittany’s famous crepes are made from) and offers free tours during the summer.