Things To Do

The 10 Best Things to Do in Cannes

Whether you’re a film fanatic or not, when anyone hears Cannes, they instantly think of the world-famous film festival. This comes as no surprise, as it’s quite literally part of the scenery in certain areas; whether it’s the celebrity handprints on the Allée des Etoiles du Cinéma or the faces of beloved movie characters immortalised on murals all over the sunlit town.

However, while that may be an excellent time to visit the region – who wouldn’t want to rub shoulders with some of Hollywood’s elite? – there are so many more things to do in Cannes throughout the year.  If you’re spending a few days here this month and are wondering what to do in Cannes aside from cinematic activities, rest assured that the glamorous Côte d’Azur has plenty to offer. 

From the annual yachting festival and the charming old town of Le Suquet to the multiple golden beaches and the fascinating island of Île Sainte Marguerite, there are countless things to see in Cannes for every type of traveller. 

Our travel experts have rounded up their top picks of the best things to do in Cannes during your escape to the beautiful Côte d’Azur. Read on to find out more and get inspired for your trip to this European gem.

1. Watch a movie at the Cannes Film Festival

Cannes is renowned as the host of the world’s most illustrious international film festival, and it is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Cannes. Every May, the Cannes Film Festival celebrates both art-house and mainstream cinema, sprinkling even more glamour into the city as the most recognised names in the film world gather in this European hotspot. It’s certainly the biggest event on the long list of Cannes attractions.

While the Cannes Film Festival unfolds across the city, with screenings in various theatres, cinemas, and hotels, the heart of the action pulsates along the swanky promenade of La Croisette. Here, you’re likely to encounter world-famous actors, mingle with ultra-rich yacht owners, and see some excellent films. 

Additionally, everyone knows the iconic handprints stamped in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, but did you know that Cannes has its own version on the Allée des Etoiles du Cinéma? You’ll also find the faces of beloved movie characters depicted on murals all across town, spanning everyone from Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe to Mickey Mouse and R2-D2, making it a perfect spot for photo opportunities, offering even more intriguing things to see in Cannes. Get those cameras ready! 

2. Walk down La Croisette

If you’re hoping to bump into some big spenders, perusing La Croisette is one the best things to do in Cannes. This iconic stretch in France measures a mile long and is lined with luxury boutiques shaded by towering palm trees. Many of the top hotels are also found here, linking the city with the seafront, along with an array of casinos for those looking to get lucky. When you visit Cannes, La Croisette truly encapsulates the essence of this glamorous destination.

3. Check out the Cannes Yachting Festival

Thought the film festival was the only big calendar event to attend when you visit Cannes? Think again. Every September, the Cannes Yachting Festival takes over the harbour, making it one of the best things to do in Cannes for yacht enthusiasts. This event sees the world’s richest showcasing their biggest boating purchases. You’ll find many for sale too, but if you’re happy observing the ultimate dream from afar, you can easily spend an afternoon admiring the finest yachts at Vieux Port and Port Pierre Canto, two must-visit spots in Cannes Port. 

Beyond the Yachting Festival, sailing around the French Riviera is an experience not to be missed. With its azure waters and picturesque coastal towns, it offers breathtaking views and unforgettable adventures, making it one of the most exhilarating things to see in Cannes.

Looking to chart your way around the wider region? Check out our South of France travel guide.

4. Visit the Marché Forville

When you visit Cannes, it isn’t complete without a basket full of local produce, and what better way to spend your morning than with a stroll through the Marché Forville, just off the La Croisette boardwalk? Marché Forville is bursting with local produce and delicious smells enticing you to explore all the stalls, making it one of the best things to do in Cannes for the foodies amongst us. 

One of the best Cannes attractions, this market is a staple – a bastion of Provençal tradition – always full of locals and tourists haggling to get the best price for golden peaches and sun-dried tomatoes grown just a few kilometres away. Forville’s huge indoor space is packed to the rafters with fresh fruit, herbs, and vegetables, dishes to take away, local delicacies, vibrant flowers, and seafood still wet from the ocean. Since it’s open from 7 am, we think it’s ideal for picking up breakfast.

 

5. Wander through Le Suquet

Located above the bay on a pretty hillside, Le Suquet is Cannes Old Town. It sits where the original fishing village once did, offering some of the best things to do in Cannes. Bursting with old-world charm around every cobbled corner and up each narrow staircase, it’s the sort of place you’d plan to spend just a couple of hours but end up being there the whole day, making it a top choice if you’re wondering what to do in Cannes. 

It’s fully pedestrianised, making aimlessly wandering a pleasant affair, but we’d suggest prioritising the Église du Suquet church as well as the Tour du Mont watchtower – exceptional views await you at the top, adding to the list of the best Cannes attractions.

6. Explore Île Sainte Marguerite

Once upon a time, Cannes was home to fewer Hollywood darlings and more scary criminals, making exploring its history one of the best things to do in Cannes. Take a short ferry trip to Île Sainte Marguerite and tour its former prison, which once housed the Man in the Iron Mask for more than 10 years. You’ll also find the Musée de la Mer and its fascinating collection of artefacts, all sourced from nearby shipwrecks, adding to the list of Cannes attractions. 

Venturing to the south side of the island, you’ll come across the Forêt Domaniale de l’île and its botanic garden, filled with orange, grapefruit, eucalyptus, and fig trees. The rest of this southern coast is split into gorgeous beaches and coves with unsurpassed views of the nearby Île Saint-Honorat and the ocean beyond, offering plenty of options if you’re pondering what to do in Cannes.

7. Discover Île Saint-Honorat

Hop on a short boat ride south from Cannes and discover the serene charm of the second largest of the four Lérins Islands, a hidden treasure among the best things to do in Cannes. Île Saint-Honorat boasts a rich history, with its abbey founded by a hermit in 410CE during a time when monks owned much of Cannes. 

Today, the tranquil atmosphere persists, as monks still quietly produce wine under a vow of silence. Take your time exploring the abbey itself, along with the rest of the car-free island, which features a quaint port and a majestic fortified monastery that appears to emerge straight from the sea. It’s a delightful excursion to experience the peaceful and more laid-back side of Cannes, offering a refreshing contrast to the bustling city life. It’s certainly up there with some of the best things to see in Cannes.

8. Dine in the Vieux Port

The historic Vieux Port is a beautiful place to spend an evening and one of the best things to do in Cannes. Visitors can watch lights, reflecting from the stylish bars, dancing on the water whilst savouring a delicious meal. You’ll find local restaurants serving traditional French dishes and the best wines, while scoop shops are also on hand for simply grabbing a cone and soaking up the atmosphere at the most vibrant Cannes port. 

If you’re wondering what to do in Cannes on an evening and are looking for somewhere a little more secluded, head to Le Salon des Indépendants on Rue Louis Pérrissol, just a short walk from the Vieux Port. This family-run brasserie serves up some of the best traditional Provençal dishes in the area. 

Expect nightly musical performances accompanied by a menu of seasonal vegetables, locally sourced meat and fish, and the best pâté you’re ever likely to taste, making it one of the best Cannes attractions for foodies. Inclusive menus thoughtfully match starters with champagne, mains with a fantastic wine list, and desserts with delicately sweet aperitifs, ensuring a memorable dining experience.

If you’re someone who loves trying new foods when on holiday, check out our blog on the top restaurants in the South of France.

9. Hit the beach

No trip to Cannes is complete without soaking up the sun on its famous fine sandy beaches, one of the best things to do in Cannes. With 7km of beach coastline to explore, you have plenty of options, though some are privately owned. You can opt to pay a small access fee or enjoy the free public beaches – our favourites include Plage de la Bocca and Plage du Casino – which offer stunning views and crystal-clear waters. 

For a quieter beach experience away from the hustle and bustle of La Croisette, head to Palm Beach at the tip of the headland. Ideal for families and windsurfers, its shallow shoreline is perfect for relaxation. On the other side of town, Plage du Midi offers another popular beach experience, where locals and visitors alike spread their towels along the shore. Though there are no sun loungers for rent, plenty of restaurants and ice cream stalls nearby ensure you stay refreshed while basking in the Mediterranean sun.

10. Shop Along the Rue d’Antibes

Cannes is famed for its shopping scene, which ranks among the best things to do in Cannes, offering a blend of luxury and style that rivals even the chicest towns in the South of France. Strolling down Rue d’Antibes, in particular, is a treat for the senses, where you can indulge in some leisurely window-shopping while seeing the super-rich in their element. Even if shopping isn’t your cup of tea, the architecture along this bustling street is a sight to behold, adorned with sculptures by Pellegrini that add an extra layer of charm to the list of Cannes attractions.

 

While those activities certainly rank among the best things to do in Cannes, we’ve really just scratched the service with all that this region has to offer. From charming cafes tucked away in cobblestone alleys and scenic hiking trails boasting panoramic views of the Mediterranean coastline, to the annual glamorous film and yachting festivals, Cannes offers a myriad of experiences to suit every traveller’s taste. 

So, are you ready to delve deeper into the wonders of the French Riviera? Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, our luxury villas in the South of France provide the perfect base for your exploration. With our dedicated concierge team at your service, we’re here to ensure your trip is nothing short of extraordinary. So, pack your bags and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the enchanting streets and landscapes of Cannes.

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Oliver's Travels

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