The Ultimate Guide of Things to Do and See in Cannes (With Photos)
Cannes is a city known for its glitz and glamour, its Cannes film festival, and for being one of the most luxurious cities on the French Riviera.
With its beautiful Croisette along the Mediterranean, its beautiful scenery, and maybe most importantly, its lovely sand beaches, Cannes is one of the most popular cities on the French Riviera for tourists to visit.
But Cannes is so much more than walking on the Croisette, and laying on the beaches, even if that is a big part of it. In fact, as a tourist, you maybe want to have a few things to do in Cannes.
In this complete article, we’ll be listing the most popular things to do in Cannes. While many of the things to do in Cannes will be things that the majority of people who visit do and see, we’ll also be sharing a few things to do in Cannes which are lesser known, but are activities that are equally worth doing. Moreover, some of the things to do in Cannes are completely free, and can be enjoyed with a highly restricted budget, while others demands you to open up your wallet quite widely.
1. Le Suquet
Photo: Bex Walton
Most people think of glitz and glamour when they think of Cannes, but did you also know that Cannes has an old town, known as Le Suquet?
For many tourists, among the things to do in Cannes, visiting le Suquet is often part of their list.
Not only does visiting Le suquet take you away from the busy and hectic heart of Cannes, but it also offers lots of lovely sights, buildings, and history.
Le Suquet is located west of the harbour in Cannes, and is built on a hilltop, as most old cities are, for obvious strategic reasons.
Le Suquet contrasts Cannes that most people know like night and day, and visiting is definitely something out of the ordinary, if you’re used to just visiting the most touristic places in Cannes.
The town is just like your traditional old French towns with small, narrow streets, and beautiful buildings in a number of stunning colors.
At the very top of the hill of Le Suquet, you’ll find the most breathtaking view over parts of Cannes, all the way to the Lérins islands and the Place de festival.
On top of the hill in the old town of Cannes is also a watchtower and a castle with large walls which, parts of them, you can walk up on, located on Place de la Castre.
2. La Croisette
Ahh, the iconic La Croisette promenade that stretches along the Mediterranean is part of every tourist’s list of things to do in Cannes. And with all right.
The ”main” Croisette stretches all the way from the old harbour of Cannes to the Pointe Croisette and offers stunning views.
On the promenade, you can enjoy a delightful stroll, and if you want, purchase some ice-cream on one of the many stands located along it.
One might say that along the Boulevard de la Croisette is the most luxurious and exclusive street in whole of Cannes, and that is not a faulty assumption.
Not only does being here come with a complimentary stunning view over the Mediterranean, but along this street can also the top luxury fashion houses be found, which attracts many of the rich and famous evert year.
Along the Croisette, you can also find numerous cafés, so if you feel like sitting down, you can do so, and enjoy the marvellous view at the same time.
It is along the Croisette which you’ll find the vast majority of people, and the majority of people have the Croisette as base.
On the Croisette are also a large number of idyllic blue chairs located, so whenever you feel a bit tired in your legs, or just want to sit down and soak in the beautiful atmosphere and view, seats are available almost everywhere on the Croisette.
3. Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez
Photo: Guillaume Laurent
This is one of the most luxurious hotels on the French Riviera, of course located at the beachfront, with views over the Croisette and the Mediterranean.
This is the hotel where many of the rich and famous come to stay, and you want to have a hotel experience out of the orinary, Hotel Martinez won’t disappoint.
The hotel has just (2018) been fully renovated to meet its guests’ demands, and the façade of the hotel has lots of beautiful traditional and beautfiful art decorations, as the hotel itself is quite old, even if the inside has been renovated.
Here, you’ll also find the only two-starred Michelin restaurant in Cannes, La Palm d’Or, and if you want to have a top-class dinner experience out of the ordinary, eating at this restaurant should definitely be among your things to do in Cannes, however, you have to be prepared that it’s going to cost you.
4. Pointe de la Croisette
Photo: David van der Mark
If you have walking on the Croisette on your list of things to do in Cannes, you might find yourself walking all the way out to point de la Croisette.
Most people stop walking along the Croisette when they’ve reached hotel Martinez, as that is the last point where there are stores and hotels along the sea, bu those who continue to walk along the Croisette, past the newest harbour Port-Canto, located on the other side of the old harbour of Cannes will not be disappointed. Continuing to walk will take you to Pointe the la Croisette, a point of Cannes, where you’ll find beautiful scenery, some idyllic cafés on the less known beaches which are less crowded than the ones at the heart of the Croisette.
The new harbour is itself worth being on your list of things to do in Cannes if you are interested in yachts, as during summer, you’ll find some of the most largest yachts in the whole world here.
5. Villa Domergue
Behind Cannes, in the calm and relaxing hills is Villa Domerque situated. It is a stunning art deco mansion which mixes modernity with ancient.
The villa was built by the painter Jean-Gabriel Domergue in 1934 and was inspired by Venetian palaces.
The terrace gardens were designed by his wife Odette Maugendre, and throughout history, this villa has been the venue for some of the top parties on the French Riviera.
Today, the villa is the place where events such as Jazz à Domergue takes place, as well as the hangout of the Cannes Festival jury when it is time for deliberations.
In the 1970s the villa was bequeathed to the city , which is why it is open for the public.
If you plan on adding this your list of things to do in Cannes, you’ll be able to enjoy a delightful tour of the villa, as well as enjoy the most stunning view over the Bay of Cannes.
With Cannes being known as one of the most luxurious cities on the French Riviera, it is hard not to mention luxury shopping.
Because the fact of the matter, luxury shopping is the main reason why many individuals come to Cannes.
The majority of luxury high-end brands in Cannes are, not surprisingly, located on the most luxurious street in Cannes, with seafront views, and the stunning Croisette.
Virtually every luxury brand you can think of has a store in Cannes, including brands like Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior, Hermes, and many, many more.
If you’d go inside each and every store one by one, it would take you quite a long time, but if you are interested in luxury goods and designed clothes and accessories, visiting Cannes for luxury shopping won’t make you disappointed.
If you don’t have the budgets like the ones who parks their luxurious sport cars outside of the stores, which you can find quite often, especially during summer, window shopping is an experience itself, and you can see that many people exchange walking on the Croisette to walking to the other side of the street in order to be able to watch the beautiful window fronts of these luxury stores.
Walking this street truly reminds you of the town you are in, and the status city it really is.
7. Palais des Festival
Photo: Juho Koski
Cannes is known all over the world due to the Cannes film festival, and this is probably something that many people know Cannes by.
As a result, visiting the Palais de festivals – the festival place is on the list of things to do in Cannes for many tourists.
This is the place where Cannes film festival takes place, and if you come here, why not take a photo on the red carpet where all the celebrities are photographed by paparazzis at the time of the event. Because if you pass by, that’s exactly what you’ll see a lot of the tourists do.
If you decide to make visiting Palais des festivals an activity among the things to do in Cannes, you’ll be able to find numerous handprint from celebrities located around the building, as well as recognise the infamous stairs and building which has also been part of several movies over the years.
8. Film Festival
Photo: D’Orazio & Associates
Now, if you aren’t visiting Cannes at the time of the film festival, simply visiting the building and the red carpet where all the movie starts walk is an experience itself.
But if you are visiting Cannes at the time where the actual film festival is on, you’ll find a Cannes filled with people, paparazzi, and celebrities.
And it’s not unlikely that you’ll see celebrities around Cannes followed by numerous of paparazzi. If you’re lucky, you’ll maybe even be able to get an autograph.
Cannes during the Film festival is a city full of life. And that’s not that strange considering it’s the largest event of the year.
The event takes place in mid-may, which is an amazing time to visit Cannes, not only because of the high pulse of Cannes, but also because it is a time when the days has gotten longer, and the temperature is quickly rising
If you are interested in movie stars and celebrities, this is the ultimate time to visit Cannes, as the chances of seeing them is almost certain.
9. Painted Walls
Photo: Adrian Mills
Cannes, being a city known for its place in the world as a leading cinema and movie town, in 2002, it started to paint a numerous walls with world-famous historic, iconic actors and characters.
If you are a fan of art, you’ll love these giant walls of houses, painted with beautiful motives that circulate around Cannes’s leading position in the world in Cinema.
10. The Grand Palace hotels
Photo: twiga269 ॐ FEMEN
Cannes has too many luxurious five-star hotels to list them all, but the vast majority of those are located with seafront view, yep, you guessed it, on the most luxurious street in Cannes.
The hotels are often situated in iconic buildings with a rich history, and are sure to offer you an experience out of the ordinary, and a view equally so.
If you want to have a hotel experience in Cannes that is out of the ordinary, then living, or just visiting these hotels is a must.
If you don’t have the budget to pay a large sum of money to live in the hotels, you can come here to enjoy a cocktail inside, and enjoy the beautiful interior of the iconic hotels. Moreover, you can even visit and have a cocktail, mor maybe even dinner on some of the rooftop bars and restaurants that are situated on top of some of the most luxurious hotels in Cannes, such as JW Mariott.
11. InterContinental Carlton Cannes Hotel
Photo: Gaetan D.
Carlton is truly one of the most, if not the most prestigious hotels in whole of Cannes, located right on the Boulevard de la Croisette. Now only can you expect top-class service and a delightful sense of luxury, if you reserve a room with a sea view, you’ll be able to enjoy some of the best views in whole of Cannes.
The facade of Carlton hints about what you can expect on the inside, with its stunning architecture, and detail rich facades, with its iconic domes in each corner on the sides towards the Croisette.
Carlton hotel has its very own private beach with white sand, so you can enjoy a delightful day on the beach in calm and peace.
Carlton also has its very own restaurant with views over the Croisette and Mediterranean, which is great if you just want to experience Carlton without living there.
12. Marché Forville
This is the most popular market in Cannes, and is out in true Mediterranean, French Riviera spirit.
If you’re a tourist in Cannes, visiting this marketing should definitely be on your list of things to do in Cannes.
In this market, you’ll find all of the wonderful iconic products which Provence is known for, and plenty of locally grown fruit, vegetables, local fish, flowers, and much more.
Visiting this market takes you away from the glitz and glamour of Cannes, and lets you experience the traditional and true way of life for the local inhabitants on the French Riviera.
This market allows you to fetch fresh fruit and vegetables which has just been harvested, so you can enjoy your food truly fresh, in real French Riviera spirit.
You can visit this market in Cannes every day, except on Mondays, when there’s a flea market instead.
For tourists, this market is quite popular to visit, and is a popular thing to do in Cannes, allowing people to see the whole personality of Cannes, not just the glitz and glamour.
13. Île Sainte-Marguerite
Photo: Travis Danks
Just outside of Cannes are four islands that together are referred to as the Lérins islands. These islands can be seen from the Croisette.
Visiting one of the four islands is a tremendously popular activity among the things to do in Cannes, especially during summer.
One of the four Lérins islands is Île Sainte-Marguerite – Saint Margaret Island. Getting here is actually super easy and only takes 15 minutes by ferry. The ferry departs many times every hour, and departs from the old port of Cannes.
Visiting Saint Margaret is not only popular for sightseeing and enjoying the beautiful scenery, but it is also perfect if you want to get away from all the people who crowd Cannes in the summer. Moreover, people often go to Saint Margaret for a beach day, but without having to crowd with all the other people on the beaches in Cannes.
If you visit, you’ll find stunning forests with incredible pine- and eucalyptus trees.
If you want to explore the island, you can visit the north coast of the island, as it is the place of the 17th-century Fort Royal, which is an iconic and historic fort and prison, which held famous individuals like the Man in the Iron Mask captivated.
Furthermore, you’ll also find a maritime museum which showcases items from shipwrecks.
14. Public beaches
While many of the cities on the French Riviera, including the largest town Nice has stone beaches, Cannes is a city with delightful sand beaches. During summer especially, the beaches of Cannes are completely packed due to their popularity. Cannes has both public and private beaches, some of which are completely private and others belonging to hotels.
Renting a subbed generally costs between €12 to €40 euros depending on the location and season, and if you don’t feel like paying that, there’s always the public beach. But if you are here during mid-summer, you’ll have to be prepared that they are going to be crowded, s o if you want a good spot, it’s a good idea to go there early in the day.
Also, remember that the only beach isn’t the beach that stretches along the most common part of the Croisette. In fact, in Palm beach, there are a number of beaches which often are less crowded and more calm.
15. Rue d’Antibes
Photo: Yasuharu Sasaki
Apart from the Boulevard de la Croisette, this is the most famous street in Cannes.
It is also the largest shopping street in Cannes, which you can walk along for hours, with endless and endless of stores.
Generally, the stores here are less exclusive and high-end as the ones located on Boulevard de la Croisette. Here, you’ll find some of the brands that you know so well, including Zara, Lacoste, Sephora, and many more.
This is where most people go to do their shopping, and in the high-season, this street is packed with people.
For many, taking a day shopping on Rude d’Antibes is part of their list of things to do in Cannes.
The location of this shopping street is great, located parallel with the Boulevard de la Croisette, and only a few hundred meters from the Croisette.
Here, you can expect to find everything you are looking for, from traditional French pasties and perfume, to clothes from world-known brands that won’t break the bank.
16. Five Seas Hotel
Different from the majority of top hotels in Cannes, this luxurious hotel is not located on Boulevard de Croisette, but one street further in. This hotel is also located in the old part of Cannes, known as Le Suquet.
This hotel is far from old and outdated, though.
In fact, this hotel embraces modernity and offers an experience out of the ordinary.
This is not the reason why it made it to this list for things to do in Cannes, though. If you want to red a list of hotels in Cannes, you should instead read this article about all thefive-star hotels.
But for you that want to find things to do in Cannes, this hotel is a must-visit.
The reason is that the Five seas hotel has an absolutely amazing rooftop restaurant, pool terrace, spa, and bar, with a magnificent view over Cannes.
17. Île Saint-Honorat
Photo: Brugge Marine
Saint Honorat island is the second among the four Lérins islands, and it is also, together with Saint Margaret island the most popular island for tourists to visit.
Saint Honorat is especially popular for a particular reason, and that reason is that it is inhabitated by monks who live in an old monastery on the island.
The monks also have their very own vineyard, with which they make their very own wine.
If you are interested in wine, taking a tour of the vineyard should definitely be on your list of things to do in Cannes, as you’ll also get the pleasure of tasting their wines, and learning about the ecological and traditional methods they use to produce grow the grapes and make the wine.
Saint Honorat has been a pilgrimage site for 1,600 years, and there are a several great reasons why you should visit.
THe island is named after Saint Honoratus, which built a community on the island. Then, a monastery was build in 410.
Today, you can find plenty of stunning historical ruins and abandoned chapels. Another attraction that draw plenty of tourists here is that the ruins of a cannonball oven from the Napoleonic period is located here.
Inside the Lérins Abbey, you’ll find a 15th-century fortified monastery on the south coast, which also offers a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean.
18. Fort Royal
Photo: Darold Massaro
On the island of Saint Margaret is the fort royal which is well worth a visit if you’re ever in Cannes. Shortly after the ownership of the island passed from the monks of Saint-Honorat to Claude de Lorraine, Duke of Chevreuse. In 1612 began constructions of a fort on the island which would become the Fort Royal. At the end of the 17th century, the Fort Royal became home to a barracks and state prison. The main reason why the Fort royal has become so famous is that it was home to a number of famous prisoners over the years, until it was closed in the 20th century.
Among others, the fort has held prisoners such as the Man in the Iron Mask, Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri , Marquis Jouffroy d’Abbans (inventor of the steamboat), and Marshal Bazaine,
19. St. Honorat monasteries
Photo: Fabio Silva
Saint Honorat is an island should definitely be on your things to do in Cannes list, with plenty of things to visit and explore, but visiting the Saint Honorat monastery deserves a very own day dedicated to exploring it.
The old monastery is heavily fortified, and is the main tourist attraction on the island.
Admission is free.
There are two main monasteries on St Honorat, but both are equally worth visiting, and making it two things to do in Cannes.
The first monastery is the now fortified monastery located right at the Mediterranean, parts of it standing in the water.
Then, we have the monastery located further into the island which is still used, and is today home to 30 Cistercian monks. The monastery which is inhabited is the most popular tourist attraction from which you get stunning views and have beautiful surroundings. THe monastery has a chapel, and tourists are welcome to attend masses at given times.
As a tourist, attending a mass is among the things to do in Cannes something highly unique and most certainly something you don’t do every day – unless you’re one of the monks living there, of course.
20. Musée de la Castre
Photo: Soumit Nandi
If you want to make visiting the old town of Cannes– Le Suquet part of your plans of things to do in Cannes, then visiting the Musée de la Castre should be on that list too.
At the very top of the hill of Le Suquet, in the watchtower, you’ll find the Musée de la Castre – the castle museum.
The museum is a museum which showcases collections of various findings from Cannes and the areas around it, including other iconic French Riviera and from all over the world. THe museum showcases items such as music instruments, primitive art from pre-Colombian America, fine art, artefacts and much more.
Most of the people who visit and are interested in history find this museum well-worth the visit, especially on the first Sunday of the month from November to March considering entrance is free.
Seeing the items isn’t the only reason to visit, though.
In fact, if you come here, you can also get to the very top of the watchtower, which offers some of the most amazing scenery in whole of Cannes. But do know that there are 109 steps to the top.
The fort in which the museum is located in was built in the 11th century in order to spot enemies that come from sea. The tower was built by the monks of St Honorat in Le Suquet in Cannes so that the people in the watchtower on mainland could warn their friends on the island if any enemies where approaching the island, which has been under attack many times through history.
The museum is surrounded by a stunning Mediterranean garden with pine trees.
21. Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Espérance
Photo: P.K. – Paris
Another popular attraction among the things to to in Cannes is visiting the Église Notre-Dame-de-l’Espérance, which essentially translates to the Church of Our Lady of Hope.
This church is located right next to the old fortress in Le Suquet and is a stunning building, being a solemn gothic and renaissance church. THe church was constructed in the 1500s, and is therefore a church full of history, and when done in 1627, it replaced the old chapel Sainte-Anne.
The church is easy to spot from the bay of Cannes as it has a clocktower belonging to it.
22. Take a helicopter trip
Photo: Patrick Coulon
Based at the old port of Cannes is a helicopter company which offers helicopter experiences out of the ordinary.
If you want to add the dot over the i to your Cannes experience, among the things to do in Cannes, this is something that will make your visit to Cannes something that you’ll never forget.
You can fly to a number of places from the helicopter platform in the old port of Cannes, including Saint-Tropez and Monaco.
Moreover, you can also take a helicopter tour just to enjoy the stunning views of the mediterranean, Cannes, and the neighbouring towns of Cannes.
The prices vary, but generally, these are the prices you can expect, and some of the tours you can take:
”6 min tour of the Lerin Islands 120€ (1-3 passengers)
12 min tour of the Lerins Islands and Golfe Juan bay 240€ or 480€
25 min tour of the Lerins Islands, Mandelieu, Theoule, Frejus, St Cassien lake, Massif de l’Esterel. 405€ or 750€
45 min tour of Cap d’Antibes, Nice, Villefranche, Cap Ferrat, Monaco, Eze, St Paul de Vence, Theoule, Frejus, St Tropez, Cap Taillat 650€ or 1,290€.
60 min tour of the back country, Verdon Gorge (choice of routes possible) 825€ or 1,650€.”