Last Updated on 3rd March 2023 by Sophie Nadeau
Montpellier is a city that offers over 300 days of sunshine a year and boasts a rich history, all while being situated alongside France’s hidden riviera. It’s no wonder that this city is quickly gaining popularity as the next must-visit destination in France. You could easily spend a day or two exploring all that Montpellier has to offer. And so, if you only have 24 hours in the city, here’s how to spend the perfect one day in Montpellier itinerary.
What is Montpellier known for?
Montpellier is a sunny French destination that it famous for its history, architecture, and iconic landmarks which include the Place de la Comédie, Arc de Triomphe, and Saint-Pierre Cathedral.
The settlement is also well-known as a major university city and boasts one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Montpellier, which was established in 1220.
Thanks to its location nestled in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region (the largest wine producing region in the world), Montpellier is celebrated for its delicious local cuisine, which includes seafood, cheeses, and wines.
Furthermore, Montpellier is located in proximity to the Mediterranean coast means that you can easily reach several sandy beaches by taking a bus from the heart of the town. Some of the top beaches close to Montpellier include the Petit Travers and the Grand Travers (between the Grande Motte and Carnon), and the Palavas-les-Flots.
Is one day enough time in Montpellier?
Yes, Montpellier is a fairly compact city, with all of the major attractions situated within a short walk of one another. Most of the points of interest are concentrated around the vieux ville (old town), meaning that you can easily see everything Montpellier has to offer in a single day.
Suggested itinerary for one day in Montpellier
Start your day at Place de la Comédie
This bustling and busy square is the perfect place to begin your exploration of Montpellier. Have a traditional French breakfast at one of the cafes, sit back, and partake in one of the top French pastimes: people watching.
Café Bun is one of the best coffee shops in the city that is situated a short walk from Place de la Comédie and boasts speciality coffees, as well as a mouthwatering array of brunch favourites such as scrambled eggs and various toasts.
Visit the Musée Fabre (option 1)
This impressive museum has an extensive collection of European art from the 14th to the 21st century, including works by Rubens, Delacroix, and Courbet. Allow at least an hour and a half to two hours for your visit.
Château de Flaguergues (option 2)
If you don’t mind going a little further out of town, then you can head to the Château de Flaguergues. With its construction dating back to the 17th century, Château de Flaguergues showcases an impressive exterior adorned with intricate embellishments.
For more than three centuries, the castle has remained in the possession of the same family and has been meticulously maintained. Nowadays, visitors have the opportunity to join guided tours of the castle’s interior to marvel at its refined decor or enjoy a leisurely walk through the estate.
Have lunch at Les Halles Castellane
This bustling covered market is a foodie’s paradise, with stalls selling everything from fresh seafood to artisanal cheese. Grab a quick bite to eat or sit down for a leisurely lunch. Recently renovated as of just a few years ago, the market hall is open from every day of the week until 8 PM, apart from Sundays when it closes at 1:30 PM.
Explore the historic centre
Wander around the narrow streets of the old town and discover hidden gems and must-sees such as the Place de la Canourgue and the Porte du Peyrou. For a detailed tour, be sure to check out my free and self-guided Montpellier walking tour.
Make sure to visit the Montpellier Cathedral, a stunning example of Gothic architecture. Where Montpellier Cathedral now stands was once home to a college of Saint Benedict.
Parts of the current building on the site date back to the 14th-century and the Roman Catholic building’s full name is Cathedral Saint-Pierre of Montpellier.
Stroll through the Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Gardens)
After visiting the Cathedral, take a leisurely stroll for five to ten minutes to reach the stunning botanical gardens called the Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier. Situated along Boulevard Henri IV, this verdant haven is open from Tuesday to Sunday and admission is free.
Initially established as a university garden during the 16th century, this historical park is the oldest botanical garden in France.
This botanical garden, founded in 1593, is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city. Take some time to relax and admire the collection of over 2,600 plant species from around the world.
Visit the Arc de Triomphe
The Montpellier version of the Arc de Triomphe was commissioned by the Sun King, also known as Louis XIV, who founded the Palace of Versailles as we know it today.
The Triumphal Arch was constructed in 1691 and stands at an impressive 15 metres tall. The sole purpose of the arch was to honour the Sun King and the many “achievements” of his reign.
Enjoy the sunset at the Promenade du Peyrou
This grand promenade, with its stunning views over Montpellier, is the perfect place to end your day. Relax on a bench and take in the sunset before heading to one of the nearby restaurants for dinner.
Right next to the Promenade du Peyrou you can enjoy the spectacular architecture of the Saint Clement Acqueduct. Also known as the Arceaux Aqueduct, the 18th-century aqueduct can be found at the end of the Promenade du Peyrou.
Constructed during the 18th-century, once upon a time this impressive structure used to transport water from the Spring of Clement over 14 km to feed the fountains on La Promenade du Peyrou.
Montpellier has a vibrant food scene, with plenty of options to suit all tastes and budgets. Whether you’re in the mood for traditional French cuisine or food from a little further afield, you’re sure to find something delicious.
Some of the best French restaurants in Montpellier include Ébullition and Jardin des Sens. Whatever time of the year that you’re visiting, but particularly during the peak season, be sure to book a table at least a few days in advance as the best restaurants tends to fill up fast.
Experience the nightlife
If you’re up for it, then it’s time to hit the town. Thanks to its status as a university city, Montpellier is known for its lively nightlife. Check out one of the many live music venues or dance clubs to experience the city’s vibrant energy after dark.
If you have 2 or 3 days in Montpellier
Antigone is the go-to destination for avant-garde architecture enthusiasts and ice cream connoisseurs alike. Located east of the city centre, this district was designed by renowned Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill Levi.
Whether you’re interested in capturing stunning photographs of contemporary buildings, indulging in some retail therapy, or discovering a new facet of Montpellier, Antigone is the perfect neighbourhood to explore.
Take a day trip
As well as plenty of things to do within the city limits themselves, Montpellier also offers itself as a great base from which to explore the wider Occitanie region thanks to its numerous transportation links. Here are some of the best day trips from Montpellier.
Where to stay in Montpellier
As the former capital of the Languedoc region, Montpellier has plenty by way of sights, particularly if you opt to visit the Château de Flaguergues on the fringes of town.
As such, you could easily find enough nearby activities and excursions to fill a two or three day trip to the city. During my time in the French city, I opted to stay in the Best Western Plus Comédie Saint Roch. This hotel was clean, comfortable and located right by the train station- everything I wanted during my trip.
As I was staying just one night, it was also useful to be able to leave my bags at reception during the day so that I could leave my luggage for when I went exploring what Montpellier had to offer. To check all hotels and rates for Montpellier click here.
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Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, travel, pizza, and history. A fan of all things France related, she runs solosophie.com when she’s not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming something sweet. She currently splits her time between Paris and London. Subscribe to Sophie’s YouTube Channel.