Vibrant and diverse, the French city of Marseille is a colourful mixture of European and African cultures, and it buzzes with a creative atmosphere. Disused spaces and factories are being reclaimed and reimagined into popular bars, unique shops and urban cultural centres. There are plenty of historic influences too, seen in its ancient hillside neighbourhoods. Wander around the contemporary museums and grand buildings, and stop by the busy port filled with elegant yachts to dine al-fresco on fresh fish.
You can stay in a Marseille hostel inside a classic Haussmann building with marble floors and high ceilings, or go rustic in a three-storey Provençal farmhouse that serves homemade jam at breakfast. There are also boutique hostels to choose from, including one in a converted 19th-century mansion with painted shutters and a leafy internal courtyard. Some Marseille hostels have outdoor terraces and swimming pools, while a couple have hot tubs. Many also have on-site bars and free Wi-Fi.
Must-visit neighbourhoods in the city include the avant-garde Cours Julien where you'll find the coolest clubs, independent shops and African restaurants, alongside walls decorated with colourful street art. For somewhere more quaint, head to the ancient Le Panier district, on a hillside near the Old Port. Here, various cultures, including Greece's, have influenced its narrow streets and sun-drenched squares, which are bordered by craft shops and cafés. Close to the grand La Canebière avenue is the busy Noailles neighbourhood with its fragrant spice market and food stalls selling fresh kebabs.
Marseille has plenty of cultural attractions, including the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations (MUCEM), in an amazing modernist geometric building on the waterfront. Its rooftop terrace has views across the sea and it's connected by bridge to the 17th-century Fort Saint-Jean. Stop by the creative hub of La Friche (housed in a converted tobacco factory) for concerts and art events. Fans of the outdoors can head to Calanques National Park for tough climbs and hikes on its jagged limestone cliffs or hire a kayak to admire them from the sea.
Aéroport Marseille-Provence is about 20 minutes from the city by bus. Navette Marseille buses take you to the city's Gare de Marseille-St-Charles train station in the centre. There are also ferries to Marseille from the nearby islands of Corsica and Sardinia. To get around in Marseille, there's a bicycle sharing scheme, two metro lines and two tramlines, as well as a network of buses.