When visiting Bordeaux, you absolutely must leave yourself at least a few days to explore the magical Gironde region. The wine capital is surrounded by charming villages, impressive chateaux, vineyards, and sandy beaches. There are plenty of amazing day trips from Bordeaux however they are not very easy to find online.
In this article, I created a list of some of my favorite favorite day trips from Bordeaux. I tried to make it as diverse as possible and to include everything from famous wine areas to medieval villages and oyster farms. So I promise you that everyone can plan a perfect excursion from Bordeaux using this list.
It’s important to note that most of these locations are not very accessible by public transport, so renting a car is recommended. If want to avoid driving be sure to check out my article about the best day trips from Bordeaux by train.
A day trip to the vineyards of Bordeaux
Visiting Saint Émilion and its wineries
Saint Émilion is probably the most famous day trip from Bordeaux. The world-renowned wineries and its picturesque center abundant with wine shops and restaurants attract more than a million visitors each year.
The charming medieval town is worth a visit even if you’re not a wine lover. Important historical monuments, dating back as far as the 11th and 12th centuries can be found here in abundance. One of the famous monuments is the 11th-century Monolithic church, the largest underground church in Europe carved from a limestone cliff.
You can plan a perfect day trip from Bordeaux to Saint Emilion with my detailed guide.
The Saint Emilion region is however most famous for its fabulous wine. So if you made it all the way there, I highly recommend visiting at least one winery. I have a list of some of my favorite wineries to visit in Saint Emilion, that I’ve built following many numerous visits there.
It’s quite easy to organize a self-guided day trip to Saint Emilion but I know that many people rather take a guided tour. In this area, there are quite a few companies specializing in tours to the wine region. One tour that I highly recommend is a full-day trip to Saint Emilion offered by Ophorus. The tour includes a visit to three wineries and a walk in the medieval city center.
How to get there: My personal recommendation is to rent a car. It will allow you to visit any chateau you like and not only the ones that are close to the center of Saint Emilion. Having said that, Saint Emilion is one of the easiest places to get to by public transport from Bordeaux. A direct 40-minute train from Gare Saint Jean in Bordeaux will take you to the train station of Saint Emilion. You can buy the tickets online or at the train station.
The Medoc Wine Route – La route des châteaux
La route des châteaux in Medoc is the most scenic route in the Bordeaux wine region. The famous wine route (on the D2 road) starts at the northern part of Bordeaux Metropole (in the town of Blanquefort) and continues to the northern part of Gironde. All along the way you can admire captivating châteaux embellishing the endless landscape of lush vineyards.
There are about 600 châteaux along the Medoc wine trail. You probably won’t have time to visit most of them, but luckily, some of the most beautiful ones can be seen from the road so all you have to do is stop for a quick photo.
The most famous wine houses (like Château Margeaux and Château Mouton Rothschild) are open only to professionals but don’t worry, there are plenty of beautiful properties you can visit. Some of the prettiest and more interesting are Château d’Arsac, Château Lamothe Bergeron and Château Cos d’Estournelle.
I have a list of all my favorite wineries to visit in Medoc that can help when planning your day trip. Some wineries have restaurants or wine bars for a drink in the summer (like Château Marquis de Terme and Château Chasse-Spleen). Make sure you book your visit to the wineries before going there as it can get quite busy in the summer.
Personally, the Medoc is one of my favorite areas to visit around Bordeaux and I think it deserves at least a weekend. If you have the chance to spend more time here, read my article about a weekend in Medoc.
How to get there: Just like Saint Emilion, I believe that wine routes are best discovered by car. Here’s a good website to look for car rentals in case you don’t have a car. However, there are a few great wineries you can visit by train from Bordeaux – here’s my article with all you need to know. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of organizing the trip, you can take a great half day guided tour to Medoc and visit two wineries.
Cognac – the town and the Brandy
Wine is not the only alcoholic drink Southwest France is known for! Bordeaux is located about 120 km (75 miles) from Cognac, an area that produces one of the most luxurious spirits in the world.
The charming town of Cognac, located in the Charente department, merits a visit even if you’re not a big Cognac lover. The old center of the city is characterized by narrow paved streets with houses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries. You can read about the best places to visit and where to eat in my article about Cognac.
Some of the most famous Cognac houses are located right in the city center, among them, you’ll find Hennessy, Martell, and Rémy Martin. All of them offer tours which normally include a visit to the cellars and Cognac tastings. Here’s my article on the best distilleries to visit in the Cognac region.
How to get to Cognac: you can get there by train but not a direct one. You’ll have to change trains in Saintes or Angouleme, depending on the time of your departure. You can book your tickets here. You can also take this excellent private tour from Bordeaux to Cognac. On this tour, you get to visit the town as well as three Cognac distilleries.
Discover the best beach towns around Bordeaux
Arcachon is one of the most popular summer destinations in the southwest of France. A seaside resort town renowned for its beautiful beaches, impressive architecture, and vibrant atmosphere. Within an hour’s drive from Bordeaux, you get to swim in the ocean, eat oysters and see extravagant villas.
A day to Arcachon is best to be combined with a trip to the Dune du Pilat, the tallest sand dune in Europe. To help you organize the trip I wrote a detailed guide about how to spend a day in Arcachon. There I included everything from restaurants, hidden gems, and ways to get there and to the dune.
The Arcachon Bay is also home to many other smaller and undiscovered villages. So if you have a car and a bit more time I highly recommend visiting them too. Here’s my article about all the places to visit on the Bay.
How to get to Arcachon: the town of Arcachon is one of the easiest day trips by train. However, if you want to easily visit some of the other places on Arcachon Bay, renting a car is highly recommended.
If you don’t really want to visit another town and just wish to taste oysters and visit the dune, I recommend taking this tour.
For those who have more than a day to dedicate to Arcachon, I highly recommend spending the night there. Here’s my article about the best hotels in Arcachon.
Soulac sur Mer
This charming little town is one of the highlights of the Medoc region. It’s located on the very top of the Medoc Atlantique, about 90 km (55 miles) from Bordeaux. If this is too far for you, you can combine it with the wine trail in Medoc which I mentioned above.
Soulac sur Mer is a resort town that resembles Arcachon and is even nicknamed “little Arcachon”. The city center looks like Ville d’été and the impressive 18th-century villas look just like Ville d’Hiver. The town has some of the most beautiful beaches on the Atlantic coast, attracting many French tourists. There are plenty of cute little restaurants both in the center and on the promenade.
When there, take a map from the tourist office and go on a discovery tour of the most interesting villas. I highly recommend coming here at the beginning of June during the festive weekend of Soulac 1900, a really fun Jazz festival.
How to get to Soulac: If you don’t want to drive for 1.5 hours from Bordeaux, you can take a direct train from Bordeaux. You can buy tickets here.
The Cap Ferret peninsula is located in the Western part of Bassin d’Arcachon (Arcachon Bay). Shaped like a narrow tongue it runs along a string of beautiful sandy beaches on the Atlantic Ocean and small villages on the Bassin side.
Its most southern village, called Cap Ferret, has been traditionally known as a summer getaway for the French upper class. Despite its growing popularity among locals and tourists, it has yet to lose its relaxing seaside village atmosphere.
Cap Ferret is also known for being one of the biggest oyster-growing areas in Frace. Its strategic location on Arachon Bay creates perfect climate conditions for the ostréiculture industry. You can find numerous oyster huts in every port in Cap Ferret and other oyster-farming villages like L’herbe and Le Canon. Having a plate of oysters with a glass of cold white wine is an absolute must!
How to get there: You can get there by bus number 601, but honestly it’s a long journey that I wouldn’t recommend. The best way is to get there by car. It’s also possible to get there by boat from Arcachon town.
The Biscarrosse lake
This one is a great option for a day in nature. If you don’t mind driving a bit longer, the beautiful Biscarrosse Lake is located about 70 km (45 miles) from Bordeaux. It is one of the biggest lakes in the area with plenty of amazing beaches and pine forest surrounding it. If you need an idea for a day out of Bordeaux with kids, a trip to Biscarrose is perfect!
There are several beaches to choose from, some of my favorites are Plage Navarrose and Plage de Caton. Aquapark, the biggest inflatable water park in France is located on Plage Maguide. If you’re into surfing, head to the beaches on the Atlantic coast. You can also start the day with a biking trail on the canal, connecting the big and little lakes.
If you prefer ocean beaches head to Biscarrosse Ocean, a seaside town with a huge beach and plenty of restaurants. You need a car to get to all these beaches from Bordeaux.
A day trip to the beautiful villages and towns around Bordeaux
Bazas is a beautiful little town with lovely people and a great heritage embodying the Gascony culture. It’s located at the eastern edge of the Gascon Landes forest, about 65 km (40 miles) from Bordeaux.
A stroll in the historic center will allow you to discover the rich history of the city and its past role as an important bishopric. On your stroll, you’ll see the Gothic cathedral (a UNESCO heritage site), old mansions, gardens, and historic monuments.
Architecture is not the only attraction in Bazas, it’s actually famous for its gastronomy, especially its meat. You can enjoy the Bazas meat in one of the restaurants that are perfectly located on the main square. True meat lovers could also buy meat in one of the many butcher shops in the center.
If you’re looking for a full gastronomic experience to discover the cuisine of the region, I highly recommend this guided tour. Anne, an American living in Bazas is an expert on everything related to food in the region. She knows all the farmers and chefs around Bazas and a guided tour with her is an experience you don’t want to miss.
Blaye is one of the most beautiful villages in the Bordeaux area, located only about 50 km (30 miles) from Bordeaux. This little town has a long military and strategic history and is mostly known for its remarkable Citadel.
The Citadel and the city walls are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entrance to the Citadel is free and you can explore the streets and ramparts admiring the view of the Gironde estuary which can be seen from the top.
Blaye is also known for its wine, which ia labeled under the Blaye – Côtes de Bordeaux appellation. You can visit the Maison du Vin on the main street (12 Cours Vauban). They will gladly introduce you to the wines of the area and the chateaux you can visit around Blaye. Château Monconseil-Gazin is one of my favorite red wines from Blaye and you can book a visit there.
How to get to Blaye: The easiest way to get there is by car or by ferry if you’re coming from the other side of the Gironde estuary. The ferry is leaving from Lamarque, see the schedule.
Visit castles in the South of Gironde
South Gironde is a magical landscape of history and gascon tradition. It’s a rural area, abundant with beautiful medieval villages and ancient castles. One of the most impressive castles is Château de la Brede, located only 30 minutes from Bordeaux. The 14th-century castle, built in a Gothic style was the residence of Montesquieu. Today the castle is a museum dedicated to the life and work of the famous French philosopher. The château is open for visits from April to November.
Another castle to visit is Château de Cadillac located in a charming little town that goes by the same name. The impressive chateau is best known for being a women’s prison starting from the French Revolution until 1950. Now it serves as a museum that mostly displays the life of the royals who were occupying the estate before it became a prison. However, on the last floor, you can actually still see the cells and an exhibition about the prison.
Other stunning castles include Château de Roquetaillade, Château Royal de Cazeneuve, and Château de Vayres. You need a car to be able to visit the castles of Gironde. You can easily find a car from the center of Bordeaux here.
I can go on and on about day trips you can do from Bordeaux to the Dordogne region. You can visit stunning castles, gardens, and some of the most beautiful French villages in less than two hours drive.
But for the purpose of this article I decided to choose one destination in Dordogne, the town of Bergerac. The charming capital of Purple Perigord is one located about 115 km from Bordeaux, about 1.5 hours drive, without traffic. When you decide to go there, take a look at my detailed guide to Bergerac to help you plan the day.
Bergerac is seated on the banks of the Dordogne giving it a beautiful view of the river. You can take a tour of the gabarre (Dordogne’s traditional boat) and discover the history of the city as well as the natural reserve around it. In the city center, you’ll find plenty of restaurants, a great market, and long shopping streets.
The area is also known for its wine and you can combine your trip there with a visit to a château. One of the most famous ones is the beautiful Château de Monbazillac, which is located only 15 minutes away. It’s known for its sweet white wine.
If you’re going to Bergerac on a Saturday, don’t miss the great market in Sainte Foy la Grande which is just on the way from Bordeaux.
How to get to Bergerac: There’s a direct train from Bordeaux to Bergerac, the same one that stops at Saint Emilion. You can buy your tickets online or at the train station.
It’s your first time in Bordeaux?
If you’re visiting Bordeaux for the first time, be sure to check out my ultimate guide to Bordeaux to get familiar with all the must-see places in Bordeaux. To help you choose a hotel in Bordeaux I’ve gathered a list of the best hotels in the center of Bordeaux as well as a guide to the districts of Bordeaux to help you find your preferred location.
Before I end my article, here are a few other articles you might want to read when you’re traveling around Bordeaux:
The best beaches around Bordeaux
Best places to visit on the Arcachon Bay
A weekend in Medoc- Bordeaux wine tours
What to do and eat in Saint Emilion
A weekend in Toulouse
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:
*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂