Are you going to visit Arles this year? Bravo! If you only have one day to visit this lovely city, Winalist will help you pick the best things to do in Arles, France in a short time frame.
Nestled between Nîmes and Avignon in the Camargue, Arles is a must-see city if you’re spending time in Provence. Be prepared for an incredible journey through two thousand five hundred years of history; marvel at its numerous listed monuments from antiquity to Roman times, including emblematic places such as the Arena of Arles.
Are you intrigued by Provençal landscapes and wish to explore the city in 1 or 2 days? Look no further! Our guide offers all the specifics on key sites of interest that are must-sees for curious travelers. We have everything planned out, so come discover what this beautiful city has to offer.
Winalist gives you access to the best tourist activities in the vineyards of Provence.
Where is Arles in France?
Arles, France is located in the south of the country, on the Rhône River delta. It’s a charming and vibrant city that still retains its ancient Roman roots in its streets and architecture.
The town also has plenty to offer in terms of sightseeing attractions, from the Roman ruins to its historical center filled with ancient churches and monuments. With so much to see and do near Arles, it’s no surprise that this destination is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination.
Unmissable sights to see with 1 day in Arles
Meet in the city center of Arles, and more precisely Place de la République. This former royal square is the heart of the old quarter of Arles, with its colorful facades all along the narrow streets to explore the city.
Monuments built at different times rub shoulders: among them you will notice the town hall (late 17th century), the obelisk (Antiquity), the Clock Tower or the post office (19th century).
Famous for its Aubusson tapestries, the Saint-Trophime cathedral is the first building that catches the eye on the Place de la République. Some describe it as one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in the South of France.
The architectural richness it has, both on the facade and inside, has a lot to do with it. The wall sculptures are impressive, even for regulars visiting churches and cathedrals.
If you want to learn more about the significance of the architectural details and the representations of the carvings and stained glass, guided tours are provided.
This amphitheater is a vestige of the glorious Roman era, built in 80 AD. In other words, it is a veritable institution and even a symbol of Arles. Built on the models of the Colosseum in Rome, the arenas are an ancient place of spectacle where gladiators clashed until the end of the Roman Empire.
Today it is the most visited monument in the city, which takes care of it. Indeed, more than 25 million euros have been used to restore the arenas over ten years. Shows are always organized there, such as bullfights during the Feria d’Arles. Sometimes the arenas are transformed into a stage and host theatrical or musical performances.
The arena is part of the DNA of Arles. It is a unique, precious heritage, which teaches all its visitors a great moment in history.
The ancient theater
According to specialists, it is one of the first stone theaters built in ancient times. Able to accommodate up to 10,000 people, the theater was discovered in 1828. Since 1981, it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
We can now visit it, and attend shows and festivals organized most of the time between June and September. As it is located near the arena, it is possible to buy tickets combining visits to these two monuments. However, it is not necessary to pay to visit it, since this open-air theater can be admired from the outside.
The Baths of Constantine
Located on the banks of the Rhône, near the Quai Marx-Dormoy, you can access them by rue du Grand-Prieuré to the west of the building.
A characteristic expression of Roman civilization, the baths were one of the most widespread public places at that time. In addition to their hygienic function, the thermal baths also had a strong social role.
The rehabilitation of the baths of Constantine dates from the end of the 19th century. The visit to the parts open to the public is quite short, and teaches you a lot about the ingenious systems that allowed the Romans to circulate heat and water at the time. Although the building is considered a “ruin”, it has still retained its charm thanks to the old stones that compose it.
Van Gogh Circuit Walk
Art and exhibition lovers, this place is made for you! The “Van Gogh walk” starting from the Tourist Office takes you in the footsteps of the famous painter. It’s a completely different way of visiting Arles, with the eyes of the artist in a way.
You will stroll through the different places where Van Gogh lived, the places he painted, and better understand why his creativity was so prolific. More than 300 canvases in 15 months would have been painted by Van Gogh during his visit to Arles.
Even without specific knowledge, we recommend this activity. It gives you a different view of the city, while allowing you to see that some places look identical compared to the paintings, while others have changed a lot.
Visit the surroundings of Arles: the vineyards of Provence
Want to venture around Arles to discover Provence? Winalist lists the best wine tourism activities in the Arles region. The concept is simple: discover the landscapes and the Provençal terroir while enjoying the anecdotes and stories told by your hosts.
Stock up on memories and flavours: our partners will take you on a tour of the most beautiful villages and wine estates in the region, while offering you several tastings and meals typical of the South.
Domaine des Rosemary in Domazan
Two brothers, heirs to four generations of winegrowers, take care of an area of around thirty hectares in Domazan, in the south of the Côtes du Rhône in the Gard. They welcome you as a couple or with friends to teach you the deep links between the terroir and wine as well as cultivation with respect for fruit and traditions.
Certified for many years by the “High Environmental Value” label, the Domaine des Romarins has decided to go further by starting a conversion to organic farming. Beautiful oenological discoveries await you.
With a walk in the vineyards or a tasting at the Domaine des Romarins, you will have enough to fill your day of getaway in the surroundings of Arles.
What to do in Arles? Here are the best activities and tours
Here is a selection of ideal activities during a stay with family or friends in Arles:
- Visit the Museum of Ancient Arles;
- Go to a festival;
- Take a bike ride in the Camargue Regional Park.
Visit the Museum of Ancient Arles
In view of its modern architecture, one is at first sight far from suspecting the type of works exhibited in this museum. However, the Museum of Ancient Arles located on the Cirque Romain peninsula is the best witness to life in Antiquity in the region.
The incredibly rich collections of Roman remains can take you up to half a day to fully visit. The busts of Caesar or Augustus, as well as a multitude of sarcophagi and numerous mosaics, bring you back to this prosperous period when nothing was good enough to satisfy the emperor.
We recommend hiring a guide or joining a group on a guided tour to benefit from the very professional and educational explanations of the team.
Walk in the Camargue Park
The Camargue Regional Natural Park is located on the shores of the Mediterranean, inside the Rhône delta.
Like the other 56 Regional Natural Parks in France, the Camargue Regional Natural Park is both:
- a rural territory, open and inhabited, with a fragile balance and recognized for its exceptional quality, where nature conservation is a priority;
- an organization vested with missions of general interest: protection and management of the natural and cultural heritage, regional planning, economic and social development;
Your visit may be made up of walks or horseback rides interspersed with a few visits to museums and protected natural areas. Resting on the beaches, between the sea and the ponds, is of course highly recommended!
Find maps of the Parc de Camargue on the official website.
Participate in summer festivals
Arles is a festive city. You just have to look a little bit at the summer event program to realize this:
- the Festival des Suds invites Sono Mondiale to the heart of the beautiful city of Arles. 200 artists, 60 concerts & musical encounters are organized during the month of July;
- Indian Summer is a festival of creation and an image market, intended for collectors but also for enthusiasts and the curious;
- Photography enthusiasts will prefer to plan their stay during the Rencontres de la Photographie;
During your escapade in Provence, you can therefore take advantage of numerous occasional activities to brighten up your evenings.
Resources, FAQs and Tips
How to get to Arles?
The easiest way to get there and explore the surrounding area is by car. Otherwise, the city of Arles is connected by train to Marseille, Montpellier, Toulouse, Nice or Agen without a connection.
How to visit Arles in 1 day?
The essentials to see in order to visit Arles properly are: Place de la République, Saint-Trophime church and cloister, the Roman amphitheater, the ancient theater of Arles, the thermal baths of Constantine, the Arles Antique departmental museum.
Useful addresses and tips
The tourist office is located at 9 Boulevard des Lices. You can get a Pass to visit several monuments and museums, alone or in a group. Otherwise, buy your tickets directly on https://www.arlestourisme.com/fr/