Things to do in Saint Malo France

This article may contain affiliate links. Read my ABOUT page for more disclosure information.

I have visited Saint Malo twice now – once in 2007, and again in 2017. Back in 2007, a group of us decided to head to this fortified town on the Brittany coast via the overnight ferry from Portsmouth. The huge benefit of living in London (as we were at the time), is being close to the cheapest transport links – heading to the continent is just SO easy. Then in 2017, we stopped off there on our way to the Poitou-Charentes. There are so many things to do in Saint-Malo France, it makes for a great long weekend away!

St Malo at Dawn - Things to do in Saint Malo France - HH Lifestyle Travel

When taking the ferry from England, you can choose an overnight sailing via Brittany Ferries. Waking up with a view of the Bretagne coast is a lovely thing… even in the early morning fog.  Saint-Malo is the perfect sized place to spend a weekend – this cute fortified port town has plenty to keep you busy, but is small enough to walk around easily.

Where to stay

We stayed to the south of the port and the fortified centre, which was easily walkable from the ferry, and was a lovely stroll around the harbour to the town. There are many hotels within the city walls, but we were on a budget, so this location was a perfect compromise between location and cost.

St Malo harbour at night - Things to do in Saint Malo France - HH Lifestyle Travel


Things to do

Walking around the ramparts is a great way to orientate yourself, and get a view of the water.  It also affords you views of the many restaurants and activities you can indulge in while you’re visiting Saint-Malo.

St Malo Pier - Things to do in Saint Malo France - HH Lifestyle Travel

The ancient city walls were destroyed by allied fire during WWII, but were rebuilt between 1948-1960. The restoration has been done very sensitively, with wonderful traditional detail added.

City wall detail - Things to do in Saint Malo France - HH Lifestyle Travel

Saint-Malo is known for its privateer past, and for the many famous tall ships which sailed from there (including the one that ‘discovered’ Canada).  For those who are interested in Maritime history, you will enjoy the harbour.

St Malo Pirate Ship - Things to do in Saint Malo France - HH Lifestyle Travel


For tourist information on Saint Malo, check the official tourism website.

If you fancy a day trip to Jersey, Condor ferries have foot passenger fares for around £30.  Or, you could do what we did, and take a wee jaunt over the harbour to Dinard (further along the Brittany coast) via water taxi.  The Hôtel de la Vallée sits on the harbour and has lovely outdoor tables where you can have a glass of wine and enjoy the view back towards Saint-Malo.

Dinard - Things to do in Saint Malo France - HH Lifestyle Travel


Where to eat

For those who like seafood, this is the town for you – grand platters of langoustine, oysters and shrimp.  And like always in France, you can get a mean steak!  Because it’s a summer tourist town, there are lots of ice-cream sundae and crepe shops too.  Rue Jacques Cartier is a street full of restaurants, but if you want something away from the hoards, take a wander beyond the cathedral. Although, to be honest, the food was good wherever we ate!

Gelato - Things to do in Saint Malo France - HH Lifestyle Travel

The Brittany coast is a delight to visit, and St Malo is a shining example of the fascinating (and war-torn) history of the area. There are so many things to do in Saint Malo France, you’d better set aside 2-3 days to enjoy it!

Check out our adventures at Mont Saint-Michel, on the Normandy coast, here.


All photos & content © Hannah Henderson and may not be used without permission (sharing this blog post is fine, though!). Images shot with a Fuji Finepix, a Canon DSLR T3i Rebel + Canon EF Lens 50mm 1:1.8 STM; and an iPhone6s.

Things to do in Saint Malo France - HH Lifestyle Travel

  • 2


  • Danik says:

    I haven’t been to Saint-Malo yet (as a regular visitor to France) but it doesn’t look too bad to check out someday. it’s just so far off the beaten track when I do road trips across the country 🙁 Fantastic write-up… and maybe someday I land up there!

  • Linda says:

    We visited St. Malo last fall on our cruise along the north coast of france and spain. Unfortunately, we saw little of st. Malo itself as we booked a tour to see Mont St. Michel. We loved that tour but missed seeing St. Malo. it would be great to walk the ramparts. Would have loved to wander into town and eat some delicious seafood. And maybe finish with that great ice cream cone. Certainly a spot we need to return to.

  • I always wondered who discovered Canada, since I’m only familiar with the USA’s Mayflower gang. Maritime history can be fascinating, just being on a tall ship makes me envision the hoisting of the main and the splash of sea spray. Very happy to see they preserved their history post ww2 destruction, because it looks like a very interesting slice of France.

  • Holly says:

    Seafood and ice cream? right up my alley. I would love to walk along the ramparts for the water views. I’ve never been, but I would love to take a couple of days and check it out.

  • Fairuz says:

    Saint Malo sounds lovely. Towns with rich maritime history always intrigue me. And of course when there’s an ocean, there’s seafood 😋. The last time I was in France was in 2011. Maybe, is time to for another visit ✈️

  • Lydia Smith says:

    Thanks for the detailed guide to Saint Malo. I like that there’s so much history going here and for every step you take, there’s a story to be heard. And the view of the sea from Hotel de la Vallee is also gorgeous. And you said everything you ate was good, yummy!

  • Indrani says:

    Missed Saint Malo during my trip to France. Looks like a charming place, but then all places in France are that! These glimpses are so good, well taken pics.

  • What I miss about living in Europe is how easy it is to travel everywhere. Saint Malo looks like a lovely city. It’s so nice that they restored it so well after the bombings.

  • I love that it’s so easy to jump on the ferry from the UK. It would be such a cool short trip to visit Saint-Malo and explore the ancient city walls, pick up some ice-cream sundae and crepes and enjoy the Brittany coast. Glad you had a fabulous trip!

  • Saint Malo seems amazing! I am still looking forward to visit this part of france, but the harbor and possibility of boat trips will not let me sleep.

  • Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *