Things to do in Caen

Itineraries for Your Trip to Caen

Caen locals share their perfect days.
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2 Days in Caen for First Timers

Curated by Zoë SmithZoë Smith is a British travel writer, editor, and digital content creator who has lived, worked, and traveled over six continents, and is currently based near Nantes, France. She has written for Rough Guides, CNN, and Culture Trip, and is digital editor at FrenchEntrée.

With two days in Caen, you have time to explore the port city and venture further afield. Discover the D-Day Landing beaches, see the famous Bayeux Tapestry, and sample Normandy’s delicious cuisine (accompanied by a glass of cider, of course). Here are some ideas for how to spend two days in Caen.

Day 1: Morning

A walking tour of Caen is the most convenient way to take in the sights, and visiting with a guide means you can learn more about the city’s most famous former resident—William the Conqueror. Climb up to the ramparts of Caen Castle (Château de Caen) for a panoramic city view; visit the grand Abbaye aux Hommes, where William the Conqueror is buried; and admire the Gothic Church of Saint-Pierre.

Day 1: Afternoon

The nearby town of Bayeux makes an easy detour from Caen, and its star attraction is the Bayeux Tapestry Museum (Musée de la Tapisserie). After admiring the UNESCO World Heritage-listed artwork, stroll around Old Town, where highlights include the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Bayeux, Conservatory of Lace (Conservatoire de la Dentelle), and Memorial Museum of the Battle of Normandy.

Day 1: Night

Book a table at one of the waterfront restaurants along Quai Vendeuvre to sample local delicacies such as fish stew or a meat dish à la Normande (with a creamy sauce). For the full experience, couple it with a glass of Normandy cider, then finish with a cheese plate—Camembert is another regional favorite—and a classic tarte aux pommes (apple tart).

Day 2: Morning

Popular day trips from Caen include the nearby city of Rouen and the UNESCO-listed island monastery of Mont Saint Michel, but if you’ve only got time for one, opt for a tour that explores Normandy’s World War II sites. Learn about the D-Day landings and the Battle of Normandy as you visit Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc; then pay your respects to the fallen soldiers at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

Day 2: Afternoon

The Caen Memorial (Mémorial de Caen) is a moving tribute to the Allied soldiers who lost their lives, as well as a museum with insight into the WWII battles, D-Day invasions, and the war's lasting impact. Prebook your tickets to avoid waiting in line and have more time to browse the exhibitions.

Day 2: Night

The bars and live music venues along Rue Ecuyère fill up with locals in the evening hours, so head there to sample Caen’s student-centric nightlife scene. Alternatively, summer visitors should head to the coast—nearby seaside towns such as Cabourg, Ouistreham, and Luc-sur-Mer host lively night markets.

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