24 hours in Caen

Portsmouth to Caen

Only have a limited amount of time to spend in and around Caen, Normandy? Here are our top things that you shouldn't miss while in the area.

Caen and nearby Bayeux are great places to uncover some medieval history about William the Conqueror. Discover a mighty castle, Gothic abbeys and cathedrals and the eponymous Bayeux Tapestry. Or, if you're interested in more recent history, the area also had an important part to play during D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. In fact, several key sites of the D-Day landings are not far away at all.

Caen is perfect for shoppers with its rustic streets filled with lively independent shops, patisseries and boutiques, alongside some bigger department stores. If you're looking to stock up on your favourite French foods and wines, there are also several supermarkets and wine sellers in the area.

Getting there: With up to three sailings a day from Portsmouth to Caen, Caen is an ideal day trip destination.

Book a day trip to Caen

What can I do in a day?

Visit historic D-Day sites & museums, enjoy spectacular medieval architecture and dine in great restaurants...

Here's an example itinerary of what you could do with your day in Caen...

07:00 Arrive in Ouistreham early morning and drive to Bayeux approx 40 mins away. The fastest route will take you past the famous Pegasus Bridge.

14:00 Spend a while wandering through Caen's busy streets and go shopping in the main retail zone stretching out from the Place de la Republique.

08:00 Find a bakery or little café in Bayeux for breakfast and enjoy a wander through Bayeux's quaint streets as the town wakes up.

15:00 Visit the Memorial de Caen, one of the most fascinating war museums in Europe. You'll need a good two to three hours here to really explore.

09:00 Visit the Tapisserie de Bayeux museum and see the real Bayeux Tapestry up close. You'll learn all about the historic events surrounding its creation. 

18:00 Stock up on all your favourite French goodies at one of the large supermarkets on the ring road. 

10:30 Drive to Caen approx 30 mins away.

19:00 Drive back to Ouistreham approx 20 mins.

11:00 Go sightseeing in Caen with a visit to the Abbaye aux Hommes and the Chateau de Caen. Find out about Normandy's history in the chateau's museum.

19:30 Enjoy an evening meal at one of Ouistreham's fantastic restaurants. There are several top-end places in the streets alongside Sword Beach.

12:30 Enjoy lunch at one of Caen's fabulous restaurants. Head for the historic streets around the Place de la Republique for the best choice of top restaurants.

21:00 If you didn't pick up enough earlier, stock up on wines at Normandie Wine (open til 10pm) on your way back to the port!

Things to do in and around Caen

The unmissable sights and attractions in Caen.

One of the largest medieval complexes in Europe, William the Conqueror's 11th century castle is a striking work of military architecture. 

From pre-1945 to the post-1945 period, this museum tells the story of the 20thC in a spectacular presentation of the events that had such an impact on European history.

William the Conqueror built this abbey, along with his wife Mathilda's stunning Abbaye aux Dames (the 'Ladies' Abbey'), as penance to the Church for their marriage.

Further afield

Head out to more great places to visit nearby.

Bayeux in Normandy is a beautiful medieval city, brimming with history, and is the home of the famous Bayeux Tapestry.

The famous Bayeux Tapestry depicts the events of the Norman Conquest of England and is believed to have been created for Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux, in England.

You don't have to be American to be moved by the scale and the story of courage and sacrifice that lies behind the cemetery at Omaha Beach.