Best things to do in Normandy
Top 10 travel activities, visits and attractions
The best activities, attractions, visits and excursions in Normandy
You’re looking for the best things to do in Normandy? The best travel activities, visits and attractions ? You’re in the right place! To help you organize your stay and not miss anything, our TOP 10 gathers the best things to do and see : points of interest, tourist attractions, excursions, sightseeing tours, monuments, museums, etc.
To save time and money, we advise your to book in advance your hotel rooms, activities and touristic services (insurance, transport…). In order to help you, we’ve selected the best offers available on the net. You will find all links in this article, together with a listing of our favorite travel websites. Have a nice trip . – By Flo, Caro & The Team
In this article, you will find :
- The TOP 10 things to do in Normandy
- Other visits and activities that you may love (for those who want to try and see everything !)
- Travel tips and good deals to organize tour trip (hotel rooms, car rental, travel insurance…)
- Other articles that may interest you (Visit D-Day landing sites, Visit Mont Saint Michel, Visit Dubai…)
What to do and see in Normandy - TOP 10 activities and visits
1. Visit the Mont-Saint-Michel and explore its bay
- Free : strolls in the village
- Admission fee : abbey, crossing of the bay ($), ULM ($$) – Reservation required
The Mont-Saint-Michel is Normandy’s most famous attraction, without a doubt! It’s even the most visited site in France! Some travelers come from across the world to discover this small town and abbey built on a huge rock. The visit will take you on an unforgettable walk along the great ramparts. There are also many activities to do around this unique monument. You will be able to cross the bay by foot (you need to follow a guide) or fly over the site by ULM airplane!
>> Check out our TOP 10 activities in Mont-Saint-Michel & the South Channel for more information !
Price & Online Booking : Mont Saint Michel Entry e-ticket / Guided crossing of the bay / Microlight/ULM flight over the Mont Saint Michel / Paragliding Sand yachting due to high demand of those activities, we strongly advise you to book in advance
Where to stay at the Mont Saint Michel? Price for accomodation & Online booking : Vacation rentals / Find all hotels
2. Visit the landing beaches and D-Day landing sites of Normandy
- Free : beaches & military cemeteries
- Admission fee : museums ($), guided tours & excursions ($$)
On June 6, 1944, American troops landed on the beaches of Normandy with their Canadian, British and French allies. Intense fighting took place against the German soldiers in order to liberate the region and then the country. Many sites still bear witness to this event today. By visiting them, you will dive into the heart of History and pay tribute to the missing. You will be able to discover the beaches where the landing took place, various thematic museums and military cemeteries.
>> Check out our TOP 10 activities in the D-Day Landing sites for more information!
To know how to visit the landing sites, beaches and D-Day museums, we invite you to have a look at our TOP 10 of the landing sites of Normandy. The main sites are spread along the Calvados coast and the south-east of the Manche. We suggest that you at least discover Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery of Colleville, the Pointe du Hoc and a museum of your choice. You’ll find all the details and our dedicated article.
When you visit Omaha Beach, you should know that many activities are offered on this huge beach. You can try sand yachting, catamaran, fat-bike (a bicycle with huge tires adapted to the sand) or sea kayaking. Impressive paragliding flights are also offered and are very popular. We have listed the links to these activities below (booking is recommended as space is limited).
If you want to follow a guide or if you don’t have a car, you can book a guided tour. These excursions are offered from Caen and Bayeux. The routes are optimized and are accompanied by French or English-speaking guides. There are dozens of different programs… We have therefore selected below the most interesting excursions at the best prices.
- Tours departing from Caen (several options available, including tickets for the Caen Memorial)
- Tours departing from Bayeux:
- 1-day tour to the American sites : Omaha, Cimetière américain, Pointe du Hoc, Utah Beach, Musée du débarquement de Utah Beach, Sainte-Mère-Eglise
- Half-day tour to the American sites : Omaha, Cimetière américain, Pointe du Hoc
- Half-day tour to the Canadian sites : Juno Beach, Centre Juno Beach, Cimetière Canadien
- Half-day tour to the Britain and French sites : Sword Beach, Pegasus Bridge, Cimetière britannique, histoire du Commando français
Price & Online Booking for the Caen Memorial Museum and tours : see links above
Price & Online Booking for the activities in Omaha Beach: Paragliding / Land sailing / Fatbike tour / Kayaking / Catamaran sailing
Where to stay to visit the Landing sites and beaches? Price for accomodation & Online booking : you can stay in Caen or Bayeux if you choose to book an excursion from one of those cities. If you have a car and wish to visit the Landing sites on your own, you’ll find the hotels located closest to the main sites here: Find all hotels – D-Day Landing Sites
3. See the cliffs of Etretat and have a walk in the gardens
- Free : access to the cliffs
- Admission fee : gardens, boat tour ($), ULM flight ($$)
You’ll be amazed by Etretat’s limestone cliffs! You can enjoy the view from the waterfront or follow the trails that lead to their peaks. You can even fly over them in a ULM airplane flight or see them on a sea trip! On site, you will also enjoy good restaurants and interesting visits. Les Jardins d’Etretat are very well known and will offer you beautiful walks to discover the plants environment.
- Free : strolls in the villages
- Admission fee : biking, kayaking, side-cars… ($ or $$)
The most touristic part of Normandy is located on the coast, between the small towns of Deauville and Honfleur. Thousands of visitors come to Honfleur every year. With its cobbled streets, half-timbered facades and old basin, this city is incredibly charming! If you go west along the coast, you will find the towns and villages of the Côte Fleurie (flowery coast in French). We particularly recommend you to visit the seaside resorts of Trouville, Cabourg or Villerville. Finally, be sure to visit the unmissable Deauville (also accessible by train from Paris). With its famous seaside boards and villas, it has a very chic image.
5. Discover the Cotentin region: Cité de la Mer (aquarium and marine museum) in Cherbourg, La Hague, beaches, fishing towns…
- Free : beaches, strolls, towns
- Admission fee : Cité de la Mer (aquarium) ($)
The Cotentin is located in the extreme north-west of Normandy. This peninsula has many sites of interest. There is the city of Cherbourg with its main attraction, the Cité de la Mer. You will see the largest aquarium in Europe and can visit a former nuclear submarine, the Redoutable. On the east coast, you’ll come across charming fishing villages, such as Barfleur (classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France) or Saint-Vast-la-Hougue (elected favorite village of the French in 2019). On the west coast, you will find great beaches on the coast of Barneville and in La Hague, with also great walks and natural sites (Nez de Jobourg, Cap de la Hague…).
- Admission fee ($)
The Claude Monet Foundation is definitely one of the must-sees in Normandy! It will delight art, history and nature lovers. It includes the gardens and the house where Claude Monet lived for more than 40 years. You will be able to visit the different rooms of his residence, such as the workshop, the reading room or the private apartments. You will also be able to walk in the amazing gardens. The artist planted thousands of flowers to create real living paintings. They then inspired some of his greatest paintings! Who knows, maybe this enchanting atmosphere will awaken the artist in you?
- Free :
- Admission fee : ($)
This small town in Calvados was spared by the bombing, so it’s very interesting to walk around there. You can see medieval architecture, small streets and beautiful buildings. Of course, you shouldn’t miss the amazing Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the most beautiful buildings in Normandy. But the main reason for a stopover in Bayeux is discovering its Tapestry. This huge 11th century embroidery is a unique work of art. 220 feet long, it tells the story of the conquest of England by William the Conqueror. It has been classified “Memory of the World” by UNESCO.
- Free: Cathedral, Fine Arts Museum…
Rouen has all the assets of a big city and the charm of a small town! It has a medieval architecture and many monuments. You can admire its churches (Saint-Ouen abbey, Saint-Maclou church…) and the Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the largest and most beautiful in the country. In the narrow streets of the town center, you will also see the Big Clock, the half-timbered buildings and the site where Joan of Arc was put to death. You can also walk along the Seine river. Finally, don’t miss the free visit of the Fine Arts Museum of Rouen if you like impressionist art.
- Free : Castle, gardens, strolls
- Admission fee : Memorial ($)
The city of Caen suffered significant damage following the bombing of 1944. Despite the destruction of many historic buildings, it is still worth visiting. Its main attraction is its fabulous Memorial, a huge museum dedicated to peace. This visit perfectly completes the discovery of the landing beaches in Normandy! In the city center, you can walk through the former Castle of William the Conqueror, one of the largest fortresses in Europe. You will also see beautiful abbeys, many churches and large green spaces.
- Admission fee: access by boat ($)
If you’re looking for something original to do in Normandy, why not check out one of the islands west from the region? From the beach city of Granville, you’ll be able to hop on a boat to reach the Chausey islands. You’ll love the wild environment and crystal blue water that you’ll discover. You can also go to Jersey, one of the Channel Islands (passport required). You could also be interested in The islands of Guernsey and Alderney, but departures are from Barneville or Dielette, further north. Finally, when you visit Granville, don’t miss the ramparts, the Christian Dior museum and the hiking trails along the coast!
Price & Online Booking : Return cruise to Chausey (from Granville) / Return cruises to Jersey, Guernsey, or Alderney (from Granville, Barneville, or Dielette)
Where to stay ? Price for accomodation & Online booking : Hotel in Chausey (the only one available) / Hotels in Jersey / Hotels in Guernsey / Hotels in Alderney
Other things to do and see in Normandy (activities, excursions, attractions, visits...)
In addition to the tourist sites and travel activities listed in our TOP 10, you’re looking for other ideas of things to do and see in Normandy? We’ve selected other cities and attractions which you could be interested in:
- Le Havre: the largest city in Normandy was almost entirely destroyed during the bombings of 1944. The architect Auguste Perret then imagined its reconstruction by adopting a very avant-garde architecture. The port of Le Havre has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! We invite you to stroll there to discover astonishing buildings. Among the sites to be seen on the port and in the city, we recommend the church of Saint-Joseph, the Ocean Gate, the library, the Volcan (theatre) or the Bains des Docks (outdoor swimming pool). Also make sure you don’t miss the beautiful Hanging Gardens.
- Pays d’Auge: this great natural region of Normandy is located all around the town of Lisieux, between the coast and the Calvados / Orne border. It corresponds to the typical image of Normandy, with its half-timbered houses, cows and calvados. There are beautiful villages such as Pont l’Evêque, Cambremer or Beaumont en Auge.
- Haras du Pin: this is one of the most prestigious national stud farms! Equestrian breeding has been practised there since 1715, when it was founded at the request of the king. There, you can discover the world of horses and the secrets of breeding.
- Castles of Normandy: in addition to the Castle of Caen we mentioned above, you can visit many fortresses or palaces in Normandy. We particularly recommend the impressive Château Gaillard, the charming Château de Crèvecoeur-en-Auge, the Château Guillaume-le-Conquérant in Falaises, the Château de Balleroy or the Château de Pirou.
- Cerza Zoo: this pretty animal park offers either a walking tour a in a small train. You can see thousands of animals living in large spaces.
- Dieppe: this pretty seaside resort is located east of the Etretat Cliffs. The walks on the port are very pleasant. It is also one of the best places to taste delicious scallops.
- Suisse Normande: this beautiful natural area is located on the border between the departments of Orne and Calvados, in the vicinity of Clecy. The landscape is made up of the banks of the river Orne, hills and dense vegetation, typical of the Norman bocage. The town of Clecy is also an ideal place to practice sports activities such as zip lines, paragliding or Via Ferrata (see our tab “Looking for fun activities in Normandy” at the beginning of this article)
Travel tips to visit Normandy and organize your trip (hotels, sightseeing tours...)
Book accomodation in Normandy: you’ll find the greatest choice on Booking (for hotel rooms) or Airbnb ( for appartments).
Book travel activities in Normandy: you can book all the best activities online on Viator (american website – many offers and sightseeing tours), Get Your guide (european website – our favorite choice with lots of good offers), Tiqets (european website – great one to book tickets for museums or attractions) or Ceetiz (european website with a large offer of activities worldwide and many promotions)
Book a flight to Normandy: you will generally find best prices on Skyscanner.
Book and airport transfer in Normandy: save time by using the usefull Airport Shuttle
Rent a car in Normandy: it is important to make a booking before departure, as prices on site are much higher than those displayed online. We advise you to use Rentalcars.
Book an organized trip or tailor-made travel to visit Normandy: if you don’t want to organize everything on your own, we recommend the website Evaneos. It puts you in direct contact with a top selection of the local agencies (high quality of the service).You’ll then be able to choose among the different customized programs following the recommendations of the agency. Feel free to ask for a quote, it’s free!
Book a travel insurance (can be important)
Check our other "TOP 10 activities" wordwide - Best Things to do
As an American, Florent is in charge of the English website. He’s been travelling for years and already lived in 5 different countries. Francois and Caro are the ones you will see the most on the pictures. Indeed, we are an international team composed of travellers from different cultures and countries. We think it’s the best way to find and highlight the best activities each destination can offer!