Your Essential Travel Guide to Saint-Malo

1.  Saint-Malo

Discover Saint-Malo

Perched along the Emerald Coast in Ille-et-Vilaine in Brittany, Saint-Malo boasts a fascinating history and the world’s greatest tidal ranges. This picturesque walled city stands proud atop a granite rock, welcoming visitors to long, sandy beaches, stunning medieval architecture and a culinary scene to rival the capital.

If Saint-Malo is next on your bucket list, this guide has all you need to know about the best things to do, places to visit and where to stay and eat, plus exciting activities to add to your itinerary from our partner, GetYourGuide.


A brief history of Saint-Malo

  • Origins: The town on Saint-Malo’s site was known as the Roman Reginca, founded by Gauls in the 1st century BC.

  • 6th century: The walled port, as we know it today, is the result of a monastic settlement established by Saint Aaron and Saint Brendan.

  • 16th century: Saint-Malo declared its status as an independent republic.

  • 19th century: It became associated with the corsairs, French privateers and pirates. These brought wealth to the city.

  • WWII: On 5th August 1944, Saint-Malo was almost completely destroyed by American shelling and bombing.

-Post-war: It took 12 years to rebuild the city, from 1948 to 1960.

-H2- 1. Walk along the Saint-Malo walls

Things to do in Saint-Malo

Whether enjoying the great outdoors or learning about Saint-Malo’s intriguing past, this charming port city is one-of-a-kind. Find our top picks of the best things to do below.

1. Walk along the Saint-Malo walls

Walking along Saint-Malo’s walls is the best way to appreciate the city’s beauty. The 2km-long ramparts were built in the 11th century to protect Saint-Malo’s old part and were expanded in the 1600s and 1800s. Each door has a staircase, making for easy access. Start at Porte Saint-Vincent and enjoy sweeping views of the marina.

DFDS PICK: Saint-Malo 2-Hour Private Walking Tour & Commentary

-H2- 2. Explore the Intra Muros district

2. Explore the Intra Muros district

Intra Muros translates to ‘inside the walls’ and is one of Saint-Malo’s most popular districts. 80% of its buildings were destroyed in 1944 to remove the German forces from the city, and they were extensively rebuilt over the years. Today, the vibrant cobbled streets are a treasure trove of shops, bars, restaurants, and beautiful merchants’ mansions.

DFDS PICK: Self-guided Walk through the historic Old Town

-H2- 3. Visit Saint-Malo Castle

3. Visit Saint-Malo Castle

Among Saint-Malo’s best things to do is Saint-Malo Castle, founded between 1424 and 1690 by the Duke of Brittany and Duke Francois II. This emblem of royal power is attached to the Quic-en-Groigne tower and dominates the scene with its imposing architecture. The castle houses the Ethnography Museum and the Town Hall, so be sure to visit both.

DFDS PICK: Emerald Coast Boat Trip with Guide

-H2- 4. Mont Saint-Michel

The best places to visit around Saint-Malo

Brittany stuns year-round with quaint fishing villages dotted along the coastline and fairytale-like architecture. If your itinerary takes you beyond Saint-Malo, make sure you add these destinations, too!

Find things to do in Brittany on GetYourGuide.

4. Mont Saint-Michel

Few places exude timeless charm like Mont Saint-Michel. Normandy’s UNESCO World Heritage Site takes visitors on a journey through the centuries with its stunning abbey. Visiting Mont Saint-Michel during high tides when the sea withdraws 15 km from the coast is an unforgettable sight.

DFDS PICK: Mont Saint-Michel Private Full Day Tour

-H2- 5. Dinard

5. Dinard

A short drive from Saint-Malo, Dinard is a picturesque port town on the Côte d’Émeraude. Home to international film festivals, villas and majestic hotels, it’s considered one of France’s most prestigious seaside resorts. Unwind along the sandy beaches or spend a fun night out at the local bars.

-H2- 6. Rennes

6. Rennes

Brittany’s capital brims with exciting attractions, from its cathedral and the Mordelaises Gates to Thabor Park. Its origins date back over 2,000 years, when it was a small Gallic village known as Condate. It effortlessly blends old and new, with traditional half-timbered houses, 90 buildings protected as historical monuments and modern architecture.

Restaurants in Saint-Malo

Where to eat in Saint-Malo

Saint-Malo enjoys a diverse food scene. Here are some of its highlights:

  • Le Bistro de Jean (££). Le Bistro de Jean serves local French food in an informal setting. Try the duck fillet with a wine sauce and finish your meal with the delicious petit gâteau, a chocolate fondant mini cake.  

  • Bergamote (££). If you need to rest your feet and refuel, Bergamote is an ideal place. This family-run café serves tea, handmade pastries and crêpes, perfect for finishing off your day in style.

  • Le Benetin (£££). Romantic and laid-back, Le Benetin’s menu focuses on French seafood staples, including fresh cod steak, pollack tartare and pressed crab meat with basil.

Family relaxing in DFDS inside cabin

Where to stay in Saint-Malo

Looking for a place to stay in Saint-Malo? Find our top picks below.

  • Hôtel Particulier Ascott (★★★). Housed within a beautiful 19th-century mansion, Hôtel Particulier Ascott offers modern and airy rooms, a delicious breakfast buffet and a garden. 

  • Golden Tulip Le Grand Bé Saint-Malo (★★★★). In Saint-Malo’s city centre, Golden Tulip Le Grand Bé has 55 stylish rooms and suites, a restaurant, a wellness area and a rooftop terrace overlooking the marina.  

  • Le Grand Hotel Des Thermes (★★★★★). This hotel has 177 cruise-inspired rooms and boasts a beautiful Belle-Epoque architectural style. You’ll find an on-site spa and fitness centre, a hair salon and a fine-dining restaurant with a view.


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