Three days give you plenty of time to discover Caen’s historic sites and museums, visit the D-Day landing beaches, and explore more of Normandy—top attractions such as Mont St. Michel and the Bayeux Tapestry are within day-tripping distance. Here are some ideas for how to spend three days in Caen.
Day 1: Caen and Bayeux
The former home of William the Conqueror has played an important role in French history so Caen’s historic center is best explored on a walking tour, during which a guide provides historical insight that you’re unlikely to find in the guidebook. Tours typically cover Caen Castle (Château de Caen); Abbaye aux Hommes, where William the Conqueror is buried; and the Old Town, home to the Gothic Church of Saint-Pierre and the timber-framed Maison des Quatrans.
In the afternoon, head to neighboring Bayeux, where the star attraction is the world-famous Bayeux Tapestry. Book your tickets in advance for the Bayeux Tapestry Museum (Musée de la Tapisserie), which attracts large crowds, or if you visit independently, pick up an audio guide to learn more about the 1,000-year-old masterpiece. Back in Caen, indulge in regional specialties such as Normandy cider, camembert cheese, and tarte aux pommes (apple tart) at a local restaurant.
Day 2: Discover the D-Day Beaches
Caen lies a short drive from the D-Day beaches, where one of the most significant events of World War II took place. Landing beaches, battlefields, and WWII sites are dotted along the coast, so having your own transport is essential—joining a tour lets you avoid the hassle of car hire and allows you to cover multiple beaches in just one day.
Most day trips visit Omaha Beach, Arromanches, and Pointe du Hoc, and typically stop at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, or Bayeux War Cemetery. To understand more about the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy, there are also a number of museums worth visiting. To avoid waiting in line, book tickets in advance for the Falaise Civilians in Wartime Memorial, the Caen Memorial and Museum, or the Arromanches 360° Cinema. Or, if you want to explore at your own pace, pick up an audio guide.
Day 3: Mont St. Michel
Spend your final day exploring further afield on a day trip. Explore the picturesque port towns of Honfleur and Deauville; visit orchards, dairy farms, and Calvados distilleries on a tasting tour; or marvel at Normandy’s most-visited attraction, Mont St. Michel. Dramatically situated on an island off the coast of south Normandy, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed monastery makes for some impressive photos. Most Mont St. Michel excursions include a walking tour of the hilltop monastery, as well as free time to browse the shops in Mont St. Michel village and enjoy a Breton galette (savory buckwheat pancake)—a specialty of neighboring Brittany.
If you prefer to travel independently, book a round-trip shuttle transfer from Caen and spend the day at your leisure, without having to worry about hiring a car or driving.