Caen is a city full of rich history, beautiful sights, and incredible food. With two days here, you’ll find plenty of ways to fill the time—too many ways, even. Nestled into the Normandy region of France, Caen is best known for its role in WWII. For this reason, the city juxtaposes a solemn reflective tone towards its past against a lively and pub-filled attitude towards its present and future. With one foot in the past and another in the present, you’ll have no trouble finding something to love about Caen. If you find yourself with 48 hours to spend in Caen, this itinerary will help you get the most out of your stay.
On the first day of your Caen itinerary, hit all of the major historic sites in the city to get a richer understanding of the city.
Morning: Explore the Castle of Caen
Not only is the Castle of Caen hard to miss, it is also situated right in the heart of the city, making it the perfect place to start your exploration of Normandy’s history. At the Castle, you’ll find incredible panoramic views of Caen and a moat-load of historical information. From the castle’s high walls, you’ll catch great glimpses of other important monuments in Caen, like Saint Peter’s Church directly across the street and the Maison de Quatrans to the right.
Lunchtime: Grab a meal near Tour Leroy
Right down the road from the Castle of Caen lies the Tower of Leroy, a small but important landmark in the city of Caen. Though great to see independently, the Tower also lies in a poppin’ culinary district of Caen fit for any and every foodie out there. Grab a bite to eat at any of the restaurants near the tower—some even feature open-air patios!
Afternoon: Visit the Memorial of Caen
More than a mere memorial, the Memorial of Caen doubles as a museum and dates the impact of World War II on not only Caen but also on the rest of the world. The museum sends a clear message on the importance of cooperation, peace, and tolerance throughout the world as it solemnly recounts the lives France lost in the War. The Memorial of Caen offers a refreshing and humbling take on the second World War, making it a must-see for anyone visiting Normandy.
Evening: Sip on some of Caen’s famous cider
Spend your first evening lavishing in a great meal and sipping on the region’s specialty cider. Caen is famous for this incredible drink, and once you have a taste of it, you’ll see exactly why. The apple beer puts almost any American counterpart to shame. You’ll leave your evening of sampling wondering how on earth you’ll be able to ship back cases of cider without tipping off TSA.
Spend your second day of your Caen itinerary exploring the incredible monuments left by William the Conqueror and learning about the artistry and history of the city.
Morning: Marvel the views at Abbaye-aux-Hommes
William the Conqueror built the breathtaking monument, Abbaye-aux-Hommes, as an insurance measure to justify his marriage to his cousin—a saucy ceremony that William’s father did not approve. Building the monument definitely paid off in William’s favor: the building still stands today, a symbol of the incredible works of architecture in and around the city of Caen. Inside, you’ll find a smaller museum on Caen specifically in WWII as well as great pieces of art and wonderful gardens.
Lunchtime: Dine in the Historic Rue Froide
Take the street to your left from the Abbaye-aux-Hommes and you’ll find yourself on Rue Froide, a historic and beautiful town center in Caen. Lined with boutique shops and restaurants nestled inside the buildings that were once timber-framed peasant homes, Rue Froide has unmistakable charm. If you’re in town for the weekend, Rue Froide is host to open air markets.
Afternoon: Dig deeper into Caen
Caen rose to global prominence not just because of its role in WWII but also because of its medieval history. Explore this incredible history by taking a trip to the Museum of Normandy and the Museum of Fine Arts in Caen. At the former be prepared to discover the history of the peoples of this region and at the latter get ready to discover art in Caen (and around the world) through the ages. Both museums are bound to delight and offer something for everyone.
Evening: Bar hop in Old Town
Great bars and pubs dot the Old Town and center of Caen. Spend an evening here hopping from one to the next and fall in love with Caen’s laid back charm and relaxing lifestyle. This is a city where people sit out, drink wine late into the night, and above all, share deep talks. Join in on your last night Caen itinerary here!