My family comes from Brittany so, obviously, I think it’s the prettiest region in France. With many coastal areas and stunning hinterland, you will find many activities in Brittany to please anyone. I didn’t want to write a list of places to visit in Brittany, I have already done that in my Best of Brittany article. In this article, I focused on activities and listed the best things to do in Brittany, wherever you are.
The best things to do in Brittany for nature lovers
Explore the coastal walks
Brittany is a peninsula in the west of France so the coast is never too far away! The variety of landscapes is impressive. You’ll find beautiful pink granite rocks in the north, a wild untouched coast in the west, rocky landscapes, white sand or pebble beaches and even a gulf with more than 1,000 islands in the south. Plus, the views continuously change with the tides! The GR 34 hiking path goes all around the region and mostly follows the coast, so you can find many coastal walks everywhere in Brittany.
Visit an island
Brittany has some of the most beautiful islands you’ll find in France (for the European part of France). Many of them are easy to visit in just a day trip: Brehat island in the north, Ile d’Arz or Ile aux Moines in the south for example. You can also organise a day trip to Belle Ile en Mer, the most beautiful island in Brittany my opinion, but it’s better to stay there for a few days if you have time.
One-third of French lighthouses are in Brittany. You’ll find lighthouses a bit everywhere along the coast of Brittany, but most of them are in the western part of the region. They have very different styles and are often located at beautiful viewpoints. Some of them can be visited and climbing a lighthouse is a perfect way to see the coast from a bird’s point of view. Cap Frehel, Saint-Mathieu and Trezien are the easiest ones to visit as they are on the continent.
Explore mysterious forests
A walk in a forest in Brittany is often more than just a peaceful moment surrounded by trees. You are visiting a land of legends, and many of them were born in the forest. Huelgoat Forest and Broceliande Forest are full of mysteries and some of the best spots in Brittany to learn more about Celtic legends.
There are a few places in Brittany where you can hire a kayak, even if you’re a beginner. But keep in mind the tides and the currents that come with them are strong in Brittany, so always seek local advice.
With more than 60 kilometres of rivers and canals, the Morbihan region is perfect for kayaking. It is popular to kayak on the Nantes-Brest Canal (Créhaher, Malestroit).
In the north of Brittany, you can kayak the Rance river from Dinan.
Are you thinking of buying an inflatable kayak? We love how we can now explore more places easily since we got one. Check out my tips on how to choose an inflatable kayak and the most important questions to answer first.
Go to the beach
You will find beaches everywhere in Brittany. But they are not all the same at all! Some will have big waves while others will be protected in a bay or in a gulf. Some have pebbles while others have white sand. Some are long while others are tiny. It’s hard to say which one is the best as it really depends on what you’ll looking for. If you’re thinking of swimming, the water in the south will be warmer.
If you don’t think about Brittany when you talk about surfing spots in France, then you may be surprised to find out it’s ranked the second region in France for the number of surfers. There are dozens of spots that are good for beginners and/or confirmed surfers. La Torche is one of the most famous surf spots in Brittany thanks to the 2024 Olympic Games. Plouharnel and Quiberon are also very famous, with one side of the peninsula great for beginners and the other – the wild side – perfect for experienced surfers.
You’ll also find a surf school in Saint-Briac, on the northern coast of Brittany, in Locquirec in the west, in Crozon in the south and on Belle Ile Island, also in the south. We also regularly spot surfers all year round at Guidel in the south of the region and La baie des Trépassés near La Pointe du Raz in the west.
Join a cruise tour or go sailing
Exploring Brittany on a boat is always a good idea. Tours are organised to make it easy for tourists to find a cruise for the day. A boat tour on the Morbihan Gulf is a must-do when visiting Brittany. You can also cruise down rivers such as La Rance, L’Odet (reputed to be one of the most beautiful rivers in France!) or the Nantes-Brest Canal.
Brittany is a land of sailing. Most French sailors are from Brittany or are somehow connected to Brittany. There are lovely places easy to explore for beginners and you can join a sailing course if you’d like to learn sailing. The sailing school Les Glénans is one of the most famous in the world. There are also a few lakes to learn safely or have fun on the water while inland, such as Lac au Duc near Ploermel. We hired a big sailing boat from Saint Goustan and loved it.
Go windsurfing or kitesufing
Brittany is one of the windiest regions in Europe, so it’s not surprising to see windsurfers and kitesurfers on the beach. However, rocks are often hidden in the water so it’s important to choose the right spot. Brittany has hosted many windsurfing competitions at the world level, mostly at La Torche and Le Dossen. There are kitesurfing and windsurfing schools all around the coast.
Explore Brittany by bike
I went on cycling holidays in Brittany once and let me tell you that if you plan to follow the coast, it’s not flat and easy! However, you’ll find great cycling circuits in the hinterland. For those looking for cycling holidays, the most famous cycling track in Brittany is the Nantes-Brest Canal. There is also a cycling path from Rennes to Saint-Malo. Those looking for shorter cycling circuits can also have a look at the Broceliande Forest (Paimpont).
The best things to do in Brittany for food lovers
I don’t know a better place than Brittany to enjoy seafood. They serve the biggest seafood platter you can imagine with a great variety of shells, crabs or prawns (just to name a few). Although they’re from the north of France, moules-frites are very popular and sold in many restaurants in Brittany.
Galettes bretonnes, sometimes called crepes, are the most famous dish from Brittany. It’s made with buckwheat flour and can be filled with savoury or sweet ingredients. Your imagination is the limit, but the traditional galettes fillings are ham, egg and cheese.
Try the local sausage: andouille
It’s a real experience to eat some andouille, and even a more surprising one to enter a shop full of it. The sausage is very popular in Brittany and is often served in galettes. The best place to try it is in Guéméné.
Sweet cakes and biscuits from Brittany
You may have tried the famous cake from Brittany, the Kouig Amann. I was surprised to find it in a few French bakeries in Brisbane. I personally prefer the Far Breton – but you have to like prunes for this one!
Brittany is also famous for having delicious biscuits: les palets bretons and les galettes bretonnes (that are different from the crepes). You can find many biscuit shops (Biscuiteries) in Brittany. La Trinitaine* and Saint Michel* are probably the two most famous ones.
If you’re interested in baking, you can join a traditional Breton cakes baking and tasting class (in English)*.
Brittany is very famous for its cider; locals would drink it with their meals. Before dinner or lunch, at the apéritif, you may want to try the local mead made from honey: le chouchen. Le chouchen was known as the drink of the Celtic gods, and beer was the drink of the warriors. You can also find local beers in Brittany, and some are quite original (made with sea salt or algae for example).
The best things to do in Brittany for heritage and culture lovers
Visit megalithic sites
There are impressive megalithic sites all around Brittany, but you often have to take a detour to see them. From big isolated standing stones to alignments, they’re always quite mysterious. They have been there for 3,000 years. The most famous site is Carnac with 2,733 menhirs (the Breton word for long stone) aligned for more than 4 kilometres.
Visit Brittany’s beautiful towns and villages
There are many beautiful towns and pretty villages in Brittany. You will often feel like you went back in time as you walk around the cobbled streets with all the lovely stoned houses around.
Visit cathedrals and chapels
Brittany is a land of faith and saint worship. You’ll find many religious monuments all around the region: basilicas, abbeys, chapels, churchyards… Some of the most famous and remarkable ones are Saint-Anne d’Auray sanctuary (the most important Catholic pilgrimage site in Brittany) and Quimper Cathedral. If you’re impressed by older buildings, you may like Landévennec abbey ruins from the 5th century. In a totally different style, the sculptures of the Vallée des Saints in the heart of Brittany are worth a detour – but they’re more pieces of art than religious.
Attend a festival or fest-noz
If you’re interested in learning more about Breton music and dances, the Festival Interceltique of Lorient in August is a big celebration of all Celtic cultures for 10 days and 10 nights, with concerts and shows that take over the streets. More focused on Brittany, the Cournouaille festival in Quimper is another excellent opportunity to attend concerts from local artists and celebrate the Breton culture. Les Fêtes Historiques in Vannes in July are recommended too.
A fest-noz is a festival where people gather to listen to live music and dance traditional dances. It is on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
What are the best things to do in Brittany in your opinion? Share your experience in the comments below!
When is the best time to visit Brittany?
Brittany has an interesting oceanic climate. It never really gets hot or cold, and the weather can change quickly according to the tide. Although the region isn’t big, the weather is very different in the north and west compared to the south, especially in the Gulf of Morbihan which is known to have its own enjoyable microclimate.
Brittany is popular in summer. It never gets too hot in the region even when the country is hit by a heatwave, so it’s a reputed spot for families going on holidays with young kids or seniors.
June and September are ideal to avoid the crowd and still get a chance at having the best weather.
You can visit Brittany the rest of the year, but you will have a higher risk of rain (especially from November to February).
Where is Brittany?
Brittany is the most western region of France. It takes about five hours to get there driving from Paris and it is also easy to reach by train. The biggest cities are Rennes and Nantes (although Nantes is no longer in the official region).