The port city of Cherbourg is at the tip of the Contentin Peninsula in Lower Normandy, perfectly positioned for cruise liners, cargo ships and the ferries from the UK. And the French navy. As well as the impressive port there’s a pretty, historic old town and a brilliant aquarium. If you’re using the city as a base in Normandy then the best places to stay in Cherbourg might be just outside the city - possibly in a chateau surrounded by the peaceful, green countryside? But if you’re stopping off for a few days to see the city then the best places to stay in Cherbourg will be found in the old town.
If you didn’t come in via the docks then you should definitely make your way down there - this is one of the last ports the Titanic docked at, right by the ferry terminal. That will also place you right by the brilliant Cité de la Mer, one of Europe’s best aquariums, which is also like a museum of the sea, housing a French nuclear submarine and a Titanic exhibit.
Cherbourg has a number of museums, including a War and Liberation museum, which details Cherbourg’s role in the second world war, when it was the primary goal for US troops after the D-day landings, among other exhibitions. The Musée de la Libération can be found atop the Montagne du Roule, in a famously strong fort which also offers amazing views of the city, the marina and the ocean beyond.
Outside of the Cherbourg, the coast alternates between sandy beaches and dramatic cliffs, backed by moorland. The Saire Valley is particularly picturesque.
Being a fishing town, Cherbourg’s cuisine includes a lot of seafood, but this is Normandy, so you should also expect plenty of dairy and apples - and cider. The markets, and the fish markets especially, are definitely worth a forage through.
Our pick of the best places to stay in Cherbourg is an ideal base whether you're here for a quick stopover en route to or from the ferry, or a longer stay exploring the area.
An elegant 16th Century mansion in the quiet countryside just 3km from Cherbourg. Gorgeous manicured gardens. A fine dining room and sunny, sheltered terrace for meals. Bedrooms are traditional in style but ooze sophistication, and bathrooms are bang up to date. Calm, countryside relaxation.