D-Day Sites | Normandy Landings Sites, Memorials and Museums

One of the most crucial operations in modern military history, the D-Day landings became a pivotal moment in the history of the Second World War. Today, many of the key places that were so crucial to the battle can still be visited and these D-Day sites, memorials and museums are extremely popular with visitors to Normandy.

The battle for the Normandy beaches and beyond brought stories of great heroism mixed with great tragedy, and today many people visit the Normandy beaches to mark this sacrifice. Indeed, a visit to these D-Day sites and to the wider battlefields of Normandy can be both a fascinating and a sobering experience. Places such as Omaha Beach, Pegasus Bridge, Pointe Du Hoc and St Mere Eglise are marked in history along with dozens of other fascinating sites, museums and memorials whose location have become a permanent reminder of the scale of this most-ambitious of all WW2 operations.

You can explore a D-Day sites map above and get more information on all of these key D-Day landing historical places below.

D-Day Sites | Normandy Landings Sites, Memorials and Museums: Editor's Picks

1. Pegasus Bridge

Among the most important D-Day sites is Pegasus Bridge, which was captured by British forces in the early hours of June 6th and was of vital importance to the success of the wider operation.

DID YOU KNOW?

Pegasus Bridge, originally known as Caen Canal Bridge, in Normandy, France, was a vital strategic position during Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of France.

On 6 June 1944, Allied forces landed on Normandy’s beaches, an event known as the Normandy Landings or “D-Day”.

Sword Beach was to be a landing point for British forces and, just to its east, was Pegasus Bridge, a small crossing over the Caen Canal. In order to protect the soldiers who would land at Sword Beach from German attack, a unit of the British 6th Airborne Division, led by Major John Howard, was tasked with capturing Pegasus Bridge.

They were also required to take the Merville gun battery in order to put it out of action. This would form part of Operation Tonga, in turn part of Operation Overlord.

On 5 June 1944, under cover of darkness, Major Howard and his men landed in gliders near Pegasus Bridge and proceeded to capture it intact within the staggeringly short time of ten minutes. This action was vitally important, preventing the possibility that German forces could attack the eastern flank of the soldiers arriving at Sword Beach.

The Merville gun battery and other bridges were also successfully taken by airborne forces. However, these victories came with heavy losses of around 2,000 men in all.

Caen Canal Bridge was renamed as Pegasus Bridge on 26 June 1944 after the winged horse emblem on the uniforms of the airborne division. The events at Pegasus Bridge and D-Day in general also inspired the 1961 film, “The Longest Day”.

There is currently a new bridge where Pegasus Bridge once stood, the original is now on display at the Pegasus Bridge Museum (just next to the bridge itself). There is also a plaque near the bridge setting out the events that occurred there.

Photo by Passion Leica (cc)

2. Pointe Du Hoc Memorial

A key US D-Day site, the Pointe Du Hoc memorial commemorates the American Second Ranger Battalion who fought there on D-Day. The battalion was tasked with capturing German artillery at Pointe Du Hoc to ensure the safety of the troops landing on the beaches below.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Pointe Du Hoc Memorial in Normandy, France commemorates the American Second Ranger Battalion who fought there on 6 June 1944 as part of the D-Day landings in World War II.

The D-Day attack was a pivotal offensive which allowed the Allies to gain a foothold in Nazi-occupied France and begin the process of liberating Western Europe.

Pointe Du Hoc overlooks Omaha Beach, which was a vital landing point for Allied troops during the D-Day operation. Led by Lieutenant Colonel James E. Rudder, the Second Ranger Battalion was tasked with capturing German artillery at Pointe Du Hoc to ensure the safety of the troops landing on the beaches below.

The Pointe Du Hoc Memorial is a large granite structure which stands at the edge of the 100-foot cliffs these Rangers had to scale to complete their dangerous mission. The Rangers succeeded in their task, but suffered significant causalities in the process.

Constructed by the French and now managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Pointe Du Hoc Memorial is a reminder of the heroism of the Rangers and the forced involved in the Normandy landings.

The area surrounding the Pointe Du Hoc Memorial is also historically fascinating, littered by bomb craters, it is preserved in much the same state as it was immediately following D-Day.

Photo by Archangel12 (cc)

3. The Merville Gun Battery

The Merville Gun Battery is a former German World War II fortification neutralised by the Allies on D-Day. The 9th Battalion of the British Parachute Regiment were tasked with capturing and disabling the battery before the beach landings. The remains of the battery can still be seen and it is a popular D-Day site.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Merville Gun Battery was a German held fortification in Normandy which the Allies captured in the course of Operation Overlord in World War II.

Operation Overlord was the Allied invasion of Normandy, France, in June 1944. This hinged on the ability of Allied troops to land at various beaches in Normandy, an event known as D-Day or the Normandy Landings.

The Merville Gun Battery, which had four 100mm calibre guns (the Allies thought it had 150mm guns), was within firing distance of Sword Beach, which was designated as a British landing zone. This was a danger to the forces which were to land at Sword Beach and their supporting fleet. Thus, the 9th Battalion of the British Parachute Regiment led by Lieutenant-Colonel Terence Otway were tasked with capturing and disabling Merville Gun Battery before the landings were due to take place on 6 June 1944.

The complex operation was subject to severe setbacks. Only 150 of the 750 troops who were supposed to arrive actually reached the site after troops were dropped in incorrect locations up to ten miles from the intended drop zone. Furthermore, very few supplies reached these troops.

Yet, despite these problems, Otway and his men managed to improvise a new plan and successfully neutralised the Merville Gun Battery just hours before the Normandy Landings began. German troops managed to return to the fortification in the afternoon, but it now had only two working guns and posed a much smaller threat to troops landing at Sword Beach. In any event, it was recaptured by the Allies once again on 7 June.

Today, the Merville Gun Battery is open to the public as the Musée de la Batterie de Merville, which stands as a museum, a memorial and an educational site.

4. Omaha Beach Museum

The Omaha Beach Museum chronicles the events of the largest of the D-Day Landings in Normandy in World War II. Through a series of exhibits, including dioramas, military uniforms, testimonials and photographs, the Omaha Beach Museum traces the events of the assault on Omaha Beach and Pont Du Hoc.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Omaha Beach Museum (Musee Memorial Omaha) tells the story of the D-Day Landings on Omaha Beach in Normandy on 6 June 1944 during World War II.

Spanning an area of 10km, the Omaha Beach assault was the largest of the Normandy Landings and included, amongst others, the US 29th Division, the 1st US Division (Big Red) and the US 2nd Division.

The Omaha Beach assault suffered several setbacks, including the fact that the area was unexpectedly well-defended by the Germans and that many soldiers did not land at their intended targets. Despite these setbacks, the allied troops managed to establish footholds in the German occupied territory, although they were unable to complete their ambitious mission targets.

Through a series of exhibits, including dioramas, military uniforms, testimonials and photographs, the Omaha Beach Museum traces the events of the assault on Omaha Beach and Pont Du Hoc.

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Photo by iamkaspar (cc)

Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum

The Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum traces the events of this famous World War II battle. Taking a chronological approach, the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum begins in the period prior to the initial assault, through to the infamous Normandy Landings on D-Day up to 29 August 1944.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum or ‘Musee Memorial de la Bataille de Normandie’ in Bayeux tells of the story of the World War II battle which loosened Germany’s grasp on Europe and paved the way for an allied victory.

Taking a chronological approach, the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum begins in the period prior to the initial assault, through to the infamous Normandy Landings on D-Day up to 29 August 1944. Displaying military objects from the time, including weaponry and uniforms, the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum offers an overview of the battle and an insight into the events, including a 25 minute film.

A visit to the Battle of Normandy Memorial Museum usually lasts around 1.5 hours.

Photo by em 140 (cc)

Big Red One Assault Museum

The Big Red One Assault Museum looks at the history of the US First Infantry Division in World War II, particularly their part in the D-Day Landings. The division were part of the infamous landing at Omaha Beach where, despite the difficulties encountered, they together with the 29th division went on to secure the beach.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Big Red One Assault Museum in Normandy is dedicated to the efforts of the US First Infantry Division, nicknamed the Big Red One, particularly their part in the D-Day Landings on 6 June 1944.

The Big Red One division were part of the infamous landing at Omaha Beach where, despite the difficulties encountered, they together with the 29th division went on to secure the areas around Saint-Laurent, Vierville and Colleville.

The Big Red One Assault Museum chronicles this assault, including a film about its events. An hour-long guided tour is available upon request in English and French.

Photo by santanartist (cc)

Gold Beach Museum

The Gold Beach Museum tells the story of one of the D-Day Landings. The museum tells the story of this victorious attack as well as the intelligence operation behind it.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Gold Beach Museum, known as Musee America - Gold Beach, chronicles the landings of the 69th Brigade of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division in Normandy on 6 June 1944 – D-Day - as part of Operation Gold Beach.

Led by Major General Douglas Alexander Graham and supported by the 79th (Armoured) Division, these troops succeeded in storming one of the central beaches of the Normandy Landings.

The Gold Beach Museum tells the story of this victorious attack as well as the intelligence operation behind it. Guided tours of the Gold Beach Museum are available, but must be booked in advance for an added fee.

Photo by Geert Orye (cc)

Le Memorial at Caen

Among the most important D-Day landings memorials, Le Memorial at Caen is a history museum dedicated to World War Two and other conflicts. It explores the events which led up to the Normandy Landings of World War II, the Landings themselves and the aftermath.

DID YOU KNOW?

Le Memorial at Caen is a museum of history based in northern France, not too far from the locations of the beaches where the Normandy Landings took place. Le Memorial at Caen explores the events which led up to the Normandy Landings of World War II, the Landings themselves, also known as D-Day, and the aftermath.

Le Memorial at Caen also offers day trips and longer guided tours around the sites of the Normandy Landings, which start at Caen Railway Station. Beyond its Second World War exhibits, Le Memorial at Caen also looks at the Cold War and beyond, exploring the concept of peace in the context of different conflicts.

Photo by Gilles Messian (cc)

Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery

The Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery was a World War II German defensive battery. Made up of four 150mm guns, the battery is located between the vital allied landing beaches of Gold and Omaha. It was captured by the British 231st Division.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery, also known as ‘Batterie Allemande’, was a German defensive battery in Normandy which played a big part in the German defence efforts during the Normandy Landings on D-Day, 6 June 1944.

Made up of four 150mm guns, the Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery is located between the vital allied landing beaches of Gold and Omaha. It was captured by the British 231st Division.

Today, the Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery is open to the public.

Photo by Gilles Messian (cc)

Musee Airborne

Musee Airborne is a World War Two museum dedicated to the Normandy Landings of 1944. Comprised of three main buildings, one of which is shaped like a parachute, Musee Airborne - also known as St-Mère-Eglise Airborne Museum - is dedicated to the role played by the American 82nd and 101st airborne divisions during the Normandy Landings.

DID YOU KNOW?

Musee Airborne in St-Mère-Eglise in Northern France is dedicated to the role played by the American 82nd and 101st airborne divisions during the Normandy Landings of World War Two or "D-Day".

Taking place in June 1944, the Normandy Landings were a collaborative effort between British, American and Canadian troops, who launched a massive attack by air, land and sea to capture German occupied Europe in an operation known as Overlord.

St-Mère-Eglise was the site where American paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions landed between 5 and 6 June 1944 and is today the home of Musee Airborne.

Comprised of three main buildings, one of which is shaped like a parachute, Musee Airborne, also known as St-Mère-Eglise Airborne Museum, houses original aircraft from the Normandy landings, including a Waco Glider and the Douglas C-47 plane Argonia together with weaponry, photographs, documentation and a film about the landings.

Musee Airborne also explores the personal stories of the soldiers who took part in these operations.

Photo by mat's eye (cc)

Normandy American Cemetery

Among the most moving D-Day sites, the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is a World War Two graveyard with a visitor centre. It is the burial site of 9,387 US military personnel who fought and died in WW2. Most of the graves belong to participants in the Normandy Landings.

DID YOU KNOW?

Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is the burial site of 9,387 US military personnel who fought and died in World War Two. Most of the graves at the Normandy American Cemetery belong to participants in the Normandy Landings on 6 June 1944, also known as D-Day.

The Normandy Landings were a coordinated effort by the Allied forces to recapture European land taken by the Germans. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the Normandy Landings were a pivotal point in World War II, representing a significant victory for the Allies. However, this victory came at a high cost of life, a fact commemorated at Normandy American Cemetery.

Normandy American Cemetery has a visitor centre, several memorials including Tablets of the Missing and orientation tables showing the battles which took place in the area. The visitor centre is itself a useful historical guide, offering an insight into the Normandy Landings and the soldiers who took part in the attack. Guides are on hand to answer questions.

Photo by iamkaspar (cc)

Sword Beach

Sword Beach was one of the five landing beaches of the Normandy D-day Landings during World War II. Assigned to units of the British 3rd Division, the landings at Sword Beach were the most eastern part of Operation Overlord.

DID YOU KNOW?

Sword Beach (Ouistreham) in Normandy, France was one of the sites of the Normandy Landings on 6 June 1944, D-day.

Assigned to units of the British 3rd Division, the landings at Sword Beach were the most eastern part of Operation Overlord, the allied offensive which led to the liberation of German-occupied France and subsequently Europe in World War II.

Photo by Milan Boers (cc)

The Juno Beach Centre

The Juno Beach Centre explores the history of the Canadian forces in World War II. From photographs & documents to multimedia presentations and even a tour of the D-Day landing site and bunker, the Juno Beach Centre looks not only at the Canadian efforts in World War II, but paints a portrait of modern Canada.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Juno Beach Centre, also known as the Normandy Canadian Museum, chronicles the Canadian contribution to the war effort during World War II.

Based in the location assigned to the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division in the D-Day Landings, the Juno Beach Centre focuses especially on the events which took place on 6 June 1944, whereby Canadian forces took part in the invasion of Normandy.

From photographs and documents to multimedia presentations and even a tour of the D-Day landing site and bunker, the Juno Beach Centre looks not only at the Canadian efforts in World War II, but paints a portrait of modern Canada.

A visit usually lasts 1.5 hours.

Photo by Historvius

The Pegasus Bridge Museum

A lesser-known Normandy landings site, the Pegasus Bridge Museum is dedicated to the British 6th Airborne Division, the first Allied troops to land on D-Day. With displays of historic items such as weapons and gliders, documents, photographs and, of course, Pegasus Bridge itself, visitors can learn about various missions carried out by this division on D-Day and beyond.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Pegasus Bridge Museum, officially known as Memorial Pegasus, in Normandy houses the famous Pegasus Bridge, which was captured by British forces on the night of 5-6 June 1944 during World War II.

The capture of Pegasus Bridge was carried out in order to protect the eastern flank of the landing operations at Sword Beach as part of the Allied invasion of German-occupied Northern Europe. It played a vital role in aiding this attack, part of Operation Overlord, more commonly known as the Normandy Landings or “D-Day”.

Visitors to the Pegasus Bridge Museum can not only learn about the events of the capture of this important strategic point, but also about the forces which carried it out, the British 6th Airborne Division.

With displays of historic items such as weapons and gliders, documents, photographs and, of course, Pegasus Bridge itself, visitors can learn about various missions carried out by this division and about the capture of the bridge on D-Day, which has been nicknamed “The Longest Day” after the 1961 film based on the offensive.

Guided tours are available and last around an hour and a quarter.

Photo by Richard Matthews (cc)

Utah Beach Memorial

The Utah Beach Memorial commemorates the landing by the US 4th Infantry Division at Utah Beach on D-Day. Comprised of a granite obelisk, the Utah Beach Memorial is a monument to the achievements of this division and their successful operation.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Utah Beach Memorial is an American monument in Normandy which commemorates the World War II D-Day Landings. On 6 June 1944, as part of the Allied invasion of German-occupied Normandy known as Operation Overlord, the US 4th Infantry Division, part of the VII Corps, landed on Utah Beach.

Comprised of a granite obelisk, the Utah Beach Memorial is a monument to the achievements of this division and their successful landings.