Are you still unaware of the beautiful city of Toulouse France and the highly-acclaimed Toulouse vineyards of southern France? Then it’s about time you read our quick guide for its can’t-miss attractions! If you’re wondering about Toulouse things to do and see, we’ve got you covered.
Considered as the fourth largest in French cities and also known as the “Violet City,” Toulouse France is the ideal place for tourists searching for some sun – and some historical sights.
With a colorful history that dates back centuries, learning these facts are accessible in only a few hours with one of their express tourist circuits or by taking guided tours over an entire weekend period! Don’t miss out on all that Toulouse has to offer – start exploring today!
For those who adore the great outdoors and delight in exquisite tastes, Winalist has curated some of the finest winery experiences the southern region of France can offer.
Good to know: Toulouse France and Toulouse vineyards isarelocated 6 hours from Paris and a little less than 3 hours from Bordeaux wineries. Get ready to see Toulouse vineyards and other attractions in this beautiful area of France.
In a friendly and relaxed atmosphere, you can walk around as you please, go shopping, go to museums, and tour the squares and emblematic districts of Toulouse.
Here are the essential visits to put on your list if you come to spend some time in Toulouse.
To walk in the fresh air:
- The banks of the Garonne
- The Canal du Midi
- Garden plants
- The Saint-Cyprien district
- Capitol Square
- Toulouse vineyards
For a cultural visit, or on rainy days:
- The Basilica of Saint-Sernin
- The Jacobin convent
- The Natural History Museum
- The City of Space
1. The quays of the Garonne
One of our favorite Toulouse things to do is visit the Quays of the Garonne. If the sun is out, you won’t be alone if you decide to enjoy a leisurely stroll along Paris’s Seine. Similarly, Toulouse locals flock to the Garonne for some tranquil exploration and take in its beauty. There, visitors can experience the famous Pont Neuf bridge and witness people from Toulouse come together at daybreak; reading books or sketching while some play music on the riverbank! As night sets in, these quays become even more vibrant especially during summer when all sorts of restaurants located near boats open their doors – making it an ideal spot for an unforgettable evening!
2. The Canal du Midi
Connecting Toulouse to Sète, the Canal du Midi is an integral part of the Canal des 2 mers. The journey begins at Port de l’Embouchure, more formerly known as “Ponts-Jumeaux”, and it’s a popular destination for avid cyclists who come to explore this stunning region.
Built for 15 years in the 17th century by Pierre-Paul Riquet, this canal was intended to connect Toulouse to the Mediterranean. At the time called “Canal Royal de Languedoc”, it was renamed “Canal du Midi” by the revolutionaries.
Since 1996, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The circuits-stays along the Canal du Midi are an ideal experience on foot, in a motorhome, by bike or by boat.
The ideal family activity : renting a boat without a licence. You can indeed treat yourself to a cruise on the Canal du Midi without prior navigation experience by renting a boat, from March to November. The boat rental companies are based in Port-Lauragais, Negra, Castelnaudary, Carcassonne, Argens, Lattes, and at the port of Somail and offer cruises ranging from a weekend to 2 full weeks.
3. The botanical garden of Toulouse
Toulouse France’s public garden extends over 7 hectares between the allées Jules-Guesde, the allée Serge-Ravanel, the rue Alfred-Duméril and the rue François-Lamarck, to the south-west of the city center in the Busca district, no -far from the Canal du Midi.
We like to get there by the oldest gate in the city, the Porte du Capitole de Toulouse. In the botanical garden, there are now some remains of old buildings, not all of which have been renovated.
This green space is one of the various parks in Toulouse that offer a bit of freshness on hot summer days. Access is free and several activities are offered for young and old: bike rental, horse-drawn carriage rides, rides and playground.
The former royal garden has retained a few statues paying homage to the period during which it was built. Since then, it has become a friendly space, sometimes called the “lung of the pink city” by locals who go there regularly for picnics and walks.
4. The Saint-Cyprien district
Known as Saint-Cyp’ by the inhabitants of Toulouse, this suburb located on the left banks of the Garonne has gradually become one of the most popular districts. It is however relatively unknown to tourists, but we advise you to go there during your trip to Toulouse.
The Saint-Cyprien district is home to the Slaughterhouses, the Place Saint-Cyprien, so special with the pink brick buildings that sit enthroned there, as well as the Saint-Joseph de la Grave Hospital (the dome that can be seen from the Place Saint Pierre).
5. Capitol Square
You have probably already heard of the Place du Capitole in Toulouse. Located in the heart of the city, this huge pedestrian square is a place to visit absolutely. It is also the address of the town hall and the famous Capitole theatre. A true emblem of the city.
6. Basilica of Saint Sernin
This Romanesque basilica is a jewel of history, originally built to protect the relics of Saint-Saturnin, first bishop of Toulouse who was martyred in 250. Currently, it is still the church that has the most relics in France.
A symbol of southern Romanesque architecture, the Saint-Sernin basilica is also a major place of pilgrimage on the way to Santiago de Compostela.
7. The Jacobin convent
Another religious building that deserves to be discovered. This church also houses relics of Saint Thomas Aquinas (since 1369), and has the particularity of being built in pink bricks. On site, the Jacobins convent is divided into several parts that you can visit or admire:
- The Saint-Antonin chapel;
- the cloister;
- the convent tower, visible from the cloister;
- and of course the Jacobin Church.
8. The Natural History Museum
It is the second French museum of natural history on the surface after that of Paris. An ideal activity for families on a rainy day, with something to have fun and learn about the history of people and species.
You will discover a collection of tens of thousands of pieces and objects over an area of approximately 6,000 m2. The museum offers modern initiatives as well as an itinerary to raise awareness of the major questions of our time.
9. The city of space
Want to know more about astronomy, space or the conquest of space? Head to the Cité de l’Espace, a theme park located southeast of the pink city for more than 20 years.
The major attraction, which impresses young and old alike, is the life-size replica of the Ariane 5 rocket. Apart from this discovery, you will be able to learn many things about what is happening above our heads thanks to the different experiences and activities offered.
Book a guided tour
They are available at the Toulouse tourist office, located on Square Charles de Gaulle in the Donjon du Capitole. Guided tours are a concentrate of learning about the history of historic and emblematic monuments such as the Capitol, the Jacobins convent or the Hôtel de Bernuy.
Depending on the tours offered, you can discover Toulouse from every angle or prefer a quick tour of the city center to the most visited places. All the rich heritage of the Occitan capital can be explored in a few hours thanks to the guides of the tourist office.
Follow Tourist Routes
Do you prefer to visit Toulouse at your own pace? Then the Tourist Toutes are made for you. Among the best walks in Toulouse, we have selected the 3 circuits that we liked the most:
- The 10 places not to be missed: a walk that can last less than 3 hours in the city center;
- From the capitol to the Place du Pont-Neuf: A walk that immerses you in the heart of the historic center and the shopping district of the city of Toulouse;
- The banks of the Garonne.
Discover South west vineyard around Toulouse
Want to venture off the beaten track, away from the asphalt on sweltering summer days? Meet in the South west vineyard, a few dozen minutes from downtown Toulouse.
Winalist makes it easy for you. Thanks to the many partners on our booking platform, we offer tourists and wine lovers the best wine activities in the South West region. Share unique moments with winegrowers as a family, alone or with friends.
Visit Toulouse in 1 day: the express circuit
Are you passing through Toulouse for a quick one-day visit? So, no time to lose, we immediately offer you a circuit that will make you discover the essentials of Toulouse in a few hours.
Our walk begins on the Place du Capitole. If you arrive by train, the metro drops you off two stops after the station, at the Capitole.
- Place du Capitole, a must for any visit to Toulouse. Day or night, the town hall square is simply magnificent;
- we exit northwest of the square to take rue Taur, which connects place du Capitole to the basilica of Saint-Sernin. It is one of the most touristy streets in Toulouse, so it is filled with several typical shops, displaying in their windows local specialties with the scent of violets;
- after seeing the Saint-Sernin basilica, let’s head to the Arnaud-Bernard district. Popular and not necessarily well known a few years ago, this is THE street-art district. A real treat for lovers of slightly offbeat urban photography, especially in rue Gramat, completely covered in graphs;
- direction the convent of the Jacobins that we presented to you a little earlier in this article;
- by retracing our steps a little, we can enjoy a well-deserved break on one of the many terraces of Saint-Pierre square;
- we then continue our way towards the Garonne, until we reach the quays of the Daurade for a stroll along the water’s edge;
- once you arrive at the Pont Neuf, all you have to do is turn right and walk a hundred meters to enter the courtyard of the Hôtel d’Assézat on your way back to the town centre. This former mansion is one of the most beautiful in Toulouse. Today it is the seat of several foundations;
- we then return to Place du Capitole to complete our pedestrian adventure through the emblematic places of Toulouse.
Ready to visit Toulouse? We hope that our practical little guide will allow you to appreciate this charming city in the best possible way. And if you want to venture out to discover the Occitan region, don’t miss our selection of activities in the South-West region of France (tours, walks, wine tastings, meals).
FAQ: Useful questions and answers about Toulouse
Where to go in Toulouse when it’s hot?
Very good question, because as you can imagine, this is not uncommon in Toulouse. To cool off, we recommend visiting the town’s churches and basilicas, or finding a shady spot on the lawns along the banks of the Garonne. Favor long walks early in the morning, or in the evening during very hot days in summer.
What to do in Toulouse when it rains?
Again, visits to the various relics in churches are a good option. If you are with the family, with young children, the natural history museum is an excellent option to occupy a rainy half-day.
Why is Toulouse called The Pink City?
It is in this city that the brick and the Roman tiles of pink-orange color were invented. Which gives such a special look to old buildings, and very shimmering colors in the sun.
What’s Toulouse gastronomy ?
Cassoulet is a delicious casserole, best eaten in winter when you might need warming up.
It’s a medley of meat including duck, goose, but mostly pork products like Toulouse sausages and skin.
This is cooked down in a terracotta dish with large white haricot beans into a thick, rich broth; accompanied by red wine from Fitou or Corbières and you’ve got the perfect meal.
The main component, Toulouse sausage, is one of the southwest France’s great culinary contributions; it’s generously seasoned, meaty and completely free of additives.
There’s a great deal more to the region though, from roquefort cheese to violet, which is often fermented into a vinegar for colourful salad dressings.
Best Things to Do in Toulouse, France:
Place du Capitole
Muséum de Toulouse
Church of the Jacobins
Cité de l’Espace
Musée des Augustins
Canal du Midi
Trip on the Garonne
Musée Georges Labit
Where to Stay in Toulouse for Sightseeing ?
Happily, for anyone planning a trip to Toulouse, its top attractions are within a compact area in the central city, extending south from the UNESCO-listed Basilique Saint-Sernin to the landmarks around Place du Capitole and beyond to the cathedral. Within this area are the traffic-free streets of the Vieux Quartier, the charming medieval quarter. These highly rated hotels in Toulouse are well located for sightseeing:
The sleek modern Pullman Toulouse Centre Ramblas is on the banks of the Canal du Midi about a 20-minute walk from the Basilique Saint-Sernin. Its private parking lot is a boon for drivers. This five-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk, concierge, a trendy “bistronomic” restaurant, and a fitness center.
The Grand Hôtel de l’Opéra occupies a renovated 17th-century convent in the historic center of Toulouse on the Place du Capitole (the city’s main square). Guest rooms feature refined decor and modern amenities. This four-star boutique hotel include a brasserie, gastronomic restaurant, 24-hour front reception desk, room service, and valet parking.
Steps away from the Place du Capitole and a short walk to the basilique Saint-Sernin, the four-star Le Grand Balcon is a historic hotel from the 1930s, which has been redesigned in an elegant modern style. The spacious guest rooms feature Nespresso coffee machines and L’Occitane toiletries. Amenities include a 24-hour front reception desk and concierge.
Near the Place du Capitole, the Hôtel Albert 1er offers a variety of accommodations, from decent-sized “economy” rooms to spacious “superior” rooms and triple-bed rooms or suites for families. Guests love the hotel’s buffet breakfasts featuring local organic foods (including croissants, brioche, homemade waffles, fresh-squeezed fruit juice, and artisanal jams). The hotel also offers room service and stocked picnic baskets to go.
The chic Hôtel des Arts is in a pedestrianized area between Place du Capitole and the cathedral, and a block from the Musée des Augustins. This three-star hotel has charming contemporary-style guest rooms. For the breakfast, the hotel serves fresh-squeezed orange juice, homemade yogurt, and pastries from one of the best bakeries in the area.
A short walk from the Place du Capitole, the four-star Novotel Toulouse Centre Wilson has a fitness center and spa. Guest rooms are decorated in a minimalistic modern style and outfitted with flat-screen televisions and updated bathrooms.
Another hotel near the Place du Capitole, the charming family-run Hôtel Héliot is found on a quiet street in a convenient central location. The guest rooms are cozy and comfortable and feature modern amenities.
In the lively Carmes quarter, which is full of restaurants and cafés, the Hôtel Croix-Baragnon is located close to the Place du Capitol, the cathedral, and the Musée des Augustins. Guest rooms are decorated in a cheerful style with bright colors and bold artwork.
A few blocks from Basilique Saint-Sernin and a 10-minute walk from Place du Capitole, the ibis Toulouse Centre provides compact but stylish guest rooms at affordable prices. This three-star hotel has a 24-hour front reception desk and a café-restaurant.