When you think about France, the first place that usually comes to mind is Paris or Bordeaux, but a bit further south in France is the beautiful city of Toulouse that gives Paris a serious run for its money.
Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France, after Paris, Marseille and Lyon, and its known for its art, culture, and history, along with the Garonne River and 17th-century Canal du Midi that flank it.
Nicknamed “La Ville Rose” (The Pink City), because many of its buildings are made from pink bricks, Toulouse is a city that feels like a village in the town center, which is very walkable for tourists. There are a lot of amazing things to do in Toulouse, making it a fantastic vacation destination.
In this post, I will give you my top picks of things to do and see in Toulouse so you can plan a great vacation in this beautiful city.
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» Visiting soon? Check out our France travel guide. You might be interested in visiting the gorgeous town of Annecy, France for amazing food, as well as the Savoie wine region and these three jaw-dropping destinations in the French Alps.
Popular Activities For Your Toulouse Itinerary
1. Majestic Place du Capitole
This is one of the most visited places in Toulouse, and you cannot leave the city without seeing this beautiful piece of architecture that is centuries old.
The Place du Capitole is very regal, with its pink brick facade that defines the city, as you can see above, and this large and lively square that is packed with cafes, restaurants and a flea market where you can buy souvenirs for your trip.
2. La Cité de l’Espace
Ever wondered what it felt like to walk on the moon? Well, visit this space museum and you’ll get to experience that. Using virtual reality simulators and a special suit you can feel like an astronaut on the moon at La Cité de l’Espace.
Walking on the moon is not the only thing that you’ll get to do at La Cité de l’Espace. The attraction has replicas of the Ariane 5 Rocket, which from 2003 completed over 70 successful space missions, and the actual MIR space station that orbited the earth from 1986 to 2001.
If you’ll love anything to do with space exploration a visit to La Cité de l’Espace is a must when in Toulouse.
Tickets: You can buy tickets online here. They are 16€, with discounts for groups. They also offer packages that include hotel stay.
Hours: They are open 10am – 5 or 6pm most days. Though they are closed for large chunks of time, too. Be sure to check their hours before you make your plans.
Like many other European cities, Toulouse is packed with world-class museums you can explore. Here are some to include in your travel plans.
- Musee des Augustins – A fine arts museum
- Muséum d’ historie Naturelle de Toulouse (The Natural History Museum). At this museum, you’ll get to learn more about the evolution of man.
- The Bemberg Foundation. This attraction exhibits western art from the middle ages to the late 20th century.
- Les Abattoirs. This museum got its name because it is located in a former abattoir. Also called the Toulouse Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, it exhibits hundreds of modern-day art. It also has works that go back to the Second World War. There are temporary exhibitions held regularly, with one of the most recent displaying art by world-renowned artist Pablo Picasso.
PRO TIP: You can get free entrance to museums and monuments around the city with the Toulouse Tourism Pass. Buy it here.
4. Go Admire Basilique Saint-Sernin
This historic site has been called the greatest church in France, and you should visit it to admire its beautiful architecture, eye-catching interior design, and art.
The grand basilica is open every day from 8:30am-7:00pm. You can tour the place and learn about its history if you don’t find a service going on. If you do find a service you can attend it to hear the church organs playing.
5. Watch a Game of Rugby at Ernest Wallon Stadium
If you’re a sports fan then watching one of the world’s best rugby team play should be something that excites you. Stade Toulousain rugby club has many players in the France rugby team, and you can see them in action at the Ernest Wallon Stadium.
Apart from all the action during the game, the cheering by club supporters creates and electric ambiance at the stadium that you’ll enjoy being a part of.
6. Taste Delicious French Cuisine
You cannot go to Toulouse or any part of France and not enjoy some amazing French gourmet meals, which the country is known for the world over. There are several guided food tours in Toulouse, you can pay for one of these to get to taste some of the best French foods.
Here’s one we recommend, which will take you to explore Toulouse’s largest covered market: Marché Victor Hugo Small Group Food Tour
Be sure to try the French opera cake, baguette sandwich, mousse au chocolat, escargots, and croissants. These are some of the popular foods in France.
7. Grab a Glass of Wine at Le Wine Bar
Apart from its good food, France is also known for its vintage wines. The best place to enjoy some of this good wine is at No.5 Wine Bar, which has since 2017 being voted the world’s best wine bar by Glass Wine List.
This bar, located in the center of Toulouse, has over 3,000 referenced wines you can try. If you’ve got €10,000 you don’t mind spending, you can order a small glass of one of the world’s rarest and oldest bottles of wine displayed in a glass cabinet at the bar. The place opens every day at 6pm.
8. Tour the Airbus Headquarters
The two largest airplane manufacturers in the world are Boeing and Airbus. You can visit the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse and can get to see how planes are made. The company gives a 90-minute guided tour of its facility, which will take you to the runways used to test the planes made, the production facility, hangar, etc.
Tickets: The tour costs £16 for adults and children pay £13. Kids under 6 are free. You’re not allowed to take photographs during the tour, and you must carry your passport for identification, otherwise, you’ll not be allowed to enter the Airbus headquarters.
Hours: Open 8am to 7pm every day except Sunday and bank holidays (also Dec 31 and Jan 2).
9. See Saint-Etienne Square and Cathedral
This square is located just outside Saint-Étienne Cathedral. Both are worth a visit and a stroll around the square. The Cathedral offers free entrance and you’ll want to go inside to see the medieval construction and gothic architectural style. It is called the unfinished church because of all the construction and changes that have been made to it over the years.
Around the square, there is a book market on Saturdays and it’s a nice place to sit to enjoy nice weather and do some people watching.
You might be sensing a commonality here. Toulouse is the largest center for aerospace in Europe, so you’re going to find a lot of activities surrounding it in the city. Aeroscopia is one of the leading aviation and aeronautical museums in France and lies just a 25-minute drive from Toulouse.
On a self-guided tour, you will discover Toulouse’s aviation history through interactive exhibitions, step on-board an Airbus A300B and Concorde, and admire the huge collection of aircraft including everything from WWII fighters and commercial planes.
Where to Stay in Toulouse
The best area in Toulouse for visitors is the city center
- La Cour des Consuls Hotel & Spa Toulouse-MGallery – very nice luxury hotel walking distance to top sights in the center Read reviews on Trip Advisor or book on Expedia
- Pullman Toulouse Centre Ramblas – 5-star in the city center with a modern theme, restaurant, and close to the metro Read reviews on Trip Advisor or book on Expedia
There is a lot more you can do in Toulouse, so we recommend checking out this list of tours you can book through Viator. A few other options are:
- Visiting Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Toulouse. It was built in the late 16th century and is the perfect place to take romantic walks.
- Watching a ballet or opera performance at Theatre du Capitole.
- Indoor skydiving at FlyZone.
- Watching the sunset at Quai de la Daurade.
- Enjoying a picnic at Jardin Japonais
You will be glad you go out of Paris to visit the wonderful city of Toulouse, France. With so many awesome things to do in Toulouse, it can easily fill 2-3 days of your France trip.
Have you been to Toulouse? Tell us about what things you loved in the city, in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you.
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