Looking for the best things to do in Toulouse?
Then this article is for you! Whether you are visiting for a weekend, spending a semester at uni or stopping while on a road trip, you will find many ideas of things to do in Toulouse!
It’s a beautiful city and the perfect starting point to discover South West France.
Sitting along the banks of the River Garonne, Toulouse is called “La Ville Rose” by the french.
This means the Pink City. This name comes from the fact that all buildings (walls and roofs) are pink! It’s very pretty!
After living in Toulouse for several years, I decided to share my tips and recommendations on what to do in Toulouse and also where to stay.
The city centre itself is quite small, which is very convenient. If you are staying in a hotel in the centre, you will be able to do almost everything on foot.
Public transports are very good too, so if you want to jump on a bus or take the underground, it’s very easy too!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!
Top Attractions in Toulouse
Let’s start this article by discovering the most famous landmarks in Toulouse.
In this first section, we tell you everything you need to know about the best places to visit in Toulouse
Le Capitole is the name given to Toulouse’s City Hall.
It’s located in the heart of the city centre, on the Place du Capitole.
It’s known as the main square in Toulouse, where everything happens. Everything gravitates around this square and it’s a popular meeting point for locals.
The square itself is very pretty. You can see some Occitan crosses on the ground, luxury restaurants all around and more importantly the beautiful facade of the Capitole.
Fun fact: The name Capitole comes the Occitan word “Capitolium” which means “house of the capitouls”. The capitouls were rich traders and are the ones who truly developed the city of Toulouse.
This is one of the most beautiful city halls you can find in France. It is absolutely gorgeous, whether it’s from the outside or the inside.
The Capitole has been used as a city hall since the 12th century. It is home to beautiful historical rooms and paintings.
There are even huge frescoes on the ceilings.
Most locals don’t even know that you can visit the Capitole but they offer tours of the rooms on week days. It’s very interesting!
Also, it’s the perfect activity for people looking for free things to do in Toulouse.
HOW TO GET THERE: The nearest metro station is Capitole (line A). The exist is located by the Dungeon, just behind the square. Walk up the Rue Lafayette (1 min) and you will be there.
Visiting the Couvent des Jacobins
Located between the Capitole and Saint-Pierre, the Couvent des Jacobins is one of the most famous landmarks in Toulouse.
This medieval monastery in the heart of the city centre is by far one of the best places to visit in Toulouse.
As you get there, you will discover a very impressive building. From the outside, it looks pretty austere and although big, it doesn’t quite reveal its true beauty yet.
Once you step into the church, you will start discovering the beauty of it. You can walk around the church and admire the beautiful stained glasses and columns.
If you lift your head up, you’ll see that the columns form a palm tree on the ceiling. This is a beautiful hidden gem in Toulouse!
But the best part of the visit is not, it’s located behind in the convent. You will need to go to the desk to get a ticket.
PRO TIP: Get the Toulouse card beforehand. The visit of the Jacobins is included as well as other museums and public transport. It will save you a lot of money.
Once you enter, you will walk into the cloister. It’s absolutely stunning! The vaults are remarkable, so is the garden.
There are also two chapels that you can visit (chapel of the Virgin and the chapel of Saint-Antonin).
Finally, you will also find a room presenting the traditional clothes and examples of dinners they would have during the Middle Ages.
HOW TO GET THERE: The nearest metro stations are Capitole and Esquirol (line A). They are both at the same distance (roughly). From there, it’s an easy 5 minutes walk.
La Daurade is the promenade located on the banks of the river Garonne.
It’s the locals’ favourite place in summer. During the day you can go for a walk along the quays or just lay down and read a book.
In the evening, it’s the perfect place to go for a picnic.
Just take some drinks and food and go there. You’ll see, that will be a great evening.
Tip from a local: There is a delicious Lebanese restaurant nearby. It’s called Chez nous Les Libanais. If you want to get some food, that will be an excellent place.
Alternatively, you can also get some Argentinian empañadas to take away from El Chivito in the Rue des Blanchers.
The view from La Daurade is particularly pretty as you will get to see both bridges, the dome of La Grave hospital’s chapel and the big wheel.
If you are visiting in winter, you should also see all the restaurant boats with the lights on the water. It’s very pretty.
If you can get there before sunset, the experience will be even more magical. It’s one of the best sunset spots in the city!
Finally, if you like discovering hidden gems, head to the Pêcheurs de Sable. It’s a cute bar located on the quays.
They don’t have any indoor spaces which is why it’s particularly popular in summer. It used to be a morgue which makes it quite an intriguing place (though most locals don’t even know about that).
HOW TO GET THERE: The nearest metro station is Equirol (line A). It takes 5 minutes on foot to get there from the station.
Basilica Saint Sernin
Located on Place St Sernin, between the Capitole and Jeanne d’Arc, the Basilique Saint-Sernin is for sure the most beautiful church in the city.
St Sernin was built during the 11th century. It’s the largest Romanesque basilica in France and Europe which is why it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It’s a famous and beloved stop for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago.
From the outside, you will get to enjoy a beautiful baroque facade with high spiky towers. Inside, it won’t disappoint either.
You will find some amazingly well-preserved stained windows as well as a stunning 21-metre high nave with stunning vaults.
The Basilica is free to visit and open every day.
Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi is one of the most important landmarks in South West France. It goes all the way down from Toulouse to the Mediterranean sea.
Altogether, the canal is 240km long which is particularly exceptional, especially knowing that it was built during the 17th century.
It’s still considered one of the greatest construction works of that time. It was initially part of the bigger project that aimed at connecting the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean.
Unfortunately, as the need for such things started to become more important, the project stopped.
Nevertheless, the work achieved was exceptional and that’s why it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The canal is not really used for any commercial purpose nowadays, apart from hospitality and tourism.
In Toulouse, you can find the canal du midi on the northern side of the city centre. It’s very easy to get there on foot.
The canal goes right in front of the main train station, Matabiau. You’ll find some walking path on the side.
Another way you can enjoy the canal is by joining a cruise! That’s actually a super fun thing to do in Toulouse.
The company Les Bateaux Toulousains organise a pirate escape game on the canal du midi. It’s good fun.
They also offer various cruises on the Canal.
PRO TIP: You get a good discount if you got the Toulouse City Card. 1 cruise bought = 1 for free.
Local tip: Unfortunately, the Canal Du Midi is not always the best and safest place in Toulouse. Some portions are better than others. If you want to enjoy a lovely stroll, you should go on the path from Matabiau to the Port Saint-Sauveur. It’s a nice part!
Cité de l’espace
Toulouse is famous for its connections with the space and aircraft industry.
That’s where you will find the headquarters of Airbus as well as many manufacturers of parts for spaceships, satellites and airplanes.
For this reason, it was decided a couple of decades ago to create a theme park entirely dedicated to Space that would combine fun and educative activities.
This amusement park is called the cité de l’espace and is located on the Eastern side of the city.
It is a great place to visit, especially if you are looking for things to do in Toulouse with kids.
There are 3D activities, exhibition halls and a replica of Ariane 5, a rocket that was launched from the French space station in Guyana.
ENTRANCE FEE: Make sure to book your tickets in advance to avoid any disappointment.
HOW TO GET THERE: It takes about 40 minutes to get to the Cité de l’Espace from the city centre by public transport. To do that, you can take the bus L8 or 23 from Jean Jaurès. There will be a 5 minutes walk to get to the entrance. Alternatively, you can take the metro (line A) to Jolimont and hop on bus 37 that will take you right there.
PRO TIP: Public transport is included and unlimited with the Toulouse Card.
Museum Les Abattoirs
The Musée Les Abattoirs is a modern and contemporary art museum located in St Cyprien, on the left banks of the River Garonne.
It’s a great place to visit if you love art and unusual sights. You can be sure to find very unconventional pieces here.
There aren’t really any permanent exhibitions. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions all the time.
They change every couple of months.
Fun fact: Les Abattoirs in French means slaughterhouse which is a rather interesting choice of name. As you can imagine, this is not the current use of the building but that’s what it used to be. The name was kept to highlight this historical background.
The museum is also located by the Raymond VI Garden. This is a small but cute park in Toulouse. Make sure to go there for a stroll as it’s very pleasant. The views are also amazing as you can see the river and the dome of the chapel of La Grave hospital.
Address: 76 Allées Charles de Fitte 31300 Toulouse
HOW TO GET THERE: The nearest metro station is St Cyprien. From there you’ll have a 10-minute walk up the main road. If you are near St Pierre or La Daurade, you can also get there on foot, you just need to cross the Pont Saint-Pierre (bridge) and go along the Promenade Dr Charles Rose.
ENTRANCE FEE: There is an entrance fee of 8 euros for the museum except on the first Sunday of the month (all national museums are free in France on the first Sunday of the month). It’s also one of the attractions included in the Toulouse City Card.
It’s also important to note that the museum provides guided tours of the exhibitions on Wednesdays and Sundays for €1 extra.
Museum de Toulouse
Located in Carmes, by the Jardins des Plantes, the museum de Toulouse is a natural history museum.
It’s one of the best museums in Toulouse and the perfect activity if you are looking for things to do in Toulouse with kids.
It was founded in the 18th century by a naturalist, Philippe-Isodore Picot de Lapeyrouse. Nowadays, the collection features over 2.5 million items!
It’s very interactive and well set up. You will get to discover plenty about volcanoes, mammals, fish and much more!
The Museum de Toulouse includes a permanent exhibition, a temporary exhibition and the botanical gardens.
The best way to visit the Museum is to start by exploring the permanent exhibition, you will then take the stairs back down to the entrance and can head to the temporary exhibition. If you take your time, it will take you between 2 and 3 hours to explore but of course, you can choose to stay more or less. It’s up to you!
Temporary exhibitions can treat a variety of topics so you never quite know what you will find but to give you an idea, here are some of the previous themes: witchery, Amazon forest, gardening…
These exhibitions are usually very well done. They are interesting but also fun to discover as the museum always does its best to include various items and interactive animations (videos, games…).
The temporary collection is much smaller than the permanent one. 30 minutes to 1 hour are usually enough to see everything.
Once you’re done with these two, head outside to discover the botanical gardens. They are quite small but very pretty! It’s very pleasant to walk around these gardens and only people visiting the Museum get to do so!
If you are hungry or want to get a coffee, there is also a cafe with an outdoor terrace.
ENTRANCE FEE: The entrance costs 7 euros for either the permanent or temporary exhibition. 9 Euros for both exhibitions and 3 euros for the gardens. If you get the Toulouse City Card, you can go for free (to both exhibitions!)
HOW TO GET THERE: The nearest metro stations are Carmes and Palais de Justice. They are both on line B. From either of them, it’s about 5 to 7 minutes walk.
There also is a bus stop right in front of the entrance of the museum. It’s called Jardin Royal and you can get there with the bus 31.
Compans Caffarelli Park
Compans Caffarelli is known as the “business district” in Toulouse.
As Toulouse is a fairly small city, the business district is a bit of an overrated word but it is more or less a smaller equivalent of La Défense in Paris.
You will find a lot of buildings with offices and schools here but it’s also a very nice place to visit.
It’s mainly known by the locals for its fantastic park (only 2 minutes walk from the metro station).
If you want to take a break from the city and go for a stroll, it will be an excellent place to do so. You can also grab a take-away sandwich nearby and go for a picnic in the park.
Local tip: If you want to get a sandwich, go to L’Atelier du Pain. It’s a small boulangerie located on the other side of the boulevard. They have great lunch formulas with sandwiches and drinks. Most locals who work in the area go there to get their lunch. Try to avoid going at noon though as it can get very busy.
HOW TO GET THERE: The best way to get to Compans is by metro. It’s one of the main stops on line B. From the metro station, it’s only 2 minutes walk. Alternatively, you can take the bus 41, L1.
Located in the middle of the Compans Caffarelli Park, the Japanese Gardens are one of the most beautiful gardens in Toulouse.
It’s quite unexpected to see this type of garden in France but yet, here we are!
It’s very picturesque and such a relaxing place to visit!
It’s also one of the best spots in Toulouse to take photos!
You will find a beautiful red bridge, a tea pavilion as well as a pond and many types of plants.
Everything was done so it looks pretty and relaxing.
There is no entrance fee which is always a plus! You can simply walk in and follow the path around the garden.
If you want to relax, you can also stop there for a while and enjoy reading a book!
Local tip: It’s better to go in the morning or in the afternoon during the week. That way you will avoid all the workers who usually come here to eat their lunch.
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the metro (line B), bus 41 or L1 to Compans Caffarelli. Walk a couple of minutes to the park and then take the diagonal path from the entrance towards the Place Alphonse Jourdain and you’ll find the entrance of the Jardin Japonais.
Musée des Augustins
Important: the museum is currently being renovated. It will reopen to the public in 2023.
Visiting the Musée des Augustins is one of the must-do activities in Toulouse for art lovers. It’s one of the most beautiful museums in the city and that’s something you shouldn’t miss!
It’s located on the Rue de Metz, at the corner with the Rue Alsace Lorraine and the Rue des Arts.
Inside, you will find an incredible collection of sculptures and paintings (from the Middle Ages to the 20th century).
It’s a great place to discover more about the Occitan culture and art.
This museum of fine art is also home to some of the most unique examples of Romanesque sculptures in the entire world.
There are many rooms you can visit. Some include just the paintings, others the sculptures.
You will also find a beautiful cloister in the museum. It’s similar to the one you can see at the Couvent des Jacobins except that there are sculptures of gargoyles around.
It’s very pretty and well worth your while.
ENTRANCE FEE: Tickets cost 6 euros however there are two ways you can get it for free. If you buy a Toulouse City Card, this will be included. Alternatively, try to visit on the first Sunday of the month as all museums are free on that day.
HOW TO GET THERE: The metro station Esquirol (line A) is only a 1-minute walk from the museum. If you are taking line B, you can get off at Carmes. It’s only a 5 to 10 minutes walk from there.
Jardins des Plantes
The Jardins des Plantes is another very pleasant park in Toulouse.
It’s located in Carmes and can be a great place to go for a stroll after visiting the Museum.
There are ponds with ducks, swans and geese as well as a playground for kids.
If you want to stop for a coffee, you can also do so as there are a few kiosks that serve coffee and snacks.
Fun fact: The garden was initially created so medical students could grow medicinal plants. That’s why it’s called the plants garden.
From the Jardins des Plantes, you can easily reach two other beautiful gardens in Toulouse: the Grand Rond and the Jardin Royal.
There are some paths and bridges that make it easy for pedestrians to visit the three gardens at once.
HOW TO GET THERE: There is a bus stop in front of the garden where the buses 44 and L7 stop. You can also take the metro to Carmes or Palais de Justice (line B) and walk 10 minutes to get to the garden.
Saint-Pierre is one of the liveliest neighbourhoods in Toulouse.
It’s located on the right banks of the River Garonne and is known for its beautiful bridge and its bars.
The Pont Saint-Pierre (St Peter’s Bridge) connects the Place Saint-Pierre to Hospice de la Grave (that’s the dome you can see) and the neighbourhood of Saint-Cyprien.
Though the first bridge in this location was built in the 19th century, this one is a much newer version. It was rebuilt in 1987 and features a beautiful metal structure.
Painted in blue, it is a particularly pretty bridge but the best thing about it is that you can get wonderful views from here.
There are pedestrian paths on each side so you can walk across whenever you want. It’s a great spot to enjoy the views of the dome of La Grave, the River Garonne and the Daurade.
Another excellent reason to visit Saint-Pierre is for the bars.
The Place Saint-Pierre is home to some of the best and most iconic bars in Toulouse. Amongst them, you will find La Couleur de la Culotte (yep, that means the colour of your panties), Chez Tonton, le bar basque and Le Saint Des Seins.
These are all excellent options if you want to go for a drink in the evening. It’s a great place to start. A lot of locals start their evening in St-Pierre and then make their way towards La Daurade, Esquirol or Jean Jaurès.
Local tip: St Pierre is particularly appreciated by students in Toulouse. As students tend to go out on Thursdays, that’s a day where you can expect this place to be busy. If you want to avoid the crowds, don’t come on a Thursday. If on the contrary you like the idea of partying, it will be the perfect time of the week to visit.
Hôtel d’Assézat – Fondation Bemberg
The Hôtel d’Assézat is oneof the most beautiful Hôtel Particulier (city mansion) in Toulouse.
Toulouse was a merchant city and it is known for its beautiful Hôtels Particuliers. While you can find them all around the city, it’s pretty rare you get to visit any.
They belong to private owners and you usually don’t get to see further than the gate. If you’re in luck you’ll pass by while it’s open and can take a peek at the court, but that’s about all you can get.
The Hôtel d’Assézat can be visited every day! It’s located in Esquirol and is a great example of opulent mansions from the Renaissance Era.
It was built in the 16th century and is absolutely beautiful still to this day.
The hotel is particularly well-conserved which is quite unusual. As you can imagine, such properties are incredibly expensive to maintain so most of these mansions are not in the greatest state. This is not the case here.
It was bought by the city of Toulouse in the 80s and was entirely restored. It now houses the Bemberg Foundation and is open to the public.
Best of all? It’s free!
While a lot of visitors (and even locals) skip it, it’s a mistake you shouldn’t be making. This is a prime example of Toulouse’s Capitouls glory.
HOW TO GET THERE: You can easily walk there (2 minutes) from Esquirol metro station (line A).
The Pont Neuf is the bridge located between Esquirol and Saint-Cyprien.
Even though it is called Pont Neuf, which means the New Bridge in French, it is actually the oldest bridge in the city.
Fun Fact: Oddly enough, it’s quite often that the ‘new bridge’ in French cities is actually very old. That’s also the case in Paris for example.
It was built during the 16th century. The idea came from the Capitouls (the rich merchants of Toulouse) but was actually realised later on by Francis I, the king of France at the time.
The bridge was inaugurated in 1659 by the most famous king France ever had, Louis XIV.
Unlike the Pont Saint-Pierre, this one is entirely made of stone and has a style that matches more the rest of the city. There are seven beautiful arches that truly makes it beautiful.
From the Pont Neuf, you’ll get to see beautiful views over the river Garonne, the hospice de la grave and the big wheel.
Local tip: The Pont Neuf is also particularly pretty at night as it’s all lit up. The best spot to admire it is from the Promenade Henry Martin which leads from Esquirol to the Daurade.
Located right next to the Basilique Saint-Sernin, the Musée Saint-Raymond is an excellent place to visit in Toulouse if you have an interest in history or archaeology.
This archeological museum was built on the site where was located the necropolis in Toulouse.
Inside, you can find an incredible collection of artefacts and items dating back from the Gauls and Roman times.
There are two floors where you can discover the collections as well as a cave with a real archaeological site.
Although it’s not as popular as the other museums mentioned in this article, the musée Saint-Raymond is really interesting and if you’d like to learn about Ancient Toulouse, that’s the perfect place to do so.
ENTRANCE FEE: There is a €5 entrance fee to visit the museum. If you have the Toulouse City Card, you will go for free.
La Prairie des Filtres
The Prairie des Filtres is located on the other left banks of the River Garonne.
It’s one of the best places in Toulouse to have a picnic. Locals love this place, especially in summer!
There are beach volleyball pitches and you will get to enjoy a beautiful view of the river.
In June, it also hosts an amazing Caribbean festival, Rio Loco.
It’s a great place to check out if you want to stop somewhere with a takeaway and like to discover hidden gems and locals’ favourites.
Located on the other side of the river Garonne, compared to the centre, Saint-Cyprien is often overlooked by visitors but one of the favourite neighbourhoods of the locals.
It’s is authentic and typically Toulousain. It’s also one of the oldest districts in the city and you can find many historical sites here.
The Faubourg Saint-Cyprien has been around since the 12th century.
You can find a historical gate (la Porte de Saint-Cyprien) next to the metro station. This used to mark the entrance of the city.
Fun fact: the gate used to be guarded by geese. They were so loud that they would act like an alarm when people were getting closer.
Saint-Cyprien is known for its cosmopolitan culture. You’ll find all sorts of local shops and restaurants from various backgrounds.
English pubs, Spanish tapas bars, African shops… there is a bit of everything here and that’s what makes this neighbourhood so pleasant and unique.
Fun Things to do in Toulouse
Going for a run or a bike ride at the park des Argoulets
Located in North Toulouse, the park des Argoulets is a very big park where you can enjoy walks and bike rides.
Way bigger than any other park in the city centre, it’s perfect to spend a sporty afternoon.
Shopping in Rue Saint Rome and Rue Alsace Lorraine
There are two main shopping streets in Toulouse: Rue St Rome and Rue Alsace Lorraine. They are both completely different but yet so complementary.
Rue St Rome is the traditional shopping street, it’s located in the old Jewish quarter and goes from Capitole to Esquirol.
The street is tiny and so are the shops. It’s the perfect example of a typical Toulousaine street: charming, narrow and pink!
However, as it also is Toulouse’s most popular street, it can get very crowded.Rue Alsace Lorraine is the complete opposite.
Located only 5 minutes walk from rue St Rome, this parallel street goes from Jeanne d’Arc to Esquirol.
The street is long and wide, the shops are mainly chains and bigger.
It’s a way more modern version of shopping streets.You will also find many shops in between these two streets.
The luxury shops are located in the tiny streets near Rue Alsace Lorraine, in St George quarter.
The whole area is very lively and the perfect shopping place.
Don’t set your mind on one of them, just go to Capitole metro station and take it from there. Have a wander, the best shops are hidden in the narrow streets!
Best things to do in Toulouse for foodies
Drinks and Food in Francois Verdier
Francois Verdier is the most underrated quarter of Toulouse but yet it is such a nice place.
The Place Du Puy is a gorgeous square, home to a beautiful music venue, La Halle aux grains.
Francois Verdier also has a lot of little restaurants and bars, very local and welcoming.
If you want to have a drink or grab a bite, Rue Riquet will be the best place. Locals particularly like the Petit London, Delicatessen and Burger’N’Co.
Grabing food in Rue du Taur
The Rue du Taur goes from Capitole to the Basilique Saint Sernin.
It’s full of little restaurants and is always a good option to grab food. It’s the locals first port of call for food.
You will find loads of creperies and various french restaurants.
Having a coffee in Place St George
St George is located in the historic centre of Toulouse.
It is a pretty wealthy neighbourhood and the buildings are very pretty.
The Place St George is full of bars with big outside terraces. They are the perfect place to enjoy a coffee on a sunny day.
Eating on a boat on the Canal du Midi
As most of the boats on the Canal du Midi aren’t navigating anymore, some of them were turned into restaurants.
If you want a very unique experience, you can go for dinner on a boat on the Canal du Midi.
Having drinks in Esquirol
Esquirol is the perfect place to have a drink in the evening. It’s very lively and international.
You will find all sorts of bars including Spanish dancing bars, English pubs and typical little French wine bars.
You will enjoy sitting outside at the terrace of a bar, having some wine and cheese and chat away. If you want to dance, you will find a couple of Latino bars in Esquirol.
Check out the Borriquito Loco, La Tantina de Burgos and L’Eldorado.
Clubbing in Jean Jaures
If you want to go clubbing in Toulouse, Jean Jaures is the place to go! Most of the clubs and dancing bars are located there.
You can start by Rue Pery where you will find both clubs and music venues such as the Snapper Rock or Connexion. You can try in every little street you will always find some bars and clubs.
If you want a dancing bar, the Cafe Pop is always a good option.
Toulouse is a lively city and is always good fun.
These 18 things to do in Toulouse should give you a very good idea of what this french city is all about.
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