Ultimate Travel Guide to Toulouse, France

Written From… A train on the way to visit the Cotswolds

Toulouse, nestled in the heart of southwestern France, is a captivating blend of history, culture, and innovation. I have to thank SkyScanner and their ‘explore everywhere’ function for showing me the cheap flights, as that’s how I found myself in this welcoming city when I did. I’ve put more on the best times to visit, and the kind of weather you can find in Toulouse below.

Known affectionately as “La Ville Rose” (The Pink City) due to its distinctive terracotta brick architecture, Toulouse offers a picturesque landscape that is both charming and unique. This vibrant city is not only a historical gem, with landmarks like the Basilica of Saint-Sernin and the Capitole de Toulouse, but also a modern hub of aerospace technology, being home to the headquarters of Airbus.

You can find yourself strolling along the banks of the Garonne River, exploring the bustling markets, and indulging in the rich culinary traditions of the region, from hearty cassoulet to delicate pastries. Whether you’re a history buff, or a food lover, Toulouse promises an unforgettable experience with its warm atmosphere and dynamic spirit.

In this ultimate travel guide to Toulouse, France, I’m going to share with you some of the many ways to get there and the best times to visit. I’ll cover what to see and do in Toulouse, ways to immerse yourself in the culture, practical information on where to stay, including neighbourhood recommendations, essential phrases, and lastly, any day trips you can take from Toulouse.

Southwest France



Getting to Toulouse, France

Getting to Toulouse is convenient and straightforward, whether you prefer to fly, take the train, or drive. Toulouse-Blagnac Airport serves as the main gateway, with numerous international and domestic flights connecting the city to major destinations. The cheapest time to fly to Toulouse is during the shoulder seasons, March to May, and September to November. You can see what these months have to offer in Toulouse in the next section of this article. 

You can reach Toulouse city centre from the airport in just 30 minutes using public transport or 15 minutes by taxi. If travelling by bus from the airport, you can tap onto the bus using your credit card, so don’t worry about finding somewhere to buy a ticket straight away. 

For those travelling by train, high-speed TGV services link Toulouse with cities like Paris and Bordeaux, offering a scenic and efficient journey. Which means if you’re based in London you could easily jump on the train from London to Paris and then change for Toulouse. 

If you choose to drive, major highways provide easy access to the city. Once in Toulouse, an extensive public transport network, including buses, trams, and a metro system, makes navigating the city easy. We had no issues tapping on with our credit cards, which meant we didn’t need to find somewhere to buy travel tickets. However, be careful if your bank charges a conversion fee, as this could make your travel more expensive.

Best Time to Visit

Like many cities, there isn’t really a ‘bad’ time to visit Toulouse; it just depends on what you want to get out of the city and your holiday.

Toulouse in spring

I decided to visit Toulouse in March, one of the shoulder seasons, so flights and accommodation were very cheap. While there was some rain, it wasn’t cold, and being from London, a little bit of rain doesn’t really put me off going on a city break. 

Spring (March to May) is an ideal time to visit if you want to walk around the city all day, explore some outdoor activities but without getting too hot. The average temperature ranges between 10°C (50°F) and 20°C (68°F). As it’s springtime, you’ll also find the city adorned with flowers and lush greenery. Since it’s the shoulder season, there are fewer tourists, allowing for a more relaxed holiday and a more authentic experience of the city. I found locals had plenty of time to talk to you and were interested in your stories. In one of the bars I went into I met a lovely lady who had moved back to Toulouse with her partner after years of travel and we bonded over our experiences in Australia

Toulouse also holds various events and festivals during the spring, and you can find lots of information here.

Toulouse in summer

If heading to Toulouse in the summer (June to August) is what you’re after, you will be treated to a lively summer atmosphere and many outdoor activities and festivals. The weather is warm and sunny, with average temperatures ranging from 20°C (68°F) to 30°C (86°F), perfect for enjoying the city’s parks, riverbanks, and open-air cafes. This period is also festival season in Toulouse, featuring events like the Toulouse Summer Festival and the Piano aux Jacobins, offering a rich cultural experience with music, performances, and local celebrations. I’ve made a list of noteworthy events in the sections below. Also, don’t forget the longer summer nights here in Europe, so you’ll have plenty of time for sightseeing and soaking in French culture in the evenings.

Toulouse in autumn

Another shoulder season to consider is autumn (September to November), where the temperature cools off a bit and the atmosphere calms down again. During these months, like Spring, the temperatures are mild, ranging from 10°C (50°F) to 20°C (68°F), making it comfortable for exploring the city’s attractions. The autumn leaves add a picturesque quality to Toulouse’s parks and gardens, creating a beautiful backdrop for sightseeing. As with other seasons in Toulouse, autumn brings a variety of cultural events and festivals, such as the Toulouse International Art Festival, providing rich opportunities to engage with local art and traditions.

Toulouse in winter

If you’re looking for a winter getaway (December to February), you should still consider Toulouse. The city takes on a magical atmosphere during the holiday season, with festive Christmas markets, decorations, and events that bring warmth and cheer to the cold months. Visitors can enjoy seasonal treats, unique crafts, and holiday performances. The milder winter climate in Toulouse, with temperatures typically ranging from 5°C (41°F) to 10°C (50°F), is more comfortable compared to harsher winter destinations, meaning it’s still conformable for sightseeing. As winter isn’t a peak season for tourism, you can use the colder months to visit some of the many museums and indoor activities without the same queues you’d encounter during the rest of the year. If you go at this time of year and you are interested in the museums I would highly recommend looking at the Toulouse city card. This is also a great time to explore Toulouse’s rich culinary scene, as cosy restaurants and cafes offer hearty regional dishes like cassoulet, perfect for the cooler weather.

Top attractions in Toulouse

Capitole de Toulouse

Capitole de Toulouse - Written From Travel

The Capitole de Toulouse is a landmark of immense historical significance and serves as the city’s administrative heart. Constructed in the 12th century, it has been the seat of municipal power for over eight centuries. The stunning facade, completed in the 18th century, features eight columns symbolising the original eight districts of Toulouse. Today, it houses the city hall and the Théâtre du Capitole, a renowned opera house. You can explore its interiors, including the Hall of Illustrious, adorned with impressive artworks depicting Toulouse’s rich history. The Capitole remains a vibrant centre of civic life and culture in the city.

Basilique Saint-Sernin

The Basilique Saint-Sernin in Toulouse is a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built between the 11th and 13th centuries, it is one of the largest remaining Romanesque structures in Europe. The basilica was constructed to honour Saint Sernin, the first bishop of Toulouse, whose relics it houses. Notable for its impressive bell tower, intricate sculptures, and grand nave, the basilica attracts both pilgrims and tourists alike. Its rich history and architectural splendour make it a significant spiritual and cultural landmark in Toulouse.

Musée des Augustins

The Musée des Augustins in Toulouse is a prestigious fine arts museum housed in a stunning Gothic convent dating back to the 14th century. It boasts an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century, including works by renowned artists such as Delacroix, Ingres, and Rodin. The museum’s tranquil cloister and beautifully preserved architecture provide a unique and atmospheric setting for its exhibits. As one of France’s oldest museums, the Musée des Augustins offers visitors a rich cultural experience, blending historical charm with artistic excellence.

Cité de l’Espace

Cite Espace in Toulouse France - Written From Travel

Cité de l’Espace, located in Toulouse, is a leading space exploration museum and theme park, offering an engaging experience for all ages. Opened in 1997, it features full-scale replicas of iconic space vehicles like the Ariane 5 rocket and the Mir space station, alongside interactive exhibits and simulators that bring the wonders of space to life. Visitors can explore the intricacies of space travel, the solar system, and cutting-edge astronomical research. Cité de l’Espace also hosts educational workshops and planetarium shows, making it a hub for both learning and entertainment in the realm of space science.

Jardin des Plantes

The Jardin des Plantes in Toulouse is a serene and picturesque botanical garden, offering a delightful escape from the bustling city. Established in the 18th century, this garden spans seven hectares and features a diverse collection of plants, including vibrant flower beds, towering trees, and exotic species. The garden is also home to charming ponds, winding pathways, and several statues, making it an ideal spot for leisurely strolls and picnics. In addition to its natural beauty, the Jardin des Plantes hosts educational activities and seasonal exhibitions, providing both relaxation and enrichment for visitors of all ages. Its tranquil atmosphere and lush landscapes make it a beloved retreat for locals and tourists alike.

Free things to do in Toulouse

Walking tour

When visiting a city I always use GuruWalk to see if there are any free tours available. I like using these as they normally last around 2 hours and you get to see some of the most notable sights in the city centre whilst also learning about their history. You can then come back and revisit the parts in the tour that grabbed your attention in your own time. When in Toulouse I found Harry, and I couldn’t recommend his walking tour enough. He is a fiction writer who has a keen interest in history and that shows in his tour through his storytelling and knowledge of Toulouse. You won’t be disappointed.

Walk along the river Garonne

River Garonne in Toulouse France with the autumn leaves.

Walking along the River Garonne in Toulouse is a serene and picturesque experience, offering stunning views and a glimpse into the city’s vibrant life. The tree-lined promenades and scenic bridges, such as the iconic Pont Neuf, create the perfect backdrop for a leisurely stroll. As you walk, you’ll encounter historic landmarks, bustling markets, and lively cafes along the riverbanks. The tranquil waters and verdant surroundings provide a perfect setting for relaxation and contemplation, making a riverside walk an essential part of any visit to Toulouse. 

Picnic in the Japanese Garden

A picnic in the Japanese Garden in Toulouse is a great escape into natural beauty. Located within the Compans-Caffarelli Park, this serene oasis features traditional Japanese landscaping with koi ponds, stone lanterns, and meticulously pruned trees. Get ready to enjoy your meal surrounded by the sounds of birds and the parks views, which includes a charming red bridge and a tea pavilion. The peaceful atmosphere, complemented by the gentle sounds of flowing water and birdsong, makes it an ideal spot to recharge on this city break.

Relax in the Place de la daurade

Relaxing in the Place de la Daurade you can appreciate the careful balance that  Toulouse offers with its perfect blend of riverside charm and vibrant city life. Located along the banks of the Garonne River, this picturesque square is a favourite spot for both locals and visitors. With its open spaces, shady trees, and scenic views of the Pont Neuf, it’s an ideal place to unwind. Enjoy a leisurely stroll, sit on a bench to people-watch, or indulge in a coffee at a nearby café. The calming river backdrop and the lively ambiance of the square make Place de la Daurade a delightful retreat in the heart of Toulouse.

Food and Culture in Toulouse

Toulous, renowned for its hearty local delicacies and vibrant culinary scene, you won’t be bored when it comes to food. A must-try is the traditional cassoulet, a rich, slow-cooked casserole of duck confit, pork, and white beans, best enjoyed at Le Colombier, a restaurant famed for this dish.

cassoulet In a white bowl in Toulouse, France - Written From Travel

Toulouse sausage, known for its distinctive flavour, is another local speciality, often savoured at the historic Victor Hugo Market, where you can also explore a variety of regional cheeses and cured meats. For a sweet treat, try the fenetra, a classic almond and lemon tart, available at the celebrated pâtisserie, Pillon.

To complement your meal, indulge in the local wines from nearby vineyards or enjoy a glass of Armagnac, a traditional brandy from the region. For a quintessential Toulouse café experience, visit Le Bibent on Place du Capitole, known for its beautiful Belle Époque interior and excellent selection of coffees and pastries. These culinary experiences offer a true taste of Toulouse’s rich and diverse food culture.

Key festivals and events in Toulouse

Violet Festival (Fête de la Violette)

Hosted in February the Violet Festival celebrates Toulouse’s emblematic flower with markets, exhibitions, and floral displays.

Toulouse Carnival (Carnaval de Toulouse)

Hosted in March the Toulouse Carnival hosts colourful parades, music, and performances throughout the city.

Rio Loco Festival

Hosted in June the Rio Loco festival celebrates world music with performances by international artists, held on the banks of the Garonne River.

Les Siestes Electroniques

Hosted in June Les Siestes puts on an electronic music festival featuring innovative artists, held in the city’s public gardens.

Toulouse Summer Festival (Festival d’Été de Toulouse)

Hosted in July the Toulouse Summer Festival holds a variety of open-air concerts, theatre performances, and cultural events.

Piano aux Jacobins

Hosted in September the Piano aus Jacobins is an International piano festival held in the historic Jacobins Convent, featuring renowned pianists.

Toulouse International Art Festival

Hosted in October the Toulouse Internal Art Festival showcases contemporary art with exhibitions, installations, and performances across the city.

Marathon International de Toulouse Métropole

Hosted in October the annual marathon in Toulouse attracts runners from around the world, with routes through the city’s landmarks.

Flamenco Festival

Hosted in November the Flamenco Festival celebrates Spanish culture with flamenco dance and music performances.

Christmas Market (Marché de Noël)

Hosted in December the Christmas Market is held at the Place du Capitole, offering holiday treats, crafts, and decorations.

These festivals and events highlight Toulouse’s vibrant cultural scene and offer visitors a chance to experience the city’s lively and diverse traditions.

Famous markets in Toulouse

Victor Hugo Market (Marché Victor Hugo)

Located in Place Victor Hugo, the Victor Hugo Market is renowned for its fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and seafood, with several top-floor restaurants serving local dishes.

Carmes Market (Marché des Carmes)

Located in Place des Carmes, the Carmes Market is a historic market offering a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and regional specialties, housed in a beautiful covered building.

Saint-Cyprien Market (Marché de Saint-Cyprien)

Located in Place Roguet, the Saint-Cyprien Market is known for its vibrant atmosphere and diverse range of products, including organic produce and artisanal goods.

Cristal Market (Marché Cristal)

Located in Boulevard de Strasbourg, the Cristal Market is an open-air market popular for its affordable fresh produce, flowers, and household items.

Capitole Market (Marché du Capitole)

Located in Place du Capitole, the Capitole Market is a bustling market set in the iconic Capitole square, offering a wide selection of food, flowers, and local crafts.

Saint Aubin Market (Marché Saint Aubin)

Located around the Saint Aubin Basilica, the Saint Aubin Market is a lively Sunday market featuring organic produce, local delicacies, crafts, and live music, attracting both locals and tourists.

Minimes Market (Marché des Minimes)

Located in Boulevard des Minimes, the Minimes Market is a neighbourhood market with a friendly atmosphere, offering fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and baked goods.

Les Carmes Flea Market (Marché aux Puces des Carmes)

Located in Place des Carmes, Les Carmes Flea Market is a popular flea market where you can find antiques, vintage items, and second-hand goods.

These markets provide a rich taste of Toulouse’s local culture and culinary delights, making them must-visit spots for any traveller.

Neighbourhoods in Toulouse and where to stay


The heart of Toulouse, Capitole is vibrant and bustling, centred around the iconic Place du Capitole. It offers easy access to major attractions, many within walking distance, shops, cafes, and restaurants. Ideal for those who want to be in the thick of the city’s cultural and social life.


Known for its bohemian and artistic vibe, Saint-Cyprien is located on the left bank of the Garonne River. It boasts excellent markets, eclectic eateries, and the modern art museum, Les Abattoirs. Perfect for those who appreciate a more laid-back, creative atmosphere.


One of Toulouse’s oldest neighbourhoods, Carmes is charming and historic, with narrow streets, ancient buildings, and a lively market. It’s an excellent choice for those who enjoy exploring historical sites and experiencing local traditions.


This upscale, elegant neighbourhood is home to the beautiful Saint-Étienne Cathedral and offers a range of high-end boutiques, antique shops, and gourmet restaurants. Ideal for travellers seeking a sophisticated and quieter stay.


A primarily residential area, Minimes is peaceful and well-connected to the city centre by metro. It’s a good option for families or those looking for a quieter, local experience with easy access to central Toulouse.


Located south of the city centre, Saint-Michel is known for its relaxed residential feel and green spaces, including the Jardin des Plantes. It’s a great choice for families and nature lovers who want to stay close to parks and gardens.


This neighbourhood is a blend of business and leisure, featuring the Japanese Garden and the Compans-Caffarelli Park. It’s ideal for business travellers or those attending events at the nearby Pierre Baudis Congress Centre.

Arnaud Bernard

A multicultural and lively area, Arnaud Bernard is known for its vibrant market and diverse food options. It’s perfect for those who enjoy an eclectic, energetic environment.

Patte d’Oie

Located on the western side of Toulouse, Patte d’Oie offers a mix of residential tranquillity and urban convenience, with good transport links and local amenities. Suitable for travellers who prefer a quieter stay with easy access to the city centre.


A newer, rapidly developing area with modern amenities, Borderouge is family-friendly and offers large green spaces like the Parc de la Maourine. Great for families and those who appreciate modern living with lots of outdoor space.

Each of these neighbourhoods offers a unique slice of Toulouse’s rich culture and lifestyle, catering to different preferences and interests, ensuring that every traveller can find their perfect home away from home for a few days.

A few day trips from Toulouse, France


A day trip from Toulouse to Albi offers an escape into history and culture. Just an hour’s drive or train ride away, Albi is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its stunning mediaeval architecture. The crown jewel is the Sainte-Cécile Cathedral, the largest brick cathedral in the world, with its breathtaking Gothic interior and vivid frescoes. Adjacent to the cathedral, the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum houses an extensive collection of works by the famous painter born in Albi. Wander through the charming old town, with its half-timbered houses and picturesque streets, and enjoy a leisurely lunch at a riverside café overlooking the Tarn River. Albi’s rich heritage and scenic beauty make it a perfect, enriching getaway from Toulouse.


A day trip from Toulouse to Carcassonne is a journey into a fairy-tale mediaeval world. Just over an hour by car or train, Carcassonne is famed for its remarkably well-preserved citadel, La Cité, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This fortified city, with its double-walled ramparts and 52 towers, offers a glimpse into mediaeval history. Visitors can explore the narrow cobblestone streets, visit the majestic Château Comtal, and marvel at the stunning Basilique Saint-Nazaire with its beautiful stained glass windows. Enjoy a traditional cassoulet lunch at one of the quaint restaurants within the citadel walls before wandering through charming shops offering local crafts and souvenirs. Carcassonne’s historical allure and picturesque setting make it a captivating day trip from Toulouse. 

Pyrenees Mountains

A day trip to the Pyrenees Mountains from Toulouse promises breathtaking natural beauty and outdoor adventure. Just a scenic two-hour drive or train journey away, the Pyrenees offer a stunning backdrop of rugged peaks, lush valleys, and cascading waterfalls. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy activities such as hiking, mountain biking, or simply taking in the majestic scenery with a leisurely walk. Explore charming mountain villages like Saint-Lary-Soulan or Ax-les-Thermes, known for their thermal spas and quaint cafes serving hearty local cuisine. Whether you seek exhilarating outdoor pursuits or tranquil relaxation amidst stunning landscapes, a day trip to the Pyrenees from Toulouse is an unforgettable experience.

Useful phrases to navigate Toulouse

  • “Bonjour” – Hello (Good morning/afternoon)
  • “Merci” – Thank you
  • “S’il vous plaît” – Please
  • “Excusez-moi” – Excuse me
  • “Parlez-vous anglais?” – Do you speak English?
  • “Où est…?” – Where is…?
  • “Combien ça coûte?” – How much does it cost?
  • “Je voudrais…” – I would like…
  • “L’addition, s’il vous plaît” – The bill, please
  • “Pouvez-vous m’aider?” – Can you help me?

These phrases should help you navigate the city, communicate with locals, and make your travels in Toulouse smoother and more enjoyable.

Put Toulouse, France, on your city break bucket list

Toulouse, with its unique blend of historical charm and modern innovation, offers a diverse and enriching travel experience. From the architectural beauty of the Capitole de Toulouse and the Basilique Saint-Sernin to the artistic treasures of the Musée des Augustins and the futuristic allure of Cité de l’Espace, every traveller will find something for them in this city. The vibrant cultural scene, tasty cuisine, and warm, welcoming atmosphere make it a destination worth exploring in any season.

Whether you’re strolling through the flower-filled streets in spring, enjoying the lively festivals of summer, admiring the autumn foliage, or soaking up the festive spirit of winter, Toulouse promises unforgettable memories. With its convenient transportation options, rich heritage, and dynamic spirit, this Pink City invites you to discover its many layers and fall in love with its unique charm. Pack your bags and let Toulouse enchant you with its timeless beauty and vibrant life.


Picture of Megan Jessica
Megan Jessica
Megan is the Co-founder of Written From Travel. Her love of travel stems from a childhood dream to experience life abroad, of discovering something new outside of her well known territory, London. Megan enjoys snapping pictures, drinking copious amounts of tea, keeping active, and having a good weekend Netflix binge.
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