Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Toulouse (France), along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
Basilica of Saint Sernin
Toulouse’s religious highlight is without a doubt the Basilica of Saint Sernin, a monumental abbey church built in Romanesque style between 1080 and 1120. It’s one of the most prominent symbols of Christianity in the city.
The Basilica has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its many beautiful sculptures and is the largest Romanesque building in all of Europe at a length of around 100 m.
The church’s bell tower is particularly impressive as it consists of five levels of Romanesque arches. On the inside, the Cavaillé-Coll organ from 1888 impresses visitors with its size and beautiful decoration.
Make sure not to miss the many fabulous paintings that decorate the walls of the Basilica of Saint Sernin.
Muséum de Toulouse
The Muséum de Toulouse is dedicated to natural history and offers an unbelievable collection of more than 2.5 million artifacts on 3,000 m². The institution was founded in 1796 by the naturalist Philippe-Isidore Picot de Lapeyrouse aiming at educating the public.
Today the museum invites its visitors to explore five differently themed permanent exhibitions that touch on various subjects such as the Earth and its early history, the nature of life, the functions of living beings, and an interesting outlook on the future of mankind.
There is also a botanical garden found right next to the Muséum de Toulouse.
Foundation Bemberg is an art museum that combines works from the Renaissance and Impressionist era and displays them in the beautiful mansion of the Hotel d’Assézat.
The collection is named after Georges Bemberg, an Argentinian who worked tirelessly to collect art from the early 20th century. The interior of the building is perfectly conserved and feels like a time capsule.
Some of the most prestigious works on display here come from Guardi, Cranach the Elder, Titian, and many more. Make sure not to miss the well-preserved 16th-century ceiling on the 1st floor.
Musée des Augustins
The Musée des Augustins was established in 1801 and is housed in an impressive Gothic-style convent from the 14th century. The fine arts museum offers more than 4,000 works of art to its visitors.
Mainly sculptures ranging from the Romanesque era to the 19th century and paintings from the 16th to 20th century. There are also some interesting works from the middle ages on display, such as Le Christ en Croix, la Vierge of Saint-Jean et Madeleine.
Apart from the fantastic art collection that is a dream come true for visitors interested in art, there are also many educational programs offered here. Especially children get to enjoy a wide array of fun courses covering aspects like storytelling, circus, puppets, and many more.
Capitole de Toulouse
Capitole de Toulouse is the administrative center of Toulouse and features many of the city’s most significant buildings such as the Place du Capitole, the Couvent des Jacobins, and the Basilica of Our Lady of the Daurade.
The narrow streets, squares, and parks found here are just beautiful and ooze a classical French atmosphere. The area is the perfect place for some relaxed walks and plenty of interesting places can be discovered by simply wandering around.
Despite its historic significance the area also serves as an important commercial hotspot and is home to a huge number of restaurants, shops, and bars making it one of the premier areas to enjoy life for the residents of Toulouse.
The Japanese Garden is one of Toulouse’ best parks and was labelled a ”remarkable garden of France”. This garden is found in the Compans neighborhood just north of the city’s center.
The gardens are surprisingly exotic while at the same time also being a great place for meditation with its Zen promenade. The garden is inspired by the gardens of Kyoto and offers a Crane Island, a tea pavilion, and a lake.
Couvent des Jacobins
The Church of the Jacobins is a large brick building constructed in 1230. It is characterized by its French Gothic style and is known for the relics of Thomas Aquinas.
This church belonged to the Dominican Order and was deconsecrated after the French Revolution. In recent years, the building was converted into a museum and has since then become one of Toulouse’s most popular tourist attractions.
Especially impressive is the interior of the Couvent des Jacobins as it features magnificent 28 m high pillars that, combined with the ceiling, appear to be palm-shaped. The Reliquary of Thomas Aquinas is stored in a golden coffin.
Prairie Des Filtres
Prairie Des Filtres is the city’s number one spot for relaxation. Many residents come here to use the beautifully kept meadows for picnics or a few minutes of just laying in the grass and leaving all the stress behind them.
Many paths lead along the Garonne and invite strollers with their views over the water and the greenery of the park. The Prairie Des Filtres is also used as a venue for live events during the summer, turning the otherwise serene park into a real party hotspot.
Cité de l’Espace
The Cité de l’Espace is a science museum located in proximity to the large Park of the Great Plain on the south-eastern edge of Toulouse, around 5 km away from the city center.
This venue offers exhibitions dedicated to space travel as well as a planetarium open to the general public. There is also a great IMAX cinema to be found here and a children’s area, making the Cité de l’Espace a perfect place for families looking to spend some time outside the city’s busy center.
The Park of the Great Plain located right next to it is also Space-themed and offers greenery and many picnic areas that are very inviting during the warmer months.
The Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, as the church is called in English, is a landmark of Toulouse and shouldn’t be missed. The main draw of the cathedral is its interesting architecture.
Due to the different eras in which it was constructed there are Gothic, Romanesque and Baroque elements to be found here which makes the church very unique and fascinating.
The site is listed as a “monument historique” by the French Ministry of Culture. The Cathédrale St-Étienne doesn’t just impress from the outside, the insides of it are also very interesting. Don’t miss the beautiful Pietà by Gervais Droue (a well-known sculpture) and the marvelous rose windows.
Theatre du Capitole
Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse is home to the city’s ballet company, symphony orchestra and opera company. The theater looks back on a long history dating to 1736 when it was inaugurated by Guillaume Cammas.
After much renovation and modernization work over the last centuries, the theater is today known as a modern venue offering space for 1156 guests and having flawless acoustics as well as a modern stage.
Visitors interested in experiencing a live event here should head over to the theater’s website and check out the schedule, there is very likely an interesting performance to be enjoyed here during your visit to Toulouse.
Musée Saint Raymond
Musée Saint-Raymond is an interesting museum dedicated to archaeology. It was founded in 1892 and is housed in an interesting building that served as a necropolis, hospital, prison, and stables before being converted into the museum we get to enjoy today.
The institution is known for its archaeological collections ranging from the protohistory to the early Christian periods. Most of the artifacts on display come from Toulouse and its surroundings.
Le Pont Neuf is one of the city’s most historically significant bridges and was built in the 16th century. It connects St-Cyprien with the Capitole district and offers pedestrians an absolutely marvelous view along the Garonne.
Many of the city’s most beautiful structures can be seen from here. The bridge is known for its 7 arches that stretch over 200 meters across the river.
Garonne river cruise
There are several river tours offered in Toulouse. They can be found in the city center at the banks of the Garonne and serve as a great way to explore the area in comfort. Look out for the tour company “Bateaux Toulousains”.
They offer boat tours along the Garonne and Canal du Midi that are focused on exploring the historical heritage of the city. Keep in mind that these tours are seasonal.
In the time from March to June, most tours lead along the Canal du Midi while in the months after (July to October) the tours are focused on the Garonne.
Musee Georges Labit
Toulouse offers another interesting archeological museum, the Musee Georges Labit. Unlike the Musée Saint Raymond it is not focused on the local region but instead focuses on the Far-East and Ancient Egypt.
George Labit was a passionate traveler that gathered ancient art from around the world. The museum is situated in a historic Moorish villa and also offers an exotic garden.