Things to do in Carcassonne

Things to do in  Carcassonne

Hilltop medieval majesty

The jagged contours, crenelated city walls, grey slate turrets, and burly watchtowers of Carcassonne’s medieval hilltop citadel—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—are just as impressive up close as from afar. More than four million visitors arrive each year to walk the ramparts, visit the Château Comtal, and dive into the warren of cobbled lanes, museums, and monuments within the Cité Médiévale. A half-day visit is enough to cover the top things to do in Carcassonne, leaving time to visit the nearby Lastours Châteaux and Canal du Midi, or sample some local wines.

Top 2 attractions in Carcassonne

Count's Castle in Carcassone Citadel (Chateau Comtal)

Crowning the hilltopcité (citadel) of Carcassonne—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—the imposing Château Comtal dates back to the 12th century, although the site’s historic roots stretch back as far as Roman times. A classic medieval castle, with fairy-tale towers and dramatic ramparts, the restored château is now open to the public as a museum.More

Carcassonne Castle (Cité de Carcassonne)

As the former seat of the Counts of Carcassonne, Carcassonne Citadel (Cité de Carcassonne) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of France’s most visited historic landmarks. Perched on a hilltop above the River Aude, the walled citadel is crowned by the Château Comtal.More

Top activities in Carcassonne

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All about Carcassonne

When to visit

Huge crowds descend on Carcassonne in summer, and the medieval citadel provides a spectacular backdrop for the Festival de Carcassonne (mid-June through August) and Bastille Day celebrations (July 14). If you want to avoid the crowds and the long lines, time your visit for May-June or September-October instead—as the majority of the attractions are outdoors, you’ll be glad for the cooler weather too.

Getting around

Free shuttles run between the modern town and the hilltop medieval city from April through October. Outside of this time, you’ll need to take the local bus (there’s no service on Sundays) or walk—it’s about a 20-minute uphill route. The citadel is a car-free zone during the day, but you can park by the entrance and head in on foot to explore the cobblestone lanes and ramparts, or hop in a caleche (horse carriage) for a scenic tour.

Traveler tips

Don’t just admire the views from the ramparts—stroll around the outer walls of the citadel, too. Follow the footpaths around the outside of the city walls from the Aude Gate, or enjoy views of the hilltop citadel from the Pont Vieux and Pont Neuf bridges along the Aude River below. While in town, hire a bike and spend an afternoon cycling along the shores of the Canal du Midi for a different take on the area.


People Also Ask

What is Carcassonne known for?

Carcassonne is known for its medieval walled city, with spires, turrets, ramparts, and battlements straight out of a fairy-tale castle. Perched atop a spur of rock, it dominates the surrounding plains and has made the town a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of France’s top tourist destinations.

How long should I spend in Carcassonne?

Most travelers find a day or half-day trip is enough to explore Carcassonne, although in the low season it can be a charming place to base for longer. You’ll want to stroll the old city, walk the ramparts, explore the basilica, eat a cassoulet, and photograph the gates and bridges.

How far is Carcassonne from the beach?

Carcassonne is an inland city, about 45 miles (75 kilometers) west of France’s Mediterranean coast and the Narbonne Riviera. The nearest beach options include Gruissan, a fishing village with a vast, sweeping stretch of sand, and the protected shores, lagoons, and islands of Narbonnaise Park.

How many days do you need in Carcassonne?

Most travelers spend a day or even less in Carcassonne. The medieval walled city is compact but home to some interesting museums, stores, and restaurants. Staying the night lets you snap photos in the late afternoon light and experience the city after the day-trippers have gone home.

Is Carcassonne touristy?

Yes. The photogenic UNESCO World Heritage Site of Carcassonne draws millions of visitors a year to its compact medieval walled city. Even in low season, there will be plenty of other tourists in town. But it’s still every bit as beautiful as it looks in pictures.

Is Carcassonne worth visiting?

Yes, Carcassonne is worth a visit. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to 2,500 years of history and one of the most beautiful and best-preserved medieval walled cities in all of Europe. Even travelers with little interest in history will want to see its postcard-perfect beauty.

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