The palace of the kings of Majorca in Perpignan

Things to do in  Perpignan

France’s Catalan capital

Perpignan’s illustrious history as the former mainland capital of the kings of Mallorca barely scrapes the surface. By the early 20th century, this Catalan city was attracting the most notable artists of the time, including Picasso and Dalí. Now, alongside ancient forts, palaces, and more than a smattering of art galleries, it’s known for plenty of things to do, including music festivals, fine weather, and as a leaping-off point for some of the south of France’s finest beaches. Catalan culture lives strong here, from the omnipresent red and yellow striped flags to the delicious, unique cuisine.

Top 2 attractions in Perpignan

Fortress of Salses

Fortress of Salses

Built at the turn of the 16th century to guard the former border of France and Catalonia, the Fortress of Salses boasts a strategic location between the Corbières Mountains and the coastal lake of Étang de Salses. Remarkably preserved, it’s notable for its medieval architecture and impressive fortifications.More
Frenzy Palace Water Jump

Frenzy Palace Water Jump

A water park unlike any other, Frenzy Palace Water Jump—located in Torreilles, near Perpignan—caters to extreme sports enthusiasts, water slide lovers, and those looking for a one-of-a-kind way to beat the summer heat. BMX tracks, vertiginous slides, and other activities will have visitors soaring through the air.More
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All about Perpignan

When to visit

Peak season in Perpignan is undoubtedly summer when tourists flock en masse to the many beaches nearby. Highlights on the calendar are the music festivals Electrobeach and Déferlantes in nearby Barcarès, both of which occur in July. At other times of the year, Perpignan enjoys a pleasant, Mediterranean climate and is rarely cold, but be aware if planning a short visit that many museums are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Getting around

The bus network in Perpignan and the wider Languedoc-Roussillon area is fantastic, and trips anywhere in the region cost just €1. Buses are also the best way to get around the city and to travel from Perpignan Airport to the city center. Fortunately, The city center is compact and easy to explore on foot, as there is no metro or tram here.

Traveler tips

When visiting Perpignan, the golden Mediterranean coastline might be first on many travelers’ agendas. However, for true immersion in Catalan culture, head to the nearby mountains instead, the Pyrenees. The ‘Bear Festival’ held in three Pyrenean villages each February is easy to attend as a day trip from Perpignan, and the traditional festivities earned their place on the coveted UNESCO World Heritage List in 2022.


People Also Ask

Is Perpignan worth visiting?

Yes, the former mainland capital of Catalan kings, the second city in Catalonia (after Barcelona), and former home to some of the best artists of the century, there’s abundant history and culture. Check out works by Picasso, Lurçat, and Dalí in various galleries across the city.

What is Perpignan famous for?

Aside from being the capital of the kings of Mallorca in the 13th century, Perpignan is particularly famous for garnets. Mined in the Catalan mountains, the trade of mining, shaping, and creating jewelry from garnets has been going strong here since the 17th century, and some artisans still use traditional methods handed down from father to son.

How do I get to Perpignan?

Perpignan is well-linked with direct flights to several UK airports during the summer, thanks to its famous rugby team. Travelers from the US should fly to Barcelona or Toulouse before transferring by road or rail to Perpignan. Visitors arriving in Paris can fly or take a 5-hour train—the final (exceptionally scenic) hour hugs the Mediterranean.

Does Perpignan have a beach?

Perpignan has no beach, but the closest beaches in Canet-en-Roussillon are just a quick bus ride away. It’s worth traveling further down the coast to the pretty port town of Collioure, which has sheltered beaches, a thriving art scene, and attractive waterside restaurants.

How many days do you need in Perpignan?

At least two before hitting the beach. Start exploring the Palace of the Kings of Mallorca before heading to Musée Hyacinthe-Rigaud, which has an impressive collection of Impressionist art. Stroll through the streets of the old town, visiting the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral, and don’t miss the carved head dangling from the cathedral organ, which moves when played.

What should I eat in Perpignan?

The seafood is delicious, thanks to Perpignan’s proximity to the sea, and carnivores should try cassoulet, a hearty meat and bean stew from nearby Toulouse. Tapas are a regular feature on menus here, and many dishes are an intoxicating mash-up of French and Spanish cuisine (Catalan, so as not to offend the locals!).

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