With just one day to explore Toulouse, every moment counts, so prebook hotel and airport transfers, look for tours that visit multiple attractions, and save money on entrance fees with a Toulouse Pass. Here are some ideas for how to spend one day in Toulouse.
Toulouse is nicknamed the Ville Rose (Pink City) for the many rose-hued buildings that line its Old Town, and the historic center is the obvious starting point for a tour. Take a hop-on-hop-off-bus tour to get your bearings in the city, or opt for a walking tour or bike tour instead to get a closer look at the city’s highlights. However you travel, admire the grand buildings around Place du Capitole, the Basilica of Saint Sernin, and the botanical gardens (Jardin des Plantes). Tours typically take in the views along the scenic Garonne riverfront, home to landmarks including Notre-Dame de la Dalbade cathedral and the New Bridge (Pont Neuf), then cross the river to see historic sites such as the Hospital des Graves and the Raymond VI Gardens.
Time your arrival at the Victor Hugo Market, Toulouse’s main market hall, for lunch—this is the place to sample local specialties such as Toulouse sausage, violet jam, and cassoulet. Nearby, the famous French department store Galeries Lafayette is at the heart of the city’s main shopping quarter and offers an incredible view over the city from its top-floor observation deck. Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the atmospheric neighborhoods of Saint-Étienne and Les Carmes, where the streets are lined with markets, antique shops, and independent boutiques. Do as the locals and stop for a goûter (coffee and cake) at one of the terrace cafés.
Experience Toulouse from the water on an evening boat cruise. Set sail along the Garonne River and admire the waterfront landmarks as the sun sets over the city skyline; cruise the Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its impressive 17th-century engineering; or opt for a dinner cruise and dine aboard as you take in the sights. Back on land, discover Toulouse’s nightlife. On the left bank of the Garonne, the Saint-Cyprien quarter is a popular haunt for students; the waterfront Place Saint-Pierre has a number of chic wine bars; and the nightclubs along Jean-Jaurès stay open into the early hours.