Are you heading to South West France soon and wondering how to spend 1 day in Toulouse? You’ve come to the right place!
Toulouse is one of the most beautiful cities in France and I’ve been lucky enough to call it home for many years.
It’s packed with historical landmarks, restaurants, bars and parks but the most important aspect of Toulouse is the atmosphere that reigns here.
Toulouse is a relaxed city and even though it’s one of the largest in the city, it feels like a small town!
The city centre is pretty small and compact which means it’s easy to explore on foot and 24 hours is enough to see the main sights.
This Toulouse 1-day itinerary will take you on a journey through all the best that this city has to offer.
From its stunning architecture and historical landmarks to its vibrant culture and delicious food, here is exactly what you’ll be able to do in Toulouse in 1 day!
So put on your comfy shoes and get ready to explore!
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How to plan your trip to Toulouse – Practical Information
Before we get started with this Toulouse day itinerary, here is some info to help you plan your trip.
How to get to Toulouse
Toulouse is well connected by plane, train and bus.
The airport is about 15 minutes from the city centre and all the main airlines (including low-cost ones) fly there.
Click here to see the best fares to Toulouse.
There also are many trains (including TGV) connecting Toulouse with other major French cities such as Paris, Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux.
The main station in Toulouse is called Matabiau and is only 5 minutes walk to the city centre.
Click here to see the trains to Toulouse
Finally, you will also find loads of buses from the main French cities abut also neighbouring countries such as Spain, Italy or Portugal.
Click here to see the buses to Toulouse
How to get around Toulouse
Once you actually get to Toulouse, you have three options: walking, taking the metro or renting a bike.
The city centre of Toulouse is very small and easy to walk around. Most of the streets are pedestrian in the ‘hyper’ centre so walking is definitely the way forward.
If you want to venture further afield, you can easily take the metro. There are only two lines in Toulouse (A and B) and it’s super easy!
Finally, you can also opt to rent a bike for a day (VelôToulouse). This is one of the best ways to explore the city and I can’t recommend it enough however, since you only have 24 hours, walking or opting for the e-bike tour will be a better option.
READ MORE: Toulouse Travel Tips: 10 Things you need to know before visiting Toulouse, France
Best tours in Toulouse (when you only have one day)
Toulouse is the perfect city to wander around.
You will enjoy strolling along the narrow and pink streets however since you only have 24 hours in the city, you will need to optimise your time.
For this reason, I highly recommend taking a guided tour. That way, you get to discover the best spots in the city and learn about the local culture.
Tours are usually about 2 hours long which means that you can do that in the morning and then enjoy a relaxing afternoon in town.
Here are the best tours in Toulouse when only have one day:
- Walking tour. This walking tour of Toulouse is ideal for first timers. You’ll discover all the main sights and learn plenty about the history of the city. You can also ask the guide for some tips! See prices.
- E-bike tour. This one is perfect for people who want to see as much as possible in a day. It lasts 3 hours and since you will be on an electric bike, it’s actually very relaxing. Literally everything you need to see in Toulouse is on this tour. It’s also excellent value for money. See prices here.
- Bicycle tour. This one is essentially the same thing except that it’s a normal bike. It’s good fun! See prices.
- Food tour. If you are a foodie and want to taste typical dishes from Toulouse as well as discover our best markets, this one is for you! See prices.
- Photo tour. If you are into photography or would like to get some awesome photos for your Instagram, this tour is for you! You will be with a professional photographer who will take you to the best photo spots and take stunning pictures of you! See prices.
- Mini City bus. This one lasts just over 1 hour and is ideal for people who don’t want to walk too much. You’ll see the main sights as well as the Canal du Midi and the river Garonne. See prices.
Where to stay in Toulouse
While I appreciate that if you are only in Toulouse for a day you may not stay here for a night but in case do, here are some recommendations of places to stay!
Staying in the city centre is the best thing you can do. Anything outside of the centre might be a tiny bit cheaper but by the time you bought your metro ticket and spent time in the transport, you’ll have lost whatever money you saved.
Here are the best places to stay:
- Grand Hotel de l’Opera in Capitole. This is as central as it gets and while it might be a bit more expensive, it’s definitely the ultimate location.
- Mercure Toulouse Centre Wilson in Jean Jaures. Still a great location and between the Capitole and Matabiau station. This is the perfect choice if you are taking the bus or train.
- Hôtel Le Père Léon in Esquirol. Ideal for people who want to enjoy the nightlife in Toulouse.
Toulouse 1-Day itinerary
So, now that you know everything you need to plan your trip, let’s discover exactly how to spend one day in Toulouse.
Please note that this is a self-guided itinerary for Toulouse and you can do everything on your own. If you choose to book one of the tours mentioned before, you will get to see most of these sights during the tour, especially the morning ones.
So feel free to remodel a bit this itinerary to make it fit with the tour.
So, let’s get started!
Morning: Famous landmarks in Toulouse
Stop 1: Capitole
You will start your day at the Place du Capitole. This is the main square in Toulouse and it’s home to the Capitole which is the city hall.
The building is iconic and will start giving you an idea of why Toulouse is called the Pink City (La Ville Rose).
It was built in the 12th century and is pretty famous for its staterooms. Inside, if you head to the Salle des Illustres, you’ll discover absolutely stunning paintings on the walls and ceilings (yes, that’s kind of our take on the Sistine Chapel!).
The square is also very beautiful. Firstly, if you look on the ground, you’ll see that right in the middle is the Occitan Cross, the symbol of Toulouse and its Occitan heritage.
Fun fact: If you take the metro, you’ll notice that the names of the stations are said in both French and Occitan.
The Place du Capitole is also an important gathering place. That’s where most events happen including the Christmas markets in December.
You will also find some galleries around the square with luxury restaurants and hotels.
PRO TIP: Make sure to walk under the galleries (so between the restaurants’ entrance doors and terraces). There are beautiful paintings on the ceiling. They are a bit of a hidden gem but they truly make the place!
Once you are done with the Capitole, head to the Jacobins Covent through Gambetta street.
Fancy a French breakfast? You will find a few amazing boulangeries in the Rue Gambetta so if you fancy getting pastry and start your day like the French do, go to Les Frères Chapelier Boulangerie or the Boulangerie Marguerite.
You’ll find all sorts of viennoiseries and patisseries here but I highly recommend to get a Chocolatine.
Fun fact: A chocolatine is the South West equivalent of Pain au Chocolat. In effect, it’s the same thing, we just call it differently and I would advise you to use our word 😉
There is no such thing as Pain au Chocolat in Toulouse!
(Yes, we are very passionate about our chocolatines!)
Stop 2: Couvent des Jacobins
The Couvent des Jacobins is a Dominican convent that was built in the 13th century.
It’s one of the biggest religious sites in the city and one of the most surprising places in Toulouse.
As you get there, you might feel a bit underwhelmed by the aspect of the convent.
If I’m honest, it doesn’t look that impressive from the outside but don’t let that stop you and make your way to the entrance.
The Jacobins convent is famous for incredible gothic architecture which is rather rare in the South.
It’s home to some of the most beautiful ceilings and vaults you will ever see!
But if you want to truly get to see the best part, you will have to go to the cloister. There is an entrance fee for this art but it’s only a few euros and is included in your Toulouse City card.
Once you step into the cloister, you’ll really have a hard time believing that you are in a city. It’s so peaceful, lush and calm.
The Jacobins convent is one of the most visited attractions in Toulouse and rightfully. It’s something everyone should see.
PRO TIP: If you don’t want to pay for the cloisters, it’s alright but I’d still recommend you to go and walk around the church since this part is free and you get to see the palm trees created by the arches as well as beautiful stained windows.
Stop 3: La Daurade
After visiting the Jacobins, it’s time to discover the most beautiful spot in Toulouse (especially in summer!), La Daurade.
La Daurade is actually the name of the basilica located by the River Garonne but most locals don’t even know that.
When they say La Daurade, they are referring to the port of La Daurade which is located on the banks of the Garonne.
It used to be important since it was used to connect the Canal du Midi with the Garonne but it’s now more of an entertainment district.
Here you can walk, have a coffee in one of the lovely local cafes, a drink but also a picnic!
It’s such a beautiful and pleasant place to discover. It feels peaceful and the views over the Pont Neuf, Pont St-Pierre and the cupola of La Grave are absolutely stunning.
That having been said, if you were tempted to do a river cruise, it would be here. The Bateaux Toulousains start from La Daurade and go on the Garonne and to the Canal de Brienne and Canal du Midi.
PRO TIP: If you are visiting in summer it’s worth coming back here in the evening with drinks and watching the sunset. It’s absolutely beautiful!
Fancy a brunch? The Café Cerise is an excellent place to go to if you want to get a healthy brekkie or brunch and it’s very close to La Daurade.
Fun fact: As you walk down to the Daurade, you will see that there is a little summer bar on the left. It’s called Pêcheur des sables. It’s quite a nice place to get a cheese platter and glass of wine in the evening but its history is a bit different. It used to be a morgue for people who drowned in the river.
You can then make your way on the quays towards the bridge Saint-Pierre
Stop 4: Saint Pierre Bridge and Square
Once you reach the bridge, you should be able to see the cupola of the hospital de La Grave much better. This is one of the most iconic locations in Toulouse.
If you’ve seen photos of the city before, chances are that you’ve seen photos of La Grave. If you came by plane, you might also have seen it before landing.
PHOTO TIP: The bridge is a great place to take photos however, if you want to get the best shots (and be sure that nobody will be on it, make sure to cross the road and go on the other side of the bridge, near the bars.
The square Saint-Pierre also deserves a mention since it’s one of the most popular spots in the evening.
It’s known for its numerous bars with funny names. These have been here for decades and are truly part of the history of Toulouse.
For example you will find ‘Chez Tonton” (At my uncle) and ‘La Couleur de la Culotte’ (The colour of the panties).
This is a popular spot for students as well and it can be very busy on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Once you are done, take the Rue Valade, it will lead you to the Saint-Sernin Basilica.
Stop 5: St Sernin Basilica
The Saint-Sernin Basilica is a Romanesque basilica located in the heart of Toulouse.
It’s one of the largest Romanesque church in Europe and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1998.
The basilica is named after Saint Saturnin, the first bishop of Toulouse, and has become one of the most popular stops on the Camino de Santiago.
Many pilgrims stop there every year but it’s also a great place to visit even if you are not religious.
It’s a beautiful church with an imposing bell tower, stunning medieval frescoes, high vaults and a large rose window.
It’s free to enter and it’s open every day from 08:30 to 18:00 (19:30 on Sundays).
When you are done, you can keep making your way towards Jean Jaurès and we will stop at the Victor Hugo market for lunch.
Stop 6: Victor Hugo Market
The Victor Hugo Market is a covered market located in the centre, near Jean Jaurès. Not only is it the largest market in the city but this is the ultimate place to visit in Toulouse for foodies!
It was built at the end of the 19th century and named after Victor Hugo who won a poet contest in Toulouse (Jeux Floraux).
The market is home to a large variety of stalls, from fresh fruits and vegetables to meat, poultry and fish.
You will find over 80 stalls here so needless to say there will be more than enough.
There’s also a bakery, a cheese shop, a charcuterie and a few other stalls that sell things like olives, honey and spices.
But that’s not all! Victor Hugo market is also known to be home to some of the best restaurants in the city!
They are all located upstairs and you can have lunch in one of them if you’d like.
PRO TIP: Make sure to book for lunch because it’s very popular and can be full very quickly.
This covered market is not one of these places that were overtaken by tourists. This is truly where the Toulousains and the local restaurants come to buy fresh products.
Everyone loves the Victor Hugo market!
It’s open every day except Monday from 07:00 to 14:00.
PRO TIP: If you truly want to enjoy the market, you should join the food tour of Victor Hugo. It’s run by Jessica, a local and native-English speaker. She will tell you everything you need to know about the market and food in Toulouse.
Food and wine are included and it’s a great opportunity to learn more about the local delicacies.
Afternoon: Shopping and beautiful neighbourhoods in Toulouse
The afternoon will be a bit less about the history and a bit more about wandering around and enjoying the Toulouse life!
Stop 7: Jean Jaurès – Wilson
From Victor Hugo, it will only take you a couple of minutes to get to Jean Jaurès and the place Wilson.
Jean Jaurès is a large square in the centre of Toulouse and it’s home to a few landmarks.
It’s also where you will find a lot of shops, restaurants and cafes. It’s the perfect place to have a quick wander.
Stop 8: St Georges
You can then take the Rue Saint Antoine du Taur to head to St Georges Square.
PRO TIP: This street is home to some super cute local boutiques. If you like unique jewellery and want to bring back a souvenir from Toulouse, make sure to stop at Nach.
It’s a local shop that was founded by two sisters who inherited their dad’s gift for ceramic. They make stunning pieces of jewellery and you can’t find these anywhere else in the world!
St Georges square has been one of the most important places in the city since medieval times.
The square itself isn’t very big but it’s home to a few lovely buildings as well as the Jean Calas Square.
St Georges used to be where executions would take place. Amongst the most famous ones, there was Jean Calas.
This is what led to the Calas affair during the 18th century.
Jean Calas was wrongfully accused of murder. Even though his family always claimed his innocence, nobody ever listened until Voltaire, one of France’s most famous authors and philosophers, took that case to heart and started his own investigation.
It’s also a great place for a coffee or lunch break! There are many restaurants and cafes with terraces here and it’s such a pleasant place to grab something to drink, especially in spring and summer.
Stop 9: Rue Alsace Lorraine
Calling all shopping lovers for that one!
From St Georges square, you can take one of the narrow streets to the Rue Alsace Lorraine.
You will find loads of local and cute boutiques in this area.
Where you will get to the main street though, there will be a bit of a change of pace.
The Rue Alsace Lorraine is the only street in Toulouse that features a Haussmannian style. Basically, it’s the most Parisian of all Toulousaine streets.
Here you won’t find many bricks but will get to see beautiful examples of Haussmannian balconies.
It is also home to some of the biggest and most popular brands in the world, hence being so popular for shopping.
You will find Zara, Monoprix, H&M, Calzedonia and many more!
This street is definitely worth a stroll if you’re looking for a good shopping spree.
Stop 10: Carmes
You will be ending your afternoon in the Carmes neighbourhood.
This is a beautiful area known for all its hôtels particuliers which are city mansions as well as stunning parks.
Here are a few things you can check out:
- The Place Sainte Scarbes. An absolutely stunning square with loads of colours and surrounded with hôtels particuliers.
- Luxury shops. Carmes is home to some of the most famous brands of French designers including Chanel, Dior and YSL.
- The Rue Neuve. This is one of Toulouse’s best-kept secrets. It looks like a street you would find in Montmartre, Paris.
- The Carmes Market. This neighbourhood is also home to a beautiful covered market however, it’s only open in the morning.
- Jardin Royal and Jardin des Plantes. Located a bit further south, these beautiful gardens are a great place to check out if you want to get away from the crowds.
Evening: Experiencing the nightlife
Well done! You made it to the end of your day in Toulouse!
After this rather full-on day, I’m sure you will be a bit tired but here is one last stop you can add to your Toulouse itinerary if you want to get dinner out and maybe enjoy the nightlife.
Stop 11: Esquirol
Esquirol is the neighbourhood located between Carmes and Capitole. It’s very easy to get there on foot from Les Carmes.
This is a great place to go for a drink, some food and also dancing.
Here you will find loads of fun bars with an amazing atmosphere. It’s always so much fun!
While you can get a sit-down meal here, the most popular thing to do is to sit at a terrace, drink cocktails or wine and share platters of charcuterie or tapas.
Esquirol is also a great place to go dancing. The nightclubs are more located towards Jean Jaurès so that’s not exactly what you are going to get here but there are a few Latino dancing bars that are so much fun!
Make sure to check out the Borriquito Loco, l’Eldorado and La Tantina de Burgos.
This last one is an excellent tapas bar. Once everyone is done with their food, they take everything off the table and people start dancing on the tables. It’s so much fun!
I hope this 1-day itinerary in Toulouse was a helpful guide for how to spend 24 hours in Toulouse.
It included tips on where to eat, what sites to see and which attractions are worth checking out during your time here.
You may also be interested in:
- Toulouse Travel Tips: 10 Things you need to know before visiting Toulouse, France
- 13 Prettiest Villages near Toulouse, France
- 21 Best Day Trips from Toulouse, France