With its half-million inhabitants and university appeal, you'll be won over by the cute, intimate city center of the so-called La Ville Rose (the pink city) – a name derived from the pinkish-orange bricks of Toulouse's buildings. 

Toulouse is at its most beautiful during spring and summer sunsets, when the sky and the city are draped in the same pink-orange color. Enjoy it best with a glass of wine on a terrace – or a glass of the local aperitif: the Pastis.

Toulouse is a student city with exceptional charm. Many aspects of everyday life are designed with students in mind so it makes for a great budget destination. All you have to do is stroll along the banks of the Garonne on a spring afternoon, to enjoy the impromptu concerts and popular group dance sessions in the fresh air. 

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The Canal du Midi in the city of Toulouse, which is a 240 km long canal in Southern France.
Cycling along the Garonne or the Canal du Midi is a great way to see Toulouse © Oliverouge 3 / Shutterstock

Is it easy to get in and around Toulouse?

Toulouse has great transport links, very fitting considering it's the home town of Airbus! The city has two metro lines (a third is due to open in 2028) covering all the city's neighborhoods and places of interest. Also, much of the city center is pedestrianized, and it's very pleasant to get around by bike or bus, especially for sightseeing. 

It's also not far from the Atlantic and Mediterranean beaches, as well as the ski slopes of the nearby Pyrenees.

The best time to visit Toulouse

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit Toulouse, to enjoy panoramic views of the Garonne River, cocktails on the terrace, pleasant temperatures and long daylight. For fans of the golden hour and colorful photos, this is for you! 

Above all, these are months of cultural festivals (Rio Loco Festival, Toulouse à table Festival, Rose Festival, Le Week-End des Curiosités, to name a few).

If you want to get the most out of the city, avoid mid-summer as the heat can be overwhelming and the city center is often empty. 

People walking in the Place du Capitole square in Toulouse, France.
Note: the historic buildings of Toulouse are all the more photogenic at sunset © Giancarlo Liguori / Shutterstock

Top things to do in Toulouse in a day

The perfect one-day itinerary for in the pink city center.

The heart of Toulouse can be visited in a day and although the metro is easy and fun, the city is also perfect for cycling – a great way to admire the pink buildings.

Get your day off to a gentle, serene start by relaxing for a moment on one of the benches in the Pierre-Baudis Japanese Garden at Compans-Caffarelli. The old Université du Capitole and its gardens, France's famous law faculty, are free to visit.

Continue with Place du Capitole and City Hall, the heart of the Ville Rose, and its neighboring narrow streets – great for exploring the local thrift stores.

Take a break at the Couvent des Jacobins, with its oasis of palm trees and medieval architecture. Afterwards, you're all set to discover the Carmes district – one of the city's prettiest with its boutiques – via the Jardin des Plantes.

Later in the day – for the best light and color in the city – we strongly recommend heading for the quays of the Garonne via the Pont St-Pierre. Before crossing it, you can visit the famous 12th-century Hôpital de La Grave and its domed Chapelle Saint-Joseph, a powerful and beautiful symbol of Toulouse. And for the best unfiltered sunset photos, stop off at the Espace EDF Bazacle, with its breathtaking panorama.

The pink city is renowned for its restaurants and bars. Rue Pargaminières and Port de la Daurade are among the city's top spots with the best-value restaurants and terraces – the bar La Tireuse will delight all beer lovers. And don't underestimate the popular guinguette Pêcheurs de sable and its shareable plates at very modest prices.

Right next door is Place St-Pierre, one of France's most famous squares, with its lively bars and wild evenings – an opportunity to try the special aperitif drink of the south – Pastis – at one euro during happy hour at the Chez Tonton bar.

Local tip: How do you drink a Pastis? You have to dilute it with water, and always drink it with two ice cubes. Not one. Not three. Don't be fooled by the waiter!

The best of Toulouse’s museums – and mechanical monsters

Toulouse's cultural and musical scene is bubbling with activity. To name just one must-do, try the Halle de la Machine and its Piste des Géants. Imagine giant bio-mechanical minotaurs and spiders that actually move and breathe. These show monsters, which can weigh several tons, are the brainchild of a Nantes-based company, and make their home in Toulouse between their world tours.

Embark on a beautiful scenography, with stories and narration evolving in a fantastic tale, which will seduce adults and children alike. The machinists are waiting to bring these giants to life before your very eyes. 

La Halle is located not far from downtown Toulouse. While we recommend you get there by bike, via a very pleasant route along the Canal du Midi, the site is also accessible by bus or metro too. Entrance fees range from €8 to €18.

The planetarium  in the City of Space 'Cite de l'espace', decorated as planet Earth;
The iconic Cité de l'Espace is a hit with children and adults alike © Sharon Wildie / Shutterstock

Europe's capital of aeronautics

Toulouse is a European bastion of aeronautics. It's home to the Airbus Group and Latécoère. You can reserve a day to visit the Cité de l'Espace (from €23) – a veritable treasure trove of knowledge for children and adults. 

Another Toulouse highlight – and a unique opportunity – is a visit to the Airbus headquarters and aircraft assembly plant (from €16). 

Nearby is the Aeroscopia Museum with its real Concorde plane (entrance from €15). 

How much money do I need for Toulouse?

Toulouse is the most popular tourist destination in spring and summer. But you don't feel it like you do in some coastal cities or in Paris. The city boasts a wide range of quality hotels for varying budgets. Short-let accommodation offers are attractive in the peak season as many students and locals go on vacation.  

Here are some indications of average prices in the high season:

  • Four star hotel room for two: €150 
  • Youth hostels dormitory: €40
  • Self-catering apartment: €100
  • Car rental: from €45 per day
  • Coffee: €2
  • Beer pint : €6 (€2.50 during happy hour)
  • Metro ticket: €6.60 for an unlimited day ticket
  • Fast-food menu: from €8

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