Sarlat-la-Canéda is a beautiful medieval town in the Périgord Noir region of France. A perfect base for many day trips and weekend getaways, Sarlat is located in the heart of some of France’s most beautiful sights. In this article, I’ll help you plan the best day trips from Sarlat!
Situated around 200 km from Bordeaux in the famous Dordogne valley North of the Dordogne River, Sarlat-la-Canéda has something for everyone all year long. The town is famous for its culinary delights, ancient architecture, and narrow, cobbled streets. I wrote a complete guide to all the best things to do in Sarlat, but here I’d like to talk only about the amazing day trips you can do in Perigord Noir and beyond.
A short drive will get you to prehistoric caves, majestic medieval castles, and breathtaking gardens. There is so much to do both for adults and kids, you’ll want to extend your stay in Sarlat!
Most landmarks I mention in this article are easier to get to by car, but a handful can be reached by train. If you’re planning to do several things from this list, see if it’s worth purchasing the Perigord pass. The pass gives you a 20% discount on entrance to different castles, gardens, and caves.
You can also take a semi-private tour which will allow you to visit five different villages around Sarlat. The tour provides detailed explanations so you can get the historical context of the villages and the many castles in Dordogne. If you’re short in time I highly recommend taking advantage of it. You can book the tour here.
Best day trips from Sarlat
Beynac-et-Cazenac – one of the most beautiful villages in France
Distance from Sarlat: 12km
Around 20 minutes from Sarlat you’ll find possibly the most famous of all the villages in this area, Beynac-et-Cazenac. This breathtaking village is full of history and is known to be one of France’s most beautiful villages.
Home to the famous Château de Beynac, one of the most stunning castles to visit in Dordogne. The castle is so well-preserved and boasts such magnificent views, movie directors often choose it as the backdrop for their films.
After you finish wandering the charming cobblestone streets of Beynac head to the top of the village and look for the cross. There you’ll find the best viewpoint for a photo souvenir, with views stretching over at least five different nearby castles!
La Roque Gageac
Distance from Sarlat: 14km
Situated beneath a sharp cliff on the banks of the Dordogne, La Roque Gageac is one of the prettiest villages you’ll ever see and boasts a panoramic view of the whole valley. This fairytale-like village is built into the limestone cliffs cascading down into the river and goes back as far as the 12th century. Once a bustling river port town for regional trade, this medieval village’s architecture and natural beauty will blow you away.
One of the best ways to visit La Roque Gageac is a canoe! There are amazing kayaking/ canoeing tours you can do on the Dordogne, where you get to stop at the villages on the way. Here’s one of the best places to rent a Kayak/ Canoe in this part of the Dordogne.
If you’ve got a car and a bit of time, you might like to pack a couple more beautiful villages into your day trip from Sarlat. Stop off at the stunning Castelnaud-la-Chapelle, visit Les Jardins de Marqueyssac (more on that below), or head to the beautiful village of Domme.
Kayaking/ Canoeing on the Dordogne/ Vézère rivers
If you’re looking for a thrilling outdoor activity near Sarlat, kayaking on the Dordogne River is your next destination! With its gentle currents and breathtaking surroundings, the river offers a perfect setting for a family-friendly water escapade.
Along the banks of the Dordogne River, you’ll find kayaking clubs dotted throughout the villages, offering an array of routes suitable for all ages. From the water, you’ll enjoy magnificent views of the most enchanting villages near Sarlat, such as Castelnaud-la-Chapelle or Beynac.
One of the best clubs is located in Vitrac a few minutes drive from Sarlat. From there you can embark on a breathtaking journey past some of the most beautiful villages in France. If you’re visiting the region in the summer, booking in advance is recommended.
There are many more places for kayaking and canoeing experiences in Dordogne – I summarized my favorite places in this article.
Les Jardins de Marqueyssac
Distance from Sarlat: 11km
Jardins de Marqueyssac is one of the most beautiful gardens in Dordogne and one of the most popular attractions in the region.
The gardens were created in the 19th century by Julien de Cerval, a visionary aristocrat who was so passionate about box tree gardens he planted 150,000 boxwoods in Marqueyssac. These shrubs are still pruned by hand today and are surrounded by waterfalls and panoramic views of the Dordogne.
Les Jardins de Marqueyssac is especially kid-friendly, and the perfect place for a family outdoor day when traveling in the Dordogne. You can buy drinks and snacks from the crêperie or the sandwich stall on the grounds, or grab a table at the more elegant sit-down restaurant with its wonderful view.
If you’re there in July and August, go in the evening for a magical, romantic experience – gardens by candlelight! They light up the narrow walkways between the boxwoods with 2,000 candles for a stunning stroll as it gets dark.
Les Jardins de Marqueyssac are open every day of the year, but be sure to check the website before you go because the opening times differ based on the season. I’d recommend buying your tickets online to avoid lines.
Lascaux – discover prehistoric art in one of the most famous caves in the world
Distance from Sarlat: 26km
The Lascaux cave is an archaeological treasure unveiling captivating paintings and engravings dating back over 17,000 years.
You should know that the original caves were closed to the public in 1963. This decision was made to protect the delicate and ancient cave paintings from harmful effects such as changes in temperature and humidity. However, the extraordinary replicas are very accurate and worth the visit.
The oldest and most visited part is Lascaux II, which offers a partial replica of the cave. Lascaux II provides a glimpse into the past as you explore sections that closely resemble the original artwork.
Only a limited number of people can enter Lascaux so I highly recommend booking your tickets in advance. There’s usually only one tour in English a day so make sure you choose the right language when booking. Lascaux II is open from April to November.
You should also visit the International Center for Cave Art. This modern exhibition space offers an immersive experience where you can admire meticulously recreated replicas of the original cave paintings.
You can buy tickets to Lascaux VI separately, but you get a discount if you buy a combined ticket with Lascaux II – see all the info here. Lascaux IV is open the whole year except the first three weeks of January – see hours here.
You also have the option to take a semi-private tour in English that will take you from Sarlat to the caves of Lascaux and the famous archeological site of Abri Cro-Magnon at Les Eyzies de Tayac. You can book this tour here.
Les Eyzies – a day in Prehistoric Dordogne
Distance from Sarlat: 21km
If you’re interested in the prehistoric part of Dordogne, this is the epicenter. Here you can find the Abri Cro-Magnon at Les Eyzies de Tayac, where 28,000-year-old remains of anatomically modern humans were found.
If you want to visit another interesting museum while in Les Eyzies, you can continue to the fabulous Musée de Prehistoire where a lot of items from the archeological digs were found.
One of the most popular attractions in Les Eyzies is Grotte de Font de Gaume. Unlike the Lascaux caves, which are a replica, here you can see a beautiful collection of original paintings. It’s very popular and reservation in advance is a must if you want a chance to visit this cave.
Some other interesting caves nearby include L’abri Pataud, Le Thot, Le Conquil, Grotte de Combarelles, L’Abri du Cap Blanc, La Grotte de Bernifal, Grotte du Grand Roc, Grotte de Bara Bahau, Le gouffre de Proumeyssac, and many more. When I said this is the epicenter of prehistoric Dordogne, I wasn’t joking!
Distance from Sarlat: 50km
Let’s now escape the Dordogne department to the neighboring Lot region which is full of wonder. One of the most popular places to visit in Lot is Rocamadour, an important pilgrimage destination. Located about an hour from Sarlat, Rocamadour is one of the most beautiful villages in France.
The village’s history is important for context during your visit. It started in 1166 when the preserved body of Saint Amadour was discovered here. Legend has it Saint Amadour is Zaccheus, the character in the Bible who climbed the tree to see Jesus and whose wife Saint Veronica wiped the face of Jesus with a handkerchief whilst he carried the cross.
Zaccheus had come to Rocamadour as a hermit and built a sanctuary in the rock. Within a few years of the body being found, numerous miraculous healings were attributed to the saintly remains. Pilgrims started arriving – and never stopped!
Today, the village is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is very busy! There’s one main street in the village and it’s extremely touristy with plenty of restaurants and shops of local gastronomy and souvenirs. But in my opinion, it’s so moving and mesmerizing that you can still enjoy it even when it’s very crowded.
Rocamadour can be a full-day trip from Sarlat as there are many things to do nearby. The most famous attraction near Rocamadour is the stunning Gouffre de Padirac, a chasm in the rock taking you deep into the Earth. If you’re traveling with kids, you can also visit the nearby monkey forest in Sarlat, a really fun outing for the whole family!
There’s quite a lot to do in Rocamadour so if you can turn it into a weekend I highly recommend it. If you want to spend the night there, check out Hôtel Les Esclargies, a comfortable hotel with great breakfast and a pool. Book your stay here.
Le Bournat – a perfect day trip with kids
Distance from Sarlat: 29 km
Le Bournat is a truly one-of-a-kind amusement park that whisks you away to the golden age of the area. Prepare to be immersed in the rich history and traditions of the region as you step into “Le Village Artisanal”, the craftsmen village. From bread-making to pottery, the park offers a range of engaging and educational workshops where your little ones can unleash their creativity and learn ancient artisanal skills.
After discovering the wonders of traditional craftsmanship the kids can enjoy a great selection of attractions like a vintage carousel, an old funfair with wooden games, riding in a 19th-century horse carriage, and more. The park is open from early April to the end of September – see the opening schedule here.
You can read more about it in my article about the best things to do with kids in Dordogne.
Bournat Park also has a fun camping site where you can stay in a mobile home, a tent, or a motorhome. People who stay at Le Bournat camping can get unlimited access to the park at a very low price. You can book your stay here.
Le Bournat Park is located in Bugue, a lovely town on the Vezere River where you can stop for one of the best markets in Dordogne and walk along the beautiful river banks.
Wine tasting near Bergerac
Distance from Sarlat: 77km
Bergerac is one of the main cities in the Dordogne area, close to the eastern border of the Gironde department. While it doesn’t have the magic of a small medieval village, it has enough charm and plenty of stuff to do, for you to put in on your list. The city center is abundant with restaurants, lively shopping streets great markets, and more.
This part of Drordogne is called the Purple Perigord and is especially known for its wine. Bergerac is mostly specialized in reds and sweet white wines, a winemaking tradition that goes 2000 years back.
One of the most famous wineries is the beautiful Château de Monbazillac, which is located only 15 minutes away. It’s known for its sweet white wine and the stunning chateau which is worth a visit. Another great winery to visit is Château Feely, and don’t forget to taste their reds while you’re there!
Château des Milandes
Distance from Sarlat: 18km
This charming, dainty, Gothic château is the perfect day trip from Sarlat. It was built in 1489 by the Caumont family. In the 1940s, American-born dancer, entertainer, WWll resistance agent, and civil rights activist, Josephine Baker, bought the castle. She lived there with her husband and grew her family, adopting 12 children and working for the French resistance movement during the Second World War.
Today, you can see incredible displays detailing Joséphine’s life at Milandes, including stage costumes and stories about her life. That’s what makes it one of the most interesting castles to visit in Dordogne.
There is also a magnificent garden, a very pretty chapel, a parakeet aviary, and fantastic birds of prey shows. Children can do falconry workshops and feed exotic birds, play with swords in a musketeer workshop, and feed goats
There is a restaurant onsite and various shady areas with picnic tables if you want to bring your own lunch. Château de Milandes is open daily from February to December (and the first week of January), see the opening hours here.
Visiting farms in the region
Dordogne is a heavily agricultural region, famous for its wine, walnuts, cheeses, duck dishes and foie gras, caviar, and truffles. If you visit any market in one of Dordogne’s beautiful villages, you’ll find many of the local delicacies for sale.
In recent years, the department has put an emphasis on developing agrotourism and there are many fermes or working farms that open their door for visits, activities for kids, restaurants, and more.
Go to the beach
While Sarlat is far from both the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, there’s no lack of opportunities to swim here! There are plenty of little beaches on the Dordogne river where you can go for a swim and they’re situated only a short drive from Sarlat.
If you visit Sarlat in summer, you’ll likely need a day trip to swim in the river and cool off as it can get very hot.
Here are some of the best beaches on the Dordogne River that you can visit from Sarlat: Limeuil, La Plage du Port in Creysse, Vitrac, Magali Plage, Meyraguet, Lanzac, Plage du Pont de Vicq.
Go on a day trip to the beautiful Corrèze department
Distance from Sarlat: 53 km
One of the least-known departments in the Southwest of France, Corrèze is a stunning gem off the beaten track. It’s totally worth a visit, even for just a day trip if that’s all the time you have. As you’re traveling from Sarlat, I recommend you head to the southern part of the Corrèze department.
Start your day in Brive, a small town in Corrèze. Brive has one of the best markets in the region and is also a cute little town by itself. After lunch, you can go straight to one of the most stunning villages in the religion, Collonges-la-Rouge. Filled with red turreted buildings, charming lanes, and ancient architecture, it is one of the most beautiful villages in France according to the official listing.
Other villages worth a visit are Saint-Robert and Turenne.
Go to an antique or flea market in one of the villages surrounding Sarlat
Visiting a good brocante (antique market) or a vide grenier (garage sale) is one of my favorite pastimes when visiting towns in France. Sarlat is home to many pop-up events and you need to do a little research ahead of time so you don’t miss it.
Bordeaux – Discover the capital of the Southwest of France
I may be biased because I live in Bordeaux but I think it’s one of the most exciting, beautiful cities in France. There’s so much to see, do, eat, drink, and taste! And it’s a great city to visit with or without kids – there’s something for everyone.
As someone who lives and writes about Bordeaux, I think you need at least a weekend to discover Bordeaux and its surrounding sights. But if all you have is one day, then a day trip to the capital of the southwest is definitely worth the drive!
In a day you can check out the Capucins market, taste some cannelés (traditional cinnamon pasties), cool off at the Miroir d’Eau, check out one of the state-of-the-art museums, and eat great food at one of the countless restaurants the city has to offer.
If you’re doing a road trip, you can also stop for half a day in Saint Émilion, famous for its wines, which is located on the way from Sarlat to Bordeaux.
Where to stay in Sarlat
Sarlat is one of the most popular destinations in Dordogne, offering a big selection of apartments, hotels, and B&B in the center as well as the city’s outskirts. If you’re here for just a few days, finding accommodation in the center of Sarlat is highly recommended. Two options I particularly like are Les Cordeliers and Noreli B&B.
I have plenty of other articles about Sarlat and the region you may find useful when planning your trip, so be sure to check them out!
What to do, see and eat in Sarlat
The most beautiful villages to visit in Dordogne
The best castles (chateaux) to visit in Dordogne
The most beautiful gardens in Dordogne
The best things to do with kids in Dordogne
The most beautiful villages in Purple Perigord
The best places to do Kayaking on the Dordogne River
A day trip to Eymet, a beautiful village in Dordogne.
You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via Lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:
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*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂