Toulouse, the capital of Occitanie, is one of the liveliest destinations in the Southwest of France. I’ve got a detailed guide to a weekend in this wonderful city that you can’t miss if you’re visiting – check it out here!
But if you have more than a weekend to spend in the pink city, take the opportunity to discover the extraordinary heritage of Occitanie, a region nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenées mountains near the Spanish border. I can go on and on about places to visit around Toulouse but I’m sure many of you will visit the city without a car, so I decided to create a list of the best day trips from Toulouse to do by train.
Where can I go by train from Toulouse, you ask?
Here are my top 10 ideas for day trips from Toulouse reachable by public transport.
Carcassonne – A stunning medieval town
A train journey from Toulouse: between 45 minutes and 1 hour – See tickets here.
The medieval town of Carcassonne is one of France’s magical gems that one can’t ignore when visiting the Southwest. This old citadel is located on the right bank of the Aude River. Early signs of civilizations date back 2500 years, it’s said to be one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the world.
Access to the citadel is free and you can take the whole day to stroll the narrow medieval streets. It’s considered one of the best day trips from Toulouse for both adults and kids. You can also take a guided tour to discover Carcassonne in a fun way. Led by a guide in a medieval costume, the tour is a living story of Carcassonne in the 13th century. The tour is for adults and kids over 5yo. See all the details here.
You do need to purchase tickets if you want to visit the castle and the ramparts, you can buy them online. The place tends to get busy in the summer so be sure to book the tickets ahead. If you’re coming as a group, consider taking a guided tour to make things easier!
If you don’t want the hassle of going there by train, you can also take an organized tour from the center of Toulouse. The price also includes an entry ticket to the chateau so really worth the price. Book your trip here.
Albi – Visit the biggest brick cathedral in the world
A train journey from Toulouse: 1 hour – buy train tickets here.
Another must-see town on a day trip from Toulouse is the city of Albi, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010. Nicknamed “La RougeI” or “The Red” because of the red bricks used in much of Albi’s architecture, it’s the perfect distance for a quick day trip from Toulouse by train.
You can’t miss the Cathédrale Sainte-Cécile as part of the cité épiscopale d’Albi, the very well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 13th century. Famous artist Toulouse Lautrec was born here and the city has the biggest collection of his works in the Toulouse Lautrec museum, another must-see stop on your visit to Albi.
Talking the train from Toulouse to Albi is fairly easy but even easier is joining the CityTour Toulouse day trip. The bus takes you from the center of Toulouse to the center of Albi for the whole day. You can book your visit here. If you don’t have a car you can also take a private tour from Toulouse that includes both Albi and the stunning Cordes Sur Ciel, one of the most beautiful villages of France.
Personal recommendation: if you have the option, come here for a weekend and not only a day trip. It’s a chic city with plenty to see and great restaurants for foodies!
Castres, a city in Tarn to the east of Toulouse, is a hidden gem free from crowds. The architecture here is very different from the medieval towns mentioned above. Don’t miss the beautiful, colorful houses that look like they’re almost hanging over the Agout River.
Castres is home to two very interesting and famous museums. The Goya Museum, with its rich collection of Spanish artists including a few works of Goya himself, and the Centre National et Musée Jean-Jaurès, is dedicated to the life of important French politician Jean Jaurès, who was born in Castres.
Wine tasting in Gaillac
Train journey from Toulouse: 45 minutes – see train tickets here.
If you love wine, you’re in luck! Toulouse is located just next to one of the oldest wine regions in the world, Gaillac. The city itself has a beautiful center with restaurants, cute houses, and stunning architecture, and is very pleasant for strolling around.
Now onto the wine! If you have a car, make sure you book a visit to Château Lastours, a family-owned stunning estate that produces red, white, rose, and bubbly wines. However, even if you don’t have a car you can still enjoy fabulous Gaillac wines. Head to the chic Maison des Vins de Gaillac located in the Abbaye Saint-Michel in the center of the city. Here you’ll learn about the history of winemaking in the region and get to taste local wines.
Auch – the capital of Gers
Train journey from Toulouse: 1 hour and 30 minutes – Book your train tickets.
The town of Auch is the capital of Gers, a lesser-known part of the Southwest that totally deserves some attention. Auch used to be the historic capital of Gascony; it’s a very vibrant town full of history and great food!
Auch was the birthplace of the musketeer D’Artagnan. If you’re a fan of the famous Three Musketeers, you can see his statue on the Grand Escaliers.
During your outing to Auch, be sure to visit the Cathedrale Sainte-Marie, the impressive staircase called l’Escalier Monumental with its view over the valley, Rue Dessoles, and try to catch the great market they have on Thursdays and Saturdays.
Cahors – the elegant town of deep red wine
Train journey from Toulouse: 1 hour and 10 minutes- see train tickets here.
The capital of the the Lot department, Cahors is located within an hour’s drive from famous destinations in the region like Sarlat and Rocamadour. The town is known for its regional food delicacies, such as truffles and foie gras. The best place to taste them is the market taking place every Wednesday and Saturday at Place de la Cathédrale.
I highly recommend a visit to the Pont Valentre which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another attraction in Cahors is its small secret gardens which are a gem to visit during the warmer seasons. The best way to discover the city is to follow the secret garden map!
Many people may have never visited Cahors but definitely heard of its wonderful wines. Some of Cahors wineries are located just a few minute’s drive from the city center, so be sure to leave some time for a tour and wine tasting. Here are two great wineries to visit in Cahors: Domaine Le Passelys (recommended with kids) and Domaine Rességuier. If you’re traveling by public transport, you’ll have to take a taxi to get there.
Bordeaux – the wine capital of France (and maybe even the world!)
Train journey from Toulouse: 2 hours and 15 minutes – book your tickets to Bordeaux here.
A short train trip will take Bordeaux, a beautiful, historic, lively city full of history, fun events, food, and – of course – wine. In my opinion, Bordeaux is one of the most elegant and fun cities in all of France – and not just because I live there!
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 it!
In a day you can check out the famous indoor Capucins market, taste some delicious cannelés (local traditional pastries), 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.
Moissac and Montauban
Train journey from Toulouse: 50 minutes and 30 minutes, respectively, located on the same train line
Moissac and Montauban are two towns very close to each other situated along the Tarn River.
Moissac is a recommended spot to visit if you are interested in history, as it’s an important stop along the famous Santiago de Compostela pilgrim route. The famous, historic abbey and cloisters in the center of the town date back to the 12th century and are renowned as some of the most beautiful in the world.
The lively, pleasant town of Montauban is another day trip from Toulouse I really enjoyed. Head to the Place Nationale with its beautiful arches and Place Roosevelt where cute cafés, shops, and people-watching will keep you busy. Montauban is one of the oldest bastide towns in France, founded as early as the 12th century.
Najac and its chateau
Train journey from Toulouse: 1 hour and 20 minutes – Book your tickets.
The stunning village of Najac is surrounded by lush greenery, making for a very picturesque little place when combined with the old stone architecture. In fact, Najac is on the official list of France’s most beautiful villages.
Be sure to visit the Château Royal de Najac, built in the mid-13th century. The castle is home to the tallest dungeon in all of France, measuring almost 7 meters. From the top, you can stop and take in the magnificent view of the Aveyron River and the surrounding valley.
Train journey from Toulouse: 45 minutes
Last but certainly not least is the town of Castelnaudary, known as the birthplace of cassoulet – a famous French dish in the form of a rich, slow-cooked stew with beans and various meats. It’s also an important location on the Canal du Midi – a waterway of over 240 km connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
Castelnaudary is a very famous tourist route for boat trips and many French and foreigners barge down the canal each year, many of them stopping in Castelnaudary.
Take a walk along the pretty port or harbor and see the famous canal, then stop for a drink on the Place de Verdun.
A very easy day or half-day trip from Toulouse, I highly recommend Castelnaudary!
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