Toulouse, known as the “Pink City,” exudes vibrancy and energy, making it one of the liveliest destinations in southwest France. Located between beaches, mountains, and the magical Dordogne valley, Toulouse is a perfect destination for anyone visiting the Southwest of France.

Toulouse is considered a big city by French standards, but its center is actually rather small. That means that you can cover most of its beautiful squares and monuments in one day. You can get a great feel for the city and enjoy the architecture, the local food scene, some history, and the nightlife all in a day’s work! This article will guide you through a day in this fantastic city, so you can follow it step-by-step.

What to do in one day in Toulouse 

Start your day with amazing coffee

To keep up with our 24-hour itinerary in the Pink City, you’ll need a good dose of caffeine to start the day. Luckily, there’s no shortage of specialty coffee shops in the center. So many, in fact, that I’ve got a whole article dedicated just to the hottest coffee spots in Toulouse. 

Some of my favorites are Allegory Coffee Bar near Place du Capitol, Le Café Cerise on the Garonne river banks, Canopée Coffee House and and La Belle Brune in the hipster Carmes neighborhood.

La Belle Brune - coffee shop in Toulouse
La Belle Brune – by Lost in Bordeaux

Take a tour of the old city 

If you’re in Toulouse only for a day, you might want to consider taking a guided tour. A tour can help you prioritize the most important sights and take you to great local food and drink spots without any research or effort on your side – it’s a great idea if you have limited time and want to get the feel of the city in a day! The great thing is that Toulouse offers plenty of different tours to make your visit entertaining. 

Check out this cycling tour if you enjoy riding a bike – it’s especially fun when the weather is good. They take you around Toulouse and you’ll stop off at 10 must-see spots.

If you’re not so into cycling, this tuk-tuk tour could be a fun option for you. You’ll be moving along the streets in the open air but someone else will be navigating while you just sit and look at the sights! The electric tuk-tuk is quiet and comfortable and the perfect vantage point for the wide variety of tourist attractions. The best part? They stop so you can take pictures!

L'hôtel d'Assézat in Toulouse - one of the landmarks of Toulouse
L’hôtel d’Assézat – one of Toulouse’s landmarks

Perhaps you prefer walking and taking your time exploring winding streets in the historical districts. If that’s the case, I have two great walking tours for you where you’ll get to stroll around the city with fellow tourists who love to roam on foot. This tour is great if you want to be in a group and this tour is for private bookings.

Check out my article dedicated to the best tours in Toulouse for all the other options Toulouse has to offer when it comes to tours. If you would rather discover the pink city on your own, here are some of the most beautiful places to visit in Toulouse.

Place du Capitole 

Start your day at the most famous landmark in Toulouse, Place du Capitol. Named after the Capitole building, the square is widely considered as one of the most beautiful in all of France. Place du Capitol is home to the Townhall of Toulouse and the Capitole Theater. The square and the streets around it are brimming with restaurants and fancy hotels. Countless events, fairs, and food markets are taking place on this stunning square throughout the year, among them the main Christmas market of Toulouse

Place du Capitole in Toulouse

Don’t miss the beautiful ceiling paintings of the Galerue des Arcades, commissioned in 1997 by the Maire of Toulouse, who wanted to modernize the square, and painted by renowned artist Raymond Moretti.

Visit the ceremonial chambers and their murals

The Capitole building is home to the Salle des Illustres, a beautiful room representing the Toulouse School of Art of the 19th century. Henri Martin, Jean-Paul Laurens, and Paul Gervais are only a few of the famous painters who have contributed to the works of art you’ll find there.  Floor-to-ceiling murals, sculptures, and paintings come perfectly together to manifest the greatness of Toulouse.
It’s probably the best art museum in town!

The Capitole is open for visits every day (unless they’re hosting a ceremony) – you can see their opening hours here. Entry is free.

Discover the center of Toulouse and its lively streets

Walking around the city center and discovering the charming streets, cute cafés, and historical architecture is a great way to work up an appetite before lunch. Here’s a partial list of the places you’ll encounter on your stroll in Capitole de Toulouse: Place du Capitole, Couvent des Jacobins, Musee des Augustins, Hotel d’Assezat, and more.

If you want to do some shopping and admire beautiful architecture at the same time, head to rue d’Alsace Lorraine. This spectacular shopping street is for pedestrians only and is home to some of the most impressive Haussmann buildings in Toulouse. 

While the big streets of Toulouse are beautiful, I have a strong preference for the smaller streets adorning the red/pink brick houses which the pink city is famous for. Some of my favorite streets in the Capitole du Toulouse district are Rue Peyrolières, rue Saint Rome, rue des arts, and rue de Taur. Other places not to miss in central Toulouse are the lively Place Saint George and the main market of Toulouse. 

The center of Toulouse to visit in one day
The streets of Toulouse by Lost in Bordeaux

Marche Victor Hugo is a Toulousian gastronomic institution and is a must-visit for anyone interested in food, but we’ll talk about it later.

Have lunch at the central market of Toulouse

France is known for its gastronomy and how food is woven into culture, tradition, history, and daily life. When visiting a new city, visit the central market. It’s usually the beating heart of the city; the gastronomic epicenter where you can discover all the local specialties and where local chefs come to get inspiration and ingredients for their daily menu. That’s exactly the case in Toulouse.

Marché Victor Hugo is the biggest and most important market in Toulouse. It’s the best place to try some local tapas and delicacies that Toulouse is famous for, like the Saucisse de Toulouse and the Pavé Toulousain cheese.

The ground floor of the market is always bustling with people doing their weekly shopping, while the second floor is where the restaurants are. On weekends it’s packed with families coming for lunch. Make sure to be there early to book a table!

Food tour in Marché Victor Hugo
Taste of Toulouse – by Lost in Bordeaux

If you’re a foodie, I highly recommend taking a tour of the market. The best one in English is offered by Jessica. She organizes small group tours where you get to discover and taste some of the specialties of Toulouse and hear the stories behind them. The tour is very popular, so be sure to book in advance. Here’s a link to book her tour.

Discover more amazing markets in my article about the best markets in Toulouse.

Time for some heritage 

Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse
If you’re planning on taking a tour of Toulouse, you will surely pass by the Saint Sernin Basilica. But if you’re discovering Toulouse on your own, take a few minutes to walk from the market to visit what is considered the most important religious landmark of Toulouse.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and built in the 11th century, Saint Sernin is the biggest Romanesque basilica in Europe and a beautiful visit whether you’re religious or just want to discover the stunning architecture.

Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse
Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse – Lost in Bordeaux

Couvent des Jacobins 
Le Couvent des Jacobins is a Dominican monastery of the Order of Preachers that was built in the 13th century. The Dominicans played an important role in creating the first university of Toulouse and were considered great educators. Today, Toulouse is home to one of the oldest universities in France.

The remarkable building with its high columns and colorful stained glass windows will leave you in awe. Its most famous feature is the stone “palm trees” on the ceiling. It is a French Gothic masterpiece that should not be missed.

Port de la Daurade

Situated along the waterfront, Port de la Daurade is a very popular place for visitors and locals alike. You can go there for a drink when it’s hot and enjoy the views of the Garonne River from the terrace of a waterfront café. It’s a perfect place for a little rest or a walk – nothing beats being next to the water! You can also take a cruise on the Garonne River, which is a great way to take in the city’s sights from a unique angle.

the stairs of Place Saint Pierre - riverfront in Toulouse
The stairs of Place Saint Pierre – by Lost in Bordeaux

Take a walk on the promenade  

Stroll along the waterfront until you get to Pont Neuf and then enter the Carmes neighborhood – the cool, hipster area where you’ll run into loads of locals.

Discover the hipster part of Toulouse – the Carmes neighborhood 

My personal favorite part of Toulouse, the Carmes district is a beautiful blend of young energy and old architecture – with great coffee and food spots sprinkled throughout. The neighborhood is home to some of the more charming streets in Toulouse, all connected with tiny squares filled with terrace restaurants. 

On almost every street you’ll find beautiful patisseries, chic boutiques, and specialty coffee shops. Some of my favorites are Entremets, Pêché Mignon, Les Douceurs d’Irma, and Maison Pillon. Some of the streets you shouldn’t miss in The Cames neighborhood are rue Pharaon, rue des Filatiers rue, Ozenne, Place Mage, rue Croix Baragnon, and rue Perchepinte.

Where to stay in Toulouse - Les Carmes
Les Carmes – by Lost in Bordeaux

Taste regional specialties for dinner

Cassoulet, slow-cooked stew, most frequently made with duck and pork sausages, originated in this area and is famous all around France. Some of the best restaurants to eat cassoulet are Au Gascon or Le Bibent. Other great restaurants with a bit of more modern cuisine inlude Emmit’s, Contre-Pied, and Tempête Bar Restaurant. 

Go out for a drink 

End your day in Toulouse on a high note with post-dinner drinks. On warmer days the city will be buzzing with students, workers, and tourists enjoying drinks in the night air. If you want to try local wines, head to either Le 5 wine bar, L’Alimentation Bar à Vin, or Maison Sarment. 

If you’re visiting in the summer, the Mama Shelter rooftop is a really fun place to finish your day with great views over the city. And my favorite place is the secret cocktail bar – L’agence. But you didn’t hear it from me! 😉

L’agence cocktail  bar in Toulouse
L’agence cocktail bar in Toulouse – Lost in Bordeaux

If you find yourself falling in love with Toulouse and want to stay longer or come back for another visit, check out my detailed guide to an entire weekend in Toulouse. You also don’t want to miss my guide to the best districts in Toulouse, which should help you to find the best hotel/apartment for the weekend. Also check out my articles about the best tours in Toulouse, day trips from Toulouse, and the best festivals taking place in Toulouse, to see if anything’s up during your visit.

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!

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