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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.

A map of all the trains from Toulouse
Credit SNCF

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

the citadel of Carcassonne
Carcassonne – Lost in Bordeaux

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.

Day trip from Bordeaux to Albi
Albi – Lost in Bordeaux

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

Train journey from Toulouse: 1 hour and 15 minutes – book train tickets here.

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.

wine tasting in Gaillac Château Lastours
Château Lastours in Gaillac – Lost in Bordeaux

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. 

Pont Valentre in Cahors - a perfect day trip from Toulouse
Pont Valentre in Cahors – Lost in Bordeaux

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! 

The beautiful town of Bordeaux
The center of Bordeaux – Lost in Bordeaux

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.

With only a day or two in Bordeaux, I’ve summed up the things you can’t miss in this article. And if you have more time, here are my top 50 things to do in Bordeaux

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.

Place Nationale in Montauban - a great stop between Bordeaux and Toulosue
Place Nationale in Montauban – Lost in Bordeaux

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.

Castelnaudary

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!

Is it your first time in Toulouse?

Use my Toulouse guides to prepare for your trip:
A guide to a weekend in Toulouse
Where to stay in Toulouse
Toulouse with kids
Events in Toulouse

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 🙂 

Toulouse has a very young population and hot weather during the summer and most of the fall. It’s not a surprise then that the pink city is home to many fun events and festivals.

In this article, you’ll discover the best festivals in Toulouse as well as other destinations in the Toulouse region. The list includes everything from electronic music festivals to piano concerts and a cute circus festival.

If it’s your first time in Toulouse don’t forget to read my detailed guide to a weekend in Toulouse and the article about where to stay in Toulouse. It will help you plan the best trip!

If you love festivals check out my list of the best festivals in Bordeaux

Let’s dive into the cultural world of Toulouse and discover its best festivals!

The best events and festivals in Toulouse Metropole

Festival Spiral 

Festival Spiral is a music festival hosted by some of the best music venues in Toulouse like Le Bikini and Le Metronum. The program includes tens of artists from all over the world that perform different events during the month of January. 

Check out the details here.

The Violet Festival

Fête de la Violette takes place at Place du Capitole, the main square of Toulouse where the favorite Toulousian flower is celebrated in all its forms from decorations to food, perfumes, and more. 

This year (2023) the festival will take place on February 3-4. See more info here.

MAP – The Photography festival of Toulouse 

MAP is an amazing event for photography lovers in Toulouse. The festival takes place every year around May or June. Over several weeks places like Espace EDF Bazacle and Paul Dupuy Museum host amazing photography exhibitions. 

The goal of the festival is to introduce photography and its artists to the wide public and create opportunities for amateur and professional photographers to meet. Access to the exhibitions is free. 

The dates for 2023 will be updated soon.

See more details here

Photography festival in Toulosue - the best festivals in Toulosue

Rio Loco 

Rio Loco, created in 1995, is one of the best festivals Toulouse has to offer. The festival is focused on world music and culture and aims to promote cultural diversity. Each year, the program includes plenty of open-air concerts, shows for kids, visual arts, and more. 

The festival takes place at Prairie des Filtres in the Saint Cyprien neighborhood (read more about Saint Syprien in my district guide).

This year (2024) Rio Loco will take place on June 12-16. See more details here

Le Nouveau Printemps

Formerly known as le Printemps de Septembre, Le Nouveau Printemps is one of the best events in Toulouse. This cultural festival was created in 1991 to promote arts of different genres and disciplines, from cinema to architecture and dance. 

During the month-long festival, plenty of art events and exhibitions will be offered in the Saint Cyprien district in Toulouse. This year the festival will take place from May 30 to June 30, 2024. Follow this website to see the program of the festival.

Siestes Électroniques – Electro music

“Siestes Électroniques” is an electro music festival taking place every early summer in Toulouse. The event takes place at the beautiful gardens of Compans Caffarelli just north of the city center. The idea is to discover new music and artists in a very relaxed atmosphere, a sort of musical siesta in the park. 

The festival was created in 2002 in Toulouse and has been traveling to other cities in France and the rest of the world since.
This year (2024)  Siestes Électronique will take place on June 27-30. See more details here.

Tangopostale – Tango Festival 

Tangopoltale is a big Tango festival taking place in different places in Toulouse every summer. The events include concerts, dance balls, exhibitions, and more. This year (2024) Tangopostale will take place from June 28 to July 7. See more details here.

Open-air Cinema at the Cinémathèque of Toulouse

This is a two-month event in which the Cinematheque of Toulouse invites you to experience cinema  “autrement” (differently).  During July and August,  more than 40 movies from different genres will be screened at the courtyard of La Cinematheque de Toulouse. With the long days and the hot weather in the summer, this is one of the highlights of the summer in Toulouse. 

The Cinematheque is located in a beautiful building on rue de Taur in the center of Toulouse. The program for this year will be published on their Facebook page.

Concerts sous les étoiles à Toulouse

This is a new music festival taking place at Jardin Raymond VI in Toulouse (the Saint Cyprien district). All the concerts will take place on the board of the Garonne River, under the stars, as the name of the festival suggests. This year (2024) the festival is taking place from June 29 to July 13. See more details here.

Electro Alternativ

This is one of the biggest electronic music events in Toulouse, hosted by different music venues in the city. The lineup includes some of the biggest names in Electronic music. The festival usually takes place in September.

The dates of the festival and the lineup for 2024 will be published here.

Piano aux Jacobins (Piano concerts)

Piano aux Jacobins is a Piano festival taking place every September at the Couvent de Jacobins in the center of Toulouse. Le Couvent de Jacobins is one of the landmarks of Toulouse and a must-stop on your visit there. The dates and the program for this year (2024) will be published here.

See other places not to miss on your visit to Toulouse

Couvent des Jacobins in Toulouse
Couvent des Jacobins – by Lost in Bordeaux

Festival Toulouse les Orgues

Every year Toulouse hosts the International Organ Festival. During the days of the festival, several churches in Toulouse are hosting daily Organ concerts. The dates and the program for this year (2024) will be published here.

Marché de Noël de Toulouse 

The main Christmas market of Toulouse takes place on Place du Capitole for about a month from the end of November until Christmas day! More than 100 wooden cabins with gifts, local products, and food adorn Place du Capitol and its impressive buildings. If you’re looking for Christmas gifts, you will find everything from jewelry, kids’ toys, cosmetics, chocolates, local wine, and more. 

If you want to learn more about this and other Christmas markets in Toulouse, read my article about Christmas in the Toulouse region.

Big events and festivals around Toulouse (in Occitanie)

Jazz en Comminges

This Jazz festival is taking place every year in Saint Gaudens, a little town in the Haute Garonne department. This year the festival is celebrating its 21st edition. The event is taking place on May 8-12, see all the info here.

Arts Scenics

Arts Scenics is yet another fun summer festival taking place near Toulouse. The music festival is hosted by the town of Lisle-sur-Tarn, about an hour’s drive from Toulouse. This year the festival will be taking place on June 28-29. See the full program here

Pause Guitare

One of the biggest music festivals in Occitanie is taking place every July in Albi (about an hour’s drive from Toulouse). The festival, created more than two decades ago, annually hosts more than 90 artists on six stages around the city. The program cleverly combines performances by big stars and new artists. 

In 2024, the festival will take place on July 2-7. See more info here.

Fabulous Festival

Fabulous is a gastronomy and electronic music festival, a pretty cool combination, don’t you think? The festival takes place every August in Villemur-sur-Tarn, a village located around 45 km from Toulouse. The event is hosted by the stunning Château de la Garrigue, which makes it even more special. The dates and the program for this year (2024) will be published here.

Festival de rue de Miremont 

Festival de rue de Miremont is a fun festival dedicated to street performance. Two days with a very entertaining program that includes circus, puppets shows, music concerts, equestrian aerobatics, and more. The festival takes place in Miremont, about 30k northwest of Toulouse. The dates and the program for this year (2024) will be published here.

Circa – A circus festival

Circa is an international contemporary circus festival taking place every year in Auch (about 1.5 hour’s drive from Toulouse). The shows in this festival are beyond traditional circus and include elements of dance, music, and digital arts. The festival will take place on October 18-26, see details here.

I hope you enjoyed my list of the best events in Toulouse and that it gave you the inspiration to plan a trip to this region! If so, please share this article with your friends 🙂

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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