Which city is for you? Toulouse or Strasbourg
Toulouse or Strasbourg – two very different cities, two very different holidays. But which one would you prefer? The warm southern city of Toulouse? With its pink-toned buildings and warm sunny squares. Or maybe it might be Strasbourg? With its interesting mix of French and German cultures. Let’s examine the pros and cons, costs and top attractions for both cities. Then maybe you might have a better idea of which you prefer.
Toulouse is a charming city in southwestern France that is often overlooked by tourists. We’re not too sure why, to be honest! It’s a beautiful city that is bisected by the Garonne River. Filled with amazing restaurants to try, and interesting architecture. It is also located close to a lot of other interesting places.
Located near the German border, Strasbourg is a beautiful city that has a unique blend of French and German cultures. Mostly due to the fact that both countries have been in control of the city at multiple points throughout history. Known for its unique architecture and pretty canals there’s plenty to see in this unique city.
Pro’s and Con’s of Toulouse and Strasbourg
- Rich history: Toulouse boasts a range of historical sites and museums, like the Basilique Saint-Sernin and the Musée des Augustins.
- Vibrant food scene: Toulouse is famous for its local dishes like cassoulet and duck confit.
- Garonne River: The picturesque Garonne River provides a scenic backdrop for walks, picnics, and boat tours.
- Aerospace industry: Toulouse, known as the European aerospace capital, is home to the popular Cité de l’espace.
- University town: With multiple universities, Toulouse has a vibrant student scene.
- Underrated destination: Toulouse is a bit underrated and isn’t as busy as other major tourist destinations in France.
- Access to the Pyrenees: Toulouse’s location offers easy access to the Pyrenees for skiing and hiking adventures.
- Canal du Midi: The picturesque Canal du Midi runs through Toulouse, perfect for scenic walks and boat trips.
- Limited shopping options: Toulouse may not offer as many high-end shopping experiences as other French cities like Paris or Cannes.
- Parking: Toulouse can be difficult for parking like most major cities.
Best for: History buffs, food enthusiasts, culture lovers, and those who prefer a less crowded, underrated destination.
- UNESCO World Heritage site: Strasbourg’s historic city centre, Grande Île, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Rich culture: Strasbourg is known for its blend of French and German influences in architecture, food, and culture.
- Christmas markets: Strasbourg hosts one of Europe’s oldest and most famous Christmas markets, the Christkindelsmärik.
- Picturesque canals: The city’s canals and half-timbered houses create a charming atmosphere.
- European institutions: Strasbourg is home to important European institutions like the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.
- Wine region: Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace wine region, offering excellent wine tasting opportunities.
- Bike-friendly: Strasbourg is one of France’s most bike-friendly cities, with an extensive network of cycling paths.
- Petite France: The historic and picturesque district of Petite France is perfect for leisurely strolls and photography.
- Weather: Strasbourg’s climate can be cooler and rainier compared to Toulouse, with colder winters and moderate summers.
- Limited nightlife: While Strasbourg has some nightlife options, it might not be as vibrant as in other major cities.
- Tourist crowds: Strasbourg can become quite crowded during peak seasons, particularly during the Christmas market.
Best for Strasbourg: History and architecture enthusiasts, Christmas market visitors, and those interested in European politics and institutions.
How long to stay in Toulouse
Toulouse may not be a big city, but there’s plenty to see and do. You could cover most of the city in a day, but you’d miss out on the best parts. Toulouse is a city best enjoyed at a slow pace. Take your time to explore and discover all that it has to offer.
Toulouse is Frances’s fifth biggest city, so there is a lot to see and do. We feel like most people would happily spend two to three days here and not get bored. If you really wanted an interesting holiday though, you could use Toulouse as a base to explore the region. There are plenty of amazing towns and cities nearby like Albi or Carcassonne, you could even hire a car and drive to Andorra!
There are plenty of museums and galleries like the Muséum de Toulouse, Georges Bemberg’s Foundation — Hotel of Assézat and even a scientific discovery centre that focuses on spaceflight called the Cité de l’Espace.
How long to stay in Strasbourg
Strasbourg may not be a huge city, but due to its history and unique location, we recommend staying for at least two to three days. If you have more time, its location on the German border means you can have lots of fun exploring both countries. The beautiful town of Colmar is worth a trip and Freiburg isn’t too far either.
How much is food and drink in Toulouse?
Toulouse is home to a diverse culinary scene, and you can find everything from traditional French cuisine to international dishes. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Toulouse:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Toulouse will likely cost between €5 and €7.
Glass of wine: As Toulouse is located in the heart of the Occitanie wine region, wine is readily available and is often a better value than beer or cocktails. A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €3 to €10, depending on the quality and rarity of the wine.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Toulouse will likely cost between €1.50 and €3.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Toulouse will likely cost between €15 and €30 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is food and drink in Strasbourg?
Strasbourg is known for its delicious cuisine and the city has plenty of amazing restaurants and cafes to choose from. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Strasbourg:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Strasbourg will likely cost between €5 and €7.
Glass of wine: Strasbourg is located in the heart of the Alsace wine region, so you’ll find plenty of great wines to try. A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €3 to €10, depending on the quality and rarity of the wine.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Strasbourg will likely cost between €1.50 and €3.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Strasbourg will likely cost between €20 and €40 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is it to stay in Toulouse?
The cost of accommodation in Toulouse can vary depending on the location and the type of accommodation you choose. Here are some estimated average prices for accommodation in Toulouse:
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Toulouse can cost anywhere from €150 to €500 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Toulouse will likely cost between €70 and €150 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Toulouse will likely cost between €40 and €70 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Toulouse will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
How much is it to stay in Strasbourg?
The cost of accommodation in Strasbourg can vary depending on the location and the type of accommodation you choose. Here are some estimated average prices for accommodation in Strasbourg:
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Strasbourg can cost anywhere from €150 to €500 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Strasbourg will likely cost between €70 and €150 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Strasbourg will likely cost between €40 and €70 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Strasbourg will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
When is the best time to visit Toulouse?
Toulouse has mild weather year-round, making it a great destination to visit at any time of the year. Here are some things to consider:
Weather: The weather in Toulouse is relatively mild throughout the year. Summers can get hot. Winters can be wet and mild. We recommend visiting in Spring or Autumn when the weather is mild and there aren’t too many tourists.
Festivals: Toulouse hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year. Like the Festival de Rio Loco (one for music lovers) and the Violet Festival which celebrates the city’s emblematic flower.
Crowds: Like most places, the summer months can get pretty hectic, so avoid July and August if you can. You’ll find a much more relaxed vibe in the off-season.
When is the best time to visit Strasbourg?
Strasbourg is a city that can be enjoyed year-round, but the best time to visit depends on what you want to experience. Here are some things to consider:
Weather: Strasbourg’s mild climate can be enjoyed all year round, but pay attention to the weather forecast before visiting. Summers are warm and sunny but winters can get very cold. Snow isn’t uncommon. Spring and autumn are the best times to be visiting for milder weather and smaller crowds.
Festivals: Strasbourg Christmas markets are a must-see if you’re visiting over the Christmas period. They’re the oldest markets in France and have been going since 1570! With over 300 Christmas chalets in various squares around the city, there’s plenty of food and drink to try. The mulled wine is especially good to warm up on a cold day! There are plenty of festivals during the summer months too including the Strasbourg Music Festival, which is held every June.
Crowds: Strasbourg can get crowded during peak travel seasons, especially during the Christmas markets. To avoid the crowds, visit in spring and autumn or during weekdays instead of weekends.
Average Monthly Temperatures
The average monthly temperatures for Toulouse are:
The average monthly temperatures for Strasbourg are:
Getting around Toulouse:
Toulouse is very easy to get around, with regular buses, trams and a metro system there are plenty of options. The public transport system is clean and well-maintained. You’ll find it easy to get around the city when using it. The Toulouse city pass is well worth getting if you plan on using public transport a lot.
If you want a more active holiday, the city is very walkable. You could even hire a bike if you wanted to get around a bit quicker. As with any city, taxis and Uber’s are readily available.
Getting around Strasbourg:
Strasbourg has a really good public transport system like most French cities. You probably won’t need to use anything other than the tram, it covers pretty much all of the main attractions. But, for the places the tram doesn’t reach the buses will get you there. A single ticket costs €1.70 and is valid for up to 1 hour of travel, with transfers allowed within that time frame. If you plan on using public transportation frequently, consider purchasing a 24-hour ticket for €4.50 or a 3-day pass for €12.50.
If the weather is good try and walk as much as you can. It’s the best way to see all the city’s unique architecture and take in all the sights.
Top things to do in Toulouse
Visit the Basilique Saint-Sernin: One of the most visited landmarks in Toulouse. This was once part of the Abbey of Saint-Sernin, but unfortunately, only the church remains. Take a guided tour to learn more about the history of this amazing building.
Explore the historic city centre: Wander around the city, take in cultural sights, admire the architecture and eat some good food. Is there a better way to experience a city?
See the Canal du Midi: Considering it is 240 kilometres long, you won’t be able to see it all. But, you could go for a nice walk along its relaxing banks or even hire a bike!
Visit the Musée des Augustins: Housed in a former Augustinian convent this museum possesses an impressive collection of European art from the middle ages to the early 20th century.
See the Cité de l’Espace: Toulouse might not be the first place you think of when you think of space. But, this space museum is well worth a visit. The planetarium presents shows throughout the day, there are plenty of exhibits to keep you busy too.
Take a food tour: Food tours are always a great way to experience a city’s cuisine and learn about its history. You’ll often get to visit restaurants most tourists won’t know about. You’ll get to try cassoulet, a hearty bean stew, and other delicious dishes.
Check out the Musée Saint-Raymond: Opened in 1892 this archaeological museum went through various transformations before becoming a museum. It was even a prison at one point! It features exhibits from prehistory to the middle ages, history buffs don’t miss out.
Visit the Jardin des Plantes: Not to be confused with the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. This botanical garden is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax.
See the Capitole de Toulouse: This iconic building located in the heart of the city is home to the offices of the local government. Free to enter, it’s full of artwork and impressive interiors.
Take a day trip to Carcassonne: Located about an hour’s drive away from Toulouse. This medieval fortified city will take your breath away. Even if you’re not interested in history it’s very impressive and well worth a visit.
Top things to do in Strasbourg
Visit Strasbourg Cathedral: This cathedral is a must-see when visiting Strasbourg. Try and visit on a nice day, you can climb the stairs to the top and get a magnificent view of the city! It’s also a good idea to go back at night and see it lit up. It’s very beautiful.
Explore Petite France: This beautiful neighbourhood is known for its canals, cobbled streets and half-timbered buildings. A UNESCO world heritage site, this area is so relaxing to stroll around on a nice day.
Visit the Palais Rohan: Once the residence of a noble family from Brittany. This 18th century is now home to three museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Museum of Fine Arts. It’s a great way to learn about the history and culture of the region.
Take a Boat Tour: The boat tours here are well worth a visit, you get to see all the main attractions from the river and learn about the history of the city.
Explore La Grande Île: Grande Île literally means Grand Island. This island in the centre of Strasbourg has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1988. It’s a beautiful district filled with amazing buildings, relaxing squares and cute shops and cafes.
Visit the European Parliament: This impressive building hosts the European Parliament. You can go inside at certain times, there are exhibits to see and a recorded guide. It’s interesting but might not be for everyone.
Explore the Strasbourg Christmas Markets: Strasbourg’s markets are very famous. Definitely don’t miss them if you’re visiting over the festive period. There’s a reason Strasbourg is regarded as the ‘Christmas Capital of the World’.
Visit the Jardin des Deux Rives: Translated to ‘Two Shores Garden’ this park actually covers both sides of the river Rhine. Meaning one side is in France and the other is in Germany. There’s a bridge connecting the two sides so you can quite literally walk into Germany.
Explore the Musée Alsacien: This museum takes you on a tour through old Strasbourg homes and helps you see what life would have been like for residents hundreds of years ago.
Eat like a local: Due to its unique location, this city has both French and German influences in its cuisine. Make sure you try local favourites like Baeckeoffe, Spätzle and Lewerknepfle.
How to spend three days in Toulouse
Morning: Start your day at the Place du Capitole, a stunning square in the heart of Toulouse. Try and get there early so you can enjoy a coffee overlooking the square whilst the city wakes up. Have a wander into the Capotiole building to see the artwork and lavish rooms.
Afternoon: Visit the Musée des Augustins to learn more about the history and art of the region. The museum has a brilliant collection of sculptures and paintings.
Evening: Enjoy a leisurely dinner in the Saint-Cyprien district, once one of Toulouse’s roughest areas. It’s now one of the coolest parts of the city. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to keep you busy for the evening.
Morning: Get the train to Carcassonne, an amazing fortified medieval city about an hour away by train. It almost looks like something out of a Disney film. Walk around the castle and visit the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire. Opt for a guided tour to fully immerse in the city’s history.
Afternoon: Get the train back to Toulouse and spend a relaxing afternoon seeing the Canal du Midi. Either walk along the banks or hire a bank if you want to see more of it.
Evening: Go and find a nice French restaurant and try some of the local cuisines such as a cassoulet or saucisse de Toulouse. Once you’re suitably full go and explore the Carmes neighbourhood. It’s the perfect place to wander around aimlessly stopping off for drinks and exploring the little side streets.
Morning: Start the day with a visit to the Cité de l’Espace, a space museum not too far from the city centre. An interesting place for adults and kids alike.
Afternoon: After lunch let your food settle with a relaxing afternoon in the Jardin des Plantes, one of Toulouse’s most beautiful parks.
Evening: Go and see a performance at the Théâtre du Capitole, one of France’s most prestigious opera houses. Or if opera isn’t your thing, go and see some live music at La Dynamo, a small club that hosts a variety of different live performers.
How to spend three days in Strasbourg
Morning: Begin your day at the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, try and get there early to beat the crowds. If you’re feeling fit, climb to the top of the tower to see the amazing view.
Afternoon: Take a stroll through Petite France. This picturesque neighbourhood is full of beautiful old houses and cute cafes. It almost feels like stepping back in time. Make sure you stop off for lunch and try some traditional Alsatian cuisine.
Evening: Spend the afternoon relaxing in Place Kléber, the main square in Strasbourg. This central square is lined with cafes, restaurants and shops. Perfect for people watching and shopping.
Morning: Spend your morning admiring the work of famous artists like Rubens and Botticelli in the Palais Rohan. This stunning 18th-century palace houses three museums, so you’ll have plenty to see!
Afternoon: After grabbing a nice lunch from a local restaurant, take a boat tour of the city’s canals. It’s a relaxing way to spend the afternoon, especially if you’ve eaten too much for lunch and want to let your stomach settle.
Evening: Have a romantic walk down the River III. This river runs around the historic centre of Strasbourg, and there are plenty of lovely bridges and weeping willows to admire along the way. Once you get tired stop off at a riverside restaurant for some good food and drinks. Just be sure not to drink too much and fall in!
Morning: Visit the Musée Alsacien. This museum showcases life in the Alsace region over the last few centuries. It’s very interesting and has lots of exhibits on traditional clothing, crafts and architecture.
Afternoon: Head over to the Jardin des Deux Rives and spend the afternoon exploring the park. If you walk over the bridge to the German side, there’s a really cool observation deck that offers great views of the city and down the Rhine. You could even stop off for some German food and beer!
Evening: Head back to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg to see it lit up in all its splendour. Get some food at a local restaurant then go and enjoy one of the city’s fabulous beer gardens!
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 9
Total score: 61
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 9
Total score: 61