Toulouse or Valencia? France or Spain? Beaches or no beaches? It’s never an easy decision trying to choose where to visit. There are so many places but never enough time or money! Will it be the lively city of Toulouse with its beautiful architecture and great cuisine that makes your list? Or will it be the sun-drenched beaches of Valencia, with its world-famous Paella and fun festivals that you decide on? Let’s go over the pros and cons of each city, the average costs and the top attractions to help you decide.
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 on the eastern coast of Spain, Valencia is a world-class destination that offers everything you need for a good break. With food, architecture, beaches and the sun, this city has something for everyone.
Pros and Cons of Toulouse and Valencia
- Vibrant city life: Toulouse offers a bustling urban atmosphere with a mix of culture, shopping, and nightlife.
- Rich history: Toulouse is known for its historic architecture, including the Saint-Sernin Basilica and the Capitolium.
- Aeronautics and space industry: Home to the Airbus headquarters and the Cité de l’Espace, Toulouse is an excellent destination for aviation and space enthusiasts.
- Accessible location: Toulouse’s central position in southern France makes it an ideal base for exploring the region.
- Diverse culinary scene: Enjoy the local Toulousain cuisine as well as a wide variety of international food options.
- Underrated destination: Toulouse is not as crowded as other major tourist destinations in France, providing a more relaxed atmosphere.
- Canal du Midi: This UNESCO World Heritage site offers picturesque walks and boat tours.
- Art and culture: Toulouse boasts numerous museums, galleries, and theaters for art and culture lovers.
- No beaches: Unlike Valencia, Toulouse is not located on the coast, which means there are no beaches directly in the city.
- Smaller historical centre: Compared to Valencia’s extensive old town, Toulouse’s historical area is smaller and less concentrated.
- Fewer festivals: Valencia is known for its vibrant festivals, such as Las Fallas, while Toulouse has fewer large-scale, internationally known events.
- Colder winters: Due to Toulouse’s location, its winters are colder than Valencia’s.
- More expensive: The cost of living is more expensive in Toulouse compared to Valencia.
Best for: History buffs, foodies, aviation and space enthusiasts, art and culture lovers, and those who prefer a less crowded, underrated destination.
- Gorgeous beaches: Valencia offers beautiful Mediterranean beaches perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and watersports.
- City of Arts and Sciences: This futuristic complex is an architectural marvel, housing a science museum, an opera house, and an oceanographic park.
- Historic charm: Valencia has a rich history with a well-preserved old town, featuring attractions like the Valencia Cathedral and the Silk Exchange.
- Famous dish: Valencia is the birthplace of paella, making it an ideal destination for foodies who want to try authentic versions of this Spanish dish.
- Vibrant festivals: Valencia hosts several lively festivals throughout the year, including the famous Las Fallas.
- Green spaces: The city boasts extensive green spaces, including the Turia Gardens, which stretches across the former Turia riverbed.
- Bike-friendly: Valencia is a bike-friendly city, making it easy to explore on two wheels.
- Pleasant climate: Valencia has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm, sunny summers.
- Tourist crowds: Valencia can be quite crowded during peak tourist seasons, particularly during popular festivals.
- Language barrier: While many locals speak English, it can be helpful to learn some basic Spanish phrases to enhance your experience in Valencia.
- Pickpocketing: Like other popular tourist destinations, pickpocketing can be a concern, so it’s essential to be cautious and keep your belongings secure.
- Hot summers: Summers can be very hot in Valencia.
Best for: Beach lovers, foodies, history buffs, festival enthusiasts, and those interested in architecture and science.
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 Valencia
Valencia is Spain’s third largest city so there’s plenty to see and do. We’d recommend staying for three to four days. You could easily stay for longer if you wanted to spend a few days lounging on the beach.
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 Valencia?
Valencia is known for its delicious food, especially its paella. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Valencia:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Valencia will likely cost between €2 and €4.
Glass of wine: A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €3 to €6, depending on the quality.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Valencia will likely cost between €1.20 and €2.50.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Valencia will likely cost between €15 and €30 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 Valencia?
The cost of accommodation in Valencia can vary greatly depending on the time of year and location. Here are some estimated average prices for accommodation in Valencia:
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Valencia 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 Valencia 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 Valencia will likely cost between €30 and €70 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Valencia will likely cost between €15 and €30 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 Valencia?
Valencia is a year-round destination. The best all-around times to visit are spring and autumn when the temperatures are mild and the city is quieter. Here are a few things to consider before booking your trip to Valencia:
Weather: Valencia is quite far south in Spain and can get very hot in the summer. Temperatures are usually around 30°C in the summer month but they can get considerably higher. Spring and autumn are a lot more comfortable. Even winters aren’t cold here with average temperatures between 6°C – 16°C, maybe not shorts and t-shirt temperatures but much warmer than most places in Europe.
Festivals: Valencia is famous for its festivals, there’s always something going on. La Tomatina is probably the most famous, a huge tomato fight held in the streets of the nearby town of Buñol. Check the festival calendar before visiting. Las Fallas is a festival held in March that involves burning papier-mâché sculptures and lots of pyrotechnics!
Crowds: Valencia is a popular summer destination so June to August tends to be very busy. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit in spring or autumn.
Average Monthly Temperatures
The average monthly temperatures for Toulouse are:
The average monthly temperatures for Valencia 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 Valencia:
Valencia has an extensive public transport system including buses, trams and a metro system. Valenbisi is bike-sharing system that is great if you want to explore the city on two wheels. Most the city can be reached easily on food if you’d prefer to walk.
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 Valencia
City of Arts and Sciences: This iconic complex is a must-visit attraction in Valencia. Featuring several museums including the largest aquarium in Europe, a planetarium, an IMAX cinema and an interactive science museum.
Mercado Central: This stunning Art Nouveau market is a foodie’s paradise, offering an array of fresh produce, seafood, meats, and more. There’s plenty of food and local specialities to try out. Make sure you take cash as not all the vendors accept cards.
La Lonja de la Seda: Originally a silk exchange, these Gothic-style buildings are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entry to this beautiful building is completely free!
Bioparc Valencia: This zoo has a unique design that immerses visitors in the animals’ habitats. It’s home to a wide range of animals all of which look very happy! It doesn’t feel like your typical zoo, you’re a lot closer to the animals, which adds to the experience.
Plaza de la Virgen: Located in the heart of Valencia’s historic centre, this square is surrounded by stunning architecture and features a fountain in the centre.
Turia Gardens: One of the largest urban parks in Spain, the gardens were once the riverbed of the Turia River before it was diverted. There are still original bridges left which would have crossed the river.
El Carmen: Part of Valencia’s old town and one of the oldest areas of the city. This neighbourhood is perfect for wandering around and soaking up the local atmosphere.
Albufera Natural Park: One of Valencia’s secret gems, this nature reserve is located just outside of the city. Take a boat ride or hire some bikes and cycle around, you won’t regret it!
La Malvarrosa Beach: Valencia’s most famous beach stretches for 1km along the seafront. It’s very spacious and clean with plenty of restaurants and bars nearby.
Torres de Serranos: Once one of twelve gates that formed the city’s walls, these impressive gothic towers over great views of the city. The steps to the top are quite steep but it’s definitely worth going up!
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 Valencia
Morning: Begin your day with a visit to the Central Market. One of the largest markets in Europe, there’s so much food on offer here, it’s crazy. Grab a coffee and a pasty at one of the cafes in the market and watch how busy it gets.
Afternoon: Take a walk around the historic centre of Valencia. Home to the city’s most iconic landmarks, including the Cathedral of Valencia and the Plaza de la Virgen. Stop off for a Valencian Paella at one of the many restaurants in the area.
Evening: Head to the City of Arts and Sciences, a modern complex featuring a huge aquarium, an opera house and an interactive science museum. Make sure to go up to the L’Umbracle terrace afterwards to see the sunset and views of the city.
Morning: Take a trip to Albufera Natural Park, which is located just outside Valencia. This beautiful wetland park is only a 40-minute bus ride away from the city centre. You can take a boat ride and explore the lagoon or hire a bike and ride along the edge of it.
Afternoon: Head back to the city to visit the Turia Gardens. Located on the former riverbed, these gardens are around 12km long! Take a picnic or grab some local street food to eat whilst relaxing.
Evening: Experience Valencia’s nightlife with a visit to the Ruzafa neighbourhood. This cool district is known for its trendy bars and restaurants. Spend the evening hopping from tapas bar to tapas bar, getting food and drinks at each one.
Morning: Spend the morning at Bioparc Valencia. This unique zoo tries to recreate natural habitats for the animals living there. The enclosures look very big and comfortable for the animals, it feels like you get a lot closer than you do in most zoos too.
Afternoon: Visit the Mercado de Colón, a grand former market that has been converted into a shopping and dining complex. It takes some inspiration from Gaudi’s building in Barcelona and is filled with amazing restaurants and stalls. Make sure to try some horchata de Valencia a traditional drink made from tiger nuts, it’s very cold and refreshing on a hot day!
Evening: End your trip with dinner overlooking Malvarrosa Beach. Known for its golden sand and clear waters, it’s the perfect spot for a romantic walk along the beach after a nice dinner.
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 9
Total score: 61
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 9
Total score: 61