Toulouse or Strasbourg? Which city should you visit?
Considering a trip to France and can’t decide between Toulouse or Strasbourg? Here’s a quick rundown to help you choose:
- History Buffs: Strasbourg’s Gothic cathedral and status as the seat of the European Parliament might pull you in, but Toulouse, with its ancient churches and rich aerospace legacy, has plenty to offer.
- River Enthusiasts: Strasbourg, with its charming canals and River Ill, offers picturesque boat rides and waterside strolls. Meanwhile, Toulouse, seated by the Garonne, boasts romantic riverside views.
- Foodies: Fancying a fusion of French and German cuisines? Strasbourg is for you. But if the hearty flavours of cassoulet or duck confit are more your thing, Toulouse is your culinary haven.
- Nature Enthusiasts: If scenic canals and proximity to the Black Forest appeal, Strasbourg’s your pick. For those captivated by lush parks and nearby Pyrenees hikes, Toulouse wins.
- Urban Explorers: For a touch of Franco-German architecture and cosmopolitan flair, Strasbourg is a winner. In contrast, Toulouse’s pink terracotta buildings and southern French vibe offer a different, warm charm.
- Adventure Junkies: Enjoying bike rides in the Black Forest? Strasbourg. Hikes and climbing in the Pyrenees? Toulouse.
- Wine Lovers: If Alsatian wines, particularly Riesling or Gewürztraminer, intrigue you, it’s Strasbourg. But for those swayed by the robust reds of the Languedoc, Toulouse comes out top.
- Backpackers: For an immersive blend of French and German culture, Strasbourg is perfect. Yet, if vibrant student life and southern warmth are on the checklist, Toulouse checks the box.
- Over 60’s: Strasbourg, with its flat terrain, tram network, and serene ambience, resonates with the mature traveller. Toulouse, on the other hand, enchants with its laid-back rhythm, and diverse cultural offerings.
Torn between the two? Dive deeper into our blog to unearth more about these captivating cities and let their tales sway your decision.
Toulouse, a city perfectly perched between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, offers an intriguing mix of history, innovation, and charm. Its historic centre, known as Vieux Toulouse, boasts a tapestry of coral-hued buildings that have earned it the moniker ‘La Ville Rose’, or ‘The Pink City’. But Toulouse is not just about reminiscing about the past. It’s a dynamic city teeming with academic vigour, courtesy of its vibrant student population, and is a hotbed for aeronautics and space exploration. With an array of museums, a thriving arts scene, and lively local markets, this city caters to a broad spectrum of travellers. Plus, the local cuisine, characterized by hearty Southwestern French specialities, is a gastronomic adventure in itself. If you’re seeking a unique and vibrant destination for your next vacation, Toulouse should unquestionably be on your radar!
Strasbourg, a city that straddles the border of France and Germany, offers an interesting fusion of cultures that’s definitely worth exploring. Its historic centre, known Grande Île, is a UNESCO world heritage site and is filled with beautiful cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses. But Strasbourg isn’t just about visiting the past. It’s a dynamic city brimming with a unique culture. With plenty of museums, a great art scene and bustling local markets this is a city that caters to most travellers. Plus, the local cuisine is an interesting blend of French sophistication and hearty German food! If you’re looking for a somewhat different destination for your next holiday, Strasbourg should definitely be added to your list!
While we’re comparing Toulouse and Strasbourg in this post, we’ve also looked at how Toulouse stacks up against other cities like Lille and Biarritz. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!
Pros and Cons of Toulouse and Strasbourg
- 🏦 Architecture: Known as “La Ville Rose,” Toulouse’s terracotta buildings offer a unique, warm charm.
- 🚀 Aerospace: With the Cité de l’Espace, Toulouse is a must-visit for space enthusiasts.
- 🌊 Canal Du Midi: Starting in Toulouse, this UNESCO site is perfect for leisurely walks or boat rides.
- 🍽 Cuisine: Dive into the flavours of the South with classics like cassoulet and Toulouse sausage.
- 🌦 Weather: While it has its beauty, expect hot summers and cooler winters.
- 🚗 Traffic: The city can get congested, especially during peak hours.
- 👮♀️ Safety: Though still a safe city, it’s not considered as safe as Strasbourg.
- 🌊 Waterways: Strasbourg’s canals create picturesque scenes, especially in the Petite France district.
- 🏰 History: The stunning Strasbourg Cathedral and the city’s role in European history are notable.
- 🌲 Nature: Close to the Black Forest and the Vosges Mountains, it’s a nature lover’s delight.
- 🍺 Cuisine: Taste the unique blend of French and German flavours, from sauerkraut to tarte flambée.
- 🌧 Weather: The city can be chilly and damp, especially in winter.
- 🚲 Transportation: While public transport is good, some spots are best explored on foot or by bike.
- 💰 Cost of Living: Strasbourg can be a tad more expensive compared to other French cities, given its stature.
Which City Has Better Food? Toulouse or Strasbourg?
When I reminisce about Toulouse, my mind (and stomach) immediately gravitate towards its rich, hearty dishes. Cassoulet, its most famous dish, is this incredible blend of white beans, sausages, and duck, slowly cooked to perfection. Don’t miss out on the Toulouse sausages either.
The restaurant scene here is incredibly diverse, whatever your eating habits, you’ll be able to find some amazing food here!
Strasbourg, this city is famous for its fusion of French and German cuisines. Tarte Flambée is a savoury crusted tart with a white base usually topped with cheese, ham, mushrooms and a few other things. It’s a bit like a thin-crust pizza and definitely worth trying.
Don’t forget about choucroute garnie, which is basically sauerkraut with local sausage and cuts of pork, sometimes with a few potatoes thrown in for good measure. Make sure you go hungry, it can be very filling! The restaurant scene isn’t quite as diverse as Toulouse but there are still plenty of fantastic places to eat.
Which City is Safer? Toulouse or Strasbourg?
Toulouse holds a crime index of 50.62, categorizing it as moderate. The majority of reported crimes tend to focus on property issues, such as vandalism and theft. Certain neighbourhoods, particularly towards the North, might be areas where one should tread with caution, especially when it’s dark. However, the city’s central tourist hubs are usually safe, with travellers experiencing minimal disturbances.
In comparison, Strasbourg registers a notably lower crime index at 40.42. In spite of its vibrant urban character, the majority of reported crimes are minor offences like pickpocketing. The areas that see a spike in more serious infractions are typically away from the main city attractions, meaning tourists rarely encounter them. As with any destination, it’s wise to be aware of your surroundings and to avoid unnecessary risks, especially late in the evening.
How long to stay in Toulouse
Figuring out how long to stay in Toulouse? That’s a great question and depends on what kind of trip you’re planning. If you’re popping by for a quick visit, I’d say two to three days should suffice. This will give you enough time to visit the main sights, such as the iconic Capitole de Toulouse, the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, and the Toulouse Museum of Natural History.
But if you’re anything like me and love to delve a little deeper, immersing yourself in the local culture and lifestyle, you might want to consider staying a little longer – perhaps around five to seven days. This will allow you to explore at a leisurely pace, have time to appreciate the city’s vibrant arts scene, meander through the charming neighbourhoods, and even try out some of the local bistros and cafes. Trust me, the cassoulet is to die for!
Toulouse is also a great base to explore the surrounding region. If you plan on taking day trips to places like Carcassonne or Albi, then a week or even ten days would be a good estimate.
In the end, remember this – travel isn’t a race. It’s about the experiences, the people, the food, the culture, and the memories you make. So, take your time in Toulouse and enjoy what the ‘Pink City’ has to offer!
How long to stay in Strasbourg
Choosing the ideal duration for a trip to Strasbourg can be a bit of a challenge, given the city’s blend of German and French culture, its rich history, and its captivating architecture. The length of your stay ultimately depends on your individual interests and the pace at which you wish to explore.
If your plan is to experience the city’s main attractions, wander through the charming La Petite France district, and taste the region’s mouth-watering dishes like ‘choucroute’ or ‘tarte flambée’, a stay of 2 to 3 days would be ample. This will provide enough time to marvel at the majestic Strasbourg Cathedral, get lost in the quaint, cobblestone streets, and savour the unique gastronomy that Strasbourg offers.
However, if you’re aiming to immerse yourself deeper into Strasbourg’s fascinating history and culture, consider extending your stay to 4 to 5 days. This will afford you the chance to explore the various museums and galleries, such as the Alsatian Museum or the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, visit the European Parliament, and take leisurely strolls along the scenic canals, all at a relaxed pace.
For those wanting to truly absorb the Alsatian lifestyle, spending a week in Strasbourg can be a fantastic option. This duration not only provides enough time to thoroughly explore the city’s nooks and crannies but also allows for relaxing café visits and day trips to nearby gems like the charming town of Colmar or the stunning Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle. A week in Strasbourg enables you to fully appreciate the unique blend of cultures and the relaxed pace of life in this beautiful city.
Which City is More Budget-Friendly? Toulouse or Strasbourg?
When it comes to budget-friendly options, Toulouse doesn’t disappoint. The biggest attraction here is the beautiful streets and architecture, which are completely free to explore. Visit local markets like Marché des Carmes, where you can enjoy local food without spending too much.
There are plenty of budget-friendly restaurants here too. The Basilica of Saint-Sernin, Capitole de Toulouse, Jardin des Plantes and the Jardin Japonais Pierre Baudis are all free to enter too! That’s without even mentioning the Garonne River and everything you can do along it.
Strasbourg on the other hand is known for being relatively expensive. Generally, food, drink and accommodation are more expensive here compared to Toulouse. Probably because it’s more of a tourist destination. That being said, if you’re careful you don’t need to spend a fortune. The city’s picturesque streets and canals, arguably its biggest attraction, are obviously free to wander around and explore. The impressive Strasbourg Cathedral is free to enter, but if you want to go to the top and see the view you have to pay. We’d definitely recommend paying, the view of the city is incredible. L’Épicerie is a great place to visit for a cheap lunch or dinner.
How much is food and drink in Toulouse and Strasbourg?
|€5 – €7
|€5 – €7
|€3 – €10
|€3 – €10
|€1.50 – €3
|€1.50 – €3
|€15 – €30
|€20 – €40
This table provides the estimated average prices for beer, wine, coffee, and meals in Toulouse and Strasbourg.
How much is it to stay in Toulouse or Strasbourg?
|€150 – €500+
|€150 – €500+
|€70 – €150
|€70 – €150
|€40 – €70
|€40 – €70
|€20 – €40
|€20 – €40
This table provides the estimated average prices for different types of accommodations in Toulouse and Strasbourg, including luxury hotels, mid-range hotels, budget hotels, and hostels.
When is the best time to visit Toulouse?
Picking the best time to explore Toulouse is a big part of your planning. Known for its temperate climate, Toulouse can be great to visit throughout the year, each season bringing its own charm and unique experiences.
Spring (March to May) in Toulouse is a beautiful season, the trees will be blossoming and the temperature won’t be too high. This time is ideal for sightseeing and soaking in Toulouse’s distinct architectural beauty, particularly the Capitole and Saint-Sernin Basilica. Spring is also the start of the outdoor festival season, adding an extra dash of liveliness to your visit.
Summers (June to August) in Toulouse are warm and vibrant. This is a great time to indulge in outdoor activities, such as a leisurely stroll along the Garonne River or a picnic in the lush Japanese Garden. Summer evenings in Toulouse are particularly charming with open-air concerts and night markets for you to explore.
Autumn (September to November) brings a beautiful colour palette to Toulouse, with the tree-lined avenues transitioning to shades of gold and red. The weather remains pleasant for outdoor exploration. In addition, the cultural calendar is full, making it a perfect time for art and music lovers to visit the city.
Winter (December to February) in Toulouse is typically cool and sometimes rainy.. With fewer tourists around, you can explore the city’s impressive museums and galleries at your own pace. Don’t miss the Toulouse Christmas Market for a dash of festive spirit and warm, comforting treats.
When is the best time to visit Strasbourg?
Picking the ideal time to visit Strasbourg can be just as critical as choosing what to explore. The city experiences a semi-continental climate, which means it can be visited at any time of the year, but certain seasons bring their own charms.
Spring (March to May) in Strasbourg is a delightful period, with comfortable temperatures and the cityscape coming alive with blooming flowers. This is an excellent time to explore the picturesque streets of Petite France or take a leisurely boat ride along the Ill River.
Summers (June to August) in Strasbourg are warm, ideal for outdoor exploration of the city’s rich historical sites and the stunning Parc de l’Orangerie. This season also coincides with several festivals such as the Strasbourg Summer Festival and the Longevity Music Festival, adding an extra layer of excitement for visitors.
Autumn (September to November) is a special time in Strasbourg, being a part of the Alsace wine region, it marks the period of grape harvest and wine-making. This season allows visitors to witness the wine-making process and taste some of the finest wines. The weather during this period remains pleasant, and the changing hues of the vine leaves create a stunning backdrop.
Winter (December to February) in Strasbourg is truly enchanting. The city is famed for hosting one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Europe, turning the city into a twinkling fairytale land. While it can be quite cold, the festive spirit and fewer tourists make it a unique time to visit.
Average Monthly Temperatures
|Toulouse (High/Low °C)
|Toulouse Rainy Days
|Strasbourg (High/Low °C)
|Strasbourg Rainy Days
|10° / 2°
|5° / -1°
|11° / 3°
|7° / -1°
|14° / 5°
|12° / 2°
|17° / 7°
|16° / 5°
|21° / 11°
|20° / 9°
|25° / 14°
|23° / 13°
|28° / 16°
|26° / 14°
|28° / 16°
|25° / 14°
|25° / 13°
|21° / 10°
|20° / 10°
|15° / 7°
|13° / 5°
|9° / 3°
|10° / 3°
|5° / 0°
This table presents the average high and low temperatures as well as the number of rainy days for each month in Toulouse and Strasbourg.
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 are readily available.
Getting around Strasbourg:
Strasbourg boasts an efficient public transportation system, primarily made up of trams and buses, operated by the Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois (CTS). The city’s tram network is one of the most extensive in France, connecting various parts of the city and making it easy to move around.
The ‘Strasbourg à Vélo’ bike-sharing scheme is an excellent option for those preferring a more active way to explore the city. The city is bicycle-friendly with numerous dedicated bike lanes and routes, making it a delight to navigate on two wheels.
Walking is another wonderful way to experience Strasbourg, especially within the Grande Île, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and contains many of the city’s historic attractions.
Taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber are also readily available, but fares may be higher during peak tourist seasons or during rush hours. Be sure to check rates before your journey.”
Top things to do in Toulouse
Capitole de Toulouse: This stunning city hall and opera house is an iconic sight in Toulouse. Its grand façade and beautiful square are absolute must-sees when in the city.
Cité de l’espace: A unique experience for space enthusiasts, Cité de l’espace offers fascinating insights into the universe and space exploration. You can see life-sized rockets, try astronaut activities, and even observe the skies in the planetarium.
Basilique Saint-Sernin: This UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe. Its stunning architecture and rich history make it a highlight of any visit to Toulouse.
Rue d’Alsace-Lorraine: As a main shopping street in Toulouse, Rue d’Alsace-Lorraine offers a vibrant mix of shops, boutiques, and cafés. It’s a great place to soak up the city’s lively atmosphere.
Banks of the Garonne: Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Garonne River. The riverside is beautifully developed and offers spectacular views of Toulouse’s historic buildings and bridges. Consider a river cruise for a different perspective of the city.
Top things to do in Strasbourg
Strasbourg Cathedral: The Strasbourg Cathedral, also known as Notre Dame Cathedral, is a stunning masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its astronomical clock is an engineering marvel that shouldn’t be missed. Climb to the top for panoramic views of Strasbourg and the surrounding region.
Petite France: This is the city’s most picturesque district, filled with half-timbered houses, quaint canals, and narrow streets. Petite France is a UNESCO World Heritage site and truly is the essence of Strasbourg’s charm.
European Parliament: Strasbourg is home to the European Parliament, one of the main institutions of the European Union. When in session, you can take a guided tour of the Hemicycle – the parliamentary assembly room.
Boat Tour: A boat tour on the Ill River is a perfect way to appreciate the city’s mix of French and German architecture, as well as the beautiful nature that surrounds it.
Parc de l’Orangerie: A visit to this lovely park makes for a relaxing break from sightseeing. Here, you can find a small zoo, a boating lake, and beautifully landscaped gardens.
How to spend three days in Toulouse
Day 1: Explore the Vibrant City Centre
Kick off your Toulouse adventure in the bustling city centre. Start your day at the Capitole de Toulouse, a magnificent city hall that also houses an opera house. Be sure to take memorable photos of its grand façade. Stroll down Rue d’Alsace-Lorraine for some retail therapy and grab lunch at one of the many inviting cafés. In the afternoon, visit the Basilique Saint-Sernin, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and marvel at its Romanesque architecture. Conclude your day with a delightful dinner in the lively Saint-Georges district, a hotspot for local gastronomy.
Day 2: Immerse Yourself in Science and Space
Begin your second day at the Cité de l’espace, Toulouse’s famous space city. Dive into the world of space exploration and get a closer look at rockets, satellites, and more. Post lunch, head to the Musée des Augustins to admire a rich collection of fine arts from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. Later in the afternoon, visit the modern art museum, Les Abattoirs. Round off the day with a relaxing dinner in the Carmes district, renowned for its chic bars and restaurants.
Day 3: Venture Beyond the City
On your last day, consider exploring the surroundings of Toulouse. Take a half-day trip to the medieval city of Carcassonne, where you can explore the old town, fortified city walls, and its fairytale-like castle. Back in Toulouse, spend the rest of your afternoon strolling along the banks of the Garonne River, or relax in the expansive Prairie des Filtres park for a leisurely end to your trip.
How to spend three days in Strasbourg
Day 1: Exploring Strasbourg’s Historic Core
Begin your first day in Strasbourg by visiting the impressive Strasbourg Cathedral. Climb up the tower for a stunning panorama of the city. Once you’ve marvelled at the cathedral’s Gothic splendour, take a leisurely stroll through the charming district of Petite France, with its beautiful half-timbered houses and picturesque canals.
For lunch, savour a local delicacy like Tarte Flambée at one of the traditional Alsatian winstubs (wine lounges) in the area. Spend your afternoon exploring the museums around the city centre such as the Alsatian Museum or the Fine Arts Museum.
As the day draws to a close, enjoy a river cruise on the Ill for a unique perspective on Strasbourg’s beautiful architecture.
Day 2: A Day at the European Institutions
Start your second day with a visit to the European Parliament. Take a guided tour of the Hemicycle and learn about the workings of the EU. From there, head to the nearby European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe, which are also part of the European Quarter.
In the afternoon, relax in the Parc de l’Orangerie. Take a peaceful boat ride on the lake, visit the small zoo, or just enjoy a leisurely stroll in the gardens.
Day 3: Exploring the Surrounding Region
On your final day, embark on a day trip to one of the nearby attractions. The Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, about an hour’s drive from Strasbourg, offers stunning views of the Alsace region. Alternatively, the city of Colmar, with its charming old town and the famous Unterlinden Museum, is also worth a visit.
Back in Strasbourg, conclude your visit with a farewell dinner at one of the city’s excellent restaurants, perhaps trying another Alsatian speciality, such as Coq au Riesling or Choucroute Garnie.
Gareth is an avid city adventurer with a particular passion for finding amazing food! There’s quite literally nothing he doesn’t like. He spends most of his travelling time trying to find great restaurants and cafes to eat at. Alongside trying local street food which he loves! He’s done most of his travelling in Europe so far but would love to visit Japan and Mexico
When not travelling you can find Gareth boxing, running, or in the gym. He’s got a passion for exercise and loves physical challenges.
You can contact him at email@example.com