15 things to do and see in Carcassonne

Carcassonne: a town, a city, a unique history... 

Carcassonne is a city in the Département  of Aude, in the south of France, known worldwide for its medieval city, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997. It is situated in a strategic place, along the road which connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the most touristic places in Occitanie and renting a self-drive canal boat on the Canal du Midi to get to it, an unmissable experience!

If you want to know why, keep reading this article: we'll tell you all the things you shouldn't miss when visiting this beautiful city!

Map of the best things to do in and around Carcassonne

The old city of Carcassonne

Things to Do and See within the Old City Walls of Carcassonne (la Cité)

1. La Cité de Carcassonne

Right where the Medieval City of Carcassonne is, there are the oldest human remains in the region, dating from the 6th century BC. To visit Carcassonne and its fortified medieval city is to visit a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest of its kind in Europe.

But Carcassonne is not just filled with ancient history; it has a lot more to offer those who have the opportunitynto visit it...

The city is open, so you can choose to visit it for free, simply by strolling through the cobbled streets in the heart of the medieval city. Be sure to take a a tourist map of the fortress from one of the 3 information points, to find your way around the cobbled streets more easily.

Visit the Comtal Castle, originally the home of powerful feudal lords. The castle and its enclosure have 9 towers including the Pinte tower, the highest in the city.

The walls of the old city of Carcassonne

2. Château Comtal and Ramparts

Comtal Castle and Ramparts, also known as Château Comtal, is a medieval fortress located within the walls of the city. This was an extremely important defense structure used in Medieval times. In current times, this is a popular tourist destination that expands over 3 kilometers and features 52 towers. Apart from historical architecture, you will be astonished by the immense beauty of the nearby landscapes. This will be a fruitful visit for sure.

3. Basilica of Saint-Nazaire

The Saint-Nazaire Basilica is located near the Porte d'Aude. It was built between the 9th century and the 14th century. The building was classified as a historical monument in 1840. Until 1801, it was the cathedral of Carcassonne, but it was then replaced by the cathedral of Saint-Michel. Children will have fun finding the many gargoyles that surround the basilica. The set of stained-glass windows, depicting scenes from the life of Christ and the apostles, is considered the most beautiful in the south of France...

4. School Museum

The school museum is also among the famous points of interest in Carcassonne, France. It comprises of five rooms to navigate and explore what school life was like in France between the 1880s and 1960s. These five rooms showcase historical items  like desks, slates, blackboards, and lecterns used in the old French schooling system. The tickets for the museum can be booked for just 3 euros for students and children whereas it will cost 4 euros for adults. 

5. Comptoir des Vins et Terroirs

The Comptoir des Vins et Terroirs is located inside the medieval city, but quiet from the noise and visitors who cross the streets of Carcassonne every day.

If you want to taste  excellent wine, accompanied by a succulent regional dish, do not miss this gastronomic and oenological gem. The winery is located in an old historic building and has a courtyard with tables where you can relax while enjoying the food and drinks.

6. Museum of the Inquisition

This museum showcases torture tools ranging from medieval times up to the French Revolution. Not for the faint-hearted!

7. Sample local cuisine

A visit to Carcassonne is a great time to experience all of the local food specialties. Duck and goose confit is one of the most famous dishes to try, as well as other meat dishes including Cassoulet and Languedoc-style snails.

If you are a vegetablelover, you must make a point to try Ratatouille. This dish is a mix of of sautéed vegetables, including tomatoes, aubergines, bell peppers, and onions. In some restaurants, you’ll be able to discover dishes from further afield in the South of France, like Socca, Pissaladière, and Fougasse.

Discover Carcassonne's Ville Basse (Lower City)

8. The Old Bridge (le Pont Vieux)

Carcassonne is divided into two parts: to the right of the Aude is the Cité, while to the left is the lower town. These two parts are connected by the Pont-Vieux, an impressive stone bridge built in the 14th century, 200 meters long and made up of 12 arches. The bridge is part of the Path of Santiago de Compostela and at this point begins the Path of the Pyrenean Piedmont. When you are on the bridge, don't forget to take some photos of the city because from here, the view is truly spectacular! It is also the perfect place to admire the splendid fireworks that take place on 14th July each year.

9. Carcassonne Lower City

This area of Carcassonne is also known as the "Bastide de Saint-Louis" and "Ville Basse,". This is the more modern and residential part of the city. While it’s not part of the UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s still well worth a visit to discover the architecture and beautiful private mansions. Enjoy a drink or a meal at one of the cafes and restaurants surrounding the fountain on the Place Carnot.

10. Carcassonne Cathedral

Carcassonne Cathedral is officially known as the Cathédrale Saint Michel de Carcassonne. This church was built in the early 13th century and restored in 1849 after a fire. It’s an impressive example of Languedoc’s Gothic architecture. 

11. Musée des Beaux-Arts

Want to know more about the journey of French art from the 1600s to the 1900s? This fine art museum created in the 18th century in Carcassonne is a great destination for art enthusiasts. You can explore different paintings, sculptures, drawings, and decorative arts that showcase all of the many beautiful crafts of Carcassonne.

A few things to do around the city of Carcassonne

12. Visit the vineyards

There are many vineyards to visit around Carcassonne and some are only a few kilometers from the town! 

Read our article about the wines and vineyards around Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi

13. The Australian Park

Welcome to Australia! If you are looking for a unique activity to to spend a fun day with the family, this zoological and recreational park is the place for you. Children will be able to take part in workshops where they will learn how to throw the boomerang, communicate with the Rhombe and play the didgeridoo, among others. Koalas and kangaroos also form part of this fun immersion into Australian culture. 

14. Lac de la Cavayère

Lac de la Cavayère is a man-madelake formed in 1980 and located about 4km from the town of Carcassonne. Also called “Carcassonne plage”, the 40-hectare area is a  must-do,  offering great walks, zip lines, water slides and beaches. A great destination if you fancy a swim!

15. Châteaux de Lastours

The Castles of Lastours are also known as the Lastours Cathar Castles. It is a group of four medieval castles located near the village of Lastours. While these castles areslightly further out of Carcassonne, requiring a 23-minute drive from the port of Carcassonne or an hour by bike, they are well worth the trip to see more of the region’s Cathar heritage. Situated on mountains, the castles are named la Tour Régine, la Tour Surdespine, la Tour Quertinheux, and la Tour Régis. The castles are  in an area called the Black Mountains from which you’ll have exceptional views of the surrounding region.


After a cultural and historical visit to the Cité de Carcassonne, it's time to relax and unwind on board your canal boat.

If you’re in search of some tranquility after a fun day ofsightseeing and  discoveries, boating on the Canal du Midi is the perfect option.

Book your next boating holiday on the Canal du Midi now!