Top 10 things to do in Albi

Visiter Albi

Visiting Albi: what are the best things to do and see during a stay in the emblematic city of Catharism?

Albi is nicknamed the « red city » because of the red bricks on its building facades. Since the Middle Ages, it has also been a leading heretical city. The Albigensians, or Cathars, clashed with Catholic institutions and suffered bloody repression. The cathedral of Sainte-Cécile was built by the Church to assert its power. As you can see, to visit Albi is to visit an entire heritage. And if you’re into art, heritage or outdoor activities, you’ll feel right at home.

Albi is packed with places of interest. Wondering what to see and do during your stay? Here’s a selection of must-do activities in Albi! Follow the guide!

1. Albi’s Sainte-Cécile cathedral

La cathédrale Sainte-Cécile d'Albi

Photo credit: Shutterstock – ziggysofi

Albi’s Sainte-Cécile cathedral is without doubt the city’s most famous monument. Built between 1282 and 1480 on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river Tarn, it once served as a military fortress. Here, you can contemplate the purest Southern Gothic style: just look at those grandiose vaults!

The cathedral is richly decorated in color, and a guided tour will tell you all about its history. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is now one of the most visited cathedrals in France! This behemoth of local heritage is definitely a must-see when visiting Albi.

2. Toulouse-Lautrec Museum

Le musée Toulouse-Lautrec, lieu phare à visiter à Albi

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Pakmor

To visit Albi is to visit the birthplace of the famous painter Toulouse-Lautrec. This internationally-renowned artist hails from the Cathar city, which has paid tribute to him by exhibiting his works in the Palais de la Berbie, a former episcopal palace.

Today, the space dedicated to Toulouse-Lautrec is one of the most visited museums in the region! Nearly a thousand works, some of them major, are on display to the public. From « Un examen à la faculté de Paris » to « Au salon de la rue des Moulins », these creations cohabit with sculptures, including some by Rodin and Maillol. A great idea for a cultural outing that will delight young and old alike!

3. Cycling along the Tarn

Visiter Albi et le Tarn à vélo

Photo credit: Shutterstock – dvoevnore

Albi is a charming city with an exceptional geographical location and the presence of a river: the Tarn. And the best way to appreciate this is by bike. The authorities are well aware of this, and have set up no less than twenty different itineraries and five free cycle routes.

These routes are accessible to all, and guarantee a safe journey. For example, you could set off from Albi station, skirt the banks of the Tarn and discover a number of charming villages. These are ideal for taking a break over a drink or a local speciality: make the most of it!

4. The Fashion Museum

Visiter Albi et son musée de la mode

Photo credit: Flickr – Toulouse Convention Bureau

Located in a former convent, this exceptional cultural space is one of our favorites. If you’re lucky enough to visit Albi, you won’t want to miss this treasure trove!

Owner Dominique Miraille is a passionate collector of rare garments and finery. He is the one who will guide you through his fabulous collection, dating from the 17th to the 20th century. This sumptuous private collection is sure to delight the curious. Make no mistake: this activity is by no means reserved for women. Boys will love it too!

5. Gastronomic tour of Albi

Foie gras albigeois

Photo credit: Shutterstock – margouillat photo

Are you a gourmet looking for a gastronomic excursion in Albi? Head for the historic center to discover one of the city’s traditional restaurants. Here, you’ll be able to sample the finest products of the Southwest, brought to life by passionate chefs. Cassoulet, magret, foie gras, Roquefort or sweet delicacies await you.

Our advice? Try pot-au-feu à l’albigeoise, hot radishes with salted liver or the famous « respounchous ». To discover these exquisite flavors, book a table at Le Lautrec, L’Esprit du Moulin or L’Aliby. These establishments are the pride of the town and the whole region: feeling peckish?

6. Pratgraussals leisure park

À faire à Albi : la base de loisirs de Pratgraussals

Photo credit: Facebook – Ville d’Albi – Officiel

Pratgraussals is an institution for relaxation in the Albi region! Located less than 700 metres from the town center, this leisure park offers a host of activities, each more fun than the last. Spanning 17 hectares, this local green lung makes it easy to find out what to do in Albi in the blink of an eye. It’s the place to be if you want to recharge your batteries.

You can fish, have a tasty barbecue or play soccer or tennis. In summer, concerts are held here, including the famous Pause Guitare festival. If you’re visiting with your children, check out the « insect hotel », a small hut built from reclaimed wood. It serves as a habitat for many species, and is even home to a family of hedgehogs.

7. Cap’Découverte

Cap'Découverte, à faire à Albi

Photo credit: Facebook – Cap’Découverte SMAD

Cap’Découverte is a multi-activity center opened in 2003. Its unique feature is that it is built on the site of a former open-cast coal mine near Carmaux. The mine forms an amphitheatre 1300m in diameter and 230m deep!

This real amusement park offers urban board sports with a large indoor and outdoor skate-park. There’s also an insane rail sled, a large multi-activity pond and a mountain bike track. You can also challenge your friends to a game of paintball… or minigolf, as you prefer. Whether you’re visiting Albi with family or friends, Cap’découverte is sure to be one of the city’s must-see tourist attractions.

8. The archaeocrypt of Sainte Sigolène

Centre culturel et Archéocrypte Lagrave

Photo credit: Faceboook – Centre culturel et Archéocrypte Lagrave

Troclar is an archaeological site very close to the town of Albi. Here, a Merovingian woman named Sigolène founded one of the first women’s monasteries in the early 7th century. Today, the frescoed crypt houses Sigolène’s remains. The site has also been listed as a Monument Historique since 1993.

An artificial, air-conditioned labyrinth houses a rich collection of objects dating from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. Kitchen utensils, typical clothing accessories, games and musical instruments… You can learn all about these ancestral ways of life when you visit Albi.

Ideally located, the Sainte Sigolène archaeocrypt is a must-see heritage site in the area. Take advantage of a walk in the region to visit it!

9. Academy of Miniatures

Académie des Miniatures

Photo credit: Wikipedia – Jazzcat2017

Just off the Pont-vieux, in the Madeleine district, the Académie des Miniatures museum presents the work of Annie Jaurès. Throughout her life, the artist would reproduce rooms from her childhood home and bourgeois apartment buildings.

These 1/7-scale creations include furniture, curios, paintings, family photos and musical instruments. Parisian streets are even reproduced in their entirety! Today, Catherine, the artist’s daughter, presents this goldsmith’s work.

In addition to the museum, you can also enjoy the adjoining tearoom and its succulent home-made pastries. And don’t forget to take advantage of the sumptuous flower garden: a lovely bucolic stroll in Albi.

10. The Exoticamis zoo

L'espace zoologique Exoticamis

Photo credit: Facebook – Exoticamis

The owners of this zoological park warmly welcome you all year round to meet their endearing residents. This zoological park is open 7 days a week and includes an indoor vivarium and an outdoor park with a variety of animals.

Rare birds, farm animals, reptiles, monkeys and meerkats will delight visitors! They can get up close to the animals for an unforgettable experience. The little ones can even put themselves in the shoes of an animal keeper for a morning.

What’s more, the animals here come from seizures, abandonments or exchanges. This virtuous circle will soon convince animal lovers: when are you coming?

How do I get to Albi?

Albi is located between Toulouse and Montpellier. The city benefits from the presence of their respective international airports. For your reservations, consider using an online flight comparison service such as Skyscanner. It will help you find the best price for your flight. Shuttle buses and cabs make it easy to reach the city once you’re on the ground.

If you’d like to explore the surrounding area on your own, you can rent a car directly from the airport for total flexibility. An important detail when you’re in more rural areas.

If you’re feeling green, buses and trains are your allies. The city is particularly well served by bus, and the train station offers services to most French cities. So getting to Albi is relatively simple.

Where to stay in Albi?

When you’re looking for something to do in Albi, you inevitably have to think about accommodation. In fact, you’ll find several types of accommodation to choose from according to your desires, and your budget. Starred or not, Airbnb, gîtes, the choice is yours.

The historic center of Albi is an ancient fortified town and home to a number of renowned hotels. These are an easy and flexible solution for the occasional traveler!

In fact, you can find your ideal hotel on a hotel comparator. In addition to the city center, there’s a wide range of rental properties in town, particularly in the Bout du Pont district. This former working-class district offers breathtaking panoramic views of « old Albi ». The Maison du Vieil Alby and the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, housed in the majestic Palais de la Berbie, are close by.

Now you know how to best explore Albi and take advantage of the best activities available in this splendid Occitan town. But it’s up to you to choose the ones that will win you over! We hope you enjoy your trip!

Map of hotels and accommodation – Albi,fr