Capital of the Var region, Toulon is a famous port and has been a summer retreat for everyone from Parisians to cruise ship holidaymakers for many years. Whether you want to admire the panoramic view from the top of Mont Faron, explore the city’s history at the museums, or spend hot days chilling on a sandy beach, you will find something to your taste in Toulon. If that’s not enough, here is a list of 20 things to do in Toulon.
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1. Take a stroll along the harbor
Since the Navy has been based in Toulon for many years, the harbor has become the most iconic place in town. Indeed, Toulon is a maritime-themed city, and visiting the souvenir shops along the harbor is a must-do. The harbor is also a great spot to have dinner, as there are many restaurants to choose from.
2. Head to the top of Mont Faron
Mont Faron is a 584-meter mountain, and is the ideal lookout. One of the most popular activities in Toulon is to take the cable car up to the summit. You’ll be greeted with fantastic views of the sea and the city. Once at the top, you can go for a walk, visit the Musée du Débarquement or the Zoo.
3. Admire the boat sculpture
The boat sculpture of Toulon is located Place Vatel. The beautiful ship sculpture celebrates the city’s maritime history. It’s a very interesting sight, and you shouldn’t miss it when visiting the old town of Toulon.
4. Spend time at the cathedral
The cathedral of Toulon, also called Notre Dame de la Seds, is located in the city center and is a national monument. Construction of the church began in the 11th century and finished in the 18th century. The cathedral has a very interesting history and is home to some work of art notably a baroque retable made by Pierre Puget.
5. Relax at the beach in Mourillon
Well, Toulon is a seaside town and going to the beach is definitely one of the best things to do. The city is home to several beautiful beaches, but the plage du Mourillon is the biggest and most popular one. It’s located within walking distance from the city center and with its many restaurants, bars, and children’s playground, it is the perfect spot for a relaxing afternoon with friends and family.
6. Learn about naval history at the Musée de la Marine
Whether you’re a history geek or simply a curious traveler, you’ll love the Musée de la Marine. This museum is home to some of the best memorabilia about the French naval. Here, you’ll find maps, model ships, and paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The entrance ticket to the museum is only 7€, and it is definitely worth it if you want to learn more about the city and its naval history.
7. Admire the panorama from the Tour Royale
The Tour Royale is a fort built in the 16th century. It is located at the entrance of the port of Toulon and was used to protect the city. Today, the tower is part of Toulon’s cultural heritage and can be visited for only 2€. The tower offers a beautiful panorama of the sea and the city. The tower is also the starting point of the popular Sentier des Douaniers.
8. Explore the beautiful Anse Magaud
Anse de Magaud is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Toulon. Home to a wild, secluded beach, this place is mostly frequented by locals. If you’re looking for an authentic experience in Toulon, then visit Anse de Magaud. It’s also a great spot for snorkeling.
9. Enjoy a drink
Take a break and enjoy a drink in the harbor or in the city center. Toulon is packed full of restaurants and bars catering to all tastes. My recommendations? go to the famous Gaetano or Havana Cafe, two cozy and popular bars in Toulon.
10. Visit the Musée du Débarquement
Located at the top of Mont Faron, this military museum commemorates the allied invasion of the coast of Provence in 1944. The museum has been recently refurbished and is now interactive, which makes it very interesting. In this museum, you get to learn about World War II in Toulon, see military uniforms, weapons, books, and other items. On top of that, the panoramic view from the outdoor terrace is truly amazing. The entrance fee to the museum is only 5€ or you can buy a combo ticket for both the museum and cable car.
11. Walk the Sentier des Douaniers
The Sentier des Douaniers is one of the most popular walks in Toulon. It’s a network of coastal walking trails that begins in Six Fours and goes all the way to Hyères. In Toulon, the trail starts at the Tour Royale and takes you along beautiful beaches, bays, and coves, and you can also discover the stunning flora of the region. It is a great way to see the area.
12. Shop at the local market
Street markets are very popular in Provence, and they are the best if you’re looking for local products and delicacies. Located down the harbor, Cours Lafayette’s market is on every morning of the week except Monday. You cannot miss this colorful market when visiting Toulon. You’ll love the many fruits and vegetables, cheese, flowers and more. Don’t forget to visit la Cade à Dédé, a small stand selling “cade”, a typical delicacy from Toulon.
13. Discover the kiosks
If you like hunting for CDs, comics and old books, you’ll love the Kiosques à Livres. These kiosks are located next to Place de la Liberté and are a great place to discover the French culture. Here you can buy, sell or exchange second-hand items.
14. Try Mediterranean food
French food is famous for being delicious, and Toulon is a great place to try typical Mediterranean food. The city is home to hundreds of restaurants, among the most popular ones you’ll find l’Aromate Provencal or Restaurant Les Artistes. Willing to try something else? Read my post on exploring the old town of Toulon for more restaurant suggestions in the city center.
15. Go to Place de la Liberté
Place de la Liberté is the most iconic square in Toulon. It’s a great place for photos, and you can also admire the fountain which has its own statue of liberty. Being the fountain, you’ll find the Grand Hotel, one of the oldest buildings in Toulon.
16. Learn at the Musée des Arts Asiatiques
The museum of Asian arts is one of the most interesting museums in Toulon. It regroups a big collection of Asian paintings, sculptures, coins, and other precious items. The museum is well organized and it can be a great way to spend a rainy afternoon in Toulon. On top of that, the entrance to the museum is free.
17. Look at the Génie de la Navigation
Genie de la Navigation is a sculpture from french artist Louis-Joseph Daumas and is located in the harbor. Facing the sea, this iconic sculpture represents the exploration of the sea and is carved with the names of famous sailors from all eras.
18. Take the tourist train
Toulon has a little tourist train that goes around the city and all the way to the Mourillon beach. It’s a popular attraction among tourists, to be honest, especially those coming on a cruise ship. The little train is a great way to see all the main sights and the bilingual commentary (French and English) will give you the opportunity to learn about the history of the city. Tickets are only 7€ for adults, 4€ for children, and include a 50 minutes tour with one stop where you can hop on/hop off.
19. Visit the opera house
If you are staying longer than one day in town, going to a performance at the opera house is definitely one of the best things to do in Toulon. The inside of the building is incredible, and the opera house of Toulon is the second biggest opera house in France after the Opera Garnier in Paris. If you don’t want to see a performance, you can still admire the outside of the building, and even have a drink in one of the bars and restaurants located nearby.
20. Stop at the Musée des Arts
The art museum of Toulon is a beautiful building, where you’ll also find the local library. At the museum, you’ll mostly find contemporary paintings and photographs. Unfortunately, the Musée des Arts is currently closed for renovations. It will open again in November 2019 and will have a beautiful exhibition about Picasso and the Mediterranean landscape.
Toulon is a city definitely worth visiting, even for just a day. There are plenty of things to do to keep you busy, and you’ll love the vibrant and colorful atmosphere of this city. Have you ever been to Toulon? Let me know in the comments below!
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