Visit Carcassonne for a weekend
Do you want to go on a weekend in Carcassonne ?
To help you organize your short stay in the South of France, I have prepared a detailed itinerary for you to visit Carcassonne in a weekend.
You will find there the route of visits to follow each day with the program of all the things to do, as well as my advice to make the most of your 2-3 days.
I have also concocted a selection of the best hotels to sleep in during this weekend in Carcassonne.
So, what to do and see in a weekend in Carcassonne?
The best itinerary for a weekend in Carcassonne
I present to you now my itinerary for a weekend in Carcassonne.
A small clarification: this schedule is based on 2 full days. I also give you tips for a 3-day long weekend at the end of this guide.
If you still have questions to organize your short stay in Carcassonne after reading everything, do not hesitate to ask me your questions in the section dedicated to comments, at the very end of the article.
So, what to visit in a weekend in Carcassonne?
Day 1: Walk in Carcassonne
A. The medieval city of Carcassonne
I suggest you start this weekend in Carcassonne with the most typical part of the city: the medieval city.
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fortress, over 2000 years old, is today the best preserved and the largest medieval fortress in Europe. Known all over the world, it is really the place to see absolutely in a weekend in Carcassonne!
You will have no trouble finding it as it is built on top of a hill and dominates the whole city.
Entrance to the medieval city is free. Once you have passed through the Porte Narbonnaise, you can wander freely through the cobbled streets and admire the historic houses and buildings.
Don’t forget to take the Passage des Lices, laid out between the 2 ramparts and where the poorest inhabitants of the city lived in the 17th century.
Tourist place requires, there are also many souvenir shops and restaurants. Besides, I advise you to consult the reviews on Trip Advisor if you want to have lunch in the medieval city, because there are quite a few tourist traps.
To visit the medieval city, and discover all its history, you can also choose a guided tour.
It lasts 2 hours and the guide is really great and passionate. You will learn lots of interesting anecdotes.
Book your guided tour of Carcassonne with the following button:
Book my guided tour of Carcassonne now!
B. The Count’s castle
Impossible to visit Carcassonne in a weekend without discovering the Château Comtal.
It is located inside the medieval city but its access is on the other hand paying.
Built in the 12th century by the Viscounts of Carcassonne, it was the city’s central defense mechanism in the event of attacks. As such, it has undergone many modifications over the centuries to make it impregnable.
You will start the visit of the castle with the projection of a small film of about 10 minutes really well done explaining its history and the different stages of construction.
You will then continue with a visit to the courtyards, the rooms, the keep and the castle museum housing several sculptures from Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
And you will end up walking on top of the ramparts to contemplate an unobstructed panorama of the city below, the Montagne Noire and the Pyrenees.
The castle being the essential visit, there are always a lot of people at the entrance.
To avoid queuing, I recommend that you buy your tickets in advance. It’s not more expensive and you won’t waste time.
Buy your skip-the-line ticket for Carcassonne Castle with the link below:
Reserve my ticket for the count’s castle now!
C. The Saint-Nazaire Basilica
Still in the medieval city, continue your weekend in Carcassonne with a visit to the Saint-Nazaire Basilica.
It was first built at the beginning of the 11th century in the Romanesque style, then, when part of it was destroyed and the city passed into the hands of kings, it was rebuilt in the Gothic style.
It is known today for its magnificent stained glass windows, which are among the most beautiful to see in the South of France.
The basilica is open every day except Sunday during mass which takes place at 11am.
D. The museums of the medieval city / The haunted house
If you wish, you can also take advantage of your walk in the medieval city to visit the small museums there:
- The school museum and its reconstructions of old classrooms
- The house of chivalry to know everything about the Middle Ages
- The Inquisition Museum and its collection of instruments of torture.
For thrill seekers who aren’t (too) afraid of ghosts, you can also take a walk through the haunted house.
Enter an old house where paranormal phenomena occur and try not to run away.
If you have decided to go on a weekend to Carcassonne with your children, there is also a circuit reserved for them. Info on the official website.
E. La Bastide Saint-Louis
After having toured the fortified city, I suggest you continue this weekend in Carcassonne by discovering the lower part of the city.
At the foot of the Cité, take the Pont-Vieux which offers a magnificent view of the fortress and cross the Aude to reach the Bastide Saint-Louis. This district was built in 1260 to accommodate and protect more inhabitants, the City becoming too small.
During your walk to the Bastide, I recommend that you pass by:
- The Notre-Dame de la Santé chapel, just at the end of the Pont-Vieux. It symbolizes the start of the road to Santiago de Compostela.
- The Museum of Fine Arts which houses a rich collection of paintings and ceramics
- The town hall for its 18th century architecture
- The portal of the Jacobins, one of the 4 passages that allowed to enter the lower town
- Saint-Michel Cathedral in Carcassonne: Gothic in style, entry is free
- Les Halles to buy good local products
- The Hôtel de Roux d’Alzonne where Louis XIV stayed
- Place Carnot and the Fountain of Neptune
- The Saint-Vincent de Carcassonne church where you can access the bell tower to contemplate the view.
F. The Canal du Midi
And to end this first day of your weekend in Carcassonne, I recommend that you take a cruise on the Canal du Midi.
The canal, which dates from the 17th century, was used to connect the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Several types of commented cruises are offered departing from the port of the Canal du Midi, which is located not far from the railway station. Times vary depending on the route and there are several departures during the day.
If you wish, you can even opt for a meal cruise with dinner included.
Depending on the schedule chosen, you can also take the cruise directly after visiting the Cité and visit the Bastide Saint-Louis at the end of the day. It may seem a bit busy, but Carcassonne is quite small.
If you don’t want to opt for the boat trip, you can also discover the banks of the canal simply by walking or cycling.
Day 2: What to do?
A. The giant abyss of Cabrespine / The cave of Limousis
Are you ready for your second day of visiting Carcassonne in a weekend ?
So, get in the car towards the Gouffre de Cabrespine, 30 minutes north of Carcassonne.
This exceptional natural site is ranked among the largest underground caves in the world. The place is so huge that it could contain the Eiffel Tower!
You can take the glass walkway that overlooks it to realize its depth. Depending on the season, an audio-guide will be given to you to learn more about the place or you can benefit from a 1-hour guided tour.
And that’s not all, the chasm also offers 2 very unusual activities for this kind of place (reservations required):
- A 3-hour underground acrobatic course with zip line and rope bridges
- A kayak trip on the underground river accompanied by a guide.
All information can be found on the official Cabrespine website.
About ten kilometers from Cabrespine, you can also visit the cave of Limousis.
You will discover several rooms with concretions, 2 lakes and end the visit with the most impressive element: a giant aragonite chandelier 10 meters wide. Count approximately 1 hour of guided tour.
You will also be entitled to a small wine tasting of a special cuvée which is aged in oak barrels inside the cave itself.
Times and fares can be found on the official website.
No need to visit both, choose between the abyss or the cave. This does not change the program for the day since they are located next door.
B. Les sites cathares
For the rest of the day, I invite you to discover some of the most beautiful Cathar sites in the region.
To avoid traveling too far, I have selected those closest to Cabrespine or Limousis:
- The Abbey of Caunes-Minervois, an old Romanesque abbey listed as a historical monument.
- The castles of Lastours: 4 castles perched on top of a hill, also classified as Historic Monuments.
- Saissac castle is one of the oldest in the region. The place is also known for its “treasure”: 2000 silver coins were discovered buried in a nearby field.
C. Lac de la Cavayère or vineyard visit
In the afternoon, if the temperatures are good, head to Lac de la Cavayère.
You can spend the rest of the day at the water’s edge, swimming or enjoying the activities: inflatable water park, pedal boat, paddle, water skiing. You’ll be spoiled for choice!
And if the weather is too cool, why not take the opportunity to visit one of the wine estates located near Carcassonne?
There are a lot of them who offer to discover the vineyards, the cellars and of course to finish with a tasting of regional wines !
And what’s great is that some visits are free!
Here is a small selection of areas:
- Château de Pennautier offers a free tasting of 3 wines or visits to the cellars with tasting from just €8!
- Château La Villatade is located 15 minutes from Carcassonne. Cuvées Côtes Noires in AOC Minervois rewarded with several gold medals. Free tasting or visit tasting at 10€!
- The Domaine de Baronarques offers several kinds of visits: guided tour of the property, tour of the vineyard in a 4*4 and of course tasting of vintages.
- The Domaine Grand Guilhem which produces organic and natural wines.
Extended weekend in Carcassonne
If you have decided to visit Carcassonne during a 3-day weekend, in addition to the detailed itinerary that I have proposed to you, I advise you, for the third day, to visit one of the 2 most famous cities around.
For this extended weekend in Carcassonne, you can easily reach:
1) Toulouse, 1h10 by car.
Spending the day in the pink city will allow you to discover the main places of interest such as the Place du Capitole and the Saint-Sernin Basilica.
I explain how to visit Toulouse in 1 day in my article: What to do in Toulouse?
2) Montpellier, 2 hours away.
Weekend ideas in Carcassonne: where to sleep?
There you go, now you know what to do in a weekend in Carcassonne!
Last step to finish preparing for this romantic weekend in France : find and book your hotel.
To help you, I have prepared a selection of the best hotels in the city. I found you some very nice weekend ideas for a weekend in Carcassonne for two.
Luxury weekend in Carcassonne
For a luxury weekend in Carcassonne, I recommend spending the night at the Hôtel de la Cité & Spa MGallery.
This 5* establishment is one of the rare hotels to be located inside the ramparts of Carcassonne and offers a very beautiful view of the castle.
This upscale hotel offers traditionally styled rooms with some medieval themed features. Spacious and elegant, you will find all the modern comforts for a pleasant stay.
To relax, the hotel has an outdoor swimming pool, a garden and a Spa area where you will be given excellent massages.
During this romantic weekend in Carcassonne, you can also dine at the gourmet restaurant La Barbacane, one star in the Michelin Guide. Whether you choose to dine on the terrace to contemplate the view or in the magnificent interior room in neo-Gothic style, you will have a delicious time.
To book the night, it’s right here!
Spa weekend in Carcassonne
Would you like to take advantage of your short stay to relax ?
I suggest you a little Spa weekend in Carcassonne at the Double Tree by Hilton.
This 5* hotel is located on the banks of the Aude, right next to the Pont-Vieux which connects the medieval city and the Bastide Saint-Louis. Its location is therefore super convenient for visiting the main places of interest in Carcassonne.
In addition to its privileged location, the hotel offers a superb view of the ramparts and the castle.
This hotel of the Hilton chain has a heated indoor swimming pool, a sauna, a hammam and a beauty salon providing excellent quality treatments.
The rooms are modern and designer.
To book your weekend at Spa in Carcassonne, it’s very simple, you just have to click on the following link:
Book my relaxing weekend in Carcassonne now!
For another spa weekend idea in Carcassonne, you can also stay at the Hotel Montmorency & Spa. It is right next to the main entrance to the Cité.
The hotel offers an outdoor swimming pool, a jacuzzi and an area with an indoor swimming pool and hammam.
Its panoramic terrace with a view of the ramparts also offers a very beautiful setting for a drink after a day of sightseeing.
To book right here:
Book my weekend in Carcassonne now!
Romantic weekend in Carcassonne
For a romantic weekend in Carcassonne, I have also selected another establishment for you: the Hotel Restaurant Le Parc Franck Putelat.
It is only 500 meters from the city of Carcassonne and quite rare for the city, offers free private parking. This can be very useful if you come with your vehicle.
Its location allows access to the fortress in just a few minutes on foot.
For this romantic stay, you will stay in beautiful spacious and bright rooms or suites, with balcony or terrace, some of which even have a private outdoor whirlpool bath.
And so that this moment for two is perfect, you will also not fail to invite your other half to the gastronomic restaurant of the hotel which has been awarded 2 stars in the Michelin Guide.
Book your weekend for two in Carcassonne by clicking on the link below:
Reserve my romantic weekend in Carcassonne now!
Charming weekend in Carcassonne
For all those who would like a charming weekend in Carcassonne, I have found the perfect address for you: the Domaine d’Auriac – Relais & Châteaux.
However, the estate being located 3 km from the old town, it is better to have a vehicle to be able to get there. You will then have free private parking on site.
Surrounded by a large park, the estate offers a green and relaxing setting. It also has an outdoor swimming pool and offers a bicycle rental service on request.
Finally, the gastronomic restaurant of the Auriac is very famous and has been awarded a star in the Michelin guide. The assurance of enjoying an excellent dinner during your stay!
To book this charming weekend in Carcassonne, just click on the link below:
If you have a lower budget, I recommend another charming little address: the Bastide Saint-Martin.
This authentic Provençal country house is located 5 km from the Cité and also has a heated outdoor swimming pool.
Information and booking for this weekend in Carcassonne accessible right here:
Cheap weekend in Carcassonne
I end this selection of hotels with some inexpensive weekend ideas in Carcassonne.
I found you some establishments that offer a great price/performance ratio:
- Le Couvent – Hostel: Recently opened youth hostel located in the Bastide Saint-Louis, a hundred meters from Place Carnot. Bed in a modern and comfortable dormitory from €30, breakfast at €6. Most: friendly staff, comfort and cleanliness. A good choice for a cheap weekend in Carcassonne!
- Hotel Astoria : located 20 minutes walk from the medieval city. Modern and colorful double room from €58, breakfast at €8. Most: good breakfast, convenient location, private parking. This is the best choice if you are looking for a cheap hotel in Carcassonne!
- Campanile Carcassonne Est – La Cité: located 2 km from the Cité. Modern, air-conditioned room from €60, breakfast at €10.90. Most: the swimming pool, the reception.
- La Rapière: located just 100 meters from the fortress, just outside the ramparts. Double room from €75, breakfast included. The pluses: free private parking, the super warm welcome, the location as close as possible to the Cité.
- Hôtel du Pont-Vieux: Located at the foot of the fortress of Carcassonne, in a superb building. Colorful and warm double room from €120 per night, breakfast at €9. The pluses: the geographical location between the city and the Bastide Saint-Louis, the breakfast based on local products, the good advice from the staff for visits and restaurants.
Map of your weekend in Carcassonne
To help you visualize your routes during this weekend in Carcassonne, I made you a map listing the places to visit day by day. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button with a small arrow.
You will then be able to view the routes for each day.
When to go for a weekend in Carcassonne?
You can go on a weekend in Carcassonne at any time of the year.
However, if you want to enjoy pleasant temperatures, I recommend that you spend a weekend in Carcassonne between the months of May to the end of September.
The city is also busier during this period, whereas between November and March, it can seem a little more gloomy and you will not be sheltered from the rain, which comes quite often.
In July and August, there are a lot of people who rush into the small medieval city and it is better to book your tickets for the castle in advance as well as your hotels in order to benefit from better prices.
For me, the best time for a weekend in Carcassonne are therefore the months of May/June/September. The sun is (normally) there and we avoid the crowds of summer.
How to get to Carcassonne?
By car from:
By train from:
By plane, Carcassonne has an airport whose flights are operated by Ryanair. Flights from England, Scotland, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal and the Netherlands.
Do you need help organizing your weekend in Carcassonne? Do not hesitate to ask me your questions in the comments.
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