Lourdes has been one of the most important Marian shrines in Europe since Our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette in the 19th century with thousands of pilgrims visiting the town each year. Today we introduce you to the essential things to do and see in Lourdes.
In addition to the extraordinary religious heritage that has made Lourdes famous the world over, the town is also home to great natural beauty, surrounded by lakes and the peaks of the Pyrenees.
1-Notre Dame Sanctuary of our Lady
More than just one shrine, Lourdes Sanctuary in fact includes various religious sites and sanctuaries for pilgrims to visit: The 19th century Basilica of the Immaculate Conception or Upper Basilica, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary, the underground Basilica Saint Pius X built in the 1950s and the Church of Saint Bernadette built in 1988; as well as the Crypt, Grotto and Baths.
The Crypt was the first sanctuary in Lourdes, opened in 1866.
Next door to the Basilica, the Massabielle Grotto is the place where the Virgin appeared to Bernadette Soubirous when she was 14 years of age in 1858.
There is a spring at the back of the Grotto that was uncovered by Bernadette under the instructions of Our Lady. The spring water is channelled into the fountains in the sanctuary. Pilgrims can light a candle at the Grotto or do the ‘Water gesture’ at the Baths, a new ritual that has replaced the full immersion of pre-covid times.
Every night since 1872, an impressive candlelit procession takes place across Lourdes Sanctuary with pilgrims carrying candles and a statue of the Virgin Mary.
4-Moulin de Boly and Moulin Lacade
Other special places for pilgrims to see in Lourdes are the birthplace of Bernadette Soubirous in the town, the Moulin de Boly water mill and the house where she moved with her parents after her encounter with our Lady, Moulin Lacade.
Moulin de Boly was renovated in 2012 and is now a museum where you can travel back in time to this 19th century peasant home.
5-Chemin de Croix
The Way of the Cross in Lourdes on the Hill of Espelugues was completed in 1912 and is another must-see for pilgrims. The route takes pilgrims on a 1.5kms tour of the hill with 15 different stations and 115 iron sculptures along the route. There is also an accessible Way of the Cross for those not able to walk the way.
Perched on a rock cliff over the town, Lourdes Chateau Fort has over a thousand years of history and has been a fortress, home to counts, a prison and today houses the Musée Pyrénéen.
A short but steep walk (you can all take a lift) will take you to the fort where you can enjoy wonderful panoramic views of Lourdes.
7-Pic du Jer
For the most spectacular views of Lourdes, the valley and the Pyrenees however, you will have to travel 1000 meters up to Pic du Jer on its 100 year old cable car.
This is one of the most stunning natural places to see in Lourdes.
8-Halles Food Market
The best place to discover the flavours and gastronomy of Lourdes and its region is without a doubt the Halles Food Market in the centre of town.
The delicious smells and vibrant colours of local cheeses and regional delicacies welcome foodies at Halles, a beautiful example of 19th century Metallic architecture. One to try is the famous Gâteau à la broche.
A stroll, a bike ride or just enjoy a relaxed picnic is the best way to take in the beauty of Lourdes Lake (3kms outside the town), one of the many glacial lakes in the region.
The historic town of Pau, the impressive Cirque de Garvanie, Pont d’Espagne and the thermal spas of the Pyrenees are other fantastic activities to experience during your trip to Lourdes.
If you are visiting Lourdes at Easter time, you might be able to catch the Festival of Sacred Music, Festival de Musique Sacre.
You can see all our Pilgrimages to Lourdes tours and upcoming departures here: Pilgrimages to Lourdes
You can find more information from Lourdes Tourism
We hope you enjoy our suggestions about things to do and see in Lourdes. For more information and details, talk to our knowledgeable pilgrimage travel experts.Contact Us