Strasbourg, France, located near the eastern border with Germany, is a city steeped in history and cultural significance. With its rich past and vibrant present, Strasbourg is a must-visit destination for travellers.
Historically, Strasbourg has been a battleground for power struggles between France and Germany, which is evident in its blend of French and German influences. The city’s historical importance is exemplified by its well-preserved medieval architecture, most notably the breathtaking Strasbourg Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic art.
Among its other draws, Strasbourg also fascinates visitors with its charming neighbourhoods, such as La Petite France, with its picturesque canals and timber-framed houses. Not only that, the city is renowned for its world-famous Christmas markets that attract millions of visitors each year during the holiday season.
In addition to its architectural and cultural wonders, Strasbourg is also home to important European institutions, including the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.
Lastly, Strasbourg also serves as the gateway to the Alsace region and allows visitors to explore the Alsatian wine route, visit charming towns such as Colmar, and indulge in the region’s cuisine.
With so much to see and explore, Strasbourg offers a unique and worthwhile experience for anyone seeking a cultural and historical experience in a large city.
How to visit Strasbourg
As the centre of European politics, Strasbourg is very well connected by all means of transport.
The airport is only 15 minutes away from the city and is served by flights from most big European cities.
Strasbourg is only 1h 45 min from Paris and 3h 45 min from Lyon and the train station is a short 5-min walk to the old city.
And finally, the city is served by the A4 and the A35 highways, if you’re planning on renting a car.The best car rental deals in France
Accommodation in Strasbourg
Although it is possible to visit most of the top attractions in Strasbourg in a day, we recommend spending at least one night in the city.
Unlike Colmar, Strasbourg is a major city and the distances between different attractions can be vast.
So, to enjoy and appreciate all that Strasbourg has to offer, spend at least one night in the city.
Getting around Strasbourg
While it is possible to walk around the old city of Strasbourg and uncover its charm, some attractions may lie outside the old city.
Like many European cities, Strasbourg offers a modern tram network that’s easy to follow and use. The tram also connects the most important landmarks around the city.
Strasbourg can also be uncovered on cycles and there are dedicated tracks around the city. If you enjoy cycling, we recommend that you book a guided bike tour with a local.
Top things to do and see in Strasbourg
With its blend of history, architectural beauty, European significance, and cultural vibrancy, Strasbourg offers a multitude of things to do and see. And fortunately, most of the things to do are free in Strasbourg!
While our list may not be exhaustive, we hope that it showcases the highlights from our trip to Strasbourg, and what we think are must-dos.
Visit Strasbourg Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg)
The Strasbourg Cathedral, also known as Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, is a remarkable architectural masterpiece that stands as one of the most iconic landmarks in the city.
What makes Strasbourg Cathedral so special is its exquisite craftsmanship and intricate design. Visitors should pay close attention to the stunning facade adorned with ornate sculptures, including the famous astronomical clock. The intricate stained glass windows within the cathedral, dating back to the 12th and 14th centuries, are a true spectacle.
The viewing platform at the top of the cathedral provides breathtaking panoramic views of Strasbourg, allowing visitors to appreciate the cityscape and the surrounding area. The intricate spire of Strasbourg Cathedral, which reaches an impressive height of 142 meters (466 feet), was considered the tallest building in the world until the 19th century.
The interior of Strasbourg Cathedral boasts a grandeur that captivates visitors. The magnificent organ, one of the largest in Europe, produces a majestic sound during organ concerts.
When visiting Strasbourg Cathedral, we recommend joining a guided tour to truly understand its historical context and the fascinating stories behind its construction and renovations over the centuries.
Admire the Maison Kammerzell (Kammerzell House)
Located opposite the Strasbourg Cathedral, the Kammerzell House often gets overshadowed by the grandeur of the cathedral. But this iconic half-timbered house dates back to the 15th century and is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture.
The Kammerzell House is known for its intricate facade, adorned with ornate carvings, and colourful murals. Its unique design represents the wealth and opulence of the merchant classes during the medieval period. Today, the Kammerzell House serves as a well-regarded hotel and restaurant, where visitors can indulge in traditional Alsatian cuisine while admiring the building’s remarkable interior.Book a room at the Maison Kammerzell
Explore La Petite France
La Petite France is a historic neighbourhood and a UNESCO World Heritage site in Strasbourg that captivates visitors with its picturesque architecture and scenic canals.
Some of the iconic landmarks in La Petite France include the timber-framed houses with their unique half-timbered facades. These buildings, dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, showcase traditional Alsatian architecture and create a charming atmosphere. Visitors should pay close attention to the Maison des Tanneurs (more on this below), which is one of the most notable buildings in the area.
Another landmark worth mentioning is the Covered Bridges, known as Ponts Couverts. These medieval structures, dating back to the 13th century, were once part of the city’s defensive system. Today, they serve as a picturesque gateway to La Petite France and offer stunning views of the canals and surrounding area.
The Barrage Vauban (Vauban Dam), a 17th-century military fortification, played a vital role in Strasbourg’s defence system. It was once part of the city’s fortifications and used to control water levels and protect the city from potential attacks. Today, the Vauban Dam stands as a historical reminder of Strasbourg’s fortifications.
Take a walk along on the canals next to the Covered Bridges and soak in the beauty of this medieval district, with its half-timbered houses still standing tall!
Take a boat tour on the Ill River
Want to discover Strasbourg from a different perspective? Then consider taking a boat tour on the Ill River.
From the Cruise, you can admire the city’s architecture, bridges, and landmarks, including the European Parliament.
Batorama, Strasbourg’s boat trip provider, offers 70-minute city tours all year round. Tickets can be bought online or at their counters in the city.
Visit Palais Rohan
Palais Rohan is a magnificent 18th-century palace that is a must-visit destination for those seeking to explore the cultural heritage and artistic treasures of Strasbourg.
What sets Palais Rohan apart is its architectural splendour and the three museums housed within its walls (the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Archaeological Museum). Visitors should pay close attention to the opulent interiors, adorned with exquisite detailing, luxurious furnishings, and beautiful frescoes that provide a glimpse into the extravagant lifestyle of the Rohan family, the former residents of the palace.
Additionally, take the time to explore the palace’s splendid gardens, which offer a serene and picturesque setting to relax and admire the palace’s exterior architecture.
Savour Alsatian Cuisine at Restaurant Maison Des Tanneurs
Your visit to Strasburg wouldn’t be complete without indulging in the exquisite Alsatian dishes and wines. And if there is one restaurant that stands out, it is the Restaurant Maison Des Tanneurs (well, also the Kammerzell House).
The restaurant is not only a delightful culinary destination but also holds a significant place in the city’s history. Located in the enchanting La Petite France neighbourhood, this restaurant is housed within a historical building dating back to the 16th century, known as the Maison des Tanneurs or Tanners’ House.
Step inside the unique ambience and charm of this centuries-old establishment. The restaurant’s interior maintains the rustic character of the building, with its exposed wooden beams, traditional Alsatian décor, and cosy atmosphere.
When it comes to the menu, the Restaurant Maison Des Tanneurs provides an excellent opportunity to savour Alsatian cuisine, which is known for its hearty flavours and influences from both French and German culinary traditions. Don’t miss the opportunity to try some of the region’s specialities, such as choucroute garnie (sauerkraut served with various sausages and meats), flammekueche (a thin, crispy tart topped with ingredients like cheese, onions, and bacon), or baeckeoffe (a slow-cooked casserole with marinated meats and vegetables).
Given the wonderful culinary experience and historical setting, it is recommended that you make a reservation well in advance of your travel to Strasbourg.
Restaurant Maison Des Tanneurs – Gerwerstub
42 Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes, 67000 Strasbourg, France
Walk Around Neustadt District – The German Imperial Quarter
The Neustadt District, located just outside the historical city centre of Strasbourg, showcases a different part of the city. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the district is known for its grand architecture, wide boulevards, green spaces, and historical significance.
One of the key attractions in the Neustadt District is the Palais du Rhin, a beautiful palace that once served as the imperial residence during Germany’s annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. Its stunning architecture, blending French and German influences, showcases the grandeur of the era.
Another notable attraction is the Parc de l’Orangerie, a sprawling green oasis that offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Also located in the Neustadt District is the Strasbourg National Theater. With its impressive neo-classical façade, it offers a diverse selection of theatre performances, ballets, and opera shows throughout the year.
The whole area was designed at the end of the 19th century to showcase the power and influence of the German Empire, resulting in a unique blend of architectural styles.
Admire The Église réformée Saint-Paul
There are countless churches and cathedrals in Strasbourg. Other than the Strasbourg Cathedral, if there is another church worth admiring, it is the Église réformée Saint-Paul, or the Reformed Church Saint-Paul, situated next to the Neustadt District.
While its architectural beauty and historical significance are notable, what truly sets this church apart is its picturesque location.
Situated on the banks of the Ill River, the Église réformée Saint-Paul’s position allows visitors to admire its majestic silhouette reflected in the calm waters of the river. The best location to admire the church is from Pont Royal.
While admiring the church’s remarkable architecture and visiting its interior, visitors can also take a stroll along the riverbanks or explore the nearby attractions and dining options.
Grab a Drink at a Riverside Bar
Once done admiring the Église réformée Saint-Paul, take a seat at one of the many open-air bars along the river. There are a few bars located south of Pont Royal on Quai des Pêcheurs, with views of the Église réformée Saint-Paul.
Enjoy a glass of Alsatian wine as you admire the hustle and bustle of the city around you.
Visit the European Parliament
For those with an active interest in EU politics, a visit to the European Parliament in Strasbourg is recommended.
The European Parliament offers an opportunity to witness European democracy in action, grasp the historical significance of the EU project, and acquire valuable knowledge. It provides a unique insight into the collective efforts of European nations to build closer ties, resolve common challenges, and shape the future of Europe.
Explore Strasbourg’s Christmas Markets
If you happen to visit Strasbourg during the holiday season, then a visit to the Christmas Markets is a must-do! Strasbourg’s Christmas Markets are among the most renowned and enchanting in Europe.
The markets are held in various locations throughout Strasbourg, with the centrepiece being the Christkindelsmärik in the city centre’s historic district. This market is the oldest and largest in France, dating back to the 16th century.
In addition to the Christkindelsmärik, Strasbourg boasts several other Christmas markets scattered across the city.
The dates may vary slightly each year, but the markets usually commence at the end of November, coinciding with the start of Advent, and continue until early January.
Although we didn’t visit Strasbourg during the winter holiday season, we still got to visit some of its Sunday flea markets.
Day trip to Colmar
Colmar, a charming town located just a short distance from Strasbourg, is an Alsatian gem that should not be missed.The best car rental deals in France
With its breathtaking beauty, architectural wonders, delectable cuisine, and cultural treasures, Colmar offers a delightful and unforgettable experience for those seeking to immerse themselves deeper into the Alsace region.
Our Guide to Strasbourg
With its blend of history, architectural beauty, European significance, cultural vibrancy, and proximity to natural splendour, Strasbourg offers a unique and worthwhile experience for travellers seeking a captivating and diverse destination.
We hope you found our guide to exploring Strasbourg handy and we hope you draw inspiration from it for your trip to Strasbourg.
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