8 top tourist attractions in Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg sights: what to see in 1 day?

Attractions in Strasbourg

The great thing about Strasbourg is that it’s all a mix: there’s French houses and German houses, there’s foie gras and now there’s shukrut (German sauerkraut with meat). And that’s just the way it is. So walking around Strasbourg, this true capital of Europe, is a pleasure! Book a guided tour of the city, and then you’ll hear plenty of interesting stories.

For a walk around Strasbourg, we recommend buying the Strasbourg City Pass, which includes a walk on the river streetcar, free visit to one of the museums of the city, various discounts and much more. Learn more and buy the card at this link.

Notre Dame Cathedral

The Cathedral of Strasbourg

One of the most famous and beautiful cathedrals in France, the main attraction of the city. Its construction began in 1277 and was officially completed in 1318. But when you look at the cathedral you will see that nothing is yet finished: it has only one tower and the second one has never been erected. In the summer evenings you can see a light and music performance on the walls of the Strasbourg Cathedral (beginning at 21:00).

And the cathedral is famous for its astronomical clock, which is located inside the church. Masters have tried and the clock show not only the time or year, but also the signs of the zodiac, the location of the planets, and much more. And every hour there is a small puppet show.

View from the observation deck

On the roof of the cathedral instead of the second tower is an observation deck, where for 6 euros anyone can climb and admire an excellent view of the city and a classic example of late Gothic.

Address: Place De La Cathédrale

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 7:00am to 11:40am and 12:40pm to 7:00pm, Sunday 12:45pm to 6:00pm.

Little France

Little France

This is a very beautiful district of Strasbourg by the canal. Here are preserved whole streets of medieval half-timbered houses and ornate buildings in the Baroque style. The district got its name at the time when Strasbourg was owned by the Germans. The reason for the name is not an architectural feature. At that time, many working here were girls of easy virtue. And this kind of occupation in Germany was considered “native French” (it’s always fun to attribute vices to opponents). Today Little France is just a very nice tourist spot, where you can take a ride on the river streetcar, eat at a cafe on the terrace by the canal or just take a little walk through the fairy tale.

Covered Bridges

Covered bridges

A cascade of three tower-fortified bridges built in the mid-13th century, they were once an important part of the defensive system of the Free City of Strasbourg (then essentially an island). The entire complex is perfectly preserved, and you can walk across the bridge.

Kleber Square

Place du Kleber

Kleber Square is considered the central square of Strasbourg. It is the largest square in the city center and is located in the heart of the commercial district. It is named after General Jean-Baptiste Kleber, who was born in Strasbourg in 1753. A statue of the commander stands on the square, and his remains are buried beneath it. Kleber Square is surrounded by former barracks, and in the old days it was more than once transformed into a parade ground for military parades and parades.

Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art in Strasbourg was founded in 1973 and opened in its new building in November 1998. It is one of the largest of its kind in France. The museum has an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, drawings, multimedia art and design created between 1870 (the Impressionist era) and today. International exhibitions are constantly held here. The museum of contemporary art also has a library, multimedia classrooms, a cinema and a cafe.

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Address: 1 place Jean-Hans Arp

Opening hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday 11:00 to 19:00, Thursday 12:00 to 22:00, Sunday 10:00 to 18:00

Guttenberg Square

Gutenberg Square

The square is named after the first printer Guttenberg. Every nation, French and Germans alike, consider him their inventor. It even went so far as to change the book in the hands of the monument during the wars: the words in it were printed in German, then in French. Today it is the common heritage of Europe and the world.

There are a lot of stores around the square, which attracts fans not only of architecture, but also shopping.

Euroinstitutions

European Parliament

Strasbourg, along with Luxembourg and Brussels, is the capital of the European Union. And several institutions of United and Continental Europe are located here.

Everyone is familiar with the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg. It was created by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 1950 to oversee compliance by the Contracting Parties. The European Convention on Human Rights is one of the most important conventions adopted by the Council of Europe. All 47 member states of the Council of Europe are contracting parties to the Convention.

The Council of Europe is right there, not far away. There is also a Russian flag here, since the country is a member of this body. Also in Strasbourg is the European Parliament. MEPs from all 28 EU countries meet here one week of each month.

All buildings besides the political have both cultural and architectural weight. You can sign up in advance for a guided tour of the Euroinstitutions. And there are several embassy streets next to them. They are also worth a walk and assess which country has the best mansion.

Address of the Human Rights Council: 1, Boulevard Leblois, 67000 Strasbourg, France

European Bridge

Bridge between France and Germany

The bridge over the Rhine that connects France and Germany, symbolizing friendship and the future. It was opened not long ago by Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. There are parks on both sides of the bridge, and the bridge itself is certainly of architectural value. And where else are you going to walk from one country to another so easily! For an even more enjoyable experience we suggest renting a bike, which will greatly increase your mobility and add variety. Find out more information and rent a bike here.

Christmas market

Christmas Market

Strasbourg has its largest and oldest Christmas market every year. You can read more about it in our article “Strasbourg – Capital of Christmas”.

Besides all of the above, Strasbourg is full of other places and museums for all tastes. For example, the Beer Museum. We focused your attention on the main and major attractions of Strasbourg. And the rest … walk around and enjoy the city. This is not France and Germany. It’s a separate fabulous country – Alsace!

Also, watch a video about the sights of Strasbourg and download a city plan with streetcar lines and landmarks below this article.

The 25 Best Sights in Strasbourg

Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region and the cultural center of northeastern France, famous for its beautiful palaces, museums, and parks.

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strasburg

What to do in Strasbourg

Strasbourg is an ancient city spread out in the Upper Rhine Valley on the border of France and Germany. The first settlements appeared here in XII century BC. For a long time the city was a border zone of the Roman Empire, and only at the end of V century became part of the Germanic Franks Kingdom. The influence of Germany and France caused a mixture of two cultures and gave the local streets a special charm that survives to this day.

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Strasbourg is one of the few cities that play a huge role on the political world stage. It is home to the European Parliament, the International Institute for Human Rights and the Palace of Europe. And the historical districts of the city are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourists from all over the world come to appreciate the unique look of the ancient streets, see the Strasbourg Cathedral, Kammerzell House, Covered Bridges.

The cultural life of Strasbourg is rich and varied:

  • Every fall, the international Musica Festival kicks off. For two weeks in the city there are concentrations of classical music, gathering thousands of listeners.
  • In September, Strasbourg invites to a film festival of fantasy, science fiction and horror. The festival brings together famous actors, directors and critics. Guests watch new films and a jury selects the winner in the best film category.
  • In the run-up to Christmas, Strasbourg calls for a fair. The tradition of Christmas markets goes back more than 400 years. In the central squares, bright lights, decorated Christmas trees and colorful stalls with candy and souvenirs are lit. The air is saturated with the aromas of gingerbread and coffee, people take part in competitions, have fun and buy gifts.

Strasbourg is a great place for family holidays. The city is famous for its parks, squares and ponds. In the shade of trees equipped with playgrounds with trampolines, sandboxes and slides. There is a rope town and rock climbing wall for older kids. Adults and children go on excursions to interesting places, ride a boat on the river, explore the surrounding area.

Interesting places

Grand Ile.

grand il

A small island in the historic heart of Strasbourg, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its center is adorned by a square named after General Jean-Baptiste Kleber. The rectangular area is surrounded by buildings with financial institutions and luxury stores.

In the middle is a statue of the general himself, and beneath the sculpture is his tomb. At Christmas, they put up a huge fir tree and hold a Christmas market on the square. From the square stretch streets built with houses in the brick Gothic and Baroque style.

Little France

malenikaya francia

On the west side of Grand Ile lies the quarter of Petite France, indented by the narrow tributaries of the Ile River and reminiscent of Venice. Millers, tanners, and fishermen settled here in the Middle Ages, so many of the buildings have roof awnings for drying skins and capacious porches by the water, convenient for trade.

Now Little France is one of the major tourist attractions. People come to see the picturesque canals, openwork pedestrian bridges, Gothic churches and houses.

Cathedral Square

sobornaia ploshad

The historic central square has an original shape resembling the Latin letter L. It is framed by four-story mansions in the traditional German style with high roofs. The main architectural ensemble is the Strasbourg Cathedral. Not far from it there are Kammerzel House, the pharmacy “At the Deer” and the Imperial School of Military Medicine.

Near the pharmacy is the Büschmesser column. In the past, it was used to measure the figure of stonecutters. Today, this procedure is so popular with tourists that the city officials had to clad the column with marble so that it would not be erased.

Republic Square

ploshad respubliki

The square, built in the late 19th century, is located near the waterfront in the Grand Il district. It is a rectangle with a road ring, inside which is planted a park with benches, flowerbeds, and fountains. In the middle of the park is a monument to the citizens of Strasbourg who died in the war between Prussia and France. On the west side of the square stands the Rhine Palace. Next to it are the Strasbourg National Theater and the university library.

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Place de Broglie

ploshad brolia

The long square to the north of the Grand Ile is named after Marshal François-Marie de Broglie. It is famous for being the place where the Marseillaise was first sung after France declared war on Austria. The song later became the national anthem of the country.

Today, the Place de Broglie looks like a boulevard with a wide avenue lined with plane trees and pavilions. In December, the square is the main site of the Christmas Fair.

Vauban Dam and Covered Bridges

plotina vobana

The 16th century military engineer Sebastian Vauban designed a system of protective fortifications on the border with Germany. Their part is a dam that is named after the designer. The structure is 120 meters long and consists of 13 arches. Inside there are sluices, which once were used to shut off the water in the river and flood the nearby territory, preventing the enemy from advancing.

In the corridor are stone figures of gargoyles, transferred here from the palace of Rohan and Strasbourg Cathedral. Next to the causeway are the Covered Bridges, spanning the River Ile, and four grim towers.

European Bridge

evropiski most

There is a road bridge across the Rhine connecting Germany and France. The 245-meter-long, 18.5-meter-wide, 5-meter-high structure of concrete and steel was commissioned in 1960. The bridge is a symbol of cooperation between the two countries. Every day 130 thousand cars drive over it, so it is the most visited border crossing between Germany and France.

Architecture

Kammerzell House

dom kamercel

Strasbourg’s most famous medieval house is rightly considered the Kammerzell. The multi-storey building, built on Cathedral Square, attracts attention with its exterior decoration.

Gothic mansion has 75 windows. Each of them is decorated with artistic wooden décor, depicting figures of saints, zodiacal symbols and mythological animals. The windows are decorated with colorful stained-glass windows that shimmer in the sun.

In the interiors the original decoration of the walls is preserved. In Kammerzell there is a hotel and an elite restaurant offering shukrut, foie gras and flamkuchen.

Roganov Palace

roganov dvorec

The beautiful baroque palace was erected on the orders of Cardinal de Rogan-Subiz in 1742. The facade of the building faces the promenade. The inner courtyard can be accessed through a massive gate decorated with columns, carved ornaments, and sculptures.

King Louis XV, Queen Marie-Antoinette, Emperor Napoleon and his wife stayed at the Roganov Palace. Today, the archaeological museum and the museum of history and applied arts are housed under the roof of the architectural complex.

Palais de Fetes

dvorec fetes

The Art Nouveau palace appeared in Strasbourg at the beginning of the last century. The original building was intended for the city choir, and for many years it housed the Strasbourg Philharmonic. The mansion is considered a historical monument and is under state protection.

The four-story building is decorated with arched windows and graceful terraces. The main concert hall is decorated in the baroque style. The interior is dominated by frescoes, moldings, and crystal chandeliers. The palace is currently undergoing restoration – the opening of the concert hall is scheduled for 2020.

Town Hall

ratusha

This early 18th century Baroque mansion, built for Count Jean Reynard, has a large portal, an imposing courtyard, and two decorative facades. The interior rooms are decorated with gilded stucco panels, multicolored paintings, pictures, and tapestries.

After the French Revolution, the house was confiscated. Since 1805, it housed the town hall, drawing school, and municipal museum. Today the town hall is in the new building, and the old town hall is used for celebrations and official events.

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Bishop’s Palace

episkopskii dvorec

The French Baroque palace belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. The architectural ensemble erected in 1732 is the residence of the bishop of Strasbourg, so the entrance is restricted. Tourists can admire the exterior of the original structure and study the facade decorated with arched windows, stucco and figured lattices. In the courtyard planted a small garden, open to visitors.

European Parliament Building

sdanie evroparlamenta

In the eastern part of the city is the European quarter, where international institutions are concentrated. The central composition is the European Parliament building, which was built in 1999. It has an elongated shape and towers along the River Ile as if overhanging it.

The glazed multi-storey facade is adorned by a tall tower. The sculpture “Europe at Heart” by Ludmila Cherina is placed in front of the central entrance. A pedestrian bridge crosses the river, connecting the MEP with other parts of the city.

Palace of Europe

dvorec evropi

The grand opening of the Palace of Europe took place in 1977. From the outside it resembles a fortress, thanks to the many narrow windows, similar to loopholes. The nine-story pink sandstone structure has 17 meeting rooms and more than 1,000 offices.

The flags of the European Union member states fly in front of the entrance. Inside are the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of the Council of Europe. Nearby stands a futuristic building with two beveled towers – the European Court of Human Rights.

Temples

Strasbourg Cathedral

strasburgskiisobor

Construction of the Gothic cathedral in Strasbourg was completed in 1439. The red sandstone structure is a masterpiece of medieval architecture. The west facade is decorated with tracery, lancet windows and thousands of stone figures. On the north side rises a tower with a stepped, narrow spire.

Outstanding elements of the furnishings are colorful stained glass, tapestries, busts of saints at the high altar, and a pipe organ. In the south transept is an astronomical clock created in 1843. The complex mechanism shows the orbits of the planets of the solar system, calculates the leap years and the dates of church holidays.

St. Thomas Church

cerkov st tomasa

The first Christian church was erected on this site back in the 6th century. The structure was subjected to several fires and destroyed during the wars, but it was always rebuilt. In 1521 the church was rebuilt in the late Gothic style. The internal premises are decorated with frescos, stained-glass windows and sculptures.

In the crypt are the mausoleums of Marshal Maurice de Saxe and Bishop Adeloch, decorated with life-size stone statues. A 1741 Silbermann organ stands in the central hall.

Church of St. Paul

cerkov st pavla

The elegant church stands proudly on the banks of the River Ile in the center of Strasbourg. The building, designed by Leo Muller in the 19th century, resembles a medieval cathedral: the Gothic facade is decorated with intricate ornamentation, the center has a round rose window and is flanked by two pointed towers. On the top there are bells installed.

The walls of the temple are painted with frescos illustrating the lives of saints and figures of the Reformation. Church services are held to the sound of the antique organ.

Museums

Museum of Fine Arts

musei iso

On the first floor of Roganov Palace there is a Museum of Fine Arts. The collection includes paintings, sculptures, engravings of Italian, Flemish, Dutch, and French masters. Some of the best paintings include Raphael’s Portrait of a Young Lady, Tintoretto’s Portrait of a Bearded Man, Anthony van Dyck’s Portrait of Luidia Cattaneo Pagan, Nicolas de Largillier’s Portrait of a Beautiful Strasbourg Woman and Hans Memling’s Vanity.

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Museum of Modern Art

musei sovr isk

The Museum of Modern Art was founded in 1973. Its spacious halls display 18,000 works of art. The exhibits include paintings, drawings, sculptures, prints, and photographs. Permanent exhibitions include paintings by Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Wassily Kandinsky and Pablo Picasso. The museum’s photo library has thousands of pictures by famous photographers: Nadar, Etienne-Jules Marey, Robert Mapplethorpe.

The Archaeological Museum

arheology musei

The grounds of the Rogan Palace house a vast collection of the Archaeological Museum. The exhibition departments cover the history of Alsace, from the Neolithic Age to the present day. Visitors are shown ancient animal bones, ritual objects, stone weapons and kitchen utensils.

The attention of visitors is attracted by things found in Celtic burial mounds, Roman temples and Frankish castles. Among the valuable exhibits are ancient coins, bronze figurines and jewelry.

Le Vaissot

le vaico

The Science Center opened its doors in Strasbourg in 2005. Its aim is to interest children and teenagers and to raise the intellectual level of children. The museum exhibitions introduce young guests to the animal and plant world, teach them to understand the physical properties of water, tell them about the structure of the human body and natural phenomena.

On tour, children solve puzzles and riddles, and conduct chemical and physical experiments. A large garden has been laid out in the courtyard of the Le Waiso Science Center. It is equipped with playgrounds, picnic areas, and nature observation areas.

Zoology Museum

musei zooligy

In the 19th century the authorities of Strasbourg bought the collection of the naturalist Johann Hermann and gave it to the city university. The exhibits became part of the natural history museum, which grew and developed rapidly.

Today the museum has a huge collection of amphibians, invertebrates, fish, mammals, birds, and insects. Visitors can see stuffed giraffe, tiger and skeletons of prehistoric animals. In a separate room are kept personal belongings, diaries and documents of Johann Hermann.

Fort Rapp

fort rap

In the vicinity of Strasbourg there is a fort, built on the orders of General von Moltke after the city came under Prussian control during the Franco-Prussian War. The fortifications, designed to defend against French attacks, consisted of high massive walls, watchtowers, powder stores, and barns.

After the return of Alsace to France, the fort was named in honor of General Jean Rapp. Today the architectural complex is equipped with a museum. Visitors are shown the garrison, soldiers’ rooms, cannons, maps and documents.

Parks

Botanical Garden

bot sad

The botanical garden in Strasbourg is considered one of the oldest in France. It was founded in 1619 for scientific research of the medical academy. After World War I, the area fell into disrepair and many of the greenhouses were destroyed. It took many years to rebuild.

Today the garden is managed by the University of Strasbourg and consists of an arboretum, a tropical greenhouse, a pavilion with medicinal herbs, a rose garden, and a lake with lilies.

An astronomical observatory was built in the park. Inside is a museum displaying antique telescopes.

Friedel Wildlife Park.

park dikoi orirodi

In the southern suburbs of Strasbourg it is easy to find a wildlife park that can interest children of all ages. An area of 2 hectares is planted with conifers and deciduous trees. In the center there is a large artificial pond, which is home to ducks and swans.

Walking by the water, guests can see pheasants, peacocks and pink flamingos. The green zone features aviaries and spacious pens with domestic animals: sheep, cows, rabbits, guinea pigs, turtles. Children are allowed to stroke and feed the animals and ride the ponies.

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