Things to do in Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg

Strasbourg (France) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Strasbourg with descriptions, travel guides and maps.

The city of Strasbourg (France)

Strasbourg is a city in Eastern France, the capital of Alsace and a prefecture of the Lower Rhine department. It is an ideal stopover between France and Germany, combining in an amazing way the medieval past and the modern present. Strasbourg is an incredible Gothic cathedral, the narrow streets and half-timbered houses of the Grand Isle, canals and delicious cuisine. In addition, the city is the parliamentary capital of Europe (the European Parliament sits here) and one of the largest university centers of France.

Strasbourg is one of the most beautiful cities in eastern France, which looks like from the pages of fairy tales or fantasy. Its true gem is the old town – Grand Isle. Interestingly, the historic center of Strasbourg was one of the first (among all other European cities) included in the list of World Heritage Sites of UNESCO.

Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Things to do (Strasbourg):

Strasbourg: France with a German accent

€92 for a guided tour

Strasbourg: France with a German accent

Explore a charming corner of the Middle Ages and get a list of must see places in the city.

Cycling in Strasbourg

€90 for the tour

Cycling in Strasbourg

Cycling through France’s bicycle capital and discover three vibrant city districts.

Geography and climate

Strasbourg is located in eastern France on the banks of the River Ile (west bank of the Rhine) near the German border, between the Vosges and the Black Forest. The city lies on the plains of Alsace and occupies a favorable central position in Western Europe. Strasbourg is historically and geographically closer to Germany, which gives it some German imprint.

The climate is temperate continental with warm summers and fairly cool winters. Although the average winter temperatures are generally positive, frosts and snowfalls are frequent. Thanks to its location between two mountain ranges, Strasbourg is little exposed to strong winds.

Winter in Strasbourg

Winter in Strasbourg

Tourist information

  1. Population – 277.3 thousand inhabitants.
  2. Area – 78.3 square kilometers.
  3. The official language is French. Although in Alsace there is a special dialect that belongs to the Southern Germanic group of languages.
  4. The currency is the euro.
  5. Visa is Schengen.
  6. The time is Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
  7. Every first Saturday of the month admission to all museums is free.
  8. Strasbourg is quite popular with tourists because of the beautiful pedestrian center of the city, which can be easily explored on foot. Some areas, especially those close to the cathedral, attract large tourist groups. Especially during the summer and Christmas holidays. They are best explored outside of rush hour in the evening or early morning.

Best time to visit

Strasbourg can be visited all year round. But the best time to visit is during the warm season and the pre-Christmas period.

History

The name “Strasbourg” can be translated as “fortress (castle) by the road.” As early as the 3rd century B.C. a Celtic settlement existed on this site. During the Roman Empire there was one of its border cities – Argentorate.

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After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the city was occupied by the Germanic tribe of Alemanni, who in turn were absorbed by the Franks. The name Strasbourg originated in the early Middle Ages. After the dissolution of the kingdom of the Franks, Alsace became part of the Holy Roman Empire. Strasbourg remained part of Germany until the 17th century, even after becoming a free imperial city in the 13th century.

Historic center of Strasbourg

Strasbourg’s historic center

In 1349, Strasbourg witnessed some of the bloodiest events of the Middle Ages, when over a thousand Jews were publicly burned in its squares. The persecution of the Jewish population here continued until the 18th century. Strasbourg was one of the first Protestant cities in Germany to embrace the Lutheran faith in the early 16th century. Because of this, it became one of Europe’s centers of humanities learning and book printing. It was in Strasbourg that the first newspaper in Europe was printed.

In 1681 Louis XIV took advantage of the chaos of the Thirty Years’ War and annexed the capital of Alsace to France. Strasbourg’s status as a free city ended after the French Revolution. After the Franco-German War in 1870, the Germans reattached the city and applied a policy of Germanization leading to the expulsion of those who preferred to remain French. After Germany’s defeat in World War I, the city returned to France. And now it was the turn of the French to try to eradicate traces of Germanization. During World War II, the Nazis considered the Alsatians to be compatriots. So many of them were forced to fight in the German army.

Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Today Strasbourg is one of the ten largest cities in France and is one of the centers of French learning and European politics.

How to get there

Strasbourg has its own international airport. But there is one nuance – the number of destinations is quite limited and they are all quite expensive. The best choice would be Basel airport. From Basel airport you can take a bus to St. Louis train station, then take a train to Strasbourg. Some low-cost low-cost airlines fly to Karlsruhe airport. The best way to get from there to Strasbourg is to take bus 285 to Baden-Baden train station (€3.40, travel time about 25 minutes), then take the train.

Strasbourg has access to highways connecting it to the west (A4), south (A35) and east (A5). Keep in mind that in France, most highways are toll roads. Freeways to Strasbourg are easy and fast to get to from: Paris, Lyon, Basel, Frankfurt, Brussels, Stuttgart.

Panorama of Strasbourg

The panorama of Strasbourg

Strasbourg has fast train connections to Paris and several other cities: Lyon, Dijon, Metz, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Lille, Frankfurt, etc. The train station is located in the western part of the city.

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Shopping

There is a flea market on Wednesday and Saturday on rue de Vieil-Hôpital. North of the city center is the Place des Halles, a shopping center with more than 100 stores. A new shopping center, Rivetoile, was opened in Strasbourg in 2008 between the Etoile Polygone and Etoile Bourse streetcar stops. Designer clothes are available at Galeries Lafayettes, Rue Hellebardes and Gutenberg Square.

Christmas market in Strasbourg

Christmas market in Strasbourg

Alsace is one of the most famous gastronomic regions of France. There is an abundance of exquisite, high-quality products. Foie gras and sauerkraut are two centers of Alsace cuisine. Popular dishes include baeckeoffe (pork or beef stew), tarte flambée (the equivalent of pizza) and spaetzle (various pastas), which are a side dish to fish and poultry. For dessert in Alsace they serve a variety of pies and the famous Kugel Schopf. Local wines are very popular and famous.

Strasbourg at night

Strasbourg evening

Attractions

The Grand Isle, the heart of Strasbourg, is a large island formed by the River Isle. It is an ideal place to explore the city and its historic atmosphere. The Grand Isle is actually the historic center of Strasbourg. Here are its main attractions: the Cathedral of Strasbourg (Notre Dame de Strasbourg), other medieval churches and historic buildings.

Strasbourg Cathedral (Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg)

Strasbourg Cathedral (Notre Dame de Strasbourg)

Strasbourg Cathedral (Notre Dame de Strasbourg) is one of the grandest Gothic churches in Europe and a beautiful monument of medieval architecture. The great Victor Hugo said of it, “a monstrosity gigantic and delicate. The cathedral was built between 1176 and 1439 and has a 142-meter tower (completed in 1439), the highest in France. You have to climb 322 steps to get to the observation deck. On the cathedral installed 300-year-old astronomical clock. Admission to the Cathedral of Strasbourg is free.

Every day at 12:30 p.m., the astronomical clock strikes off a short performance from the life of Christ and the parade of the apostles. From the outside, the facade is a gigantic picture of the Middle Ages: hundreds of sculptures stand out from the walls and emphasize the play of light and shadow. And the pink sandstone of which Notre Dame is made changes color depending on the time of day.

Church of St. Thomas

Church of Saint Thomas

The Church of Saint Thomas is a Protestant church and a masterpiece of Gothic art in Alsace. It is one of the few Protestant churches that have survived since the Reformation. Inside is the mausoleum of Marshal Saxe, a masterpiece of Baroque art.

Church of St. Paul

St. Paul’s Church

St. Paul’s Church is a beautiful late 19th-century neo-Gothic structure. This Protestant church is located on the edge of the island of Ile Saint-Hélène.

Saint-Pierre-les-Jeunet

Saint-Pierre-les-Junes

Saint-Pierre-les-Jounet is a Gothic Protestant church built on the site of an ancient 11th-century Merovingian chapel. This former monastery church retains some Romanesque elements and 14th-century frescoes.

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Gutenberg Square

Gutenberg Square

Gutenberg Square is a square a few steps from Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. It is named after the inventor of printing, Johan Gutenberg. There is a monument to him on the square. This place was one of the centers of Strasbourg from the Middle Ages to the 18th century.

Place du Kleber

Kleber Square

The Kleber is Strasbourg’s main public square. It is the place where various events and fairs are held, and the main Christmas tree of the city is installed here.

Rogan Palace

Rogan Palace

Rogan Palace is a historical monument in Grand Isle that now houses 3 museums: an archaeological museum, a museum of fine and decorative arts. It was built between 1731 and 1742. Rogan Palace is considered a masterpiece of French Baroque.

Kammerzell House

House of Kammerzell

The Kammerzell House is one of the most beautiful houses in Strasbourg. This typical Alsatian half-timbered house with a beautifully carved facade was built in the 15th century and is located in the historic center of the city.

Petite France

“Little France.”

“Little France” is one of the most beautiful places in Strasbourg, a historic district (island) with beautiful half-timbered houses by the water. Craftsmen, fishermen and millers lived here in the Middle Ages. Is a pedestrian zone.

Covered bridges and medieval towers

Covered bridges and medieval towers.

Not far from Little France” are “covered bridges” (Les Ponts Couverts), which have retained their name, despite the fact that they no longer have a roof. The bridges were built to serve as ramparts for fortifications on the waterways. They were used to connect three medieval towers, the remains of ancient ramparts and covered wooden galleries, which have now disappeared.

Vauban Dam

Vauban Dam

The Vauban Dam is a barrage dam designed by the famous French marshal and military engineer Vauban. The dam was built to protect Strasbourg when, after the evolution of artillery and warfare techniques, the walls were no longer a reliable defense. The dam allowed, by closing its arches, a rapid rise in the level of the River Ile. If you climb to the roof you can admire the labyrinth of Strasbourg’s canals and “Little France.”

Place de Broglie

Place de Broglie

Place de Broglie looks more like a long alley. Several beautiful 18th-century mansions are located here, as well as the town hall, the prefecture and the opera house.

Interesting tours

Strasbourg, Europe's busiest intersection

180 €162 for a guided tour

Strasbourg – Europe’s busiest crossroads

Strasbourg as a crossroads of cultures, ideologies, and symbols

On the wine road in Alsace

€100 per excursion

Along the Alsace Wine Route

Drive through the main winegrowing regions and taste the best vintage and sparkling wines

Strasbourg: 10 things to do in the city

Strasbourg

Still agonizing over what to do and see in Strasbourg? Let’s find a use for this city other than to apply to the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights. It is possible to go to Strasbourg from Paris and for 1 day. The journey is less than 2 hours. And there are enough activities for a whole day!

See the Cathedral

Strasbourg Cathedral

The North Dam de Strasbourg Cathedral is one of the city’s main attractions. It is a beautiful Gothic church of the original pink and brown color with only one tower. Notre Dame itself is beautiful and the square around it is wonderful. But go inside and go deep inside, there you will find an antique clock that shows not only the time but also the month, the year, the sign of the zodiac, the location of the planets and a little performance every half hour.

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We advise you to also go up to the observation deck of the Cathedral. From there you have a very good view of Strasbourg. Just remember that you have to go up on foot. The entrance to the stairs is on the right side of the cathedral.

Walk around the island

Half-timbered facades

The island of the Grand Isle is the historical part of Strasbourg. All the main attractions of the city are concentrated here. Most of the island is pedestrian. So it’s interesting and pleasant to walk around. But beware of bicyclists:).

We have prepared for you a special route with an audio guide in Russian throughout the old and new Strasbourg. You can download it at this link.

  • It includes 34 points of the city, including:
  • Little France.
  • Covered bridges and the Vauban Gallery
  • A visit to Strasbourg Cathedral (a tour inside and out)
  • Many squares, narrow streets, palaces and bridges
  • Interesting stories and legends. Well, for example, you will learn how in the Middle Ages to determine the qualifications of officials and where in Strasbourg they drowned witches.

In general, it is a great sightseeing tour of Strasbourg for 3-4 hours. And for only 5 euros. So download it. It will be very interesting!

Ride the canals on a river streetcar

Riverboat

The river streetcar in Strasbourg is practically a substitute for a tour of the city. You will sail through the canals and see almost all the main attractions of the capital of the Alsace region. There is also an audio guide in Russian. It’s very good and interesting, although not without its inaccuracies. Moreover, during excursion there are some surprises: locks and movable bridges.

The river streetcar ride is also part of the Strasbourg City Pass, which also includes a free visit to one of the city’s museums and more. Find out more information and buy your card here.

Sample local cuisine

Choucroute

Strasbourg is a fascinating mix of cultures. This is evident in the appearance of the city and especially in its cuisine. For example, the main Alsatian dish is considered to be shukrut. Shukrut is a fried sauerkraut with different kinds of meat. This dish is rather German, and it is served with beer. In a good restaurant, it is better to take one for two, otherwise you will not be able to cope. Foie gras and sweet white wine are also inventions of the people of Strasbourg, and we recommend you to try them.

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Read more about Alsatian cuisine in our article.

“JUST READ THE ARTICLE – Wines of Alsace

Have a coffee or dinner in Little France

Petite France

Little France is the most beautiful neighborhood in the city. It may not have the most pleasant history associated with it, but it’s certainly nice to stop or take a walk here now. Choose a café with a view of the canal and enjoy the beauty all around!

Walk from France to Germany and back

Bridge to Germany

Strasbourg is right on the border with Germany. They even built a pedestrian bridge over the Rhine here, connecting the two states. Residents and tourists love to walk across it, crossing the border quite legally. In addition, on both sides there are parks, and from the German side is a small cozy town of Kehl.

The best way to get to the Bridge of Europe is by bike, which you can rent, or by bus number 21. Read more about rentals here.

Picnic at the Orangerie

Botanic Garden

Strasbourg is rich in its parks. But the favorite among the city’s residents is the Orangery. It was built on the orders of Napoleon for his wife Josephine. She never stopped here, but the park was left to the Strasbourg people. There is beautiful landscape architecture and something blooms all the time. And picnicking in this garden is a pleasure.

See a list of events

Covered bridges

Strasbourg is one of the three capitals of the European Union. To celebrate this and more, there are a lot of interesting events here. The city hosts major Christmas markets, a fountain festival, a street theater festival, and more. Before you go to Strasbourg, it’s best to find out if there’s anything interesting going on.

Stay in the old part of the city

Evening in Strasbourg

Stay in the very center of the city – on the island. It can be more expensive than in other areas of Strasbourg, but much more pleasant. The old city isn’t just an architectural marvel, it’s a garden city. Magnolias and flowerbeds bloom here, and residents decorate their windows and balconies with flowers.

This is one of the most picturesque corners of France. Maybe you’ll be lucky and you’ll live in a nice little house like in the picture, admiring the spire of the cathedral, the roofs of the city and blooming flowerbeds on your balcony. See a list of the best hotels in Little France and the old part of town at this link.

Visit one of Strasbourg’s museums

Historical Museum

Strasbourg is rich in museums. The best of them are the Museum of the History of the city, the Museum of Alsace and the Museum of Modern Art. There are quite interesting collections and a lot of interactive gizmos. It does not take much time, but it will leave a pleasant feeling.

Enjoy your stay in Strasbourg!

All photos are courtesy of the Strasbourg Tourist Office and are protected by copyright. Copyright © Copyright – OT Strasbourg

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