Things to Do in Strasbourg: The 25 Best Places to Visit
You’re planning to visit Strasbourg, in France on your next trip? Good choice! Strasbourg, located in Alsace region next to the German border is one of the European capitals and a typical Alsatian city.
So what are the best things to do in Strasbourg? Follow the guide to discover all the must-see attractions and highlights during your stay in this emblematic French city. And yes, in Strasbourg there is more than just the Christmas market and its mulled wine!
In this guide, I will also suggest you the best place to stay in Strasbourg depending on your budget as well as a few itineraries to visit Strasbourg in 1, 2 or 3 days. Perfect if you don’t want to miss any point of interest.
As a bonus, I will also tell you about all the best places to visit around Strasbourg. And this include some amazing castles!
- Things to Do in Strasbourg: The 25 Best Places to Visit
- Visit Strasbourg: 25 Must-See Attractions!
- 1. Grande Île
- 2. Strasbourg cathedral
- 3. Visit Strasbourg medieval churches and St. Paul’s church
- 4. Place Gutenberg
- 5. Place Kleber
- 6. Palais Rohan
- 7. Kammerzell House
- 8. The Petite France
- 9. Eat in an Alsatian winstub
- 10. The Covered Bridges
- 11. Barrage Vauban
- 12. Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
- 13. Strasbourg Historical Museum
- 14. Alsatian Museum
- 15. Zoological Museum
- 16. Broglie Square
- 17. Strasbourg Christmas Market or Christkindelsmärik
- 18. The Orangerie Park
- 19. Strasbourg European institutions
- 20. Strasbourg boat tour
- 21. Strasbourg bike tour
- 22. Must-see typical villages around Strasbourg
- 23. Alsace wine route
- 24. Europa Park
- 25. Visit the Alsatian castles around Strasbourg
- The Strasbourg Pass
- What to see in Strasbourg in one day
- What to do in Strasbourg in 2 days
- What to do in Strasbourg for 3 days
- Strasbourg tourist map
- Where to stay in Strasbourg
- You’re traveling in France? These articles will help you!
- Visit Strasbourg: 25 Must-See Attractions!
Visit Strasbourg: 25 Must-See Attractions!
1. Grande Île
Strasbourg is crossed by the Ill river. As such, it’s made up of several islands, but the best known is the Grande Île (“Large Island” in French), which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988.
It’s the historical centre of the city and the place where you can admire the main monuments and points of interest that make Strasbourg famous. The world renowned Strasbourg cathedral (cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg in French), 4 medieval churches, as well as several hotels and palaces from the 18th century are located there.
The Grande Île is the ideal place to start your visit of the city and soak up its historical atmosphere.
2. Strasbourg cathedral
No doubt you will want to start your visit with the most famous monument of the city, the one you can see on all the postcards: the famous Notre-Dame de Strasbourg cathedral. It’s the symbol of the city and the oldest Gothic cathedral in the world. Entry is free of charge.
It brings together three architectural masterpieces:
- The highest spire of Christianity dating from 1439
- The large rose window on the main facade above the entrance
- The astronomical clock, the most famous attraction of the city. Every day at 12:30 pm precisely, the automatons animation begins and presents the different ages of life and the parade of the apostles before Christ. (free with the Strasbourg pass, which I’ll tell you about after this top)
Another experience not to be missed if you visit the Strasbourg cathedral is to go up on “the platform”. After an ascent of exactly 332 steps in a spiral staircase, you will have the privilege of contemplating the city from the cathedral’s roof. If the sky is clear, you can even see all the way to Germany.
You can find more information about the cathedral on this website
3. Visit Strasbourg medieval churches and St. Paul’s church
After the cathedral, you can visit the 4 medieval churches of the Grande Île of Strasbourg and the magnificent St. Paul’s church of Strasbourg (église Saint-Paul).
- St. Thomas Church, which houses in its choir a funerary masterpiece of Baroque art: the tomb of the Marshal of Saxony (tombeau du Maréchal de Saxe).
- The Saint-Pierre-le-Vieux Church, the first large Christian building in Strasbourg
- The church of Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune to see for its 14th century frescoes
- Saint-Etienne Church classified as a historical monument
- St. Paul’s Church, located at the intersection of the Zorn and Mullenheim platforms.
4. Place Gutenberg
Located a few steps from the Cathedral, the Gutenberg Square (place Gutenberg) was named after the inventor of the printing press who lived in Strasbourg for 10 years. A statue in his honour is erected there. It was the administrative and political center of the city from the Middle Ages to the 18th century and you can see the Renaissance building of the Chamber of Commerce. It’s also the ideal place to have a drink on one of the many outdoor terraces.
5. Place Kleber
Another very famous Square, if not the most important, is Strasbourg‘s main public square in the Grande Île: Kleber Square. It is the meeting place for Strasburgers at major cultural or sporting events as well as the place where you can admire the huge Christmas tree during Christmas time.
Around the square there is a pink sandstone building dating from 1770, the Aubette. It’s name comesfrom the fact that soldiers went there every day at dawn to seek their orders of assignment.
The square is a very pleasant pedestrian area with its flowerbeds and water fountains.
6. Palais Rohan
The Rohan Palace (Palais Rohan) is another historic monument on the Grande Île and one of the main points of interest in Strasbourg. Originally a princely residence, it was home to 4 princes of the Rohan family, hence its name, and now houses 3 museums:
- The archaeological museum which proposes to discover the complete history of Alsace since prehistory
- The museum of fine arts with a very rich collection of paintings, from Botticelli to Goyat and Rubens
- The Museum of Decorative Arts with its collection of furniture and ceramic pieces
If you don’t want to visit the museums, I still advise you to go and admire the architecture and facade of the Rohan Palace, which deserves a photo!
For schedules and fares, it’s on the official Strasbourg museums website.
7. Kammerzell House
Another building listed as a historic monument is the Kammerzell House (Maison Kammerzell), an Alsatian typical half-timbered building. It’s considered to be the most beautiful house in Strasbourg. On the beams, you can see wooden sculptures depicting secular or sacred scenes, all the signs of the zodiac, or some important historical figures such as Charlemagne and Caesar. A must-see tourist attraction in Strasbourg.
And good news, if you are there at lunchtime, Kammerzell House is now a restaurant offering local cuisine. You should definitely try the speciality of the house: sauerkraut with three fish, whose recipe is jealously guarded by the chef!
To see the menu and book, here is the website.
8. The Petite France
The Petite France (“Little France”) is Strasbourg’s most picturesque and visited area. In the past, tanners, fishermen and millers used to live and work there, because of the water nearby. Today, we come here to admire the numerous half-timbered houses that are extremely well preserved and to walk in the small cobblestone alleys at the water’s edge.
The island is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists, so you can enjoy the calm of the place. It’s, for me, the best place to visit in Strasbourg!
9. Eat in an Alsatian winstub
It the many typical narrow alleys of the Petite France, you will be able to find food in these traditional Alsatian restaurants: the Winstub. It’s time to try your hand at sauerkraut, flambée pie, baeckeofe and dessert with the famous kougelhopf.
To find authentic and home made products while avoiding tourist traps, I recommend you:
- The Tire-Bouchon: 100% guaranteed home cooking thanks to the label of “maître restaurateur”
- Mun’ s: for Munster cheese lovers, since the regional specialities are revisited here with this cheese
- La Petite Mairie: a family restaurant with local suppliers and fresh produce. You absolutely need to try at least one of the 8 kinds of home made flamekueche.
10. The Covered Bridges
Next to the Petite France, you can see the covered bridges (“Les Ponts Couverts de Strasbourg”) that have retained their name despite they have no roof any more. They were built to serve as a rampart to reinforce the fortification on the waterways. They were used to connect the 3 medieval towers, vestiges of the ancient ramparts, and had a covered wooden galleries, which have now disappeared.
11. Barrage Vauban
A few meters upstream of the covered bridges is the Vauban Barrage (Vauban Dam). It was built to protect Strasbourg when the covered bridges became obsoletes because of the evolution of artillery. The dam allowed, by clogging its arches, to raise the level of the Ill river and flood the surrounding fields in order to trap the enemies in the mud.
You can cross the river by passing inside the dam, thanks to a corridor where many gargoyle statues are stored. But the most interesting thing to do is to climb on the roof where there is a splendid panoramic terrace. Perfect to admire the maze of Strasbourg canals, covered bridges and the Petite France.
12. Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
As long as you are in the Petite France district, take advantage of this opportunity to visit Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (“musée d’art moderne et contemporain de Strasbourg”), which is not far from the Vauban Dam. Pieces of art by Monet, Picasso and Brauner can be seen. See also its library, the auditorium and the graphic art room.
And here too you can enjoy a drink on the panoramic terrace.
13. Strasbourg Historical Museum
If you are interested in Alsatian history and culture, you can visit the Historical Museum of Strasbourg (“Musée historique”), which retraces the city’s urban history with a collection of models, maps and daily life objects from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution.
14. Alsatian Museum
And to complete your journey in learning more about Strasbourg history, take a short tour of the Alsatian Museum (“Musée Alsacien”). You can find there several reproductions of traditional Alsatian life scenes, such as a forge or a joinery. There is also a collection of traditional costumes and furniture.
15. Zoological Museum
Finally, to finish the tour of the best museums in Strasbourg, I advise you to go to the Zoological Museum (“Musée zoologique”). If you are with children, the will love it! The museum collection presents the fauna of the Arctic and Antarctic with stuffed animals and naturalized insects and butterflies.
It’s not really typical of Alsace, but the museum offers a good moment of relaxation and discovery with your children.
Update: Strasbourg Zoological Museum is under renovation since 23/09/2019. It’s scheduled to reopen in 2022.
16. Broglie Square
Broglie Square (“place Broglie”) is not really a square, but rather a long tree-lined walkway.
Take a walk there to admire several beautiful 18th century mansions:
- The City Hall
- The prefecture
- The Banque de France: a little anecdote, this is where the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise” was sung for the very first time
- The Strasbourg Opera House
Every year on this square takes place an event known all over the world, the famous Strasbourg Christmas market, which I’m talking more in depth about in just below.
17. Strasbourg Christmas Market or Christkindelsmärik
It’s the oldest and most famous Christmas market in France. More than 300 chalets are scattered over a dozen sites, including the Cathedral Square and along Broglie Square. There are of course Christmas decorations, all kinds of handicrafts as well as local and regional food products. It attracts nearly 2 million visitors in a single month of opening, so you have to love the crowd. Just take a good breath and let the Christmas spirit penetrate you and everything will go well!
During this period, all the shop windows of the main shopping streets are decorated with grandiose Christmas lights illuminations. Strasburgers also contribute to the mood by decorating the houses facades and their balconies.
And for food lovers, there is a special Christmas market in Strasbourg, on the fish market square and on the Rohan palace terrace. It brings together all the guilds of craftsmen: bakers, farmers, winegrowers, winemakers, artisan brewers… Enjoy a good mulled wine or a beer from Alsace accompanied by a little foie gras to prepare your stomach for Christmas.
18. The Orangerie Park
After walking along the small alleys, go for a walk in the Orangerie Park (“parc de l’Orangerie”) to take a breath of fresh air. It’s the oldest and largest park in the city with more than 26 hectares. This park, loved by both Strasburgers and tourists, is a great place to take a stroll or do some sport. There is even a skatepark! Children have a merry-go-round, several playgrounds and a mini zoo with free access.
You can also enjoy a large lake with canoe rentals and a place to buy ice-cream, waffles and other delicacies.
19. Strasbourg European institutions
Close to the Orangerie park, you will find the institutions that make Strasbourg the capital of Europe:
- The European Parliament
- The Council of Europe
- The European Court of Human Rights
To discover them, I advise you to follow the “Parcours d’Europe” which will take you for a 2.5 kilometers walk around the European institutions. Several explanatory panels and playful installations punctuate the route.
Of course you won’t be able to enter the institutions, but it’s always interesting to see the places where important decisions are made. Moreover, the “Europe Day” (“fête de l’Europe” in french) takes place in Strasbourg every year in May. This day, visitors can enjoy cultural and sports activities as well as debates, but what attracts the most visitors is the European Parliament’s open day.
You will find more details about visiting Strasbourg European institutions on the official website.
20. Strasbourg boat tour
Taking a boat tour on the canals is one of the city’s main attractions, and probably one of the best ways to visit Strasbourg. Departure is located at the foot of the Rohan Palace with the Batorama company, which offers 2 types of boats: covered or uncovered, so the trip takes place in all weather conditions.
You will have the choice between 2 tours:
- « Strasbourg, plus de 20 siècles d’histoire » which lasts 1h10 and will take you through the Petite France, the Vauban Dam and through the European institutions that I have told you about above.
- « Strasbourg, Grande-Île » is 45 minutes long and focus on the city center, so no European institutions on this one.
Another option to visit Strasbourg by boat is to choose a lunch cruise with the “Les bateaux de l’Ill” company. Departure every Tuesday evening for 2 hours. All the info is on their website.
21. Strasbourg bike tour
As i told you earlier, Strasbourg is great for walking tours, as many areas are reserved for pedestrians. However, Strasbourg, with it’s 500km of bike paths is also a great destination for bike lovers! So if you’re looking for activities to do in Strasbourg, cycling is for sure one of them.
For example, the tourist information office offers a 10 km itinerary to discover the city, but you can of course pedal along the canals and through the alleys by yourself.
Around the city, you can try Strasbourg’s Forts Trail (“la piste des forts”), an 85 km cycling route that will take you on either side of the Rhine and therefore to Germany. This tour crosses many kinds of landscapes such as the countryside and forest but also typical towns and villages. It’s not very difficult, so you can go with your children.
22. Must-see typical villages around Strasbourg
If you you have already explored Strasbourg thoroughly and are not fed up with half-timbered houses, you should definitely go visit the typical Alsatian villages nearby, which are also very famous:
- Colmar with its beautiful “little Venice” district and old town.
- Eguishem with half-timbered houses, fountains, balconies with flowers and its ramparts.
- Riquewihr is one of the most beautiful villages in France, particularly due to its location in the middle of vineyards
- Obernai whose historical centre has very beautiful medieval houses
- Saverne and the Château des Rohan, which dates from the 18th century. It is also called Saverne Castle.
23. Alsace wine route
If you have more time to spend in the region, want to visit a little more than Strasbourg and its surroundings and of course you are a wine lover, the Alsace wine route is for you!
It is the oldest wine route in France. From Tann to Marlenheim, this 170-kilometre itinerary will take you through the communes of Alsace to discover local white wine. On the Alsace wine route, there is more than 300 wineries and 67 wine-producing municipalities, some of them being among the most beautiful villages in France.
Things to do: visit the wine cellars, stroll in the vineyards and villages, and of course, wine tasting. The months of July and August are particularly favourable, with the numerous wine fairs organized in the villages.
24. Europa Park
About 60 kilometres from Strasbourg is Germany’s largest amusement park, Europa Park. On 85 hectares, there is more than 100 rides to entertain you! The park is made up of different neighbourhoods, each referring to a country. Ireland, Iceland or Italy, you will have the choice! There’s even a flight simulator that just opened.
All the information to be found on the Europa Park website
25. Visit the Alsatian castles around Strasbourg
The Alsatian region is renowned for it’s many castles, so I have chosen 2 of them that are fairly close to Strasbourg for you. They complement each other well for a quick half-day visit.
First, you can go to the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle which is considered as the best castle to visit in the region. It is the best known and therefore the most visited in Alsace.
Due to its geographical position on a rocky outcrop, it offers a magnificent view of the Alsace plain. Do not hesitate to visit the surrounding forest and take a walk around it to admire the viewpoints. Visits to the interior and cultural events are also organized. And if you are hungry, it also has a restaurant.
You will find all the information about visiting times and prices on the official website of the castle
In a completely different style, that is to say “slightly” more dilapidated, you should go and see the Haut-Barr Castle. The castle stands on 3 large rocks connected to each other by the devil’s bridge (“pont du diable”) and stairs that will allow you to reach the top.
It is not the castle that will impress you the most by its architecture, It’s main interest being the view it offers on a large part of the plain, hence its nickname of “The Eye of Alsace” (“l’Œil de l’Alsace”). It would seem (I could not verify it myself) that in case of very good weather, you can see the arrowhead of Strasbourg Cathedral! Don’t hesitate to confirm this rumour in the comments.
Other Castles in Alsace
As there are many other castles to visit around Strasbourg (the farthest away, apart from Ferrette castle, are located at a 1 hour drive from the capital of Alsace), I have made you a map of the 10 most beautiful:
- Haut-Kœnigsbourg Castle, of which I spoke to you earlier, considered by many as the most beautiful castle of Alsace
- The Fleckenstein Castle, which offers a panoramic view of the Sauer valley
- Hohlandsburg Castle and its panoramic view of the city of Colmar
- Lichtenberg Castle
- Ferrette Castle, in the extreme south of Alsace
- The Haut Barr Castle, which I also told you about above with its magnificent view
- The Andlau Castle, accessible free of charge after a 20-minute walk in the forest. You can park at the farmhouse named “ferme auberge du Hungerplatz”
- The Nideck Castle and its 25m high waterfall
- Kaysersberg Castle, which overlooks the village of Kaysersberg
- The five castles road (“Route des Cinq Châteaux”), a 20km hike that will take you to several ruined castles.
I have also included the Mount Sainte-Odile convent, which is a must-see in Alsace.
You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button, the one with a little arrow on it.
The Strasbourg Pass
The Strasbourg Pass is really a great way to save money when visiting the city!
It costs 21.50€ for adults and between 10 and 15€ for children, is valid for 3 days and offers free admissions and discounts for the main activities and points of interest of Strasbourg. Here’s the detail of what’s included:
- Visit a museum of your choice
- Cathedral platform
- Strasbourg boat tour
- Discover the astronomical clock of the cathedral
- Visit of a 2nd museum
- Little train trip to discover the city (from April to October)
- Strasbourg walking tour (April to December)
- Visit of the “Vaisseau” (Spaceship in french), a science center for children and teenagers from 3 to 15 years old.
- Audioguide to visit the old town and the Strasbourg cathedral
You will also benefit from a variable discount on other activities:
- Segway City Tour
- The “Château Vodou” Museum.
- “The secrets of chocolate” museum
You need to buy the Strasbourg Pass online on this website. You can then get them at the Strasbourg Tourist Office, right next to the cathedral.
- Address: 17 Place de la Cathédrale, 67000 Strasbourg
What to see in Strasbourg in one day
If you only have 1 day in Strasbourg, it’s best to concentrate on the classics tourist attractions that make up the city’s charm. Moreover, it is very easy to visit Strasbourg on foot.
- Go for a walk in the Petite France district to discover the Strasbourg of postcards with its canals and half-timbered houses.
- Then head for the Vauban dam, whose roof offers a superb view of Strasbourg Covered Bridges.
- Go to Strasbourg cathedral 12:30 pm, it is the only moment in the day when the astronomical clock and its dozens of automatons come to life.
- Lunch break
- Visit the Rohan Palace and its 3 museums: the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Archaeological Museum.
- To finish the day, visit the 2 most beautiful squares of the Strasbourg old town (in addition to the cathedral!), Gutenberg Square and Kleber Square. And if you want to go shopping, don’t miss the streets of the Grandes Arcades and the Franc-Bourgeois.
- And how about a flammekueche for dinner?
That’s a nice day in Strasbourg!
What to do in Strasbourg in 2 days
Are you looking for things to do in Strasbourg during a weekend? I have got a nice itinerary for you, allowing you to see all main points of interest.
In 2 days in Strasbourg, you will be able to do the first day of the itinerary presented above and add:
- In the morning, discover the city differently with a guided Strasbourg boat tour. This is one of the major attractions to do in Strasbourg!
- Lunch break
- In the afternoon, you should go to the European institutions. We advise you to go on foot, just follow the Ill river, you can’t go wrong. It also allows you to have a nice view of the very photogenic Saint-Paul church reflected in the river.
- End your day in the Orangerie park, located close to the European institutions, stroll and observe storks.
- As you will have walked quite a lot, you may wish to return by bus.
- Dinner in a typically Alsatian winstub.
What to do in Strasbourg for 3 days
If you can spend 3 days in Strasbourg, you can take the itinerary of the 2 previous days and visit the surroundings of Strasbourg:
If you have to leave by the north of Strasbourg to go to your next destination, make a loop of the castles of Alsace in the following order:
- Go to the south-east start with the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle, the must-see of the region
- Continue with Andlau Castle
- Then make a stop at the Monastery of Mont Sainte-Odile
- Then pass by the Château du Nideck and its waterfall
- End your day with the du Haut Barr Castle
If you are lucky enough to leave Strasbourg from the South to go to your next destination, I recommend you to do the following itinerary:
- Start by going to admire the view at the Convent of Mont Sainte-Odile
- Then go to the Andlau Castle
- Continue with the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle
- Visit the villages of Ribeauvillé, Kaysersberg and Riquewihr, located on the Alsace wine road. Don’t miss Kaysersberg Castle either.
- Continue with the visit of Colmar, which can be done in about 2 hours.
- The last stage of this day full of discoveries, the superb village of Eguisheim, south of Colmar
And if you have children (or a 4th day in Strasbourg), a visit to Europa Park is an excellent idea that will delight the whole family.
Strasbourg tourist map
Where to stay in Strasbourg
- Comfort Hotel Strasbourg – Montagne Verte: Located at a 20 minutes walk from the Petite France district, in a quiet location by the river. Modern and bright room from 39€ per night, breakfast at 10€. The strong points: free parking, breakfast with plenty of choice and even a candy bar. Do not leave without having eaten at least once in the restaurant of the hotel which have great Alsatian specialities. We tested the breaded camembert and spaetzles and had a great time! This is without a doubt the best value for money in Strasbourg.
- Hotel Victoria: Situated 10 minutes from the Cathedral, close to the train station, ideal if you arrive by train. Spacious and colourful room, quiet, from 60€ per night, buffet breakfast at 9€. The strong points: quiet location in a pedestrian street, very welcoming staff and very copious breakfast with quality products.
- Hotel Roses: Hotel ideally located 2 steps away from the Cathedral. Spacious room with carefully decorated decoration from 90€ per night, with a breakfast for an extra 9.90€. The best choice in the city centre and as a bonus, a great breakfast!
- Hôtel Régent Petite France & Spa: 5 stars hotel located in Petite-France district. Beautiful room with river or traditional half-timbered house view from 250€ per night, breakfast at 25€. Strong points: The location, the amazing view, the perfect breakfast. It’s my recommendation for a luxury stay in Strasbourg.
France travel Guides
- Buy the Lonely Planet France guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
- Buy the Rick Steves France guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
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