If you want to visit one of Europe’s most beautiful yet underrated cities, Strasbourg may be what you want. This historical city is located east of Paris, about a two-hour train ride away, and is magical. While it is undoubtedly a year-round destination, my favorite time to visit Strasbourg is winter.
Strasbourg is famous for its alluring Christmas market – one of the oldest and largest on the continent. Millions of visitors travel here yearly to take in the annual festive tradition’s sights, smells, and flavors. Don’t miss an opportunity to indulge in hot wine and traditional Alsatian cuisine.
Aside from the Christmas market, Strasbourg has a fascinating history, a picturesque historic center, and a cathedral once the tallest building in the world.
The things to do in Strasbourg definitely lean towards the historical type of stuff, but I also suggest expanding your Strasbourg trip to include a day trip to explore the famed Alsace Wine Route.
Strasbourg is an ideal place to stroll without a plan and see what you stumble upon. There are many interesting historical landmarks, gorgeous parks, and adorable buildings to admire and take photos of.
However, we’ve got you covered if you want ideas for visiting places! Continue reading to discover all the unmissable tourist attractions and things to do in Strasbourg!
What We Cover
- Things to Do in Strasbourg, France
- 1. Visit the famous Strasbourg Christmas Market
- 2. Check out the Strasbourg Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- 3. Admire the beautiful half-timbered houses of La Petite France
- 4. Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
- 5. Sample traditional dishes of the Alsace Region
- 6. Go on a Strasbourg boat tour
- 7. Take in the iconic landmarks of the European District
- 8. Stroll through the stunning Parc de l’Orangerie
- 9. Learn about the region at the Alsatian Museum
- 10. Admire the Ponts Couverts de Strasbourg
- 11. Visit three museums in one at the Palais Rohan
- 12. Take a day tour of the Alsace Wine Route
- 13. See the impressive gothic art of St. Thomas Church
- 14. Walk across the impressive Barrage Vauban
- 15. Let imaginations run wild at Le Vaisseau
- What is Strasbourg known for?
- Are two days in Strasbourg enough?
- What are the best Strasbourg tours?
|Parc de l’Orangerie
|Activity for Adults
|Strasbourg Christmas Market
|Activity for Kids
|Aloft Strasbourg Etoile
Things to Do in Strasbourg, France
1. Visit the famous Strasbourg Christmas Market
The Strasbourg Christmas Market is one of Europe’s oldest and largest Christmas markets, dating back to the 16th century. This famous Christmas market sees a whopping two million visitors yearly, making it the largest annual event in France. The Strasbourg Christmas markets are spread throughout the town, but the main ones can be found outside the Strasbourg Cathedral and in Place Kleber.
It makes the cold winters worthwhile if you’re unfamiliar with European Christmas markets. Many large cities, particularly in eastern and central Europe, host Christmas markets that consist of food booths, crafts, local food and art, games, and rides.
The food offered is always delicious and is typically traditional to the region. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the hot wine! The Strasbourg Christmas Market typically lasts from the end of November until the end of December.
Visitors can enjoy traditional Alsatian food like flammekueche, choucroute, spaetzle, or my favorite Christmas market meal: a cheesy raclette hot dog!
If you want to enjoy the most stunning views of the Christmas markets and the Strasbourg cathedral, book a room at the Aloft Strasbourg Etoile. The hotel is a great place to stay in Strasbourg; it has a small lobby bar and offers complimentary continental breakfast.
Another great option is the Maison Rouge Strasbourg Hotel & Spa, Autograph Collection, located next to Place Kleber. Read our full review of staying at the Maison Rouge Hotel.
2. Check out the Strasbourg Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Address: Place de la Cathédrale, 67000 Strasbourg, France
The famous Strasbourg Cathedral, also known as the Notre Dame de Strasbourg or the Notre Dame Cathedral, is the city’s most iconic sight and was the tallest building in the world for the first 200 years after its completion.
Construction of the Strasbourg Cathedral began in 1015 and was completed in 1439 with the addition of its gothic spire. The cathedral’s exterior is striking and stands out among the charming half-timbered houses of the old town.
The inside of this Gothic cathedral is just as breathtaking as the exterior. The massive stained glass windows date back to the 12th and 14th centuries, and the organ is also beautiful.
The cathedral’s Astronomical Clock is the main attraction, which comes to life every day at 12:30 pm. At this time, the clock’s figurines depict different stages of human life, while a different stage of the clock depicts a parade of Jesus’ apostles.
The cathedral is open to visitors daily except during services. Be mindful and respectful; this is a religious site still used today.
See Related: Most Beautiful Villages in France to Visit
3. Admire the beautiful half-timbered houses of La Petite France
One of my absolute favorite places to visit in Strasbourg is the La Petite France neighborhood. This part of the city is located on the west side of the city center and is often compared to Venice because of all the canals that run through the neighborhood.
The quaint buildings that make up this part of Strasbourg’s old town will make you feel like you’ve just been transported into a fairytale. It’s wonderful, whether you’re visiting on a sunny spring day or while it’s decorated for the holidays in the winter.
The buildings come in various pastel colors, with some of the oldest homes dating back to the 1500s. Make sure to have your cameras charged and pack all your favorite lenses – you’ll definitely want to take more than a few pictures in this charming neighborhood.
I recommend visiting in the early morning before the streets become filled with others looking to get that perfect shot. The Mercure Strasbourg Centre Petite France is conveniently located between La Petite France and the Strasbourg train station.
4. Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Address: 1 Place Hans-Jean-Arp, 67000 Strasbourg, France
The Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, also called the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg is located on the banks of the Ill River. The museum houses paintings, photos, videos, sculptures, and engravings from some of the world’s most famous artists.
Visitors can admire works of art by Monet, Rodin, Gauguin, Picasso, and many other world-renowned and local artists. The museum’s collection includes art from the late 19th century to the modern day.
The Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art also hosts events, workshops, and performances, so check out their website to see what’s on while visiting Strasbourg. Ticket prices to the museum are fair, so I highly recommend visiting this one if you decide which Strasbourg museums to visit.
5. Sample traditional dishes of the Alsace Region
One thing that everyone must do when visiting Strasbourg is to sample some delicious traditional Alsatian food. Alsatian food is similar to German food (just across the German border) and can be described as hearty and comforting.
This small-group food tour through Strasbourg will have you eating like a local in no time. You’ll sample delectable dishes like flammekeuche, a pizza-like dish usually topped with cream, onions, and bacon.
Other dishes may include choucroute (sauerkraut) with sausage, various local cheeses, and gingerbread – an Alsatian winter staple!
If you don’t have time to do a food tour, there are many traditional restaurants around Strasbourg where you can try the local food. My favorite Strasbourg restaurant is L’Ancienne Douane. It’s on a picturesque canal, and the food is delicious!
6. Go on a Strasbourg boat tour
When visiting Strasbourg, you’ll notice a few canals that encircle the city, particularly the old town. These canals once transported coal and construction materials to and from the city.
Today, these canals are used as a fun sightseeing activity. During this two-hour private boat tour of Strasbourg, you’ll pass by some of the top Strasbourg attractions around the historic center, including the Notre Dame Cathedral, the famous covered bridges, the European Parliament, and the Parc de l’Orangerie.
Going on a boat ride through the canals of Strasbourg is possible year-round, and it’s a great way to enjoy the perfect weather during the late spring and early summer. If the splurge on a private boat tour isn’t up your alley, Batorama offers several boat tour options for a fraction of the price.
7. Take in the iconic landmarks of the European District
One of the most important parts of Strasbourg is the European District, home to some of the most iconic landmarks in the city. This district was formed shortly after World War II and includes important European institutions like the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Lieu d’Europe.
These institutions are crucial in European politics, technology, and culture. A great place to visit in the European District is the Lieu d’Europe. It is open to the public and aims to educate about European issues through events, exhibitions, discussions, and film screenings.
This free audio tour will take you on a self-guided walking tour of the district. It includes eight stops with information about each institution. The nearby AC Hotel by Marriott Strasbourg is a fantastic place to stay because it’s well-connected and close to many interesting things to check out besides the European District.
8. Stroll through the stunning Parc de l’Orangerie
Address: Parc de l’Orangerie, 67000 Strasbourg, France
Adjacent to the European District is the stunning Parc de l’Orangerie. The park was designed by an architect in the 17th century and is on France’s official list of historical monuments. Not only is it a place for visitors to enjoy, but Strasbourg locals also love to take their walks through the beautiful gardens of this park.
This 64-acre park includes several wonderful areas, including a playground, English gardens, a French promenade, an artificial lake, and a gorgeous Michelin-starred restaurant in a house built in the early 1600s.
Buerehiesel specializes in traditional Alsatian and French cuisine and features a seasonal tasting menu. After a delicious meal at Buerehiesel, take a relaxing stroll through the park and enjoy the tranquil sights and sounds around the lake and fountains.
See Related: Best Gardens in Europe to Visit
9. Learn about the region at the Alsatian Museum
Address: 23-25 Quai Saint-Nicolas, 67000 Strasbourg, France
The Alsatian Museum is a fantastic place to visit if you’d like to learn more about the Alsace region and life in Alsace during the 18th century. This museum spans three former homes and is decorated to represent a typical home, pharmacy, kitchen, and craft workshops.
Visitors can enjoy an immersive experience of the diverse facets of Alsatian life, from its unique customs and folklore to its tumultuous history marked by periods of German and French influence.
The museum’s exhibits showcase a wide array of artifacts, including traditional costumes, household items, religious artifacts, and artisanal crafts, providing insight into the daily lives of Alsace’s inhabitants over the last several hundred years.
Rural life, agriculture, winemaking, and local festivals are topics discussed throughout the Alsatian Museum. The museum comprises 30 rooms displaying more than 5,000 artifacts and is wheelchair-accessible.
10. Admire the Ponts Couverts de Strasbourg
The Ponts Couverts de Strasbourg, or Covered Bridges of Strasbourg, are a captivating ensemble of medieval bridges spanning the River Ill. These charming bridges, which date back to the 13th century, comprise three arches and watch towers that were part of the city’s original fortifications.
These bridges still provide a picturesque pedestrian walkway into the Petite France neighborhood. Funnily enough, these “covered” bridges have not had their wooden coverings since the 1800s, though the “covered bridges” name has still stuck.
While they are extremely beautiful during the day, the bridges become even more magical and whimsical at dusk when they are illuminated. The Ponts Couverts cast a magical ambiance over the surrounding area, making them a must-see attraction for visitors exploring the enchanting city of Strasbourg.
11. Visit three museums in one at the Palais Rohan
Address: 2 Place du Château, 67000 Strasbourg, France
The 18th century Palais Rohan was built by Robert de Cotte, Principal Architect to the King, for the cardinal of Strasbourg in 1732. The palace resembles one of the most famous mansions in the capital city of Paris and is renowned for its noble classical architecture as well as its mesmerizing interior decoration.
Today, the Palais Rohan houses three Strasbourg museums: the Museum of Decorative Arts, Archaeological, and Fine Arts. Start on the ground floor in the Museum of Decorative Arts, which houses stunning 17th- to 19th-century furnishings, sculptures, jewelry, and ceramics.
On the basement level of the palace, you’ll find the Archaeological Museum, where you can discover prehistoric and medieval objects excavated from the local area. And finally, on the top floor of Palais Rohan is the Fine Arts Museum. Visitors can admire works of art by greats such as Monet, Rembrandt, and Renoir.
Visiting Palais Rohan is an amazing way to check off several interesting museums in Strasbourg in one go. Stay next door at the Hotel Rohan, centrally located in the city’s Grande Ile (historic district).
12. Take a day tour of the Alsace Wine Route
Alsace is one of the most notable wine regions of France. As such, if you’re a big wine fan or just want to bask in the ambiance of a French winery, I highly recommend taking a day trip along the Alsace Wine Route and enjoying some wine tasting.
The Alsace Wine Route stretches north to south, from Marlenheim (just west of Strasbourg) to Thann. This half-day wine-tasting tour starts in Strasbourg and stops at several French wineries. During the tour, you’ll learn about soil, climate, and weather conditions and how they affect the grapes grown in the region.
Seven varieties of grapes grow in the region, including gewürztraminer and Riesling. You’ll taste several white wine varieties and learn about the differences between the flavor profiles.
You don’t have to be a wine snob to enjoy this tour, and no matter how often you drink wine, a wine tour will definitely give you a deeper appreciation of the work and science that goes behind making a good bottle of wine.
13. See the impressive gothic art of St. Thomas Church
Address: 11 Rue Martin Luther, 67000 Strasbourg, France
While Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral usually gets all the attention, there is actually another majestic church that also deserves a visit. St. Thomas Church, otherwise known as Église Saint-Thomas, is located on the southern edge of the old town of Strasbourg and holds much cultural and historical importance to the region.
The church was completed in 1521 – taking more than 300 years – and has changed hands many times over the centuries due to disputes between France and Germany. Since 1681, the Gothic church has been a French protestant church. It is the largest five-nave church in the former German territory.
Two main highlights of St. Thomas Church are the art and the organs. The church features the second largest fresco depicting Saint Michael, as well as a large original medieval stained glass window at the front of the church.
One of the church’s two organs was installed in 1741 and was played several times by Mozart during his visit to Strasbourg in 1778. He even wrote about his experience playing this organ in a letter to his father!
14. Walk across the impressive Barrage Vauban
Address: Place du Qur Blanc, 67000 Strasbourg, France
As you may have noticed, Strasbourg is full of amazing, well-preserved landmarks that have been around for hundreds of years. One of my favorites is the Barrage Vauban, a large pink sandstone bridge built in the 1600s.
The Barrage Vauban was originally built as a defensive feature, allowing the river to flood the land south of Strasbourg in case of attack.
The Barrage Vauban now houses sculptures and other Strasbourg Cathedral and Palais Rohan artifacts. It is free to visit and open daily. It’s a practical way to cross the River Ill while learning more about Strasbourg’s history.
At the top of the Barrage Vauban is a glass terrace where you can enjoy panoramic city views. Seeing all the canals surrounding the Grande Ile district of Strasbourg is also a great vantage.
15. Let imaginations run wild at Le Vaisseau
Address: 1 Bis Rue Philippe Dollinger, 67100 Strasbourg, France
Many Strasbourg attractions can be geared towards adults and not so much for the littles – but this one is just for them! Le Vaisseau is an awesome, family-friendly space that caters to children between the ages of three and 12.
Interactive exhibitions at Le Vaisseau range from technology to mathematics to natural sciences and everything in between. Kids can build extraordinary houses, experiment with light and different color combinations, do brain teasers, and so much more. If your kids are interested in tech, they can learn about artificial intelligence and develop their algorithms.
La Vaisseau is managed by Collectivité européenne d’Alsace and welcomes over 170,000 each year. It’s open every day except Mondays and Thursdays.
Tickets are affordable, and admission is free for children under three. Alternatively, you can buy this Strasbourg pass, which allows you access to Le Vaisseau and many of Strasbourg’s other top attractions.
What is Strasbourg known for?
Strasbourg is nicknamed the “unofficial European capital of Christmas” because it hosts one of Europe’s oldest and largest Christmas markets. It’s also known for the stunning Strasbourg Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and housing some of Europe’s most important institutions, including the European Parliament, the Health Council of Europe, and the European Court of Human Rights.
Are two days in Strasbourg enough?
Two days in Strasbourg is certainly enough to see this beautiful French city, whether you are visiting during the Strasbourg Christmas market or at any other time of the year. However, if you’d like to explore nearby villages in the Alsace region, I highly recommend spending at least three or four days in Strasbourg.
What are the best Strasbourg tours?
All visitors to Strasbourg should definitely take a boat tour around the city center. If you have more time, tour the Alsace Wine Route to learn about the famous wines from the Alsace region.