Visiting Strasbourg is of course a must-do during your stay in Alsace. The capital of Alsace is full of charm and has a lot to offer to tourists and visitors. I fell in love with the city as soon as I moved there, and I’m charmed by it more and more every day, while I discover new places to visit and new activities to try. In my opinion, one of the main advantages of Strasbourg is that it offers a wide range of possibilities: the city is charming and it’s pleasant to wander around ; it’s dynamic with countless good addresses to go out ; it is culturally rich ; and finally – something that’s very important to me – nature is easily accessible from Strasbourg city centre. And let’s not forget that, Strasbourg is a European capital located at the border with Germany: it’s entertaining to hop the border and go to Germany (it’s possible to go on foot, by bicycle or by tram). In this article, I will try and make a list of my ideas, so that you enjoy the best visit in Strasbourg… I have written down the must-dos of Strasbourg, but also a few quirky ideas. As you might notice, you’ll need to stay a bit longer than a weekend, if you would like to do everything on this list! 😉
Strasbourg, on the city side
1. Visit Strasbourg Cathedral
It is impossible to miss the Cathedral Notre Dame de Strasbourg, which stands majestically at the heart of the city centre. With its pink colour and its sole tower, it is very unique! I would recommend to admire it from outside, but also to have a look inside: admission is free and it’s definitely worth having a look, as there are many elements to admire! You can also download a tour guide on the app Pop Guide, to enjoy your visit with a very useful guide. Good deal: there is a combined offer with the Batorama boat tour. Find here all information to visit Strasbourg Cathedral. Don’t miss the light show on the cathedral during summer evenings. It changes every year, but it’s always splendid!
2. Climb up Strasbourg Cathedral tower
To enjoy a panoramic view over Strasbourg, climb up on the tower platform of Strasbourg Cathedral! At 66 meters above ground, the view is very beautiful… It’s worth climbing 330 steps! (Note: it will reopen beginning of July 2019 after works)
3. Stroll around Grande Île
The heart of Strasbourg city centre is located on an island surrounded by the Ill (name of the river) and called Grande Île. Yes, you read it right! Strasbourg Grande Île is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding architecture. You’ll notice very quickly by wandering around that the city is very beautiful! It is very pleasant to walk around in predominantly pedestrian streets: it’s beautiful and lively! Some of the places to see are, first the place du Marché Gayot, place saint-Etienne, before going to Rue des Juifs, strolling in the quartier des Orfèvres (around the rue des Orfèvres), checking out place Broglie, place Kléber and reaching Grand Rue (one of the main streets in Strasbourg) before getting to place Gutenberg, the rue des Tonneliers and place des Tripiers. Don’t miss crossing the water to walk along the quai des Bateliers. Everything can be done on foot, as distances are quite small in Strasbourg!
4. Marvel at the wonders of La Petite France
The neighbourhood of La Petite France is located on the Grande Île of Strasbourg. It’s the most touristic area, but it’s also one of the most charming! With its canals, its locks, the countless half-timbered houses covered in flowers and cobbled streets, it’s impossible not to be charmed! This is the perfect place for a stroll…
5. Take a boat ride with Batorama
Strasbourg is surrounded by water: what could be better then than taking a boat ride? Batorama offers tours of Strasbourg onboard their riverboats. It is certainly a very touristic activity, but I highly recommend it: there is nothing better to see the city from another perspective, to get to see neighbourhoods you couldn’t have reached on foot (such as Strasbourg European Quarter) and to understand the history and organisation of the city. Definitely a must-do when visiting Strasbourg!
6. Climb the Barrage Vauban
I never miss the chance to go there when I have friends in town: the Barrage Vauban has one of the prettiest views over Strasbourg! Admission is free and you’ll just need to go up a floor to get to the terrace of the Barrage Vauban, with a view on the Ponts Couverts, the river Ill, La Petite France and the cathedral… Nice, uh?
7. Rent a Vélhop to bike around the city
If you want to do like locals, hire a bike! Strasbourg is the first cycling city in France: there are countless bike paths and Strasbourg inhabitants love to use them. You can do the same by renting a Vélhop: you’ll then be able to explore parts of Strasbourg that are a bit out of the city centre, but are still worth a visit or even to get out of town to enjoy the surrounding nature!
8. Discover Neustadt
Neustadt is a district of Strasbourg, that is also called the Imperial or German quarter. It was actually built when Strasbourg was german. Neustadt is, with Grande Île, listed as UNESCO World Heritage. It’s a primarily residential neighborhood, but it’s worth visiting it for the architecture. Don’t miss at least the main square of the quarter, Place de la République, which will give you a good overview. You’ll also discover a few outstanding buildings of the quarter with the Batorama boat ride I was telling you about just above.
9. Visiting the Historic wine cellar of Strasbourg Hospital
Strasbourg owns the oldest white wine in a barrel in the world. Yes, no less! Even more unusual, it is stored… in the wine cellar of Strasbourg Hospital! I have written more about it in this article about the Historic Wine Cellar of Strasbourg Hospital. If you want to see a beautiful wine cellar and buy good wine, this is a great place right in the town centre.
10. Visit one of Strasbourg museums
Strasbourg boasts several museums for all tastes, from the most conventional to the most quirky ones. You can find all the city museums on this page. As for me, my favourites are the following:
- Alsatian Museum – Located in a beautiful Alsatian building, you’ll learn a lot about life in Alsace in the past.
- Historical Museum of the city of Strasbourg – The history of Strasbourg is clearly explained and not boring at all thanks to good museography!
- Tomi Ungerer Museum – A museum dedicated to the famous Alsatian artist.
- MAMCS (Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) – I love this building and the collections are interesting. There are also temporary exhibits.
- Voodoo Museum – This is quite a quirky museum in Strasbourg to discover african voodoo tradition…
- Pixel Museum – The museum of video games. Isn’t it great?
11. Go and greet the storks at the Orangerie Park
The Orangery Park is the park where locals go to go jogging, to go for a walk with their family or to have a picnic with friends. It’s the oldest and largest park in the city: of a size of 26 hectares, it is indeed a nice green space! It’s a very enjoyable park with playgrounds for children, a little lake where it’s possible to go for a boat ride, ping-pong tables and a small free petting zoo. And you’ll easily be able to spot the famous Alsace storks!
12. Visit the European Quarter and the European Parliament
Strasbourg shares with Brussels the status of European Capital. Strasbourg has indeed several European institutions, including the renowned European Parliament. If you wish to visit Strasbourg European institutions, the best available option would be the Batorama boat tour, with which you’ll go around the institutions. Otherwise, it’s possible to go by bike or tram (or on foot, but it’s a bit further away, so you’ll need some time. However, it’s a pleasant walk). You’ll be able to admire the European Parliament (it’s definitely my favourite), the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and the Council of Europe. You’ll find here all information to visit the European institutions.
13. You won’t be bored, even when it’s raining!
Is it raining while you are visiting Strasbourg? Don’t panic: in addition of museums, I have a few unusual ideas in store for you: you could take part in an escape game at Dooz, A Maze In or Secrets du Sablier, go axe-throwing (!!), go climbing or to relax in a hammam. And here are other original ideas if the weather is not too bad: try a paper chase, a foodie walk or even a paper chase on the theme of beer… Not too bad, uh?
14. Listen to live music in a bar
There are several concert halls in Strasbourg, but there are also several bars regularly organizing live music events. This is the perfect idea to spend a nice evening!
Strasbourg, on the nature side
15. Go for a bike ride around Strasbourg
As mentioned above, cycling is part of Strasbourg DNA. The good news is that nature is easily accessible from Strasbourg city centre. One of my favorite bike ride is along the bicycle path of the canal de la Bruche, but I also love crossing the border with a bike ride on each side of the Rhine or even simply riding around Strasbourg and its surroundings.
16. Go for a walk in the forest
If you enjoy walking in the forest, the Robertsau Forest or the Neuhof forest, two suburban forests in Strasbourg, should be the perfect place for you! You’ll be able to enjoy nice walks there 🙂 You can have a look here to see how to get there.
17. Go canoeing or kayaking on the river Ill
The Ill is the river running through Strasbourg: you’ll be able to see it from everywhere, but we usually don’t know that it’s possible to go canoeing or kayaking! Strasbourg Eaux Vives offers several itineraries: crossing the city, going in the surroundings of Strasbourg or on the mysterious Krimmeri… You’ll be spoilt for choice! The only constraint is to be a group of 8 people for most trips (not all of them though), because of the necessary logistics to bring back participants and the material on arrival. If you want to discover Strasbourg in an unusual way, this is an activity that I really recommend!
18. Swimming in one of the lakes around Strasbourg
Summers in Alsace are often very hot and even almost stifling… One idea to cool off would be to go for a swim in one of the lakes or ballast pits of Strasbourg conurbation. You can even reach them by public transport! Here is my article about the swimming spots around Strasbourg.
Gourmet addresses in Strasbourg
19. Treat yourself with Alsatian (or other!) specialties
It’s impossible to come to Alsace without tasting a few Alsatian specialties. Traditional Alsatian food is quite rich and heavy, but it is delicious! Here are a lit of my favourite restaurants in Strasbourg.
If you prefer vegetarian food, don’t panic: here are our favourite vegetarian, vegan (and gluten-free) restaurants in Strasbourg.
20. Have a picnic on the banks of the Ill
Having a picnic on the docks, close to the water, is one of my favourite summer activity. Buy good local products (you can for example find them in the city centre at Nouvelle Douane), get settled and enjoy!
21. Take a break in an authentic café or tea room
Please, avoid Starbucks when you come to visit Strasbourg and visit independent retailers. We are very lucky in Strasbourg, as we have a lot of excellent cafés and tea rooms with a nice setting, good drinks and delicious treats! It would be a shame to miss out… Here is a list of my favourite cafés and tea rooms in Strasbourg.
22. Enjoy Strasbourg terraces
If you visit Strasbourg in summer, you’ll quickly find out that the city is very pleasant and boasts countless lively places inviting you to sit down. My favourite terraces? La Corde à Linge in La Petite France, the bars of Place du Marché Gayot on Grande Île and the terraces of the Café Atlantico and of Le Rafiot, two boats docked at quai des Bateliers.
23. Drink a good beer
You can’t speak about Alsace without speaking of… beer! I must admit that we drink a lot of beer in the region. But it’s better to know the places to try good craft beers! Here is a list of addresses to taste good beers in Strasbourg.
24. Have a brunch in Strasbourg
Here are a few good addresses to have a brunch in Strasbourg... It could be quite nice, couldn’t it?
Strasbourg, Capital of Christmas
25. Strasbourg Christmas Market
Inevitably, if you come during the holiday season, you shouldn’t miss Strasbourg Christmas Market and all the related activities! You’ll find here my guide for Strasbourg Christmas Market with all my tips and favourite addresses 🙂
26. Christmas Market OFF
Simultaneously to the traditional Christmas market, you’ll find the Market OFF, and social and solidarity Christmas Market. If you want to do as the locals do, don’t miss having a wander around this market!
Where to stay Strasbourg?
27. Sleep comfortably in Strasbourg
Here is an article about my favourite hotels in Strasbourg. Have a nice stay!