29 Top Things to See and Do in Strasbourg, France

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Strasbourg, France, rich in history and culture, is a place where German and French cultures seamlessly intertwine. It’s the kind of city that calls to the curious, a place begging to be discovered at least once in a lifetime! 

Strasbourg was founded by the Romans in 12 BC and conquered by France in 1681. Over the centuries, wars plagued the town, as French and German forces battled for control. Strasbourg changed hands four times but has been under French control since 1944. Its German influence can still be seen in its thriving culture from local dialect, architecture and cuisine. 

Strasbourg is an excellent base for exploring much of the Alsace region and is a fantastic walkable city. There is plenty to see in the city itself but its convenient location and transportation options offer plenty of opportunities to escape the city life or head to another one, such as Paris, only a 1.5-hour train ride away. If it is the famous Provence wine country you are after rent a car and head out on a day trip. Flowering fields, historic castles, detailed museums, and charming, picturesque villages can all be seen within an hour’s drive or less from Strasbourg.

You can also take a short flight from Strasbourg (Entzheim) airport (SXB) to Nice or Marseille to experience the fragrant lavender fields (mid-June to July), the world-famous Rose wine region, or bask on the shores of the French Riviera in southern France.

I spent four nights in Strasbourg during my first visit and then spent four nights in Colmar, the most charming French/German village I’ve ever seen. It did get touristy, but I loved the countryside, wine tastings, and local markets.

Four nights in Strasbourg allowed me three full days to explore the city, which was a good start but left me wanting to return. I didn’t get a chance to visit all the museums or restaurants I planned, but three days did allow plenty of time for the top things to do in Strasbourg. 

So what should be on your list when looking for things to do in Strasbourg, France? Let’s explore this captivating city and find out – keep reading for 29 of my favorite Strasbourg, France, things to do.

Strasbourg Cathedral

Formally known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg and as Cathedral Notre-Dame-de Strasbourg,  the Strasbourg Cathedral towers majestically on the Grand Île, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the city center. This architectural masterpiece, once the tallest building in the world until 1874, exemplifies Gothic design, magnetizing both the faithful and architecture buffs.

Inside, expect to be mesmerized. The grandeur of the cathedral’s interior is as awe-inspiring as its exterior. One of the main attractions? A fascinating astronomical clock. This antique of mechanical clockwork, striking every half past noon, presents an apostolic parade past Christ, a sight holding viewers captive for centuries. It also houses intricate devices marking the sun and moon’s positions, solar and lunar eclipses, and even a calendar of religious festivals – truly a marvel of its time! (the astronomical clock is located to the right of the high altar).

It is free to enter the cathedral, and the clock chimes every half hour. You can buy a 4 euro ticket to see the Clock’s midday performance. During this time (11:30-12:30 p.m.), the cathedral is closed to those who have not paid to see the show. I walked up to the clock when it appeared to be chiming at 10:30 am, but I have since learned this is not the “real show.” I am unsure if it would be worth the ticket, as it is a standing room only and fills up fast. I can’t imagine how many heads and extended arms with camera phones I’d have to get past actually to see it. 

Another must-see in the Strasbourg Cathedral is the radiant rose window beaming overhead. Daylight filters through the delicate stained glass, throwing a celestial radiance that highlights the statues and the high altar. 

Before you leave, pay to climb to the cathedral’s platform, rewarding you with a panoramic view of Strasbourg. The best time is on clear days when the distant silhouettes of the Black Forest and the Vosges Mountains touch the skyline. It took me about 15mins to climb to the top, with a few photo stops. The views are stunning, but the walk up on the narrow spiral staircase was HOTT but defintely worth it!

Exiting the cathedral leads to the Place du Chateau. This picturesque square is encircled by historic buildings like the Palais Rohan and dotted with inviting cafes. It’s the perfect spot to savor Alsace’s famous white wine while basking in the grandeur of this historical site. 

Maison Kammerzell 

Located mere steps from Strasbourg Cathedral, Maison Kammerzell is one of Strasbourg’s most stunning and iconic buildings. This remarkable half-timbered house hails from the 15th century, presenting an exquisite sample of medieval civil architecture. The unique facade, adorned with carved wooden panels showcasing biblical and mythological scenes, is a feast for the eyes.

Today, Maison Kammerzell functions as a hotel and restaurant, offering delicious Alsatian cuisine within its historic walls. The interior, with stunning stained glass windows and ornately decorated rooms, transports you back to the Middle Ages. Dining here is an unforgettable experience, making Maison Kammerzell a top place worth visiting.

Palais Rohan

The back entrance of this marvel is located just outside of the cathedral walls in Place du Chateau. The Palais Rohan is a compelling symbol of Strasbourg’s illustrious past. This grand palace, formerly the residence of the Prince-Bishops and Cardinals of the Rohan family – French nobility – is an architectural marvel. Regarding things to do in Strasbourg, France, visiting Palais Rohan is a must.

You’ll discover a trio of distinct city museums inside this stately palace. Each invites visitors to delve into a different facet of history and art. The Archaeological Museum acts as a time capsule, unearthing the city’s narrative from prehistoric times through the Merovingian era. 

Meanwhile, the Museum of Decorative Arts narrates the story of Strasbourg’s regal heritage with exquisite furniture, ceramics, and relics from royal dwellings. The Museum of Fine Arts is a must-do for art enthusiasts, showcasing a formidable collection of European paintings and sculptures sure to satisfy any artistic taste.

The Archaeological Museum

Tucked in the basement of Palais Rohan, the Archaeological Museum offers a captivating journey through Strasbourg’s history. Unraveling the region’s narrative from the prehistoric epochs to the early Middle Ages, it houses an invaluable collection of artifacts. 

From simple tools and weapons to elaborate jewelry and earthenware, these items provide a glimpse into the everyday lives and customs of Strasbourg’s earliest inhabitants. The museum’s displays are meticulously curated and complemented by comprehensive explanations, aiding your understanding of the city’s evolution. 

The Museum of Decorative Arts

Set on the ground floor of the Rohan Palace, the Museum of Decorative Arts takes you on a journey through Strasbourg’s opulent past. The elegant interiors of the palace, complemented by original parquet flooring and gold detailing, set the stage for an impressive collection of decorative objects. This range includes royal dinnerware, intricate clocks, tapestries, and more, with each piece narrating a chapter from the city’s affluent history and artistic flair. The history and opulence of this museum make it one of the best Strasbourg things to do.

The Museum of Fine Arts

Situated on the first and second floors of the Palais Rohan, Strasbourg’s Museum of Fine Arts holds an invaluable collection of paintings, sculptures, and drawings spanning the Middle Ages to 1870. Wandering through the grand halls, your chronological journey through art begins, guided by masterpieces from luminaries like Botticelli, Goya, and Rubens. This magnificent ensemble of artwork encapsulates the essence of European artistic tradition, making it one of Strasbourg’s top things to see.

It will probably take about 5 hours to go through all three museums. Standard opening times are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m, reopening from 2 p.m. to 6 pm. Closed on Tuesdays. Check the linked website for updated times.

La Petite France

Located in the heart of Strasbourg, La Petite France is an alluring glimpse into the past, replete with cobblestone lanes, charming canals, and a picturesque collection of preserved half-timbered houses. This quaint district, once home to millers, fishermen, and tanners in the 16th and 17th centuries, clusters by the River Ill. Historical landmarks such as the Ponts Couverts, three medieval covered bridges, and the Barrage Vauban, a 17th-century architectural marvel, gives a sense of the city’s formidable history.

Wandering through narrow, winding streets like Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes and Rue des Dentelles, you’re met with the old-world charm of flower-filled balconies, quaint cafes, and inviting shops. The Maison des Tanneurs, a beautifully preserved 16th-century tanners’ house, and restaurant, further enhances the district’s appeal. Famous for its Choucroute Garnie, a traditional Alsatian dish of sauerkraut with various pork cuts, dining here feels like stepping back in time.

I strolled through the Petite France neighborhood every morning and many evenings as I returned to my hotel, carefully avoiding the thick wave of tourists unleashed on the city by Greyhound bus between 9 a.m.-4 p.m. I chose a hotel within walking distance of the train station to make lugging 80+ lbs of luggage more manageable. There are loads of cobblestone streets and many traffic restrictions throughout the city, so best to keep logistics in mind when choosing accommodation.

I stayed at Hotel Mercure Strasbourg Center Petite France. A simple hotel with free breakfast and all the necessities, including working air conditioning. The room was very small but worked ok for one person.

Place Gutenberg

Located on Grand Île, this historic square is named after Johannes Gutenberg, the printing press inventor who resided in Strasbourg for some time. Dominated by a statue of Gutenberg, and the famous merry-go-round or carousel, the square is a popular meeting place (or resting place, depending on how long you have been walking) and hosts book fairs and other events. It’s a stone’s throw from significant landmarks like the Cathedral of Notre Dame and Maison Kammerzell. The square transforms into a vibrant Strasbourg Christmas market during the holiday season, brimming with local handicrafts, treats, and festive cheer. 

Place Kleber

As the largest square in the city center on Grande Île, Place Kleber is a bustling hub of city life. Filled with a diverse assortment of shops, cafes, and restaurants, the square is always alive with activity. The central statue in this area is a monument dedicated to General Jean-Baptiste Kléber, a Strasbourg-born military officer during the French Revolutionary Wars. Place Kleber transforms for the holiday season with a 30-meter-high Christmas Tree and loads of market shopping. It’s also home to the Apple store, a Starbucks, and a water feature where many locals (and tourists) can be seen soaking their feet.

Broglie Square

Known for its traditional Christmas market in December and performance stages in summer, Broglie Square is another key point of interest in the city. The square, lined with stunning 18th-century buildings, including the City Hall and the Opera House, creates a charming backdrop for the festive stalls. This square is also an excellent starting point for a walking tour of 18th-century Strasbourg and is located along Rue de la Mesange, the famous designer shopping street.

Try a Tarte flambée

Tarte flambée is an Alsatian culinary delight – a must-try while visiting this region of France. This flatbread, topped with fromage blanc or crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions, and lardons or ham, is baked in a piping hot oven, yielding a crispy, smoky finish. This iconic dish is best enjoyed with a glass of white wine, a specialty of the Alsace wine route, and can be found in many establishments in the city center.

Some great restaurants to try are Le Pfifferbriader, La Petite Alsace and Restaurant Le Tonneau. They all serve Tarte flambée and other local specialties.

Experience the excitement of the Christmas Markets

Strasbourg’s Christmas Markets are some of the best places to visit during the holiday season. In its wintry splendor, this beautiful city serves up a historic and bountiful festive spectacle considered among the oldest and grandest in Europe. 

As one of Strasbourg’s main attractions, these markets transform this city into a sparkling wonderland during this magical season, garlanded with twinkling lights, a grand Christmas tree, and vibrant market stalls brimming with crafts, delectable food, and unique gifts. A few of the best markets are found in Place de la Cathédrale de Strasbourg, Place Kléber, Place Gutenberg, Place Broglie Christkindelsmärik, and Place du Château.

Parc de l’Orangerie

Dating back to the 17th century, this expansive haven is ideal for tranquil activities like strolling among the historic buildings and age-old trees or a serene picnic on the manicured lawns. You can also enjoy a quaint boat ride with resident swans and ducks on the park’s idyllic lake. The park, with beautifully maintained landscapes, a sanctuary for regal storks, and interactive playgrounds, provides a perfect escape for relaxation and recreation. 

European Parliament

Among the top things to see in Strasbourg is one of the seats of the European Parliament, signifying the city’s importance in European politics. This monumental complex, completed in 1999, is where members of the European Union convene. Standing 60 meters high, it is one of Strasbourg’s tallest buildings and is easily accessible from the train station. Visitors can tour this modern architectural feat, including the grand Hemicycle debating chamber, and learn about the workings of the EU.

Alsatian Museum

A visit to the Alsatian Museum is a must for a deeper understanding of traditional Alsatian life and German culture. This museum in a beautiful historic mansion near the city center provides comprehensive insights into the Alsatian heritage and daily life in the 18th and 19th centuries. This museum’s 5,000 exhibits show everything from traditional costumes, furniture, and agricultural tools to pottery and religious artifacts.

Le Vaisseau

Le Vaisseau is a science and technology center perfect for families with children. This interactive learning center, with a play space, sensory trails, and an orchard, encourages kids to touch, explore, and learn about various scientific phenomena through fun, hands-on exhibits. 

Take a Food Tour

A food tour is a great way to spend the afternoon if you love food, meeting new people, and a bit of local history. I booked a Food Tour through Air B&B Experiences. It cost $95 USD, which I thought was a little pricy, but despite the price, I enjoyed the tour very much. The host was lovely, a local with a lot of insider knowledge, and the small group was the perfect size to wander through the city and get to know everyone. We tasted a lot of local specialties, including gingerbread, charcuterie, local wines, sauerkraut, and Tarte flambée.

Book a Historical Boat Tour.

A boat tour along the River Ill is a picturesque way to soak in a history lesson and admire Strasbourg’s landmarks, including the Ponts Couverts, the city’s historic covered bridges, and the Barrage Vauban. These leisurely rides offer splendid views of the Rohan Palace, the Petite France district, and the stunning half-timbered houses lining the riverbanks. Whether day or night, a boat tour provides a different perspective of the area, making it one of Strasbourg’s top things to do. You can book a tour from Pier Batorama near Rohan Palace. Each tour costs about 15 euros for an adult.

Explore the City on a Bike Tour

Renowned for its welcoming attitude towards cyclists, Strasbourg offers various bike rental services for guided tours or self-led adventures. Pedaling along the city’s comprehensive network of bike lanes and trails, you’ll get a unique perspective of Strasbourg. This is a delightful way to journey along the Alsace wine route, offering an authentic taste of the region’s multifaceted charm.

Visit Neustadt (or New Town)

Stepping into the district of Neustadt, the German Quarter, is akin to stepping into a captivating chapter of Strasbourg’s past. Conceived between 1871 and 1918, during a period when Strasbourg was under German rule after the Franco-Prussian War, Neustadt unfolds a unique architectural tapestry where German precision and French elegance meet. The Prussian-style buildings add depth to the area’s formal gardens, University Library, and National Theater. Many parks in this area offer a relaxing atmosphere away from the bustling city center.

Eglise Reformee Saint Paul 

Neighboring Neustadt, look for Eglise reformee Saint Paul, also known as St. Paul’s Church. It is a testament to Neo-Gothic architecture, standing proudly on the banks of the River Ill. 

Inside, the church echoes the Middle Ages, with the ambiance amplified by striking stained-glass windows. These elaborate windows color the church interior with a spectrum of hues as the sunlight streams through. The lofty vaulted ceilings, beautiful altarpiece, and grand organ further enhance this spiritual space.

For a stunning view of Eglise Reformee Saint Paul, walk along the Pont Royal bridge. It also gives great views of the city in the other direction. I forgot to do this and completely regret it! It is especially beautiful after nightfall when the walkway and church are lit up.

Nightlife in the Krutenau Neighborhood

As day turns into night, the Krutenau district, nestled just south of Grande Île, springs to life. Celebrated for its dynamic nightlife, this district fuses old-world charm with contemporary chic, boasting historic architecture punctuated by modern bars and eateries. The neighborhood hums with infectious energy as twilight falls, attracting locals and tourists to its myriad culinary and entertainment offerings. Be it an intimate bistro, a high-end cocktail bar, or a pulsating nightclub, the Krutenau district promises an unforgettable Strasbourg evening.

The Botanical Gardens of Strasbourg University

Escape the bustle of the city and retreat to the University Botanical Garden, home to a two-level tropical greenhouse, 6,000 species of plants, and a picturesque pond. With an arboretum comprising five bald cypress trees, a giant sequoia, and a pecan tree, this living museum and hidden gem will surely delight nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers. Located in the Imperial Quarter of Strasbourg, this is one of the best free things to do in Strasbourg, France.

Retail Therapy

Shopping in Strasbourg morphs into a delightful exploration, presenting an eclectic mix of upscale boutiques, multi-level department stores, charming artisan workshops, and lively markets. Rue des Hallebardes, Rue de la Mesange and Rue des Orfèvres are three excellent retail avenues with luxury boutiques and specialized shops. 

Meanwhile, Grandes Arcades and Franc-Bourgeois streets, bustling with a blend of renowned brands and one-of-a-kind local stores, cater to various tastes and budgets. Beyond the joy of retail indulgence, navigating these streets offers an immersive experience of Strasbourg’s lively urban rhythm.

Black Forest Day Trip

Seeking a respite from the crowds and noise of the city? Embark on a day trip to the neighboring Black Forest in Germany. Renowned for its imposing, dense woodlands, idyllic hamlets, and tranquil hiking paths, this mountainous region promises a soothing retreat. 

While you’re there, make sure to experience the Black Forest’s cherished traditions, from admiring the intricate craftsmanship of its iconic cuckoo clocks to savoring the indulgent flavors of the famed Black Forest gâteau.

Spend a day easing along the Rhine River

A day trip along the Rhine River offers a different perspective of the Alsace region’s stunning landscapes. Several tour operators offer boat trips and guided tours exploring this major European waterway. The train station in Strasbourg provides excellent connections to various destinations along the river, including the scenic Vosges Mountains. This excursion promises an unforgettable visual feast of rolling hills, vineyards, and historic towns.

Alsace Wine Route

Wine lovers can’t miss a journey along the Alsace Wine Route. This famous trail meanders through some of the most beautiful vineyards in the region, known worldwide for their excellent white wines. Numerous vineyards along the route offer wine tastings, allowing you to sample the area’s diverse wine portfolio. A day trip along the Alsace Wine Route is an enriching experience, blending the pleasures of wine, food, and stunning landscapes.

Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle

To cap off your Strasbourg adventure, visit the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle. Perched on a rocky spur in the Vosges Mountains, this meticulously restored medieval castle provides breathtaking views of the Alsace region on its panorama terrace. 

A tour of the castle takes you through grand halls, Amory towers, and picturesque courtyards, all bearing witness to the region’s rich history. The journey to Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, through the enchanting landscapes of Alsace, is an experience in itself, providing a fitting conclusion to your exploration of Strasbourg and its surrounding areas. Entrance tickets to the castle cost 9 euros per adult. Get there when it first opens, as parking fills fast.

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With all of these fun things to do in Strasbourg, France, you’ll have no problem filling your days and immersing yourself in the artful character of this delightful historic city. Get an early start to enjoy the sights without the heavy loads of tourists; an empty street and a cool morning breeze will really transform your experience.

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