From the moment you step into Strasbourg, you’ll feel it.
A pleasant, welcoming vibe that’s a lot more than the friendliness of locals, the ease of getting around, or the odd familiarity of the storybook houses. Even on your first hour in the city, you’ll feel a sense of belonging – that you’re not a tourist to be scrutinized or a stranger to be wary of.
In a city that’s a mix of a lot of things, it’s just natural to fit in.
Strasbourg is known for many things – as the capital of the historic wine-growing region of Alsace, as the seat of the European Parliament, as the Capital of Christmas, and as a border city that derives from both French and German cultures. The vibe you get as you go around the city is an intoxicating mix of countryside hospitality and cosmopolitan, multicultural charm.
Whether you’re coming for the wine and food, the history and culture, or just to relax for a little holiday, there’s a lot to love in Strasbourg.
Little Holidays Guide to Strasbourg, France
- How to plan a holiday in Strasbourg and Alsace
- Map – essential landmarks in Strasbourg
- Best things to do in Strasbourg
- Where to eat and drink
- Day trips in and around Strasbourg
- Planning your trip
- Beyond Strasbourg – where to go next
- Download the PDF guide
Here’s a quick overview of the best things to see and do in Strasbourg and the rest of Alsace.
I’d recommend spending at least 2 days in Strasbourg, and then if you have more time, check out the rest of Alsace. It’s a beautiful wine-growing region with lots of charming little towns and villages, a vast national park, and spectacular natural landscapes.
If you have 2 days in Strasbourg:
Day 1 – Begin your adventures in Strasbourg with a walk around the historic city center. Walk around the picturesque Petite France, cross the Ponts Couverts, then head to the Krutenau district. You can spend some time in the Musée alsacien, Palais Rohan, and the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg to learn more about the region’s history and traditions. Unwind at Place Kleber with a glass of wine and a hearty dish.
Day 2 – Visit the city’s green spaces – the Jardin des Deux Rives and Parc l’Orangerie are perfect for a relaxing day. If you want to see more and get farther, rent a bike or join a bike tour. It’s a great way to enjoy the surrounding countryside and explore two countries in one day.
If you have 5 days in Alsace:
Spend days 1-2 in Strasbourg as above, then move to a base in the south of Alsace. Colmar is a great place to stay.
Day 3 – From Strasbourg, drive or ride a train to Colmar. If you’re driving, stop by Haut-Koenigsbourg, a medieval chateau built on a mountain ridge. Continue on to Colmar and spend the rest of the day exploring the postcard-perfect town.
Day 4 – Make your way to Eguisheim, the cradle of Alsatian wine. The medieval town is small and charming, with winding cobbled streets that lead to several hiking trails to the Vosges forests. Visit the wineries and bring home a Riesling or a Cremant d’Alsace. Then continue your drive to Lac du Ballon and the Grand Ballon for stunning views of the Alsatian countryside.
Day 5 – Visit two more of the beautiful towns along the Alsace wine route: Riquewihr and Kaysersberg. Both are great places for wine tasting, a short hike, or a biking tour of the vineyards.
Tell us: What are you most excited about your holiday in Alsace?
Use this Google map to plan your trip. I added all the important landmarks, best sights, and the best places to stay in Strasbourg.
Day 1 – Explore Grande Île, Strasbourg’s historic center
The Grand Île (or Grand Island) is Strasbourg’s historic city center. It was classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988, the first time a designation was given to an entire city center.
The buildings in the historic center show a mix of French and German influences, with designs dating from the medieval ages and throughout European history. A day of walking around the Grand Île is the best overview of Strasbourg’s evolution through the ages.
This walking itinerary is only 3 KM long and covers the essential sights in Strasbourg’s historic center. Depending on how much you want to linger in certain areas, you can do this in half a day or stretch it out to two days. You can also do this as a bike tour – Strasbourg is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, so it’s definitely an ideal way to see the city.
Get great views at the Barrage Vauban
As you walk to the heart of Grande Île, you’ll come across the Barrage Vauban, a bridge built in the 17th century that also acted as a weir (a barrier that alters the water flow), and a form of defense. This defensive measure was actually used in 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war – the river Ill’s water level was raised and completely flooded the northern part, making it impassable to the enemies.
Now, it serves as a viewing deck where you can see how the channels converge.
Walk around Petite France
Continue walking around Petite France. You’ll see remnants of the historic quarter’s past when it served as home to the city’s tanners, millers, and fishermen.
Cross the Ponts Couverts, admire the half-timbered houses and buildings, and snap your pictures along the flower-decked bridges.
Not to ruin the romantic mood, though, but here’s a fun little fact about the name “Petite France.” It was called such because, in the 16th century, the district housed a hospital where people suffering syphilis – then called Franzosenkrankheit or “French disease” by the Germans, as they believed French troops were the ones responsible for spreading it – were treated. Thus, the name stuck.
If you’re up for some brunch, check out the La Corde a Linge, a café and restaurant by the canal serving great Alsatian and French dishes, with an excellent selection of wines. We especially loved the beef tartare and the spätzle.
Continue your walk to the Krutenau district
Once you’ve had your fill of Petite France, continue your walk eastward to the Krutenau district.
You’ll pass by the Musée alsacien, a museum depicting daily rural life in Alsace in the 18th and 19th centuries; the Palais Rohan, a masterpiece of French Baroque architecture and home to the museums of decorative art, archaeology, and fine arts; and amazing viewpoints along the quay.
Learn more about Alsace in these museums or continue your stroll to Strasbourg’s architectural gem: the Cathedral.
Visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg is one of the finest examples of late Gothic architecture.
Built from 1015 to 1439, it was the world’s tallest building from 1647 to 1874 (for 227 years!) and presently the sixth-tallest church in the world and the highest existing structure built entirely in the Middle Ages. But enough of the numbers – the moment you see this massive structure, you’ll be in awe.
Fun fact: sandstone from the Vosges mountains gives the cathedral its pink hue.
Take some time to admire the cathedral’s façade and interiors, as well as the astronomical clock, then escape the crowds and head over to Place Kléber.
Unwind at Place Kleber
Place Kleber is the largest square in Strasbourg’s city center. This is also the city’s commercial area where you’ll find plenty of shopping options
For non-shoppers, this is a great place to take in more of the city’s vibe. If you’re visiting in December, make sure to hop over to the Christmas market.
End the day with good food and wine
Now it’s time to eat! As a wine region with both French and German influences, Alsace has unique gastronomy that’s not to miss. Here’s what to eat and where.
Day 2 – Visit the city’s green spaces
On your second day, explore the city’s green spaces. Strasbourg has a vast network of cycling paths and you can easily rent a bike and explore the surrounding countryside.
This itinerary goes to two beautiful parks in Strasbourg – Jardin des Deux Rives and Parc l’Orangerie. From the Gare Central and back, this route is 16 kilometers. If you prefer to go by public transportation, you can take Bus #2 to go to the bus stop Jardin des Deux Rives and to the bus stop Tauler to get to the Parc de l’Orangerie.
Jardin des Deux Rives
Jardin des Deux Rives (or the Two Shores Garden) is located on both banks of the Rhine – in France and in Germany – linked by a beautiful footbridge. This is the concrete expression of Strasbourg’s “internationalism,” a symbol of French-German friendship, and for travelers, a thrill to visit for its cross-border appeal.
From here, you can explore the German town of Kehl, or make your way back to Strasbourg’s city center.
Parc de l’Orangerie
The Parc de l’Orangerie is located in the quiet European quarter of Strasbourg. It also houses a zoo, a small farm, and a bowling alley. But best of all, it’s the ideal place to just relax on a bright sunny afternoon.
Alsace’s friendliness permeates all the way into its regional cuisine. If you’re not one for haute cuisine, you’ll be happy to discover that Alsatian gastronomy is genial and generous – think taverns lively with the sound of conversation and cutlery, and large plates and bowls filled with scrumptious fare that’s somewhere between hearty bar food and stylish comfort food.
When in Alsace, you must try choucroute – the regional version of the German sauerkraut, which is fermented cabbage usually served with chicken, pork, or sausage. You can have this along with many other traditional Alsatian dishes at Maison des Tanneurs, a historic restaurant in Petite France.
If you’ve worked up a huge appetite and need some carbs, hop over to La Corde a Linge and have a huge plate of their spätzle – soft egg noodles that come with a variety of sauces. You may want to try spätzle with munster cheese. This is a soft cheese made from milk from the Vosges, and an Alsatian specialty.
If you’re more of a pizza and beer kind of person, head to the Academie De La Biere, where you can fill up on beer and tarte flambee (also called flammekueche). They have locations in Petite France and near the Cathedral.
Strasbourg is definitely an exciting city – one which you can spend days exploring. But don’t forget to venture outside the city!
Just outside the city lies one of France’s most gorgeous wine regions. And even if you’re not particularly interested in wine, you can’t say no to the many lovely towns you can visit on a day trip or two – several of them are in the list of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (“the most beautiful villages of France”).
So if you have even just one extra day to explore outside the city, here are the best day trips from Strasbourg.
Bike tours in and around Strasbourg – Strasbourg is one of the most biking-friendly cities in the world and one that both recreational and avid bikers should experience! Bike paths will bring you to Strasbourg’s key landmarks as well as to the city outskirts – and even cross the bridge to Germany.
Alsace highlights tour – If you only have one extra day to explore the rest of Alsace, this fantastic day tour will bring you to three of the most beautiful Alsatian towns: Colmar, Eguisheim, and Riquewihr. It’s a full day of storybook towns, medieval castles, and stunning sceneries across the historic Alsace wine route.
Alsace wine tour – If you prefer a more wine-focused tour of Alsace, this is the day trip for you. Follow the historic Alsace wine trail and sample the best Rieslings, Pinot Blancs, and Gewürztraminers of the region. It’s perfect if you’re planning to drive to the other towns in Alsace – spend a day with a wine tour group so you can enjoy drinking as someone else does the driving.
Christmas markets in Alsace tour – Wine is not the only thing Alsace is known for. It has also earned the title “Capital of Christmas.” If you’re visiting over the holidays, make sure to check out the Strasbourg Christmas markets then check out how the rest of Alsace joins in on the festivities. You’ll get to see the picturesque towns all dressed up for Christmas and sample a wide range of regional treats and products.
Flying to Strasbourg – Strasbourg has its own international airport in Entzheim, just 16 KM from the Strasbourg city center – check for flights to Strasbourg here. Other nearby international airports are in Stuttgart (2 hours to Strasbourg) and Paris (5 hours to Strasbourg).
How to get from Strasbourg airport to the city center – You can ride the train from the airport to the Strasbourg station, then transfer to a tram or bus to your hotel. You can buy tickets at the airport and the train station.
Traveling by land to Strasbourg – If you’re coming from nearby cities and countries, you can reach Strasbourg by train or bus. If you’re on a multi-country trip, getting a Eurail Global Pass can be more convenient and economical for you. Otherwise, you can check SNCF for train connections to Strasbourg, or RegioJet and Flixbus for bus travel.
Renting a car – If you’re continuing your holiday into the Alsatian countryside, it’s best to get a rental car once you’re about to leave Strasbourg. Reserve your car in advance and pick it up either at the Strasbourg airport or near Gare Centrale.
We got ours from Avis via the RentalCars booking platform. Their pick-up office is near the Gare Centrale – once you exit the station, turn right and walk all the way to the end of the station. The Avis office, along with Sixt and Budget, is across the flags and beside Burger King.
I highly recommend getting your car only when leaving Strasbourg or if you plan to go on day trips outside the city. Compared to driving in the Alsatian countryside, driving in the city isn’t so fun. There’s occasional heavy traffic and it’s quite difficult to find free parking spaces within the center. If you must drive, though, ask if your hotel can reserve a parking slot for you. Otherwise, you can park at the street parking slots for free from 7 PM to 9 AM the next day.
Public transportation – Strasbourg has a great network of trams and buses. You can get your tickets from a mobile app, a vending machine at major tram and bus stops (like the Gare Centrale and the Etoile Bourse, if you’re arriving by bus), or onboard from the driver (it will be slightly more expensive).
If you need to ride the tram or bus just once for the day, get the ALLER SIMPLE ticket (EUR 1.80 from the vending machine). If you want to go around the city in trams and buses for the day, you can get the 24H ticket (EUR 4.60), or if there’s 2-3 of you, the 24H TRIO (EUR 6.90) is a great deal. Validate your tickets before getting on board trams and validate them when getting on buses (near the driver). You can find more information about ticket types and prices here.
Best places to stay in Strasbourg
If you want to explore Strasbourg’s cultural and historical highlights easily, stay near Petite France. You’ll be in the middle of the city’s most picturesque district and charming old town and within walking distance of the city’s best sights and restaurants. Hotel and Spa Le Bouclier d’Or and Cour du Corbeau are wonderful options.
If you’re in Strasbourg to shop and dine, stay near Place Kleber. You’ll be near all the fabulous shopping galleries and some of the city’s best restaurants. This is also near the Christmas markets during December, so you’ll be in a great place to enjoy the holiday festivities. BOMA Hotel is right along the commercial center and is an excellent base for a shopping spree.
If you want a totally relaxed stay away from the crowds, stay in the European Quarter. While it’s nowhere as hectic as Paris, Strasbourg does get its share of tourists, especially around July and December. If you prefer to stay somewhere more peaceful (and for less money), the European quarter is the best area. La Residence l’Orangerie is a lovely guesthouse right beside the Parc de l’Orangerie that will make you feel right at home in Strasbourg.
If you’re coming to Strasbourg for a short visit (a night or two), stay near the Gare Centrale. This area is perfect for a quick and convenient stay as it’s near the main train station and within walking distance of the city’s top sights. If you’re planning to drive or ride the train to the other towns in Alsace, this is a great place to stay for a quick trip. Mercure Strasbourg Centre is a bright and modern hotel perfect for on-the-go travelers.
Top tips for travel to Strasbourg
Languages spoken: French, German, English
Money: Euro (1 EUR ~ 1.10 USD) – You can pay at most shops, train stations, and hotels using a credit or debit card, but make sure to have cash with you. Some restaurants and establishments will only take cash.
If you have a borderless card like TransferWise or Revolut, you can withdraw from the French banks’ ATMs for free. Convert your currency to EUR on your app first, then withdraw easily and hassle-free.
- Accommodations – A stay for two in a luxurious hotel in the historic center (like Cour de Corbeau) can cost from EUR 240/night. A charming boutique hotel in a central location (like BOMA) costs around EUR 120/night. You can also find budget apartment rentals (like Studio Proche Gare Et Petite France) and stay for only EUR 70/night.
- Food – You can spend EUR 40 upwards for a nice dinner for two.
- Transportation – Strasbourg is extremely walkable. A single bus or tram ride within the city costs EUR 1.80, bike rentals are for EUR 20/day, and rental cars cost from EUR 80/day.
Tipping: A service charge is usually added to the final bill and tipping is not expected, but a 10-15% tip for excellent service is appreciated.
Weather and best times to go: Strasbourg is absolutely beautiful during the summer months (July, August) with flowers in full bloom and the perfect weather for walking and biking around the city. Autumn (October, November) is also a lovely time to visit, especially if you’re planning to continue your adventures around Alsace. You can enjoy the beautiful fall colors, milder weather, and wine festivals and tastings throughout the countryside. During the Christmas season (December), Strasbourg dresses up as the “Capitale de Noël” with festive Christmas markets spread throughout the city.
Staying connected: You can get a pocket Wi-Fi device delivered to your hotel in France or anywhere in the EU.
If you love laidback cities where you can enjoy delicious food, charming neighborhoods and towns, historical sights, and the beautiful outdoors, check out these other European cities.
If you love to wine and dine, head to Bologna, Italy’s food capital. You’ll be stuffing up on tortellini, mortadella, and tiramisu from day 1. Bologna is also the gateway to Emilia-Romagna, a region known for its medieval cities, rich gastronomy, and seaside resorts.
While you definitely won’t call Salzburg “underrated” – it’s one of Europe’s most popular destinations – the city has managed to remain charming and rustic, despite the tourist crowds. Plus, it’s the gateway to Austria’s Lake District, where you can spend days relaxing by the lake or hiking in the mountains.
Not exactly a city, but a region, South Moravia is the Czech Republic’s lush wine-growing region. You’ll find historic castle towns in between the vast fields and vineyards, with plenty of opportunities for wine tasting, biking and hiking, and enjoying the hearty regional cuisine.
Don’t forget to check out my road trip guide to Alsace and continue your adventures around this beautiful region!
Read more about Strasbourg
This timeless post puts into words what I cannot quite. Like I ventured at the beginning of this post, there something about Strasbourg, and Alan Riding eloquently discusses what that something is.
I focused on the historical sights within the city, but if you’d like a deeper understanding of Alsatian art, here are the places to visit.
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I hope this travel guide helps you plan your trip to Strasbourg! A fun city break filled with hearty food, pretty streets, and exciting adventures await!
If you need more help planning your trip to Strasbourg and Alsace, send me a message and I’ll do my best to help you out.
Thanks for reading and supporting the Little Holidays. Happy travels to France!
First published – 14 October 2017
Last updated – 19 December 2019 – updated information, fixed format, added travel-planning information