Strasbourg runs along the banks of the Rhine River in eastern France. It’s a captivating city that seamlessly blends its rich history with a vibrant and youthful cultural scene. The city is known for its medieval architecture, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it’s a prominent seat of European institutions including the European Parliament which can be visited by the public. Grande Île, the city’s old town, transports visitors back in time with its cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses and the iconic Strasbourg Cathedral. It is well-worth taking an afternoon to simply meander around this district to soak up the history and culture.
Strasbourg is home to a second river, the Ill River, which winds through the heart of the city. Aside from spectacular architecture, the city is also highly influenced by its unique positioning on the French-German border. This influence can be seen in everything from its delicious traditional Alsatian dishes and French delicacies to its history, fashion and art culture.
Strasbourg has a strong commitment to sustainability evident from its many bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly zones, limiting the amount of vehicles in its centre. One of the best things to do in Strasbourg if visiting in the winter is to spend a day exploring its enchanting Christmas markets that are amongst the oldest in Europe. From exploring the historical district to cruising along the canals, Strasbourg offers a diverse range of things to do. Regardless of what you plan to do in the city, here are 20 things you should do in Strasbourg.
- Strasbourg, France
- Plan Your Trip
- 20 Things To Do In Strasbourg
- 1- Visit Strasbourg Cathedral
- 2- Explore La Petite France
- 3- Wander Around Parc de l’Orangerie
- 4- Take A Boat Tour On The Ill River
- 5- Discover Strasbourg’s Old Town
- 6- Visit Palais Rohan
- 7- Experience Strasbourg’s Christmas Markets
- 8- Learn About Animals At The Zoological Museum
- 9- See Politics In Action At European Parliament
- 10- Visit The Alsatian Museum
- 11- Relax In The University Botanical Gardens
- 12- Enjoy A Stroll In Contades Park
- 13- Explore Place Kléber
- 14- Visit the Historical Museum Of Strasbourg
- 15- Wander Through The Covered Bridges
- 16- Discover Strasbourg’s Astronomical Clock
- 17- Explore The Vauban Dam
- 18- Spend An Evening At Strasbourg Opera House
- 19- Admire Maison Kammerzell
- 20- Eat Local Cuisine At An Alsatian Restaurant
20 Things To Do In Strasbourg
1- Visit Strasbourg Cathedral
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, a visit to Strasbourg Cathedral is an iconic thing to do when in the city.
Notre Dame Cathedral as it is officially called, is one of the city’s many gothic architectural masterpieces.
Works on the cathedral began in 1015, with its Gothic spire being added in 1439.
Only the crypt and the footprint of the original cathedral remain, with other elements being added over the centuries as architecture styles and the needs of the church changed.
The outer facade of the cathedral is covered in hundreds of sculptures dating from the Middle Ages, all exquisitely carved out of sandstone.
Inside, the most famous parts of the cathedral are its stained glass windows and spectacular rose window, all of which date from the 12th to the 14th centuries.
Strasbourg Cathedral is at Pl. de la Cathédrale, 67000 Strasbourg. Download this guide to learn more.
2- Explore La Petite France
La Petit France is Strasbourg’s main tourist centre and a popular destination to visit.
The area is filled with quaint cobblestone streets crisscrossed with canals, foot bridges and cosy half-timbered houses.
Explore Benjamin Zix square and admire its colourful flowers and welcome shady trees, wander along Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes and see its medieval houses or pause on one of its many bridges and admire the view.
3- Wander Around Parc de l’Orangerie
One of the most beautiful parts of Strasbourg is Parc de l’Orangerie.
The park has been a favourite of Strasbourg’s residents since the 18th century, and today it still offers a much-needed green escape from the bustle of the city.
The park is home to trees that are hundreds of years old, planted in an English geometric fashion often found in English stately homes.
The park has many beautiful flowerbeds and shrubberies, as well as an artificial lake and waterfall.
There are many buildings within the park indulging the architecturally stunning Josephine Pavilion.
Valentin Boudhors designed the pavilion in 1807 to house a large collection of orange trees, which later gave the park its name.
The pavilion was named after Josephine, the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, who frequently visited the city with her husband and enjoyed strolling through the park.
Parc de l’Orangerie is at Parc de l’Orangerie, 67000 Strasbourg.
4- Take A Boat Tour On The Ill River
Taking to the Ill River on a boat tour is a great way to relax and experience the beauty of the city.
The river runs directly through the city and surrounds Grand Île, or the Big Island.
On your river cruise you will see key sites of the city including la Petit France, European Parliament and many beautiful half-timbered buildings.
Batorama, the official boat tour provider for Strasbourg, offers a variety of cruises with some lasting just over an hour with guided commentary in 12 different languages.
They also offer a longer tour around the city with accompanying wine and cheeses.
Batorama Boat tours depart from 1, Rue de Rohan 67000 Strasbourg.
5- Discover Strasbourg’s Old Town
Surrounded by the Ill river is Grand Île, Strasbourg’s old town.
Visiting this picturesque and ancient part of the city is a great thing to do to get a feel for the city, it’s history and the locals.
It’s medieval centre is filled with examples of Gothic architecture including the city’s cathedral.
The old town is also home to many museums with collections exploring the city’s history.
Dotted across the old town are many winstubs, local wine cellars that are famous for their friendly service and tasty Alsatian dishes.
One of the best ways to see the entirety of the old town is by climbing up to the cathedral terrace.
6- Visit Palais Rohan
Palais Rohan is a museum dedicated to archaeology, decorative and fine arts.
Robert de Cotte, an architect working for the king, designed the building which was built between 1732 and 1742.
The building was designed to replicate the grandeur of the Parisian mansions of the time.
After serving as a residence, the museum was opened in 1889 to house the city’s collection of fine arts.
The museum boasts a fine collection of ceramics, gold smithing, clocks and furniture.
Palais Rohan is at 2 Pl. du Château, 67000 Strasbourg.
7- Experience Strasbourg’s Christmas Markets
If you are visiting Strasbourg during the winter months a great thing to do is to explore the Christmas markets.
The Christmas markets of Strasbourg have ran for four centuries and draw thousands of people to its stalls each year.
The first Christmas markets in Strasbourg date to the 1570s, making it one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe.
The market is formed of more than 300 wooden chalets selling a range of different gifts and souvenirs, festive drinks and tasty regional dishes.
Visiting the markets at night are particularly beautiful as the whole area is lit up with fairy lights and Christmas trees.
Strasbourg Christmas Markets are on Grand Île near the cathedral and Place Kléber.
8- Learn About Animals At The Zoological Museum
Visiting Strasbourg’s zoological museum is a great way to get to know more about natural history and the relationship between humans and animals.
The museum explores a range of pertinent topics including ecosystems, climate change, biodiversity and the impact of humans on animal societies.
As well as its permanent exhibitions that focus on the wildlife of the region and a range of rare and extinct animals, the museum also hosts regular temporary exhibits.
These exhibitions cover various themes including health, the environment and biology.
Zoological Museum is at 29 Boulevard de la Victoire, 67000 Strasbourg.
9- See Politics In Action At European Parliament
Strasbourg is the home of European Parliament, an important centre for the EU and its decision making.
Members of the European Parliament frequently meet to discuss democracy, human rights and more, not only in Europe but in other countries across the world.
It is possible to visit the European Parliament six days a week, with the Hemicycle (the main parliamentary chamber) and exhibitions linking to the Parliament are open.
The Parliament offers audio-guided tours in 24 languages and in-person guided tours in French, English and German.
European Parliament is at All. du Printemps, 67070 Strasbourg. Discover Strasbourg on a European District walking tour.
10- Visit The Alsatian Museum
The Alsatian Museum charts the history of Alsatian people and what it means to be Alsatian, who are people from the border region where France meets Germany.
The museum covers history from the 18th century through to the present day through a range of everyday objects.
The museum shows some recreated rooms from traditional homes including a kitchen, living room known as a stub, and businesses such as a pharmacy.
Within the museum are traditional items including a sponsele, a traditionally dressed doll, and a tapestry known as a a mizrah.
Alsatian Museum is at 23-25 Quai Saint-Nicolas, 67000 Strasbourg. From Strasbourg, the Best Of Alsace Historical Day Trip is a fascinating look into the region.
11- Relax In The University Botanical Gardens
Another natural and beautiful part of the city and a great thing to do in Strasbourg is to explore the University Botanical Gardens.
The gardens are in the heart of the city, a stone’s throw from the cathedral, covering 3.5 hectares (12.36 acres) of greenery.
Dating from 1884, the botanical garden comprises of a two-storey tropical green house, a cold house for cooler weather plants and an expansive arboretum filled with more than 2200 trees.
Inside the spectacular palm house are ferns, succulents and cacti all relishing in the warmer temperatures behind glass.
When exploring the arboretum seek out its rare and interesting trees including the Giant Sequoia and the Taxodium Ascendens, a rare tree in Europe.
University Botanical Gardens is at 28 Rue Goethe, 67000 Strasbourg.
12- Enjoy A Stroll In Contades Park
Marshal de Contades designed Contades Park in 1764 as an additional park area for Strasbourg’s residents.
The park was designed as an attractive place to promenade for the city’s residents, allowing them to admire not only the pleasant trees and greenery, but the beautiful architecture overlooking the park.
Some of the best architectural examples by the park are the Renaissance Villa Osterloff, and a cast-iron bandstand dating from the 1800s.
Running along the southern end of the park is the small yet picturesque Aar Riverthat can be walked alongside while in the park.
Contades Park is at 20 Av. de la Paix, 67000 Strasbourg.
13- Explore Place Kléber
The largest square in Strasbourg is Place Kléber, the heart of the city.
The square has existed since the 14th century, yet takes its name from General Jean Baptiste Kléber, a general in Napoleons army.
Phillipe Grass, a sculptor, designed a statue of Kléber that was erected in the centre of the square in 1838.
The square is surrounded by 18th century buildings including the visually interesting Aubette building, a former military post with 1920s exterior art from 3 avant-garde artists.
The building today is a historical landmark and one that draws many tourists to admire the works.
Place Kléber is a square in the centre of Strasbourg. Download this scavenger hunt to explore in your own time.
14- Visit the Historical Museum Of Strasbourg
The Historical Museum of Strasbourg was founded in the 1920s to share the history of the city with its residents.
The museum is set in a former slaughterhouse dating from the late 1500s.
Inside are vast collections dating from as far back as the Middle Ages.
Admire a scale model from 1727 of the city and its surroundings, learn more about Strasbourg’s military history through uniforms and weaponry, and uncover the stories behind some of the city’s greatest residents.
Historical Museum is at 2 Rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons, 67000 Strasbourg.
15- Wander Through The Covered Bridges
Strasbourg has three covered bridges crossing the River Ill.
The bridges were erected during the 14th century, which, alongside their towers, formed part of the city’s medieval defence system.
The roofs were added later during the late 1600s to provide cover for the soldiers stationed on the bridges when war struck.
Despite the bridges losing their roofs during the 18th century, the bridges kept their original names.
Wander across the bridges and admire the beauty of the River Ill, or take photos capturing the essence of the city looking out towards the bridges.
Covered Bridges is at Ponts Couverts, 67000 Strasbourg.
16- Discover Strasbourg’s Astronomical Clock
Inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg is an astronomical clock, which was a collaborative effort between a group of mathematicians, technicians and artists.
This Renaissance work also included input from Swiss clockmakers and automaton designers.
The mechanism powering the astronomical clock was fitted in 1842.
Visit the cathedral close to 12.30 pm to see the clock’s animated figures that show the walks of life from a young child to an old man.
The clock also features Death and Christ, and the sound of a cock crowing to strike the time.
Astronomical Clock is at Pl. de la Cathédrale, 67000 Strasbourg.
17- Explore The Vauban Dam
One of the best views in Strasbourg is looking towards Vauban Dam or towards the water from its panoramic terrace.
Tarade built the Vauban Dam in the 1690s using plans from an engineer named Vauban, who gave the dam its name.
The dam was made using pink Vosges sandstone and includes 13 arches spanning a distance of 120m (390ft).
On top of the dam is a panoramic terrace from which the city and its canals can be admired.
The dam was classified as a Historical Monument in 1971 and can be visited free of charge.
Vauban Dam is at Pl. du Qur Blanc, 67000 Strasbourg.
18- Spend An Evening At Strasbourg Opera House
Enjoy an evening of classical music or an operatic performance at Strasbourg Opera House.
The first opera house in Strasbourg was destroyed by fire in 1804.
Jean-Nicolas Villot, an architect, designed the current building which opened in 1821 in the Neoclassical style.
Landolin Ohmadht, a sculptor, added statues of 6 of the 9 muses to the facade of the building on its columns.
The opera house was once again badly damaged during the Siege of Strasbourg in 1870, however it was once again restored.
The opera house hosts regular performances of operas, classical orchestral movements and theatrical shows.
Strasbourg Opera House is at 19 Pl. Broglie, 67000 Strasbourg.
19- Admire Maison Kammerzell
One of the most beautiful buildings in Maison Kammerzell.
The house is famous in the city and is an excellent example of medieval Gothic architecture.
The building dates back to the early 1400s, the building features the traditional half-timbered black and white structure of many of Strasbourg’s buildings.
Léo Schnug, an Alsatian painter, produced a number of highly detailed frescoes on all floors of the building.
Today, Maison Kammerzell houses an excellent restaurant specialising in Alsatian dishes.
Maison Kammerzell is at 16 Pl. de la Cathédrale, 67000 Strasbourg.
20- Eat Local Cuisine At An Alsatian Restaurant
Throughout the city of Strasbourg, there are many excellent restaurants specialising in traditional Alsatian cuisine.
One of the most popular and traditional dishes served in the city is choucroute granite, a form of sauerkraut that is served alongside Strasbourg sausages, bacon, or ham with potatoes.
Visit a traditional winstub or wine lounge for the best in Alsatian cuisine and wines.
These traditional venues serve a range of dishes from the region including liver quenelles, and a hotpot dish called Baefkaoffa consisting of potatoes and meat cooked slowly in white wine.
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