It has charm, it has history, and it feels like a village in a city.
Can you guess which city I’m talking about? Strasbourg of course!
Situated on the border of Germany, Strasbourg is only separated by the Rhine river, defining the line between France and its neighbor. Filled with both old and recent history throughout the wars, the city of Strasbourg has lots to explore, and you won’t be disappointed spending some time here! Below you will find that I’ve compiled the 8 best things to do in Strasbourg, France:
Visit the Cathedral (inside and on top)
Being the center point of Strasbourg, the Cathedral de Notre Dame is one of the most iconic buildings in the city and is not one to skip! Did you know it was once the tallest building in the world? Standing at 142 meters tall, the Cathedral was the world’s tallest building from 1647 to 1874 before it was then beat by a church in Hamburg, Germany. However, it is still today the 6th tallest church building in the world, making it quite a special religious building.
The outside of the Cathedral shows Gothic architecture, hiding some gargoyles and other figures on its structure. Once inside the building, the stained glass windows bring a certain eerie lightning. There is an especially pretty rose window as well for those who admire this type of art.
You can also buy a ticket to climb up to the top of the Cathedral, which I would highly recommend!
For only 5€ ($6.20), you can take a tour of the thespiral staircase of the Cathedral that leads to the platform at the top. It’s a really fun and thrilling experience. Once you’ve arrived on the platform, you will see beautiful views over Strasbourg city, but can also see the Black Forest on the German side, and the Vosges on the French side.
An absolute must when the weather is clear!
Take a Batorama Boat Tour
Discover Strasbourg’s history by taking a boat tour with Batorama. Embark on a 1h15min journey through the city’s canals and learn about 20 centuries of history.
At 13€ ($16.13) per adult, the ride is well worth it. Your boat will sail through different neighborhoods of Strasbourg, explaining the rough history which created this German and French city over the decades.
You will also see the newest part of Strasbourg when passing by the European Parliament, one of Europe’s political hub.
Visit the Christmas market (Seasonal)
Be sure to try and visit Strasbourg during December, because Alsatians (the people from the Alsace region where Strasbourg is the capital) absolutely love Christmas!
Strasbourg’s Christmas markets are an experience in themselves. The sounds and smells will entice your senses and will get you in the Christmas spirit in no time. In the market, you can find some trinkets to bring home as souvenirs, traditional Alsatian crafts or Christmas decoration.
But the most important part of the market are the food and drinks! Bredeles are traditional Alsatian Christmas cookies, and gluhwein, or warm red wine, is the staple drink for the season.
Stroll around the Parc de l’Orangerie
Feeling like seeing some nature today?
The Parc de l’Orangerie is a great spot to relax in the grass or stroll around the different areas of the park. You’ll find a great boating lake full of swans during summertime, kids’ playgrounds, and a mini farm!
What’s great about it too is that you can easily reach it by tram or bus, as it is near the European institutions in Strasbourg.
Eat some Traditional Alsatian Dishes
France is famous worldwide for its cuisine but that is mostly because each French region has its own particular dishes.
Because French people love food, one should not leave Alsace without trying one of the many star dishes! Due to the close relationship between Alsace and Germany, a lot of the cuisine has incorporated Germanic tastes (and portions).
Between Tarte flambee (my favorite), choucroute, Baeckeoffe or foie gras, there are plenty of different choices and something for everyone! While you are eating, don’t forget to taste some of Alsace’s local wines such as Riesling, or even a Kronenbourg beer which is brewed locally. Getting to know the local delicacies is one of our best travel tips for France.
Go Shopping in the Galeries Lafayette or Printemps
Anyone who likes American-style malls will be happy to find that Strasbourg has two smaller versions of them. The Galeries Lafayette and Printemps are two of the best mall chains in France, so if you’re looking for that French style outfit, you’re in the right place.
But the city center of Strasbourg is also full of shops, whether it’s big brand names or local artisan shops, so don’t hesitate to get lost in the narrow streets.
Editor’s Note: Heading to Europe? Take a look at our Europe Packing List to make sure you don’t miss anything
Take a Tour of the European Parliament
Did you know that the European Parliament is open to the public on specific dates throughout the year?
Check if it’s open during your time in Strasbourg, and explore one of the most important political building in Europe! It’s not often that you can say you visited a parliament, even more so when it’s such an important one.
Strasbourg is filled with beautiful Gothic architecture, local eateries and shops, and plenty of things to do and see! If you are ever in Alsace’s capital, make sure to spend at least 3 days to explore all that the city has to offer.
Play Tourist in La Petite France
This historic neighborhood of Strasbourg is one of the most pictured spots in the city. The typical timbered houses are perfectly lined along the Rhine river and is especially pretty during spring and summer when flower pots are surrounding the water’s edges.
One restaurant I’d recommend is La Corde à Linge, where you can eat fresh traditional cuisine by the water’s side. It’s also a great area to buy your local souvenirs, as there are many cute shops around.
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