Are you planning a visit to Northern France? Strasbourg is a great place to start with! Strasbourg is suitable for visiting every season, with glamorous blooms in summer and the warmest and the most amazing Christmas market in Europe in winter. Each season you can find something unique here in Strasbourg. There is so much to see and learn about this mesmerizing northern city! If you are wondering about where to visit in Strasbourg, you don’t need to anymore! Here are the best places in Strasbourg – enjoy your time there!
Historical Background of Strasbourg
Strasbourg is a very interesting city. Although it is now a part of France, historically, its ownership was repeatedly between Germany and France. When you travel here, you’ll notice that the local area is deeply influenced by both cultures as manifested by the architecture, food, and even the language! Many locals speak not only French but also German. They have a unique Alsatian dialect as well!
At the same time, Strasbourg is known as the “second capital” of the European Union. There are many important institutions of the European Union in Strasbourg such as the European Parliament – also known as Louise Weiss Building. The seats are located in the area of Strasbourg which is called Quartier Européen.
What to Visit in Strasbourg
Strasbourg’s main area of attraction is the one highlighted in light pink on the map. It’s the area by the canals where you’ll be fascinated by the distinct architecture. You can walk at a relaxed pace to see the landmarks and attractions in the city. Cycling is also a popular way of getting around here. We’ve created this map to show the main attractions that you mustn’t miss should you be visiting Strasbourg! Keep scrolling down to know about each place in detail and how to access Strasbourg from Paris, CDG Airport, and Colmar.
1. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg
The main church of Strasbourg is one of the representative buildings of Gothic architecture. It was built with sandstone from the nearby Vosges Mountains which gives the characteristic light rose color to the cathedral. Currently, it is the sixth tallest church in the whole world and the second tallest church in France. Entry into the cathedral is free however for the tower, you’ll have to spare 5€ (3.5€ for kids) and enough energy to climb 332 steps up! Once you get to the top, you’ll be able to see one of the most breathtaking views of Strasbourg. The cathedral is open daily but the operating hours of the tower change according to the season, so please check their schedule online.
The charming Petite-France, also known as little France in English, is the most beautiful island-like area in Strasbourg. Although it is connected to the other parts of Strasbourg via many bridges. It was actually listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988! The River Ill divides the area into a number of canals. One of the best ways to explore the area is to simply take a walk around. Also, admire the colorful medieval buildings along the canal. If you want you can also go on a ride on the boats in the canal as well!
3. Place Kléber
Place Kléber is the largest and the main square in Strasbourg. There are some performances from time to time which you might enjoy during the day. You can discover the local shops and eateries in the area. At the same time, the square is used as one of the biggest venues for the annual Christmas Market in Strasbourg – Marché de Noël in French. The square is also a home to many other attractions including the Aubette Palace, the statue of Jean Baptiste Kléber – who was the namesake of the square.
4. Cave Historique des Hospices de Strasbourg
The wine cellar of the Strasbourg Hospital -which has a history of more than 600 years, is definitely a must visit in Strasbourg! If you can’t go to the winery for a wine tasting, you can visit here! You can buy wines which were matured and restored in the cellar of the hospital along with the other wines produced on the hospital’s agricultural lands in Alsace. The admission is free but an audio guide is recommended for your visit. It only costs about 3€. The cellar is open daily except Sundays.
5. Barrage Vauban
Barrage Vauban was built in the 17th century under the command of Marquis de Vauban. The bridge was constructed with different materials than usual such as the light rose colored Vosges sandstone – like in the cathedral of the city. It was a part of the defense strategy of Marquis de Vauban at the time as a fortification. Nowadays, Barrage Vauban connects the central area of the main train station – Quartier de la Gare to the Petit-France. From here, you can enjoy the nice views of the city.
6. Alsatian Museum
The Alsatian Museum is situated in an old building which represents the traditional style of the Alsace region. In the museum, you can find many different settings and items unique to Strasbourg and Alsace region. Such as furniture, costumes, folk items, ceramics, pastry molds, toys, pictures, regional scenes, paintings, hand-made objects and many more! The museum is open except Tuesdays. The admission is 6.5€ for the full and 3.5€ for a reduced ticket.
7. Palais Rohan
Palais Rohan is a famous Baroque building in Strasbourg. In the past, many kings, including Louis XV, Marie Antoinette, Napoleon I have lived here. The palace has three museums operating: the Musée Archéologique, Musée des Arts Décoratifs and Musée des Beaux-Arts. To enter the museums, you will need a different ticket for each but you may buy a one-day or three-day pass which will let you visit all the museums of Strasbourg for a fixed price. The palace is located right behind the city’s famous cathedral as well along the famous Ill River.
When to Visit Strasbourg
During the summer, Strasbourg turns into something you can never imagine. As the city is highly appreciated with the Christmas market, the peak season is the winter. However, the summer is a whole another story. The city shines out with the bright sun up in the air, flowers bloom and turn the medieval buildings surrounding the city even more colorful and beautiful. From July to September, you can join the summer light show of Strasbourg. The light shows take place in many main attractions of the city including the famous cathedral and Barrage Vauban!
Christmas season is the most popular time in Strasbourg, the one-month Strasbourg Christmas Market is the oldest and largest Christmas market in Europe – without a doubt! Overall, you may visit more than 300 stalls of Christmas Market! As a result, many people from all around the world gather here to celebrate the holiday and discover the market of Strasbourg. The market starts to take place in the last days of November and continues until the end of December. If you are planning to come to the city this time around the year, make sure to book accommodation ahead as the city gets very crowded!
Transportation to Strasbourg
The main railway station in Strasbourg is SNCF Gare de Strasbourg which is located on the west part of the city. Cathedral of the city is only a 15-minute walk from the station just like many other places to see in Strasbourg. The city is very convenient to travel to and from Paris or even from CDG Charles de Gaulle Airport. There are different transportation options to reach Strasbourg from other cities in France.
1. From Paris to Strasbourg
If you’re departing from Paris, trains to Strasbourg depart every hour! You can take a TGV train (a high speed train service) from from Gare de l’Est directly to Gare de Strasbourg that only takes under 2 hours! If you want to know how to book your high speed trains in France, check out our step-by-step guide.
Depending on the season and the timing of buying your ticket, the prices might be different. However, if you book in advance, you might get a chance to buy a ticket for a cheaper price.
2. From Charles de Gaulle Airport to Strasbourg
If you are departing from CDG Charles de Gaulle Airport, there will be fewer trains. You can go directly to Strasbourg from CDG Airport by TGV. Just remember that the CDG Airport station is in Terminal 2. The journey is anywhere from 2 to 2.5 hours and the ticket prices depend on availability or on how soon you book.
3. From Colmar to Strasbourg
The train to and from Strasbourg to Colmar is pretty frequent. The fare changes according to the time of the day and the availability of the seats but it is usually around 12€ and takes about 30 minutes. If you don’t want to use the train, you can use the regional busses for a cheaper price such as 7€, however, your journey will take longer.