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Strasbourg, in Eastern France, is one of the most beautiful French cities and will likely steal your heart too. The capital of Alsace and the new French region of Grand Est has an immense historical and architectural heritage, making it the region’s wealthiest city. Strasbourg is also a great place to learn more about Alsace’s culture and traditions and do the first Alsace wine tastings.
Strasbourg is usually the starting point of a memorable Alsace road trip. Thanks to its good connection with Paris (2 hrs by TGV train), Strasbourg is also a good destination for a weekend getaway from the French capital.
We have listed 11 fun things to do in Strasbourg, from hidden gems to iconic landmarks. You could easily fill a weekend with this Strasbourg bucket list or mix them into an existing itinerary. If you need a starting point, check out our detailed guide to spending 2 days in Strasbourg.
Top Things to Do in Strasbourg
Here’s the list of top things to do in Strasbourg. As the famous architect Le Corbusier said, in Strasbourg, the eye is never bored!
Visit Notre Dame Cathedral
Located in the heart of the city, it’s impossible to miss the imposing Notre Dame de Strasbourg. With its unique pink color and only one tower, this beautiful cathedral is a jewel of Gothic Art.
Visit the inside: the entrance is free, and there’s plenty to admire! The history of this thousand-year cathedral is interesting too, overcoming fires, storms, bombs, changing from Catholicism to Protestantism and vice versa, and changing nationality according to wars and political agreements.
Don’t miss the climb up to the tower for a beautiful panoramic view of Strasbourg. When the sky is clear, you can also see the Black Forest in Germany!
Take the Time to Explore the Petite France
La Petite France is a picturesque neighborhood in the heart of the Old Town known for its lovely cobblestone streets, canals, and well-preserved half-timbered homes.
In the past, this lively neighborhood was occupied by tanners, fishermen, and millers. Here, the river Ill is divided into 5 arms, which allowed the construction of mills and the installation of tanneries.
La Petite France is a tourist hub, dotted with local eateries and souvenir shops. But it’s a lovely place to get lost, especially late in the afternoon when day-trippers are gone.
Visit the Covered Bridges and the Barrage Vauban
The visit to the Ponts Couverts (the covered bridges) is one of the main things to do in Strasbourg. These are three bridges spanning the Ill River and dominated by three imposing square towers, the remains of the 13th-century city walls.
In the past, these bridges were wooden walkways covered by a large roof – hence the name – but in the 19th century, they were replaced by stone bridges without roofs. A bit further, there’s a fourth tower nicknamed ‘the Executioner’s Tower. This tower was used as a prison until 1823.
A few meters further stands the Vauban Dam. As you may know, Vauban was a French military engineer who served under King Louis XIV. He is famous for the design of the most ingenious defensive fortifications in France.
The Vauban Dam was designed to flood an entire part of the city in the event of an enemy attack. Strewn on 13 arches, it has a panoramic terrace on the roof, offering a superb view of the city and the covered bridges!
Explore the European District
Strasbourg is also known as the Capital of Europe, because of both its central location and it plays host to more than 20 European institutions.
Strasbourg’s European district is a beautiful area to explore. Apart from being home to important European institutions, it is also where the ex-pats live, with beautiful houses and green spaces.
The best way to explore the European district is with a guided bike tour. These tours usually combine the European district with the main tourist attractions in the Old Town.
Visit the Musée Alsacien
The Musée Alsacien (the Alsatian Museum) is a great opportunity to learn more about Alsace’s culture, traditions, and quirky stories like the Strasbourg dancing plague. Set in a former private house, It contains over 5,000 exhibits about all aspects of daily life in pre-industrial and early industrial Alsace.
We particularly liked the reconstruction of several traditional houses’ interiors. The section that shows how the three main religions in Alsace (Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish) celebrated the different passages of life from birth to death was very interesting too.
Info: 23-25 Quai Saint Nicolas, Strasbourg. Open from Wednesday to Monday from 10 am to 6 pm.
Take a River Cruise
A river cruise through the heart of Strasbourg is an unmissable experience that will allow you to discover the city’s must sight from a different point of view.
Spend a relaxing hour navigating the Ill River and enjoy the commentaries in 12 different languages with the use of individual headphones. The boats can be covered or opened up when the weather is good.
These boat tours are proposed by Batorama. You will find Batorama’s docks (tickets sale and departures) at Place du Vieux Marché aux Poissons, at the foot of Palais Rohan. You can also buy tickets at their office in Place de la Cathédrale.
Visit France’s Most Famous Christmas Market
Alsace’s Christmas markets are one of the top things to do in France so if you are visiting Strasbourg in November or December you cannot miss them! A visit to the Christmas markets in Alsace is both a shopping experience and a destination discovery.
Strasbourg hosts the best Christmas market in France and also the oldest (since 1570). If you only have time for one Alsace Christmas market, Strasbourg is the place to go.
Strasbourg’s Christmas Market is actually made up of multiple markets, occupying the city’s central squares. Each square is a separate market with a different theme, and they sell everything from handmade decorations to traditional food and sweets of Alsace.
Enjoy the Best of Alsace Food in a Winstub
Strasbourg is also a good place to taste the regional cuisine in Alsace. The list of traditional Alsatian dishes includes baeckeoffe, tarte flambée, cordon bleu, Vol-au-vent, spaetzle, fleischnacka, and bretzel.
The best places to taste good traditional cuisine are the winstubs. Wistubs (or Winstubs) are a type of traditional wine bar and restaurant that are specific to Alsace. In principle, they are inexpensive and rather popular, frequented by regulars. Winstubs are coquettishly rustic, with a warm atmosphere and local food.
The list of the best winstubs in Strasbourg includes Au coin de Pucelles (12 rue des Pucelles, Strasbourg), Le Fink’stuebel (26 rue Finkwiller, Strasbourg), Winstub Le Clou (3 rue du Chaudron, Strasbourg) or Winstub Chez Yvonne (10 rue du Sanglier, Strasbourg).
Learn about the Wines of Alsace
Wines of Alsace are often dry white wines. You will find delicious Rieslings, Gewürztraminers, and Pinot Gris. The land and climate primarily lend itself to white wines, but you can still find some sweeter reds as well as roses in Alsace as well.
This cellar visit with tastings is consistently rated 5 stars. Maison ZEYSSOLFF is one of the rare cellars in Alsace to still vinify in century-old oak casks of more than 10,000L. You’ll be educated on a plethora of Alsace wines to round out your wine tasting in Alsace.
Taste the Local Beer
Being so close to Germany, beer is a big thing in Strasbourg and Alsace in general.
In Alsace, five breweries ensure over 50% of French production (Fischer, Heineken, Karlsbrau, Kronenbourg, and Meteor), and there are also many micro-breweries producing interesting beers for local consumption.
Bendorf and Tigre are two microbreweries well-established in Strasbourg, but there are many more in the surrounding towns. On a sunny terrace or in your favorite winstub, a craft beer is always a good idea in Alsace!
Visit Traditional Alsace Villages on a Day Trip
If you have a spare day in Strasbourg, visit a couple of Alsace villages on a day trip. The region of Alsace is dotted with picturesque towns and villages with traditional architecture, pretty squares with stone fountains, and a lively atmosphere.
This top-rated guided day tour from Strasbourg explores four villages on the Alsace wine route: Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, Kaysersberg, and Eguisheim. If you are more comfortable with a self-guided tour, take a regional train to Sélestat and then a bus to Ribeauvillé or Riquewihr.