Here’s what you need to know before you go to Strasbourg, France!
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Strasbourg is this perfect mix of France and Germany. The region has changed nationalities more times than I can count over the centuries, making it unique to either country. Here’s what you should know to plan your time in Strasbourg!
Planning your time in Strasbourg
A weekend in Strasbourg is perfect. Two days is just about what you want to have a slow weekend exploring. If you’re wanting to move fast, you can squeeze most of this into one day and do a day trip to Colmar or somewhere else in the Alsace region.
I highly recommend visiting at Christmas! Strasbourg markets itself as the Capital of Christmas, and they go all out on decorations. I’ve got a guide to the Strasbourg Christmas markets if you’re planning to go in winter, but this will lay out the best parts of the city year-round.
What to do and See in Strasbourg
The Strasbourg Cathedral
The Strasbourg Cathedral is one of the major sights in the city. It’s one of the biggest churches in the world and took 400 years to build!
The most unique thing about it is that it’s missing one of the two spires. There’s no great story about why that I’ve found, but it gives it one of the most unique silhouettes of any Gothic church. It also had its stained glass stolen by Nazis. The story is part of Monuments Men if you want to hear more!
The inside is lined with tapestries and has a famous astronomical clock inside. It’s free to enter, but there can be crazy lines during the high season. My advice is to get there right when it opens (or 10 minutes early) to get to see it with fewer crowds.
While cathedral entry is free, you can pay to go on the roof! It’s 332 steps of spiral staircases with no elevator, so keep that in mind if climbing isn’t your thing.
Seeing the city from above gives you a real sense of the historicity of the area – the old-style rooftops create much the same skyline that climbers would’ve seen a century ago. And yes, people have been climbing to the cathedral roof for over a century!
If you go at Christmastime, be sure to take any Strasbourg Christmas market photos on the way up – the rooftop is angled such that you can’t see them once you’re up there.
La Petit France
In a gorgeous city, La Petit France is the most picturesque neighborhood! If you’re only here for a day trip, prioritize this neighborhood.
It’s the most well preserved of Strasbourg and practically oozes charm. With the river running alongside, it’s the perfect place to meander the streets, do some window shopping, or grab a bite to eat!
Strasbourg has a series of small museums. Each takes about an hour to see. Some, like the Alsatian Museum, are cute and interesting. Others, like the archaeological museum, mostly made my eyes glaze over.
So should you do them? I’m of mixed opinions here. If you find yourself with a free day and you tend to enjoy museums, sure! But if you only have a day in Strasbourg, I’d skip it.
If you decide that one sounds interesting, keep in mind that buying the day pass is cheaper than buying entrance to two of them. I had a rainy extra day in the city and visited five of them plus two one-room exhibitions. Worth the day pass? Yes. Worth buying 5 museum entry tickets? No. So get the day pass.
As I said, the Alsatian museum was my favorite. It was more focused on the traditional Alsatian culture than on history. You walk through rooms of the Alsatian home, seeing examples of daily life, religion in the area, their iconic architecture, and at Christmas explanations of traditions we still use!
The art museum was beautiful worth a see if you buy the day pass, and it’s located inside the historic Palais de Rohan, formerly the home of the prince bishops and rulers. The Strasbourg History Museum helped me put everything in perspective; especially important in a region that’s changed nationalities more times than most.
I really liked the decorative arts museum, which showed recreated rooms within the old palace. I always enjoy that type of thing, and the entire museum only takes about an hour.
Alsacian Day Trips
Alsace is a great region for wine, so take a day trip out to do a few tastings! They’re known for their whites and sparkling wines, but there are a few rose and red options in there too.
Colmar is a quaint town only 30 minutes away by train and definitely worth a visit. It’s incredible at Christmas but cute year-round. It’s a great day trip to see what a smaller Alsatian town is like. I’ll be sharing my guide to Colmar next week, so check back soon!
If you’re trying to string together destinations, try Heidelberg (1.5 hours), Basel (1.5 hours), Stuttgart (1 hour 45 minutes) anything in Germany’s Black Forest (~1 hour), or even Paris (2.5 hours by train).
Where to eat in Strasbourg
If you’ve been around here for a while, you know eating well is a MUST when I travel! Here are a few of my favorite restaurants in Strasbourg.
La Bollee de Cidre
Crepes are a must-eat in France, obviously. If you eat crepes at one place, eat them at La Bolle de Cidre! They have a great lunch combo deal – good price with plenty of options included. Their staff was also very friendly and patient with my lack of French.
La Corde a Linge
La Corde a Linge is great for French/Alsatian traditional dishes! They have a bunch of spaetzle dishes (local to Alsace) and an entire burger menu too if you’re tired of French food. On the weekends this place is super popular, so make a reservation or get there early.
Flam’s sits only a block off the cathedral square, and it’s pretty casual, so it’s a great place to take a break after seeing the cathedral. They serve almost exclusively tarte flambee, which is an Alsatian flatbread pizza. It’s delicious and crispy, so this is a great place to try it. The most traditional version has a cream sauce with onions and lardons, and it’s really good here. If you come with a group, you can do an unlimited menu option and try all the varieties!
L’atelier 116 is an AMAZING boulangerie (bakery). Their offerings range from baguette and classic breads to elegant pastry creations. I wanted one of everything as I drooled my way down the counter. It’s a great spot for a cheap-but-feels-fancy-lunch. They also have a few tables in the back if you want to eat inside.
Le Purgatoire is a great little wine bar tucked across the river from the old town. It’s full of charm and great wine, the kind of place I’d want to be a regular at if I lived here. It’s also mostly local visitors (perks of getting off the beaten path). The staff were so friendly and gave great recommendations about wine.
Looking for more plant-based options? Head to Pur! Pur is a coffee shop and lunch spot that’s perfect for taking a break. There are three locations in Strasbourg, and it’s a solid option for a light lunch, especially if you want to break up all the delicious French food.
Where to stay in Strasbourg
Strasbourg is small enough that the entire place feels pretty walkable. I stayed on the far side of the city from the train station, and it was still only 30 minutes of well-lit, mostly pedestrian streets to get from one to the other.
If you’re into hostels, check out The People Strasbourg. It’s modern and clean, with large bunks that have curtains (not guaranteed at other places, but always preferred to create some privacy). They also had double and family rooms and the clientele was of all ages, not just broke teenagers. It’s not the cheapest hostel I’ve stayed in, but it was worth the price.
If you’re interested in seeing hostel options, I recommend researching them through sites like hostelworld to have a good grasp on if it’s safe or has the amenities you want. Or you can often still find them on aggregators like Hotels.com. Either way, their a cheaper way to travel, especially solo!
Hostels often have double or family rooms that still clock in cheaper than an average hotel room, so it’s worth checking even if you want your own room!
If you’re looking for help planning your travels, I offer both done-for-you lists and custom itineraries through Thatch! Thatch is a free travel app I use to plan all my own trips. I have all this info on Strasbourg and Colmar already loaded for you to save time!