Nestled just across the German border in France is “the city of different roads” AKA Strasbourg – A real version of a fairytale town in the modern world and the best place to experience the urban side of France’s Alsace region.

With half-timbered houses flaunting the city’s German influence mingled with Parisian style palaces and French food, there is no dearth of things to do in Strasbourg. The city is just big enough to offer variety of all sort and small enough to feel cosy.

The history of Strasbourg is fascinating. The city has survived the French revolution, both world wars, Nazi occupation and has been tossed between France and Germany over and over again. Until it officially became a part of France in 1945 and the strong Frenchification begun. The city is still very much a bicultural with road signs in both languages and strong lingering influences of its German era.

My experience with Strasbourg has been a sublimely charming one. We visited Alsace during late summer and Strasbourg greeted us with beautiful sunshine and charming memories. I know we’ll be back and we’ll make sure this time it’s for the over the top Christmas celebrations. 

How to get to Strasbourg?

Strasbourg is a little less than 500km away from Paris and the two cities are very well connected. There are flights, trains, car sharing option and affordable buses. If you’re like us and enjoy the comfort and freedom of a road trip, then take the French countryside road and relish over the views of French villages and mother nature. The ride shouldn’t take more than 5-6 hours depending on your speed.

How long to stay in Strasbourg?

We had 2 nights and 2 days in the city and we were able to cover a lot of things. Strasbourg is made up of several islands but a lot of the main attractions are concentrated on Grande Île (the large island in French) so it hardly takes you much time to walk between them.

The best things to do in Strasbourg

 #1 Walking around Grande Île

Strasbourg is an extremely pedestrian-friendly city. With wide walkways and generous cobblestone spaces dedicated to pedestrians, there’s no better way to discover the city than by foot. The Grande Île with its numerous attractions, 18th-century hotels and palaces, medieval churches and picture-perfect vistas is the ideal place to start your walk around the city. I personally planned out my own walking route between the main squares and I’d highly recommend repeating the whole route at night to witness the city’s nightlife.

Here are two free walking tours (Happy Strasbourg & FreeTour) you might want to join.

Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours

Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hoursTop things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours

#2 Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg

This enormous 15th-century gothic cathedral and its tall spire is bound to make a scene in every panorama of this charming city. The church has had an important role in medieval pilgrimage and has seen the history of the city unravel under its shadow. It took 3 centuries to build what was later described by Victor huge as a “gigantic and delicate marvel”.

Here’s where you find some of the most exquisite stained glass windows surviving the 12th to 15th century, the famous Astronomical clock made by Swiss watchmakers and artists and a great viewpoint of the city from its tower. The astronomical clock also puts up a show every day at 12:30 pm

Visiting Hours:

  • From April to September, every day from 9 am to 7.30pm
  • From October to March, every day from 10 am to 5.30pm
  • From June to August, until 10 pm every Friday and Saturday

Admission:

  • Individuals: 4.40€ for Adults – 2.20€ for Children(5-18) and students
  • Apostles animation at the Astronomical clock: 1€
  • Cathedral platform: 3.00€ (reduced 2.30€)

Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hoursTop things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours

#3 Petite France

La Petite France is the historical hub of the city, from where the river splits up between different canals. It’s the most picturesque part of town with half-timbered houses, weirs, locks, a swing bridge, beautiful outdoor restaurants, cafe and souvenir shops selling all sorts of Alsatian handicrafts.

You can spend hours walking up and down the canals, taking way too many pictures and sipping on a drink with backdrops that fit into the most popular postcards of Strasbourg. A stroll around this neighbourhood is hands down my highlight of things to do in Strasbourg.

Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hoursTop things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours

#4 Barrage Vauban & Le Pont Couverts

Constructed in 1686 tp 1690 Barrage Vauban or the Vauban dam was formerly known as the Great lock for its defensive function. The barrage was to enable, in case of an attack, the raising of the river water and thus flooding the south part of the city to prevent the enemy from reaching any further. Today its roof terrace serves as the best viewpoint of Le Pont Couverts. Entrance to the internal corridors and the roof terrace is completely free and definitely not to be missed.

Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours
View of le Pont Couverts de Strasbourg from Barrage Vauban

Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours

#5 Rohan Palace

The 18th-century Palais Rohan was once built as the resident of prince-bishops and cardinals of the House of Rohan, an ancient French noble family. Through the years it has hosted French nobles and loyalties such Marie Antoinette and Napoleon and currently houses 3 museums:

  • The Museum of Fine Arts
  • The Archeological Museum
  • The Museum of Decorative Arts

Check out the museum website for more info and price details.

#6 St. Paul’s church of Strasbourg (Église Saint-Paul de Strasbourg)

This 19th-century church was designed for the Lutheran members of the Imperial German garrison. It’s a small yet wide Protestant church and you’ll find the best shot of it looking at its main entrance from across the rive.

#7 Place Kleber

The Place Kleber is Strasbourg’s main square. It’s a big area surrounded by shops, cafe and restaurants and a main hangout place for the locals. The square is also the standing point of Strasbourg’s huge Christmas tree every year.

#8 Get a boat tour with Batorama

Strasbourg is surrounded by Rive Ill and thus is a perfect place to discover by boat. There are a few boat companies with Batorama is the most famous one.

Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours

#9 Grab a book at Librairie Kleber

I always love checking out a pretty local bookshop when I travel and Librairie Kleber is the perfect place to pick a guidebook or even French/German literature. They also have a great collection of English books if you don’t know French or German.

#10 Sit down for brunch at Hotel Graffalgar

Looking for a great brunch stop between a day of sightseeing? Hotel Graffalgar was recommended by my friend Niloufar from Under the Indigo Dome who has recently become a Strasbourger.

#11 Place Gutenberg

Place Gutenberg is a square in Strasbourg named after the famous German inventor of the printing press, Gutenberg. His statue was erected to honour him who called this city home for 10 years of his life. Today you’ll find a carousel set up next to the statue and outdoor cafes and restaurants surrounding the square.

Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours

#12 Strasbourg museum of modern and contemporary art 

On the left bank of River Ill is where you’ll find the Strasbourg museum of modern art which is one of the biggest of its kind in all of France. It’s contemporary looking glass structure is easily found next to the Barrage Vauban. It has a collection of over 18,000 work with numerous annual exhibition.

#13 Go for a stroll at Parc de l’Orangerie

If you’re up for a chill stroll or a picnic, Parc de l’Orangerie is the most beautiful and biggest park of the city. It has a great playground for kids, a petting zoo and yoga in the summer.

Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours

Strasbourg Christmas Market

Strasbourg gets nearly 2 million visitors for its Christmas market every year. It’s one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe and the biggest in France which has been held since 1570! Hotels get booked very fast for this time of the year, so make sure you make reservations way in advance. There are numerous Christmas markets in almost a dozen different places offering everything from the well-loved mulled wine to local food, snacks, souvenirs, and Christmas ornaments.

Where to stay in Strasbourg?

Luxury accommodation in Strasbourg: 

Mid-range accommodation in Strasbourg: 

Budget accommodation in Strasbourg: 

Day trip to Colmar from Strasbourg

We took a day trip to Colmar when we were in Strasbourg. I had read so much about it and seen numerous pictures of the famous Le Petit Venice, but to be honest, after having visited Strasbourg, Colmar seemed just like a small copy of it. Even little Venice resembled La Petite France in Strasbourg. The town is certainly beautiful and charming, I just thought it was quite similar to Strasbourg and didn’t really hold a candle to it.

Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours Top things to do in Strasbourg in 48 hours

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