Mike and I love to visit the Alsace. When we spent a weekend in Strasbourg recently, we were blown away by how much there is to do. We had plans to visit a nearby village for a half-day trip and canceled that plan almost immediately. Sometimes, you have to call an audible even with plenty of trip planning and research. In this case, we changed things around because there are so many things to do in Strasbourg. It was a pleasant surprise! Wondering what to do in Strasbourg? Here’s our list of the top 20 things to do in Strasbourg to help you out.
Heading to Strasbourg for a few days? Before you read out to 20 things to do, check out our full weekend itinerary. It includes great tips on where to stay in Strasbourg, where to eat and which tours to pick. Read it here now.
1. Strasbourg Cathedral
Strasbourg Cathedral is stunning. Some parts are Romanesque, but it’s mostly considered to be Late Gothic in design. Construction of the cathedral finished in 1439. One of the most recognizable features is that there is only one spire on the cathedral.
It’s free to enter the cathedral and the images inside are gorgeous. Once inside, you have to pay a small fee to view the cathedral’s Astronomical Clock. You also pay a fee to climb to the top of the cathedral. I highly recommend making the climb to the platform atop the cathedral. You have stunning views of the city of Strasbourg and the surrounding landscape.
2. La Petite France
This picturesque quarter of the city is one of the main reasons to visit Strasbourg. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it’s easy to see why. This part of the city is where the River Ill splits into a few fast-moving channels. That was the perfect place to install mills and a lock system used by tanners, fisherman, and millers in the Middle Ages.
Today, Le Petite France is crawling with tourists snapping photos, luxury hotels, and scenic restaurants. You can’t skip a walk through this beautiful section of the city!
3. Strasbourg Boat Tour
Doing a boat tour is the best way to see the highlights of Strasbourg. The boat tours are 90 minutes long and give you a fantastic overview of the history of the city and the region.
You can save money on the boat tour and your other activities by buying the Strasbourg City Pass. It covers your activities for 3 days and includes a boat tour, the fees for climbing to the top of the cathedral, the admission to the astronomical clock and one museum. It also offers you 20-50% discounts for most other attractions and tours in the city. Click HERE to save money with the City Pass.
4. Palais Rohan
Today this gorgeous structure is a museum of fine arts, but it is the former home of French nobles. The bishop-princes of The House of Rohan built this baroque palace in 1742. Over the centuries, this palace has hosted famous French monarchs and leaders. It has also traded hands between the nobility, the monarchy, and the state before now belonging to the city.
5. Walk Along the Canals
The boat tour of the city is awesome, but a slower-pace walk along the beautiful canals is even nicer. You have a few ways to enjoy the waterways of Strasbourg, but a leisurely stroll at the water’s edge is possibly the most romantic. That’s why you see a lot of couples sitting along the grassy paths lining the canals.
6. Place Kleber
Place Kléber is the largest square in Strasbourg located in the city center. It’s the final resting place of city-resident General Jean-Baptiste Kléber but often a crowded meeting place for current residents. The architecture in the area is a good display of structures from the Middle Ages, the art-deco period, the Alsatian-German period and modern architecture. It’s also just a nice place to relax, enjoy a stroll or gather for a coffee or bite to eat.
7. The Alsatian Museum
The Alsatian Museum opened in 1907. The museum is dedicated to exhibiting the lives of pre-industrial Alsatians. There are over 5,000 exhibits displaying artifacts and vestiges of rural Alsatian life. There are also many exhibits displaying the lives of Alsatian Jews. The museum is located inside a row of Renaissance-era timber-framed houses on the banks of the Ill River. If you’re looking for things to do in Strasbourg, this is a great stop!
Check out our tips for visiting a museum here.
8. Barrage Vauban
The Barrage Vauban is a 120-meter long bridge and a low head dam. It’s gorgeous to look at, and today it holds a collection of sculptures and a viewing terrace. At the time of its construction in the 16th century, the Barrage Vauban had a defensive purpose. Essentially, the dam was designed to flood the area south of the city during any potential besiegement. It was only used once for that purpose, during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870.
9. Ponts Couverts
The Ponts Couverts are three bridges and four towers built along the Ill River in the 13th century. Construction on the Ponts Couverts finished in 1250. They were used much the same way as the Barrage Vauban. Today, they are a defining image of Strasbourg and considered a historic monument.
10. Parc de l’Orangerte
Translated to “The Orangery Park” this public park is located near the Palais du l’Europe. It’s believed to have been built in the early 1800s and rose in fame during the French Revolution. It was then that Strasbourg inherited 140 orange trees that were seized from the Castle of Bouxwiller.
Today there is a greenhouse that keeps three orange trees but the park has been greatly expanded. There is an artificial lake and waterfall which is home to many storks – the symbol of Strasbourg.
11. Place Gutenberg
Place Gutenberg is a small square in Strasbourg that honors Johannes Gutenberg with a statue and dedication. He did introduce the printing press to Europe, but the really beautiful part of this square is not his statue. Visit Place Gutenberg for the gorgeous carousel located there. It never created the literacy and printing boom that Gutenberg did, but it’s a lot prettier than Johannes.
12. Palais du Rhin
From the time of the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) through World War I, the entire Alsace Region was part of Imperial Germany. The Germans modernized and expanded the city by three times. In the German section of the city you will find The Palais du Rhin.
The Germans built the palace and named it Kaiserpalast (Imperial Palace). It’s a fine example of 19th-century Prussian architecture. While the French weren’t able to erase the architecture, they did change the name and added loads of French flags. It’s a beautiful building to visit and it’s located in an equally beautiful park.
13. Alsatian Wine
One of the best things to do in Strasbourg is to sample wine from the vineyards of the regions. Known for its white wine production, the Alsatian region is perfect for wine-lovers. Whether you set up a private tasting at one of the wine houses, sample the wine menu at dinner or do a full wine tour – you must enjoy this part of the Alsatian culture.
You can visit two wineries and enjoy a half-day tour of the region by booking HERE.
14. Le Vaisseau Science Museum
If you’re looking for things to do in Strasbourg with kids, head to the Vaisseau Museum. It’s a hands-on science museum designed for kids age 3-15. The motto is “science while having fun” and visitors seem to leave with that goal achieved.
Robe Trotting Tip: You can get 50% off entry with the Strasbourg City Card. Click HERE for more information.
15. Place de la Republique
Also known as Republic Square, Place de la Republique (above) is the gorgeous park surrounding Palais du Rhin. We’re counting it as its own thing to do in Strasbourg because you can tour the palace, but should also spend some time exploring the grounds surrounding it. It’s a perfect spot to relax, sit in the grass, share a bottle of wine or sip a coffee and people-watch.
16. Saint Pierre le Jeune Protestant Church
This church is known as “young Saint Peter’s Church”. That’s because three churches are named “Saint Peter’s” in Strasbourg. From an architectural and art history perspective, this is the most important church in Strasbourg. The oldest part of the church is a crypt built on the remains of a small 7th-century church.
17. Strasbourg Mini-Train Tour
One of the awesome things to do in Strasbourg is riding the mini-train tour. Kids will love it because it’s you get to ride around town on a train, and adults will love seeing the city this way. The tour is informative and 90 minutes long. It operates from April to October and it’s also half-price with the Strasbourg City Card.
18. Old Saint Peter’s Church
This church has a fascinating history and modern existence. It’s simultaneously a Catholic and Lutheran church. Seem weird? I agree.
There has been a church in this location since at least 1130. At that time the area was Catholic and the history was rather uninteresting (no offense 12th century Strasbourg).
In 1529, the municipality of Strasbourg openly joined the Reformation and the church became Lutheran. In 1683, two years after the annexation of Strasbourg by France, King Louis XIV ordered part of the church returned to the Catholics. A wall was erected keeping the Lutheran services in the Nave. The remainder of the church was left to the Catholics. This coexistence remains today, but in 2012 they finally installed a door in the wall.
19. Alsatian Dining
Alsatian cuisine is delicious. Like much of Alsatian history and culture, it’s a little bit French and a little bit German. It combines the culinary skill of French cooking and the hearty goodness of traditional German cuisine. Whoever you want to attribute the final product to – it’s fantastic and you would be remiss to skip it in Strasbourg.
20. EU Parliament
For part of the EU legislative year, members convene in Strasbourg. The symbolic importance of Strasbourg is that two of the great European powers have a history in the region. France and Germany have been to war for this region numerous times, and the area has influences from both cultures. Establishing Strasbourg as a seat of the EU parliament is a gesture of peace on the continent.
There’s so much to do in Strasbourg, you’ll soon learn this for yourself if you’re planning a trip there.
In case you didn’t pick up on it, we HIGHLY recommend pre-purchasing the Strasbourg City Pass. It makes it so easy to plan your time. The pass comes with a Strasbourg sightseeing checklist. It will also save you money if you only do the main attractions that are included: the Cathedral Observation platform, Astronomical Clock, one museum entry and the boat tour.
Beyond these included attractions, you have crazy good discounts on additional museums, tours, and attractions. It’s good for up to 3 days and can be purchased for under $25. Book the City Pass online before you get to Strousborg – you’ll be happy you do.
Don’t forget to check out our itinerary for a weekend in Colmar, just south of Strasbourg. It’s easy to get to Colmar from Strasbourg and explore more of this fascinating region.