The Top Things to Do and See in Strasbourg

Strasbourgs beautiful architecture draws in visitors year after year
Strasbourg's beautiful architecture draws in visitors year after year | © Eva Bocek / Alamy Stock Photo
Culture Trip

Located on the German-French border, Strasbourg is a charming city in the heart of the Alsace region. The legacy of this area is a unique Alsatian culture that forges together the finest aspects of both countries. Visit the European Parliament, admire the quaint buildings of La Petite France and don’t leave without sampling a glass of vin in a local winstub – here are the top things to do and see while visiting Strasbourg, France.

1. Marvel at Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg

Cathedral, Church, Building, Historical Landmark

Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, Alsace, France / Strasbourg Cathedral, Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg, Cathedrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
This stunning 15th-century church was built in beautiful rose-coloured sandstone. One of its highlights is the medieval astronomical clock, a tremendous technological invention for the time – stop by at 12.30pm to see its daily performance. The 468-foot spire can be climbed for first-rate views of the city. Visitors during the Christmas holidays will have the pleasure of seeing one of France’s most beautiful winter markets in the square.

2. Stroll through the Parc de l’Orangerie

Park

Enjoy the tranquility of Strasbourg’s oldest park in the northeast of the city, opposite the European Council building. The manicured park is said to be the site where 140 orange trees were re-planted after being taken from the Chateau de Bouxwiller during the French Revolution. Protected inside greenhouses, only three of these trees remain. However, there is now a zoo, a car track for kids and a lakeside restaurant inside the timber-framed Buerehiesel house.

3. Soak up history in La Petite France

Architectural Landmark

No trip to Strasbourg can be deemed complete without a stroll around its charming Petite France district. The hanging baskets of blooming flowers and the pastel shades of the half-timber houses add colour to the centuries of history entombed in the architecture. Once homes to fishermen, millers and tanners, these impressively preserved backstreet buildings are now home to restaurants and hotels with canalside views.

4. Musée Alsacien

Museum

Alsace is the small region where Strasbourg is located, situated to the east of France. Historically, it has been an area of conflict and mixture of cultural influences, since it has passed back and forth between the French and German governments. In the Musée Alsacien, you’ll be able to learn about typical living in this part of France alongside its folk art and traditions. Wander through the maze of traditional houses while pondering the 5,000 artefacts on display inside.

5. Watch politics in action at the European Parliament

Architectural Landmark

Modern architecture, France - European Parliament Building, Strasbourg, France, Europe
© incamerastock / Alamy Stock Photo
Strasbourg is the official seat of the European Parliament. This striking building is hugely significant not only to France, but to Europe as a whole. You can go inside and stroll through the interactive museum to learn more about how the European Parliament works. There are 12 yearly parliamentary sessions held here, each of which has an average duration of about four days, so it’s not uncommon to be in Strasbourg during one of these important meetings. You might even catch a glimpse of one in action. Note: it is closed on weekends and public holidays.

6. Smell the roses at the Botanical Gardens of Strasbourg University

Botanical Garden

Strasbourg’s Botanical Gardens are a mixture of beauty and science, featuring over 6,000 different plants across its Imperial district site. Apart from the outdoor gardens, there is also an arboretum and a greenhouse, plus you can join workshops on arboriculture. Speaking of trees, the gardens are home to an impressive collection including a remarkable great sequoia and pecan tree. Come on Sunday afternoon for a free guided tour.

7. Cycle around the city

Architectural Landmark

Strasbourg, France - July 29, 2017: Rear view of single woman cycling on the French street with tall green trees and Church in background
© ifeelstock / Alamy Stock Photo

It doesn’t take long to realise that the best way to explore Strasbourg is on two wheels. Long considered the country’s cycling capital, the city crams in over 600km of cycle paths, with an estimated 16 percent of its workforce using bikes to commute. Thanks to its intuitive Velhop system, you don’t even need to have your own – its “bike when you like” initiative means more than 6,000 bikes are available to pick up throughout the city.

8. Snap a photo from the Barrage Vauban

Historical Landmark

Named after Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban, the renowned military engineer who designed it, this dam is a remarkable feat of 17th-century engineering. It was built during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and intended to raise the River Ill and flood southern areas of the city in the event of enemy attack. These days, the dam – which sits on 13 limestone arches – is primarily used as a spot for tourists to take the best picture of Strasbourg.

9. Take in a wine tour south of Strasbourg

Natural Feature

An early morning pick up from Strasbourg’s tourist office is how a typical wine tasting day begins, as you begin the short journey south, stopping at Alsace’s best caveaux. The region’s role in historic duels between France and Germany is reflected in its most famous wines, which are heavily influenced by France’s eastern neighbour. Sup the finest Riesling from a flûte d’Alsace while soaking up views between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine valley.

10. Tuck in at Winstub Zuem Strissel

Wine Bar, French

For a true taste of Alsatian food, drink and culture, make a beeline for one of the city’s many popular wine joints known as winstubs. Originally devised by local winemakers who saw it as a way to squeeze profit from every drop of surplus grog, the tradition has lasted the test of time. Winstubs like Zuem Strissel have retained their homely, community vibe – they’re the best places to try local wine and Alsatian favourites, like choucroute garnie (sauerkraut and sausages) and flammekueche (a bacon and onion flatbread).

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