Blog Strasbourg | a complete travel guide to France’s charming Alsatian city

Strasbourg | a complete travel guide to France’s charming Alsatian city

Strasbourg, France is a charming city with cobblestone streets, gothic architecture, and unique Alsatian cuisine. Our comprehensive travel guide will tell you everything you need to know before your upcoming trip to this enchanting city. Join us as we delve into the allure of Strasbourg's historic landmarks, delicious culinary treasures, and magical Christmas markets that have the entire world talking!
Introduction to Strasbourg

The historic cobblestone streets of this picturesque little city lead to iconic landmarks like the awe-inspiring Strasbourg Cathedral and the charming Petite France district. All you have to do is wander and you’ll be greeted by centuries of culture, from medieval architecture to world-class museums. The cuisine is also delightful and unique to this region thanks to its long history of German and French influences!  Furthermore, our complete travel guide helps you to unlock the secrets of this captivating city nestled along the banks of the Rhine River.

Getting started in Strasbourg

Arrival information

By plane

The Strasbourg International Airport (SXB), also known as Strasbourg Entzheim Airport, is located about 10 kilometers southwest of the city center. The airport offers flights to and from several domestic and international destinations.

By train

This is my favorite way to travel into Strasbourg because the main train station, Gare de Strasbourg, is well-connected by train services and located in the city center. It also is a major hub for regional and international train services, offering high-speed TGV connections to cities like Paris, Lyon, and Marseille, as well as international connections to Germany and Switzerland.

By bus

Traveling to Strasbourg by bus is a convenient and affordable option, with several long-distance bus companies like FlixBus, Eurolines, and BlaBlaBus operating routes to and from the city. The main bus station, Strasbourg Bus Station (Gare Routière), is conveniently located near the city center and the main train station serves as a hub for travelers arriving by bus. Overall, traveling to Strasbourg by bus provides travelers with flexibility and cost-effectiveness for exploring the city and its surrounding regions.

Overview of public transportation options

Strasbourg has an efficient, reliable, and environmentally friendly public transportation system which ensures that visitors and locals can travel around the city and its surrounding areas with ease. Here’s an overview of what to expect:

Tram

The tram network in Strasbourg is one of the most extensive in France. It covers the city center as well as suburban areas, providing accessible transportation. The trams run frequently throughout the day and into the evening. The network consists of several lines that intersect at key points, allowing for easy transfers between different routes.

Bus

Buses serve areas that are not easy to get to via tram and provide additional connectivity within the city and surrounding suburbs. Like the trams, buses operate regularly throughout the day and offer a convenient way to travel around Strasbourg.

Park and Ride

If you are traveling by car, Strasbourg encourages the use of park-and-ride facilities located on the outskirts of the city. These facilities allow commuters to park their cars in designated parking lots and then use public transportation to reach the city center. Park-and-ride options are convenient for those who prefer to avoid driving in the city center and help reduce traffic congestion.

Neighborhoods and Accommodations in Strasbourg

Different neighborhoods and their characteristics

La Petite France
This is one of the most picturesque neighborhoods in Strasbourg and is known for its charming half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, scenic canals, and Instagram-worthy backdrops. Situated along the banks of the River Ill, this historic quarter offers a romantic ambiance thanks to its cafes, restaurants, and artisan shops.

City Center (Centre-Ville)
Located in the heart of Strasbourg, the city center is characterized by its busy streets, lively squares, and impressive architecture. Here, you’ll find landmarks such as the eye-catching Strasbourg Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg), the Palais Rohan, and the Place Kléber, which serves as a central meeting point for locals and visitors alike.

Krutenau
South of the city center is where you’ll find Krutenau. This is a vibrant neighborhood known for its diverse population, lively atmosphere, and eclectic mix of cafes, bars, and restaurants. It has a student-friendly vibe because of its close proximity to the University of Strasbourg. Krutenau is a popular destination for young professionals, students, and expats.

Neudorf
Neudorf is a residential area situated southeast of the city center and is known for its leafy streets, parks, and green spaces. With a mix of traditional Alsatian houses and modern apartment buildings, Neudorf offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city center while still providing easy access to amenities and public transportation.

Orangerie
Feel like having a family-friendly day? You might just want to consider visiting the Orangerie neighborhood. Located to the northeast of the city center, this area is known for its spacious parks, elegant mansions, and affluent residential areas. The Parc de l’Orangerie, for instance, is one of the city’s largest parks and is a popular destination for outdoor recreation and leisure activities due to its beautiful gardens, boating lake, and zoo.

Robertsau
Situated to the northeast of the city center along the River Ill, Robertsau is a tranquil residential neighborhood known for its green spaces, nature reserves, and historic landmarks. The area is home to the European institutions, including the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, as well as the scenic Robertsau Forest.

Accommodation options

Budget
Hotel Le Grillon
Hotel Le Grillon is conveniently located near the station and the town center, situated in a semi-pedestrian precinct. They offer budget-friendly accommodations featuring 71 rooms equipped with modern conveniences. Their establishment is known for its welcoming staff and rooms filled with character. Guests can enjoy a lovely summer terrace, parking facilities, and bicycle rental.

Mid-range
Hotel Kaijoo by Happy Culture
Hotel Kaijoo by HappyCulture, located in Strasbourg’s Petite France district, is a convenient location to stay at if you are coming in by train. The hotel has eclectic décor, comfortable amenities, balconies with city views, and a filling breakfast buffet to get your day started right. Plus, its located really close to the botanical gardens!

Luxury
Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile
Fake it till you make it and get that celebrity treatment at Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile! Located in the historic center of Strasbourg on Grande Ile, this luxurious hotel offers guestrooms with top-tier amenities. Here, you can also indulge in the hotel’s restaurant which features French cuisine made with local and seasonal ingredients. The Le Link lounge bar offers a variety of regional wines, cocktails, and champagnes. Conveniently situated near the train station, the hotel provides easy access to La Petite France, renowned monuments, museums, and boutiques.

Attractions and Landmarks in Strasbourg

Strasbourg Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg)

This is one of the most iconic landmarks in Strasbourg. The Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and literally cannot be missed. Its intricate facade, towering spire, and stunning stained glass windows make it a must-visit attraction.

La Petite France

I know I’ve mentioned this area a few times already, but it’s for good reason! This picturesque neighborhood is characterized by its charming half-timbered houses, narrow cobblestone streets, and scenic canals. Not only is it gorgeous, but it’s perfect for a leisurely stroll or a charming photoshoot!

Palais Rohan
If you’re a fan of history and the arts, this is where you need to visit! This majestic palace serves as the home of three important museums in Strasbourg: the Museum of Fine Arts, the Archaeological Museum, and the Museum of Decorative Arts. What a unique experience to explore these impressive collections within the grandeur of a palace!

Parc de l’Orangerie

Whether you’re looking to have a cute little date or a family outing, this area does the trick! Parc de l’Orangerie is one of the city’s largest parks and offers lush greenery, picturesque lakes, and beautifully landscaped gardens. Visitors can enjoy walks, boat rides, and picnics amidst scenic surroundings.

European Parliament
Bet you didn’t know that Strasbourg is one of the official seats of the European Parliament! If you’re interested in politics and history, I recommend you take a guided tour of the European Parliament building to learn about the workings of the European Union and its institutions.

 

Ponts Couverts
Ponts Couverts, translating to “Covered Bridges,” is a historic site that consists of three medieval bridges and four towers dating back to the 13th century. Not only is it a picturesque spot that offers stunning views of the cityscape, but it is also surrounded by lush greenery and the tranquil waters of the River Ill, making it a popular spot for leisurely walks.

Maison Kammerzell
Architecture buffs, you don’t want to miss out on this one! Maison Kammerzell is a beautifully preserved medieval building that symbolizes Strasbourg’s rich heritage. It features intricate woodcarvings, ornate façades, and a renowned restaurant serving Alsatian cuisine. Yum!

Musée Alsacien
This museum serves as a valuable resource for preserving and celebrating the cultural heritage of Alsace. Through its exhibits, programs, and events, the museum offers visitors a fascinating journey through the history, art, and traditions of this vibrant region in eastern France.

St. Thomas Church (Église Saint-Thomas)
Dating back to the 12th century and expanded in subsequent centuries, this church boasts stunning stained glass windows and a rich musical heritage, including a historic organ. It is also a stunning example of Gothic architecture that features a distinctive pink sandstone façade adorned with intricate carvings

Barrage Vauban
Built in the 17th century by the French military engineer Vauban, this impressive dam offers panoramic views of the city and the River Ill. It is not only an important piece of Strasbourg’s architectural heritage but also a symbol of the city’s resilience and strategic importance throughout its history. It continues to fascinate visitors with its engineering marvels and panoramic vistas of the charming Alsatian city.

Dining and Cuisine in Strasbourg

Strasbourg offers a diverse range of culinary experiences, from traditional Alsatian cuisine to modern French dishes, all set against the backdrop of the city’s charming streets and historic landmarks. Here are six restaurants that should be on your radar during your tip. Most importantly,  I highly recommend you make a reservation beforehand, especially if you visit during the busier seasons like Christmas and summer!

  • La Cloche restaurant: One of my favorite restaurants to visit when in Strasbourg is La Cloche located in the heart of Strasbourg’s historic city center near the Cathedral. It is renowned for its thoughtfully curated menu featuring gourmet dishes prepared with high-quality ingredients and innovative culinary techniques. Guests can indulge in classic French favorites such as foie gras, coq au vin, and bouillabaisse, as well as innovative interpretations of regional specialties. However, every time I visit, I opt for their delicious fondue which is not only tasty but so much fun to experience!
  • Maison Kammerzell: Located in a beautifully preserved medieval building in the heart of Strasbourg’s old town, Maison Kammerzell offers a unique dining experience with its historic ambiance and traditional Alsatian cuisine. Guests can enjoy classic dishes such as choucroute garnie and tarte flambée in a charming setting.
  • L’Ancienne Douane: Situated near the Cathedral in the historic city center, L’Ancienne Douane is known for its elegant atmosphere and refined Alsatian cuisine. The restaurant offers a creative menu featuring seasonal ingredients and regional specialties, along with an extensive wine list showcasing Alsatian wines.
  • Le Gruber: This traditional Alsatian brasserie, located close to the Cathedral, is renowned for its warm and welcoming ambiance and hearty comfort food. Guests can savor dishes like baeckeoffe, foie gras, and quiche Lorraine, accompanied by local beers and wines.
  • Chez Yvonne: Tucked away in a charming alleyway in the Petite France district, Chez Yvonne is a cozy bistro known for its rustic décor and authentic Alsatian cuisine. The restaurant offers a menu featuring traditional dishes prepared with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.
  • Le Saint-Sépulcre: This hidden gem is located in the heart of Strasbourg’s historic center and offers a cozy and intimate dining experience. Le Saint-Sépulcre specializes in modern French cuisine with a creative twist, featuring seasonal ingredients and innovative flavor combinations.

Local delicacies

Here’s a taste of what awaits you in Strasbourg:

Alsatian Cuisine

Characterized by hearty and flavorful dishes, alsatian cuisine features ingredients such as pork, sauerkraut, potatoes, and various herbs and spices. Some popular Alsatian specialties include:

  • Choucroute garnie: A dish of fermented cabbage (sauerkraut) served with sausages, pork, and sometimes potatoes.
  • Baeckeoffe: A traditional Alsatian stew made with marinated meats, potatoes, and vegetables, slow-cooked in a casserole dish.
  • Flammekueche (Tarte flambée): A thin crust pizza-like dish topped with crème fraîche, onions, and bacon or other toppings.
  • Wine: Alsace is renowned for its wine production, particularly white wines such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Pinot Gris. Visitors to Strasbourg can enjoy wine tastings and explore the region’s vineyards and wineries.

Local Produce

Strasbourg’s markets offer a variety of fresh, locally sourced produce, including fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and meats. The city’s markets, such as the Strasbourg Christmas Market, are also known for their festive atmosphere and traditional Alsatian treats.

Patisseries and Bakeries

 Strasbourg is home to numerous patisseries and bakeries offering a tempting array of pastries, cakes, and breads. Alsatian pastries such as kougelhopf (a yeast-based cake) and bredele (small Christmas cookies) are popular treats enjoyed throughout the year.

Street Food and Snacks

In addition to traditional restaurants, Strasbourg offers plenty of opportunities to sample street food and snacks. Visitors can indulge in crepes, pretzels, waffles, and other tasty treats from street vendors and food stalls throughout the city.

Activities and Entertainment in Strasbourg

Strasbourg Events and Festivals

The city’s calendar is filled with diverse festivities, including the renowned Strasbourg Christmas Market, one of the oldest and largest in Europe, where visitors can explore festive markets, admire dazzling decorations, and sample traditional Alsatian treats. Other notable events include the Strasbourg Music Festival, featuring classical and contemporary performances at iconic venues across the city, and the Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival, showcasing cutting-edge cinema from around the world. 

Art and Galleries

Strasbourg has a rich artistic scene with galleries and cultural institutions showcasing a wide range of artistic styles and mediums. The Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MAMCS) stands out as a prominent cultural hub, showcasing an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art from local and international artists. Finally, other notable galleries include the Alsatian Museum, which gives insights into the region’s cultural heritage through its collection of traditional art and artifacts, and the Apollonia European Art Exchanges, dedicated to promoting cross-cultural dialogue and collaboration among European artists.

Nightlife and Bars

  • Le Rafiot: Located on a boat moored along the River Ill, Le Rafiot is a popular bar known for its laid-back atmosphere and scenic waterfront views. Guests can enjoy a wide selection of drinks, live music, and DJ sets while taking in the picturesque surroundings.

  • Académie de la Bière: This lively beer bar is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. Académie de la Bière offers an extensive beer menu featuring both local brews and international selections, as well as a cozy atmosphere perfect for socializing with friends.

  • FatCat Bar: Situated in Strasbourg’s historic city center, FatCat Bar is a trendy cocktail lounge known for its creative cocktails and stylish ambiance. The bar features a diverse menu of signature drinks crafted with premium spirits and fresh ingredients, making it a popular spot for cocktail enthusiasts.

  • Les Aviateurs: Tucked away in a historic building near the Cathedral, Les Aviateurs is a retro-themed bar inspired by aviation and travel. The bar’s aviation-themed decor, vintage furniture, and eclectic atmosphere create a unique setting for enjoying cocktails, beers, and spirits.

  • Bar Les Savons d’Hélène: Located in the heart of the Krutenau neighborhood, Bar Les Savons d’Hélène is a cozy and intimate bar known for its friendly atmosphere and eclectic selection of drinks. Guests can choose from a variety of wines, beers, and cocktails while mingling with locals and fellow travelers.

  • Au Brasseur: This traditional Alsatian brewery and pub offers a quintessential Strasbourg experience. Au Brasseur serves a variety of house-brewed beers, including Alsatian specialties like Kronenbourg, along with hearty pub fare such as flammekueche (tarte flambée) and sausages.

Outdoor Activities

Go outside and enjoy the fresh air! Along with leisurely walks around the city and parks, I recommend you check out one of the boat tours along the River Ill to admire the city’s iconic bridges and waterfront attractions. Additionally, Strasbourg’s proximity to the Vosges Mountains offers opportunities for hiking, cycling, and outdoor adventures amidst stunning natural scenery.

Language and Customs in Strasbourg

Language
The language spoken in Strasbourg, France is a bit more complicated than you might think. It actually reflects its location in the Alsace region, which has a unique linguistic heritage shaped by both French and German influences. The predominant language spoken in Strasbourg is French, as it is the official language of France, however, due to Strasbourg’s historical ties to Germany and its proximity to the German border, Alsatian, a Germanic dialect, is also spoken by some residents.

Common phrases to help you get by

Here are a few common phrases to help you get by in Strasbourg:

  • “Bonjour” (bohn-zhoor): This means “hello” in French and is a polite greeting to use when meeting someone for the first time or entering a shop or restaurant.
  • “Merci” (mehr-see): This means “thank you” and is used to express gratitude when someone does something for you or provides assistance.
  • “S’il vous plaît” (seel voo pleh): This means “please” in French and is used to make polite requests or ask for something in a courteous manner.
  • “Parlez-vous anglais?” (par-lay voo ahn-gleh): This means “Do you speak English?” and can be helpful when trying to communicate with someone who may not speak French fluently.
  • “Excusez-moi” (ex-kew-zay mwah): This means “excuse me” and can be used to get someone’s attention or apologize for accidentally bumping into someone.

Tipping
In Strasbourg and throughout France, tipping is not as customary or expected. However, leaving a small tip as a gesture of appreciation for good service is generally welcomed and appreciated, especially in restaurants, cafés, and bars. In conclusion, a typical tip in France is around 5% to 10% of the total bill, although it’s not uncommon to simply round up the bill or leave some loose change as a tip.

Religious sites

It’s essential to adhere to respectful conduct and observe certain guidelines when visiting religious sites. This includes dressing modestly, maintaining silence and reverence, and being mindful of ongoing religious practices or ceremonies. Visitors should also inquire about any specific rules regarding photography and video recording, as well as check for designated visiting hours and accessibility guidelines.

Shopping in Strasbourg

Galeries Lafayette Strasbourg
Located in the heart of Strasbourg, Galeries Lafayette is a renowned department store offering a wide range of fashion, beauty, and home goods. The store features a curated selection of luxury and designer brands, as well as affordable fashion options for shoppers of all budgets.

Les Halles Shopping Center
Les Halles is a modern shopping center situated in the city center of Strasbourg featuring over 120 stores, including fashion retailers, electronics stores, and specialty shops, as well as a large food court with a variety of dining choices.

Place des Halles Shopping Center
This is a very popular shopping center in Strasbourg that offers a mix of national and international retailers in a modern and spacious setting. Place des Halles also features a cinema complex, fitness center, and several restaurants and cafes, providing visitors with ample opportunities for leisure and entertainment.

Rue des Grandes Arcades
Rue des Grandes Arcades is a bustling shopping street located in the historic city center of Strasbourg, known for its picturesque arcades and charming atmosphere. The area is particularly popular for its selection of luxury brands and designer labels, making it a favorite destination for fashion enthusiasts and trendsetters.

Place Kléber Market
This is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, providing an authentic glimpse into Strasbourg’s vibrant market culture and offering an opportunity to shop for unique and artisanal products. Here you’ll find a wide array of goods including fresh produce, flowers, clothing, and souvenirs. Furthermore, the market is a vibrant hub of activity, with vendors selling everything from local Alsatian specialties to international imports.

Happy travels!

We sincerely hope that this comprehensive travel guide to Strasbourg has provided you with valuable insights and inspiration for your visit to this charming city. From its historic landmarks and cultural attractions to its vibrant culinary scene and diverse shopping experiences, Strasbourg offers a wealth of opportunities for exploration and discovery. Whether you’re strolling along the cobblestone streets of the old town, admiring the stunning architecture of the Cathedral, or savoring the flavors of Alsatian cuisine, we trust that your time in Strasbourg will be filled with memorable moments and enriching experiences. Bon voyage!

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5 Responses

  1. Marga says:

    Strasbourg has been on my wish list for some time and after reading your post I know I’ll have to make it happen! Live your pictures and with the Christmas decorations the city looks even more magical!

  2. Shaf says:

    Gosh I’m so in love with your aesthetic seriously!! 😍😍 everything is such a mood!

  3. Cosette says:

    Starsbourg is still on my to visit list. I love your pictures of the city.

  4. Jaqueline says:

    I was in Strasbourg in December and it’s so magical! I love your photos and tips.

  5. cass says:

    Wow the architecture in Strasbourg looks amazing – definitely see why you’ve hyped up La Petite France!

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Chapter Fernweh
by Kiki & Jazzie

We are Kiki & Jazzie – travel content creators based in the Netherlands. On our website and social channels, we share our European adventures, insights, and discoveries. From immersive travel guides and breathtaking photography to personal reflections and captivating video content.

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