What to do in Strasbourg and its region?
Strasbourg city © Pole-Capital
Strasbourg is one of the most beautiful cities in France, considered as the capital of Alsace. It is the largest city in Alsace with nearly 300,000 inhabitants. Located at the extreme north-east of France, at the German border, Strasbourg is a nice spot for day trips or week-ends. It has a rich and eventful history, which left behind an absolutely remarkable architectural heritage of which its town center, Strasbourg old town, is entirely inscribed at the UNESCO world heritage list since 1988, with the Notre-Dame of Strasbourg Cathedral or the district of the Petite France.
Whether with friends or family, you will find attractions in Strasbourg that will please everyone. In winter, in December, do not miss the famous Christmas market in Strasbourg. It its a great opportunity to enjoy free walking tours in the city. In January, the city is often snow-covered as the weather is quite cold, and it gives an additional romantic charm. In summer, you can stroll along the canals of the district of the Petite France, enjoy boat tours and discover various restaurants. Strasbourg train station is very close from the city centre. From Paris it takes less than one hour by train to reach Strasbourg.
Characterized by its flat relief and cycling network – the first in France and one of the largest in Europe – cycling is thus an atypical way to visit the city of Strasbourg and its surroundings. Cultural city and European capital, Strasbourg hosts many European and international institutions, such as the Council of Europe (with the European Court of Human Rights, the European Ombudsman or the European Parliament).
If you have a car and you are looking to visit places close to Strasbourg, we advise you to visit wineries where you can meet winegrowers who will tell you the history of Alsatian wines. The ideal idea when it’s raining!
Discover below here a selection of top things to do to discover Strasbourg and its region during a day, a weekend or for a longer stay.
THE CATHEDRAL OF NOTRE-DAME
True symbol of the city, the cathedral of Notre-Dame is one of the main reasons to visit Strasbourg. Its 142 meters height make it one of the highest cathedrals in the world, but it is especially its date of construction, 1439 during the 15th century which makes the particularity of this imposing building as it is the oldest gothic cathedral in the world! As it was built with sandstone from the Vosges mountains, the cathedral has different aspects all day depending on the light.
You can also admire its interiors (many stained-glass windows, organs …), and climb on the platform of the cathedral, which rises to 66 meters height to have a breathtaking view of the city, from which you can see the district of La Petite France, the next step of your discovery of Strasbourg.
THE PETITE FRANCE DISTRICT
After the visit of the oldest Gothic cathedral in the world, we suggest you to discover the most touristic area of the city. The district of the Petite France is a historical district, located on the Great Island and classified on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1988. You will find there many half-timbered houses, small bridges and canals.
The Petite France district ©Chouetteworld.com
Central square of the Great Island and of Strasbourg, in the surroundings of the cathedral and of the district of the Petite France, Kléber square is full of shops, old buildings like the Aubette, and newer one such as a post-modern building which replaced the famous “Red House”. Many restaurants are also located nearby.
But it is especially during the end of year holidays that you can admire the beauty of this place, with the large fir tree of Strasbourg erected in the middle of it, with at its foot, a miniature Alsatian village. As Strasbourg counts around 10 different places in which you can discover a typical Alsatian Christmas market, you will undoubtedly cross one of them if you come to Strasbourg in December.
Kléber Square © cham_
THE KRUTENAU DISTRICT
Beforehand, the Krutenau district was inhabited by boatmen and fishermen. If you can, we advise you to visit this beautiful neighbourhood and its beautiful buildings on Wednesdays, during market day. You will discover the village atmosphere there. Then you can walk in the small streets through the church of St. Madeleine, the College of Decorative Arts to admire the frescoes of its facade or you can walk on the General de Gaulle Avenue to discover its alley of sculptures.
Finally, throughout the Krutenau district, you can find restaurants and cafes with terraces to relax and enjoy this warm and friendly area of Strasbourg.
The Krutenau District © Office de tourisme de Strasbourg
MUSEUM OF MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART
This museum was inaugurated in 1998. Whether you want to visit the permanent collections with works by Monet, Picasso or Brauner; or appreciate the diversity of collections related to news and discovery, this museum will be a major discovery or re-discovery for everyone.
Museum of modern and contemporary art, Strasbourg © Rue89 Strasbourg
Alsatian Museum © Wikipédia/p>
The Orangery Park is the oldest park of Strasbourg, but it is also and especially the meeting point for joggers and Sunday walkers. The Joséphine pavilion – whose name come from the Empress and wife of Napoleon Bonaparte – was rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1968. Today, it no longer has orange trees, but is beautifully flowered and hosts public events, exhibitions and banquets throughout the year. You will also find a mini-zoo, a stork enclosure and various stalls (waffles, ice cream …) along the paths of the park, which will delight the little ones and food lovers.
You should also know this unusual fact: the stork, once threatened with extinction, was successfully reintroduced in this 26 hectares park in 1971.
Orangerie Park © Wikipédia
THE EUROPEAN DISTRICT
Very close to the Orangerie Park, the European district houses many buildings and institutions such as the Palais de l’Europe, home of the Council of Europe; the Palace of Human Rights with its European Court of Human Rights; the Agora, an annex building of the Council of Europe; the European Parliament; or the Villa Schutzenberger with the European Audiovisual Observatory.
The European district of Strasbourg was born following the Council of Europe installation after the Second World War, aiming at encouraging the countries to cooperate in order to better respect democracy and to defend human rights. Then, a little later, the European Parliament was settled there.
European district © crdp-strasbourg.fr
STRASBOURG AND ALSATIAN VINEYARD
The Alsatian vineyard benefits from exceptional terroirs and climates. This is what allows the region to have no less than fifty Grands Crus, made with famous grape varieties such as Riesling – recognized as one of the best white grape varieties in the world – or Gewurztraminer – the most famous in Alsace. Thanks to these grapes, called “noble”, winemakers can make exceptional quality white wines, but also produce some red wines with other grape varieties.
Wineries close to Strasbourg
To begin, let’s go to the village of Dahlenheim, located at 20 minutes by car from Strasbourg. The domaine Pfister winery, headed by Mélanie Pfister, the first woman in the line of 8 generations of winegrowers, is located in the historical and cultural region of Alsace, and cultivates its vines for more than 200 years. This family-owned winery has been pursuing a fundamental approach for a few years, aimed at obtaining grapes and therefore healthy wines. The obtaining of the High Environmental Value (HVE) label in 2013 and the Fair’n Green certification in 2015, attest to the success of the winery in the work provided in the vineyard and cellar.
Domaine Pfister, Dahlenheim
Then, you can go to Wolxheim, located 25 minutes from Strasbourg and only at 7 minutes from the Pfister winery, to discover the Dischler winery. The owners of this family-owned winery will be delighted to welcome you to visit their winery and taste their wines, and help you understand how they make their remarkable Alsatian wines.
Domaine Dischler, Wolxheim
We wish you a pleasant discovery of Strasbourg and Alsatian culture!