Strasbourg centre

Strasbourg - Jewel of Alsace

Things to see and do

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The historic capital city of Alsace, Strasbourg, is the second most popular tourist city in France, after Paris
On this page Location and access Tourist attractions
In the area Strasbourg accommodation

Strasbourg cathedralThe great west facade of Strasbourg's medieval cathedral towers over the surrounding buildings of the old city.
For visitors wanting to see Paris and one other French city - or indeed just one French city other than Paris, Strasbourg is the place.
   Strasbourg is one of the great historic cities of Europe, and its history is very different from that of Paris.
  In the year 840 AD, on the death of the Emperor Charlemagne's son Louis the Pious, the great Frankish "Holy Roman" Empire was split into three parts. West Francia in the west became the heartland of modern France. East Francia in the east became Germany; and between them lay Middle Francia – an area today made up of small states, Luxembourg Belgium, the Nether­lands,and Switzerland. Between Luxembourg and Switzerland middle Francia included the duchies of Alsace, Lorraine and Burgundy, which are today part of France. But this was not always the case.
   Alsace, and with it Strasbourg, only became French in the 17th century. Alsace was French from 1648 to 1871, but during this time it remained German- speaking. From 1871 until 1919, and again from 1940 to 1944, Alsace was annexed by Germany.
    While today the people of Alsace all speak French, the historic Germanic culture of the city of Strasbourg is tangible, and indeed part of the city's identity. Many signs are written up in both French and Alsatian (a dialect of German), or sometimes just in Alsatian; and signs on many historic buildings are written up using the classically German Gothic script.
    As for wining and dining, Strasbourg's gourmet traditions are quite distinctive, and more German than French. Flammekueche is something between a quiche lorraine and a pizza, and choucroute, sauerkraut in English or German, is a major speciality. Another popular dish is baeckoffe, an oven-baked meat and potato dish.  Alsace and Strasbourg are also famous for their pain d'épices, a kind of spicebread or gingerbread, particularly in the runup to Christmas.
    For a classic Strasbourg dining experience, visitors have a large number of Alsacian restaurants and Winstubs; the latter are typical Alsace restaurants, mostly furnished with wooden chairs and tables, decorated in Alsace style, and often housed in old half-timbered buildings. They are Alsace's equivalent of an old fashioned English pub, where people go as much to drink - in this case local Alsace wine - as to eat.

Strasbourg tourist attractions

Petite France and the river Ill
Old city fortifications and part of Petite France, by the river Ill
      Strasbourg is the second most popular tourist city in France, after Paris; and there are three main attractions. Firstly the cathedral, the second most visited French cathedral after Notre Dame de Paris; secondly the picture-book historic quarter of Petite France, with its half-timbered medieval houses and its quays overlooking branches of the river Ill (that is the river " ill "); and thirdly the Strasbourg Christmas market. The Christmas market, or Christkindelsmärik, the market of the child Jesus, is the oldest and biggest historic Christmas market in Europe, and fills the squares and old streets round the cathedral for the whole of December.
    Near Petite France is the Barrage Vauban, a 17th century covered bridge and walkway across the river.
map old strasbourgOld Strasbourg, showing location of main sites. The map is about 1800 metres across. Tram routes in brown
   But there is plenty more to see and do in Strasbourg too.
   One of the great things about Strasbourg as a city-break destination, is that you can do so much on foot. The old city is quite small. Just next to the cathedral, in and around the Palais Rohan, is a cluster of museums, the most impressive of which is the Strasbourg art gallery, or Musée des Beaux Arts.  One of the best provincial art galleries in France, the gallery has a small but rich and representative collection of European art from the Renaissance onwards, including works by Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael, Rubens, El Greco, Van Dyck, Corot, Courbet and many more. The Palais Rohan, a fine eighteenth-century palace, also houses the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Strasbourg Archeological Museum; and just across the street is the Strasbourg historical museum.
shop sign
Sign outside a traditional Strasbourg restaurant
    A single day pass for all the Strasbourg museums costs less than separate entrance tickets to two individual museums.
    The pass also includes access to Strasbourg's other great museum, the Strasbourg museum of modern and contemporary art, or MAMCS. Very easily accessible – just a short walk from Petite France across the Barrage Vauban,  this is a small but good modern art gallery, opened in 1998. Its permanent collection contains works from the Impressionists onwards, including Monet, Sisley, Renoir, Signac, Vlaminck, Picasso, Braque, Chagall, Miro, Magritte, Kandinsky and many more.
     The other popular tourist attraction in Strasbourg is to take a boat trip on the river Ill. Boats leave from in front of the Palais Rohan, by the museums, and take visitors round the island in the river Ill on which the historic city of Strasbourg is built.

In the area - northern Alsace

The Haut Rhin department

    The historic city of Strasbourg lies a mile from the Rhine, in the fertile valley that is flanked to the west by the Vosges mountains, and to the east by Germany's Black Forest. Both are easily accessible from Strasbourg.

       For a quick trip into Germany, it is very easy to drive or take the train across the Rhine to the German town of Kehl, but that is not terribly interesting. A more interesting trip is to drive or take the train to the town of Offenburg, 25 km (15 miles) from Strasbourg, a town with an attractive centre...  but not as attractive as Strasbourg.
       A day trip into the Vosges can combine a visit to the impressive Chateau du Haut Koenigsburg 60 km south of Strasbourg, near Séléstat, and near there to the picturesque small Alsace wine-route town of Kaysersberg, birthplace of Albert Schweitzer.
Alsace village
Many very pretty villages are within easy reach of Strasbourg
     Click here for more on visiting Alsace

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Plan of Strasbourg from an open-source original from openstreetmap.org.

Key tourist information for Strasbourg :

Access - getting to Strasbourg : 
By plane - Nearest airports:  Strasbourg, Basel-Mulhouse
Easyjet and Ryanair flights from London.

By train: direct TGV service from Paris, Lyon and Marseille. For timetables and online tickets, from France or Europe, see Trainline.com .

By road : Strasbourg is 6 hours drive from Calais, 5 hours from Paris, and 2h30 from Frankfurt.

Location : 
Region: Alsace
Nearby cities: Colmar, Mulhouse
Strasbourg is in the Rhine valley, on the borders of France and Germany
Urban area Population
Main sites:  Strasbourg cathedral, the quaint quarter of Petite France, the banks of the river Ill, Strasbourg's famous Christmas market, the covered Pont Vauban barrage, the museum of modern art, boat trips on the river Ill.

Nearby attractions:  Alsace vineyards, Colmar, the Vosges mountains, the castle of Haut Koenigsberg.

See below
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A choice of carefully selected hotels in Strasbourg.

These hotels are conveniently sited in or near the city centre, and all have good write-ups. Click links for details and to book at best rates .

Five stars ★★★★★

Hotel Régent Petite France
Superb hotel located in historic buildings the heart of  old Strasbourg, on an island in the River Ill. By many accounts the best hotel in Strasbourg - certainly the finest location.

Four stars ★★★★

Hotel Cour du Corbeau - Four star boutique hotel in a historic traditional Alsatian half-timbered building, in the old part of town a short distance from the river Ill.
Hotel Hannong - Four-star hotel located in an eighteenth century building in old Strasbourg; close to the historic Petite France district and to Place Kleber.
Hotel Sofitel - Four star hotel with parking, located in central Strasbourg, close to the shops, the cathedral and historic districts.
Hotel du Dragon - Boutique hotel in a historic building in old Strasbourg; perfectly located in a quiet street just a few yeard from the river  Ill, and a short walk to the cathedral and other sites.

Three stars ★★★

Recommended ...

Hotel Gutenberg - Classic three-star hotel ideally located in old Strasbourg, between Petite France and the cathedral. Parking.
Maison Lutetia  Three-star hotel, 39 rooms,  easily accessible just off Avenue des Vosges, between the old town and the European Parliament.
Hotel Ibis Centre Centre historique - Large modern three-star hotel beside the river near the MAMCS, and close to Petite France and the old parts of Strasbourg. Parking (charge).
Hotel Ibis Centre Petite France - Three-star hotel located between the train station and the old town. Public parking.
Hotel Suisse - Classic hotel with terrace ideally located in old Strasbourg, two minutes walk from the cathedral and the museums. Free wifi

Lots more three-star hotels
Click here for a full list of three star hotels in Strasbourg

Two stars 
Recommended ...

Hotel des Arts - Small two star hotel on pedestrian square 200 metres on foot to the cathedral, museums and boat trips. Onsite parking (charge).
Hotel des Anges - Small friendly two-star hotel, 17 rooms, less than 150 metres from the cathedral. Free wifi.

More two-star hotels   Click here for more two star hotels in Strasbourg

 Location Strasbourg

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