Strasbourg and surroundings
Did you know? The historic city centre of Strasbourg, the Grande Île, has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage – the first time such an honour was given to an entire city centre.
Strasbourg is indeed one of Europe's most beautiful cities – from the imposing Cathedral with its intricate carvings, to the picturesque houses and canals of Petite France – all which make it a very popular tourist destination, not to mention a wonderful place to live.
The European Capital
In 1949 the city was chosen as the base for the Council of Europe and in 1992 Strasbourg was confirmed as the headquarters of the European Parliament. In addition to these two prominent institutions, the city also hosts other international organisations, including the International Institute of Human Rights, the European Ombudsman, The Assembly of European Regions and the European cultural TV channel Arte. See Europe in Strasbourg for more information on the different institutions.
Throughout the year the city offers several fantastic attractions to visit, among which there are such "must-see" tourist sites as:
- The cathedral of Notre-Dame: a 15th Century masterpiece of Gothic art, with its 142m spire in rose-coloured sandstone and astronomical clock (rennaisance technology).
- The Kammerzell house: one of the most famous buildings in Strasbourg; extraordinary and well-preserved example of medieval housing situated on the Place de la Cathédrale.
- The Petite France quarter: "The district on the waters" - situated on the Grand Île (the Main Island), a small but charming area with half-timbered houses and canals).
- The Church of Saint-Thomas: the main protestant church in Strasbourg.
- The European institutions: they are not only the headquarters for the prominent European organisations, but marvellous examples of contemporary architecture and artworks.
The famous Christmas Markets
Strasbourg is a very popular tourist destination all year long, but has a significant peak of visitors around Christmas: the Christmas market (Marché de Noël), held here since the XVI century, draws about million visitors each year. It is famous for its unique atmosphere, and delicacies such as Mannele (Alsatian pastry made of sweet leavened dough, in the form of a man) or delicious pain d'epice (ginger bread), best accompanied by a warm mulled wine…
Alsace, on France's eastern border, is the smallest region in metropolitan France and one of the most densely populated at the same time. It is famous for its high number of picturesque villages, churches and castles. There's a lot to see and do in the region, with Strasbourg as your base. Discover the vineyards, lakes and mountains, or visit the region's towns or villages. On both sides of the River Rhine you'll find a great diversity of fascinating landscapes.
- The Wine Route weaves its way through 170 km of vineyards and wine producing areas.
- The Romanesque Route takes in some of Alsace's finest examples of Romanesque art.
- Colmar - a charming town, and the birthplace of Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the world famous French sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty;
- Mulhouse – the industrial capital of Alsace, with several fascinating museums, such as the Automobile Museum and the Railroad Museum;
- Kaysersberg – with its medieval atmosphere;
- … and much more.
For more information, please refer to Strasbourg Tourist Office.
In addition to charming towns and villages, Alsace is also the European region with the greatest number of medieval feudal castles. Due to the turbulent history of the region most of them are now in ruin, however they are still worth a visit. We encourage you to visit Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle (fully restored, and not far from Colmar), Wangenbourg Castle, Petit Arnsbourg (Obersteinbach) Castle, and Fort Mutzig - the biggest fort built before the First World War.
Alsace is a region well-known for its wine, beer and food. Alsace wines are known by their grape variety, and include Riesling, Pinot blanc, Pinot noir, Pinot Gris, Gewürtzraminer, Sylvaner, and Muscat.
Alsace is also the main beer-producing region in France - great to accompany traditional Alsatian cuisine: rich, savoury and (unfortunately) quite heavy… but very tasty!
If you order a traditional Alsatian dish, you are likely to be served choucroute (pickled cabbage accompanied with a variety of pork meat). It's also worth trying other local specialities, including baeckeoffe, flammekueche, spaetzle and foie gras. These can be best enjoyed in the "winstubs", local taverns known for their friendly atmosphere.
Whatever you choose, you won't be disappointed. Alsace is the smallest region in France, but it possesses the largest number of Michelin-star chefs per inhabitant!
In Strasbourg you can find several interesting museums, for example:
- Le Musée Alsacien
- Musée d'Art moderne et contemporain
- Musée des Beaux-Arts
- Centre Tomi Ungerer
- Le Musée Zoologique
- Musée Archéologique
Theatre, Music, Dance
- Theatre National de Strasbourg
- Theatre Jeune Public (with productions intended for children and adolescents)
- Opéra National du Rhin
- Orchestre Philharmonique
Restaurants and Night life
Strasbourg is also a university town with a vibrant nightlife. You can find plenty of bars and pubs, varying in prices, atmosphere and type of clients.
For more information you can consult this Tourist Office brochure listing many of the restaurants and hotspots in Strasbourg.