It may not be the first place in France you think of when planning a trip, but the city of Strasbourg is a perfect example of why you should visit the Alsace region of France. Thanks to its interesting blend of French and German culture, Strasbourg has plenty of history, food, and especially wine to tempt travelers with. And despite being one of France’s largest cities, Strasbourg doesn’t feel daunting or difficult to get around.
Because it sits near the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg is the ideal place to stop at as you journey between the two European nations. What’s more, because all of the best places to visit in Strasbourg are so close together and easy to see, you can get away with quite a short visit if you need to. To make the most of your time in this underrated city, it’s best to follow our Strasbourg itinerary, as we’ll show you precisely what to do in Strasbourg in 1 day so you don’t miss out on anything.
Best Time to Visit Strasbourg
With just one day to see the city, you’re going to want to carefully time your trip to Strasbourg. There’s nothing worse than arriving to a destination and being hit with awful weather or having to fight your way through crowds. As such, the best time to visit Strasbourg is in the spring and autumn months when the weather is comfortable and tourist numbers are lower.
High season in Strasbourg coincides with summer, with August typically the busiest month of the year. July is often hotter than August and is just about as busy. Arriving a little earlier in the months of April through June or waiting until September is best, as you’ll likely find exploring the city a bit more pleasant and carefree.
One of the other popular times for visiting Strasbourg is in the lead up to Christmas, as the city undeniably has one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. With a huge market and glittering lights taking center stage make late November and December an enchanting time to go, but these months may come with a heftier price tag when looking at things like accommodation.
How to Get Around Strasbourg
While the greater city of Strasbourg covers quite a large area, visitors to the city will mostly be sticking to the city’s lovely historic center. Most of the city’s old town is found on the island of Grande Île, formed between the Ill River and the Canal de Faux-Rempart. Other parts of the city you’re likely to visit include La Petite France and the neighborhood of Neustadt, just on the other side of the river.
This means that Strasbourg is quite a good city to get around on foot. You should be able to see Strasbourg in 1 day by just walking without much hassle. If you prefer to explore on two wheels, the city has a bike sharing service known as Vélhop which has flexible rental periods.
Alternatively, you can make use of the city’s public transport network of trams and buses which is especially useful if you are going to or from the train station or outer spots like the Botanical Garden. Tickets shared across both trams and buses start at €1.70 for a single trip and can be bought at stops, kiosks, and tourist offices. They can also be bought on board, however these tickets are more expensive.
Where to Stay in Strasbourg
Given the layout of the city and the way most of the city’s attractions are neatly clumped together, working out where to stay in Strasbourg isn’t too hard of a dilemma for visitors. The best places to stay in Strasbourg are on Grande Île, from there all the city’s main attractions are easily reachable. Otherwise, you’ll want to consider somewhere across the canal or river but still close by. For convenience’s sake, the area of Quartier de la Gare puts you close to the city’s bus and train station, even if it isn’t the prettiest place.
In Strasbourg, you’ll struggle to find anywhere that matches the grandeur and quality of the Hôtel Régent Petite France & Spa. This 5-star hotel offers guests spacious and chic rooms set inside a converted mill in the popular Petite France neighborhood.
To strike a balance between affordability and access to conveniences like cooking facilities, you should consider staying in a place like the Aparthotel Adagio Access Strasbourg Petite France. Walking distance to some of Strasbourg’s prettiest spots, this hotel gives you a comfortable and functional space to call your own.
Unfortunately, Strasbourg doesn’t have a lot of good budget accommodation, with the Ciarus Hostel being the rare exception. Thanks to its clean and quality facilities, not to mention friendly staff, you’ll feel like you’re treating yourself despite the price.
For more accommodation options in Strasbourg check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 1-Day Strasbourg Itinerary
Only spending one day in a destination will always feel like a blur, but rest assured that Strasbourg isn’t too big to cover in a single day. With our Strasbourg travel itinerary, we will show you the very best of Strasbourg so that you can make the most of your short time seeing the city. During your visit, you’ll see not only the charming historic center of the city and Strasbourg’s scenic waterfront, but also bits and pieces of other interesting neighborhoods.
However, before we get to our Strasbourg itinerary we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it. We recommend World Nomads.
Even if you don’t get travel insurance with World Nomads, please make sure to get travel insurance from somewhere.
With that ever-useful bit of advice covered, it’s time for us to cover what the best things to do in Strasbourg are and how to see and do each of them in just one day.
In the city of Strasbourg there’s no other landmark that could possibly be as unmissable as the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. This Gothic masterpiece cuts a monumental figure thanks to its elaborate sandstone exterior. Found in the Strasbourg Old Town, the Cathedral was finished in 1439 after around 400 years of construction. Thanks to its lofty 142 meter tower, the Strasbourg Cathedral was the tallest building in the world from 1647 to 1874.
A visit to the cathedral though isn’t complete until you head inside to see the immense interior. As you walk the halls you’ll be bathed in multi-colored light, courtesy of the vibrant stained glass windows which decorate every side of the building. Then there’s the magnificent rose window which sits directly above the entrance. The other big find inside the cathedral is the astronomical clock. The clock’s complex mechanics are masked by its cute appearance. Before you leave, don’t miss a chance to see the city views from the top of the Cathedral tower.
Wander the Grande Île
With the city all around you as you stand in the middle of the Grande Île, it makes sense to go off and explore the island. Following whatever grabs your attention, set out along the city’s winding streets and discover Strasbourg on your own terms. You could go in search of delightfully photogenic old houses like the Maison Kammerzell, duck down moody alleyways, or take in all the sights around squares like Place Gutenberg. This is Europe, which means there’s of course going to be more than a few churches to see as well, like the St Thomas’ Church or the Church of St. Peter the Younger. And since it’s an island, you simply have to go for a stroll along the waterfront which circles the Grand Île.
In much the way the center of Strasbourg is an unusual blend of historic and modern, so too is the city’s largest public square, Place Kléber. In the depths of the Grande Île, this scenic square gives you hints of Strasbourg’s many faces. With fountains bubbling away and plenty of people shopping or sitting at the local cafes, Place Kléber is a hive of activity and a great way to get a pulse of the city as a whole.
If there’s a part of Strasbourg that leaves visitors in complete awe, it’s the district of Petite France. You will find the majority of tourists here, but you’ll understand why once you see what this neighborhood has going for it. Petite France is a winning combination of waterways and half-timbered houses which together make for one of the prettiest spots in France. For a typical Alsatian scene in Strasbourg, there’s no better place to be.
As you wander its idyllic cobblestone streets, you’ll be overwhelmed by timber-framed houses, each a different pretty hue. In Petite France, before you know it, you’re by another picture postcard waterfront and crossing one charming bridge after the next. While you cross the fortified medieval bridge of Ponts Couverts, make sure to stop a moment and admire the Barrage Vauban, a covered stone bridge which sits over a weir in the Ill River.
On the far bank from the southern end of the Grand Île sits a fairly unassuming set of houses which hosts the city’s Alsatian Museum. You probably wouldn’t know it by looking at them from the street that these three buildings were huge Renaissance styled manor houses. That changes though as you make your way through them, across creaking floorboards, up narrow staircases, and see the wonderful courtyard which joins them.
As for the exhibits, they cover all sorts of aspects of daily life for those who lived in the region during the 18th and 19th centuries. Even the rooms of the houses have been faithfully reconstructed to match the look of that period. Touching on every part of life for people back then, all in such a dedicated space, you really do get a sense of what life must have been like once upon a time in Alsace.
Thanks to the mighty Palais Rohan we’re not quite done with Strasbourg’s museums just yet. This large episcopal palace and its elegant baroque design was built in the 1720s and thanks to its vast size you’ll have a hard time missing it. While you’ll want to take a moment to appreciate the building’s facade, the real reason for coming is found inside. Each of the palace’s floors holds a different museum, from the Archaeological Museum in the basement, to the exhibits on ceramics and silverware on the ground floor, and the fine art of the Musée des Beaux-Arts on the first floor. Pick one or see all three if you like, but it might be wise to grab a Museum Card if you’re coming here as well as to the Alsatian Museum.
Botanical Gardens of Strasbourg University
Although it’s the furthest from the center of the city, we encourage you to take the time to see the Botanical Gardens of the local university. Situated over in the Neustadt area, this historic garden has been around for 400 years and is home to 6,000 species of plants. So not only are the gardens a peaceful place for a stroll, but for those with a green thumb it’s basically paradise. Inside the park, you’ll also come across multiple greenhouses and an arboretum.
Cave Historique des Hospices Strasbourg
The Alsace region and wine go hand in hand, so why not head to some wine cellars to reward yourself after all that sightseeing? In Strasbourg, there’s no better choice than the Cave Historique des Hospices, a wine cellar below Strasbourg’s hospital which has been in operation since 1395. You can visit here on your own or take a guided tour to learn more about this historic wine cellar. Once you’ve seen the gallery of barrels you can browse a dazzling array of local and regional wines and pick something nice out for yourself. Then, if you like, you can find a spot by the river and toast to a successful day of sightseeing.
Have More Than 24 Hours in Strasbourg?
Even if you can see much of Strasbourg in one day, that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to see if you have the time. Strasbourg may be the main city of the Alsace historical region, but it’s certainly not alone in terms of jaw-dropping beauty. So if you can spare the time, here are some other superb destinations in Alsace that you’ll be glad you saw.
Few would dispute that Colmar is one of the best places to visit in Europe thanks to its exceptional scenery. With its stunning half-timbered houses, Colmar is basically what would happen if you took Strasbourg’s Petite France neighborhood and scaled it up to the size of a town. The town’s medieval and renaissance houses are at their most enchanting in La Petite Venise by the Lauch River, although go most places in Colmar and you’ll be swept off your feet. If Colmar has one standout house you’ll want to see, it’s the Maison Pfister which dates back to 1537.
There’s even more medieval goodness to be had south of Colmar in the fairytale village of Eguisheim. Again there is a wealth of dainty old timber-framed houses, however in Eguisheim these houses form rings around the Château Saint-Léon in the village center. Once a 13th century castle, Château Saint-Léon was mostly torn down to make way for the Chapelle Saint-Léon in 1894. In Eguisheim you’ll also find quite a few wineries, presenting you with another chance to sample some of Alsace’s best. Otherwise, you might want to venture a little ways outside the village to see the scenic Château du Hohlandsbourg or hunt down the ruins of the three castles of Husseren-les-Châteaux.
Another village found along The Wines Road of Alsace is the preserved medieval town of Riquewihr. Perhaps more so than Colmar and Eguisheim, Riquewihr is known for its wines, especially its Rieslings. But it too offers visitors sparkling scenery in the way of rows of half-timbered houses which essentially make it an open-air museum. As part of that, you’ll find several impressive landmarks which have been converted into museums, like the weapons museum in the Dolder Tower, the torture museum at the Tour des Voleurs, and a walkthrough on wine making at the Maison de Vigneron.
It’s fair to say that there’s plenty you can do with 1 day in Strasbourg and visiting the places mentioned here are an excellent way to start. Visit and your understanding of what France has to offer tourists will completely change.