Strasbourg (German: Straßburg, Alsatian: Strossburi) is the capital of the Grand-Est region of France and is most widely known for hosting a number of important European institutions. It is also famous for its beautiful historical centre - the Grande Île - which was the first city centre to be classified entirely as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Strasbourg is one of the nine largest cities in France with nearly half a million inhabitants in a metropolitan area spanning across the river into the German city of Kehl, on the eastern bank of the Rhine.
The city is the seat of the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, the European Ombudsman, the Eurocorps, the European Audiovisual Observatory and, most famously, the European Parliament, which also holds sessions in Brussels.
While it may be possible to find people who will engage in a conversation with you in German, the lingua franca of Strasbourg (and all of Alsace) is French. It is possible to hear German spoken on the streets, especially around the Cathedral. Alsatian (the historic Germanic language of Alsace) is a declining language, spoken mostly by the region's older residents or in rural areas but efforts are underway to revive it.
Strasbourg has its own airport, however there are (relatively) nearby airports which have a wider range of destinations:
- 1 Strasbourg International Airport (SXB IATA) (is located south-west of the city at Entzheim). with domestic as well as international flights. Air France is the principal operator. There are flights to London (Luton and Stansted), Madrid Barajas, Brussels and Amsterdam Schiphol among others. A train runs to the town center (€4, including a tram connection, valid for 90 min. If you only need to get to the central station, buy your ticket not from the machines in the arrivals hall but on the train platform directly where the ticket will cost €2.30). The travel time is 9 minutes and the frequency is 15 minutes.
- Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport (EAP IATA), located in France, but jointly operated by France and Switzerland: there is a short bus connection to the railway station of Saint-Louis, which is one-hour twenty minutes by train, from the main Strasbourg train station. Low-cost companies offer flights from and to several other European countries, with flights to London (Heathrow, Luton, Stansted and Gatwick), Paris Charles de Gaulle, Berlin Schönefeld, Frankfurt and Istanbul (Sabiha Gökçen). EuroAirport serves as a base for EasyJet Switzerland, so there are many EasyJet flights to European holiday resorts.
- Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport (FKB IATA) is located about 60 km away in Germany. There are flights to Berlin Tegel, London (Stansted), Warsaw (Modlin), Belgrade and Budapest. Ryanair operates from Karlsruhe following a court ruling that declared its subsidy arrangements at Strasbourg Airport a contravention of European legislation. The best way to get to Strasbourg is by bus from the airport to Baden-Baden Hauptbahnhof (Main Station); from here trains run to Strasbourg, normally with one change. From station to station the journey is about 45m-1hr. See the timetable [dead link] for direct bus from the airport running to Strasbourg, this is tied into meet Ryanair flights from London. Flibco operates buses to from the airport and on to Strasbourg.
- Frankfurt International Airport (FRA IATA) is about three hours away from Strasbourg in Germany, and is one of the nearest inter-continental airports to Strasbourg. Lufthansa operates an Express Bus shuttle between Strasbourg and Frankfurt, Germany (but an indirect connection by train can be cheaper if booked online in advance, connecting in either Karlsruhe or Offenburg). The bus takes 2½ hours and costs €49 (one way). Reservation is necessary for the Lufthansa Express Buses from/to Strasbourg.
Due to the excellent train connection to Paris, it may make sense to fly into Charles de Gaulle airport and take the TGV from there. Air France and some of its partners offer combined tickets in an air rail alliance.
Strasbourg is well served by regional, national and international train services, predominantly by SNCF (French Railways), but also by Deutsche Bahn (German Railways).
Strasbourg is the eastern terminus of a major high speed rail line and thus served by numerous TGV and some ICE trains, most of which continue onwards to Paris or Germany respectively. Unfortunately this has also resulted in the end of many long running sleeper trains such as the original Orient Express.
Major destinations include the following major towns and cities with multiple daily departures. Journey times are approximate, some require TGV trains.
- Paris 1h50m
- Dijon 2h
- Lyon 3h40m
- Metz 1h15m
- Nancy 50m
- Marseille 5hr 30m
- Besancon 1hr 40m
- Luxembourg 1hrs 40m
- Mulhouse 50m
- Basel 1h25m
- Frankfurt 1h45m
- Stuttgart 1h20m
- Munich 3h40m
- Saarbrücken 1h30m by direct local train
- Brussels 3h40m
The TGV Est Européen provides direct services to:
- Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport 2h25m
- Lille 3h20m (for same-station connections via Eurostar to London)
- Rennes 5h15m
- Nantes 5h10m
- Bordeaux 6h45m
The railway station, impressively renovated with a new glass cocoon frontage, is located a short walk west of the town center on Place de la Gare. There are connections to the tram system and buses, with many taxis waiting outside (to the left of the station forecourt).
For details of all services, and to make reservations, contact SNCF. For regional travel, contact SNCF TER Alsace who co-ordinate the efficient and well served regional train network. When planning trips east of Strasbourg into Germany or countries beyond, you could save money by comparing the fares offered by Deutsche Bahn to those of the SNCF.
From Saarbrücken, Saar-Elsass ticket can be purchased for €35 on weekends that enables round-trip for up to 5 travellers. More details are found here
You can reach Strasbourg by various highways:
- from the west (Paris, Benelux) taking the A4 highway (E25). About 4 hours from Paris and 2 hours 15 minutes from Luxembourg.
- from the south (Switzerland, Lyon), taking the A35 highway (E25). About 5 hours from Lyon
- from the north and east (Germany), taking the A5 highway (E35).
Driving into Strasbourg's old city is relatively easy although there are a few streets off limits to cars. There are many large garages surrounding the old city if your hotel does not have its own parking facility. Some carparks are more expensive than other, especially for longer stays. The one at Petite France Ste Marguerite is the cheapest at €7.20/24 hour and €5.20 for each consecutive day.
Tickets P+R (parking for the day plus return fare on the tram for up to 7 passengers of the car): €3.20, P+R Rotonde: €3.70.
- See also: Intercity buses in France
- Eurolines provides bus services to the city. Services call at the new bus stop situated at the entrance of the center, few meters from the Etoile-Bourse tram stop.
- Deinbus.de serves Strasbourg on its route from Konstanz to Trier.
- Flixbus is by far the biggest player in the German market and a big player in the French market as well
The German town of Kehl just across the border got linked to the Strasbourg tram network in 2017. It is one of only a handful of places worldwide where you can just hop on an urban rail service and let it take you across an international border. Both sides being within the Schengen Area, you don't need to take a passport or answer the question "business or pleasure" and you'll likely not be asked by customs agents how much booze you are carrying, either (and the limits are very generous at any rate). There are of course fare inspectors, so don't forget to get a ticket.
Strasbourg is most easily explored on foot, and the historic city centre can easily be explored in a day or two. To be able to cover more ground, you should consider hiring a bike or using the public transport network.
Strasbourg is ideal for cycling - the city center is flat and there are plenty of bike lanes and bike paths. You can rent bikes at:
- the automatic or manned bike sharing stations vélhop.
- rue du Maire Kuss, in front of the train station
- rue des Bouchers, on the south bank of the Ill river, near the rue d'Austerlitz and the Porte de l'Hôpital tramway station.
Bikes are allowed on trams except during peak hours.
More information on cycling in Strasbourg is available on the Strasbourg website.
By bus and tram
Buses and trams in Strasbourg are operated by the Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois (CTS). A few dozen numbered bus lines and six tram lines (named A to F) serve the city. A single ticketing system covers both bus and tram. Tickets are sold in 'tabacs' (newsagents), tourist offices, CTS boutiques or from vending machines at tram stops. Tickets should be validated before use, either in the machines on tram station platforms or in the machine by the driver when you board the bus.
Summary of fares (as of Apr 2017):
- Aller Simple (one way) €1.70 (€2 on board)
- Aller Retour (round trip) €3.30
- 10 x Aller Simple €14.00
- 24H Individuel (24hr ticket for one person) €4.30
- Trio (one day ticket for up to three people) €6.80
Prices are slightly lower (e.g. €1.60 one-way) if loaded onto a Badgéo or U'GO card.
If using the buses and/or trams a lot, Europass tickets are available from all automatic ticket machines for either 24 hours or seven days. The Europass Mini is valid on all local tram, bus and train services, including those that cross the border to Kehl. The full Europass ticket also covers the local transport of the Ortenau Tarifverbund in Germany including Offenburg (information in German only).
Strasbourg is a popular tourist destination primarily thanks to the beautifully preserved and pedestrian friendly city centre, which can be explored on foot or bicycle in a few days. Don't forget that Strasbourg's appeal now brings tourists to the city throughout the year, with large tour groups especially frequent during the summer months and during the annual winter market. Staying for a few days will allow you to see the city when it's calmest, first thing in the morning and during the evening.
The main Tourist Office is located on Place de la Cathédrale, with a smaller office in the concourse level of the railway station. Both are open 09:00 to 19:00. If you ask whether they have maps they try to sell you one for 1,50 EUR - be sure to ask if they have free maps, what you then get is basically the same as the paid one.
The tourist office sells a variety of self-guided walking tours through the town (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Modern and Contemporary) for €1 each, and also arranges bike tours through the Faubourgs (the suburbs of Neudorf and Neuhof). Maps, brochures and last minute accommodation are also available.
Water-bus tours are available near the Palais des Rohans (south of the cathedral). Those tours (about 45 min.) run around the town center and the European district.
- Cathédrale Notre Dame. Built between 1176 and 1439 and with a 142-m tower (the highest cathedral tower in France), the Gothic cathedral is undoubtedly Strasbourg's finest architectural highlight.
- Just near-by on place du Château is the Musée de l'Oeuvre Notre Dame - Medieval and Renaissance Art – a splendid museum of medieval religious art related to the cathedral.
- Astrometric Clock in the cathedral
- Maison Kammerzell (The Kammerzell house) (15th century) (to the left of the front of the cathedral) – The intricately carved half-timbered frames decorating the upper floors date from 1589.
- Palais des Rohan. French-style palace, built after the acquisition of the town by the French (1681). Home to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts.
- Musée Alsacien (Alsatian Museum), 23-25, Quai Saint-Nicolas (just across the river from the Ancienne Douane), ☎ . M, W-F noon-6pm, Sa-Su 10am to 6pm. This museum features articles from the daily lives of Alsatian peoples from the 13th to 19th centuries: clothing, furniture, toys, tools of artisans and farmers, and religious objects used in Christian, Jewish, and even pagan rites. The exhibits are in rooms connected by wooden staircases and balconies in adjacent multistory Renaissance-era houses around a central courtyard. Admission €6.
Petite France is the name given to the small area between the rivers, just south of the Grande Île. It is home to some of Strasbourg's prettiest and most photogenic streets and buildings, with half timbered townhouses leaning out over the narrow cobbled streets. Petite France resembles Colmar (a city an hour south), with picturesque canal and half-timber houses.
Elsewhere in Strasbourg
- Orangerie - a beautiful classical park. It has a small free zoo featuring birds and a few other animals. Also has an excellent playground for young children.
- Stockfeld, garden city built in the early 20th century in the south-east of the Neuhof (southern part of the town) (bus line 24)
- European district (bus lines 6, 30, 72) :
- Council of Europe's seat (Le Palais de l'Europe) (1977), built by Henry Bernard
- European Court of Human Rights (1995), built by Richard Rogers
- European Parliament (1999), built by Architecture Studio
- ARTE Television headquarters. 4, quai du Chanoine Winterer, near the European district.
- B-line tramway terminus at Hoenheim (northern conurbation) (2001), built by the contemporary architect Zaha Hadid.
- Place de la République - A central crossroad encircled by neoclassical public buildings
- Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art - recommended also because of the interesting building
- Historical Museum - museum of Strasbourg's history
- Zoological Museum
Christmas Markets can be found in many places, but the most important and beautiful are place Broglie and place de la Cathédrale, although they are crowded. They are the best places to drink hot wine (vin chaud) and to eat Christmas cookies (Brädeles).
Even when there are no special events on in Strasbourg, walking around the old town is a very nice way to pass a day. And there are lots of good cafes to stop and rest in as you make your tour.
Boat tours along the Rhine offer views over both Strasbourg and neighbouring Germany. Batorama offer several river tours lasting from around 45 minutes to a few hours, costing around €10 per person.
From time to time, the city organizes a general market in vast parts of the center, where many street vendors offer various products and the shops join in with special discounts. Then, the city center on the island is partly closed for parking or driving and the trams don't go on the rue des Francs Bourgeois. Information about regular market dates is hard to find on the net. If you manage to track down the date of this market, write it here and don't miss it.
There is a marché aux Puces (flea market) on rue de Vieil-Hôpital on Wednesday and Saturdays. The Place des Halles, 24, place des Halles, is a shopping center with over 100 shops and restaurants north of the city center, but within walking distance. Open Mon-Fri 09:00 to 20:00, and Saturdays until 20:00.
A new shopping centre, Rivetoile, opened at the end of 2008 at Place d'etoile, in between the Etoile Polygone and Etoile Bourse tram stops. This new development has shops similar to Place des Halles as well as higher budget shops and a selection of cafes.
Try Galeries Lafayettes at rue du 22 Novembre and Printemps at 1-5 rue de la Haute Montée. Rue Hellebardes and Gutenberg offer designer clothes and men's clothes. Bruno Saint Hilaire has designer clothes for men and a shop in 8, rue Gutenberg. There is a low-budget, secondhand clothing shop in 6, rue de la Lanterne, and various gadget shops can be found in rue des Juifs.
For cheap groceries, including local wines and beers, try one of the three outlets of NORMA, a German discount chain whose three outlets are conveniently located at the corner of rue St Michel and rue Ste Marguerite near the central train station; at 79, Grand'Rue near the center of Grand Île; and at 27, rue des Frères near the Cathedral. Open M-F 10AM-8PM, Sa 9:30AM-7PM.
Alsatian specialties are numerous and can be eaten in many traditional restaurants, in the city or in the neighborhood. Particularly you shouldn't visit Alsace without having the sauerkraut (choucroute in French). Choucroute seems to have a standard price throughout Alsace of 14 Euros. Don't be too dismayed by this seemingly high price as what is brought to you is a heaping plate of Sauerkraut (big enough for 2 people) as well as sausages and other meats. This is usually translated as "garnished sauerkraut" on English menus, when in doubt ask your server. Other specialties include the Alsatian pork-butcher's meat, Flammeküche or flams (tartes flambées in French) which is a sort of wafer thin pizza made with onion-cream sauce, Baeckeoffe, beef and pork stew cooked, with potatoes and carrots, usually served for two or more persons and Fleischnackas, mixed beef meat presented like spirals and served with salads.
- 1 Au Brasseur, 22 Rue des Veaux, ☎ . This a restaurant and microbrewery. Try one of their beers and a tarte flambé for about €10. Has a small children's menu.
- 2 Al Boustane, 31 Rue de la Krutenau, ☎ . on rue de la Krutenau. This Lebanese restaurant features sandwiches and kebabs.
- 3 Flam's, ☎ . On rue des Frères near the Cathédrale. Serves a great variety of flams (tartes flambés) and has an amazing winelist for a budget joint.
- 4 L'Épicerie, 6 Rue du Vieux Seigle, ☎ . Features sandwiches "tartines" (about €4). Food from noon to night. Tables on street and inside.
- 5 Le Frangin, 33 Rue des Frères, ☎ . two doors down from Flam's on Rue des Frères serves a wide range of home-cooked pasta and pizzas at reasonable prices. Pizza and pasta main courses range from €8-9, meat dishes €14-15 and an Alsatian beer €2.50. The owner is friendly and the food is good, satisfying Italian cooking.
- 6 Restaurant universitaire La Gallia, 1 Place de l'Université, ☎ . The oldest university restaurant in France, in a 19th-century building, built by the Germans (which explains the ceiling decorations). It is the last French university restaurant that is managed by students. Not a culinary triumph, but very affordable.
- 7 Le Saladin, 41, Grand'Rue, ☎ . Tunisian/Algerian couscous and kebabs. No alcohol. €6-7.
- 8 Le Zorba, 61 Rue de Zurich, ☎ . This little Greek restaurant in the Krutenau area features sandwiches, souvlaki, and kebabs.
- 9 Chez Tante Liesel, 4 Rue des Dentelles, ☎ . Very friendly.
- 10 Chez Yvonne, ☎ . Usually frequented by Jacques Chirac, when he comes to Strasbourg, because of its well-known tête de veau (cooked veal head). More expensive.
- 11 La Boucherie, Les Docks, Presqu'île André-Malraux, ☎ . This chain restaurant is kid-friendly, with a small children's menu, highchairs, and a toy and coloring book for young children, and will satisfy a craving for red meat at a reasonable price.
- 12 La Stub, 4 Rue du Saumon, ☎ . just one block from the Vox cinema on rue des Francs Bourgeois in the center of Grand Ile. This local Alsatian favorite features Fischer brews for €2-3 and tartes flambés for €7-8.
- 13 Restaurant Avanos, 20 Grand'Rue, ☎ . Spécialités orientales: couscous, döner, grilled meats, fish. 3 plats du jour choices every lunchtime. 10% off takeaway meals every evening. €10-12.
- 14 L'Ancienne Douane, 6 Rue de la Douane, ☎ . on rue de la Douane, near the cathedral, next to the Ill river. A big restaurant for tourist groups. You are almost sure to find a place here even if you have no reservation. Mid-range prices.
- 15 Au Petit Bois Vert, 2 Quai de la Bruche, ☎ . in the Petite France district, serves well-prepared flams and Alsatian specialties in a small room with smiling waiters. The chef usually comes by at the end of the evening. Great terrace during the summer under a big tree on the bank of the river. No reservation, mid-range prices.
- 16 Kirn Restaurant (le restaurant), 17-19, rue du 22 novembre (at the intersection of Fossé des Tanneurs west of Place Kleber), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. The restaurant is above a fine Alsatian specialty food shop on the ground floor.
- 17 Au Dauphin, 13, place de la Cathédrale (on the corner of cathedral square next to Hotel de la Cathédrale; look for a red awning and walk through the inner courtyard to get to it), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Try the choucroute aux trois poissons; it is very fresh and a wonderful take on the traditional sauerkraut dish. They also serve the traditional choucroute garnie, with up to seven types of meat, including headcheese.
- 18 Le Sanglier ('The boar'), 11 Rue du Sanglier, ☎ . on rue du Sanglier in the Carré d'Or district, near the cathedral. A small restaurant with a traditional setting. If you want a Baeckoffe, you must inform the restaurant 24h before. Mid-range prices.
- 19 Restaurant La Vigne, 14, rue de Sébastopol (across the street from the Mc Donald's at Les Halles shopping center), ☎ . This charming and friendly winstub has more moderate prices than its counterparts in La Petite France or near the cathedral, with choucroute garnie and baeckoffe under €15 and bottles of Alsatian wine for about €20.
- 20 Moozé, 1 Rue de la Demi Lune, ☎ . on rue de la Demi-lune near Place Kleber: sushi restaurant. Sushi moves on a conveyor belt in front of you.
- Beer : Alsace is the first beer-producing region of France and Strasbourg has many breweries. Best known are Kronenbourg and Fischer, whose factories can be visited for free, with free drinks at the end of the tour.
- Alsatian white wine: usually drunk with Alsatian food, but also with fish. The main varieties are Gewürtztraminer, Riesling and Pinot Gris. They have a particularly floral flavour and are well worth investigating.
- 1 Les BerThoM, 18 Rue des Tonneliers, ☎ . Beer bar located on the Rue de Tonneliers in the proximity of la place Gutenburg. Spacious with an agreeable atmosphere.
- 2 Café Bar de l'Odyssée, 3 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois, ☎ . Bar with an intimate interior. Great place to enjoy a game of backgammon.
There are many hotels around the station, especially in the place de la Gare and in the rue du Maire Kuss, but this area does not offer consistent quality for accommodations. Most international hotel chains are represented with the usual 2- or 3-star hotels, many of which host the large tour groups who come on weekend breaks. If your budget allows, try staying on the Grande Île (city centre). Most of Strasbourg's hotels are fully booked during the Christmas Market period (December) and when the EU parliament is in session for a few days every month, usually for the period around the tenth. Book ahead if in doubt, as last minute accommodation can be difficult to find during these periods.
- 1 CIARUS, 7 Rue Finkmatt, ☎ . offers a variety of hostel accommodation, with rooms from 1 to 8 beds. Rates start at €27/night, and there's a canteen.
- 2 Auberge de Jeunesse HI Strasbourg, 9, Rue des Cavaliers, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Twenty minutes bus ride from town and fifteen minutes from the European Institutions, this youth hostel is located in a leafy suburb close to the Rhine.
- 3 [dead link] Auberge de Jeunesse René Cassin, 9 Rue de l'Auberge de jeunesse, ☎ . Ten minutes from the city centre, this hostel offers a restaurant, bar and activities for guests.
- PV-Holidays Adagio Strasbourg Place Kleber, ☎ . Self-catering apartments situated in the heart of the historical quarter of the “Grande île”, just 10 minutes walk from the TGV station. Each of the 57 apartments sleep 2-4 people, are air-conditioned and completely fitted out: kitchen, television with international channels, etc. Located in the centre of the Alsatian capital makes this Aparthotel an ideal stopover location for business trips or for a long weekend. Car park less than 300 m away.
- 5 Cardinal de Rohan, 17, rue du Maroquin (right by the cathedral), ☎ , fax: .
- 6 Hôtel Cathédrale, 12-13 Place de la Cathedrale (right across from the cathedral), ☎ , fax: . Best location of any hotel in Strasbourg, stylishly decorated, and more affordable for rooms without views of the cathedral. €55-150.
- 7 Hotel Hannong, 15, rue du 22 Novembre (near the center of Grand Ile), ☎ , fax: . Recently renovated, with stylish bar and restaurant, facing a fairly quiet street.
- 8 Hôtel Vendôme, 9, place de la Gare / 19 rue du Maire Kuss (across from the train station), ☎ , fax: . Recently renovated. 10 minutes from the Cathedral. Free wireless internet. €45-73.
- 9 Mercure Strasbourg Centre Gare Hotel, 14-15, place de la Gare (near the central train station), ☎ , e-mail: H2149@accor.com. A 3-star hotel.
- 10 Château de Pourtalès, 161, rue Mélanie (near the EU Parliament in the neighborhood Robertsau), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. A 3-star hotel.
- 11 Régent Contades, 8, avenue de la Liberté, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. An old building in the heart of the city.
- 12 Régent Petite France, 5, rue des Moulins, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Perfect location.
- 13 Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile, 4, place Saint Pierre le Jeune, ☎ . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Not far from both the Cathedral and Petite France.
Strasbourg is one of the safest large cities in France and the tourist has little to fear. Of course, the standard precautions apply: watch out for pickpockets near the Cathedral (and even inside, according to the signs) during the high tourist season. Unfortunately, some areas in the west and the south are named as the home of poor, unemployed people. But in general, the city of Strasbourg is not known for violence.
Local mobile phone services are provided by Orange, SFR and Bouygues Télécom. Payphone kiosks are plentiful and international calling cards can be purchased in post offices and 'tabacs' (corner shops). Most of the internet cafés listed below are also equipped for making online telephony calls (Skype etc.).
- In most McDonald's in Strasbourg you get free WLAN.
- Greece, 49, Avenue des Vosges, ☎ , fax: .
- Japan, 20, Place des Halles, ☎ , fax: .
- Haut-Koenigsbourg castle
- Alsatian Vineyard Route
- Marmoutier, about 35 km from Strasbourg, has a beautiful 12th-century abbey church
- Kehl — Germany is a short ride or walk across the river.