The canals of Strasbourg. Credit Ales-Krivec via Unsplash

Whether gliding through the canals, stepping into the region’s past at the Alsatian Museum, or contemplating modern masterpieces at the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Strasbourg offers a diverse and enriching array of experiences for its visitors. These activities provide unique lenses through which to appreciate and engage with this captivating city and its vibrant culture.

Strasbourg’s vibrant past is rooted in its status as a crossroads of Europe. Originally a Celtic village, it later became a Roman garrison town known as Argentoratum. In the 5th century, it was seized by the Franks, and its rich history saw it change hands between various rulers, including being part of the Holy Roman Empire. A unique facet of Strasbourg’s identity lies in its location on the border between France and Germany, which has resulted in it changing ownership between these nations multiple times. This fluid history has left a significant imprint on the city’s culture, architecture, and spirit.

Cultural Attractions in Strasbourg

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg is not only one of the finest examples of high Gothic architecture in Europe, but also one of the most important cathedrals in France. Towering over the city with its intricate façade and majestic spire, it draws visitors from around the globe. Its construction began in the 12th century and it remained the world’s tallest building for over 200 years.

One of the cathedral’s most mesmerizing features is its collection of stained glass windows. The windows, many of which date back to the 12th and 14th centuries, are renowned for their deep, vibrant colors and intricate designs that narrate biblical stories. As sunlight filters through these windows, it casts a kaleidoscope of hues throughout the cathedral’s interior.

The Strasbourg Cathedral is also home to an intricate astronomical clock, a marvel of Renaissance engineering. This clock, the third of its kind in the cathedral’s history, was completed in 1843. It features a perpetual calendar, planetary dial, and a captivating noon-time animation.

A visit to the cathedral is an awe-inspiring experience. From the detailed carvings on its exterior to the breathtaking views of Strasbourg from the platform atop its spire, the cathedral is a testament to human artistry and ingenuity.

La Petite France: A Walk Through Medieval Strasbourg

La Petite France is a district that looks as though it has been lifted straight from a fairytale. With its half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and flower-lined canals, this neighborhood epitomizes Alsatian charm. Here, visitors will find buildings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries, originally home to the city’s tanners, millers, and fishermen.

This quarter was once the economic heart of the city, where tradespeople produced goods that were sent throughout Europe. It was named ‘La Petite France’ in reference to the French hospice that used to care for syphilitic patients, which was called the “French disease” in the Middle Ages.

Today, La Petite France is a lively district with quaint shops, boutique hotels, and cozy restaurants serving traditional Alsatian fare. It is a perfect spot for leisurely strolls, romantic evenings, and photographic opportunities.

The Grande Île: Strasbourg’s Historic Heart

The Grande Île, or “Large Island,” is the historic center of Strasbourg, and in 1988, it became the first entire city center to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. This distinction is a testament to the area’s unique and well-preserved architectural heritage.

Among the many noteworthy buildings on the Grande Île is the Palais Rohan, a grand 18th-century palace that now houses three museums. Another is the Kammerzell House, one of the most ornate and well-preserved medieval buildings in the city, renowned for its stunning timber framing and intricate carvings.

What makes the Grande Île truly special is that it isn’t just a monument to the past; it is a living, breathing part of Strasbourg. It is home to bustling squares like Place Kléber and Place Gutenberg, vibrant markets, and local residents going about their daily lives amidst the historic surroundings.

Walking through the Grande Île is like stepping into a living history book. Every corner reveals layers of Strasbourg’s past, from its Roman roots to its medieval grandeur and its role as a vital center of European culture and politics. It is a must-visit area for anyone keen to fully appreciate the rich tapestry of Strasbourg’s history.


Strasbourg, with its rich history and strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, is a city that knows how to celebrate culture in all its forms. The city’s extensive calendar of events is testament to this, offering a diverse range of festivals that cater to different tastes and interests. These festivals not only bring an international flair to Strasbourg but also solidify its reputation as a thriving cultural hub.

European Fantastic Film Festival

This festival is a celebration of the fantastical and the supernatural in cinema. Every year, Strasbourg becomes a gathering place for fans of horror, science fiction, and fantasy films. The European Fantastic Film Festival showcases a wide range of movies, from indie gems to major productions, attracting filmmakers and fans from all over the world. Special events, including Q&A sessions with directors and actors, as well as thematic parties and exhibitions, round out the festival experience.

Jazzdor: Strasbourg’s Jazz Festival

Jazzdor is an annual festival that brings the vibrant and diverse world of jazz music to Strasbourg. With performances ranging from traditional jazz to more experimental forms, Jazzdor offers something for every kind of jazz enthusiast. The festival gathers a host of international and local artists, fostering a spirit of collaboration and musical exploration that resonates throughout the city.

Musica: The Contemporary Music Festival

Musica is a festival that challenges and delights the ears with a rich program dedicated to contemporary classical music. This prestigious event attracts composers, musicians, and music lovers from around the globe. For several weeks, Strasbourg becomes a focal point for the exploration of new music, with concerts, masterclasses, and discussions that push the boundaries of classical music into new and exciting territories.

St’art: Strasbourg’s Art Fair

St’art is a major event in the European art scene, bringing together galleries, artists, and art lovers for a vibrant exhibition of contemporary art. This art fair is one of the most significant in France and is a crucial event for art professionals and enthusiasts alike. With a focus on innovation and discovery, St’art offers a platform for emerging artists while also showcasing established names in the art world.

These festivals are more than just entertainment; they are significant cultural exchanges that have substantial economic benefits for the city. They draw visitors from around the globe, boosting local businesses, especially in the hospitality and retail sectors. Moreover, they provide a platform for local artists to engage with international peers, fostering a vibrant and continually evolving cultural scene in Strasbourg.

Alsatian Museum

The Alsatian Museum is a gateway to the region’s rich cultural heritage. Housed in a series of beautiful, old timber-framed houses, the museum’s exhibits feature artifacts, art, and installations that offer insight into the traditional Alsatian way of life.

Visitors can explore rooms that have been furnished to replicate the living conditions of different periods, providing a tangible sense of history. The museum also showcases traditional Alsatian crafts, costumes, and folk art, vividly portraying the region’s customs and traditions.

The museum also offers workshops and educational programs for children and adults alike, encouraging an interactive and engaging exploration of Alsatian culture.

Contemporary Art

The Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is a hub for art enthusiasts. Its extensive collections range from paintings and sculptures to graphic arts and photography, showcasing the evolution of art movements and styles from the late 19th century to the present day. The museum features works by renowned artists such as Monet, Picasso, and Kandinsky, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in some of the most influential art movements of the last two centuries.

Beyond its permanent collection, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions, often focusing on contemporary artists or thematic subjects. These exhibitions are accompanied by a range of events, including artist talks, guided tours, and educational workshops, making the museum a dynamic and ever-evolving space for art appreciation.

The building itself is a modern architectural gem, with large, airy spaces and expansive windows that allow natural light to flood the galleries. The museum is situated on the banks of the Ill River, and its terrace offers a splendid view of Strasbourg’s historic district and Petite France.

Savor Alsatian Cuisine

Strasbourg offers a variety of cuisine types that reflect its rich culinary heritage.

Alsatian cuisine: Alsatian cuisine is known for its hearty and flavorful dishes. Some traditional Alsatian dishes to try in Strasbourg include sauerkraut (pickled cabbage), flammekueche or tarte flambée (Alsatian-style pizza), kugelhopf (yeasted Bundt cake), and saucisses (Alsatian sausages).

French cuisine: Being in France, you can also find a wide range of delicious French dishes in Strasbourg, from classic French pastries to gourmet French cuisine.

International cuisine: Strasbourg is a multicultural city, so you can also find a variety of international cuisines, including Vietnamese, Thai, Italian, and Indian.

Recommended Restaurants in Strasbourg (August 2023)

Strasbourg offers a diverse culinary scene with many excellent restaurants. Here are some recommended restaurants in Strasbourg:

Guillaume Scheer – Les Plaisirs Gourmands offers a fine dining experience with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients.

SA KI BON is a popular restaurant known for its delicious and authentic Creole cuisine.

If you’re looking for a quick and tasty meal, L’Artisan du Wrap is a great choice for their delicious wraps and sandwiches.

Le Transsiberien offers a unique dining experience with its Russian-inspired cuisine and cozy atmosphere.

La Petite Mairie is a charming restaurant that serves traditional Alsatian dishes in a cozy settingBistrot Coco offers fusion cuisine, combining different culinary influences for a unique dining experience.

If you want to try authentic Alsatian cuisine, Winstub Au Pont du Corbeau is a great choice.

Les Sales Gosses is a trendy restaurant known for its creative and delicious dishes.

These are just a few examples of the cuisine types and recommended restaurants in Strasbourg. There are many more options to explore and discover in this vibrant city. Enjoy your culinary journey in Strasbourg.