Strasbourg is full of beautiful places to see and interesting things to do and try! Some of them are well known, and are part of the must-do and most famous sites in France, while others are hidden but definitely worth the trip.
Article by Gabriel Wetzer from Happy Strasbourg
Of course, the very first thing to do when arriving in Strasbourg, is to take part in the Free Tour with Happy Strasbourg! 😉 I'll give you a little reminder at the end of this article, but joining our tour might also be a great opportunity to get personal tips on what to do and what to see, just ask the guide, he will be very happy to tell you.
Anyway, as expected from the title, the first great thing to do when in Strasbourg is to enjoy a nice stroll through the city, and let yourself be immersed in its great atmosphere. Strasbourg is kind of a village…
The Grande Île (Grand Island) of Strasbourg, the historical centre, is entirely classified as a World Heritage by UNESCO, since 1988. This is a unique example of how a medieval city was organised, and you will find in this area 700 years of architecture. It is home to many famous buildings, too numerous to name them all, but I’ll give you a few. For the rest, come and see for yourself!
You can start with the Barrage Vauban, remaining part of Vauban’s Fortress. You can climb on its roof terrace (only by daylight), and appreciate one of the best views over Strasbourg, its traditional district and the Cathedral in the distance. From up there, right in front of you, admire the four towers of the medieval wall along the river.
The Barrage Vauban is also the entrance to the Petite France, the most famous district of Strasbourg. The best thing to do here is to lose yourself in the numerous alleys, and enjoy the beautiful half-timbered houses (especially the “Maison des Tanneurs”), traditional style of the Rhineland. Inside the Petite France, do not miss Saint Thomas Church, one of the first parishes of Strasbourg, hosting a Silbermann Organ, as well as the remarkable mausoleum of Marshal Maurice de Saxe, jewel of the baroque art. For those who like to walk further out of the Grande Île, go across the Saint Nicolas bridge, pass through the Hospital Gate, and you will reach the district of the Civilian Hospital, one of the oldest hospitals in France, today’s main component of the Strasbourg’s University Hospitals.
Leaving off the Petite France by the Grand’Rue (Long Street), one of the city's oldest streets, you will reach very soon the amazing Cathedral Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. After Notre-Dame de Paris, the second most visited Cathedral in France. A single glance at it and you will find out why… Inside, amongst all the jewels it contains, we have to highlight the Astronomical clock, whose automatons delight any traveller who comes to see them. Take your time and let yourself be enchanted by more than 1000 years of history in this incredible edifice.
Continue your walk behind the Cathedral, and head for the Neustadt, also known as the German District, built after 1870. Very recently, in July 2017, the most important part of the Neustadt has been included in the UNESCO area. If it covers a great area, the most significant part of it is definitely the Republic square. Architecture enthusiasts will love the contrast between what you see inside the Grand Island and this other part of Strasbourg. The Palace of the Emperor is an outstanding example of Wilhelmian architecture, and says a lot about Strasbourg's history. There are also many Jugendstil buildings (Art Nouveau in Germany) in the district, inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement.
Eventually, and after such a great walk through the city, the best is to relax in one of the numerous parks. Right next to the European Institutions is the Orangerie Park, one of the biggest parks of Strasbourg (26 hectares), which is also home to the Centre of reintroduction in the wild of our beloved storks.
Those are a few ideas of what to see for free. The list is of course far from being complete… And that's where I give the little reminder! 😉
If you want to know more or get personal tips, don't hesitate : join our Free Walking Tours! From late March to early January, there are English tours every single day starting in front of the Cathedral. We also do French tours on weekends & public holidays, just check out our calendar when you come to Strasbourg, the most beautiful city ever (personal but perfectly objective opinion of course).
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