What to do if you’ve only got three days in the capital of Alsace.
I’ll go ahead and say it: Strasbourg is one of the most underrated cities to visit in France. Everyone goes for the Christmas markets, and while I’m sure they’re fabulous, there is something to be said for visiting this beautiful European capital in the spring. I fell in love with its charm, history, and cross-cultural experiences, and I was only there for three days. Here’s my guide for all the things you should do if you only have a few days yourself.
My train arrived around noon, which meant I had a few hours to kill (with luggage, unfortunately) before I could venture to my Airbnb. I wandered into Le Bistro des Cocottes, a new-wave fusion restaurant, for lunch. It’s delicious, but the portions are huge! Bring your appetite.
After checking into my Airbnb, I went out to explore the old town. There’s a little farmer’s market called La Nouvelle Douane that has all kinds of organic, local products. I picked up a few cheeses, some bread, and a little milk for breakfasts at home. I then ventured over to Caves Jacques Baumann, a lovely little wine shop with a great selection of Alsace whites and super friendly, knowledgeable staff. For dinner, try La Corde à Linge. It’s right on the canal and is a favorite among locals (it was packed when I arrived!).
After coffee and a light breakfast at home, I recommend heading over to the Office de Tourisme, just next to the cathedral in the old town. Tourism Offices in France are fantastic places to start your visit – the staff is always friendly, multilingual, and will direct you to all kinds of things you may not have found otherwise.
A quick tour inside the Cathédrale de Strasbourg was my first stop of the day, and a lovely one at that. One of the tallest churches in the world, it was the tallest building (period!) from 1647-1874. It also has an incredible astronomical clock and a beautiful little garden just outside.
After a jaunt to the cathedral, walk on over to the Musée Historique de la Ville de Strasbourg, (Historic Strasbourg Museum) which chronicles the city’s history from its inception in ancient times all the way to the 1990s. There, you’ll find that the city’s history is complex and fascinating as you wander through three floors of exhibition rooms. While the museum is incredibly well done, be warned that the section on Strasbourg under Nazi Occupation is quite intense and can be triggering.
Next, just a few blocks down the way and across the river, stop into the Musée Alsacien (Alsatian Museum) to learn more about Alsatian culture, traditional woodworking, and religions throughout the ages in the region.
Take a break for lunch and pick up a sandwich at a nearby boulangerie, or one of the many bistros near the Place d’Austerlitz. It’s a lovely, scenic park that’s perfect for a little picnic on a bench if the weather is cooperating, or to people watch from a bistro en terrasse.
After lunch, I highly recommend a visit to the Cave Historique des Hospices de Strasbourg – Alsace’s answer to the Hospices de Beaune in Burgundy. It is one of the oldest continuous winemaking caves in France and still makes wine today! It also houses the OLDEST white wine in the world – from 1472! Though it is small and a bit off the beaten path, I highly recommend it. Entry is free, and an audio guide is only three euro. Worth it!
After all this time spent in museums, you might want a break to go home and relax (I know I did!). I took a quick nap and woke up refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day in the city, exploring endless bookshops and bread stalls. I took a long, langourous stroll through an area called La Petite France. Explore the beautiful medieval covered bridges with a walk along the canal at sunset. Stop in for a tarte flambée – Alsace’s traditional pizza – at the iconic Binchstub to finish the day.
For a last full day, I recommend exploring outside the old town / historic district for a taste of local Strasbourg. Grab a sandwich or bretzel or a kouglof from a local boulangerie and head out on a walk toward l’Orangerie, a stunning park to the north of the city that’s also a natural habitat for the city’s official bird: the stork. It’s the perfect place to people watch and relax. On the way back, stop by the Saturday market on Boulevard de la Marne for local snacks.
Head on over to the University district to check out a new organic and natural wine bar, Jaja. The staff is super friendly and the terrace is wonderfully lively – full of locals. If you’re in the mood for a super decadent dinner and love cheese, La Cloche à Fromage is a fitting end to your time in Strasbourg.
Like many French cities, it’s possible to stay a week (at least!) in Strasbourg and never get bored. But if you’re on a bit of a schedule, I promise you won’t be disappointed with an itinerary like mine. Make sure to build in time to take slow walks and admire the architecture, the vibe, and the ambiance. Strasbourg is one-of-a-kind and there’s truly something for everyone!