It may sound like a German name and it may have a German neighbor, but Strasbourg belongs to France and is in fact the capital city of its Alsace region.
Aside from being the home to significant European institutions like the European Court of Human Rights, and the European Parliament; Strasbourg is also known as rich historical place, particularly for the Grande Ile, which stands as the city center, the first of its kind to be hailed a UNESCO Heritage Site. The Grande Ile, which is a fortified medieval town, is where you can find Strasbourg’s most impressive monuments and buildings like the Place Gutenberg, the Aubette and the Place Kleber, which are the main center square. It is therefore, only natural to begin your exploration of Strasbourg here.
Despite its long and highly celebrated history, the city exudes a dynamic and young vibe. Strasbourg allows you to experience arts and culture at their finest with its opera houses, theaters, museums and concert venues. Although the lingua franca is definitely French, you can still hear German being spoken in some of its areas.
When you head to the city’s Old Town, one structure that will surely immediately captivate your imagination and take you back to the medieval times is the Strasbourg Cathedral. It is hard not to gaze at this cathedral with the greatest admiration as it is a magnificent representation of the Gothic art. Even from afar, it is difficult to miss this grand structure with its most recognizable 142-meter spire.
After seeing the Cathedral, take the chance to get lost in the alleys of Strasbourg’s oldest section and enjoy the view of the lovely half-timbered houses lining the streets. If you get tired of walking around, take a rest at one of the cozy Alsatian style taverns also called winstubs. You can find a number of them at an area called Petite France. But this quarter is no ordinary place, as it considered by many to be the most scenic in Old Strasbourg! Here, you will notice many waterways as well as 16th and 17th century homes – all of which add to the eternal charm of Petite France.
Do you want to see Strasbourg from a different and very interesting perspective? Take the popular Batorama boat tour and you will get to experience all its major attractions in 70 minutes! As you cruise through the river canals, you will get great views of the Neustadt Imperial quarter, the Covered Bridges the Vauban dam, the tanner’s quarter, the European institutional buildings and many more! Plus there will be a recorded commentary to inform and entertain you throughout your tour.
And if you have the time, don’t just settle for the city center (no matter how alluring it may be). Go ahead and rent a bicycle; and like most locals, cycle to the different districts of Strasbourg. You will soon discover that each has its own personalities and charm.
To learn more about the best ways of experiencing Strasbourg, visit the Tourist Office on Place de la Cathedrale. The office serves the public from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, and also offers a range of excursions including bike tours and self-guided themed walking tours around the city.