As a self-proclaimed Christmas market aficionado—annual trips to Europe’s festive capitals have been a longstanding mother-daughter tradition in my family—it’s no surprise that I've been to Strasbourg more than once. But there’s more to France’s “Christmas Capital” than seasonal cheer. The UNESCO-listed city is also renowned for its storybook architecture, scenic canals, and Grand Cru vineyards.
Whether you time your visit to experience the famous Christmas markets or make the most of the summer sun, the Alsace capital is brimming with photo-worthy views and delicious Alsatian cuisine. If it’s your first time in Strasbourg, this 3-day itinerary covers all the highlights.
Winter snowfall is common, so pack a woolly hat, gloves, and scarf.
If you only have time for one thing, make it a Grand Île sightseeing cruise.
All roads (and rivers) in Strasbourg lead to the Grand Île, the “Big Island” encircled by River Ill canals. Take a walking tour to discover the car-free city center with its Gothic landmarks including Strasbourg Cathedral and Maison Kammerzell, along with the 18th-century Palais Rohan, home to several art and archaeology museums.
Lose yourself in the cobbled lanes and half-timbered townhouses of La Petite France, one of Strasbourg’s most undeniably pretty quarters, and perhaps book a table at the famous Maison Des Tanneurs restaurant. After lunch, a cruise around the Grand Île affords views of the Covered Bridges, Vauban Dam, and Neustadt.
Back in the Grand Île, browse the boutiques and markets or, take a seasonal, festive tour of the city’s Christmas markets. Don’t miss the small producers market on Place des Meuniers, devoted to regional specialties. Alternatively, a food-tasting tour introduces you to Alsace favorites, from “Flammekueche” pizza to apple tart and its famous gingerbread.
Finally, venture into the Alsace region, where forested hills, fairy-tale castles, and pretty villages pepper the banks of the Rhine. Stroll the medieval streets and canals of Colmar, visit the pink Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg in the Vosges mountains, and admire the half-timbered shopfronts of Eguisheim and Riquewihr villages. Most villages host their own Christmas markets, but my favorite is Kaysersberg.
Combine sightseeing with a wine tasting along the Alsace Wine Route, France’s oldest wine route, renowned for its crisp white wines. A vineyard tour and tasting helps you learn more about Alsace wine-making traditions. Be sure to sample the sparkling Crémant d’Alsace.