I recently spent two days in Strasbourg on a budget. Although France & I had known each other for years, this was my first time in Alsace; the eastern part of the country. Alsace is known for two things in particular: the half-timbered fairy tale houses and the food and wine.
Guess how I spent my time?
MORE FRANCE TRAVEL TIPS: GET MAPS, ITINERARIES AND FRENCH PHRASES
STRASBOURG ON A BUDGET (€36 PER DAY)
The best part is that Strasbourg is cheap. Every sight I went to and all places mentioned in this post were free so the only thing I paid for was food and accommodation. It’s possible to visit Strasbourg for €36 per day.
Where to stay
Budget hostels come at $21 per night, while mid-range cost €30 per night. The area around the train station can be a little shady, so if your budget allows it, try to find a hotel or hostel near the city center (the cathedral).
Daily food budget
French food is fairly cheap compared to standard European prices. But if it’s possible, try at least one good restaurant because the French food is amazing! Budget meals cost €6-9, mid-range are €10-15 and high-end cost anywhere from €15-40. See my restaurant and food tips below.
How to get around
The main sights are all located at Grand Ile and it’s easy to walk. If you’re visiting other parts of Strasbourg, you can buy a ticket with unlimited tram and bus trips valid for 24 hours (€4.30). Also, you can rent bikes (vélhop) for $5 per day.
PETITE FRANCE, STRASBOURG
The number one attraction in Strasbourg is Petite France (“Little France”), which is the historic part of town. What makes it special is the half-timbered houses that reflect in the water along the canal. The houses date from the 16th and 17th centuries and were originally built for millers, fishermen and tanners, who once lived and worked in this part of town.
Today, Petite France is a UNESCO site.
NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL
Opening hours: 7am-7pm
Notre Dame cathedral is one thing you can’t miss seeing in Strasbourg as it towers above the city. With 4 million visitors a year, it’s the second most visited cathedral in France after the Notre Dame in Paris. I’ve been to the one in Paris and this one is just as beautiful, maybe even prettier if you include the historical Alsace houses and Rue de Maroquin surrounding it.
Strasbourg Cathedral was built in 1439 and it’s an outstanding masterpiece of Romanesque and late Gothic art. Inside you’ll find 12th-century stained glass windows, one of the world’s largest astronomical clocks and the 66-meter high viewing platform. It’s touristy as can be expected, but definitely worth the visit!
GRAND ILE ISLAND
On my first day in Strasbourg, I was pretty much lost. It’s not the easiest city to visit if you don’t speak French, and there aren’t many signs, at least not in English. But as soon as I found out that the historical part of town, which is where all the main sights are, is an island (Grand Ill), it was much easier. I used the 142-meter high spire of Strasbourg Cathedral as my compass and within a few hours or five, I had an idea of where things were located.
Strasbourg’s charm has a lot to do with the many canals running through the city. The canals and the River Ill surround the Grand Ill island where Petite France is located. It’s a beautiful walk around the canals, especially in the spring when flowers are blooming and everything is green and lush.
I found a great viewpoint of Petite France from top of Barrage Vauban. From there you can see the towers of the historical quarter and Notre Dame Cathedral.
Photography tip: Get there at sunset or after sunset for the best light. Overcast or rain create reflections in the water.
AMAZING FRENCH FOOD AND RESTAURANTS
For dinner, I recommend making a reservation. Especially at the good restaurants.
You might think that Petite France or Notre Dame is the top attraction in Strasbourg, but it’s not actually. The real attraction is the Alsace food, and if you have yet to try it, you have something to look forward to!
French cuisine is excellent, including their deserts, pastry and cakes. So when I got to France, I had a list of things I wanted to taste while I was there. Although I didn’t get to the frog legs or snails, I had delicious meals like coq au vin, creme brulee and crepe suzette. The most known dish in Alsace is Flammkuchen (tarte Flambée in French), which is a French version of pizza with creme fraiche and it’s a must if you’re there. But in the cuisine you’ll also find sauerkraut, pork and baeckeoffe.
Where to eat in Strasbourg
- Flamme & co: Go there for the flammkuchen
- La Corde á Linge
- Gurtlerhoft: Amazing food and service! It’s easily the best restaurant in Strasbourg
- Patisserie Kubler: Great strawberry tarts
BEAUTIFUL ALSACE HOUSES
Aside from the half-timbered houses you find here and in countries like Germany and Denmark, the Alsace architecture has its own style. Think French balconies or decorated balconies, colorful shutters and endless avenues of green, trimmed trees. It’s a sight for sore eyes.
Would you visit Strasbourg? And do you LOVE French food, too?
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