Looking for the best things to do in Strasbourg in December?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
I’ve been living in Strasbourg for the past four years and I’ve immersed myself in every bit of the city’s rich history and tradition. From the cobbled alleyways of La Petite France to the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral, there isn’t a place I haven’t been to.
And there’s no better month to experience all Strasbourg has to offer than December.
This fairytale town transforms into a winter wonderland. Wooden chalets fill the narrow streets while local vendors prepare the most tantalizing food. It’s festive, enchanting, and mesmerizing all at once.
So, today, I want to share with you the most incredible things to do in Strasbourg in December. I’ve included popular attractions to help you get acquainted with the city as well as some hidden gems.
21 Best Things to Do in Strasbourg in December
December is one of the best times to visit Strasbourg. It’s a festive season full of holiday cheer that you can’t help but love.
So, without further ado, here’s a look at some of the top tourist sites and things that I recommend you do while visiting.
Let’s get started.
1. Visit the Strasbourg Christmas Market
Dating back to 1570, Strasbourg’s Christmas market is not only the oldest in France but also in Europe. And when December arrives, it’s in full swing.
The city’s historic center, dressed in twinkling lights and festive decorations, buzzes with over 300 chalets.
And each stall is a treasure trove of Alsatian handcrafted gifts and local delights.
The air is filled with the aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg, and roasting chestnuts.
It’s an enchanting blend of tradition, festivity, and warmth.
I love wandering through the small alleyways and looking at all the decorations.
Some of my favorite streets are:
- Rue du Maroquin
- Rue des Orfèvres
- Rue de l’Outre
- Rue du Chaudron
- Rue Mercière
And if I had to choose only one of these to visit, I’d pick Rue Mercière.
Here you’ll have the ever-magnificent Strasbourg Cathedral as a backdrop. It adds something extra to the market’s fairytale-like charm.
Strasbourg Christmas Market Dates (2024)
The Christmas market in Strasbourg starts on the last weekend in November and ends on the 24th of December.
2. Admire the Christmas Tree in Place Kléber
The Christmas Tree in Strasbourg’s Place Kléber is more than a holiday decoration. It’s an awe-inspiring symbol of the city’s festive spirit.
Towering at an impressive 30 meters (98 feet), this majestic fir tree embodies the heart and soul of the Christmas season.
It’s covered in hundreds of gold stars and bright red and blue ornaments. And, at night, the tree’s lights fill the square. It’s a mesmerizing sight that rivals other world-famous Christmas trees.
And what’s more, this is where you’ll find some of the best food stalls at the Christmas market.
Every year, when the market opens, I enjoy a glass of mulled wine and a freshly baked pretzel next to the tree. It’s one of my favorite things to do in Strasbourg in December.
3. Climb Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral
For an unparalleled 360-degree panorama of Strasbourg, nothing beats the view from the Notre Dame Cathedral.
But to get there you’ll have to climb a whopping 330 stairs!
It’s straight up without any breaks, so get ready for a mini-workout.
My legs trembled for the first hundred stairs, but, after that, I didn’t have any problems. The stairwell was completely enclosed and safe. So, for someone like me who has vertigo, it was reassuring.
And the sweeping vistas were beyond what I imagined.
From the terrace, you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the charming half-timbered houses, winding canals, and narrow cobbled streets – everything that characterizes Strasbourg’s landscape. And on a clear day, you’ll be able to see as far as the Vosges Mountains.
I recommend going in the morning or before closing. During these times, the lighting will be perfect for your photos.
- 1 April to 30 September: 9:30 am – 1:00 pm and 1:30 pm – 8:00 pm
- 1 October to 31 March: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm and 1:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Useful Tip: The last ascent is 45 minutes before closing.
Address: Place de la Cathédrale
4. Wander around La Petite France
La Petite France is an enchanting neighborhood crisscrossed by the canals of the River Ill. It’s renowned for its picturesque half-timbered houses, quaint quays, and winding cobbled streets.
As the sun sets, the district morphs into a romantic haven. The Christmas lights reflect off the calm water, creating a storybook-like ambiance.
Not to miss is Place Benjamin Zix and the infamous white street, Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes.
But my favorite place is Pont Saint-Martin. I love the colorful houses and the old-fashioned setting. Last year it was snowing on Christmas Day, and I was lucky enough to see it in person!
The district is also known for its vibrant culinary scene. Here you’ll find tons of restaurants offering traditional Alsatian cuisine. The most famous is La Maison des Tanneurs. Set in a 16th-century timbered framed house, it’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local culture.
And, if you’re looking for the best place to stay during the Christmas market, La Petite France is it.
5. Explore the Barrage Vauban
Built in the 17th century, this imposing structure once served as a critical line of defense for the city. And while it was only used once, it’s an impressive site, to say the least.
It showcases the architectural genius of two engineers, Jacques Tarade and Vauban.
Today, the Barrage Vauban is more than a historical monument. It’s a popular tourist attraction, boasting a panoramic terrace at the top of the dam. From this vantage point, you’ll have a stunning layout of the town and its intricate network of canals.
6. Visit Palais Rohan
Dating back to the 18th century, this architectural masterpiece was once the residence of a French noble family.
Today, it houses three museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Museum of Fine Arts.
I visited all three museums, and they all had fascinating exhibits. But my favorite was the Museum of Decorative Arts. I loved touring the different rooms and learning how this type of art evolved in Strasbourg. There are furniture, ceramics, and clocks from as early as the 17th century.
And, if you’re visiting in December, the Palais Rohan hosts a magnificent part of the Christmas market. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of hot mulled wine and take in the beautiful scenery.
Useful Tip: If you plan on visiting all three museums, I recommend buying the museum day pass. It’s €16 while admission to each museum is €7.50.
Address: 2 Place du Château
7. Try Traditional Alsatian Cuisine
Alsatian cuisine is a sublime fusion of German heartiness and French finesse. And since Strasbourg is a town in Alsace, there’s no better place to try the regional food.
It’s a gastronomic journey that begins with iconic dishes like choucroute garnie. This hearty feast is made with sauerkraut, various cuts of pork, and potatoes. It’s the perfect way to warm up after touring the Christmas market.
Another must-try is the tarte flambée or flammekueche, a thin-crust pizza topped with cream, onions, and bacon.
And it’s not just savory dishes that are worth trying.
The region is also famous for its pastries. The most notable among them is the kougelhopf, a crown-shaped cake filled with raisins and almonds. And, if you have a sweet tooth, make sure to try the pain d’epices (spiced bread) and bridle (Alsatian Christmas cookies).
There are tons of traditional restaurants around Strasbourg, or you can stop by one of the food stalls at the Christmas market. Either way, you’re taste buds will thank you!
Below is a list of traditional Alsatian restaurants that I’ve eaten at and recommend:
- Aux Armes de Strasbourg
- La Maison des Tanneurs
- Maison Kammerzell
- Restaurant de la Victoire
- Restaurant Au Gurtlerhoft
8. Explore the Alsatian Museum
The Alsatian Museum is a great introduction to the region’s cultural heritage.
It’s set in three traditional half-timbered houses. And the exhibits recreate what life was like in the 18th and 19th centuries.
From furniture and pottery to religious objects, it’s an impressive collection. There are also films and informative panels throughout the museum.
I loved the small anecdotes that went with each room. It was an immersive experience that helped me better understand Alsatian traditions.
Useful Tip: If you want to visit more than two museums in Strasbourg, I recommend the museum day pass. It’s €16 whereas admission to any one museum is €7.50.
Address: 23-25 Quai Saint-Nicolas
9. Marvel at Strasbourg’s Astronomical Clock
Located in Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral, the Astronomical Clock is one of the most remarkable attractions in town.
This stunning timepiece is the combined genius of artists, mathematicians, and technicians.
It not only calculates the date but also displays sidereal time on a celestial globe and has a dial that marks the movements of the sun and moon. It’s so intricately designed that it can even calculate leap years, equinoxes, and religious dates like Easter.
To date, there have been three different clocks in the cathedral. The first appeared in the 14th century and the clock you see today dates to the mid-19th century.
But the biggest draw is the figurines that come to life every day at half past noon. In December, it gets crowded, so I recommend coming at least 15-20 minutes in advance.
Address: Place de la Cathédrale
10. Admire Maison Kammerzell
If you’re a foodie and a history buff, then the Maison Kammerzell is a must-visit. This iconic half-timbered building is not only one of the most famous landmarks of the city, but it’s also the oldest.
Originally built for administrative purposes in the early 15th century, today it’s both a hotel and a restaurant.
The restaurant is renowned for its traditional Alsatian cuisine, set against a backdrop of artwork from Léo Schnug. And, if you’re lucky to book a table next to the window, you’ll have an incredible view of the Strasbourg Cathedral.
Then, there’s the hotel. It only has nine rooms, making it the most sought-after accommodation in town. They are all temperature-controlled and soundproof so you can immerse yourself in the experience.
Address: 16 Place de la Cathédrale
11. Wander around Krutenau
Krutenau is a captivating neighborhood that blends both history and modernity. It’s located to the south of Strasbourg’s main island, off the main tourist path.
Once a bustling quarter of boatmen and fishermen, the area still holds on to its original layout. Here you’ll find Alsace-style buildings, winding streets, and decommissioned fishing boats along the quay.
Beyond its charming village-like atmosphere, Krutenau also has a few attractions that are worth seeing. The most famous is the Sainte-Madeleine Church.
This is where I go to escape the Christmas market crowds. There are three riverside bars (Café Atlantico, Le Rafiot, and Ill Vino) that have heated terraces in December. Then, opposite to those, along Quai des Pêcheurs, you’ll find a variety of shops, cafés, and bakeries.
12. Check out Place Gutenberg
This historic square was named after the inventor of the printing press, Johannes Gutenberg. Believe it or not, his prototype was developed right here in Strasbourg in 1440.
The square’s main highlight is the 19th-century statue of Gutenberg himself.
It stands as a tribute to his transformative contribution to the world of knowledge. Then, surrounding the square are beautiful Renaissance-styled buildings.
And, in December, the square comes alive with the nostalgic charm of wooden chalets and Christmas decorations. It’s also famed for the bright blue tree next to the Gutenberg statue.
13. Go on a Day Trip
There’s no shortage of incredible day trips from Strasbourg. And, in December, it offers an enchanting escape into a world of picturesque villages and festive cheer.
The most popular day trip is to Colmar.
This charming little town is most known for its colorful half-timbered buildings. Plus, its fairytale-like atmosphere is hard to beat.
My favorite street was Quai de la Poissonnerie. I loved the combination of pink, blue, and yellow houses stacked side by side. And the Christmas market was as spectacular as the one in Strasbourg!
Other must-visit places in Alsace in December include Eguisheim, Riquewhir, and Kaysersberg. Each one is decorated for the holiday season and has a ton of things to see.
Their Christmas markets are smaller than Strasbourg but are still worth checking out.
Then, if you’re looking for something unique, nothing competes with the incredible Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle. Perched high in the Vosges mountains, this medieval castle is full of history and offers breathtaking views of the region. It’s one of the biggest and most intact castles in the area.
14. Enjoy a Riverboat Cruise
There’s no better way to experience Strasbourg’s twinkling cityscape than with a river cruise.
As you glide along, you’ll pass historic sites like the Palais Rohan, beautifully lit under the winter sky. But the real magic happens when you go past the Christmas market.
The festive lights and the joyous holiday melodies create an unforgettable ambiance.
Batorama offers enchanting 17 to 70-minute tours along the River Ill. But the boats are often overcrowded, especially in December.
So, if you want a more intimate experience without the crowds, I recommend taking a private tour.
15. Explore the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art
Strasbourg’s Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is a world of artistic innovation.
It houses an extensive collection of paintings, sculptures, and graphic art from the Impressionist period to today. They have more than 15,000 exhibits on display, which makes it one of the largest museums of its kind in France.
Here, you’ll find works by renowned artists like Monet, Picasso, Kandinsky, and Brauner. Then, there’s the contemporary collection. It highlights art from the 1960s to the present day and has some of the most unique collections I’ve seen.
But my favorite exhibits were those that showcased work from newer artists. They were interactive, engaging, and touched on topics that are often ignored.
Address: 1 Place Hans-Jean-Arp
16. Shop for Christmas Gifts
Shopping in Strasbourg at Christmas is more than finding the perfect present. It’s also about immersing yourself in the festive tradition.
From handcrafted pottery to traditional Christmas decorations, there are tons of unique possibilities. And you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list.
The most popular gifts are clay cooking pots. You’ll find everything from kougelhopf molds to baeckeoffe terrines.
And don’t miss the chance to take home miniature versions of Alsace’s emblematic storks. They make great souvenirs and will be easy to pack in your suitcase.
And for the foodies, you’ll find a variety of local delicacies like foie gras and bredele.
Useful Tip: Alsace is famed for foie gras d’oie. It’s made from goose liver rather than duck and is unique to this region of France. You won’t find it anywhere else.
17. Walk across Ponts Couverts
Built in the 13th century, this architectural marvel is one of Strasbourg’s former fortifications. It consists of three bridges and four towers. And, despite their name, which translates to ‘covered bridges’, they have not been covered since the 18th century.
They were the first line of defense to the South but were later replaced by the Vauban Dam.
Today, you can stroll along the bridge and admire these iconic towers. And while you can’t go to the top, the views of the old ramparts and half-timbered houses are stunning.
For the best panorama of Ponts Couverts head up to the Vauban Dam. While the most colorful timber-framed houses are along Quai de la Petite France.
18. Discover Strasbourg’s Historical Museum
If you love history and want to learn more about Strasbourg, then the Historical Museum is for you.
Located in the city’s former slaughterhouse, this fascinating museum is a gateway to the past. As you wander through its collection, you’ll learn about Strasbourg’s political, economic, and social past. From the Middle Ages to the creation of Europe, there’s so much to explore.
I loved the attention to detail and the thorough explanations. It was the most comprehensive museum I visited in Strasbourg.
And don’t miss the large-scale model of the city in the 18th century, it was a real highlight.
The museum also hosts special exhibitions that focus on specific periods and themes. It’s a perfect indoor activity for those cold December days.
Address: 2 Rue du Vieux-Marché-aux-Poissons
19. Relax at Taaka Beer Spa
Taaka Beer Spa is the first beer spa in France, offering a novel way to relax and rejuvenate.
And, of the things I’ve done in Strasbourg, it was by far the most unique.
Your experience will begin in a sauna. Then, you’ll head to your own wooden hot tub where you’ll soak in an invigorating mixture of malt, hops, and yeast. Afterward, you’ll relax in a quiet room and let these natural ingredients do their magic.
Useful Tip: Malt, hops, and yeast are also known for their therapeutic properties and promise a holistic health boost.
But the experience doesn’t stop there.
Your hot tub also has a tap so you can enjoy a glass of craft beer while you relax.
So, if you’re looking for that one-of-a-kind experience in Strasbourg or something to do on a Sunday, I can’t recommend this enough.
They have three different packages – The Big Dive, The Dive, and The Bubble.
I bought the one-hour package (The Dive) that included a 15-minute Sauna, a 30-minute Beer Bath, and a 15-minute Relaxation. They also have meat and cheese plates that you can order during your beer bath.
Address: 6 Rue Marbach
20. Visit the World’s Oldest Wine Barrel
Cave Historique des Hospices de Strasbourg is a historic wine cellar that was built between 1393 and 1395. It’s also the city’s civil hospital.
Believe it or not, local wines have been crafted here for more than six centuries!
Today, you can tour the facilities and learn how wine is made.
From the moment you enter the cavernous cellar, you’ll be engulfed in the sweet smell of old oak and aging wine. And the sight of the grand barrels, some dating back to the 15th century, is awe-inspiring.
Then, of course, there’s the legendary barrel containing the oldest white wine in the world, dated 1472!
After the tour, you can pick up some local wines to take home with you.
Admission is free. But I recommend taking the audio-guided tour.
For only €3, you’ll have detailed and thorough explanations about the history of wine in Strasbourg. I enjoyed the experience far more than I would have without it.
Address: 1 Place de l’Hôpital
21. Tour the Musée de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame
At the foot of the Notre Dame Cathedral sits one of the most fascinating museums in town, the Musée de l’Oeuvre Notre-Dame.
Housed in a stunning half-medieval, half-Renaissance building, you’ll tour through seven centuries of artistic evolution in the Upper Rhine region.
There are even statues and stained-glass windows from the Strasbourg Cathedral. But my favorite was the exhibition that showcased the original plans for its construction.
This exclusive exhibit is only open on the first Sunday of the month from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm. And because of their sensitivity to light, the drawings on display change every two months.
When I went, the exhibit presented the original drawings for the tower from 1419 by Johannes Hültz.
Needless to say, it’s a must-visit for art lovers and history buffs.
Address: 3 Place du Château
Tips for Visiting Strasbourg in Winter
✓ Dress Warmly – December can be cold in Strasbourg, with temperatures often dropping below freezing. Pack warm clothing, including hats, scarves, gloves, and thermal layers.
✓ Try Local Delicacies – Strasbourg is known for its culinary delights. So, don’t be afraid to try new dishes. It’s all part of the experience!
✓ Book Accommodations Early – December is a popular time to visit, and you should book your accommodation in advance.
✓ Make Reservations for Restaurants – I never go out to eat without making a reservation. Restaurants are small with limited seating, and you don’t want to miss out. You can call ahead, make a reservation online, or use an app called The Fork.
✓ Buy the One-Day Museum Pass – If you plan on going to more than two museums, I recommend the museum day pass. It’s €16. Otherwise, the admission fee for each museum is €7.50.
✓ Visit in Early December – As Christmas approaches, the number of tourists increases exponentially. If you can, try to visit Strasbourg within the first two weeks of December.
✓ Learn a Few French Words – You don’t have to be fluent in French to visit Strasbourg, but knowing a few words will go a long way. If you don’t know any French, I recommend learning how to greet someone to get started.
✓ Embrace the Christmas Spirit – Strasbourg is known as the “Capital of Christmas” for a reason. The city comes alive with lights, decorations, and the Christmas market. It does get crowded, but don’t let that take away from your experience.
Packing List for Strasbourg in Winter
✓ Warm Clothing – Temperatures in Strasbourg in December can drop below freezing so it’s crucial to pack warm clothing. This includes thermal layers, a heavy coat, sweaters, and long-sleeved shirts.
✓ Winter Accessories – Don’t forget to bring a warm hat, gloves, scarves, and thick socks.
✓ Comfortable Footwear – Pack comfortable, warm, and water-resistant shoes and/or boots.
✓ Umbrella or Raincoat – December can be a rainy month in Strasbourg. Be prepared with an umbrella or raincoat.
✓ Skin Care Products – The winter weather can be harsh on your skin, so don’t forget moisturizers, lip balm, and other skincare products.
✓ Camera and Charger – Strasbourg is incredibly picturesque in December, especially with the Christmas decorations. Bring your camera and charger to capture these beautiful moments.
✓ Reusable Shopping Bag – If you plan to buy souvenirs or gifts at the Christmas market, bring a reusable shopping bag to reduce plastic waste.
Where to Stay
Strasbourg has plenty of areas to stay in, but, if you visiting in December, you’ll want to stay close to the city’s center. Below is a list of accommodations that I recommend.
- Appartement Le bain aux plantes – Located in La Petite France, you’ll be right on the canal. This is a fully equipped apartment so you’ll have everything you need to feel at home.
- Le Carré d’or – Appartement avec vue Cathédrale – A fully equipped apartment with a view of the Strasbourg Cathedral. There’s a reason it’s rated 9.9 out of 10!
- Hôtel & Spa Le Bouclier D’or – It’s located in La Petite France, but you’ll feel secluded here. The breakfast is amazing and the staff is friendly.
Where to Eat
Strasbourg has an incredible selection of restaurants. Here is a list of must-try places in December.
- Binstub Broglie – Here you’ll find the best tarte-flambée in town. I’ve eaten here more than a dozen times and I’ve never been disappointed.
- Brasserie Des Haras – The menu offers a modern take on traditional dishes. It’s elegant but not overbearing. The food is delicious, and the staff is friendly.
- La Cloche à Fromage – The best fondue and raclette in Strasbourg. If you love cheese, this is the place for you. But you’ll have to make reservations in advance if you want to guarantee a table.
How to Get to Strasbourg
Strasbourg is so well-connected that it’s easy to get to from anywhere in Europe.
It does have an airport (Strasbourg Airport (SXB)) but tickets are expensive.
If you can’t find reasonably priced tickets, I recommend flying into one of the airports below:
- Frankfurt International Airport
- Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
- Paris Orly Airport
- EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg
- Stuttgart Airport
From each of these, buses and trains run regularly to Strasbourg with those from Paris being the most convenient.
FAQs About Visiting Strasbourg in December
What is open in Strasbourg on Christmas Day?
Christmas Day is a public holiday in France, so all museums and attractions are closed. But you can still enjoy the festive decorations and stroll through the picturesque streets.
Will it snow in Strasbourg in December?
There’s no guarantee it will snow but the chances are high. If you want to have a white Christmas, you should check the forecast before your visit.
Until when is the Christmas market in Strasbourg?
The Christmas market in Strasbourg goes from the 24th of November to the 24th of December.
Why is Strasbourg Christmas market famous?
The Strasbourg Christmas market is famous for being the oldest in Europe. And it has preserved its charm and authenticity throughout the centuries.
Conclusion: Things to Do in Strasbourg, France in December
From the historic Strasbourg Christmas market to the Astronomical clock, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in December.
The city’s picturesque streets are full of festive decorations. And, even if the temperatures are frosty, the atmosphere is cozy.
Grab a glass of piping hot mulled wine and explore the markets or pop into a museum to warm up. Either way, December in Strasbourg is unforgettable.
Now, that you know all the incredible things to do, it’s time to start booking your trip and plan your itinerary!
Read More Articles About France
I hope you enjoyed my post and found it useful. Here are some other articles that I think you might enjoy.
- The Ultimate 10-Day Eastern France Itinerary
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- Strasbourg to Colmar: 7 Best Ways to Get There
- 19 Incredible Things to Do in Colmar, France (from a Local)