Sometimes it is super easy to explore a city on a tight budget because there are so many fantastic free things to do. Like most countries, France has an interesting mix of cheap, affordable, and expensive towns and cities. Strasbourg kind of falls in the middle of the expense spectrum; there are several pricey things to do but there are also some inexpensive or free activities to take part in.
Walking through the city is probably the best way to soak up the culture and see more of the spectacular architecture. Take the Strasbourg Cathedral or Rohan Palace for example or any number of buildings in Strasbourg Old Town. Be sure to spend time exploring Petite France, one of the prettiest neighborhoods in Strasbourg and the biggest tourist attraction. The River Ill, with its covered bridges, is a sight to enjoy and Strasbourg City Centre is just waiting to be explored. Why not take the places we've listed below and create a self guided walking tour?
When visiting Strasbourg, stop by the Strasbourg tourist office. It's a good idea to take advantage of the Strasbourg city pass to save money. The city pass is not free but it will get you into different attractions without cost or at a deeply discounted price. The Strasbourg Historical Museum is one such place.
Ready to explore this intriguing city? Drop your bags with a Strasbourg luggage storage service to keep them safe while you discover the capital of the Alsace region. Your Strasbourg itinerary will be filled with fun, exciting, free things to see and do!
Historic La Petite France
Location: Grande Ile, Strasbourg
You will feel like you stepped into a fairy tale when you stroll through the historic La Petite France quarter. Visit some of the adorable shops, sit down in an idyllic café and enjoy a pastry and latte, say a prayer in one of the picturesque churches, or stroll along the canals. This is one of the prettiest places in Strasbourg and it is free to visit.
A few must-see places when you visit Petite France are the Saint Thomas Church, Tanner’s House, Rue du Bain-aux-Plantes, and the Strasbourg Covered Bridges. Wander along the cobblestone streets and take in the 16th-century buildings that have been converted into fine restaurants, art galleries, and shops.
The three bridges in the area, known as the "Ponts Couverts" that stretch over the Grand Ile are wonderful to admire. Grab a snack at one of the cafes or enjoy traditional street food while you make your way through la Petite France.
Many of the buildings in Petite France were built during the 1500s and 1600s, most of the buildings and half timbered houses have openings in their roofs where animal hides were stretched by the traders to dry in the sun. Make your way down Rue du Bain aux Plantes and check out the houses that look unusually top-heavy and find must-try restaurants offering Alsatian foods such as choucroute garnie.
Parc De L’Orangerie
Location: Allee de la Robersau, Strasbourg
Located across from the European Parliament and Court of Human Rights, this lovely park is an excellent place to visit when you are searching for free things to do in Strasbourg. The Parc De L’Orangerie was begun during the French Revolution when the city was given 140 orange trees that were confiscated from the Chateau de Bouxwiller.
Of the 140 orange trees that were originally planted, there are only three remaining that have been transplanted to one of the greenhouses and can be viewed on certain days. Stroll along the manicured paths, enjoy some boating on the lake, or take the kids to the farm and mini-zoo.
Head over to the Stork Reintroduction Centre and learn more about this interesting bird and its rather unique connection to Strasbourg folklore. Good luck comes to the household when a pair of storks perch upon their roof!
Near Strasbourg Station, this is the central square in the city, it is the biggest square and right in the middle of Strasbourg’s commercial area. The area was named after Jean-Baptiste Kléber, a general in the French Revolution who was born in Strasbourg. The statue of Kléber is here and his remains are laid to rest in a vault underneath.
Visit the City Centre and do a little people watching. If you are here during the Christmas season, check out the Christmas markets where you can find interesting, one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list.
The city’s enormous Christmas tree is set in Place Kléber during the season and sees a large influx of visitors during this time. Locals will leave small gifts under the tree to give to the poor. Visitors who are familiar with the tradition are encouraged to also leave gifts. The Strasbourg Christmas market is a great place to visit for free.
Head to the north end of Place Kleber is the Aubette which was built between 1765 to 1772 by Blondel. In 1988, the area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and it is free to visit and explore. Many luxury brands have set up shop here so while it is free to visit the square, be prepared to pay high prices at most of the stores and restaurants.
Location: Rue de la lere DB, Eschau, Strasbourg
From 770 to 1525, Eschau was the seat of the Benedictines and was founded by the bishop of Strasbourg Remigius. While many of the Benedictines left the area in the late 1400s, the nuns stayed until 1525. In 1615, the abbey was given to the Grand Chapitre.
Eschau has been known by several different names including Aschowa, Eschowe, Hascgaugia, and Hascowia. It was built near the abbey and throughout the Middle Ages, the abbey was the home of Saint Sophia and her three daughters. Many of their relics are displayed in Eschau.
The Abbatiale Saint-Trophime was destroyed during the revolution with the only thing that remains to mark the history of the area is the abbey, which was restored by Bishop Widerold of the court of the emperor of the Holy Empire. It was dedicated to Saint Trophime and Notre Dame, and the abbey itself was dedicated to Saint Sophie.
Many people on pilgrimage pass through the area searching for the peace and prosperity that Saint Sophia sought at the abbey. There is no charge to visit the abbey so spend a few hours exploring the remains surrounding the abbey and learn more about its rich history.
Cathedral of Notre Dame in Strasbourg
Location: Place de la Cathedrale, Strasbourg France
A must-see when in Strasbourg, this replica of the Notre Dame in Paris brings thousands of visitors each week, especially since the tragic fire in 2019 that damaged much of the Notre Dame in Paris. Construction of this replica began in 1015 and was completed in 1439 with the completion of the 463-foot Gothic spire.
You can explore the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Strasbourg, also called the Strasbourg Cathedral, at no charge and enjoy the intricate details in the interior including geometric stained glass windows. The interesting astronomical clock located near the back of the cathedral is one of the first things you see when you explore the inside of Notre Dame.
It is one of the most famous landmarks in Strasbourg and is an exquisite example of 13th century architecture with its Gothic façade. This historic monument was once under Protestant domain during the Reformation in 1521 but today it is a Catholic church. You can even attend a special mass when visiting.
When you walk up to the cathedral, the enormous, somewhat eerie Gothic monuments will make you feel minuscule. Visitors will be awed by the massive pipe organ, breathtaking rose window, and of course, the astronomical clock, all of which date back over five or six centuries.
Eglise Protestante Saint Pierre le Jeune
Location: 3 Rue de la Nuee Bleue, Strasbourg
This is a rather unusual church, with it being half Catholic and half Protestant. There are several unique and interesting features even though parts of the church are in desperate need of restoration. For over 200 years the church has been divided between the Catholics and Protestants. The Catholics used the choir box while the Protestant church used the nave.
The building itself has seen several architectural changes reflecting the different time periods, making it a true marvel to see and it is free of charge. The cloister dates to the 1000s and is mostly Romanesque architecture whereas the crypt is from the 600s and was built by the Columban Church. The frescoes in the nave date back to the 14th and 15th centuries.
Visit the gallery and see an organ dating back to the 18th century that was designed by Johann Andreas Silbermann, the same person who designed the organ in Strasbourg’s Church of Saint-Thomas. Both organs are nationally renowned and have been used by Helmut Wacha, the organist who recorded the works of Bach.
Walk Along the Perimeter of Old Town
While you may not think taking a stroll along the perimeter of Old Town sounds interesting, it is filled with incredible architecture, breathtaking views, and rich history. Ask anyone who has visited Strasbourg and they'll say they've been here. Wander along the Fosse du Faux Rempart and then hike along the River Ill. You will walk past some of the oldest places in Strasbourg and see many of the prominent attractions in the city.
Discover some of the picturesque old bridges and interesting architectural details of many of the houses and buildings, many have been converted into museums or government buildings. It will take you about an hour-and-a-half to two hours to fully walk around the perimeter. Stop by one of the cafes and grab some take-out for an impromptu picnic in one of the little parks along the way.
Cave Historique des Hospices Civils de Strasbourg
Location: 1 Place de l’Hopital, Strasbourg
Sign up for a tour of one of the ancient wine cellars located in Strasbourg. This amazing wine cellar is home to the oldest bottle of wine in the world, a white wine that dates back to 1472. While here, you can buy a bottle or two of delicious local wines and check out some of their other interesting items in their shop.
The Cave Historique des Hospices Civils de Strasbourg or Historic Cellar of the Hospices of Strasbourg was founded in 1395. The monks used the cellar to store wine and food that they handed out to the poor and pilgrims. Today, the Alsatian winegrowers had the cellar restored so they could offer their wines to the city of Strasbourg.
Enjoy a glass of mulled wine while you shop in the store above the cellar. You can save money on many of the wines featured when you buy here instead of in a store or market.
Location: 23-25 Quai St-Nicolas, Strasbourg
The Alsatian Museum is dedicated to local art and is housed in several half timbered houses that used to be private residences. As you wander through the museum, you will get a glimpse into the traditional life of the Alsatian people. Modern and contemporary art adorns the walls while painted furniture, local ceramics, toys, and costumes are spread throughout.
Several rooms have been restored and reconstructed into the interiors of typical buildings of the various Alsace regions. This also includes workshops of various craftsmen, farms and images of rolling plains, vineyards, and the Vosges valleys.
Location: 29 Boulevard de la Victoire, Strasbourg
Located on the University of Strasbourg’s campus, the natural history museum or archaeological museum dates back to 1802 when the collections of Johann Hermann, a French naturalist, were bought by the city and displayed at the university.
This fantastic living museum allows you to get close to exotic animals like the elephant seal, polar bear, walrus, and chimpanzee. At the Zoological Museum, you will even get to see several varieties of creepy crawly insects and musical songbirds. Learn more about Alsace’s Rhine Forest, Higher Vosges Mountains, and the Ried; all endangered environments.
There is a little bit of everything here, the replica 18th century biology lab is very interesting and the library offers a good place to relax and take part in workshops and activities. Enjoy free admission and you can even sign up in advance for a guided tour if you are part of a larger group.
Strasbourg, France for Free
Finding free activities in Strasbourg can be a bit difficult once you have checked out the main attractions but if you pay a visit to the tourism office, you will find more things to enjoy such as visiting the European parliament in the European quarter, exploring Cathedral Square, visiting the Town Hall, or learning more about the half timbered homes in the city.
More can be enjoyed on a budget. Sit in a cafe in the Strasbourg City Centre and sip a latte, explore a historical museum, stroll along the Grande Ile or take a Strasbourg boat tour to see much of the area in one shot. While it is not free to ride public transport (learn about how to get around Strasbourg in our guide), it is free to visit a train station and check out the architecture there. Visit the outside of places like Palais Rohan. Place de la Republique, and St. Paul's Church. Don't miss Grande Île and remember to buy your Strasbourg Pass to gain free or half price entry to many places in the city.