Are you considering visiting Strasbourg with kids? Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region in northeastern France, is a popular travel destination due to its rich history, architecture and a unique blend of French and German culture. Whether planning a weekend getaway or extending your Paris vacation, Strasbourg is a must-visit destination for families. While this city is famous for its incredible winter Christmas markets, few people realise it’s also a great place to visit during the summer – especially with kids!
Top things to do in Strasbourg with kids
1. Visit the Notre-Dame Cathedral
Prepare to be awestruck by the magnificent Notre-Dame Cathedral, a towering masterpiece that dominates the Strasbourg skyline. As you approach this architectural wonder, you’ll find yourself gazing up in sheer amazement at its grandeur. This medieval architectural masterpiece, constructed between 1176 and 1439, boasts a unique blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles. The cathedral’s famous 142-meter-tall (466 feet) spire is visible from afar and is a testament to its status as the tallest building in the Christian world until the 19th century. The cathedral’s intricate carvings and statues, both inside and out, will captivate your children’s imagination as they delve into the historical stories they hold.
Inside the cathedral rests an enchanting treasure – the Astronomical Clock, a striking convergence of artistry and technology. The current version, completed in 1842, is the third iteration in a 600-year-long chronicle of a complex time-keeping device.
Time your visit for 12:30 pm to see the Astronomical Clock (to the right of the choir stalls) come alive with the “Parade of the Apostles” and animated figures to delight the public every day. It can be seen freely during a visit to the cathedral, but it can only be seen in motion once a day at 12.30 pm (except Sundays or holidays).
If your kids are up for an adventure, climb the 330 steps to the cathedral’s platform and enjoy breathtaking views of the entire city. The steps are narrow enough but still best suited for slightly older children to climb.
The entrance to the cathedral is free, but the presentation of the astronomical clock and the ascent to the top of the tower are paying.
The Notre-Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg was once the tallest building in the world. From 1647 to 1874, the cathedral held the title with its impressive height of 142 meters (466 feet). Today it is the second highest cathedral in France, after the one of Rouen, only 9 meters (30 feet) higher, and is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture.
2. Wander through La Petite France
Stroll through the cobblestone streets of La Petite France, the city’s famous and historic heart.
The story of La Petite France dates back to the Middle Ages when Strasbourg was steadily establishing itself as a thriving centre of commerce and culture. Located on the Grande Île (the “Big Island”), La Petite France was once the beating heart of the city’s trade and craftsmanship activities.
Originally built to fortify the city, these iconic 13th-century structures provide panoramic views of La Petite France. Featuring three impressive watchtowers dating from the 13th century, the Covered Bridges were once shielded by wooden roofs although the roofs have since been removed.
A lovely playground for kids in the Square des Moulins, next to the Covered Bridges, is perfect for taking a break from all the walking.
This remarkable 17th-century dam was constructed by French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban and served as a defensive fortification for the city. There is a panoramic terrace at the top of the building, from where you can admire the town’s layout and its network of canals.
Maison des Tanneurs
Originally built in 1572, this striking building was a tannery for generations. In 1958, it was meticulously restored, retaining its distinct triangular gables and spacious galleries. Maison des Tanneurs now houses a renowned Alsatian restaurant where visitors can indulge in regional specialities like tarte flambée and choucroute alsacienne.
A stone’s throw away from Strasbourg Cathedral, the Kammerzell House is one of Strasbourg’s most iconic architectural gems. Constructed in 1427, this half-timbered building boasts intricate carvings, stunning stained-glass windows, and an undeniable charm that adds a medieval touch to the city’s bustling heart. The façade of the Kammerzell House features an array of ornate decorations and sculptures depicting a range of biblical scenes, mythological creatures, and symbolic representations of vices and virtues.
While Petit France is the most photogenic area to visit now, it was not always like this. The district derives its name from the 15th-century hospice that was established to treat patients with syphilis, known as the “French disease.” The term “La Petite France” is believed to be a reference to the patients afflicted with this disease who were treated in the neighborhood. Over time, the connection to the disease became less significant, and the name essentially stuck as a designation for this picturesque and charming part of Strasbourg.
3. Do a canal boat tour
Hop aboard a Batorama boat on a trip through the city’s historic districts. Depending on the weather, choose between covered (and air-conditioned) boats or uncovered boats. The commentary is available in 12 languages. You can buy tickets at their 18 Place de la Cathédrale ticket office or online on their website.
The boat tour “Strasbourg, 20 centuries of history” lasts approximately 1 hour and takes you through the historical districts of Strasbourg to the European Quarter, where you can see the European Parliament, the European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe buildings.
4. Ride Le Petit Train
If your kids are tired of walking, let their feet rest on the little sightseeing train called Le Petit Train. You can buy tickets on board the train. There are two tours to choose from, both lasting approximately 40 minutes.
The “Petite France” tour departs from Cathedral Square, taking you through the picturesque district of La Petite France. The “Neustadt” tour, departing from Place du Château, focuses on the Neustadt district. However, if your older children are up for it, consider exploring these areas on foot and then delve deeper into each stop.
5. Visit museums
There are lots of museums to choose from but I would highlight these for the children.
For a fun and educational outing, head to Le Vaisseau, Strasbourg’s leading science and technology centre for children aged 3 to 15. This interactive museum promotes hands-on learning, making it perfect for curious minds. With over 130 exhibits covering a range of subjects, including environment, engineering, and biology, kids learn through engaging activities that help them understand complex scientific concepts while they play.
The Alsatian Museum (Musée Alsacien)
This museum offers a fascinating look into the traditions, daily life, and folklore of the Alsace region. Its exhibits feature rare artefacts, folk costumes, and many interactive displays to keep the kids engaged. Visitors circulate amongst the items comprising the Alsatian Museum as though they were wandering through a home whose inhabitants had just stepped out.
6. Visit Parc de l’Orangerie
The Orangery Park is the largest park in Strasbourg and a favourite for the city’s residents to take a stroll. You can spend half a day or longer in the park with the kids. If the weather is nice, pack a picnic with you. There are two large playgrounds, a carousel of small vintage cars, a boating lake, ping-pong tables and several ice cream stalls.
Take advantage of the adorable storks strutting around; these magnificent birds symbolise Alsace. Strasbourg’s storks are known for nesting on unique platforms and cradling their newborns in bundles of twigs.
The tram from Le Petite France will take you to the park in about 30 minutes.
7. Taste traditional Alsace dishes
Here are some of the traditional dishes to try in Strasbourg, which is known for its unique blend of French and German culinary influences. Although my kids had a mixed reaction to the local delicacies, it was still fun to get them to experience new flavours.
1. Choucroute Garnie: Also known as “Sauerkraut,” this traditional Alsatian dish is made from fermented cabbage cooked with white wine, juniper berries, and various spices. It is typically served with a variety of sausages, different meat cuts, and potatoes.
2. Tarte Flambée: Also known as “Flammekueche,” this is a thin-crust pizza-like dish topped with crème fraîche, sliced onions, and bacon. The dish is cooked in a wood-fired oven, and it’s a popular choice among locals as a quick snack or appetizer.
3. Baeckeoffe: This hearty casserole dish is made with layers of sliced potatoes, onions, leeks, and marinated meat (typically a combination of beef, pork, and lamb). The dish is seasoned with garlic, thyme, and bay leaves and slow-cooked in a special earthenware pot with white wine.
4. Kougelhopf – This is a traditional sweet Alsatian cake, similar to a brioche, baked in a ring-shaped mould. It can be plain, with raisins, other dried fruit, or nuts. It’s traditionally served for breakfast and is delicious with some butter and jam.
5. Bretzel: A tasty snack often found in bakeries, Alsatian Bretzels are similar to the traditional German pretzel. They are usually soft and chewy, with coarse salt sprinkled on the surface and sometimes filled with cheese, ham, or other savoury fillings.
Strasbourg once held the title “the foie gras capital of France” during the 19th century. Foie gras, a delicacy made from the livers of ducks and geese, gained worldwide fame. However, this controversial practice of force-feeding animals has faced intense criticism from animal rights activists. In a progressive move, the mayor of Strasbourg took a stand in 2021, banning the serving of foie gras at all official city events.
How to get to Strasbourg
The International Airport (Entzheim) is located 10 km away from Strasbourg town. Train shuttles connect the airport to Strasbourg railway station and run up to 4 times per hour, with a journey time of about 9 minutes. Alternatively, you can get a taxi to the city.
Strasbourg is an excellent destination for a weekend getaway or an extension of your Paris vacation. The high-speed TGV train, operated by SNCF – France’s national rail company, will get you from Paris to Strasbourg in approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes. This is significantly faster than driving, which can take you around 4 to 5 hours, depending on traffic. The TGV trains run frequently, with approximately 15 daily direct departures from Paris Gare de l’Est to Strasbourg. Booking your seat in advance is recommended, especially during peak seasons.
The train station is only a 10 minute walk to the city centre.
A car is not necessary for exploring Strasbourg, as the small city is easily walkable. Access to vehicles in some areas is even prohibited. However, if you intend to visit other areas within the Alsace region or take a longer journey throughout France, renting a car is strongly recommended. You can use RentalCars or similar car rental platforms for travel across France.
Finding the perfect family-friendly accommodation
If you have young children or if it’s your first time visiting Strasbourg, select a hotel in a central location that provides convenient access to the city’s major attractions.
We chose to stay in Pavillon Petit France and were very happy with our choice. It’s a delightful hotel in La Petite France’s heart. It is a perfect base to explore Strasbourg with kids, as it’s within a short walk of all the attractions and a mere 10 minutes away from the train station. This was the view from our window!