Strasbourg (Photo:Sergey Kelin/Shutterstock)
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Strasbourg

The capital of Alsace, France's smallest region, is also known as the principal city of Europe because it's the official seat of European Parliament and home to important institutions like the European Court of Human Rights, but there's much more to Strasbourg than politics and officials in gray suits. While the city reigns as a political powerhouse, it also represents a perfect blend of cultures.

About Strasbourg


Pro

Candy-colored houses, winding canals and medieval architecture make for great photo-ops

Con

Tourists are at risk of pickpocketing, especially near the cathedral and during the holiday season

Bottom Line

This fairytale town is a favorite on Rhine River itineraries -- especially for its Christmas Markets


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Built along the Rhine and located close to trading routes, Strasbourg borders Germany and Switzerland in the northeast of France and possesses a unique cultural and architectural heritage. Even dedicated Francophiles are often surprised how different the city is from the rest of the France. Once part of Germany, it offers the "best of both worlds," a combination that's most deliciously illustrated in its cuisine, which reflects a happy marriage of French flair and German heartiness.

With a history stretching back over 2,000 years, an obvious first stop for cruisers is Grande-Ile, the city's UNESCO-listed Old Town center. Visitors can admire Strasbourg's landmark lopsided cathedral, the beautiful Petite France neighborhood and the gateway to river cruises and streets chock-a-block with half-timbered Renaissance buildings. Many churches also went up in the Middle Ages, including Saint-Etienne, dating to the 12th century, and Saint-Thomas, which was built between the 12th and 14th centuries and ranks as the largest in size after the Strasbourg Cathedral.

Strasbourg is a town made for walking, but energetic visitors can also turn to pedal power and hop on a bike like the locals. Even the most haphazard stroll will take you past a wealth of well-preserved buildings, luxury shops and designer boutiques. More affordable buys can be found in Rue des Grandes Arcades, which is Strasbourg's main shopping area and features a variety of clothing stores.

Where You're Docked

River cruise vessels dock at Quai des Belges, about 1.8 miles from the city center.

Good to Know

The city has a comprehensive network of flat, well-marked cycle paths, but jay-walking visitors distracted by the surrounding sights can pose a hazard when they meander in front of oncoming cyclists. So look carefully before you cross.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The currency in France is the euro. For current currency-conversion figures visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. ATM's are plentiful within the city center and close to Gutenberg Square. All major credit cards are accepted in shops, restaurants and cafes. Many taxis also take payment by credit card, but check first.

Language

When out and about in this cosmopolitan city, you can tune in to more than 20 languages spoken by citizens of the member states of the European Parliament. French is the official language, but English is spoken virtually everywhere.

Shopping

Locally made glasses and pottery -- packed carefully to take home -- loom large in many shops. Or you can choose from tablecloths, decorative items and linen goods with the distinctive kelsch, the regional pattern featuring checks or blue and red stripes. On the gourmet front, crisp Alsatian white wines, tangy Muenster cheese and pate de foie gras are typical flavors of the region and make popular edible mementos.