Strasbourg Halal Travel Guide
Strasbourg is the capital of the Grand-Est region of France and is most widely known for hosting a number of important European institutions. It is also famous for its beautiful historical Centre – the Grande Île – which was the first city Centre to be classified entirely as a UNESCO World Heritage List by UNESCO.
Strasbourg is one of the nine largest cities in France with nearly half a million inhabitants in a metropolitan area spanning across the river into the German city of Kehl, on the eastern bank of the Rhine.
The city is the seat of the Council of Europe, the European Court of Human Rights, the European Ombudsman, the Eurocorps, the European Audiovisual Observatory and, most famously, the European Parliament, which also holds sessions in Brussels.
Strasbourg is a popular tourism destination primarily thanks to the beautifully preserved and pedestrian friendly city Centre, which can be explored on foot or bicycle in a few days. Don’t forget that Strasbourg’s appeal now brings tourists to the city throughout the year, with large tour groups especially frequent during the summer months and during the annual winter market.
- The main Tourist Office, Place de la Cathédrale. 09:00 to 19:00. If you ask whether they have maps they try to sell you one for 1,50 EUR – be sure to ask if they have free maps, what you then get is basically the same as the paid one. They also sell a variety of self-guided walking tours through the town (Middle Ages, Renaissance, Modern and Contemporary) for €1 each, and can arrange bike tours through the Faubourgs (the suburbs of Neudorf and Neuhof).
- A smaller tourist office (in the concourse level of the railway station). 09:00 to 19:00.
While it may be possible to find people who will engage in a conversation with you in German phrasebook, the lingua franca of Strasbourg (and all of Alsace) is French phrasebook. It is possible to hear German spoken on the streets, especially around the Cathedral. Alsatian (the historic Germanic language of Alsace) is a declining language, spoken mostly by the region’s older residents or in rural areas but efforts are underway to revive it.
Strasbourg has its own airport, however there are (relatively) nearby airports which have a wider range of destinations:
- Strasbourg International Airport (is located south-west of the city at Entzheim). with domestic as well as international flights. Air France is the principal operator. There are flights to London (Luton and Stansted), Madrid–Barajas Airport, Brussels and Schiphol Airport among others. A train runs to the town center (€4, including a tram connection, valid for 90 min. If you only need to get to the central station, buy your ticket not from the machines in the arrivals hall but on the train platform directly where the ticket will cost €2.30). The travel time is 9 minutes and the frequency is 15 minutes.
- Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport. Located in France, but jointly operated by France and Switzerland: there is a short bus connection to the railway station of Saint-Louis, which is one-hour twenty minutes by train, from the main Strasbourg train station. Low-cost companies offer flights from and to several other European countries, with flights to London (Heathrow, Luton, Stansted and Gatwick), Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, Berlin, Frankfurt and Istanbul (Sabiha Gökçen). EuroAirport serves as a base for EasyJet Switzerland, so there are many EasyJet flights to European holiday resorts.
- Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport. Located about 60 km (37 mi) away in Germany. There are flights to Berlin, London (Stansted), Warsaw (Modlin), Belgrade and Budapest. Ryanair operates from Karlsruhe following a court ruling that declared its subsidy arrangements at Strasbourg Airport a contravention of European legislation. The best way to get to Strasbourg is by bus from the airport to Baden-Baden Hauptbahnhof (Main Station); from here trains run to Strasbourg, normally with one change. From station to station the journey is about 45m-1hr. See the timetable for direct bus from the airport running to Strasbourg, this is tied into meet Ryanair flights from London. Flibco operates buses to from the airport and on to Strasbourg.
- Frankfurt International Airport. About three hours away from Strasbourg in Germany, and is one of the nearest inter-continental airports to Strasbourg. Lufthansa operates an Express Bus shuttle between Strasbourg and Frankfurt, Germany (but an indirect connection by train can be cheaper if booked online in advance, connecting in either Karlsruhe or Offenburg). The bus takes 2½ hours and costs €49 (one way). Reservation is necessary for the [Lufthansa] Express Buses from/to Strasbourg.
Due to the excellent train connection to Paris, it may make sense to fly into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport and take the TGV from there. Air France and some of its partners offer combined tickets in an air rail alliance.
Strasbourg is well served by regional, national and international train services, predominantly by SNCF (French Railways), but also by Deutsche Bahn (German Railways).
Strasbourg is the eastern terminus of a major high speed rail line and thus served by numerous TGV and some ICE trains, most of which continue onwards to Paris or Germany respectively. Unfortunately this has also resulted in the end of many long running sleeper trains such as the original Orient Express.
Major destinations include the following major towns and cities with multiple daily departures. Journey times are approximate, some require TGV trains: Paris 1h 50m, Dijon 2h, Lyon 3h 40m, Metz 1h 15m, Nancy 50m, Marseille 5hr 30m, Besançon 1hr 40m, Luxembourg 1hrs 40m, Mulhouse 50m, Basel 1h 25m, Frankfurt 1h 45m, Stuttgart 1h 20m, Munich 3h 40m, Saarbrücken 1h 30m by direct local train, Brussels 3h 40m.
The TGV Est Européen provides direct services to: Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport 2h 25m, Lille 3h 20m (for same-station connections via Eurostar to London), Rennes 5h 15m, Nantes 5h 10m, Bordeaux 6h 45m.
From Saarbrücken, Saar-Elsass ticket can be purchased for €35 on weekends that enables round-trip for up to 5 travellers. More details are found here.
The main train station in Strasbourg is the Gare de Strasbourg, 20 Place de la gare. . The station, impressively renovated with a new glass cocoon frontage, is located a short walk west of the town center on Place de la Gare. There are connections to the tram system and buses, with many taxis waiting outside (to the left of the station forecourt).
For details of all services, and to make reservations, contact SNCF. For regional travel, check SNCF TER Alsace who co-ordinate the efficient and well served regional train network. When planning trips east of Strasbourg into Germany or countries beyond, you could save money by comparing the fares offered by Deutsche Bahn to those of the SNCF.
- Eurolines provides bus services to the city. Services call at the new bus stop situated at the entrance of the center, few meters from the Etoile-Bourse tram stop.
- Deinbus.de serves Strasbourg on its route from Konstanz to Trier.
- Flixbus is by far the biggest player in the German market and a big player in the French market as well.
Bus station, Parc de l’Étoile. Drop off point for ALSA, Eurolines, Flixbus, Ouibus. Getting there: take A, D trams.
The German town of Kehl just across the border got linked to the Strasbourg tram network in 2017. It is one of only a handful of places worldwide where you can just hop on an urban rail service and let it take you across an international border. Both sides being within the Schengen Area, you don’t need to take a passport or answer the question “business or pleasure” and you’ll likely not be asked by customs agents how much booze you are carrying, either (and the limits are very generous at any rate). There are of course fare inspectors, so don’t forget to get a ticket.
You can reach Strasbourg by various highways:
- from the west (Paris, Benelux) taking the A4 highway (E25). About 4 hours from Paris and 2 hours 15 minutes from Luxembourg.
- from the south (Switzerland, Lyon), taking the A35 highway (E25). About 5 hours from Lyon
- from the north and east (Germany), taking the A5 highway (E35).
Driving into Strasbourg’s old city is relatively easy although there are a few streets off limits to cars. There are many large garages surrounding the old city if your hotel does not have its own parking facility. Some carparks are more expensive than other, especially for longer stays. The one at Petite France Ste Marguerite is the cheapest at €7.20/24 hour and €5.20 for each consecutive day.
Tickets P+R (parking for the day plus return fare on the tram for up to 7 passengers of the car): €3.20, P+R Rotonde: €3.70.
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Strasbourg is most easily explored on foot, and the historic city Centre can easily be explored in a day or two. To be able to cover more ground, you should consider hiring a bike or using the public transport network.
Strasbourg is ideal for cycling – the city center is flat and there are plenty of bike lanes and bike paths. You can rent bikes at:
- the automatic or manned bike sharing stations vélhop.
- rue du Maire Kuss, in front of the train station
- rue des Bouchers, on the south bank of the Ill river, near the rue d’Austerlitz and the Porte de l’Hôpital tramway station.
Bikes are allowed on trams except during peak hours.
More information on cycling in Strasbourg is available on the Strasbourg website.
By bus and tram
Buses and trams in Strasbourg are operated by the Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois (CTS). A few dozen numbered bus lines and six tram lines (named A to F) serve the city. A single ticketing system covers both bus and tram. Tickets are sold in ‘tabacs’ (newsagents), tourist offices, CTS boutiques or from vending machines at tram stops. Tickets should be validated before use, either in the machines on tram station platforms or in the machine by the driver when you board the bus.
Summary of fares (as of Oct 2018):
- Aller Simple (one way) €1.80 (€2 on board)
- Aller Retour (round trip) €3.50
- 10 x Aller Simple (1 contactless ticket suitable only for one person) €14.10
- 24H Individuel (24hr ticket for one person) €4.50
- Trio (one day ticket for up to three people) €6.90
Prices are slightly lower (e.g. €1.70 one-way) if loaded onto a Badgéo card, CTS App or topped up on contactless ticket. CTS App works only with French Sim cards (as of Oct 2018).
If using the buses and/or trams a lot, Europass tickets are available from all automatic ticket machines for either 24 hours or seven days. The Europass Mini is valid on all local tram, bus and train services, including those that cross the border to Kehl. The full Europass ticket also covers the local transport of the Ortenau Tarifverbund in Germany including Offenburg (information in German only).
- Cathédrale Notre Dame. Built between 1176 and 1439 and with a 142-m tower (the highest cathedral tower in France), the Gothic cathedral is undoubtedly Strasbourg’s finest architectural highlight. Check out the astrometric clock inside the cathedral. Free admission.
- Musée de l’Oeuvre Notre Dame – Medieval and Renaissance Art, place du Château. A splendid museum of medieval religious art related to the cathedral. €6.5.
- Maison Kammerzell (The Kammerzell house) (to the left of the front of the cathedral). The intricately carved half-timbered frames decorating the upper floors date from 1589.
- Palais des Rohan. French-style palace, built after the acquisition of the town by the French (1681). Home to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts.
- Musée Alsacien (Alsatian Museum), 23-25, Quai Saint-Nicolas (just across the river from the Ancienne Douane), . M, W-F noon-6pm, Saturday to Sunday 10am to 6pm. This museum features articles from the daily lives of Alsatian peoples from the 13th to 19th centuries: clothing, furniture, toys, tools of artisans and farmers, and religious objects used in Christian, Jewish, and even pagan rites. The exhibits are in rooms connected by wooden staircases and balconies in adjacent multistory Renaissance-era houses around a central courtyard. Admission €6.5.
Petite France is the name given to the small area between the rivers, just south of the Grande Île. It is home to some of Strasbourg’s prettiest and most photogenic streets and buildings, with half timbered townhouses leaning out over the narrow cobbled streets. Petite France resembles Colmar (a city an hour south), with picturesque canal and half-timber houses.
Use bus lines #6, 30, 72 to get there.
- Council of Europe’s seat (Le Palais de l’Europe). built in 1977 by Henry Bernard.
- European Court of Human Rights. Built in 1995 by Richard Rogers
- European Parliament. Built in 1999 by Architecture Studio. The parliament tends to meet in Brussels more and the arrangement with the parliament moving shop between Brussels and Strasbourg several times a year has been criticized as wasteful of money by EU skeptics and penny-pinchers.
Elsewhere in Strasbourg
- Parc de l’Orangerie. A beautiful classical park. It has a small free zoo featuring birds and a few other animals. Also has an excellent playground for young children.
- Stockfeld. Garden city built in the early 20th century in the south-east of the Neuhof (southern part of the town). Use bus line #24 to get there.
- ARTE Television headquarters, 4, quai du Chanoine Winterer (near the European district).
- B-line tramway terminus at Hoenheim (northern conurbation). Built in 2001 by the contemporary architect Zaha Hadid.
- Place de la République. A central crossroad encircled by neoclassical public buildings.
- Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain). It’s recommended also because of the interesting building. €10.
- Historical Museum. Museum of Strasbourg’s history. €6.5.
- Zoological Museum. Mo-Fr 10:00-18:00. €8.
- Archeological Museum. €6.5.
- Museum of Decorative Arts. €6.5.
- Museum of fine Arts. €6.5.
- Museum Tomi Ungerer. 10:00-18:00; Tu off. €6.5.
Christmas markets can be found in many places, but the most important and beautiful are place Broglie and place de la Cathédrale, although they are crowded. They are the best places to drink hot wine (vin chaud) and to eat Christmas cookies (Brädeles).
Even when there are no special events on in Strasbourg, walking around the old town is a very nice way to pass a day. And there are lots of good cafes to stop and rest in as you make your tour.
Boat tours along the Rhine offer views over both Strasbourg and neighbouring Germany. Batorama offer several river tours lasting from around 45 minutes to a few hours, costing around €10 per person. 45 min tours run around the town center and the European district. Boats can be found below Place du Marché aux Poissons.
From time to time, the city organizes a general market in vast parts of the center, where many street vendors offer various products and the shops join in with special discounts. Then, the city center on the island is partly closed for parking or driving and the trams don’t go on the rue des Francs Bourgeois. Information about regular market dates is hard to find on the net. If you manage to track down the date of this market, write it here and don’t miss it.
- Marché aux Puces (flea market), rue de Vieil-Hôpital. W and Sa.
- Place des Halles, 24, place des Halles. Mon-Fri 09:00 – 20:00, and Saturdays until 20:00. A shopping center with over 100 shops and restaurants north of the city center, but within walking distance.
- Shopping Centre Rivetoile, Place d’etoile (between the Etoile Polygone and Etoile Bourse tram stops). This new development has shops similar to Place des Halles as well as higher budget shops and a selection of cafes.
Try Galeries Lafayettes at rue du 22 Novembre and Printemps at 1-5 rue de la Haute Montée. Rue Hellebardes and Gutenberg offer designer clothes and men’s clothes. Bruno Saint Hilaire has designer clothes for men and a shop in 8, rue Gutenberg. There is a low-budget, secondhand clothing shop in 6, rue de la Lanterne, and various gadget shops can be found in rue des Juifs.
For cheap groceries, including local wines and beers, try one of the three outlets of NORMA, a German discount chain whose three outlets are conveniently located at the corner of rue St Michel and rue Ste Marguerite near the central train station; at 79, Grand’Rue near the center of Grand Île; and at 27, rue des Frères near the Cathedral. Open Monday to Friday 10AM-8PM, Sa 9:30AM-7PM.