The Best Time to Visit Strasbourg

Strasbourg and its annual Christmas market, a favorite winter activity.

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Strasbourg, the capital of northeastern France, is renowned for its pink-sandstone Cathedral, riverside areas dotted with half-timbered houses, distinctive local cuisine, and vibrant European district. It's also an ideal starting point for an adventure around the wider Alsace region and its picturesque villages, vineyards, and castles. But when is the best time of year to visit? Many would say that the city is at its most enchanting during winter, especially around the holiday season. After all, Strasbourg is renowned for its enormous traditional Christmas markets, and the city also abounds with cozy wine taverns, museums and arresting architecture. This is probably the most popular time of year to visit.

However, the late spring and summer also offer particular charms, from al-fresco dining to river cruises. And for those who prefer to travel when conditions are warmer and milder, late spring to mid-summer might prove the best bet. Keep reading to help figure out when to book your next trip.

The Weather in Strasbourg

Strasbourg has a semi-continental climate that features relatively hot summers and cold winters. The spring and summers are cool to very warm, although in recent years summer heatwaves have become more common. Winters are generally cold, especially in January and February, but the mercury only rarely dips below freezing. Rainfall is fairly consistent throughout the year. The city typically sees a few days of snowfall in the winter months, but it's not a reliable feature in the winter.

Peak Season in Strasbourg

December and the winter holiday season see the greatest number of visitors in Strasbourg and is considered to be "high peak" season. Tourism peaks again from April through August. The mid-to-late spring is popular for its mild temperatures, opportunities for a variety of outdoor activities, and day trips, while the summer is the time for river cruises, music, food and arts festivals, and long evenings out on terraces.

During high season—especially in December and late spring through early summer—you'll notice that fares for hotel rooms and flights are especially high. If you decide to visit Strasbourg during peak season, we recommend booking your trip several months in advance and shopping around for the best deals.

Traveling in Off-Season

Visiting Strasbourg during the off-season ( January through March, early June, and November) can offer budget-conscious travelers a few key advantages, including less expensive airfares, hotel rates, and train tickets. If you dislike crowds, choosing to book your trip during the quieter months means you'll have more of the city to yourself, including its many fascinating art collections and museums. You'll also likely get a more local and laid-back perspective of the city since there won't be as many tourists around.

Of course, there are some downsides to visiting in the low season: some attractions and experiences are closed, and there aren't as many tours and other tourist-oriented activities at these times of year. If you do decide to explore the city in the off-season, we recommend calling ahead and doing plenty of research to ensure that the attractions, restaurants, and/or guided tours of most interest to you will be open or operating during your stay.

Spring

Spring in Strasbourg can be relatively quiet, especially when compared to destinations like Paris. Yet it offers similar upsides: mild temperatures ideal for long walks and day trips, lunches out on flower-filled terraces, parks and gardens filled with lush blooms, and even leisurely river cruises. The days are getting longer and afford more opportunities to really take advantage of the city. Wander through the city's famous Little France district and admire the centuries-old half-timbered houses whose balconies and terraces overflow with bright flowers. Take in the blooms and greenery at the city's Parc de l'Orangerie, one of the oldest public gardens in Europe. Embark on a day trip to nearby Colmar, an idyllic Alsatian village famous for its architecture and canals.

Events to Check Out:

  • In late March or early April, taste a variety of beers from local craft breweries at Le Printemps des Brasseurs (The Spring Brewers' Festival).
  • In May, Strasbourg celebrates European Institutions with the Fête de l'Europe (European Festival), offering a variety of exhibitions and displays, activities, performances, and free guided tours of the city's European Quarter.
  • Celebrating Easter in Strasbourg can be memorable for the whole family. Chocolate shops and other specialty stores display enchanting springtime scenes, from Easter bunnies to delicately crafted eggs.

Summer

In the summer, the mid-year peak season brings larger crowds to the winding streets and riverside quays of Strasbourg as the city is overtaken with a laid-back, festive vibe. Especially around and after sunset, the many busy terraces of the Petit France district come alive with the buzz of conversation, and various festivals take over city squares, parks, and other areas. Many of the city's most beautiful buildings are decked out with special illuminations for the summer season, too. Why not stage a picnic somewhere along the river, embark on a sightseeing or dinner cruise on the River Ill, or even join local fantasy and science-fiction fans in an annual "zombie walk"?

Events to Check Out:

  • On June 21, the Fête de la Musique (Street Music Festival) brings hundreds of performances to the streets of Strasbourg well into the evening-- and they're all free.
  • On July 14th (Bastille Day), Strasbourg celebrates France's national holiday with fireworks and other events.
  • The European Festival of Fantastic Film is one of the largest film festivals dedicated to fantasy and sci-fi. It kicks off in early September with an unforgettable "zombie walk" through the streets of Strasbourg.

Fall

Strasbourg in the fall can be inspiring and invigorating, thanks in part to wine harvest season and the excitement it generates throughout the Alsace region. This is an excellent time to embark on day trips to enjoy wine tastings or vineyard tours and admire colorful autumnal landscapes. It's also an ideal moment to take in the sounds of international jazz, see the city's many interesting art and history collections, or sample some of the city's best food and drink.

Event to Check Out:

  • The Strasbourg Craft Beer Festival generally takes place in early October (in tandem with Germany's Oktoberfest) and lets you taste artisanal beers from some of the city's best brewers.
  • For jazz fans, the Jazzdor Festival is an essential autumn tradition, bringing international talent and all subgenres to venues around the city and wider region.

Winter

Winter in Strasbourg is a study in contrasts. In December, tourism is at full tilt, with visitors pouring in to stroll the city's famous Christmas markets, take in holiday decorations, and bask in the cheering warmth of the Alsatian capital. In November, January, and February, the city is quiet and laid-back, offering plenty of space to explore sights like Strasbourg Cathedral, roam through art galleries, or feast on a hearty plate of sauerkraut and glass of wine at a local tavern (winstub). Whenever you visit, aim to take in the city at its cozy best, and consider plotting a short trip to surrounding towns and villages to enjoy the region's architecture, food, and wine to the fullest.

Event to Check Out:

  • From late November or early December, an enormous, lavishly decorated Christmas tree appears in the city center (typically on Place Kleber) and numerous Christmas markets spring up around the city, with hundreds of warmly lit wooden chalets peddling everything from traditional toys to mulled wine. Don't miss the main market in front of Strasbourg Cathedral—one of Europe's oldest, and largest. Meanwhile, many of the city's streets are strung with festive holiday lights.
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