When a city literally declares itself the capital of Christmas, you know that winter has to be a great time to visit–and it’s true that Strasbourg in December is a festive delight that you simply have to see to believe.
All half-timbered houses, endless glasses of vin chaud (hot wine), and Christmas markets around every corner, Strasbourg’s normally impressive beauty is taken to the next level during the holiday season.
Considering a trip to Strasbourg in December? Here’s what to know before you go!
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What to Do in Strasbourg in December
Visit all the Christmas markets.
We’ll get into this in more detail below, but suffice it to say that the Christmas markets in Strasbourg are the absolute best reason to visit the city in December.
The markets are absolutely incredible, with wonderful food, shopping, decor, and atmosphere–truly, the markets in Alsace, in general, are right up there are Germany and Austria as some of the best on the planet as far as we’re concerned.
Snap photos at the giant Christmas tree in Place Kleber.
The gigantic Strasbourg Christmas tree put up in Place Kleber is truly remarkable. It towers over the square and makes a phenomenal place for photos!
This square is also where you can find Strasbourg’s ice skating rink, which is located practically in the shadow of the tree.
Climb to the top of Strasbourg’s cathedral for phenomenal views over the city.
From the roof of the Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, you can see the entire, beautiful city of Strasbourg stretch out before you–and no matter when you’re visiting Strasbourg, the view is absolutely phenomenal!
When visiting Strasbourg in December, though, you’ll have the bonus of being able to see some of the Christmas markets below.
Have a cozy dinner in a winstub.
Essentially homey, delightful pubs serving delicious Alsatian food, winstubs are one of the best ways to escape the cold when visiting Strasbourg in winter!
Stroll through La Petite France.
The neighborhood of La Petite France may just be the most picturesque in Strasbourg!
All canals, half-timbered houses, tasty restaurants, and–during December in Strasbourg–Christmas markets, no trip to Strasbourg could be considered complete without at least one afternoon stroll here.
Learn a bit of history at the Alsatian Museum.
Dedicated to showing typical Alsatian life in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Alsatian Museum originally opened in 1902 as a display of region’s unique cultural identity–at the time, the region was part of Germany.
Today, it’s still a fascinating look into Alsace’s history and is the perfect addition to your list of things to do in Strasbourg in winter.
Take a day trip to another part of Alsace.
We absolutely adore Alsace as a region, and a trip to Strasbourg can only be improved by spending some time exploring outside the capital.
Colmar is an incredibly easy and rewarding trip from Strasbourg by train (and like Strasbourg, it’s packed with incredible Christmas markets in December).
If you’d like to visit multiple villages in one day, consider booking a car for the day through Discover Cars and seeing what gorgeous spots you can find along the Alsace Wine Route and in the surrounding villages.
Hint: if you’re headed to Colmar, don’t miss nearby Eguisheim!
Check rates & book a rental car with Discover Cars today!
Hop on a boat ride to admire Strasbourg from the water.
On our first trip to Strasbourg we took a boat tour in order to see Strasbourg from a different angle, and it was a wonderful way to see the city, enjoy the canals, and learn a bit of history while also taking a break from exploring by foot all day.
Admire all the Christmas lights.
Strasbourg has some of the prettiest Christmas light displays we’ve seen in Europe, especially near the Strasbourg Cathedral and in the La Petite France neighborhood.
Be sure to make time for at least one walk through town near sunset in order to snap all the Christmas light photos!
All About the Strasbourg Christmas Markets
There are 10 of them, and each one is amazing!
They’re also all quite different from each other, with some focusing on local handicrafts, some on food, and some on particular themes.
There’s one guest market hosted by a different country each year–in 2019 it’s Lebanon–where you can sample international cuisine, as well as a Village of Sharing which is set up by numerous local charities and whose proceeds are then donated.
If you’re looking for the oldest Christmas market in France, the one that started way back in 1570, head to Place de la Cathédrale
For a full list of Christmas markets in Strasbourg with updated hours and dates, check here.
You should definitely eat a meal at the Christmas markets at least once.
It won’t be the most nutritious meal you’ve ever had in your life–think sausage, cheese, pretzels, and sugar–but it will be delicious and an incredibly memorable experience in Strasbourg.
Show up at twilight for the best photos.
As the sun goes down, the twinkling Christmas lights come on, the markets fill up, and the food stalls start churning out tasty treats at a faster and faster pace, the atmosphere of the Strasbourg Christmas markets reaches peak festiveness.
Plus, this time of day is excellent for snapping beautiful Strasbourg Christmas market photos!
Don’t expect mugs (but definitely consider keeping a cup).
Unlike Germany’s Christmas markets, those in Strasbourg tend to have rentable plastic cups as opposed to ceramic mugs.
Not quite as adorable in our opinion, but they do get the job done and make excellent souvenirs.
Plus, they’re a bit cheaper than mugs–usually only a Euro or two.
Where to Stay in Strasbourg in Winter
When deciding where to stay in Strasbourg in December, the biggest thing to consider is simply location: as long as you’re within an easy walk of the Strasbourg Cathedral, La Petite France, and several Christmas markets, you’re sure to have a great trip!
As hotels and apartments do book up far in advance for the Christmas market season, we strongly recommend booking as soon as you can confirm your travel dates in order to avoid being stuck with limited choices or excessively pricey options.
City Résidence Strasbourg Centre — I’ll be perfectly honest: Strasbourg in December is far from the most budget-friendly destination.
However, City Résidence Strasbourg Centre offers a (somewhat) budget-friendly choice with solid reviews and an easily accessible location within walking distance of La Petite France, the Strasbourg Cathedral, and plenty of Christmas markets, making it a great option for budget travelers visiting Strasbourg!
Appartements Le 32 — This is where we stayed on our most recent trip to Strasbourg in winter, and we were completely satisfied with these suites!
Complete with a small kitchenette and located down a quiet street only a few minutes from the Strasbourg Cathedral, these apartments are perfect for mid-range travelers in Strasbourg.
The rooms were impeccably clean and customer service kind and responsive, and we’d be happy to stay again.
Hôtel Gutenberg — Featuring spacious, modern rooms, glowing reviews, and incredible views of the Strasbourg Cathedral from the hotel, Hôtel Gutenberg is the perfect place to check into in Strasbourg if you’re looking for a luxurious stay!
All of Strasbourg is at your fingertips from the Hôtel Gutenberg, making it an incredible choice for visitors to Strasbourg who don’t want to waste a single second of their time in the city with getting into the center.
December Weather in Strasbourg
High temperatures average around 37 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Celsius).
… In other words, you’ll definitely want to bundle up!
Snow isn’t common in Strasbourg in December.
You’re much more likely to get rained on, so be sure to pack an umbrella!
Keep in mind that the days will be short.
During December in Strasbourg, the sun sets around 4:30 PM–so you certainly don’t need to be out late to enjoy the Strasbourg Christmas markets after dark.
What to Pack for Strasbourg in December
Travel Insurance — We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen, and a special festive trip to Colmar is definitely a case of better safe than sorry. We use and recommend World Nomads for trips to Strasbourg.
Travel Adaptors for France — If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll definitely want to make sure you can plug in your electronics once you arrive!
A Fashionable Coat — As I often like to point out when discussing packing for anywhere in Europe in winter–be sure to pick a coat you like, because it’ll end up in basically all your photos! For Strasbourg in winter, I wore something similar to this and Jeremy wore something like this.
Warm Boots — When choosing the right winter boots for your trip to Strasbourg this December, keep in mind that comfort is key! I wore (and love) these boots on our recent trip, and Jeremy was very satisfied with these.
Nalgene — Don’t waste money or plastic on plastic water bottle after plastic water bottle at the Christmas markets in Strasbourg–come prepared with a reusable one instead! You’ll be so glad to have it after devouring your first salty snack of the trip.
Umbrella — Winter in Strasbourg means rain is a risk–we broke out our umbrellas more than once during our trip.
Lotion — Winter in France can be rough on the skin–be sure to pack a moisturizing lotion.
Lip Balm — You know what’s not fun? Eating Christmas market food with chapped lips.
Portable USB Charger — Avoid having your phone die when you’re out exploring, and throw a portable USD charger in your day bag! They also come in particularly handy on long flights.
Purell Hand Sanitizer — Christmas markets in particular tend to mean lots of finger foods, eaten outside, often not near a bathroom where you can wash your hands. Bringing along hand sanitizer will make your life much easier.
Travel Journal — We can testify that travel memories that aren’t written down quickly can often fade–especially the small details that may not seem special now, but will mean a lot more five or ten years down the road. If you don’t want to commit a lot of time to writing each night, I’m a big fan of this One Line a Day Journal that allows you to easily track your experiences over five years. I’m more than two years into mine now and adore it!
Money Belt — This is up to you: we no longer use a money belt, but if you’re more comfortable having your passport with you at all times in France, you can consider bringing one. We used to use this one and had no complaints.
How Long to Stay in Strasbourg in December
Strasbourg is one of Europe’s top destinations for Christmas markets and holiday cheer, and we recommend setting aside at least 2 full days to explore the city and markets itself.
If you’re not going to be traveling anywhere else in Alsace as part of your December trip, we recommend taking at least one day trip from Strasbourg to a gorgeous village (or two or three) to get a taste of the region outside of the capital city.
Colmar is an incredibly easy and delightful day trip from Strasbourg by train, and is just as magical as Strasbourg in December!