If you love Christmas and love to travel, few places outside of the North Pole are as magical as Strasbourg Christmas Markets in Strasbourg, France. Called the Capital of Christmas, this is one of the most beautiful and authentic European Christmas experiences at one of the most lovely times of the year.
My husband has visited these many times on his travels, and it was always a dream of mine to see this beautiful city during this time. So last year, we decided Christmas in Strasbourg, France, was how we wanted to spend our American Thanksgiving break, and what a very special trip this was.
As the oldest Christmas market in Europe, this is the signature Christmas Market to see. While you will find them throughout Europe, particularly in Germany, France, and many other places, the Strasbourg one is very special and historical indeed and one for every bucket list.
Explore the stalls of Christmas decorations and unique French handcrafted Christmas decorations and goods like Santons to the Christmas lights. Enjoy the fresh food stalls and smell of vin chaud (hot wine) cooking throughout the city; it's a must-visit for any fan of the holiday season.
You can also learn about Santa Clauses from around the world, as you will see Pere Noel, as well as santons and figurines of other Christmas figures. Representations of La Befana, Christkindl, and Pere Noel, among others, are quite common, as well as discovering Christmas foods and treats common in France and Europe.
Having been to a few markets in Europe a couple of times, this is without question my favorite Christmas market in Europe. Here is why you need to put Strasbourg Christmas Markets on your bucket list.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission at no cost to you should you make a purchase using this link. See my disclosures. Cover photo credit: Bon Voyage With Kids
Where Is Strasbourg?
The French city of Strasbourg, France, is the capital of the historically rich Alsace region that has belonged to both Germany and France over the years. It has its own unique identity and lots of German influence, with the Strasbourg Cathedral overlooking the narrow cobbled streets. A boat tour on the river is one of the most magical ways to take in all of the German architecture, but while it may look a lot like Germany, you are actually in France!
You'll see the Ill River everywhere, with buildings nesting on its banks, similar to Venice, Italy. It's easy to travel on foot around the cathedral and the Petite France district, as well as many other locations around the city.
In 1992, Strasbourg was named the Capital of Christmas when the deputy Mayor decided to place market stalls in squares all around the city. This could be why some people call it the Strasbourg Christmas Markets versus the Strasbourg Christmas Market.
About the Strasbourg Christmas Market
The Strasbourg Christmas Market dates back to 1570 and is the oldest market in France and one of the oldest ones in Europe. I promise you this is one of the best Christmas markets I've ever been to, and my family has seen several throughout our international travels.
Today, the Strasbourg Christmas Market is located in the center of Grande Île in Strasbourg, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic buildings like the old tanner's quarters with half-timbered houses and buildings and cafes in Petitle France transport you back in time. The city's historic centre is definitely one of the top things to do on your December Strasbourg trip, in addition to the Christmas markets, and you'll want to shop windows as well.
This small town is easy to navigate, to get around the city centre, though there is a local trolly train to help get around if you don't want to walk.
With over 300 stalls selling handmade Christmas ornaments, decorations, and other items, as well as traditional French products found in the Alsace region, you will want to give yourself a few days to enjoy all the market has to offer. The smells of pastries, cinnamon, and other spices, and mulled wine wafting through the air bring back your favorite childhood memories.
But that's not all! Christmas in Strasbourg is a whole new way to experience Christmas with holiday decorations, Christmas lights and trees, and delicious local foods (including the most delicious hot chocolate I've ever had.) The tree towers over the city as well, and it will certainly get you in the mood for the season with all of the beautiful lights and decor.
The markets are set up in several parts of Strasbourg, so we enjoyed it over three days. I recommend this amount of time so you can maximize your time in the Christmas Capital!
Strasbourg Christmas Market (Map + Dates 2023)
The 2023 dates are November 24, starting at 2:00 p.m. to December 24 at 6:00 p.m., with the market opening from 11:30 AM to 9 PM every day, except on Christmas Eve when the market closes at 6 PM. There will be over 300 stalls in attendance, offering the best that an Alsatian Christmas has to offer. Locations of the Christmas markets can be found on this map.
10 Reasons To Visit The Strasbourg Christmas Markets
Perhaps I haven't convinced you yet that a visit to Petite France and the Christmas Markets in Strasbourg, France, is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. So, here are 10 reasons to visit this famous Christmas market.
It's One of the Most Beautiful Places in France
Historical landmarks like the Strasbourg Cathedral, River Ill, and neat half-timbered houses in historic districts like Petite France make this city one of the most picturesque places in Europe. The beautiful houses and canals that the Ill River flows through are reminiscent of the scenes in Venis, Italy.
It's also the primary starting point for the Alsace Wine Route and a great place for people looking for the ultimate gastronomic experience.
Snap Photos at the Giant Christmas Tree in Place Kleber
Place Kleber is where you'll find the great Christmas tree, also known as Grand Sapin.
This is one of my favorite things about the Christmas Markets, and the city begins looking for the perfect tree in March every year.
France's National Forestry Office supplies the Christmas tree each year, and it must be at least 30 meters tall. The 7 km of twinkling Christmas lights and decorations make it the perfect place to take family photos.
Climb to the Top of Strasbourg's Cathedral
Not only is the Strasbourg Cathedral or Notre Dame de Strasbourg a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it's also one of the best places to see phenomenal city views from the top.
This gorgeous Gothic cathedral has been well-preserved and dates back to 1239. The Strasbourg Cathedral has been restored and expanded many times and still remains one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture from the Middle Ages.
Purchase Unique and Handcrafted Gifts (a few to especially look for!)
While the market has plenty of delicious food and wines, it's also the best place to find unique, handmade gifts for friends and family. You can even find a booth with the original Christmas ornament – a gorgeous handmade glass ornament from one of the stalls. We purchased one, and it is a signature piece on our tree.
Also, collecting Christmas ornaments from around the world is a great family tradition of ours. We also love the delicate Santons – hand-crafted miniature clay figurines from Provence. Our favorite is Santon Foque, which comes to the market from Aix-En-Provence, where their shop is located. They are very special souvenirs and keepsakes from the Strasbourg Christmas market and of your visit to France.
The Place du Temple Neuf is a charming small market with handcrafted Christmas gifts, wooden toys, and local delicacies. You can find gifts made from recycled products, vintage furniture, and more at the OFF Christmas Market at Place Grimmeisen.
Eat Delicious French Foods
The Christmas markets have plenty of regional delicacies and other foods to taste, like:
- Foie gras
- Christmas beer
- Mulled wine
- Traditional Bredele
- Tarte Flambee
Many of the foods can be found in the traditional restaurants and shops throughout the city as well as some of the Christmas Markets.
Hop on a Boat Ride to Admire Strasbourg From the Water
One of the best ways to tour Strasbourg is on a boat ride on the River Ill. You'll find a variety of boat tours that will show you all the must-see sights in the Neustadt (imperial quarter), Petite France. And you’ll also see well-known European institutions like the Palace of Europe, which houses the European Parliament.
See Pere Noel (Learn about Santas Around The World and Christmas Desserts From Around The World)
Pere Noel is Santa Clause in France, and he is celebrated by kids in Alsace and Lorraine. The Nativity symbolized the Christmas season in France until the 1950s, when the holiday became more like what we know today after World War II. While it may not have a holiday theme park like some other places, it’s one of my kids’ favorite places to visit and learn about other cultures.
The Christmas Markets feature Christmas desserts and Santas from all around the world. One thing my family loves about traveling worldwide is that we've been able to experience many holiday traditions from other cultures.
Take a Historical Walking Tour to Learn About Strasbourg
While there are several walking tours you can choose to learn more about Strasbourg, we love this two-hour guided walking tour of the historical center. You can leave the planning to the guide or customize your experience with stops at the Strasbourg Cathedral, historic Place Broglie (Place Broglie and around Place de la Cathedral) is where you'll find the oldest Christmas Market), or ancient covered bridges. You can even enjoy a Christmas-themed walking tour!
Take a Day Trip to Another Part of Alsace to See Other French Towns or Head Over to Germany
The neat thing about Strasbourg is its location in the Alsace region because it allows you to take a day trip to see other French towns. Here are some great day trips from Strasbourg:
From Strasbourg to Colmar – 30-minute trip by train (consider taking this guided full-day tour to see more sights like Haut Koenigsbourg Castle and Riquewirh).
Strasbourg to Equisheim – Train ride to Colmar, then bus to Wettolsheim, after which you'll need to walk on foot or take a guided tour of the area
From Strasbourg to Nancy – 1.5-hour train ride with a limited number of departures
Strasbourg to Baden-Baden – One-hour train ride across the border to Germany (be sure to check out the hot spring spa while you are there!) There are also Christmas markets in this area as well.
Enjoy the Fairy Tale Villages Decorated With Twinkling Christmas lights
Besides the magical Christmas Market in Strasbourg, there are various fairytale villages in France that you don't want to miss! Towns like Dinan, Brittany, Cassis, Provence, Rouen, Normandy, and more look like villages out of the classic fairytales you grew up reading.
But they're even more magical during the holiday season as they're beautifully decorated with Christmas trees, twinkling lights, and a fairytale atmosphere.
Tips For Visiting Strasbourg Christmas Market
Visit All the Christmas Markets (See Strasbourg Christmas Market Map for additional info)
If you're visiting Strasbourg during the holidays, you don't want to miss the festive atmosphere and Christmas traditions you'll see at the Christmas Markets in Strasbourg.
The Strasbourg Christmas Markets of 2023 include:
- Place du Corbeau
- Place Gutenberg Christmas market
- Place du Châteaux
- Place de la Cathédrale de Strasbourg (Place de la Cathédrale is home to Broglie, the oldest and most historic Christmas Market in the city)
- Place Saint Thomas
- Place des Meuniers
- Place Benjamin-Zix (where you can find the maker of the original Christmas ornaments)
- Place Grimmeissen
- Place Kléber (where the greater Christmas tree is)
- Advent Village at Square Louise-Weiss
- Place du Marché aux Poisson
- Place Broglie Christkindelsmärik
- Place du Temple Neuf
Give Yourself a Few Days To see Each of the Christmas Markets
It's impossible to see all the Christmas Markets in Strasbourg in one day, so be sure to allow yourself a few days to visit them all. This will allow you to spend a little more time visiting the most famous sights like the Gain Christmas tree, Petite France, and more.
Don't Limit Yourself to Just Strasbourg
There are so many other amazing places to visit that are close to Strasbourg, like Heidelberg, Freiburg, Baden-Baden, Metz, Nancy, and more. If you're in Alsace for seven days or more, consider adding some day trips to your itinerary. You can even take a day trip to places like Colmar and Riquewhir!
Eat a Meal at One of the Christmas Markets at Least Once
When you visit Strasbourg, you should eat at a Christmas Market at least once. The experience is like what I imagine eating in a holiday fairytale with Christmas trees, festive garlands, half-timbered houses, and other sights would be. You'll find many different things to eat, from traditional Alsace foods to fresh pretzels to mulled wine and beer, spaetzle, and more.
Show Up at Twilight for the Best Pictures
As the sky darkens in the background, the twinkling lights brighten the night, making it the best time to take pictures. Really, if you love Christmas like my family does, Strasbourg, France, is the perfect destination to spend the holidays with many photographic moments.
Visit the Fairytale Villages and Markets of Riquewihr, Eguisheim, and Colmar
These three fairytale villages are my absolute favorites, and they have neat markets as well, where you can buy local foods and delicacies that showcase the beauty of this area.
Learn the History of Alsace at the Alsatian Museum
If you visit the famous Alsatian Museum, you can immerse yourself in the local traditions, crafts, dialects, and clothing. You can see more than 5,000 items and artifacts that showcase the rural life of the region in the 1700s and 1800s. Spending Christmas time in Strasbourg, France, is an experience you don't want to miss.
Take a Free Walking Tour of Strasbourg
You'll find plenty of free walking tours around Strasbourg's city center, La Petite France, the Gothic cathedral, and other popular sights. Expert guides will show you the most famous sights and teach you a little history along the way.
Bring An Extra Bag for All Of Your Purchases
There are so many beautiful handicrafts and delicate items to purchase you are going to want to bring an extra duffle bag for your suitcase to safely bring them home. I also recommend bringing some tissue paper or soft clothing to wrap up any delicate items.
Where To Stay For Strasbourg Christmas Market
Strasbourg is a relatively small city in France, and one of the best places to stay is the Grand Ile. The Grande Ile is the city's historic center and within walking distance of all the Christmas Markets.
The Hotel Beaucour is our favorite place to stay. This lovely hotel is centrally located to easily walk to all of the markets, has a great breakfast, and comfortable rooms for families. It is my top recommendation.
City Résidence Strasbourg Centre is a semi-budget-friendly option within walking distance to La Petite France, many Christmas Markets, and the Strasbourg Cathedral.
The Hotel & Spa Regent Petite France is one of the most luxurious accommodations set in a 17th-century mill converted into a hotel right in the center of Petite France.
Maison Rouge Strasbourg Hotel & Spa Autograph Collection is located near Place Kleber and features ancient stained glass windows and charm.
The BOMA Easy Living Hotel is another economical option, and it's located in the heart of Strasbourg, with the best sights and Christmas Markets.
Hotel Hannong is one of the best mid-range hotels in the center of Strasbourg, France, next to Place Kleber, where the great Christmas tree is.
There are also plenty of places to stay in the other Strasbourg districts of towns of the Eurometroplis that are easy to reach using local transportation like the tram system. If you're planning a visit during the holidays, you definitely want to book your hotel months in advance.
Is the Christmas Market in Strasbourg worth it?
Absolutely! It's spread out across the old town area of this small city but has many different vendors. You could easily spend two or three days just visiting the various markets all around Strasbourg, France.
What are the dates of the Strasbourg Christmas Market?
The 2023 dates are November 24 to December 24, with the market being open from 11 AM to 8 PM except on Christmas Eve when the market closes at 6 PM.
How crowded is the Strasbourg Christmas Market?
The market gets around 2.5 million visitors each year, so it can be quite busy throughout the holidays. But while it's busy, visiting during this time of year is totally worth it for the magical experience.
Final Thoughts on Strasbourg Christmas Markets
If you plan on spending Christmas in Strasbourg, France, you won't be disappointed. As the oldest Christmas market in France, you'll feel transported back in time but with all the modern conveniences.
With delicious foods, handmade gifts, and thousands of Christmas lights and decorations, I can see why it's called the Capital of Christmas because it's just as beautiful as the North Pole. If you're looking for a truly fairytale Christmas experience, the Strasbourg Christmas Markets are a must for your travel bucket list.