Strasbourg Christmas Markets 2023: What to Expect, See, and Eat

If you’ve ever scrolled through lists of the best European Christmas markets, I bet you’ve stumbled upon the Strasbourg Christmas markets more than once. And with the city proudly claiming the title of “the capital of Christmas,” that’s a pretty bold claim to make, isn’t it?

Strasbourg seriously ups the ante with 13 different Christmas markets. Yes, you heard that right – thirteen! After years of soaking up the festive vibes at German Christmas markets, I decided it was time to switch things up. I was curious if Strasbourg could truly offer a different Christmas market experience, or if it’s a little overhyped. So, we set off on a mission to explore all 13 markets in one day and answer the burning question: is Strasbourg worth visiting at Christmas?

Keep reading to discover my verdict and get the lowdown on everything you need to know about the Strasbourg Christmas markets – from opening hours and locations to the must-try dishes and insider tips!

How to get to Strasbourg

Strasbourg is located north of Colmar and near the German border. The French railway, SNCF, is your best bet for reaching this festive destination, and you can easily book your tickets on their website. From our recent experience, a one-way ticket from Basel to Strasbourg was about €28. The great thing, much like with Colmar, is that your ticket is valid for any TER train on the same route for the entire day. This means you’ve got the flexibility to hop on a train that fits your schedule.

If you’re planning to explore Alsace a bit more, you should definitely consider the Alsa + Groupe Journee pass. Priced at €39.10 on weekends and public holidays, it allows a group of up to 5 people to travel anywhere between Strasbourg and Basel. This pass includes everything – 2nd class trains, trams, buses, and even Christmas shuttles until midnight on the day of validation. For solo travellers on a weekday, the Alsa + 24Hr Solo pass at €37.40 per person covers the same area.

And there’s an added bonus – the Europass 24h pass. Priced at just €9.60, it lets you travel between France and Germany, ideal for those wanting to soak up the festive vibes in both countries.

Why is Strasbourg called the Christmas capital of Europe?

Have you ever wondered why Strasbourg calls itself the Christmas Capital of Europe? There’s even a sparkling arch at Place Kléber, proudly declaring it for all to see. Well, it’s a title they’ve given themselves, but trust me, once you’re there, you’ll totally see why they’re so confident about it!

First up, the Christkindelsmärik is the oldest Christmas market in France, with its roots stretching back to 1570, and it’s one of the oldest in Europe too. But Strasbourg’s claim to festive fame isn’t just about its history. The city hosts 13 unique Christmas markets, each with its own character and charm. And the crowning glory? The tallest decorated Christmas tree in Europe, a symbol of the holiday season standing an impressive 30 meters high.

But does Strasbourg really live up to its grand title? Stick around, and I’ll tell you all about it…

When do the Christmas markets in Strasbourg open?

The official dates for 2024 haven’t been announced yet. But to give you an idea, in 2023, the Christmas markets in Strasbourg were open from 24th November until 24th December between 11:30 am and 9 pm each day. The only exception was Christmas Eve, when the stalls closed at 6 pm.

Where can you find the Strasbourg Christmas Markets?

Before our trip, most places I checked mentioned 12 different Christmas markets, but I actually ended up counting 13! Sure, one was tiny, with just 3 stalls, but it still counts.

These markets are so close to each other that it’s tricky to tell where one ends and another begins. Without my handy list in the Notes app and Google Maps, I might have missed the full count.

To make it easier for you, I’m about to break down each of the Strasbourg Christmas Markets – what’s there to see, eat, and enjoy. Much like Colmar, they’re all within easy walking distance of each other. Some are so small, you’ll whisk through them in minutes. But here’s a pro tip: start as early as possible if you’re aiming to tick off all 13 in a day. You’ll likely never be able to fully dodge the crowds at what are some of the most popular Christmas markets in Europe, but they’re definitely a little smaller in the morning!

Christkindelsmärik at Place Broglie

On our festive adventure through Strasbourg, plotting a route to visit every Christmas market was part of the fun. We were doing pretty well until we realised we’d missed a crucial spot – the Christkindelsmärik at Place Broglie.

This isn’t just any market; it’s the beating heart of Strasbourg’s Christmas spirit, with traditions dating back to 1570. It was first held in various places across the city before having found its permanent its home at Place Broglie back in 1871. It’s fascinating to think that people have been celebrating in this very spot for over 150 years!

When we finally made our way there, it was buzzing with visitors. The market’s long and narrow layout made it a bit of a squeeze to navigate through the crowds and take in every stall. But, I could still see that the variety of festive goodies on offer was unmatched – from the most intricate ornaments to a mix of cosmetics, plushies, and even neon signs.

I usually shy away from shopping at Christmas markets due to all the mass-produced items, but I always find the ceramics stands really tempting, and Strasbourg was no exception!

But the real highlight? The food. Oh, the food at Christkindelsmärik is in a league of its own, making it a must-visit even if bustling crowds and shopping aren’t your thing. The air is rich with the aroma of gingerbread, grilled meats, and the spicy scent of mulled wine, all mingling together to create a truly festive atmosphere. The market offers a taste of Alsatian cuisine, a mouth-watering fusion of French and German traditions. From choucroute (sauerkraut) and sliced Currywurst with Spätzle (egg noodles) to an array of both sweet and savoury pretzels, raclette cheese, crepes, and much more – it’s a culinary delight. My advice? Make sure you arrive hungry!

Place Kléber

Located right in the heart of the city, this Christmas market is a popular meeting point in Strasbourg. You should aim to get there bright and early – we arrived just after it opened on a Saturday morning, only to find it already swarming with people.

Place Kléber is where you’ll find the famous Grand Sapin – the Great Christmas Tree. Towering at an impressive 30 metres, it holds the title of the tallest decorated Christmas tree in Europe, symbolising the festive spirit of Strasbourg. For a truly magical experience, make sure to return in the afternoon. Between 4 and 9 pm, on the hour, the tree becomes the centrepiece of a captivating light and music show – a spectacle that was, without a doubt, a highlight of our trip.

There’s also a little platform set up for that perfect photo op with the Grand Sapin, complete with a sign that says “Strasbourg, Capitale de Noël”. The crowds were terrible that day, making it a challenge to get close, but I managed to capture the sign from a distance.

When it comes to the variety of goods and dishes on offer, Place Kléber’s market is second only to the Christkindelsmärik. A standout feature here is the unique opportunity to try some soup made by Michelin-starred chefs, part of a heartwarming initiative by the city and local charities, with all proceeds going to a noble cause.

While the food is generally pricier here – €12 for a bowl of Currywurst might raise an eyebrow – the mulled wine, especially when spiked with a shot of amaretto, is a must-try. You can thank me later!

Place du Temple Neuf

As you start to make your way towards the cathedral, you’ll find a charming little Christmas market set against the backdrop of a Lutheran church at Place du Temple Neuf. I really loved the cosy atmosphere of this market.

Though it hosts just a handful of stalls, you can spot some goods that I hadn’t come across anywhere else. My personal favourite was a vendor selling gold-plated bookmarks in various designs and styles. There was also a stall where you could find delicious-smelling loose Christmas tea.

If you want to take your Christmas shopping a step further, the surrounding streets are lined with artisan chocolatiers and pastry shops. And, once you’re there, you simply can’t miss Rue des Orfèvres, one of Strasbourg’s most beautifully decorated streets during the festive season!

It’s especially beautiful after dark, with its glowing strings of lights, garlands, and overhead archways.

Place de la Cathédrale

Looping around the iconic Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg, you’ll find a cluster of stalls selling the usual festive goods. To be completely honest, nothing on sale here struck me as particularly interesting or unique. But, if you’re after a spot to enjoy a warming cup of vin chaud against a stunning backdrop, this is the place. Just a heads up, though – it’s a bit of a scrum everywhere you turn, which might have you thinking twice about staying too long.

While you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to step inside the Cathedral itself – it’s completely free! While the queue seems to stretch as far as the eye can see, it actually zips by much quicker than you’d expect. The interior is a breathtaking showcase of Gothic architecture, making any bit of queueing well worth the effort.

For those willing to brave the 332 steps and pay the extra €8, the cathedral tower offers a panoramic view of Strasbourg. You can also watch the astronomical clock show at noon for half of this price.

Place du Château

On the other side of the cathedral, you’ll stumble upon Place du Château, home to another little market. It’s so close to its neighbour that you might think it’s just an extension of the last one, with its handful of stalls peddling souvenirs and snacks.

Now, if you thought the crowds back at Place de la Cathédrale were intense, brace yourself. It seems like the whole city decides to come here for lunch. Finding a spot meant cosying up with strangers at a shared table. But in all the hustle and bustle, there’s a silver lining – the chance to dig into some classic Alsatian Spätzle noodles. Just be warned, navigating the queues here is a bit of an adventure, with a good 15-minute wait to reach the front. So, patience is key!

Crowds gathered at the Christmas Market at Place du Château in Strasbourg, France

Terrasse Rohan & Place du Marché-aux-Poissons

Strolling down the street from Place du Château, you’ll soon find yourself at the grand Palais Rohan, once home to the prince-bishops and cardinals of the Rohan family. These days, it houses three different museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Come the festive season, the palace’s terrace transforms into the Marche des Delices d’Alsace – the Alsace Delights Market – spilling over into Place du Marché-aux-Poissons. True to its name, this market offers all kinds of local specialties – from fresh gingerbread and Bredele (the traditional Alsatian Christmas biscuits), to locally produced honey, wine, and craft beer.

And once you’re there, make sure to swing by the famous Le Tire-Bouchon restaurant – the most Instagrammable place in Strasbourg! It’s recently gone viral for its facade decked out with teddy bears, garlands, golden presents, and red baubles. This display creates a magical Christmas atmosphere that warms your heart and it’s an absolute must-see!

Rue Gutenberg

If the name Rue Gutenberg rings a bell, it’s for good reason. Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, actually called Strasbourg home for several years. To this day, there’s a bit of a debate among scholars about whether his groundbreaking invention came to life here or in his native Mainz.

On a side note, during our trip to Ohrid, we were lucky enough to see one of the only two existing copies of his press in the world. However, it was only while planning our visit to the Strasbourg Christmas markets that I learned about his French connection.

At the heart of the square stands a statue of Gutenberg himself. In past years, a towering Christmas tree took centre stage here, around which guest countries would set up their own quaint markets. This year, the guest country’s market had moved to a different location (but more on that shortly), leaving Rue Gutenberg with just a handful of stalls. Among the unique finds was a tarte flambée, folded in half and served sandwich-style – a culinary twist I hadn’t encountered anywhere else. Priced at just €4, this mini version was a steal, especially if you’re keen to sample as wide a variety of treats as possible!

Place Saint-Thomas

As I was doing my research on Strasbourg’s Christmas markets before our trip, I kept coming across opinions suggesting the market by St. Thomas Church was somewhat underwhelming. So, you can imagine my surprise when I arrived to find it wasn’t just okay – it was actually one of the most delightful markets I’d visited!

First off, it was a breath of fresh air in terms of space – almost no crowds compared to the bustling main markets of Strasbourg. After weaving through crowds for hours, finding this peaceful spot felt like a huge relief.

Then, there’s the fact that this spot was chosen to host the guest Christmas market previously located on Rue Gutenberg. This year, the guest country was Armenia.

A wooden sign reading '#VisiteArmenie' pointing towards an array of handcrafted Armenian ornaments at a Christmas market stall in Strasbourg

Their stall showcased over 400 types of handcrafted items from more than 60 Armenian artists, including ornaments adorned with Armenian patterns, carpets, dolls, traditional bird-shaped bowls, and other woodwork. My only wish was for some freshly prepared Armenian dishes to sample their cuisine!

Lastly, it was here that I first spotted volunteers with maps, offering guidance around the Christmas markets. Given the massive scale of Strasbourg’s festive celebrations, having them in more spots around the city would have been really helpful!

Place Benjamin Zix

All the other Christmas markets are located in the Petite France area of Strasbourg. It’s a name that made me chuckle given we were, after all, in France. Curiosity got the better of me, so I looked into it and found out the name originates from a 15th-century hospice set up during a syphilis outbreak, which was nicknamed… the French disease.

But, putting its grim historical backdrop aside, this quarter is genuinely Strasbourg’s most romantic district! The quaint half-timbered houses are the perfect backdrop for the Christmas market at Place Benjamin Zix. It’s a cosy setup with just a few stalls selling festive decorations and snacks, but it’s buzzing with people all wanting a glimpse of this picture-perfect neighbourhood.

For a little added touch, make sure to visit after sunset to catch the light installation at the junction of Grand’Rue and Rue du Fossé-des-Tanneurs. It’s like a giant chandelier adorned with various Christmas ornaments, including sweets, candy canes, stars, hearts, and Christmas trees.

Place des Meuniers

In past years, Place des Meuniers was the go-to spot for the small producers of Alsace market. It was a great place to back local producers and get your hands on some Alsatian delights like truffles, traditional biscuits, and craft beers. This year, though, the scene was quite different – just 3 stalls, and only 2 of them open, all selling Ukrainian goods. It wasn’t even listed among this year’s official Strasbourg Christmas Markets, leaving me to wonder whether they’ve decided to drop it or perhaps it’s merged with the markets over at Palais Rohan and Place du Marché-aux-Poissons!

Place des Meuniers in Strasbourg lined with wooden chalets

Place Grimmeissen – the OFF Christmas market

For those in search of an alternative Christmas market experience, Place Grimmeissen is your destination. Here lies the OFF Christmas market, a celebration of sustainability and community spirit, where repurposed shipping containers double as quirky stalls.

Inside, you can find anything from second-hand goods and customised clothing to handicrafts, books, and toys. You’ll also discover stalls dishing out organic and fair-trade treats. Plus, on certain days, you can attend afternoon workshops and citizen talks, adding an educational twist to your festive outing.

Square Louise Weiss – Village de l’Avent

The last stop on Strasbourg’s Christmas market tour is the Advent Village, tucked away at Square Louise Weiss, right in the heart of the Petite France area. Just getting there is enchanting, as you wander through streets lined with pastel-coloured timber-framed houses, crossing quaint canals and bridges.

The Advent Village focuses heavily on local goods, making it a haven for foodies. Here, artisans and farmers showcase their 100% Alsace-made products, offering everything from homemade preserves and a variety of condiments to chocolates in all shapes and sizes, traditional Christmas biscuits, and biodynamic wines.

And, once you’re doing eating your way around this market, you can cosy up by the fire or try your hand at curling. It’s also the most kid-friendly market in Strasbourg, packed with stalls and activities that cater to the younger crowd. Children can enjoy theatrical shows, Christmas concerts, and creative workshops where they get to craft their own Christmas decorations and cards. And don’t miss the Christmas tree in the square’s centre, proudly displaying their handiwork!

Map of the Strasbourg Christmas Markets

What food should you try at the Strasbourg Christmas Markets?

If you’ve checked out my guide to the Colmar Christmas markets, you’ll remember the list of classic Alsatian dishes I recommended. Most of those dishes are up for grabs in Strasbourg too, but I decided to add a few unique treats we spotted at the market stalls:

  • Spätzle in cream sauce: These are homemade egg noodles bathed in a velvety cream sauce. It’s comfort food at its best, marrying French and German tastes. Price: €9.
  • Sliced Currywurst: Here’s another twist on a German Christmas market classic – juicy sausage slices drenched in a tangy curry sauce, sometimes alongside Spätzle noodles. It’s a bit pricier here, with a bowl going for €10-€12.
  • Choucroute: A hearty Alsatian version of sauerkraut packed with savoury meats, usually costing around €8.
  • Tarte flambée: A thin, crispy base topped with a mix of cream, onions, and lardons. You can also choose a version with gruyère or traditional Alsatian Munster cheese. It’s typically served like a pizza, except for the Rue Gutenberg market where it’s served sandwich-style. The prices typically range between €4-5 for the sandwich version and €9-9.50 for a traditional tarte.
  • Bredele: These traditional Alsatian Christmas biscuits come in a variety of shapes and flavours. They’re perfect for nibbling as you stroll or taking home as a sweet souvenir. Price: €4.70 for 100 grams.
  • Beignets: Fluffy, fried doughnuts, often dusted with sugar and filled with jam or chocolate. The ones we saw in Strasbourg were pretzel-shaped and chocolate-coated, costing €5 each.
  • Vin chaud: No visit is complete without sipping on some aromatic mulled wine. It’s the ideal way to keep cosy as you wander through the festive market stalls. For a non-alcoholic alternative, you can also get some spiced apple juice. Price: €3 + €1-2 for the cup deposit.

Which Christmas markets are better: Colmar vs. Strasbourg?

If you’re wondering whether the Strasbourg Christmas markets are worth visiting, I’d say absolutely. The city pulls out all the stops for the festive season, with lights and stalls at every turn. The locals in Strasbourg take immense pride in their traditions and are keen to share their culture with visitors. It’s an experience every Christmas market enthusiast should explore at least once.

However, if I only had one day and had to choose between Colmar and Strasbourg, I’d lean towards Colmar. Strasbourg is stunning, no doubt, but it can get so packed that it starts to eat into the fun. For example, during the light show at Place Kléber, there were too many people squeezed into the square, to the point where it felt a bit risky if there needed to be a quick getaway.

That being said, Strasbourg does its best to ensure everyone’s safety, with checkpoints and armed police on patrol around the Christmas market areas. If you’re bringing along a big bag, be ready to have it checked before you can enter the city centre. And while these security measures are reassuring, walking past police armed to the teeth can certainly put a damper on the festive mood. More than anything, it’s a stark reminder of the reasons behind such tight security, but that’s a conversation for another time.

Will you be travelling around Alsace? Don’t miss my guide to the Colmar Christmas Markets. Also, taking a trip across the border to Switzerland is not as expensive as it may seem! Check out my guide to the Basel Christmas Markets for tips on how to save money on accommodation and transportation, current prices, and more!

Would you like to visit Strasbourg at Christmas? What’s the most festive place you’ve ever been to?

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