Tips for Visiting the Strasbourg Christmas Market
Strasbourg has proclaimed itself The Capital of Christmas (capitale de Noël), and for good reason. Its Christmas market is the oldest in France and one of the most famous and beautiful ones in Europe, so it is a must-see for any Christmas market aficionado. Visiting the Strasbourg Christmas market has been my dream for a while and I am super happy that this year it has finally come true. The market has been all I expected and more! If you are also planning a trip to the Strasbourg Christmas market, read on to learn more about it and to get my top tips for making your visit a success.
Strasbourg Christmas Market 2022 runs until the 24th of December and is open every day from 11 am to 8 pm. It is spread out across various locations on the Grand Île (which, translated from French, means "the large island") in the centre of Strasbourg. Surrounded by canals, the island houses the old town and is a great place to visit any time of the year, not just for Christmas.
The two bigger points of interest of the Strasbourg Christmas market housing the largest number of stalls are:
Kléber square, where the giant Christmas tree, also knows as Grand Sapin, is located. Do not miss the music/light show when it gets dark, when the tree and the surrounding lights switch on and off to Christmas music.
Cathedral square, as the name implies is the square around Strasbourg cathedral. It flows right into Château square, so in my mind those two make up one location. There are numerous stalls here as well as a carousel for the kids on the Château square.
But there are also lots of smaller squares with stalls that are just as worthy of your attention. If you want to see the full map of locations and stalls, check out the official market website. The ones I went to are Terrace Rohan and Temple Neuf Square.
On top of that, the city, the businesses and the residents have put a lot of effort into decorating the streets and the houses on the Grand Île, so walking around and taking it all in is a delight. Below are some lovely streets and shop windows.
With that in mind, I would highly recommend not to limit your visit to the main squares and to definitely spend time exploring more of the island.
To make your visit as enjoyable as possible, here are my top tips for visiting the Strasbourg Christmas market:
Ditch the car and take the train. For the duration of the market, the Grand Île, where the Christmas market is located, is closed to car traffic. There are some exceptions of course, like for residents, deliveries etc., but predominantly it's a pedestrian-only zone, so you can't rock up in your car and just park in the middle of it all. There are fences and entry checkpoints set up on the canals, so the rule is enforced. Of course, you can park further away and use the park and ride facilities to get to your final destination by tram, but given how busy the roads around Strasbourg can get, I would recommend arriving by train. The train station is in the centre of the city and you can easily walk to the Christmas market from there.
Leave plenty of time for your visit. I planned four hours, and it really wasn't enough to see everything, so I'm gearing up for a second go. Since the market is spread out across various squares on the Grand Île, there is going to be a lot of sightseeing involved if you want to take it all in. And you will probably want to take some indoor breaks too to relax and warm up a bit. That will not be a problem, as there is a multitude of fine patisseries with delicious-looking cakes in the shop windows.
Wear comfortable walking shoes. Seeing as Strasbourg Christmas market is so much more than just a few stalls on one square, you will have a lot of ground to cover on foot. So I would definitely go for comfort over style here and flats over heels.
Speaking of walking around outside, dress extra warm. I am thinking the thickest hat you have, many layers, woolly tights underneath your jeans, that kind of warm. Don't make the poor judgment of underestimating the weather, because when you are outside this much in December, the mulled wine can only do so much to keep you warm and cosy. You are looking at single digit Celsius temperatures here, most likely 5C and under, or even below zero, so come prepared.
The darker is gets, the prettier it becomes with all the Christmas lights, but also the thicker the crowds get. Be prepared to be faced with A LOT of visitors, especially in the key areas, like by the Christmas tree on Kléber square or right by the cathedral, but really there will be a lot of people everywhere. I guess that's to be expected given that over 2 million people come to see the Strasbourg Christmas market. With that many people around, be extra careful with your belongings and make sure that your valuables are safely stored away and not easily accessible to pickpockets. Just look at how full Cathedral square got:
Hopefully, this post has given you an idea of what to expect from Strasbourg Christmas market and how to best prepare for your visit. I hope you have a lovely time there and love the market as much as I did!