Day trips from Strasbourg, France give you the opportunity to explore the beautiful Alsace region. Even better is the train system that makes it wonderfully convenient to hop all over the area. So, grab your camera, buy your tickets, and enjoy these scenic day trips from Strasbourg.
Strasbourg: The Ideal Home Base
My home base while I was visiting the Alsace area of France, my home base was Strasbourg. The city is rich with historic spots and quaint nooks and crannies. I spent several days exploring the sites, then just wandering the streets and shopping in the grocery stores trying out interesting little cafes. Check out the Best Things To Do in Strasbourg France if you are looking to put together your own itinerary.
One of the big benefits of this home base is that Strasbourg Train Station is fairly easy walking distance from the historic center and a lot of the hotels in the area. This made it especially easy to get ready in the morning, walk 15 minutes, and be on the train and off to whatever day trip I had planned.
So, here, I’ll share with you my favorite day trips from Strasbourg, and the info you need to plan one yourself!
2 Easy Day Trips from Strasbourg by Train:
The following two towns are perfect to visit from Strasbourg because both offer beautiful, historic town centers. These town centers are easily reached with direct trains from the Strasbourg Train Station.
Day Trips from Strasbourg: Colmar
Colmar’s Long History
The first of my day trips from Strasbourg, France was to the city of Colmar. Part of the reason is Colmar’s history. While no one is certain when exactly Colmar was first founded, the first recorded mention of it is attributed to Louis the Pious in a land transaction in 823AD. Over a millenia of history means that Colmar has landmarks from nearly every major age of art and architecture. The list of important figures from history that have resided in or visited Strasbourg is extensive. It includes such names as Louis the Pious, Pope Gregory, Emperor Frederick II, Voltaire, Charles X, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Bartholdi of Statue of Liberty fame.
Why to visit
While, yes, I love the history, what Colmar is probably best known for is the postcard perfect views around seemingly every corner. By the end of my visit, I really was a bit like, “Yeah, yeah, scenic half-timbered house with waterfalls of flowers along the canal. Yep, that’s everywhere.” It’s really a pretty great problem to have. You will burn out your camera. If you are using your phone to take pictures (like I did), honestly, take a portable charger.
There is a large pedestrian section of Colmar’s historic area, and a lot of quaint little specialty shops. The covered market was also one of my favorites during my time in France. While not huge, it offered a diverse selection of foods. This included several with dine-in options. A great way to take a rest during your day trip!
I was also fascinated by the history of Auguste Bartholdi in Colmar. I knew very little about the background and other works of the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty. Colmar, however, provides both a museum housed in his former residence, and also other pieces of his work throughout the town.
Check out how to spend a Colmar Day Trip Here!
Main Sites and Attractions
There is a lot packed into a small area in Colmar. From the visitor’s center, you can walk all over the historic area. Here is my list of favorite things to see:
- Pfister House – A famous landmark of Colmar, this house was built in 1537 with medieval design, and then decorated with Renaissance style paintings on the façade.
- Adolph House – Just around the corner from the Pfister House, the discovery that this may be the oldest building in Colmar was only made in the 19th century when the Gothic windows were uncovered.
- Former Guard House – Beside the Adolph House, this building became a guard house in 1575. There are beautiful Renaissance elements at the entrance.
- Tanner’s District – The 17th & 18th century half-timbered houses of this district were meticulously restored and are incredibly picturesque.
- “Koïfhus” former Custom’s House – The oldest local public building in the city, this building has been restored beautifully.
- Covered Market – I love, love, LOVE food markets. Especially the ones in Europe. This one is very well stocked and has several stands with seating to eat on site. Definitely worth a stop. Also a Bartholdi statue is on the exterior south-west corner.
- Little Venice – In this small area of Colmar, the buildings line the canal just like the famous Italian city. In peak season you may have to elbow other tourists out of the way to get a photo!
- Bruat Fountain – This Bartholdi fountain was destroyed by the Nazis but rebuilt after the war.
- Parc du Champ de Mars – The Park holds the Bruat fountain and is a lovely shady spot on a hot day. It’s also conveniently located between the train station and the visitor’s center.
- Statue of Liberty – 3.7km north of the Visitor’s Center, this is definitely out of the way. (Reachable by #7 bus.) But it’s also a pretty surreal thing to see another Statue of Liberty by Bartholdi right in the center of a traffic circle!
How to Day Trip from Strasbourg to Colmar by Train:
Roughly every 30 minutes a TGV train travels from Strasbourg train station to Colmar, and the cost varies between $15-$23 for a ticket. The trip takes only about 30 minutes between the two cities, and requires no changing of trains. I was traveling in May and had no problem just showing up to the station and buying a ticket on the next train. This meant I could decide to go home when I felt ready.
My advice is, once you arrive at the train station, take the #7 bus from the train station to Colmar Theatre. Just behind the theatre is the Colmar visitor’s center, which makes an excellent place to pick up a map and get started.
Day Trips from Strasbourg: Nancy
Nancy: A center of history and intrigue
A fortified town has existed in roughly this location since 1050AD. Nancy has been a key location in European history throughout the centuries. In medieval times the Battle of Nancy saw the defeat of Duke Charles of Burgundy and installation of René II, Duke of Lorraine, as ruler. From 1736 through 1766, under the Duchy of Lorraine, Stanslaus Lesczynski, Nancy developed impressive Baroque architecture and culture. The Place Stanislas was constructed in this time period. During the time of the French Revolution, the Nancy affair, a mutiny within the French military, occurred in this city. During WWII, Nancy was occupied by Nazi Germany, and liberated in September 1944 at the Battle of Nancy.
Why to visit
What I liked best about visiting Nancy, was that with one self-developed walking tour, I was able to explore the Medieval old town area and the Baroque neighborhood mostly developed under Charles III. With a little poking around I found my way to the hidden garden atop Porte de la Citadelle, and a short stroll from there took me the more formal gardens, Parc de la Pepiniere. In the Charles III area of Nancy there are beautiful churches, shopping areas, and even a covered market to grab a treat for now or later. All that aside from Place Stanislas which is nearly worth the trip by itself.
Main Sites and Attractions
- Place Stanislas – I’ve seen quite a few beautiful European squares in my travels, so I wasn’t expecting to be as touched by the beauty of Place Stanslas as I was. Completely worth seeing, and I would take the day trip from Strasbourg again just to sit in the Place and have a leisurely coffee.
- Porte de la Craffe – This is the oldest fortification in the city. Be sure to walk through it as the brick interior with the entrances coming together is very pretty.
- Porte de la Citadelle & its secret garden – This 17th century gate has a special addition: entered off Rue Sellier, an inconspicuous set of steps lead to a quite little garden over the gate.
- Parc de la Pépiniére – A park initially began as a nursery to grow trees to line the streets. Today there are a number of attractions within, the rose garden with peacocks was a favorite stop of mine.
- Credit Lyonnais – If you can duck inside the bank for a few minutes, the art nouveau stained glass ceiling is stunning.
- Cathédrale – The Cathedrale on Rue Saint Georges seems more simple than many of the big European churches, but the vast, echoing interior is striking. Definitely walk to the front and look back (and up) at the organ which is a monument in its own right.
- Marché Couvert – I love covered markets, I keep saying it! I stopped in here to pick up a couple of treats to augment my in-room dinner that night.
- Brasserie Excelsior – this restaurant is a gorgeous work of Art Nouveau, and a historic monument of its own. It is also right across from the train station, so makes a great first or last stop in Nancy.
How to Day Trip from Strasbourg to Nancy by Train
The direct train from Strasbourg to Nancy takes approximately an hour and a half. The cost is between $25 and $40 depending on what time you choose to travel. There are a number of trains throughout the day, and at high travel times they depart about once per hour in each direction. This gives you a lot of flexibility when planning your day.
If you want to see times and prices of for any of the train travel, I recommend checking out Rome2Rio.
Interested in more posts about the Strasbourg area:
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