We read in a tourist guide that a good way to get oriented in Strasbourg was to take the river boat tour of the city. We parked for free at Place d'Etoile and took the trolley into town. We followed signs to the Cathedral and then walked down the street beside the cathedral (past all the tourist shops) to the river.
The boat tours run all day and have recorded commentaries in many different languages so pick your language and hop on.
You will spend the next hour seeing Strasbourg from the water and when you disembark, you'll have an excellent idea of what you want to see and how to get there. It's a great introduction to the city.
Update: Place d'Etoile is now Parc d'Etoile and there is no longer free parking. So sad . . . We found street parking but other than that, you will have to pay in a parking lot.
There are now two tours, (1) Strasbourg, over 20 centuries of history and (2) Strasbourg, Grande île and #2 is the shorter tour going only around the central island. If you want to see the EU Parliament buildings and more of the city and river, take the first tour. It's longer but you see a lot more and you get the entire #2 tour within it so you won't miss anything. If you check the web site, you can download a brochure in your own language.
After lunch we headed to the river and got on one of the boat rides offered by Batorama. In nice weather the boats are uncovered, in not so nice weather they have a cover on them so they can still run. Try to get a seat on the outside of the boat, we were among the last people to board and were on the inside of the boat, many of my photos have the tops of heads in them.
The boat has commentary delivered on a pre recorded audio tape with a headset so you don't have to listen in multiple languages. The most popular trip lasts for 70 minutes, it starts near the cathedral, passes by the half timbered houses in Petite France, the Imperial District, up to the modern part of the city in the European district and back to the cathedral. On a nice day, this is an absolute must do!
Included on the Strasbourg Pass, you must exchange the coupon for a ticket and there were restrictions on what time you can go with the pass, not between 2-4pm. Fortunately we got there right before 2pm. If you go without the pass, it's currently 9.60€.
Strasbourg is most easily explored on foot, and the historic city center can easily be explored- to be able to cover more ground, you should consider hiring a bike or using the public transport network, we walk all the time is our easiest way by doing it
The Batorama is the name of the Boat trip along the River Ill. We just walked a short way from Cathedral Place to the River, where we bought our tickets for the next tour. Tours are 70 mins long and run every half hour, we were just unlucky to have a large school group infront of us that filled the Boat.
The tour took us past the famous Petite France and tanners’ quarter, under the Covered Bridges and the Vauban dam, the Neustadt imperial quarter, and the European Parliament. We passed through a lock both ways, so that might be a new experience for you!
What I liked, were the true stories told that I never would have known about, it was really interesting.
As it was a wet day, the boat was covered in with glass. If fine weather, the boats are uncovered, much better for photo's.
Everybody on the boat has an individual headphone available in 12 languages, with a children’s commentary available in 4 languages.
Both of us enjoyed the tour, always good to see the sights from the water!
- April to October: every half-hour between 9.30 a.m. and 9.00 p.m.
- May to September : additional departures at 9.30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
- During the other periods: at least at 10.30 a.m., 1.00 p.m., 2.30 p.m. and 4.00 p.m.
Full price: 9,60 € - Reduced price: 5,20 € (for children 3-18 years and students 25 years).
On the advice of VTer beausoleil, I took a ride on the Batorama to get my bearings and to work out just what sights required a closer look and to discard those that didn't appeal to me.
The cruise takes a little over one hour and is well worth the 8 Euro fare. I went in a glass covered vessel but I believe you can also opt for an open top boat. I especially liked going through the locks as I had never experienced this before. The boat goes through a canal which is a very tight fit and the lock gates raise it more than one meter to the upper level. It takes 5 minutes for enough water to be release to raise the boat. It's interesting to watch the water level rise under the boat by seeing how different markings on the concrete wall beside the boat disappear under the water. It's all done in reverse on the way back but the process is much quicker. There is a choice of audio narratives in several different languages which are very informative.
The River Ill winds its way around the old city of Strasbourg. So a great way to see and learn all about this city is to take a boat ride around it. Boat tours can be just for sightseeing, or for romantic dinners.
From spring to autumn, especially when the weather is fine, you can take a mini-cruise on the Ill and discover another part of the old city, enclosed between the arms of the river.
And not only the old town but the cruises will cross the bridge linking the european parliament buildings too.
Starting either from the embarcadère du Palais Rohan, or from the Quai des Pêcheurs, it lasts 1h15 if you take only the commented visit, the double if you chose to have a lunch on board.
Just south of the Old Town is the Musee Historique with an old sign and the Pont du Corbeau over the River Ill. There are tour boats and swans on the river while across the river are fine modern condominiums. Further on South is Petite France with the Covered Bridges.
A river cruise around the heart of Strasbourg with BATORAMA is without doubt one of the best ways to see Strasbourg, weaving through the heart of the city which is registered in the list of the UNESCO World HERITAGE CENTER. You past so many of its most famous attractions : Middle Age Petite France, German Quarter, European Sites with the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, The European Court of Human Rights..... See and experience the sights and splendour of this great city from the relaxed comfort of a BATORAMA modern, all-weather boats: covered (hair-conditionned) or uncovered boats, 11 languages (english, french, german, italien, dutch, russian, japonese, chinese, spanish...) for adults and 4 specials commentaries for childen (english, french, germain, italien) available.
Open 365 days a year.
And at night, do not forget to board in Batorama Lounge Boat.
As in Amsterdam, an interesting rainy day activity in Strasbourg is to take a boat trip around the city.
I call it a rainy day activity because when the weather is nice you will obviously prefer to be out cycling rather than just sitting in a boat.
The boats leave from the Palais Rohan just below the Cathedral. Tickets cost EUR 7.00 for adults, and you get a ticket for a particular boat leaving at a particular time. Mine was called the Blue Cloud (Nuèe Blue) and left at 16:30 in the afternoon.
Second photo: It hadn't started to rain yet when we went past the opera house.
Third photo: Dark clouds gathering over the European Parliament and our tour boat.
The boat trip in Strasbourg is mandatory for any tourist. From the boats which circle arround the Ill River you can admire the Alsacian buildings lined up along the river, Ponts-Couverts and the watchtowers.
You can visit also the modern district by tour boats, where you can see the European Parliament Building, the city Theater, Place de la Republique, The Palace of Justice and some government buildings.
I remember having done the boat tour 3 times with friends and family visiting me there, and it was great each time! At night or during the day, you are always inside, the covered boat offers you a nice tour and you can enjoy the city and the European Parlement in an hour tour with explanation in french, german and english! Nice to do while cold winter!
The best way to explore Strasbourg is a boat tour. The boats depart from the quai near the cathedral and take a tour around the island on which the old town is located.
You pass some of the most important sights, such as Chateau du Rohan, St. Thomas church, Petite France, Ponts Couverts, the European quarter. A special experience are the two passages of the locks.
Very relaxing, comments in French, English and German. A bargain for 8 Euro for 90 minutes!
This boat tour is the most comprehensive boat tour that I have every been on in my life. For tour hours or so, the pack your mind full of interesting facts and take you to gorgeous scenes of the past and present. On your way you go through historic lochs and channels just as invading and defending armies once did.
An interesting way to see the city and its historical and important buildings. Can get very hot in the summer as there is no roof. Come prepared with a hat!