Bordeaux or Strasbourg -Which city should you visit?
Finding it tough to pick between Bordeaux or Strasbourg for your next French getaway? Believe me, I completely understand! Both cities bring a unique charisma to the table. Bordeaux, with its globally acclaimed vineyards and stunning neoclassical architecture, and Strasbourg, boasts a fascinating blend of French and German cultures, alongside its noteworthy Gothic cathedral. In this blog post, we’ll compare their attractions, experiences, gastronomies, and all the little details that set them apart. By the end, we hope to nudge you a step closer to your decision.
Bordeaux, often referred to as the “Wine Capital of the World,” is a port city on the Garonne River in southwestern France. It’s known for its Gothic Cathédrale Saint-André, 18th- to 19th-century mansions, and public gardens lining the river’s curving banks. The city’s historic centre, with 347 listed monuments, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007.
Bordeaux had a population of approximately 250,000 people, making it the sixth-largest city in France. The city is the hub of the famed wine-growing region and is home to the world’s main wine fair, Vinexpo. With its pedestrian-friendly layout and vibrant food scene, Bordeaux offers an immersive cultural experience that caters to a wide range of travellers.
Strasbourg, a city that straddles the border of France and Germany, offers an interesting fusion of cultures that’s definitely worth exploring. Its historic centre, known Grande Île, is a UNESCO world heritage site and is filled with beautiful cobblestone streets and half-timbered houses.
But Strasbourg isn’t just about visiting the past. It’s a dynamic city brimming with a unique culture. With plenty of museums, a great art scene and bustling local markets this is a city that caters to most travellers. Plus, the local cuisine is an interesting blend of French sophistication and hearty German food! If you’re looking for a somewhat different destination for your next holiday, Strasbourg should definitely be added to your list!
While we’re comparing Bordeaux and Strasbourg in this post, we’ve also looked at how Bordeaux stacks up against other cities like Lyon and Lille. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!
Pros and Cons of Bordeaux and Strasbourg
- 🍷 Wine Lovers’ Paradise: Bordeaux is globally renowned for its exceptional wines. Touring vineyards and sampling exquisite vintages right at the source is an unmatched experience.
- 🏛 Architectural Splendor: Bordeaux, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, boasts a rich history, displayed through numerous architectural gems.
- 🥐 Gastronomic Delight: The city is a foodie’s heaven, with bustling markets and delightful restaurants showcasing the best of local cuisine.
- ⛴ Riverside Elegance: Strolling or cycling along the scenic Garonne riverfront is a charming way to explore the city.
- 💶 A Touch Expensive: Bordeaux can be pricier than other French cities, particularly during peak tourist seasons.High
- 👫 Tourist Traffic: The city can get quite crowded, especially during the summer and wine harvest season.
- ⛪️ Cultural Melting Pot: Strasbourg, positioned on the France-Germany border, is an intriguing fusion of two distinct cultures.
- 🏛 Historic Allure: The city’s old town, Grande Île, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, filled with charming half-timbered houses and the stunning Strasbourg Cathedral.
- 🎨 Vibrant Arts Scene: Strasbourg brims with an array of museums and a thriving arts scene, appealing to all culture enthusiasts.
- 🥖 Foodie’s Dream: The local cuisine is a delightful blend of French sophistication and hearty German fare.
- 🌧 Weather Variations: Strasbourg experiences colder winters compared to other French cities, which might not appeal to everyone.
- 🛣 Distance: Strasbourg is situated in the eastern corner of France, which might make it less convenient for those planning a multi-city tour across France.
Which City Has Better Food? Bordeaux or Strasbourg?
Bordeaux, nestled in the southwest of France, is an absolute paradise for wine connoisseurs and gastronomy enthusiasts. This city is famous for its wine-infused dishes like ‘Entrecôte à la Bordelaise’ – a succulent steak served with a rich wine and shallot sauce. You should also make sure to try ‘canelés’, a beloved local dessert with a caramelized crust and a tender custardy centre.
On the other hand, Strasbourg, located in northeastern France on the German border, provides a unique culinary blend of French and German influences. The city is known for its hearty dishes like ‘choucroute garnie’, a lavish serving of sauerkraut with sausages and other salted meats. For dessert, indulge in ‘kougelhopf’, a delightful Alsatian cake with dried fruits and nuts, topped with powdered sugar.
So, in essence, if your palate craves gourmet cuisine with a side of world-class wines, Bordeaux might be your ideal destination. However, if you are intrigued by a unique gastronomic fusion and hearty, comfort food, then Strasbourg should be high on your list. Regardless of your choice, don’t forget to savour the distinctive local flavours of each city – you’re in for a memorable culinary journey!
Which City is Better For Couples? Bordeaux or Strasbourg?
Bordeaux: For couples who have a special place in their hearts for fine wine and breathtaking architecture, Bordeaux could be your dream romantic getaway. Famous for its world-class wineries, the city offers plenty of opportunities for intimate wine tastings and vineyard tours.
Picture yourselves walking hand in hand at sunset along the Garonne River or admiring the spectacular water mirror situated opposite the Place de la Bourse. Bordeaux also offers a rich selection of top-notch restaurants, perfect for a romantic candlelit dinner.
Strasbourg: If your romantic fantasy involves fairytale-like timber-framed houses, winding cobblestone streets, and a seamless blend of French and German cultures, Strasbourg should be your top choice. The city’s Petit France district, with its charming old-world allure, makes for an idyllic setting for lovebirds.
Couples who appreciate good food will be thrilled by Strasbourg’s diverse cuisine, which reflects both French sophistication and hearty Alsatian influences. And if you both love nature, a boat ride through the serene canals or a stroll around the stunning Parc de l’Orangerie would be unforgettable.
In a nutshell, each city has its own unique romantic offerings. Bordeaux might sweep you off your feet with its stellar wines, stunning architectural landscape, and gourmet dining, while Strasbourg may capture your hearts with its enchanting old town, culinary diversity, and delightful natural surroundings. It all depends on your personal preferences and what you both envision for your romantic escape.
Which City is Better For Families? Bordeaux or Strasbourg?
Bordeaux: Families will find Bordeaux filled with rich history and engaging activities suitable for kids. The city boasts the world’s largest reflecting pool, Miroir d’eau, an excellent place for kids to cool down on warm summer days. The Cap Sciences museum, with its interactive exhibits, makes learning fun and accessible.
Not to forget the Bordeaux Zoo, a treat for animal-loving children. Plus, navigating the city is straightforward, making it easier for families to explore.
Strasbourg: Strasbourg offers families a perfect blend of historical intrigue and outdoor fun. Parks like Parc de l’Orangerie provide a great location for relaxation and play, while the city’s historic district, Petite France, offers a charming educational journey back in time.
For an extraordinary adventure, the Europa-Park, Germany’s largest theme park just an hour’s drive from the city, promises an amazing family day trip.
So, where should you take your family for the perfect getaway? Bordeaux, with its kid-friendly attractions and easy navigation, or Strasbourg, with its blend of history, outdoor fun, and a thrilling theme park visit? Whichever city you choose, you’re guaranteed a family holiday to remember.
Which City is Better For Partying? Bordeaux or Strasbourg?
Bordeaux: Known for its world-class wine, Bordeaux also boasts a vibrant nightlife scene. From cosy wine bars nestled in alleyways to buzzing clubs, there’s a spot for everyone.
Particularly vibrant is the Saint Pierre district, full of energy and life. There’s even a club on a boat, the I.Boat, for those seeking a unique experience. Additionally, the city’s calendar is packed with music and wine festivals, offering nights filled with flavour and rhythm.
Strasbourg: On the other hand, Strasbourg offers a lively nightlife scene, thanks in part to its large student population. The city is teeming with trendy cocktail bars and vibrant clubs, particularly in the La Krutenau district.
For a unique experience, visit Le Rafiot, a floating nightclub anchored on the Ill River. Strasbourg also hosts various cultural and music festivals throughout the year, adding to its dynamic nightlife.
Whether you prefer the wine-infused evenings and music-filled nights of Bordeaux, or the youthful energy and varied entertainment options in Strasbourg, both cities promise great nightlife. The choice depends on what type of nightlife you’re after.
Which City is Safer? Bordeaux or Strasbourg?
Bordeaux: Generally speaking, Bordeaux is a safe city with lower crime rates than many other major cities. While you may encounter occasional pickpockets in crowded tourist areas, these incidents are more the exception than the rule. Keeping an eye on your belongings and being aware of your surroundings, especially at night, will ensure a safe and worry-free visit.
Strasbourg: Similarly, Strasbourg is a safe city to visit. Some areas might have slightly higher crime rates and pickpocketing in crowded places is not unheard of, but overall, it’s a secure environment. Certain neighbourhoods are lively at night, so exercising caution and following basic safety measures – like keeping valuables secure – is advised.
Overall, both Bordeaux and Strasbourg are safe cities to visit. With their relatively low crime rates and safe atmosphere, the most challenging decision will be choosing which delicious local dish to sample next!
How long to stay in Bordeaux
Figuring out the ideal duration for your stay in Bordeaux can be tricky. As someone who’s been there, I can tell you that the city has enough to keep you occupied for days. However, the optimal length of your stay depends largely on what you want to do and see.
If you’re in Bordeaux primarily for the wine, you’ll want at least a few days. This will allow you to visit several châteaux, take part in wine tastings, and possibly engage in a wine-making workshop. Remember, the Bordeaux wine region is vast, and it’s worth taking the time to explore it thoroughly.
For those interested in the city’s rich history and culture, a two to three-day stay might be sufficient. This should give you enough time to visit major attractions like the Gothic Cathédrale Saint-André, the Musée d’Aquitaine, and the contemporary art installations at CAPC, not to mention leisurely strolls along the Garonne River and through the charming city streets.
However, if you’re like me and enjoy immersing yourself in the local culture, you might want to stay longer. A week in Bordeaux would give you ample time to visit the city’s attractions, dine in its best restaurants, explore the surrounding vineyards, and simply soak up the atmosphere.
How long to stay in Strasbourg
Choosing the ideal duration for a trip to Strasbourg can be a bit of a challenge, given the city’s blend of German and French culture, its rich history, and captivating architecture. The length of your stay ultimately depends on your individual interests and the pace at which you wish to explore.
If your plan is to experience the city’s main attractions, wander through the charming La Petite France district, and taste the region’s mouth-watering dishes like ‘choucroute’ or ‘tarte flambée’, a stay of 2 to 3 days would be ample. This will provide enough time to marvel at the majestic Strasbourg Cathedral, get lost in the quaint, cobblestone streets, and savour the unique gastronomy that Strasbourg offers.
However, if you’re aiming to immerse yourself deeper into Strasbourg’s fascinating history and culture, consider extending your stay to 4 to 5 days. This will afford you the chance to explore the various museums and galleries, such as the Alsatian Museum or the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, visit the European Parliament, and take leisurely strolls along the scenic canals, all at a relaxed pace.
For those wanting to truly absorb the Alsatian lifestyle, spending a week in Strasbourg can be a fantastic option. This duration not only provides enough time to thoroughly explore the city’s nooks and crannies but also allows for relaxing café visits and day trips to nearby gems like the charming town of Colmar or the stunning Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle. A week in Strasbourg enables you to fully appreciate the unique blend of cultures and the relaxed pace of life in this beautiful city.
Which City is More Budget Friendly? Bordeaux or Strasbourg?
Interestingly, even with its renowned wines and historical charm, Bordeaux tends to be more budget-friendly than Strasbourg. You can indulge in delicious cuisine, find affordable accommodations, and enjoy the city’s numerous attractions without stretching your budget. Making smart choices such as dining at local favourites, shopping at traditional markets, and venturing into less touristy areas can keep your expenses in check.
On the other hand, Strasbourg, located near the German border, is a city that boasts a unique blend of cultures and rich history. As you’d expect, the cost of experiencing all this can be slightly higher. It’s not just the exceptional Alsace cuisine or the captivating sights that are appealing, but remember that accommodations and daily expenses can be a bit pricier here, especially during the peak tourist season.
Both cities offer a range of experiences for varying budgets, but your money is likely to stretch further in Bordeaux than in Strasbourg. Therefore, if budget is a significant factor for your trip, Bordeaux might be the more appealing choice.
How much is food and drink in Bordeaux and Strasbourg?
|Glass of wine
|Meal at midrange restaurant
How much is it to stay in Bordeaux or Strasbourg?
When is the best time to visit Bordeaux?
Choosing the perfect time to visit Bordeaux can be as important as deciding what to see and do. The city has a temperate oceanic climate, which means it can be visited at any time of the year, but some seasons offer unique experiences.
Spring (March to May) in Bordeaux is a beautiful time, with moderate temperatures and the vineyards coming alive with new growth. This is a great time to visit if you’re interested in wine, as many châteaux begin to offer tours and tastings for the new season.
Summers (June to August) in Bordeaux are warm and sunny, perfect for exploring the city’s historical sites or enjoying a cruise on the Garonne River. This is also the time for numerous festivals such as the Bordeaux Wine Festival and the River Festival, offering an extra layer of entertainment for visitors.
Autumn (September to November) is grape harvest time, a significant event in any wine region. This season allows visitors to experience the winemaking process firsthand. The weather during this period remains pleasant, and the changing colours of the vine leaves add an extra charm to the city’s surroundings.
Winter (December to February) in Bordeaux is relatively mild, with fewer tourists around. While not the peak season for outdoor activities, it’s the perfect time to explore the city’s museums, enjoy its culinary delights, and perhaps get a chance to attend the Bordeaux Christmas Market.
Weather: The weather in Bordeaux is usually pleasant, with mild temperatures year-round. Summers can get a bit sticky, but winters are mild and rainy. For the best weather, plan your visit during the shoulder season of April to June or September to October.
When is the best time to visit Strasbourg?
Picking the ideal time to visit Strasbourg can be just as critical as choosing what to explore. The city experiences a semi-continental climate, which means it can be visited at any time of the year, but certain seasons bring their own charms.
Spring (March to May) in Strasbourg is a delightful period, with comfortable temperatures and the cityscape coming alive with blooming flowers. This is an excellent time to explore the picturesque streets of Petite France or take a leisurely boat ride along the Ill River.
Summers (June to August) in Strasbourg are warm, ideal for outdoor exploration of the city’s rich historical sites and the stunning Parc de l’Orangerie. This season also coincides with several festivals such as the Strasbourg Summer Festival and the Longevity Music Festival, adding an extra layer of excitement for visitors.
Autumn (September to November) is a special time in Strasbourg, being a part of the Alsace wine region, it marks the period of grape harvest and wine-making. This season allows visitors to witness the wine-making process and taste some of the finest wines. The weather during this period remains pleasant, and the changing hues of the vine leaves creates a stunning backdrop.
Winter (December to February) in Strasbourg is truly enchanting. The city is famed for hosting one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Europe, turning the city into a twinkling fairytale land. While it can be quite cold, the festive spirit and fewer tourists make it a unique time to visit.
Weather: The weather in Strasbourg is typically temperate, with mild summers and chilly winters. For the most comfortable weather, consider planning your visit during the shoulder season of April to June or September to October.
Average Monthly Temperatures
|Bordeaux Rainfall (days)
|Strasbourg Rainfall (days)
|9° / 3°
|5° / -1°
|10° / 3°
|7° / -1°
|13° / 4°
|12° / 2°
|16° / 6°
|16° / 5°
|19° / 9°
|20° / 9°
|23° / 12°
|23° / 13°
|25° / 14°
|26° / 14°
|25° / 14°
|25° / 14°
|22° / 12°
|21° / 10°
|17° / 9°
|15° / 7°
|13° / 5°
|9° / 3°
|10° / 3°
|5° / 0°
Please note that the given data includes the average high and low temperatures in Celsius (°C) and the number of rainfall days per month for Bordeaux and Strasbourg.
Getting around Bordeaux:
The city’s public transportation system consists of trams, buses, and a bike-sharing service. The trams are well-connected and cover most of the city’s major attractions. The tickets allow you to use any form of public transport for a certain period of time, (usually an hour). So if you needed to get one bus and a tram to get somewhere you’d only need one ticket if the journey was less than an hour.
Bike sharing is a good option for people that want to be a bit more active. Bordeaux has a lot of small windy streets so we spent most of the time walking, which I feel is the best way to see a city. Taxis and Ubers are readily available but you might struggle to get one right in the heart of the old town where a lot of it is pedestrianised.
Getting around Strasbourg:
Strasbourg boasts an efficient public transportation system, primarily made up of trams and buses, operated by the Compagnie des Transports Strasbourgeois (CTS). The city’s tram network is one of the most extensive in France, connecting various parts of the city and making it easy to move around.
The ‘Strasbourg à Vélo’ bike-sharing scheme is an excellent option for those preferring a more active way to explore the city. The city is bicycle-friendly with numerous dedicated bike lanes and routes, making it a delight to navigate on two wheels.
Walking is another wonderful way to experience Strasbourg, especially within the Grande Île, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and contains many of the city’s historic attractions.
Taxis and ride-hailing services like Uber are also readily available, but fares may be higher during peak tourist seasons or during rush hours. Be sure to check rates before your journey.”
Top things to do in Bordeaux
- Place de la Bourse: One of the city’s most iconic sights, Place de la Bourse is a must-see. Be sure to check out the ‘Miroir d’Eau’, the world’s largest reflecting pool, located directly across from the square.
- La Cité du Vin: A modern museum dedicated to the world of wine, La Cité du Vin is a unique experience. Learn about the wine production process and enjoy tastings with an amazing view of the city.
- Saint-André Cathedral: This impressive Gothic cathedral offers a stunning view over Bordeaux from its bell tower, Tour Pey-Berland.
- Rue Sainte-Catherine: As one of the longest pedestrian streets in Europe, Rue Sainte-Catherine is perfect for shopping enthusiasts. It’s lined with a variety of shops and restaurants, offering a real taste of Bordeaux’s vibrant culture.
- Bordeaux Riverfront: Take a stroll along the picturesque Garonne River, which offers lovely views of Bordeaux’s historic facades. Consider a river cruise to truly appreciate the city’s beauty.
Top things to do in Strasbourg
- Strasbourg Cathedral: The Strasbourg Cathedral, also known as Notre Dame Cathedral, is a stunning masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its astronomical clock is an engineering marvel that shouldn’t be missed. Climb to the top for panoramic views of Strasbourg and the surrounding region.
- Petite France: This is the city’s most picturesque district, filled with half-timbered houses, quaint canals, and narrow streets. Petite France is a UNESCO World Heritage site and truly is the essence of Strasbourg’s charm.
- European Parliament: Strasbourg is home to the European Parliament, one of the main institutions of the European Union. When in session, you can take a guided tour of the Hemicycle – the parliamentary assembly room.
- Boat Tour: A boat tour on the Ill River is a perfect way to appreciate the city’s mix of French and German architecture, as well as the beautiful nature that surrounds it.
- Parc de l’Orangerie: A visit to this lovely park makes for a relaxing break from sightseeing. Here, you can find a small zoo, a boating lake, and beautifully landscaped gardens.
How to spend three days in Bordeaux
Day 1: Discover the City Centre
Start your Bordeaux adventure in the city centre. Begin at the Place de la Bourse and marvel at its grandeur. Don’t forget to take a memorable picture at the Miroir d’Eau. Continue to Rue Sainte-Catherine for a spot of shopping and lunch. In the afternoon, explore the Gothic Saint-André Cathedral and climb the Tour Pey-Berland for panoramic city views. End your day with a delicious dinner at a restaurant in the historic Saint-Pierre district.
Day 2: Dive into Wine and Culture
Begin your second day at La Cité du Vin. Immerse yourself in the world of wine and enjoy a tasting with a view. After lunch, head to the Musée d’Aquitaine to learn about Bordeaux’s history from prehistoric times to the present. Spend the rest of the afternoon at the CAPC, Bordeaux’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Finish the day with a relaxing dinner at the Chartrons district, known for its wine trading history and trendy eateries.
Day 3: Explore the Outskirts
On your last day, consider exploring beyond the city. Take a half-day tour of the Saint-Émilion wine region, where you can visit vineyards, enjoy tastings, and discover the charming namesake village. Back in Bordeaux, spend the rest of your afternoon strolling along the Garonne River, or explore the Public Garden for a leisurely end to your trip.
How to spend three days in Strasbourg
Day 1: Exploring Strasbourg’s Historic Core
Begin your first day in Strasbourg by visiting the impressive Strasbourg Cathedral. Climb up the tower for a stunning panorama of the city. Once you’ve marvelled at the cathedral’s Gothic splendour, take a leisurely stroll through the charming district of Petite France, with its beautiful half-timbered houses and picturesque canals.
For lunch, savour a local delicacy like Tarte Flambée at one of the traditional Alsatian winstubs (wine lounges) in the area. Spend your afternoon exploring the museums around the city centre such as the Alsatian Museum or the Fine Arts Museum.
As the day draws to a close, enjoy a river cruise on the Ill for a unique perspective on Strasbourg’s beautiful architecture.
Day 2: A Day at the European Institutions
Start your second day with a visit to the European Parliament. Take a guided tour of the Hemicycle and learn about the workings of the EU. From there, head to the nearby European Court of Human Rights and the Council of Europe, which are also part of the European Quarter.
In the afternoon, relax in the Parc de l’Orangerie. Take a peaceful boat ride on the lake, visit the small zoo, or just enjoy a leisurely stroll in the gardens.
Day 3: Exploring the Surrounding Region
On your final day, embark on a day trip to one of the nearby attractions. The Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, about an hour’s drive from Strasbourg, offers stunning views of the Alsace region. Alternatively, the city of Colmar, with its charming old town and the famous Unterlinden Museum, is also worth a visit.
Back in Strasbourg, conclude your visit with a farewell dinner at one of the city’s excellent restaurants, perhaps trying another Alsatian speciality, such as Coq au Riesling or Choucroute Garnie.
Gareth is an avid city adventurer with a particular passion for finding amazing food! There’s quite literally nothing he doesn’t like. He spends most of his travelling time trying to find great restaurants and cafes to eat at. Alongside trying local street food which he loves! He’s done most of his travelling in Europe so far but would love to visit Japan and Mexico
When not travelling you can find Gareth boxing, running, or in the gym. He’s got a passion for exercise and loves physical challenges.
You can contact him at email@example.com