When we decided to take a small Eurotrip through Germany and France, we knew that we had to visit Colmar, the prettiest town in Alsace. After a lot of researching and the challenge of fitting so much in so few days, I came up with the ultimate list of things to do in Colmar. This is valid for spending one day in Colmar, or a few more days as well.
It’s true, I’ve been wanting to get to Colmar for ages, especially since it has one of the prettiest Christmas Markets in all Europe and one of the most beautiful towns in France. As a result, I had to include it in our Germany Romantic road itinerary. Yes, you are right, this has now become a Germany and France road trip.
But that is not so far from being a “Germany road trip” since Colmar and the region has been part of Germany throughout time, and it is only after the WWII that is has been a permanent part of France.
And you can see that when traveling through Alsace, you really cannot tell that much when you’ve crossed the border between Germany and France. That’s because architecture and also the names of towns are so similar.
But Colmar is so unique, picturesque, colorful buildings settle between water canals, that it should not be missed.
Getting to Colmar
Since for our trip we have rented a car from Munich, we drove to Colmar from Strasbourg where we had spent one night exploring the pretty town and (especially) La Petite France.
Colmar makes for one of the best day trips from Strasbourg. It is so easy to drive or take the train from Strasbourg to Colmar, and you will get there in less than an hour.
If, however, you are planning your trip from Paris you should know that there are high-speed trains that will get you to Colmar in 2.5 hours.
Other places from where you can visit Colmar easily by train, bus or car: Basel, Zurich, Stuttgart, Luxembourg, Freiburg.
Getting to Colmar by plane? The nearest airport to Colmar is the Basel airport, located 54.8 km away, shortly followed by the airport in Strasbourg, located 55.6 km away. From there, you can always take the train.
The most romantic things to do in Colmar, France
Let’s start by saying that the drive itself is amazing, offering incredible picturesque views over the French hills.
Leaving behind Strasbourg and making our way to Colmar, there were plenty of citadels perched on hilltops, villages at the hill’s feet, countless vineyards as far as the eye could see.
The plan was to park the car in the first parking space close to the village’s old town part and start wandering aimlessly as we often do.
And that’s pretty much what we did.
Walk the colorful alleys in the Old Town and take as many pictures as you wish
Allow yourself to get lost! The old town is not so big, and nothing bad will happen.
As a matter of fact, in Colmar, we encountered some of the nicest people. They even waited for us to take that perfect picture and smiled while doing so.
That’s how you will find some of the most romantic pretty streets and corners of this small village. Some of the most colorful buildings you’ve ever seen will charm you and will make you wanting more.
There’s no wonder why this place is such an Instagram popular location!
See the Quai de la Poissonerie
Little Venice and the Fisherman’s Village are maybe one of the most popular things to see in Colmar and once you’ll get there you will understand why.
Most of the pictures taken in this place are from here. This narrow street along the river. The name is linked to the fact that this place is where most of the professional fishermen and boatmen of Colmar lived.
In 1706 a huge fire destroyed more than forty houses in the district, but luckily they were restored later on and can now be admired by millions of visitors every year.
I don’t exaggerate when I say it will be almost impossible to take a picture on your own on this street, especially in August when we visited.
Take a boat trip in “Little Venice”
The “Little Venice” is the Lauch river passing the Alsacia’s pretty village.
This district starts behind the Koïfhus, goes through the fishmonger’s district and to the bridges Turenne and Saint-Pierre.
You can easily take a boat trip on the river because admiring a new town from a boat is always a great idea. If however you don’t have the time or don’t want to wait in line for long, sipping a glass of good wine from the region on one of the terraces on the river banks is always a great option.
Wine tasting and vineyards
One of the first things that come to mind when thinking about France is, of course, wine. At least that’s how I am!
For that reason, one thing you must promise to do is try out the local Crémant D’Alsace. “Crémant” is the French term for traditional-method sparkling wines made outside Champagne.
Champagne is mostly made from Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay under strict guidelines. Most Crémant d’Alsace is made from sprightly, crisp Pinot Blanc, even though Auxerrois, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes are allowed.
We couldn’t have left Colmar without drinking a glass (or two) of this delicious wine.
Right in the heart of the city, is where you’ll find plenty of local wine options. And you can drink your glass together with locals or tourists alike while admiring the colorful surroundings.
Another great experience to have when you visit Colmar for more than just one day is to explore the Alsace Wine Route.
Rent a bike or take your car along the Wine Route starting out from Marlenheim, passing through the Cleebourg vineyards and ending your journey in Thann. The region produces no less than fifty-one local wines.
Taste some local food and sweets
When it comes to visiting France, they usually say you should never go without tasting the incredible local cuisine.
I must admit I’m not fully with that, because I don’t really like French food unless we are talking about sweets and cheese. Another thing which left me wanting to return to Germany was the coffee you find in France.
Unlike many places that you wouldn’t expect to have such a rich coffee culture and delicious coffee options (such as Romania, Hong Kong, Korea, or Vietnam), the coffee I had in France was incredibly bad.
But moving forward, one of the things to do in Colmar is a brunch or lunch at L’atelier de Yann. We are guilty of stopping here twice during our one day in Colmar.
Yes, twice! And I couldn’t leave without taking home a box of the most incredible biscuits I’ve ever had in my life!
Take a ride on the tourist train
If you want to sit back, relax, and learn new things about the pretty Alsacian village and its history, taking a scenic train ride is just the perfect way of doing so.
Visit the Covered Market in Colmar
We passed by it by chance since it is really close to the most popular area in town and decided to take a look.
I know I’ve said I don’t like French food (don’t throw tomatoes at me!), but one of the things I love more in the world is cheese. And the type of dried sausage they have there.
And the Covered Market is the place where you will find all of these. Tens if not hundreds of types of cheese as far as the eye can see, many traditional dishes, vegetables, fruit, and so much more.
Visit one of the many museums
The Unterlinden Museum located in the 13th-century convent, the Hansi Village museum where you will discover the city of Colmar in the lifetime of the famous artist, Jean-Jacques Waltz.
Go for Christmas Market
The Christmas Market in Colmar might just be one of the most beautiful Christmas Markets in the world. Or at least one of the most photogenic and photographed.
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The colorful buildings become even more colorful, and the never-ending stalls with mulled wine and gingerbread lure you to try as much as you can.
If you want to experience this wonderful time of the year in the village in Alsace, plan your trip between the end of November and the end of December.
Buy lovely French souvenirs
The first shop we set foot in was an amazing place filled with all kinds of natural beauty products. I just could not help but buy a few natural ingredients soaps to bring home.
The hardest decision was which one to take because all of them smelled so good and were so beautifully wrapped. They also have lots of moisturizing with donkey milk, honey, lavender, and so much more.
Moving forward you can always come back home with some incredible local wine, handmade wooden little things, or cheese.
Explore the town nearby
As you might imagine, Colmar is not the only beautiful village in Alsace, it is maybe just the most popular of them. There are plenty more options to explore when you have more time to spend in the area.
Riquewihr, Eguisheim, Mulhouse, Obernai, Mont Sainte-Odile are only a few places you can blend into a week in Alsace itinerary.
When to visit Colmar
If you don’t like the cold and the Christmas Market is not top of your list, I would suggest visiting the region during Spring or Autumn.
However, maybe you would want to reconsider and get over the cold and go to Colmar in December because there’s no other place in the world so lovely as this place during the Christmas Market season (late November to late December).
This being said, this is when the town with less than 70.000 inhabitants will see most of the tourists flooding its narrow cobbler stone streets. However, I think it is totally worth it for such an amazing one in a lifetime experience. This coming from a Grinch.
I’ve been there in August and apart from the fact that it was pretty hot, the city was packed with tourists. Another thing to have in mind when planning your trip and taking August into consideration is that this is the month when French people go on vacation as well.
That means that some shops and restaurants might be closed in August. Particularly in Strasbourg, we saw so many closed shops. I guess they don’t really care that August is a big tourist month for their location as well.
Where to stay in Colmar
Since the town is so small and torn from a fairytale, it would be a pity not to spend at least one night here and not stay in one of the old houses.
I’m sorry we did not have the time for this, but when I will go back I will surely take so much more time to explore this region and stay in the beautiful old town of Colmar.
But since you now know better, here are a few accommodation options to have in mind when planning your Colmar itinerary.
Colmarappart Rue Des Clefs– simple, modern, airy apartments in the heart of Colmar.
Novotel Suites Colmar Centre – mix the comfort of a stay at a chain hotel with the authenticity of the area.
Hotel Le Marechal – Les Collectionneurs – it can’t get more authentic than this! This is such an elegant accommodation so close to anything.
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