I’ve never encountered a French town as colorful, charming, and reminiscent of Germany as Colmar. Nestled in France’s Grand Est region, it proudly holds the title of the capital of the Alsatian Wine Route. With its enchanting half-timbered houses, nearby castles, and of course, its wines, Colmar undeniably ranks among the most romantic adorable towns in France.
If you’ve explored Strasbourg and reveled in its Old Town’s beauty, you might wonder if a visit to Colmar is necessary, as they offer a similar aesthetic experience. Colmar, with its lower levels of crowding, promises a more enchanting and intimate experience, perfect for those seeking a truly magical moment during their travels.
In this post, I’ll unveil the treasures I’ve unearthed in Colmar, each a testament to its unique charm, and perhaps, the very reasons that will inspire your visit to this remarkable town.
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If you’ve explored German towns like Nuremberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bamberg, or the quaint locales in the Black Forest, Franconia, and Lower Bavaria, the fairytale streets of Colmar might feel familiar. Why? Despite being a French town, Colmar’s close proximity to Germany and its history have shaped it to mirror these German towns closely.
Did you know? Colmar have been under German rule twice: first from 1871 to 1919 and then during World War II. These historical periods have profoundly influenced the town, resulting in a fascinating fusion of French and German architecture, cuisine, and traditions. Even Voltaire, who resided here from 1753 to 1754, aptly described the city as half-German and half-French.
Colmar’s unique blend of French and German culture is evident in its language and architecture. While French is the official language, you may also hear some residents speaking Alsatian, a dialect influenced by both French and German.
As for the architecture, Colmar showcases a style that’s typical of both German and French traditions. This style is characterized by buildings with a wooden framework filled with masonry or plaster. Absolutely, this fusion of cultures gives Colmar its distinctive charm.
Should You Visit Colmar?
For those seeking new and unique experiences, Colmar is a must-visit destination. Especially if you’re fascinated by the harmonious blend of French and German cultures, you’ll find Colmar’s eye-pleasing street architecture and delectable cuisine something to explore and try.
Even though Colmar is now considered a city, its quaint country atmosphere still lingers along its streets. You’ll surely notice it as you walk through the old town.
That said, I think Colmar is an ideal getaway for those in search of a retreat. Surrounded by beauty, surely, they could uplift their spirits in Colmar. The medieval charm of the Alsace Region in Colmar offers a fantastic throwback experience, allowing you to leave your worries behind.
And yes – people seeking beauty: you’ll find something photo-worthy everywhere you look in the old town. It’s not just the half-timbered houses that are charming; there are also lovely fountains, courtyards, and canals to explore.
Traveling shouldn’t only be about taking pictures, right? As travelers, we want to get something valuable out of our trip. Either it’s a memorable moment or a new discovery/learning. Well, Colmar has some to offer! The city has museums to let you discover their culture, romantic canals to give you a Venice-like experience, and more.
If you’re a couple traveling in Europe, the picturesque old town of Colmar could be the perfect setting for a romantic date. During your visit to Colmar, the vibrant half-timbered houses, ancient churches steeped in history, and insightful museums will ensure that you have a delightful and thoroughly entertaining experience on that special trip you’ve been dreaming of together.
If you think Colmar can be your worthwhile destination, this is the sign that you should! We will discuss more details in the following sections.
Here’s the link where you can find the best hotel deals in Colmar.
10 Beautiful Things to Do and See in Colmar
The main attraction in Colmar is its old town (or Vieux Colmar). Charming and time-transporting, it’s definitely the primary reason to visit Colmar. I personally find Old Town Colmar as a place where we can escape our stressful work, tiresome worries, and other negative thoughts.
With its medieval fairytale flair, it’s easy to spark our imagination and transport ourselves to a different time and place. Like watching a movie, visiting Colmar is enough to make me forget about all the bad things occupying my mind. But unlike watching a movie, traveling in Colmar is a more immersive and rewarding experience, leaving me feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
While feeling emotionally and mentally better is just the beginning of the many wonderful benefits of visiting Colmar, this romantic getaway and escape can also be a source of creative inspiration.
Did you know that Alsace, and specifically Colmar, is an inspiration for creatives all over the world One person inspired by Colmar was in Japan. His name is Hayao Miyazaki, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli. The Traveling Castle, his film, clearly depicts the charming Alsatian architecture.
Colmar has many more benefits to offer, as summarized below:
- Colmar’s architectural heritage (See awe-inspiring and picture-perfect views in the city)
- Colmar’s Little Venice (Make some unforgettable moments)
- Historical museums in Colmar (Tap into fascinating Alsatian history, art, and culture)
- Fun museums in Colmar (Let the whole family enjoy)
- Light effects during the night in Colmar (Witness the spectacular medieval town turn futuristic)
- Colmar’s spectacular events and festivals (Experience the culture at its peak)
- Wines and vineyards in Colmar (Discover what Alsace is known for)
- Castles around Colmar (Complete your dream fantasy experience)
- Scenic Trails from Colmar (Behold some breathtaking views and fall in love with the countryside)
- The Nautical Base Colmar (Relaxation after everything)
Trivia! Colmar is so beautiful that it has been replicated in other parts of the world, such as Malaysia. You can find a replica of this charming town in the hills near Kuala Lumpur, which also includes a copy of a French castle. We will discuss the replica in more detail later. See all the best things to do in Colmar here (guides and tours).
1. Architectural Heritage
With its abundance of charming half-timbered edifices reflecting the Renaissance era, it’s undeniable that Colmar possesses an extraordinary architectural legacy. This is, without a doubt, the primary reason to visit Colmar.
Vieux Colmar consistently mesmerizes its visitors, more so on a clear, sunny day. The residences in Colmar, adorned in delicate pastel shades, explode into dazzling colors when kissed by sunlight. The views are so awe-striking that they inspire you to immortalize them in photographs.
They aren’t just the houses, though. The architectural beauty extends from the humble abodes of fishermen to age-old churches. As you meander through the town, you’ll encounter charming fountains and bridges adorned with flowers – perfect spots for a memorable selfie.
Among the charming structures in Colmar, three stand out as must-sees: the Pfister House, the House of Heads, and Koïfhus. But don’t miss the opportunity to admire the vibrant houses of the fishermen situated along the banks of the La Lauch River. Equally captivating are the grand houses with their pristine white facades in the Tanneurs district.
If there’s talk of a charming corner house in Colmar, it must be the Pfister House. This structure hails from the Renaissance period and features murals gracing the walls of its top floor. Situated just a stone’s throw away from Saint Martin’s Church, it’s not hard to locate.
Another stunning edifice is the House of Heads, which also dates back to the Renaissance. Its unique name comes from the 106 grotesque masks that decorate its facade. It could be an amusing game to try and locate and count all 106 heads when you’re in front of this building.
Last but not least is Koïfhus, another Renaissance building that captivates with its enchanting tile roof, designed to resemble a pineapple’s skin. Koïfhus is conveniently located along Grand Rue, just a few steps south of Église Saint-Matthieu.
2. Little Venice
Like many towns, rivers have played a crucial role in the growth and prosperity of communities in Colmar. However, the river here serves a broader purpose today than it did in the past. It has become a place where travelers can create some of their most cherished memories in Colmar.
The river is known as La Lauch, but it’s often referred to as Little Venice due to the similar experiences it offers.
Undoubtedly, Little Venice is another compelling reason to visit Colmar.
It’s the ideal spot for celebrations or for making memories that you’ll cherish forever. However, visiting Little Venice in Colmar doesn’t require a special occasion or companionship. Exploring alone can be just as enjoyable. The stunning sight of the pastel-colored half-timbered houses might just provide the peaceful escape you’ve been longing for!
Little Venice will undoubtedly fill your camera with stunning photos, especially during Colmar’s spring season. This is the time when flowers beautify the river railings and the quaint half-timbered houses that surround them. The idyllic scenery can make you leave all your concerns and anxieties behind.
But if you ask me, experiencing Colmar and its Little Venice with a loved one can make the visit even more worthwhile. After all, isn’t it wonderful to discuss life’s beautiful aspects while appreciating the romantic scenes everywhere?
You can enjoy these moments either on a gondola or at the riverside restaurants. However, you don’t need to spend money or purchase a meal to experience the magic I’m talking about. Little Venice offers numerous spots that provide opportunities for these memorable experiences, and the best part is, they’re absolutely free.
3. Historical Museums
Although Colmar isn’t as large as cities like Paris or Lyon with an abundance of new attractions, it doesn’t imply that there’s a shortage of unique things to explore in Colmar. Most of these treasures are tucked away in the town’s historical museums. There are three notable museums in Colmar that feature intriguing exhibits: firstly, the Unterlinden Museum, followed by the Bartholdi and Hansi Museums.
Tip: Opt for a Colmar Pass to gain access to all the museums in town, along with a boat ride and a journey on the little green tourist train.
Similar to key French cities, Colmar features ancient structures that have been transformed for modern use. Just as Paris is known for the Louvre, Colmar is recognized for Unterlinden. This historical museum is a significant attraction that makes a visit to Colmar worthwhile.
The Unterlinden Museum, which was a Dominican convent in the 13th century, currently houses an array of Upper Rhenish Renaissance and medieval art. Its most distinguished piece is the Isenheim Altarpiece, a grand early-16th century work by renowned German Renaissance artist Matthias Grünewald, prominently displaying a poignant image of Jesus crucified.
The Isenheim Altarpiece features an image of Jesus on the cross, his body riddled with skin ailments. This representation of Jesus conveys to the patients that He comprehends their pain, reflecting the monastery’s purpose of comforting and assisting individuals suffering from skin diseases.
The Unterlinden Museum is also architecturally impressive, with its roof echoing the design of Koïfhus. The museum-monastery’s cloister is a perfect spot for Instagram photos, especially on a bright day when the strong sunlight streams through the arches, creating a striking effect on the pathway.
Conversely, the Bartholdi Museum is home to a collection of artworks by the renowned sculptor Auguste Bartholdi. He is the creative genius behind the iconic Statue of Liberty, a symbol that has been replicated and displayed in various countries. Interestingly, the museum was once Bartholdi’s residence.
Last but certainly not least among the three museums is the Hansi Museum. This museum is dedicated to the French hero Jean-Jacques Waltz, more commonly known as Oncle Hansi. Not only a hero, but he was also an artist, and his museum houses his artworks. His masterpieces offer a glimpse into Alsatian cultural heritage.
4. Fun Museums
Trips to museums can often reveal intriguing finds. They might occasionally feel like a slow part of our journeys, but in Colmar, they can also be a source of great fun! Exciting museums are a compelling reason to visit Colmar, particularly if you’re on a family vacation. This is even more relevant if you have young children.
These museums offer perfect settings for creating memorable family moments. Of all the museums in Colmar, the Toy Museum and the Choco-Story Chocolate Museum are likely to be the most enjoyable for your family. Their names alone give a hint of the unique experiences they provide.
If you wish to introduce your kids to the way games were played before the advent of the internet, a visit to Colmar’s Toy Museum is in order. The museum houses an array of toys, with some dating back to the 19th century and others from more recent times. Also, it offers a games area where you and your family can partake in various games, fostering an atmosphere of amusement and shared laughter.
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The Toy Museum in Colmar, with its three floors of nostalgic treasures, is sure to take you on a trip down memory lane. It appears to house every type of toy imaginable, from vintage teddy bears and miniature trains to Barbie dolls and robots, not to mention antique toys! Whether you’re a millennial or a baby boomer, you’ll have plenty of stories to share with your kids about the good old days.
Learn more about Colmar’s Toy Museum from their official website museejouet.com
If you’re seeking a delightful blend of fascination and gastronomic satisfaction, then a visit to Colmar’s Schaal Chocolate Factory is a must. During your tour, you’ll gain insights into the intricate process of chocolate making. Expert chocolatiers will guide you through the journey, even letting you try your hand at crafting your own chocolate!
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Here is the website of the Chocolate Museum in Colmar in case you want to learn more about the experiences they offer.
5. Light effects at night
The best days to experience Colmar are on Fridays and Saturdays. All year round, these days host captivating light shows in the town. The houses that you admired during daylight hours become even more magnificent when illuminated at night! It feels as though the whole town has been given a new coat of paint with the lights turned on.
This breathtaking display, which is free for all to enjoy, is undoubtedly a compelling reason to visit Colmar and stay overnight.
The lightshow in Colmar is super well-designed, with all these computers and fiber optic cables controlling the lights. The effects are synchronized perfectly and it just takes the whole Colmar experience up a notch.
Some houses have simple static lights, but others – think fountains, churches, major landmarks – they’re all decked out with these dynamic light effects that dance and flicker in mesmerizing patterns.
Diverse images are cast onto the exteriors of these structures, frequently telling miniature tales associated with the event. It’s worth noting that these light displays also occur on evenings when the town hosts major events. The Regional Alsace Wine Fair and the Christmas Market are two such prominent events.
Just like Colmar, Reims also hosts a magnificent light show! This spectacle unfolds on the facade of the Notre Dame Basilica in Reims, a historic site where French kings were crowned for centuries.
6. Spectacular events and festivals
Absolutely, you’ve got it right from the title. Major events and festivals are indeed a compelling reason to visit Colmar. It’s during these times that Colmar transforms into a veritable wonderland! There are three particular seasons or events when Colmar becomes an irresistible destination.
These include the Spring Festival (Fete Le Printemps), the Christmas market, and the Alsace Wine Fair. During these events, you can look forward to breathtaking lighting effects illuminating Colmar at night (as mentioned earlier).
Looking to step into a fairy tale world? Then you should definitely experience the Spring Festival in Colmar. The town, especially Vieux Colmar, is adorned with vibrant flowers and decorations.
Make sure your camera has plenty of storage; you’ll want to capture countless photos of this enchanting event! The Spring Festival offers visitors a glimpse into the region’s Easter traditions. Beyond the beautifully decorated houses, trees, railings, and fountains, you’ll find lively events and street exhibitions. Local talents often perform during the festival, adding to the vibrant atmosphere.
And the best part? The concerts are free for everyone to enjoy! You’ll also discover spring and Easter markets brimming with local merchandise. And let’s not forget about the food! Alsatian specialties such as fine wines, charcuterie, cheese, and beers are waiting to tantalize your taste buds!
Colmar transforms into a magical wonderland during Christmas. Like many towns influenced by German culture, Colmar also hosts a Christmas Market. Without a doubt, it’s one of the best times of the year to visit Colmar, much like the spring season.
Typically, from the last week of November through December, Colmar sparkles with twinkling Christmas lights. Coupled with its stunning architecture and the gentle fall of snow, Colmar could very well be the winter wonderland you’ve been dreaming of.
Wondering which of the three events I mentioned is the most special? It has to be the Alsace Wine Fair. This event is a standout reason to visit Colmar, particularly if you’re keen on experiencing a unique French tradition. The Alsace Wine Fair is a special occasion in Grand Est, showcasing the region’s finest wines and unique products.
If you find yourself in Colmar during the fair, make sure to visit the open-air theater “la Coquille.” You can join the crowd of around 10,000 people, enjoying music performed by national and international artists. As the name suggests, the Alsace Wine Fair is a must-visit for wine enthusiasts. You’ll have the opportunity to taste wines from 1,500 samples of the best Alsatian grape varieties.
7. Wines and vineyards
If Italy has Cinque Terre, Switzerland has Lavaux Region (Geneva – Montreux), Germany has Franconia (Bamberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Nuremberg, Wurzburg), then France has Alsace (Colmar). What’s one thing they have in common? They have good wines. And, yep, wines are a reason to visit Colmar!
(In case you missed) Did you know that Colmar is the capital of Alsatian wine? Colmar is in the heart of the Alsatian Wine Route. If you want to explore the Alsatian Wine Route and drown your tastebuds with some of the best wines in France, Colmar is the best place to start.
According to the official website of Colmar tourism, the Alsatian wines are made from 7 special vines.
- The Sylvaner – light, refreshing, fruity and subtle.
- The Pinot Blanc – is soft and delicate, with a touch of freshness.
- The Riesling – dry, fine, with a subtle bouquet.
- The Muscat d’Alsace – dry, with flavors of fresh grapes.
- The Pinot Gris – is powerful and soft, with a complex bouquet.
- The Gewurztraminer – full-bodied, robust, with a great aromatic richness.
- The Pinot Noir – red or rosé, with a fruity taste reminiscent of cherry.
Wine lovers, have you tried all of them? Bless not only your eyes when you see the beautiful streets of Colmar. But also your tastebuds craving for the wines served in Colmar! I’m not an expert in wines, so I leave you this link to the tourism website of the Alsace region. It will tell you everything that you need to know about the wines made in Alsace.
Surrounded by winegrowers and vast vineyards, Colmar sits at the core of the Alsatian Wine Route. However, it’s not just vineyards that make this place special. Did you know that Colmar is also dotted with numerous medieval castles? This makes sense considering Colmar is in Alsace, a region steeped in German culture.
With more than 500 castles in Alsace, at least 10 can be found within or close to Colmar’s commune territory. Some of these castles may be in ruins now, but the ones still standing provide visitors with an extraordinary journey into the past.
Frankly, Colmar is a destination that’s truly worth visiting! With its enchanting half-timbered houses, quaint cobblestone lanes, and vineyards that exude a country charm – not to mention the castles – it’s a place that shouldn’t be missed. A trip to this town offers a comprehensive journey back to medieval Alsace.
In my opinion, the castles alone provide enough allure to visit Colmar. Their magical aesthetic, combined with the unique geography of Alsace, makes them all the more extraordinary.
Nestled in the forest or majestically perched atop the Vosges mountain range, the castles in Alsace offer a unique blend of history and natural beauty. The scenic surroundings enhance the experience of visiting these architectural marvels, making a trip to Colmar a truly immersive escape.
If you’re planning a visit, don’t miss out on Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, Château de Saint-Ulrich, and Château du Hohlandsbourg.
Each castle is situated on a mountaintop, with Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg being the only one that remains intact. Of the three, Château du Hohlandsbourg is the closest to Colmar. Dating back to the 13th century, it bears the scars of destruction from the Thirty Years’ War.
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At Château du Hohlandsbourg, you have the opportunity to traverse extensive parts of the castle, including its formidable walls. Picture yourself as a sentinel, overseeing the city of Colmar from this grand fortress. The castle features animations and entertainment that help you visualize scenes from its rich 700-year history.
Learn more about Château du Hohlandsbourg from its official website chateau-hohlandsbourg.com
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Château de Saint-Ulrich shares many similarities with Château du Hohlandsbourg. Constructed in the 13th century, it too offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. However, the true spectacle lies a short 30 to 40-minute drive north of Colmar at Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg.
The exact date of its construction remains a mystery, but historical documents suggest its existence since the mid-12th century. Today, it stands as a historical monument and is considered one of the top attractions in Grand Est.
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To me, Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg bears a striking resemblance to Neuschwanstein Castle, largely due to its mountaintop location. However, what truly completes the medieval-fairytale experience of a trip to Colmar is the castle’s distinctive appearance and its fascinating collections.
Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg is probably one of the most impressive mountaintop castles in France.
To me, the most enthralling aspects of Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg are its opulent halls featuring magnificent murals and its formidable military installations. Additionally, the castle offers several viewpoints from its towers and battlements, each presenting a stunning panorama of the Alsace region.
You can learn more from Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg’s official website.
The northeastern region of France, home to Colmar, is truly a fairytale come to life. However, don’t miss out on exploring the South of France – a region brimming with some of the country’s most stunning locales! Your journey could begin with the charming city of Avignon.
9. Scenic Trails
As I often emphasize, Colmar is the ideal destination for those seeking a retreat from the everyday. Beyond its captivating architecture, rich art, and deep-rooted history, the natural beauty surrounding Colmar contributes to a truly fulfilling journey. This means that not only history buffs but also adventurers and nature enthusiasts have ample reasons to visit Colmar.
After all, the town is nestled amidst mountains and offers picturesque views. While it may not rival the grandeur of the Swiss Alps, Italian Dolomites, or the Bavarian Alps, the natural landscapes around Colmar provide just the right touch of nature’s charm for most of us.
Visitors wanting to see the nature around Colmar can either hike or use bicycles (traditional and electric) to explore. There are two cycling/hiking trails I know you can follow. The trail along the Colmar Canal and Lazarus Schwendi Trail. But if you want to explore other cycling/hiking trails, you may look at this PDF file from the official tourism website of Colmar.
Or this brochure:
I highly recommend the Colmar canal trail for several reasons. Firstly, the soothing sound of water flowing through the canal adds a tranquil ambiance to the hike. The trail also winds through several quaint villages and past century-old trees, leading all the way to the German border.
However, if your interest lies in exploring the castles near Colmar, the Lazarus Schwendi Trail is a better choice. This trail spans two kilometers and connects Pflixbourg Castle and Hohlandsbourg Castle.
10. The Nautical Base
From what I’ve mentioned so far, it’s evident that Colmar offers a complete travel experience in France. But there’s more! Would you believe me if I told you that Colmar has its own beach? Indeed, it does!
The Base Nautique, located just to the north of the town, is a delightful spot. Although it’s essentially a swimming lake with a beach, it’s perfect for some leisure time or family fun.
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Base Nautique offers fun for all ages. Whether you’re engaging in a friendly game of volleyball or soccer with your loved ones, or renting a pedal and paddle boat to explore the lake, there’s something for everyone.
The Nautical Base also features a massive floating aqua park complete with trampolines and diving boards. Just picturing it, you can already sense the excitement! Essentially, the Nautical Base provides the perfect opportunity to soak up some sun before or after immersing yourself in the fairytale-like charm of Colmar’s old town.
You can learn more details about Nautical Base from the agglo-colmar website (in French, but you can translate it with your browser).
Best Time to Visit Colmar
Given all the wonderful aspects of Colmar that I’ve shared with you, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re already eager to pack your bags and head there. But hold on just a moment! There are a few factors to consider, such as the best time to visit this enchanting city.
The ideal time to visit Colmar, especially for wandering in the Old Town and photography, is between mid-May and mid-September. During these months, the weather is at its most pleasant, with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures averaging around 18°C to 22°C.
The peak tourist season is in August, followed by September and May. During these months, you might find that the town is crowded and accommodation prices are at their highest. If you prefer a more relaxed visit with fewer tourists, consider planning your trip for early autumn or late spring.
The town hosts a variety of events throughout the year that cater to different interests. If you’re visiting during the holiday season, don’t miss the Christmas markets which have been voted as the one of the best in Europe.
In spring, the town comes alive with Easter celebrations. Music enthusiasts should check out the Colmar International Festival, which pays tribute to Ivry Gitlis. And if you’re a wine lover, make sure to visit during the Alsace Wine Fair, the highlight of the summer season in Colmar.
See all events in Colmar here.
In Colmar, the climate varies significantly throughout the year. Summers are warm with temperatures averaging around 20.6°C in July, while winters can be very cold with average temperatures dropping to around 2.4°C in January. The town receives about 605 millimeters of rainfall annually, with May typically being the wettest month and September being the driest.
How Long to Stay in Colmar
The duration of your stay in Colmar can vary, ranging from a minimum of two days just for exploring the town itself, up to five days if you plan to delve into the broader Alsace region. It’s important to note that these are general guidelines, and the actual number of days you spend can depend on your personal interests and pace.
The right duration really hinges on what you want to experience. If your primary goal is to discover the highlights of Colmar, then dedicating 48 hours or two days to the town is a great choice. This allows you to allocate one day for exploring Colmar’s key attractions and another day for additional activities.
However, if you prefer a more relaxed pace, it’s advisable to book a stay in Colmar for two to three days. This provides a comfortable timeframe to savor the town and its surroundings at a leisurely rhythm.
For those who wish to venture beyond Colmar and explore attractions like castles and vineyards in the Alsace region, extending your stay is recommended. Spending at least three days in Colmar is optimal, as it affords ample time to visit both the town’s top tourist spots and those further afield.
If you plan to use Colmar as a base for exploring other towns in Alsace (i.e., Strasbourg), a stay ranging from three to five days would be ideal.
How to Get to Colmar
Coming from far away places, there are several options to reach Colmar.
The closest airport to Colmar is Strasbourg Airport (SXB). However, there are more convenient options for reaching Colmar. You can catch a train from Zurich (ZRH) to Colmar via Zürich HB and Basel Sbb, which takes approximately 2 hours and 22 minutes. Other nearby airports include Basel (BSL) at a distance of 55.1 km and Stuttgart (STR) at 151.6 km.
If you’re coming from Stuttgart, here are your travel options: By train, bus, and by car. If you prefer the trains, Begin by taking the train from Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof to Strasbourg Bahnhof, and then transfer to the train from Strasbourg to Colmar. The total travel time is approximately 2 hours. FlixBus operates a daily bus service from Stuttgart West to Colmar and the journey takes about 2 hours and 55 minutes. You can also opt to drive from Stuttgart to Colmar, with the drive typically lasting around 2 hours and 11 minutes.
Although Paris is more than 500 kilometers from Colmar, it can also serve as entry point to get to Colmar. From Paris, you can take either the high-speed TGV train or the budget-friendly Ouigo train, both offering direct routes from Paris to Colmar.
The TGV journey takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes. This quick train journey allows travelers have day trip to Colmar from Paris. The Ouigo train, while slightly longer at about 3 hours, often comes with lower fares. There are also trains with a brief stopover in Strasbourg, getting you to Colmar in under three hours.
Alternatively, a daily overnight bus departs from Bercy Seine station in Paris and arrives directly in Colmar the next morning. The entire trip lasts approximately 8 hours and 40 minutes.
Where to Stay in Colmar
There are two neighborhoods in Colmar best to stay: Vieux Colmar and the area around the train station.
First, Vieux Colmar. It is where the action is!
You’ll be surrounded by stunning medieval houses, historic buildings, and plenty of bars and restaurants. Plus, you’ll be right next to major attractions like the Dominican Church, the Bartholdi Museum, and the Unterlinden Museum. And let’s not forget about Little Venice, the former tanners’ neighborhood, with its charming canals and flower-lined quays.
Downside? Since this is a hot spot for tourists, it can get pretty crowded during peak seasons.
On the flip side, the area around the train station has a wide range of places to stay and is super convenient if you’re traveling by train. It’s great for visiting other places in Alsace, but it’s farther to many attractions in the town as Vieux Colmar.
Here’s where you can find the best hotel deals in Colmar.
Getting Around Colmar
Colmar a bit larger than an average medieval town, but the main attraction, Petite Venice, is totally walkable. If you plan to explore the only the old town, you definitely don’t need to rent a car.
Now, if you’re thinking about checking out other spots in the Alsace region, having a car could come in handy. The A35 motorway cuts right through Alsace from top to bottom, and you can drive the whole thing in less than 2 hours. The smaller roads are where you’ll find those picture-perfect villages and the famous Alsace Wine Route or Peak Route.
But don’t worry if you’re not up for driving. Alsace has got you covered with a pretty solid public transportation system. With 14 railway lines and 161 stations served by the regional express train system (TER), getting around is a breeze. There are also coaches that sync up with train schedules to get you to cities and villages.
And here’s a bonus: you can bring your bike on the train for free, except during rush hour between Strasbourg and Basel.
So to wrap it up, while you don’t need a car to explore Old Town Colmar, it could be useful if you’re planning on seeing more of the Alsace region. But remember, public transportation is always a great option.
Guides and Tours in Colmar
If you’re looking for a more structured way to explore Colmar and Alsace, guided tours are a fantastic option.
These tours are designed to help you navigate the region and uncover its hidden gems without the stress of planning your own itinerary. In Colmar, for example, there are free walking tours that take you through the heart of the Old Town.
You’ll get to discover the charming cobblestone streets and vibrant houses of Petite Venice, all while learning about the town’s rich history from a knowledgeable guide.
If you’re interested in venturing beyond Colmar, there are also tours that cover the wider Alsace region. These tours can take you along the scenic Alsace Wine Route, through picturesque villages, and even into the stunning Vosges mountains. Some tours even offer the chance to sample local wines at a wine cave.
Whether you’re a solo traveler or visiting with a group, these guided tours can provide a convenient and enriching way to experience all that Colmar and Alsace have to offer. They take care of the logistics so you can focus on soaking up the sights and sounds of this beautiful region. Plus, they often include local insights that you might miss if you were exploring on your own.
So if you want to make the most of your trip to Colmar and Alsace, consider joining a guided tour.
By the way, if you are looking for destinations in France that can satisfy an escapist’s travel desire, I suggest Annecy or the 10 most beautiful villages in the south of France. Take a look at how I poetically depict each of them:
- Gordes is a village of stone and light, where lavender fields delight the sight, and ancient buildings guard the secrets of the night.
- Eze is a village of sea and sky, where exotic gardens reach up high, and medieval streets tell stories of days gone by.
- Rocamadour is a village of faith and grace, where pilgrims seek the Black Madonna’s face, and cliffside chapels offer a sacred space.
- Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a village of stars and flowers, where ceramic art shows its colors and powers, and charming streets invite you to spend hours.
- Aigues-Mortes is a village of salt and wine, where city walls recall a royal design, And marshlands host flamingos and other wildlife.
- Carcassonne is a village of history and culture, where a fortified citadel preserves its splendor, and festivals and concerts add to its allure.
- Chamonix is a village of snow and adventure, where Mont Blanc towers over the landscape, and skiing, hiking and paragliding offer thrill and pleasure.
- Domme is a village of views and caves, where the Dordogne valley unfolds in waves, and hidden paintings and stalactites amaze.
- Saint Paul De Vence is a village of art and light, where painters, sculptors and writers found their muse, and galleries, museums and studios display their works.
- Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is a village of charm and beauty, where houses cling to the cliff above the river, and artists, poets and craftsmen share their creativity.
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