Storybook houses lined up throughout the city in various blues and yellows, lush greenery as far as your eye can see, and jubilant locals clinking their glasses of Riesling together while watching people pass by.
This scene forever etched in my brain is of a lovely afternoon in Colmar, France – home to beautiful canalside homes and delicious white wine. Not only is it a delight to explore for a couple of days, but its convenient location also makes it a great spot to explore the Upper Rhine region, head south to Switzerland, or pop over to Germany for an extended stay.
Above all else, their mouth-watering flammekueche (a thin-crust pizza topped with bacon, crème fraîche, and onion), year-round pleasant weather, and Instagram-worthy snapshots around every corner are a couple of reasons you’ll adore Colmar.
This guide walks you through the best things to do in Colmar, France – from sightseeing activities to epic food spots!
Little Holidays Travel Guide to Colmar, France
- How to plan a holiday in Colmar
- Map – best places to visit in Colmar
- Best things to do in Colmar
- Where to eat and drink
- Day trips in and around Colmar
- Planning your trip
- Beyond Colmar – where to go next
- Download the PDF guide
Colmar is a wonderful destination for a weekend trip or as a side trip if you’re visiting Strasbourg. You can certainly fill up two days exploring the picturesque town, learning about its history and traditions, and – of course – filling up on fantastic wine and delicious food!
If you have more days for your trip, there’s lots more to explore in Alsace. A short drive brings you to charming small towns like Eguisheim and Kaysersberg and hiking trails and scenic viewpoints in the beautiful Vosges national park.
Here are my top tips for planning your holiday in Colmar.
Day 1 – Put on your comfy shoes and begin your adventures in Colmar’s picturesque Little Venice district. Walk along Quai de la Poissonnerie, take beautiful pictures at Pont de la Rue Turenne and then weave in and out the narrow alleys lined with half-timbered houses. Continue to Marché couvert Colmar for a taste of the region’s local flavors and specialties. Spend the afternoon wine-tasting and enjoying the region’s best products.
Day 2 – Now, it’s time to see more of the Alsatian landscape. Bike or drive to Eguisheim and explore the quaint village. If you’re driving (or a strong biker), continue to Lac du Ballon and the Grand Ballon for breathtaking sights in the Vosges national park. If you prefer a more laid-back day in Colmar, though, plan for wine-tasting, patisserie and charcuterie visits, and a scenic boat ride along the canal.
More days? – See more of the gorgeous Alsace region. Divide your time between Colmar and Strasbourg and plan easy hikes in the Vosges national park.
Tell us: What are you most excited about your holiday in Alsace?
Use this Google Map to plan your trip to Colmar. You’ll find all the best sights, hotels, and restaurants to check out.
Day 1 – Walk around Colmar’s picturesque Little Venice district
Start your adventures in Colmar at the seafood wharf or Quai de la Poissonnerie in the Little Venice district. Stroll over to Pont de la Rue Turenne bridge afterward and see the town from a different perspective.
Visit Chez Thierry, a cheese haven, and make sure to walk along the Rue des Tanneurs and Petite Rue des Tanneurs.
Sample the region’s specialties in Marché couvert Colmar
After enjoying the charming sights, it’s time to enjoy the region’s food! Head over to Marche couvert, a large open market with plenty of opportunities to nibble on French treats, including cheeses, fresh bread, pickled goods, meats, wine, and tarte flambées.
Foie gras or duck liver was invented in Strasburg in 1780 and is a rich buttery delicacy prominent in Colmar. Other French specialties you cannot leave without trying are baeckeoffe, a casserole dish of meat and potatoes in white wine, and le coq au Riesling (chicken in wine). If you can’t tell by now, Colmar is very proud of its wine selections and often uses it in meals!
For desserts, try pain d´épices (a gingerbread-like taste) and Kougelhopf (sweet bun with raisins).
Once your belly is full, continue your French culture studies through sightseeing.
Learn about Colmar’s history and arts
Colmar is rich in history, so your trip wouldn’t be complete without learning more about its background. Here are just a few recommendations:
You may have wandered past a fountain with a man waving and wondered who that was. That is Lazarus von Schwendi, an Austrian military commander who brought over the pinot gris grape from Hungary, which has since remained a staple of the Alsace region.
Next up, Ancienne Douane or the Old Custom house. This Gothic and Renaissance-style building is the birthplace of General Jean Rapp and now holds exhibits and concerts. There’s also a cafe there, so grab yourself a croissant at their bakery and admire the views.
In 1537 the Pfister house was built for Ludwig Scherer, an extremely wealthy man. This house is the first example of architectural renaissance and now symbolizes the “old Colmar.”
It’s time to explore the Musee Bartholdi museum, dedicated to Auguste Bartholdi, who created the Schwendi fountain and the Statue of Liberty in NYC.
Next up is St. Martin’s Church! Similar to the Ancienne Douane, St. Martin’s church represents French Gothic architecture. It dates over 700 years ago and is decked with ornate decorations, dazzling stained glass windows, and arches for days. Pop by for an afternoon moment of meditation or architectural inspiration.
Last but not least, the Unterlinden Museum offers a grand display of paintings and sculptures dating back hundreds of years and is one of the most popular museums in Colmar.
Now that your head is full of knowledge, let that soak in while relaxing in a park.
Relax in a park or go for a cruise
Not far from Colmar’s old town lies a quaint park, Parc du Champ de Mars. Get a crepe from the small stand nearby and take a few moments to relax.
Another unique way to see the town is via a boat cruise – ride one from near the bridge Saint Pierre, next to Restaurant Le Caveau Saint-Pierre.
End the day with wine and delicious food
A wine-tasting tour is just what you need to cap off your festivities. Various wine estates and shops offer wine tasting experiences – reach out to Domaine Karcher, for example, to arrange something for your group.
Alternatively, you can enjoy a delightful evening at one of Colmar’s charming winstubs or wine lounges.
Wistub Brenner is one of my favorites, but here are others worth checking out:
- La Maison Rouge for their mixed sausages, trio of fish, each served with sauerkraut, tête de veau, and foie gras terrine. For dessert, chestnut crepe brûlée to be enjoyed in their beautiful outdoor seating area.
- Restaurant Girardin for its well-thought-out elegant interior design, color choice, and illumination. Their menu includes an excellent vegetarian full course meal from octopus, eggs, snails, lamb, ice cream, cheeses, mousse, asparagus to goat cheese ice cream (a must-try). Their design and food combination add up to a delightful experience.
Wherever you decide to eat, make sure to reserve a table in advance!
Day 2 – Bike or drive to Eguisheim
Only 7 KM south of Colmar is the town of Eguisheim. Rent a bike or drive through lush vineyards to Eguisheim, a charming medieval wine-growing town. The contrasting bright red flowers overflowing from windows and cobblestone streets will simply sweep you off your feet.
Take a hike up Les Trois Chateaux to view the spectacular picturesque scenery from the top.
Depending on when you visit, you might be able to enjoy some local events. The winegrower’s festival occurs during the last weekend of August, music festivals are in September, and as Christmas approaches, winter markets will pop up in this area.
Colmar is brimming with fantastic dining options – from traditional winstubs serving hearty Alsatian cuisine to posh Michelin-starred restaurants, patisseries, and a marketplace packed with local flavors and regional specialties.
A word of caution, though – even during the off-peak season, an evening reservation is highly recommended. It’s almost impossible to find a free table for dinner, so make sure to call and book a few days in advance.
Dinner in a cozy, traditional winstub is a must when you’re in Alsace. Winstubs, or wine taverns, are uniquely Alsatian and reflect the warmth and friendliness of the region’s gastronomy.
These are generally inexpensive and popular restaurants, the kind which locals frequent. The décor is usually rustic, with wooden tables and dim lighting. The meals are traditional and hearty, with a homemade, grandma’s cooking feel.
During the day, go to Marché couvert Colmar for a unique culinary adventure.
There are plenty of day trips to experience near Colmar – you can see my Alsace road trip itinerary here, which will take you through vineyards, charming medieval towns and castles, and key points around the Vosges natural park.
Alsace sightseeing tour – If you’re not driving, this day tour is a great way to make the most of your stay in the region. From Colmar, the tour brings you to Eguisheim, Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, and Kaysersberg – all enchanting wine-growing villages where you can visit wine cellars, take lots of pictures, and explore.
Wine tour – If you’re up for a more wine-centric adventure around Alsace, this half-day wine tour brings you to the region’s best wineries and gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how Alsatian wine is produced.
3-country tour – If you’re down for a fast-paced jet-setting adventure, explore Switzerland, Germany, and France in a day. You’ll experience German treasures in Freiburg, stroll through winding alleys in Basel, Switzerland, and end in the quaint and colorful town of Eguisheim, France.
The gateway to Alsace is the region’s capital, Strasbourg. You can get to Strasbourg via several means:
Flying to Strasbourg – Strasbourg has an international airport in Entzheim, just 16 KM from the Strasbourg city center – check for flights to Strasbourg here. From the airport, ride the train to the main station, then catch a train to Colmar. The journey takes about an hour, including waiting times.
Traveling by land to Strasbourg – If you’re coming from nearby cities and countries, you can reach Strasbourg by train or bus. If you’re on a multi-country trip, getting a Eurail Global Pass can be more convenient and economical for you. Otherwise, you can check SNCF for train connections to Strasbourg or RegioJet and Flixbus for bus travel.
Other airports near Colmar – Other airports near Colmar are in Basel, Baden Baden, and Zurich.
Renting a car in Alsace – The most convenient place to get a rental car is in Strasbourg. There are two main pick-up points in the city: the airport and near the Gare Centrale (Strasbourg’s central train station). You can choose and reserve a car from the major car rental companies in Strasbourg here.
If you have a driving license from the European Union, you can use this to drive in France. You’ll have to present your license, identification card, and credit card when you pick up your car.
If your license is from outside the European Union, you will need an international driving permit (IDP) and your local driver’s license. You have to get your IDP from the same country that issued your driver’s license (look up your country’s automobile association + international driving permit to find out how to obtain one), so do this before leaving for your holiday. When picking up the rental car, make sure to have your IDP, local license, passport, and credit card.
Note that Europe mainly drives manual transmission cars, so if you require an automatic transmission car, make sure to reserve one in advance.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to driving in France.
Public transportation – You can visit towns and cities outside Colmar using public transport. Use the Fluo Grand Est website to look for bus and train connections.
Best places to stay in Colmar
If you want to easily explore the town’s cultural and historical highlights, stay in Colmar’s historic center. You’ll be right in the middle of the picturesque old town, with Colmar’s charming streets, best restaurants, and must-see sights right outside your doorstep. Le Colombier is our top pick!
If you’re planning a road trip around Alsace, stay in a villa or apartment. You’ll still be within comfortable walking distance of Colmar’s must-see sights, with the perfect mix of home and hotel amenities. Plus, you can quickly head out for road trips around the gorgeous wine region. Suites Residences Spa and Villa Elyane are perfect options.
If you’d rather spend your euros on food and wine, stay in one of Colmar’s budget hotels. Don’t fret – in Colmar, “budget” doesn’t mean dingy hotels and cramped rooms. If you can do with no-frills B&Bs with all the convenience you need, you’ll get to have a lovely and enjoyable stay at reasonable prices. B&B Hotel Colmar Expo is an excellent budget base.
Top tips for travel to Colmar
Languages spoken: French, German, English
Money: Euro (1 EUR ~ 1.10 USD) – You can pay at most shops and hotels using a credit or debit card, but make sure to have cash with you. Some restaurants and establishments will only take cash.
- Accommodations – A stay for two in a luxurious hotel in the historic center (like Le Colombier) can cost from EUR 150/night. A holiday apartment (like L’ambassadeur) costs around EUR 80/night. You can also find budget hotels (like B&B Hotel Colmar Expo) and stay for only EUR 60/night.
- Food – You can spend EUR 40 upwards for a nice dinner for two.
Tipping: A service charge is usually added to the final bill and tipping is not expected, but a 10-15% tip for excellent service is appreciated.
Weather and best times to go: Colmar and the rest of Alsace are gorgeous during the summer months (July, August), with flowers in full bloom and the perfect weather for walking and biking around the region. Autumn (October, November) is also a lovely time to visit, especially if you’re planning to continue your adventures around Alsace. You can enjoy the beautiful fall colors, milder weather, and wine festivals and tastings throughout the countryside. During the Christmas season (December), Alsace’s enchanting towns and cities host festive Christmas markets all over the region.
Staying connected: Get a pocket Wi-Fi device delivered to your hotel in France or anywhere in the EU.
If you love charming towns, lush landscapes, and exciting road trips, check out these destinations!
Loved driving through Alsace’s vineyards and winding mountain roads? Here are more ideas for your future road trips in France.
Fairytale towns are our absolute favorite destinations. If you’re craving for more, Český Krumlov’s winding streets and scenic vistas will have you falling hard for this castle town. Walk around its charming cobbled streets and gorgeous castle grounds, get to know its royal families and artists, and enjoy a magical evening on the banks of Vltava.
Head to the Swiss Jungfrau region for a mix of breathtaking natural landscapes and quaint mountaintop villages. You’ll get to enjoy the traditional Swiss countryside ambiance in towns like Lauterbrunnen and Mürren.
Like wine regions, lake towns are also perfect settings for laidback holidays. With plenty of amazing natural landscapes to explore, a slew of restaurants serving delicious cuisine, and a long list of outdoor adventures and experiences to check out, a holiday in Lake Bled is sure to be sweet and satisfying.
A calm blue lake mirroring the sky, mountain ranges setting a picture-perfect background, and pastel lakeside houses lending the historic town a storybook vibe – that’s what to expect in Hallstatt! It’s a great stopover on a drive from Vienna to Salzburg and an excellent base for exploring the rest of the gorgeous Salzkammergut.
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I hope this guide helps you plan your holiday in Colmar!
If you love charming and picturesque towns, scenic landscapes, and delicious food, you’ll have a wonderful time in Alsace.
If you need more recommendations or extra help planning your trip, send me a message, and I’ll be happy to help you out. You can also take this quiz and get a free custom itinerary to Alsace.
Thanks for reading, and happy travels to France!