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Colmar, France: 10 Best Things To Do

Colmar is a charming place that makes you feel as though you’ve walked into a real-life fairytale. Cobblestone streets are dotted with vibrant half-timbered cottages covered in lovely flowers, and a peaceful little canal runs through the middle. This charming tiny city in the Alsace area of France is a fascinating crossroads of two cultures because it is located near the German border. Find the top activities in Colmar, France, from visiting the region’s famous Wine Route to meandering past medieval buildings.

Things to do in Colmar

The northeastern French city of Colmar is a must-visit location on every European travel itinerary.

This enchanted city, easily reachable from Germany, Italy, or Switzerland, is well-known for its early Renaissance structures, gingerbread houses, and the stunning wine country that surrounds it. There are many interesting things to do in and around the town, as well as outstanding art museums and a diverse range of culinary options.

Were you aware? Colmar was the birthplace of the artist who drew the Statue of Liberty in 1834. Lady Liberty is a well-known and significant icon that is seen all around the city.

Stroll through the Old Town 

Walking around the Old Town’s streets is one of the nicest things to do in Colmar. Admire the elegant Renaissance structures decorated in flowers and the multicolored cottages with their wooden beams. You will be as fascinated by each cobblestone street as the last.

There are several methods to explore the historic quarter, which is rich in history. Using a tourist map, you can stroll aimlessly around the streets and discover picturesque locations. Alternatively, you can use the Colmar tourist train or walk along the “Tourism Trail.”

The final choice is a self-guided walking trip that circles the city at a distance of 6 kilometers. You may find the highlights of Colmar by following the golden triangles on the route. Therefore, a map is not required. This should take you approximately 2.5 hours and is an excellent way to get to know the city.

Tip: You can also sign up for a guided tour if you’d like to learn more about the intricate history of Colmar and its landmarks.

Musée d’Unterlinden

The Unterlinden Museum, the best art museum in Colmar, is housed in a stunning Dominican monastery from the thirteenth century. This museum spans many years of history, showcasing everything from prehistoric artifacts to masterpieces created throughout time by numerous local artists.

Explore more than 7000 years of history and the numerous late-gothic and renaissance artistic creations from the Rhineland. Consider visiting the Musée d’Unterlinden, which is regarded as one of the greatest provincial museums in France, if you only have time for one museum visit.

 Little Venice (La Petite Venise)

Little Venice, the little river in the center of the ancient town, is arguably its most picturesque feature. This little stream of water is a must-see on any visit to Colmar as it passes by beautifully painted homes and beneath stunning bridges. Enjoy the lovely and lively environment as you stroll beside the river or have a seat at one of the many cafes.

The Fishmonger District, or Quai de la Poissonnerie, is the most popular destination along the canal and is located south of the center. Tanners, winemakers, and fishmongers are used to labor by the water in this charming neighborhood. The most famous sites in Colmar can be found here, where the historic covered market of the city meets exquisitely designed residences.

You can take a guided boat tour to discover more about the history of the area and to see the sights from a different angle. These quick boat rides, which usually last 30 minutes, are offered along the entire river.

Also read: The best things to do in Paris

Maison Pfister in Colmar, France

The stunning Maison Pfister is located on the quaint Rue des Marchands street. Built in 1537, this opulent Renaissance home boasts some striking biblical paintings.

Known as one of Colmar’s symbols, it was initially constructed for a silver trader in the past. Nonetheless, the Pfister family, who repaired the structure approximately 200 years ago, is honored by the name it bears today. Make sure to check out the stunning 16th-century frescoes, oak gallery, and corner window when you visit this fairytale home.

Koïfhus

The Koïfhus customs house is another noteworthy structure in Colmar. The roof of this magnificent medieval structure is primarily made up of green ceramic tiles, which instantly identify it. One of the city’s oldest homes, the structure was once used as a warehouse and was built around 1480.

Situated in a lovely area with eateries flanking it, the Koïfhus is an unexpectedly delightful activity in Colmar. Enjoy the shade and live music while you take in the roof’s polished tile pattern, which is a stunning illustration of eastern France’s Renaissance architecture.

St Martin’s Church

The magnificent Église Saint-Martin, or St. Martin’s Church, stands tall above all the other exquisite structures in the heart of the ancient town. The church is visible from many locations throughout the city, but up close, its intricate exterior and ornate interior make it well worth the visit. Take in the stunning Gothic architecture and the way the sun plays with the rooftops’ vibrant diamond pattern.

Though it’s not a cathedral at all, the 13th-century church is commonly called the Colmar Cathedral. Rather, its amazing 78-meter height is what has given it this moniker! 

Fee for Admission & Hours of Operation: The church is free to enter, and its doors are open Tuesday through Saturday from 8:15 AM to 5:45 PM and on Sundays and Mondays from 10 AM to 7 PM.

Maison Adolph

The Adolph home is located on the same plaza as the church. This is probably the oldest building in the city, made up of two combined buildings with classic Alsatian design.

Constructed circa 1350, the half-timbered house stands out from Colmar’s subsequent buildings due to its exquisite Gothic elements, like the arched windows. While meandering through the narrow streets of the historic district, pause to gaze up at the historic remnants of this famous structure.

Visit Eguisheim or Kaysersberg (Alsace Villages)

The Alsace towns, a collection of little towns along the Alpine foothills, are a wonderful day trip destination from Colmar. Gaze out over hillside vineyards while strolling through charming lanes of Alsatian towns, taking you back in time.

Eguisheim

Southwest of Colmar is the lovely village of Eguisheim, which is a wonderful spot to explore, especially on a bright day.

You have two options for traveling to Eguisheim: by car or bus. As an alternative, you may rent a bike in Colmar for roughly 7 EUR/7 USD, which is a terrific way to take in the stunning surrounding area. You may pause the trip whenever you want to take pictures, and it shouldn’t take more than an hour. When you get to Eguisheim, you can take a stroll around the town to take in its striking architecture and history.

Discovering France on a road trip? Make sure to check out the best things to do in the Provence.

Kaysersberg

Another charming village in the verdant countryside to the north of Colmar is Kaysersberg. There’s a gorgeous fortified bridge and lovely half-timbered homes all across the town, and you can climb the castle ruins for the best views. The best way to travel to Kaysersberg, which is 11 kilometers away, is by bus or vehicle. Alternatively, you might take a tour starting in Colmar (or another neighboring city) and visit every Alsace village.

 Alsace Wine Tour 

The Alsace region is well-known for its 170-kilometer wine trail in addition to its stunning historic villages and cities. Meet farmers, explore storage caverns in the mountains, and sample some of the region’s best wines to fully immerse yourself in wine culture.

Riesling and Gewürztraminer grapes, which are used to make white wines, are the specialty of the area’s vineyards. Visiting one of the nearby towns or stopping by a vineyard is the ideal way to sample this regional specialty. Travel through the wine country by car, foot, or bicycle, making stops at the charming towns and castles within the lush, verdant surroundings.

 Château du Haut-Koeningsbourg

Perched atop a mountain, some 30 km north of Colmar, is a striking red fortification. As charming as the rest of northern France, this 12th-century building overlooks the verdant valley below. One of the nicest things to do in Colmar is to explore its inner walls, which are far more intricately detailed than its basic appearance. 

Admire the breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside as you go through the grounds of the fortress and along the walls. Driving or taking an organized tour are the best ways to get to this castle straight out of a fairy tale. 

Fee for admission & hours of operation: The castle is open daily from 9:30 AM to 4:45 PM, and admission is 9 EUR (9 USD).

Best Cafes and Restaurants in Colmar

Colmar offers a decent array of dining options situated in the canalside half-timbered buildings and on its numerous quaint squares. From tarte flambée (flammekueche) and dinners in white wine sauce to braised sauerkraut with sausages and potatoes, Alsatian cuisine is a delectable fusion of French and German flavors.

Visit a nearby bakery during the day to sample the well-known “pretzel,” which is a pretzel melted with cheese. Dine al fresco on a charming terrace at night while taking in the stunning views of the city. One of the best things to do in Colmar is to explore the local culinary and wine scene. Among our favorite locations were:

  • Restaurant La Soï
  • Tabula Rasa (Vegan)
  • Au Croissant Doré (Café)
  • La Stub
  • Le BaR à JuS (Vegetarian options)
  • Muang Thai
  • Island Poké

Where to Stay

Colmar is easily visited in a single day, but to fully experience the surrounding Alsace region, we suggest staying for at least one or two nights. Colmar offers a wide range of lodging choices, from gorgeous hotels on the river to charming B&Bs just outside the old town. Keep in mind that Colmar is a well-liked resort, particularly in the summer, so costs may be slightly higher if you visit during this period.

How to Visit Colmar, France 

By Plane:

Fly to Basel airport to reach Colmar. Situated just one hour’s drive away, this airport is the largest and most handy one.

By Bus/Train: 

Colmar is conveniently located on the borders of Germany and Switzerland, making it an easy destination by bus or train.

By Car:

Choose to rent a car in France if you want a little more freedom on your travels. You can create your own timetable and not rely on anyone else’s when you drive a car.

Getting around

Walking is the ideal way to see the city, as most of its sights are easily accessible from one another. You can also take the Colmar tourist train, which stops right in the old town.

You have a few ways to go if you want to explore any of the charming tiny villages or historic castles in the nearby area. You can drive alone, take a guided trip, ride a bike, or use public transportation. A map and further details are available for each choice at the Colmar tourist office in the town center.

Best Time to Visit Colmar

Any time of year is a terrific time to visit Colmar, France. The city is bustling with activity throughout the summer months when the weather is pleasant and warm. But this is also the most expensive and crowded time of year to visit Colmar.
Visit instead between May and June or September and October, which are the shoulder seasons. The city is much quieter during these months, even though the weather is still pleasant. If you’re coming for the wines and vineyards, early autumn is a particularly wonderful time to visit.

Tip: Colmar is also a wonderful spot to visit in the winter when the ancient town’s center is filled with enchanting Christmas markets.

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