Last fall Mike and I spent a long weekend in Colmar France. We decided to visit Colmar because Mike was traveling in the area for business. Our weekend in Colmar was unbelievable. We never realized how spectacular the Alsace region is. Are you looking for the perfect European getaway? Do you want a destination that isn’t overdone? Either way, you must visit Colmar. Here is our guide for planning a weekend in Colmar. If you’re into wine, charming French villages, savory Alsatian food, and rich history, our Colmar France itinerary is for you. We’ll list you 10 things you must do in Colmare with Google Map directions. We’ll cover places to stay and places to eat with the same detail. Enjoy!
Where is Colmar?
Colmar is located in the French area of the Rhine River valley of Northeast France. Known as the Alsace region, this area lies close to the border of Germany and Switzerland. In the Alsace, you will find a unique culture that is really a culmination of German and French influence. That’s not only because of geography, but because France and Germany have fought over the region throughout history. Today, Alsatian culture is well-preserved in the food, dialect and architecture of the area.
Colmar Weather and Wine
The weather in Colmar is almost always sunny with low risk of a rainy wash-out. This all but guarantees you wonderful weather for a weekend visit and ideal conditions for growing wine in the region. Because of the nearby Vosges mountains, Colmar has a micro-climate. This means the weather trends there differ from the rest of France. The region is actually very dry and Colmar is one of the driest cities in France. It’s ideal for making Alsatian wine for that reason and Colmar is known as the wine capital of the Alsace.
Who should visit Colmar?
Colmar is obviously great for wine-lovers. In the city you can find some of the best wines the region has to offer. You can also treat yourself to wine tastings and buy low-priced bottles to bring home.
Couples will love visiting the romantic, provincial French city. The city has a well-preserved old-town, so Colmar seems like a city dreamed to life from Medieval fairy tales. The half-timber houses, cobble-stoned roads and bridge-spanned canals are simply gorgeous.
Foodies should also look into Colmar. Of course, there will be great wines to pair with your meals, but the regional dishes are delectable. With hearty German recipes prepared in French style, the local cuisine will impress any visitor. Make sure to try spaetzle, a rich German dish similar to macaroni and cheese with meats. Most restaurants serve their spaetzel in the same cast-iron pot they bake it in.
Colmar offers a lot to do for travelers of any age and is suitable for families. It’s relatively flat, so those with mobility issues should get around okay with only the cobblestone to worry about. For LGBT travelers, the locals are friendly and accepting, reflecting the progressive nature of the French people.
How to get to Colmar France
Getting to Colmar depends on where you’re starting of course. By air, the easiest place to fly into is Basel Mulhouse Freiburg Airport (BSL). From the airport you can rent a car and drive to Colmar in about 40 minutes. You can also take a train and spend a little over an hour before pulling into Gare de Colmar Train Station.
One popular way to visit Colmar is to tack the destination onto a trip to Paris. You can reach Colmar from Paris by train in 3 hours. This route also goes through Strasbourg, which is another gorgeous Alsatian city and on our travel short-list.
If you’re reaching the city from Switzerland, the train ride from Zurich to Colmar is 90 minutes.
Check Skyscanner flights to Basel, Zurich or Paris HERE.
Where to stay in Colmar
We stayed at the Best Western Grand Hotel Bristol. This option was ideal for us because we were close to the train station and had an early check out to head back to Basel Airport. The location is also a short, 10-minute walk to the center of Colmar and beautiful Little Venice. It’s a lovely 4 star hotel and at $170 per night it was average price for a weekend stay. You’ll love the fitness center and that breakfast is available for €10. When we visited, renovations were going on, but they were no bother. The staff was very friendly and attentive.
If you prefer to be more central, there are many options available on Airbnb that are a little less than the price of a hotel. If you skip some of the amenities of a hotel, you can put yourself steps away from the old-town and Little Venice.
When to visit the Alsace
As mentioned, the weather is lovely most of the year and there isn’t a bad time to see Colmar. February is the rainiest month, so late March through Christmas, you can’t plan a bad time to visit. Like most of Europe, the high season will be late-June through August.
You can completely avoid the high season by visiting Colmar from November to the end of the year. The city is said to host one of the most epic Christmas markets in Europe. I can only assume the Christmas markets in Colmar are next level. Judging by the vibrant streets, outdoor concerts and stunning corridors of architecturally unique buildings, they must be special.
My preference for a trip like Alsatian wine country would be to visit in September or Early October. The fall weather brings brisk mornings, and you’ll need a jacket at night, but the sunny Autumn days are splendid.
Visiting then also means finding “shoulder season.” This is the time of year when the tourists are tapering off and things are less crowded. Because children are back in school, you’ll also have less families and more mature couples and singles visiting the region.
Getting around Colmar
We opted not to rent a car in Colmar since we were only visiting for a weekend. Instead, we enjoyed daily walks around the scenic town and booked a tour to further explore the region. Walking around Colmar was a highlight in itself. There are plenty of interesting alleys to wander and picturesque parks to stroll through. The houses lining the streets survived from the medieval and middle ages, so it’s a gorgeous town to walk around.
Biking was not popular in the city, most likely because of the cobblestones and lack of bike lanes. One more popular way to see the city is by segway. We ate breakfast with a couple staying in our hotel who did a segway tour the day before. They weren’t as keen on walking around from site to site. For them, the segway tour was ideal transportation to quickly see the whole city in two hours. The tour they booked was under $65 and can be booked online HERE.
We did go on a tour which I’ll review in more detail, but it was a tremendous way to see the countryside around Colmar. The city is fascinating and beautiful, but we wanted to tour other villages and vineyards. We chose to explore on a half-day village tour that took us to Kayserberg, Riquewihr and Hunawihr. We had a private driver and tour guide to help us explore each village. She was incredibly knowledgable and directed us around the local landscape. I highly recommend the tour and it can be booked HERE.
How long do you need to visit Colmar?
We could have stayed in Colmar a few days longer than we did, however the highlights can be enjoyed over a weekend. My recommendation is to use Colmar as a base to explore the wine trail and southern villages of the Alsace. In a similar way, you can spend a few nights in Strasbourg and use the city to the north as your base for the northern Alsace.
Overall, how long you stay in any city depends on the way you like to travel. If you took things slow and only do one tour per day, you could stretch out any trip.
Where to eat in Colmar
We only had a weekend in Colmar, so we knew we would have time to have one nice dinner. We would fend for ourselves to eat other meals, and have at least one breakfast in the hotel.
Fending for ourselves
We ventured out our first night and were pleasantly surprised by Schwendi Bier Und Wiestub. Its’s a bit local and a bit tourist trap, catering to the crowds with foreign-language menus and familiar beers on tap. We were okay with this and woofed down some spaetzel and Weihenstephan drafts. The online reviews aren’t the best. However, it seems like a lot of people rated it 3-stars for being what it seemed like at first glance. It’s a tourist place. We didn’t mind, our “good dinner” was saved for Saturday night.
Breakfast and Coffee in Colmar
For our morning java and a bite to eat, we stumbled into Café de la Lauch. Fantastic! We met some members of the family that owned it and had a piece of cake before we set out. We returned later in the evening for a bit of ice cream. Despite our bad attempts at French, we felt right at home and in the hands of locals who cared about their city. That’s my favorite part of traveling – a local touch. Café de la Lauch is everything that’s missing from a trip to the Starbucks in your home town. It’s also what I remember about beautiful Colmar. Directions via Google Maps
Colmar’s Fine Dining Gastronomy
We knew that Colmar wouldn’t let us down with a fine dining, Michelin star experience. We tried to book a table at the popular JY’s Colmar. We’ll have to leave that one to go back for. We couldn’t get in, but it’s our own fault for waiting so long to plan this trip.
Fortunately, we were able to book a table at L’ateliere du peintre. L’atelier du peintre translates to “the painter’s studio.” This culinary adventure was worth every cent and we truly felt like the cuisine painted a picture of godliness. Dining on nectar, we opted for the fixed menu with wine pairing. The staff was wonderful and extremely accommodating to our French-language deficiency. When necessary, the sommelier stepped in to comment on the dishes in English. Sometimes, in France, people can be resistant to non-French speakers, but the staff at L’atelier du peintre was amazing. We were not disappointed and highly recommend this Colmar fixture. Directions via Google Maps
What to do in Colmar?
When we decided to visit the Alsace, it was a relatively last minute trip. Sometimes those are the most fun. This one allowed us to make decisions on the fly and added some spontaneity. We felt like we were on an adventure. We even booked our main tour the evening before, not our norm. Here are some of the awesome things we discovered while deciding what to do in Colmar.
Parc du Champ de Mars
Some of our best moments on any holiday are simply enjoying a glass of wine and a bite to eat while we people-watch. There were plenty of city benches and parks to enjoy in Colmar. Our favorite was Parc du Champ de Mars which has a gorgeous walkways and fountains. We walked through the park many times during our weekend and it’s especially peaceful for an after-dinner stroll. Definitely enjoy Parc du Champ de Mars. Directions via Google Maps
In the corner of Parc du Champ de mars is an old-time carousel. This wooden masterpiece is said to be the largest of its kind in Europe. A ride will cost you €5 and just watching it spin will take you back to a forgotten era. Definitely check out the park and Carrousel 1900. Directions via Google Maps
The Dominican Church
The architecture of this church seems almost out of place for the area. The building has narrow, tall windows and dominates the views in the area. Its construction began in 1283 by the Dominican friars who inhabited the Alsace at the time. They were expelled by 1300 but the church was completed in the mid 1300s. You can’t miss the Dominican Church if you’re nearby. We didn’t, although we chose not to venture inside, it was stunning to see up close and we got drinks on one of the nearby streets for a nice backdrop. Directions via Google Maps
If you look up Colmar, this is probably the attraction you first learn about and are most excited to see. That makes sense – it’s breathtaking. Little Venice owes its reputation to a calm and peaceful river called The Lauch which flows through the garden district. There’s a 25 minute boat ride you can enjoy along the canal and it’s only €6. This is a steal for the beauty you will witness along the way. This and the aforementioned Half Day Village Tour (click HERE to book) are your two mandatory tours for a weekend in Colmar. Click HERE to find a Little Venice boat ride. No matter what you do, walk Little Venice by clicking Directions via Google Maps.
This building is so cool! It’s the old Customs House and has had a varied history since its completion in 1480. We only admired it from the outside, but it was cool to know that when it was built, the spot was selected because of the intersection of two well-used trade routes. The building just looks like you owe it some sort of Renaissance currency for admiring the view. Directions via Google Maps
Saint Martin Church
Heaven help us, but we really aren’t into churches. Besides the greats (Vatican, St. Vitus in Prague, Notre Dame) we just don’t care much about churches. Unless there is a spire to climb or it was converted into a wine bar, we don’t visit many churches in Europe. Saint Martin Church is a nice-to-see attraction if you’re into churches, but otherwise it’s a nice piece of Gothic architecture. It’s extremely large and worth admiring from the outside. It is wondrous that construction on that level was possible during its time. Directions via Google Maps
This neighborhood is AMAZING! If you want to be in awe, stroll though the tanners district. This is an area where high wood frame and half timbered houses date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. These homes were formerly occupied by tanners and their families, hence the name. The upper floors of these homes were given up for the tanners to dry their skins. TIP: Check out Le Petite Rue de Tanneurs for some truly pretty instagram sports (not that you won’t find a ton in Colmar). Click here for Directions via Google Map.
The Pfister House
This house is truly a marvel. It was built in the 1500s but gets its name from the family who restored it and lived there in the late 1800s. If you’re a fan of architecture, don’t miss the Pfister House. The home has mostly medieval features but is the first with some Renaissance architectural traits. Its octagonal turret with biblical murals is perhaps its most Renaissance feature. Directions via Google Maps
This museum is in the location of a 13th century monastery and houses an impressive collection of sculptures and paintings. The art here dates from the period between the Middle Ages and The Renaissance. The museum is also home to a famous Gothic painting called the Issenheim Alterpiece by Grünwald. Even if you aren’t an art lover, this stone building is exceptionally brilliant. Swing by for a picture and admire the gardens and structure at your leisure. Directions via Google Maps.
While these places are all cooler than every building in my home town, they’re also fine to admire from the outside. If you’re short on time, trim down your itinerary and only go inside of the places you choose to prioritize. Travel days are precious, and wine is really tasty, so I understand if you chose to see many of these site from afar. In fact, you could probably walk around all of these attractions in an afternoon.
Colmar wine tastings
We did two wine tastings in Colmar and a few during our village tour. In Colmar, we felt like we got a slightly better experience. The tastings seemed less touristic and the hosts more attentive.
Domain Kocher, Colmar
We did a tasting at Domain Kocher and loved the attentive nature and knowledge spilled by George. The tasting that we planned was on the same day as our village tour, where we already learned a lot about wine. For that reason, we were able to verify most of what we leaned at Domain Kocher. Their pride in quality and delivering a unique experience to each guest made the tasting very special. They can even handle group tours and are centrally located in Colmar. Directions via Google Maps
Domain Martin Jund
Our second stop was Domain Martin Jund. This winery has been a family affair for generations. The building itself was gorgeous with a table in an outside terrace. That table was occupied so we sat inside. We were among several local families tasting wine. We were the only English-speakers but never felt uncomfortable. The tasting included 4 wines. I couldn’t find the transaction in my bank statement but I think it was bout €12 each. I purchased a bottle, which of course came with some chat and another wine to taste. Perhaps it was the crowd of locals, but Domain Martin Jund felt the most authentic of our two tastings. Directions via Google Maps
Why we loved Colmar
This weekend was such a fantastic getaway, and you should check it out yourself. The area is perfect for wine lovers and romantics. If you walk around Colmar, you feel like you’ve walked into Beauty and the Beast or some other fairy tale. Do some research and book your trip to the Alsace today. The relaxing pace, stunningly preserved old town and charming waterways of Colmar are waiting for you.
Need help getting over your travel excuses? Check out: 30 Excuses not to Travel and How to Get over Them
What do you think of Colmar? Have you been or do you want to go? Comment below and let us know.
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