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We were drawn to Colmar, France by colorful photographs depicting fanciful scenes of half-timbered houses and quaint canals, both draped in blooming foliage. The weaving cobblestone lanes in the Old Town and cheerful Little Venice Colmar districts seemed to be plucked straight from a fairytale – one that had to be seen to be believed.
Now that we’ve been, we can attest to the fact that Colmar is as pretty as a postcard…maybe even prettier. We planned three full days of our Alsace Itinerary here, which allowed us plenty of time to experience the best things to do in Colmar, France!
Things To Do in Colmar FAQs
Before diving into our list of the top things to do in Colmar, France, we want to answer a few of the most frequently asked questions. Having this information up front will help you plan your trip to Colmar, France.
Where is Colmar, France?
Colmar is located in the Alsace Region of France, which occupies the northeastern part of the country along the Rhine River (west of Germany and north of Switzerland). (Later we share a Colmar Map marked with the top attractions that shows exactly where Colmar is within the Alsace region.)
Alsace is dotted with picturesque towns and hillside vineyards that invite discovery. For us, to visit Colmar also meant visiting the Alsace Region, which we were able to do by using public transportation as well as renting bikes.
What is Colmar Known For?
Colmar, France is famous for its pastel painted, half timbered houses and Alsatian Renaissance architecture. The town of Colmar is well-known for its fine museums and exceptional wine offerings.
Colmar is also known as being the birthplace of artist Auguste Bartholdi – the man who designed the Statue of Liberty. He was born in Colmar in 1834 – and here’s a Colmar fun fact: As he is a Colmar claim-to-fame, Lady Liberty appears throughout the city.
How Long to Visit Colmar?
Colmar, France is so beautiful that we could have stayed for a month soaking in the sights of the charm. However, we know most travelers don’t have quite that much time. We think spending at least 3 days in Colmar is optimal – as it gives visitors plenty of time to see the best Colmar tourist attractions.
At the end of our Colmar To Do list, we outline exactly what to do in Colmar for a day, how to spend 2 days in the city and a guide to visiting Colmar in 3 days.
Should I Visit Colmar or Strasbourg?
We would be hard pressed to give a definitive answer, as both Strasbourg and Colmar, France are exceptional places to visit. If possible, we recommend visiting both! In fact, the entire Strasbourg and Colmar Alsace region is worth an extended visit, in our opinion. We share our top tips for Alsace exploration later in the post.
Is Colmar, France Expensive?
Well, expensive is a relative word. Yes, accommodations and some meals are pricey – and most Colmar museums require an entry fee. That said, some of the top things to do in Colmar, France – like strolling the Old Town, perusing the market and hiking in the nearby hills – is completely free!
Is It Difficult to Plan a Trip to Colmar, France?
Not with our help! In this guide, we detail the best things to see in Colmar – plus day trip options. Furthermore, we share need-to-know trip details, like where to stay and what to pack.
Pro Tip: As you research and start planning a Colmar trip, staying organized is key. Use a travel planner – like our Printable Travel Planner – to stay on top of all the important details!
Best Things To Do in Colmar, France
Our list of Colmar things to do includes city exploration, learning a bit of history, getting out in nature, and savoring the cuisine. Visitors can plan their trip to Colmar using our list of fun activities.
Top Tip: At the end of the article, we include a Colmar sightseeing map that is marked with our top attractions. However, before you begin your Colmar sightseeing, you can also stop by the Colmar Tourist Office for a free Colmar city map and other useful information about the Alsace Region.
#1 Explore Colmar Old Town
Travelers wondering what to do in Colmar, France should start their discovery in the Old Town. No question about it, Old Town Colmar, France is the highlight of the city – and there are several ways to explore it.
You can wander aimlessly, find sights by using a Colmar tourist map, ride the Colmar tourist train or follow the Tourist Trail. Additionally, travelers who want to learn the history of Colmar from a local guide can book a 2-hour guided Colmar Walking Tour.
Tourist Trail to Colmar Attractions – A Free Walking Tour Colmar
For our first stroll through town, we opted to follow the Tourist Trail, which serves as a Self-Guided Colmar Walking Tour. The signposted trail leads visitors in a 6.1km loop (estimated time: 2.5 hours) featuring the best places to visit in Colmar, France.
The route is outlined on the free Colmar Old Town Map from the tourist office, but – to be honest – a Colmar walking tour map isn’t necessary. Simply follow the golden triangles (embossed with Lady Liberty!) to top Colmar sights. Each Colmar attraction features a sign (in French and English) with relevant information providing a history of Colmar, France.
Places to Visit in Colmar
We think following the Colmar free walking tour trail is one of the best things to do in Colmar to get acquainted with the city. However, for those preferring to ramble on their own, there are a few Colmar things to see that shouldn’t be missed. We recommend putting the following sights on your Colmar to-do list.
Little Venice Colmar, France
Little Venice in Colmar (called La Petite Venise) is the most attractive part of the Old Town – and strolling through the district is one of the top things to do Colmar, France. The narrow and shallow Lauch River flows past brightly painted houses and under arching bridges.
While the district is a must see in Colmar and it’s easy to tour on foot, taking a Colmar Canal Tour is the best way to see the impeccably decorated homes along the river.
Colmar Cathedral Saint Martin Church
The impressive spire of St. Martin’s Church (or Collegiale Saint-Martin) can be seen from many points around town, but it’s worth a look up close. Visitors will want to see both the ornate façade and the incredibly decorated interior.
Not to be missed is the 13th century stained glass window in the nave featuring a beardless Christ.
It should be noted, however, that the church is not officially a cathedral (as it is not the seat of the bishopric) and is only called such because of its massive size.
Built in 1537, the lavishly decorated Renaissance-style Pfister house (or Maison Pfister) is a must-see in Colmar. Sitting along the charming Rue des Marchands, the Pfister House features paintings from the Bible, as well as German emperors.
House of Heads Colmar
The House of Heads is another one of the Colmar top attractions. Dating to 1609, the façade of the House of Heads (or Maison de Tetes) is decorated with more than 100 head sculptures peering down at the onlookers. It’s a sight to behold!
Colmar Customs House
Once the center of business and politics, the Old Customs House (called Koifhus or ancienne douane) was built in 1480. The ground floor served as a warehouse, market and customs office for hundreds of years.
Colmar Covered Market Hall
The beautiful brick and wooden Colmar Market Hall building dates to 1865 – and, after many other uses, is again a market today. In fact, perusing the goods at the Marché Couvert Colmar Market is one of the Best Things To Do Colmar!
The Tanner’s District (called the Quartier des Tanneurs) dates to the 17th and 18th centuries – and is where tanners (people who tan animal hides) lived. Their tall, half timbered houses were designed to allow animal pelts to hang and dry in the open air on the upper floors of the homes. The entire district is a Colmar must see sight!
Once home to fishermen, the Fishmonger’s District features a colorful rainbow of half-timbered houses along the Lauch River on Quai de la Poissonnerie (which we think is the prettiest street in Colmar!).
The Grand Rue is the Colmar Main Street – and strolling the length of the cobblestone thoroughfare is, without a doubt, one of the best Colmar, France things to do!
#2 Hike Through Colmar Vineyards
Colmar – and dozens of other smaller towns – are situated along the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. The stunning vineyard and hillside landscapes of the region beg to be discovered on day trips from Colmar. What better way to explore the regional Colmar highlights than on a hike? It’s one of the best things to do around Colmar!
Using the public bus and our own two feet, we were able to visit more of the must see Colmar Alsace region on a Wine Walk.
Pro Tip: Drivers with a car can visit many of the quaint towns, which are linked together on the Alsace Wine Route. However, we think trekking from village to village is part of the charm of Colmar!
Alsatian Wine Route Walk
North of Colmar, the towns of Riquewihr, Hunawihr and Ribeauville are nestled along the Vosges among hillside vineyards. Each of these historic towns near Colmar, France boast a cluster of half-timbered houses and a church with a rising bell tower.
The three towns are connected by a 5km path – allowing travelers without a car to take a hike through alluring Alsace vineyards.
Mid-morning, we took a public bus from Colmar to Riquewihr. We walked the central cobblestone lane, stopping at Au Petite Delice for unbelievably delicious chocolate macaroons and then diverted onto charming Riquewihr side streets. We exited the town through the Thieves’ Tower and set off on our jaunt through the vineyards of Alsace. The path – which is also used by bikes and a few cars – steadily inclined through a forest and plateaued just above the town of Hunawihr.
From Hunawihr, we followed the path through budding vineyards, stopping often to take photos and enjoy the view. We found a picnic table under the shade of a tree where we ate our packed lunch (and macaroons!) with a view. As we completed our easy trek to Ribeauville, we could see hill-topping castles perched above the town.
Ribeauville, which is the largest of the three Alsace Wine Walk towns, is home to several winery tasting rooms. After our trek through the vineyards, we naturally rewarded ourselves with a taste of the local product! Much busier than the two previous towns we visited, we casually strolled and sipped our way through Ribeauville before catching a bus back to Colmar.
Top Tips for Walking from Riquewihr to Ribeauville
Buses conveniently transport passengers from Colmar to Riquewihr and back. Tickets can be purchased from the driver and cost about €4 each way.
Request a bus schedule from the Colmar Tourist Info Office – and ask for an explanation of which buses are running on the day of your trip. Not all buses run year-round or all days of the week and there are no buses on Sundays. Also, ask them to mark the bus stops on a Colmar map and confirm the most current ticket prices.
In Riquewihr stop at the Tourist Info Office (located on the main street) for an Alsace Wine Walking Map. While at the TI, also pick up informative pamphlets on the towns, if you are interested in learning more about the sights. From Ribeauville, it is possible to continue hiking to the castle ruins in the hills above town, which takes about an hour each direction.
Pro Tip: Visitors who would prefer a guided tour of the Wine Route in Alsace can let a guide lead the way on this popular tour.
#3 Bike to Eguisheim, France
Day trips from Colmar, France are not limited to public transportation – Eguisheim, just southwest of Colmar, can be reached by bicycle. We pedaled our way from the Colmar train station along the river, through open fields to Eguisheim, another popular historic town in Alsace.
It took less than an hour for us to navigate the route from Colmar to Eguisheim – and we stopped often to take photos. Once we arrived in Eguisheim, we locked up our bikes (just around the corner from the Tourist Info Office) and set off to explore.
At the center of the Medieval village, which was awarded the ‘Favorite French Town’, is the Chateau Saint-Leon. From the central square (that the castle sits on), three ring roads encircle the town. We lazily looped around Eguisheim on foot, marveling at the architecture and reading about the history on informational plaques placed around town.
Top Tips for Biking in Colmar
Biking is one of the popular Colmar activities and there are a few places to rent bikes in the city. We rented our bikes from Colmar Velo – Velodocteurs, which is located at the Colmar train station and bike rentals cost as little as €11 for 5 hours.
Top Tip: Ask for a free Colmar Cycling Map – and, if you are biking to Eguisheim, ask for the best route (which differed from the route we thought we would take).
#4 Dine al Fresco in Colmar
During our Colmar visit, the weather was incredible – sunny skies, but not hot. It was perfect weather for dining al fresco and throughout the Old Town, there are numerous Colmar restaurants that offer outdoor dining and feature local Alsace cuisine.
Craving something simple and light, we stumbled on Winstub La Krutenau in Little Venice. The riverside restaurant has only three food menu items – all of which are a variation of Tarte Flambee. The crispy, cheese-covered dish – similar to pizza – was exactly what we were looking for (although recent reviews reflect otherwise!).
More Restaurants in Colmar
There are many incredible Colmar, France restaurants that feature local cuisine and international fare. We have a few more tips for where to eat in Colmar.
A classic and cozy restaurant in Colmar, Wistub Brenner focuses on traditional Alsatian food that is perfectly presented. The menu features 3-course meal options; highlights are the pork knuckle and foie gras – but save room for the delectable desserts.
La Caveau Saint Pierre
Housed in a quaint half-timbered house along the canal, Caveau Sant Pierre Restaurant serves traditional French cuisine. The authentic meals are exquisitely prepared and offered at fair prices.
Situated in the Champ du Mars park, JY’s is a fine dining restaurant (with two Michelin stars). Patrons can expect exceptional service and phenomenal French fare.
Pro Tip: Looking for more ideas of what to eat in Colmar? Check out these reviews on TripAdvisor.
Picnic in Colmar, France
Visitors who want to experience something different from restaurants in Colmar can prepare a fun picnic lunch – like we did!
In the morning, we went to the Covered Market Halle for a little Colmar shopping. We perused the items for sale at the Colmar shops and started gathering items for a late afternoon picnic at Parc du Champ de Mars. At the shops, we found some of the best food in Colmar, France: Munster cheese with cumin spice, freshly baked baguettes and almond-stuffed olives.
Pro Tip: The Covered Market Halle has several restaurants, where you can dine before you shop. We started our Colmar shopping adventure with a quiche and fresh-squeezed orange juice at the small café in the center of the market.
#5 Sip Alsace Wine and Local French Craft Beer
Being smack in the middle of the Alsace Wine Region, drinking the locally produced wine should be on every Colmar itinerary!
Most of the wine in Alsace is white, including varietals such as Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Pinot Noir is the sole red wine in Alsace, however, it is quite light in comparison to some other Pinot Noirs.
Local French wine is available at every café, restaurant and grocery store in Colmar. After long days of sightseeing, finding a café in the Colmar Old Town where we could relax and swirl and sip Alsace wine was sublime!
Pro Tip: If you are planning to bring a few bottles home (who could resist?!), make sure you pack your wine properly so it arrives safely!
Craft Beer in Colmar, France
Beer drinkers, don’t despair! While wine is certainly the most popular drink of choice in Colmar, they have French craft beer as well! Our go-to spot for drinking craft beer in Colmar is Les 3 Singes (The Three Monkeys), where they offer a wide drink selection in a friendly atmosphere.
There is one local craft brewery in Colmar, Brasserie St. Cru, which is located about 4km north of the Old Town. Although we never made it to the brewery, we heard it was a cool spot for Colmar nightlife.
Alsace Wine Tour
While it is fun to stop into different bars and restaurants to sample the local wine, visitors interested in learning more about the wine in Colmar while meeting other travelers can join a guided tour through the Alsace wine region!
More Tips For Visiting Colmar, France
We have more tips for visiting Colmar and the Alsace Region – like day trips, where to stay, how to get there and our best packing hacks!
Day Tours From Colmar, France
Need more tips of what to do in Colmar, France? The city makes a great base for exploring the Alsace Region. We already highlighted a popular Colmar walking tour (info here) and the wine tours from Colmar (like this one), but we have a few more ideas for popular tours from Colmar.
Gems of Alsace Day Tour
Explore the beautiful Alsace region with a professional guide. Stroll along cobblestone streets in small towns and learn about the history and culture of Alsace on a full-day tour. Book it now!
The 4 Wonders of Alsace
See some of the most picturesque villages in the region – Eguisheim, Ribeuville, Riquewihr and Kayserberg – and sample fine local wines with a professional guide. Reserve your seat!
3 Country Tour
Chateau du Hohlandsbourg
A hilltop castle dating to the year 1279, Chateau du Hohlandsbourg is one of the interesting places to visit near Colmar, France. Open to the public from spring until autumn, the historic monument features stunning 360-degree views and exhibitions. There is a small entry fee to go inside the Hohlandsbourg Chateau.
Festivals in Colmar, France
Colmar is a beautiful destination on its own, but travelers may want to plan their Colmar trip to coincide with one of the city’s top festivals.
Colmar International Festival
A classical music festival in Colmar, the Colmar International Festival is a musical experience unlike any other. The programming includes symphonic music, choral works and chamber music.
Alsace Wine Fair
The Wine Fair in Alsace (called Foire aux vins d’Alsace) is an annual event that takes place in the summertime. The celebrations include exhibitions, entertainment, concerts…and loads of local wine, of course!
Museums in Colmar
There are a few Colmar museums that visitors may want to include in their itinerary for Colmar, France. We are highlighting a few of the top picks. There is an entry fee required for these Colmar activities.
Housed in a 13th Century Dominican Convent, the Unterlinden Museum is the best art museum in Colmar. The museum features everything from ancient artifacts to masterpieces from Medieval times to contemporary artworks from local artists.
Musee du Jouet
The Musee du Jouet is a toy museum that displays popular toys through the decades (stretching back to the 1800s). The exhibits of dolls and trains are a highlight.
The Musee Bartholdi is dedicated to the life of artist Auguste Bartholdi, the famous designer who sculpted the Statue of Liberty. The small museum showcases his works and models.
Map of Colmar, France Things To Do
Use this link to Google Maps for a interactive version of our Colmar Map.
How To Plan a Trip to Colmar
Now that you know the best Colmar places to visit and things to do, it’s time to start planning your trip! We have a few tips that will help you plan the perfect trip to Colmar.
Organize your Colmar Trip Planning
There is a lot more to planning a trip than determining what to see in Colmar. No worries – we are sharing tips for travel basics – like how to get there and where to stay next.
We also share heaps of tips in our travel guides for nearby destinations. Find out what to see in Strasbourg, the best sights in Basel Switzerland, attractions in Freiburg Germany, and a step-by-step sightseeing plan for Zurich. Plus, we can’t forget how to spend a perfect Week in Paris.
Visitors traveling from aboard can find more general tips for visiting Colmar and Europe in our Guide to Planning a European Vacation.
As you research and start making reservations for your trip to Colmar, France, you need to stay organized. We recommend using a Travel Planner – like our Trip Planning Printables – to get and stay organized for your vacation to Colmar!
What is the Best Time to Visit Colmar, France
Visiting Colmar in France is wonderful anytime of year; deciding what is the best time to go to Colmar will depend on your desired activities.
Summer in Colmar
Summertime is a great time to visit Colmar. The weather is warm and there are many events taking place. That said, Colmar can get crowded in the summer, which makes it difficult to get dinner reservations and increases the price of accommodations.
Colmar Spring and Autumn
The spring and autumn mark the shoulder season in Colmar. While the temperatures are cooler and rain is more than likely in the forecast, there are fewer crowds and lower prices.
Wintertime in Colmar
Some travelers may wonder what to do in Colmar in winter, but we can assure you it is a fabulous time to visit. The best things to do in Colmar in December are centered around the amazing Colmar Christmas Markets! Just pack and plan for colder weather.
Looking for more wintertime destinations? We highlight the Best Places for Christmas in Europe!
How Many Days in Colmar
During our trip to Colmar, we spent 3 days in the city. However, we understand that not all travelers will stay in Colmar for multiple days – so we are outlining a few basic Colmar itineraries to help fellow travelers plan their time.
One Day in Colmar
Visitors limited to sightseeing in Colmar for one day will want to make the absolute most of their time. We recommend exploring independently on foot (or booking a walking tour) – making sure to see the top Colmar sights. In the afternoon, join a half-day Alsace wine tour (like this one) and be back by the evening for a delicious local meal.
Two Day Colmar Itinerary
With two days, visitors can experience Colmar at a slower pace. On the first day, visit the top Old Town Colmar sights and stop at the market to pick up picnic items for lunch. In the afternoon, rent bikes to explore the region – and consider pedaling all the way to Eguisheim. Back in the city before dark, enjoy an al fresco dinner.
On Day 2, set off on a full-day tour of the region – either complete a self-guided tour along the Alsace Wine Route or book a full-day excursion.
3 Days in Colmar
Visitors planning to visit Colmar in 3 days will have ample time to see the sights and taste the local cuisine. We recommend following our tips for what to do in Colmar in 2 days – then on the last day, join the 3 Country Tour. Alternatively, guests who want to stay in Colmar for the day can opt to visit one – or more – of the city’s fabulous museums.
Colmar, France Accommodation
There are many choices of accommodations in Colmar. We think the best places to stay in Colmar, France are in – or near – the city center.
During our Colmar trip, we stayed at the Ibis Budget Colmar Centre, which we liked for the affordability, simple and bright design and (mostly) the location. It is just a short walk from the Colmar train station, the Colmar Tourist Information Office and Old Town.
Hotels in Colmar
Travelers will find that there are many hotels in Old Town Colmar, France to choose from. Check out these highly-rated Colmar hotels: James Boutique Hotel, La Maison des Tetes, Hotel Le Colombier Suites.
Getting to Colmar, France
Colmar can be reached by train, bus or car.
For our trip to Colmar, we arrived via train from Basel, Switzerland and departed via bus to Frankfurt. There are several train and bus routes that serve Colmar. In fact, it’s possible to travel by train on a Paris to Colmar day trip (although, even the fastest trains take 3.5 hours – so it is a really long day trip).
That said, train travel to Colmar is very convenient from other nearby cities.
Strasbourg to Colmar
The train between Strasbourg, France and Colmar takes just 30 minutes and costs around $10 USD. Use our Guide to Strasbourg, France to plan what to do in that fantastic city!
Freiburg, Germany to Colmar
The train journey from Freiburg, Germany to Colmar takes about 2 hours to complete. Visitors spending time in Freiburg can use our Freiburg, Germany Guide!
Before You Go To Colmar: What To Pack
We have a few final travel tips on what to pack for Colmar. Travelers can find all of our advice on our Packing Tips blog page. Need a packing checklist? Get your FREE checklist for packing here!
Colmar is a walkable city…but only if you have the right travel shoes! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I was comfortable walking on the cobblestones and through the vineyards in these shoes by Columbia. Kris liked wearing his trail shoes by Merrell.
Camera to Capture the Colmar Sights
We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip to France. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual travel camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos and is great for beginners) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim, lightweight and a good budget camera option).
Colmar and France Guidebook
Travelers interested in the best Colmar wines can use the Wines of Alsace guidebook for the top vineyards and wines of the region.
Exploring more of France? Make sure to have a good guidebook before arriving.
With long days of sightseeing, you will want to make sure you bring a travel day bag. An ideal day pack is comfortable to carry, has multiple pockets and can fit everything you will need (like your guidebook, camera and other travel essentials).
France Travel Insurance
If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to France, consider traveling protected with World Nomads.
We want to know: What would you add to our list of things to do in Colmar, France? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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