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The Ultimate Road Trip through Alsace
The historic region of Alsace, today part of the region of Grand Est in Eastern France, is a land rich in natural wonders, picturesque small towns, and good wines. The Alsatians are amicable and welcoming people, the Alsace Christmas Markets are the best in France, and the Alsace food is excellent too!
The best way to explore the region of Alsace is by car. This Alsace Road Trip from Mulhouse to Strasbourg (or vice-versa) covers part of the Alsace Wine Region, but it also visits other interesting sites near this route.
This Road Trip Alsace itinerary takes seven days, and it is a good itinerary for those who love history, sightseeing, outdoor activities, and wine.
This Road Trip Alsace is one of the best road trips in France. Read more about road tripping in France:
Alsace Road Trip Overview
- Start: Mulhouse
- Finish: Strasbourg
- Duration: 7 days
- Suggested route: Mulhouse – Colmar – Strasbourg
- Total distance: 155Km, 2,5 hours drive in total
- Region covered: Grand Est
- Best for: history, sightseeing, nature, small towns, food & wine
Road Trip Alsace Map
Road Trip Alsace Itinerary
This Alsace Road Trip starts from Mulhouse, the second most important city in Alsace. If you don’t have a car, you can travel to Mulhouse by train and then rent one in Mulhouse (click here for our best tips for renting a car in France). The chances are that car rental in Mulhouse is cheaper than in Paris, plus you avoid the hassle of driving from Paris or any other city to the east.
Day 0 | Arrival at Mulhouse
Day 1 | Mulhouse – Colmar
Morning in Mulhouse
The first day of this road trip Alsace starts by exploring the city of Mulhouse. After a good breakfast with no rush, spend the morning visiting the old town. Mulhouse has a beautiful central square (Place de la Réunion) dominated by the Temple St. Etienne and the Town Hall. The surrounding streets are also interesting to explore too.
Mulhouse’s main attractions are the Automobile Museum (Cité de l’Automobile) and the Railway Museum (Cité du Train). These two top museums reflect the history of the city which is strongly influenced by industry.
Afternoon at La Cité de l’Automobile
If there’s time to visit only one museum in Mulhouse, we recommend La Cité de l’Automobile. Also known as Musée National de l’Automobile, this fantastic museum is built around the Schlumpf collection of classic automobiles.
The Schlumpf brothers were two businessmen with a passion for cars living in Mulhouse. Their collection, located in one of their former factories, contains the largest and most comprehensive collection of Bugatti cars in the world. The museum displays not only some of the very first Bugatti cars but also racing cars and luxury cars. It is amazing!
TIP: This museum is huge! When you arrive, it is a good idea to take the free little train (with a commentary), which meanders around the museum to get an overview of the collection and the different sections.
The Cité du Train is an excellent museum to visit too. The Cité du Train is the biggest train museum in Europe, and it displays more than 100 French trains from all periods.
Evening and Night in Colmar
After visiting the museum of your choice in Mulhouse, drive to Colmar, where you will spend three nights. For your stay in Colmar, we recommend the Hotel Le Colombier, a charming property located in the district of Little Venice. This hotel has spacious and stylish rooms, a bar, and a garden in which to relax.
Day 2 | Colmar
Day 2 of this road trip Alsace is dedicated to visiting Colmar. Located in the center of Alsace, between Strasbourg and Mulhouse, the oh-so-pretty Colmar is one of the must-stops of any Alsace road trip. This medium-sized city is frequently voted as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, and it has many monuments and typical neighborhoods.
You are going to love walking around Colmar. The Old Town of Colmar is very picturesque, with half-timbered houses, cobblestone lanes, and quaint canals. Don’t miss La Petite Venise, Colmar’s most picturesque neighborhood built along the main canal.
In Colmar, you have one of the best museums in the region, the Unterlinden Museum. Once a monastery, it is now filled with masterpieces of art from the Middle Ages to Modern Art.
A signposted walking trail leads visitors in a 6.1km loop around the city (estimated time: 2.5 hrs). The route is outlined on the free Colmar Old Town Map from the tourist office, or follow the golden triangles along the way (embossed with Lady Liberty) to the top Colmar sights.
The list of fun things to see and do in Colmar includes:
- The Unterlinden Museum
- The Bartholdi Museum
- The Little Venice
- The Food Market (consider having lunch inside for a super local experience)
- The Toy Museum
- The Choco Story Colmar
FUN FACT: Artist Auguste Bartholdi – The man who created the Statue of Liberty – was born in Colmar in 1834. As a Colmar claim-to-fame, Lady Liberty appears throughout the city.
Day 3 | Colmar – Eguisheim – Colmar
Morning in Eguisheim
From Colmar, consider a half-day or a day trip to Eguisheim, located just out of Colmar. Eguisheim is one of the most beautiful villages in Alsace, and it is a wonder. Eguisheim is only a 10-minute drive from Colmar, and some people like to take this excursion to Eguisheim by bike.
Eguisheim has a unique layout, where the streets are arranged in concentric circles around the Eguisheim Castle. Wander around the narrow cobbled streets, flanked by the beautiful architecture of half-timbered houses with balconies and windows full of flowers. Don’t miss the central square with its magnificent stone fountain and the colorful Saint Leo Chapel inside.
Afternoon Hike Up to the Three Towers
The Three Castles on the Schlossberg hill (591m) is a beautiful trail to walk, and it starts from Eguisheim. The castles were built during the 11th and 12th centuries by three families of the region. All three castles were destroyed in 1466 during the War of the Six Oboles.
The ruins of the castles per se are nothing spectacular, but the hike up to the hill is beautiful and easy to walk (1.5 hr uphill). Take the trail starting at the camping site ‘Les Trois Chateaux’ in Eguisheim. On the way, you will cross vineyards, the small town of Husseren-Les-Châteaux, and a bit of forest at the end of the hike.
Moreover, this path offers an exceptional panorama of the whole valley and its three castles. The views from the top of the hill are also great.
Day 4 | Kaysersberg – Riquewihr
Morning in Kaysersberg
Day 4 of this road trip Alsace explores two of the prettiest Alsace villages. From Colmar, drive to Kaysersberg Vignoble, a small town nestled at the entrance of a Vosges Valley, only a few kilometers from Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr. Kaysersberg is built next to the River Weiss, which flows between the houses.
You are going to love Kaysersberg, with its beautiful historic center, its many half-timbered houses from the 15th – 16th centuries, and a unique fortified bridge built in 1514 in pink sandstone from the Vosges. Kaysersberg means ‘the Emperor’s mountain,’ and the ruins of the imperial castle that dominates the city have an incredible charm.
TIP: don’t miss the stone decoration on houses and public buildings and the old shop signs.
Afternoon in Riquewihr
From Kaysersberg, drive to Riquewihr, another picturesque town where you will spend one night. For your stay in Riquewihr, book the charming Hotel à l’Oriel, located in the heart of the Old Town. The hotel proposes individually decorated beautiful traditional rooms, a good breakfast, and private parking.
If you only have time to visit one village in Alsace, Riquewihr has everything to fall in love with it. This fortified village surrounded by vineyards and listed among the Most Beautiful Villages of France was built in the 16th century, and it is as if time has slowed down in this town.
Apart from its beautiful half-timbered houses and picturesque alleys, Riquewihr has no less than 40 classified Historical Monuments. Follow the town’s walls and visit the village’s three defense towers, some of the oldest fortifications here. The famous Thieves’ Tower was the former prison of Riquewihr.
Day 5 | Riquewihr – Strasbourg
Morning Hike around Riquewihr
Day 5 of this road trip Alsace starts with a morning hike. Beyond the limits of Riquewihr lies a stunning horizon filled with vineyards growing between the hills. This is the starting point of the Géovino Trail, which goes through the Alsace vineyards of the communal territories of Riquewihr, Beblenheim, Benwihr, Hunawihr, and Zellenberg. This rural 16km trail (which takes 4.5 hours for the full loop) includes interpretive panels explaining the works in the vineyards and wine production.
Depending on how much more time you want to spend in the area, do the full tour or hike to the pretty village of Hunawihr and back (6km, 1 hr 15 min). On the way back, at the entrance of Riquewihr, you will find a couple of wine producers offering wine tastings and their best bottles of Alsace wine.
Afternoon at Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg
On the way to Strasbourg stop at Château du Haut Koenigsbourg, one of the most fascinating castles in France. This is a fortified castle built in the 12th century but deeply transformed over the centuries. It dominates the Alsatian Plain from the Buntsandstein Rock.
The Hohenstaufen family built the castle as part of a defense line to reinforce their power in Alsace. Over the centuries, the castle was disputed by different families and nations until it was severely damaged during the Thirty Years’ War and was subsequently abandoned.
In the 20th century, the castle went through an extensive restoration under the direct supervision of the German Kaiser William II, who visited the works regularly. For the Kaiser, this castle marked the western boundary of the German Empire.
Visit the castle inside (ask at the ticket control for the free guided tours), and if you have time, explore a bit of the surrounding forest.
After visiting Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg, drive to Strasbourg, the last stop of this Alsace Road Trip. In Strasbourg, book two nights at the Hotel Cathédrale, located just opposite Notre Dame de Strasbourg, and with incredible and spectacular views over the cathedral.
Days 6 -7| Strasbourg
Days 6 and 7 of this road trip Alsace explore the city of Strasbourg so you won’t need the car. Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace, is also known as the Capital of Europe, because of both its central location and it plays host to more than 20 European institutions. Strasbourg has an immense historical and architectural heritage, making it the wealthiest city in Alsace. Its city center, developed on the River Ill banks, not far from the Rhine River, is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
If you are visiting Strasbourg for the first time, we recommend this Strasbourg itinerary for 2 days which covers the main sights and comes with some good tips.
The list of fun things to see and do in Strasbourg includes:
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- The Petite-France, a picturesque district
- The covered bridges and the barrage Vauban
- Strasbourg river cruise
- History Museum
- The European neighborhood
So, what are you waiting for? Book your Alsace road trip today!