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The Ultimate Road Trip through Alsace
The historical 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 very friendly and welcoming people, the Alsace Christmas Markets are the best in France, and the Alsace food is great 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 Route but it also visits other interesting sites out of this route. This Road Trip Alsace itinerary takes 7 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 most beautiful road trips in France. Click here for the best road trips in France.
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Alsace Road Trip Overview
- Start: Mulhouse
- Finish: Strasbourg
- Duration: 7 days
- Suggested route: Mulhouse – Colmar – Strasbourg
- Total distance: 160Km, 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 your own car, you can travel from Paris to Mulhouse by train and then rent the car in Mulhouse. Chances are that the car rental is cheaper in Mulhouse plus you avoid the hassle of driving from Paris to the east.
Day 0 | Arrival at Mulhouse
Arrive at Mulhouse the day before the start of this Alsace Road Trip. For your night in Mulhouse, Hotel Bristol is comfortable, beautiful and very central.
For your first dinner in Alsace, go for regional food. The Auberge des Franciscains (49 rue des Franciscains) is a traditional restaurant serving delicious Alsace food washed down with good Alsace wines.
DAY 1 | Mulhouse – Colmar
Morning in Mulhouse
The first day of this road trip Alsace starts 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, and the surrounding streets are also interesting to explore.
However, Mulhouse’s main attractions are the museums of the Automobile (Cité de l’Automobile) and Railway (Cité du Train). These two top museums reflect the history of the city, strongly marked by industry.
Afternoon at La Cité de l’Automobile
La Cité de l’Automobile, also known as Musée national de l’Automobile, is built around the Schlumpf collection of classic automobiles.
The Schlumpf brothers were two businessmen living in Mulhouse with a passion for cars. Their collection, located in one of their former factories, is the largest displayed collection of automobiles and contains the largest and most comprehensive collection of Bugatti cars in the world. The museum displays some of the very first cars but also racing cars or 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 commented visit) which wanders around the museum inside to get an overview of the collection and the different sections.
If you don’t like vintage cars, the Cité du Train is a good alternative to La Cité de l’Automobile. The Cité du Train is the biggest train museum in Europe and it displays more than 100 French trains from all periods.
After the visit to the museum, drive to Colmar where you are going to spend three nights. For your stay in Colmar, we recommend 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 to relax.
For your first dinner in Colmar, we recommend Le Fer Rouge (52 Grand Rue, Colmar). This restaurant set in a historic building in the heart of the old town proposes delicious Alsatian cuisine, from the most traditional dishes to more innovative proposals.
DAY 2 | Colmar
Day 2 of this road trip Alsace is dedicated to Colmar. Located in the center of Alsace, between the major cities of 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 the most beautiful cities in Europe, and it has many monuments and magnificent typical neighborhoods.
You are going to love walking around Colmar. The Old Town of Colmar is very picturesque, made of 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 from the Middle Ages to Modern Art.
Also, a signposted trail leads visitors in a 6.1km loop around the city (estimated time: 2.5 hours). The route is outlined on the free Colmar Old Town Map from the tourist office or simply follow the golden triangles (embossed with Lady Liberty) to 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)
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.
For dinner, book at the Wistub Brenner (1 rue de Turenne, Colmar). Wistubs (or Winstubs) are a type of traditional wine bar and restaurant-specific to Alsace. In principle inexpensive and rather popular, frequented by regulars, winstubs are coquettishly rustic, with a warm atmosphere and local food. This one is a bit fancier than the usual winstubs and you will find it recommended in many guidebooks.
DAY 3 | Colmar – Eguisheim – Colmar
Morning in Eguisheim
From Colmar, consider a half-day /day trip to Eguisheim, located just out of Colmar. Eguisheim is one of the most beautiful villages in France and it is a wonder.
Eguisheim has a particular layout, where the streets are arranged in concentric circles around the Eguisheim Castle. Wander around the narrow cobbled streets, flanked by 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 hike to walk and it starts from Eguisheim. The castles were built during the 11th and 12th centuries by three families of the region. All the three castles were destroyed in 1466 during the War of the Six Oboles.
The castles per se are nothing spectacular but the hike up to the hill is beautiful. Take the trail starting at the camping “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 on the whole valley and its three castles. The views from the top of the hill are also great.
Back to Colmar, have dinner at Restaurant Pfeffel (1 rue du Rempart, Colmar), another well-known address in Colmar proposing great traditional food prepared with fresh and seasonal products. Book in advance.
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 another picturesque Alsace village. This small village is nestled at the entrance of a Vosges Valley, only a few kilometers from Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr, and it is built by 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 has 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 Alsace town where you are going to spend one night. For your stay in Riquewihr, book the oh-so-charming Hotel à l’Oriel, located in the heart of the old town. The hotel proposes beautiful traditional rooms individually decorated, 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 monuments classified as Historical Monuments. Follow the town’s walls and visit the 3 defense towers of the village, some of the oldest fortifications here. The famous Thieves’ Tower was the former prison of Riquewihr.
For dinner, you will find many touristy restaurants in Riquewihr proposing very competitive menus. For something authentic, book at La Grappe d’Or (1 rue des Écuries, Riquewihr). The restaurant has retained the charm of the winstub that formerly occupied the building, including the iconic red-checkered tablecloths and the archaic wine-making equipment and barrels that line the walls.
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 some hills. This is the starting point of the Grands Crus Wine Trail which goes through the Alsace vineyards of the communal territories of Riquewihr, Beblenheim, Benwihr, Hunawihr, and Zellenberg. This bucolic 16km trail (4,5 hours the full loop) is punctuated by panels explaining the works in the vineyards and the production of wine.
Depending on how much more time you want to spend in Riquewihr, do the full tour or hike to the pretty village of Hunawihr and back. On the way back, at the entrance of Riquewihr, you will find a couple of wine producers selling 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 which dominates the Alsatian Plain from the Buntsandstein Rock.
The castle was built by the Hohenstaufen family 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 badly damaged during the Thirty Years’ War and was abandoned.
In the 20th century, the castle went through a deep restoration under the direct supervision of 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.
For your first dinner in Strasbourg treat yourself at Au Schnockeloch (2 rue du Faubourg National, Strasbourg), one of the best winstubs of the city proposing the best of traditional cuisine in a warm and cozy atmosphere.
DAYS 6 -7| Strasbourg
Days 6 and 7 explore of this road trip Alsace explore the city of Strasbourg. Strasbourg, the capital of Europe and Alsace, has a historical and architectural heritage which makes it the richest city in Alsace. Its city center developed on the banks of the River Ill, not far from the Rhine River, is part of the UNESCO world heritage.
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
For your second and third dinners in Strasbourg, stick to the winstubs for great local food and wine. The list of best winstubs in Strasbourg includes Au coin de pucelles (12 rue des Pucelles), Le Fink’stuebel (26 rue Finkwiller), Winstub Le Clou (3 Rue du Chaudron) or Winstub Chez Yvonne (10 Rue du Sanglier).
So, what are you waiting for? Book your Alsace road trip today!