Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Colmar, Alsace, is a fairy tale city located on the German border. This mix of French-German influences has created a beautiful city full of half-timbered houses, picturesque cobbled streets, and winding canals.
Colmar is a popular destination for a weekend getaway, and for anyone who enjoys wine, as it is one of the main stops of the Alsace wine route. Colmar is also the perfect introduction to Alsace, and its picturesque scenery, great food, and friendly people.
There aren’t a huge number of Colmar attractions in this small city, but there are numerous stunning scenic places where you can sit and soak in the atmosphere. So, here’s what to do and see when you’re ready to explore some of the most popular things to do in Colmar, France.
Are you planning your Colmar trip last minute?
Below, are some of the best Colmar tours, hotels, and more!
Top Experiences and Tours in Colmar
- The 4 Wonders of Alsace day tour from Colmar
- Alsace half-day wine tour from Colmar
- From Colmar: 3 villages in France, Germany, and Switzerland day tour
- 2-hour Segway Tour in Colmar
Top Colmar Accommodation and Lodging
Stroll around the Old Town
The Old Town area is a Colmar must-see. Filled with wooden houses, twisting alleys, and little squares where you can sit and enjoy the atmosphere, it’s both quaint and surprisingly sophisticated. Throughout the years and numerous conflicts, this part of the city has remained mostly untouched, which is why it retains its fairy tale look and feel.
Despite the small size of the city, it can be surprisingly difficult to see everything in Old Town because of the twisting alleyways and streets. So, if you’re looking for a fun way to explore without wearing out your shoes, why not take this fun Segway tour through Old Town?
Exploring Little Venice is one of the most popular activities in Colmar, France. Slightly south of Colmar’s Old Town, the city is bisected by the Lauch River, creating the picturesque neighborhood of Little Venice.
Once home to winemakers and fishmongers, this part of the city is all winding canals, brightly colored houses, and graceful arching bridges. You can wander Little Venice on foot or sail the canals on a traditional boat and enjoy the flowered canal banks and pretty architecture the comfortable way.
When you’re wondering what to do in Colmar, a visit to the Unterlinden Museum must be on your list. Located in a beautiful 13th-century Dominican convent, it contains a stunning collection of medieval paintings, folk art, and sculptures from the Gothic and Renaissance eras. There’s also a collection of artworks from the 20th and 21st centuries featuring artists like Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Maurice Denis, and Pierre Bonnard.
But the pride of the collection is the Isenheim Altarpiece, a polyptych or panel painting that depicts scenes from the life of Christ and Saint Anthony. It was created by Matthias Grünewald and Niclaus of Hagenau in 1515.
If you’re traveling with kids, or even if you’re not, this Toy Museum is one of the best things to do in Colmar, France. Located in a former cinema, it contains toys and models dating from the 1800s to the present day. More than 1,000 toys fill this museum, and it even has an interactive area where you can play with some of the toys and revisit your childhood.
The dolls, train sets, LEGO, game consoles, and Barbie dolls are charming enough, but the railway model that has taken up the entire second floor of the museum is the true star. It measures 120 square meters and is a truly amazing feat of engineering that will delight children of all ages.
Taste the Alsatian Gastronomy
France as a whole is famous for its food and Colmar is no different. That’s why eating is easily one of the best things to do in Colmar. The cuisine in Alsace is a mix of French and German flavors, so many of the local delicacies are definitely not for the diet conscious.
The food in Colmar is heavy on cream, sugar, and carbs. It features delicacies like Bretzels – which are pretzels with or without melted cheese -, tarte flambée, and choucroute – a type of fermented cabbage with pork and three types of sausage. Definitely not for sensitive stomachs, but delicious anyway!
Sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi is best known for creating the Statue of Liberty in New York. He also created two of France’s most famous pieces, the equestrian statue of Vercingetorix in Clermont-Ferrand and the Lion of Belfort in the city of the same name.
Bartholdi was born and raised in Colmar and the Bartholdi Museum now stands in the place of his birth. It contains many of the models he used to plan his work, including early models of his Statue of Liberty, as well as models of the sculptures he left around Colmar. So, if you’re interested in learning more about the Statue of Liberty’s history, then this museum is one of the best things to see in Colmar.
Visit Colmar’s Christmas Market
The Christmas Market in Colmar is simply magical, there’s no other word for it. Located in the medieval ambiance of the Old Town, lit up, and decorated like a fairy tale, it’s one of the best Christmas markets in Alsace.
The Christmas period in Colmar, France begins around the 25th of November and ends around the 6th of January. It’s a busy time in the city, so you will need to book your accommodation and transport well ahead of time to avoid missing out. With a bit of early planning, you will be able to enjoy the friendly, jovial atmosphere, the medieval buildings lit up with lights, and the magical feel of Christmas in Colmar.
Explore the Most Beautiful Villages of Alsace
Make sure you put Riquewihr first on your list. Nestled between mountains and vineyards, this is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in the area, also famous for being the setting for the movies Beauty and the Beast with Emma Watson.
If you’re concerned about missing the best spots, take this full-day guided tour that combines two of the best things to do in Alsace: the area’s prettiest villages and wine tastings.
What to Do near Colmar
Do you have an extra day (or two) in Colmar? Colmar is a great base for exploring other places in Alsace on day trips or tours. A day trip from Colmar to Strasbourg, for example, is very easy to organize by train. For more options, check out this list of best day trips from Colmar.