Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.
Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Visit Riquewihr, Alsace’s Most Beautiful Village
Riquewihr is one of the most beautiful villages in Alsace, if not the most beautiful! One of the best-preserved medieval towns in France, nestled between mountains and vineyards, Riquewihr is well-known for its picturesque architecture and wines.
Whether you decide to visit Riquewihr on a day trip from Colmar or stay overnight as part of an Alsace road trip, this quick guide to Riquewihr Alsace will tell you the best things to do in Riquewihr and everything you need to know to get the most out your visit.
How to Get from Colmar to Riquewihr
Many people visit Riquewihr on a day trip from Colmar, the closest city. A day trip from Colmar to Riquewihr, France, is very easy to organize, even if you don’t have a car. Here are the most popular options:
If you decide to visit Riquewhir from Colmar, bus #106 is the easiest and cheapest option. The bus leaves from Place Scheurer Kestner in Colmar, and count on it taking 27 min to Riquewihr.
WITH A GUIDED TOUR
Day tours from Colmar usually combine Riquewihr with other Alsace sites and wine tastings. This 4 Wonders of Alsace Tour is the most popular day tour from Colmar and visits the villages of Riquewhir, Eguisheim, Kayserberg, Ribeauvillé, and a local winery.
Where to Stay in Riquewihr
The real reason we think you should stay in Riquewhir overnight is because of how magical it becomes once the sun starts to set and the day crowds are gone. Then, the locals relax, and this beautiful village will be yours until late in the morning of the next day!
The charming Hotel à l’Oriel is located in the heart of the Old Town, and it offers individually decorated traditional rooms, a good breakfast, and private parking.
If you prefer an apartment with a kitchen, the lovely La Maison d’Amélie is central and comfortable, and it always gets the best ratings
Of course, there are other hotels in Riquewihr and also apartments to rent. You can check them out directly on this handy map.
Top Things to Do in Riquewhir, France
The fame of Riquewihr is mainly due to its vineyards which produce excellent white wines. Over the centuries, Riquewhir prospered by growing grapes and trading its reputed wine all over Europe. In the 16th century, the prosperity of the Riquewihr wine enabled the village to build a double fortification wall and magnificent houses.
So what to do in Riquewihr for a day or two? This list of best things to do in Riquewhir, France, includes sightseeing, hiking, and wine.
1. Explore the Ramparts of Riquewhir
This Riquewihr things to do list starts exploring its walls. Riquewihr is surrounded by a double fortification wall. There are the ruins of the 13th-century ramparts which surround part of the city, and there’s a second fortification wall built in the 16th century. The picturesque Rue des Ramparts runs between the two fortification walls.
The Lower Gate (demolished) was the main access to Riquewihr. At this point, you can see today the reproduction of an engraving of 1644 that shows an overview of the town with its two fortifications.
The Higher Gate was built by the end of the 13th century, and it was extended when Riquewihr’s defensive system was reinforced in the 16th century.
The best view of the 1500s walls is from the west, with the silhouette of the Upper Gate. The best view of the 1200s walls is from the north. Here, the fortifications were not doubled.
2. Rue Charles de Gaulle and the Dolder
Rue Charles de Gaulle is Riquewihr’s main street. It is lined with Renaissance houses and framed with picturesque side alleys and courtyards. Most of the prettiest houses in Riquewhir can be found along rue Charles de Gaulle.
The street leads to the Dolder, a 25-meter tower built in pink sandstone from the Vosges. Dolder means ‘the highest point’ in the Alsatian dialect, and it was erected at the same time as the first fortification walls in the 13th century.
The Dolder was a belfry or watch tower. Its outer façade is austere to deter invaders, while the inner façade is richly decorated for the pleasure of Riquewihr’s inhabitants. Today, the tower’s first three levels house the local Museum of Art and Popular Tradition.
3. Admire Riquewhir’s Colorful Architecture
A stroll around the Old Town is one of the best things to do in Riquewhir. This fortified village was built in the 16th century, and it is as if time has slowed down in Riquewihr. Many houses built during the 16th and 17th centuries are listed as Historical Monuments.
The house at 14 Rue General de Gaulle (1561) is particularly impressive. Nicknamed the ‘skyscraper’, this 5-story house, 25 m high, is the tallest timbered house in Alsace!
The list of other beautiful houses worth visiting in Riquewihr are:
- House (1480), 1 Rue des Trois Églises
- Former copper house (16th century), 18 Rue Charles de Gaulle
- House ‘The Golden Button (16th century), 16 Rue de la Première Armée
- Former winegrower house (16th- 17th century), 1 Rue de la Couronne
4. Visit the Tour des Voleurs
The 18m high Tour des Voleurs (the Thieves Tower) is one of the best things to see in Riquewihr. It was erected in 1291 and has the particularity of being pentagonal on the outside and square inside.
Riquewihr was the seat of the seigneurial court until the end of the 18th century. In this tower, the accused were interrogated and held, hence the tower’s name. Visitors can still see the torture chamber.
5. Browse Riquewihr’s Pretty Shops
Riquewihr boasts numerous pretty shops selling souvenirs, traditional food, and of course, wine. I particularly liked Au Petit Délice (45 Rue du General de Gaulle) for its macarons and other traditional pastries. However, the most popular shop in Riquewihr is Féerie de Noël (1 Rue du Cerf), near the Dolder. This shop sells Christmas decorations all year round, and it is a wonderful place to visit!
6. Hike the Géovino Trail
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 (link in French), 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. You can also walk the first part of the trail to Hunawihr to see its unique fortified church and then come back to Riquewihr by bus.
GOOD TO KNOW: during the harvest, parts of the trail (or the whole trail) may be closed to visitors.
7. Look for the Best Riquewihr Wine
One of the best things to do in Riquewihr France is to taste the Riquewihr wine. This Alsatian vineyard is the only French vineyard whose wines are mainly white; therefore, these wines are the world reference in French white wines.
The region of Ribeauvillé-Riquewihr produces some of the best wines of Alsace. This is thanks to its microclimate (this region benefits from the lowest rainfall in France), excellent soil conditions, and a thousand-year-old wine tradition. Here, you will find Riesling, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Muscat d’Alsace, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer, and rosés or red wines made from Pinot Noir.
We bought our bottles of Riquewihr wine at Dopff au Moulin, an ancient family estate with roots back to 1574. You can find them outside the walls, near the Lower Gate on the right, facing the roundabout. Dopff au Moulin offers visitors wine tastings, and the Riesling and Muscat were excellent!
Hugel & Fils is also worth a stop during your visit to Riquewihr. Hugel & Fils is one of the leading winemakers of Alsace (est. 1639), and it is located in the center of Riquewihr (3, Rue Première Armée Française). Don’t miss their wine tastings and tours of the cellars in English and French.
8. Visit the Riquewihr Christmas Market
The Riquewihr Christmas Market is one of the most magical Christmas Markets in Alsace, combining to perfection its wonderful architecture with Christmas lights and decorations. This Christmas market is spread over two sites: Place Fernand Zeyer and along the Esplanade des Remparts near the town hall. On the first three weekends, the market is extended to Rue du Général de Gaulle.
The Riquewihr Christmas Market is open on the weekends, from the end of November to Christmas. Here, the wooden chalets offer craft items, Christmas ornaments, and gift ideas. Other chalets offer traditional Christmas sweets, quick eats, and mulled wine.
From Colmar, there’s a Christmas bus shuttle that covers Riquewihr and the main Christmas Markets in Alsace, so it is also possible to visit the Riquewihr Chrismas Market even if you are staying in Colmar. This bus shuttle only works on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
9. Taste the Regional Food
One of the best things to do in Riquewihr or anywhere in Alsace is to taste the regional food. The list of traditional dishes in Alsace includes baeckeoffe, tarte flambée, cordon bleu, Vol-au-vent, spaetzle, fleischnacka, and bretzel.
For this, we recommend visiting the winstubs (or wistubs). These are a type of traditional, popular wine bars and restaurants that are specific to Alsace. Winstubs are coquettishly rustic, with a warm atmosphere and local food.
For an authentic Alsatian meal in Riquewihr, 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.
So there you have it, a quick guide to Riquewihr with everything you need to know and the best things to do in Riquewihr Alsace.