Dabbling in Jet Lag
Looking to visit the most charming towns in Alsace?
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Not only do I live in France, but I live right here in Alsace. I’ve visited every corner of this region, and, today, I’m excited to share with you its most charming villages.
From Colmar’s colorful timber-framed houses to Riquewihr’s medieval ramparts, this guide has everything you need to plan an amazing trip. I’ve even included some hidden gems that only locals know about.
So, let’s get started!
Table of Contents
- 19 Most Charming Towns in Alsace
- More Amazing Places to Visit in Alsace
- Map of Towns in Alsace to Visit
- What is Alsace Famous For?
- Best Time to Visit Alsace
- Getting Around Alsace
- FAQs About Towns in Alsace
- Conclusion: Most Charming Towns in Alsace
19 Most Charming Towns in Alsace
There’s no shortage of amazing towns to visit in Alsace. From beautiful panoramic vistas to savory traditional dishes, every village has some special to offer.
So, without further ado, here’s a look at the most charming Alsatian villages that I recommend you visit while you’re here.
Strasbourg is the economic and cultural hub of Alsace. Here you’ll find a true mix of French and German cultures. Not only that but it also serves as the formal seat of the European Parliament.
Highlights include the Notre Dame Cathedral, La Petite France, and Parc de l’Orangerie. And, if you are visiting in winter, don’t miss the Christmas market! Plan to spend more than one day in Strasbourg if you want to take advantage of all this city has to offer.
Useful Tip: Strasbourg is a very walkable city so it’s easy to explore on foot.
Since Strasbourg is the capital of Alsace, it’s very easy to reach. And, while Strasbourg does have an airport, I recommend flying to either Paris, Frankfurt, or Basel. Each of these cities has several options for reaching Strasbourg.
- From Paris: There are so many ways to get from Paris to Strasbourg. High-speed TGV trains will take less than two hours or you can rent a car and have a little adventure.
- From Frankfurt (Germany): Trains from Frankfurt to Strasbourg usually involve one change and take about 2 hours. Lufthansa also offers an express bus between Frankfurt and Strasbourg.
- From Basel (Switzerland): Direct trains from Basel to Strasbourg are as frequent as those from Paris and take about 2 hours.
Colmar is most renowned for its colorful half-timbered medieval and early Renaissance buildings. It’s easy to get lost in the side streets while admiring the gorgeous architecture. Needless to say, there are endless things to see in Colmar.
My favorites were visiting the Unterlinden Museum and watching the sunrise over Little Venice. Don’t forget to try the flammekeuche at the local farmer’s market, it’s the best in Alsace.
- From Strasbourg: There are a ton of ways to get from Strasbourg to Colmar. Taking a train is the easiest. They run hourly and take roughly 30 minutes.
- From Freiburg (Germany): While Freiburg appears very close, public transportation to Colmar is not direct. It requires, at least, 2 changes and takes about 2 hours.
- From Basel (Switzerland): Trains run regularly and take about 1 hour.
Located in the Haut-Rhin region of France, Riquewihr is one of the most picturesque villages in Alsace. This medieval town has retained its rustic charm from the 16th century, creating a sense of timelessness.
From the Old Town to world-renowned wineries, Riquewihr is something not to be missed. It’s also a great base for exploring the nearby forests or biking Alsace’s Route des Vins (Wine Route).
Getting there: Getting to Riquewihr by public transport can be difficult and time-consuming, so I recommend joining a tour from Strasbourg or Colmar.
If you prefer public transport then, from Strasbourg, take the train to Colmar (45 minutes) and then take Bus 106 to Riquewihr (30 minutes).
Ribeauvillé is situated 16 kilometers (9.9 miles) north of Colmar at the foot of the Vosges mountains. Its narrow streets are adorned with medieval-style houses and cafés. And every Saturday morning, there is a market in front of the Hôtel de Ville.
For stunning panoramic views hike up to one of Ribeauvillé’s three castles (Château de Saint-Ulrich, Château du Girsberg, and Château du Haut-Ribeaupierre). They are all accessible via a marked trail.
Then, if you are in Ribeauvillé on the first Sunday in September, don’t miss the Fête des Ménétriers de Ribeauvillé (also called Pfifferdaj). It’s one of the oldest and most popular festivals in Alsace!
Getting there: From Strasbourg, take the train to Colmar (45 minutes) then take Bus 106 to Ribeauvillé (45 minutes).
Located 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of Colmar, lies yet another charming town in Alsace. Like many others, Eguisheim has won several awards, including the most beautiful village in France. But this is not the only reason tourists flock here.
Eguisheim has a long-standing reputation for producing the best wines in the region. In fact, there’s even a wine trail called ‘Sentier viticole Eguisheim’ that weaves through the vineyards, explaining different varieties of grapes and how wine is made.
It’s also an excellent destination for hikers and cyclists. There are several marked trails that lead to various viewpoints, the most popular being Les Trois Châteaux d’Eguisheim (The Three Castles of Eguisheim).
Useful Tip: If you have a car, I recommend driving Route des 5 Châteaux. It passes by Les Trois Châteaux d’Eguisheim as well as two other castles (Châteaux de Hagueneck and Châteaux du Hohlandsbourg).
Getting there: From Strasbourg, take the train to Colmar (45 minutes). Then, from Colmar to Eguisheim, there are a number of options. Tours and taxis are the most popular ways. But you can also rent a car or even a bike.
Kaysersberg or Emperor’s Mountain received its name from the high fortress, Château de Kaysersberg, that overlooks the village.
While it served as an important strategic location in the past, it’s now one of the prettiest towns in Alsace. In fact, it receives nearly 700,000 tourists per year, so don’t expect to get off-the-beaten-path here.
Popular activities include hiking in the Vosges mountains, biking on one of the many trails, and enjoying delicious wine. But my favorite thing to do was watch the sunrise from Château de Kaysersberg. The view over the valley was incredible and I loved the peaceful setting.
Getting there: From Strasbourg, take the train to Colmar (45 minutes) then take Bus 145 to Kaysersberg (15-30 minutes).
Rosheim dates back to the 8th century, and, to this day, it has retained many relics of its glorious past. The most impressive archeological relic is Saints Peter and Paul’s Cathedral. In fact, it’s considered to be one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in the region.
For some of the oldest civil construction in Alsace, stop by the Roman and Pagan House in the town center.
Getting there: From Strasbourg, trains run regularly and take 25 minutes.
Obernai is located in the Bas-Rhin department and lies on the eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains. After Strasbourg, it’s one of the largest cities in Alsace and serves as a gateway to Alsace’s famous Route des Vins (Wine Route).
Overlooking the city is Mont National. This historical monument pays tribute to the Alsatian soldiers, who were forced to serve under the German army in World War II. Not only is it a place overflowing with history, but it also offers stunning panoramic views.
Getting there: From Strasbourg, trains run regularly and take 40 minutes.
Barr is an undiscovered gem in Alsace. Most who venture this way stop in Obernai and continue south without ever giving Barr a thought.
While there are not an overwhelming number of highlights, I found Barr to be absolutely beautiful. There are also plenty of day hikes in the area. The most popular, include the hike to Landsberg Castle and Mont Sainte Odile. Both trails start at the Saint-Martin Protestant Church.
Getting there: From Strasbourg, trains run regularly and take 55 minutes.
Dambach-la-Ville is one of the best places to visit in Alsace. Highlights include Saint Sébastien Chapel and Château de Bernstein.
And as the oldest wine-growing village in the region, touring a wine cellar should be on every visitor’s list. Ruhlmann-Schutz and Alsace Charles Frey both offer excellent tours.
Tours and tastings are free, but you’ll need to book a reservation if you want to guarantee a spot.
- Ruhlmann-Schutz – 34 Rue du Maréchal Foch
- Alsace Charles Frey – 1 Rue du Pinot Blanc
Getting there: From Strasbourg, trains run regularly and take an hour.
Located 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) west of Colmar, in the valley of Vosges lies one of the most charming towns in Alsace, Munster. And while it may seem small, there are a ton of things to see here.
Meander around the city and appreciate the unique architecture, stop at a fromagerie (cheese house) and try some Munster cheese, or follow the Chemin du Narrenstein (Narrenstein trail) to the most stunning view over the city.
If you’re looking for an adventure, hike to Hohneck. As the third-highest peak in the Vosges mountains, it’s no easy hike. But the spectacular vistas that await are worth the effort.
Getting there: From Strasbourg, take the train to Colmar (45 minutes). Change trains at Colmar, and take the train to Munster (34 minutes).
From enchanting castles and magnificent churches to beautiful scenery and pristine hiking trails, Andlau has everything. In fact, it was even dubbed one of the most adored villages in France in 2014.
Some highlights include the Abbey of Sainte Richarde, a Romanesque masterpiece, the Kastelberg gazebo, which offers splendid views over the city, and Ateliers de la Seigneurie, a museum dedicated to the history of Alsace. Château de Spesbourg and Château d’Andlau are also not to be missed. (Entry is free for both castles.)
Getting there: Transportation to Andleau is almost nonexistent. I would recommend taking the train to Barr and then walking to Andlau. It takes about 50 minutes.
Hunawihr lies between Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé, and, while it may not be as popular as these two, it’s definitely worth a visit.
This little town is home to less than 1000 people and is a great place to enjoy complete serenity.
Walk among the vineyards and relish the amazing views. Given its size, there are not a lot of options for accommodation. I recommend staying in Riquewihr or Ribeauvillé and visiting Hunawihr as a day trip.
Getting there: From Strasbourg, take the train to Colmar (45 minutes) then take Bus 106 to Hunawihr (45 minutes).
Since the 17th century, Mittelbergheim has been a true wine-growers village. And almost every house on the main street offers wine tasting. Not only that but with a population of less than 1000, it’s the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to get off-the-beaten-path and escape the crowds.
Spend the day sipping handcrafted Alsatian wine while taking in the stunning views over the beautiful vineyards or pack a lunch and enjoy it at one of the many picnic areas.
Getting there: Transportation to Mittelbergheim is almost nonexistent. I would recommend taking the train to Barr and then, walking to Mittlebergheim. It takes less than an hour.
Guebwiller is a destination for those who love nature and outdoor activities. In fact, its claim to fame is the Grand Ballon, the highest peak (1424 meters or 4671 ft.) in the Vosges mountains. And from the town center, it’s only 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) to the top.
If you’re short on time or don’t want to tackle the Grand Ballon, Guebwiller has plenty of things to see. Highlights include the Romanesque church of Saint Léger, the Convent of the Dominicans, the Synagogue of Guebwiller, and the Theodore Deck and Museum.
- From Strasbourg (France): Take the train to Bollwiller (51 minutes) then take bus 68R054 to Guebwiller (20 minutes).
- From Basel (Switzerland): Take the train to Mulhouse (20-30 minutes) then take the tram to Rattachement (15 minutes). Then take bus 68R054 to Guebwiller (40 minutes).
On the eastern slopes of the Vosges mountains lies a hidden gem that is rarely talked about, Turckheim. This quaint Alsacian village is small but boasts some of the most spectacularly beautiful streets.
In summer, buildings are adorned with hanging baskets of colorful flowers and lush vines, while winter brings the ever-enchanting Christmas market. Meander around the village then stop at a café in the town center near Hôtel de Ville. Or walk among the vineyards and take in the views of the city from above.
Getting there: From Strasbourg, take the train to Colmar (45 minutes). Change trains at Colmar, and take the train to Turckheim (10 minutes).
Unlike the majority of towns in Alsace, Cernay is most known for its Stork Park. Every year at the beginning of Spring, as the flowers start to bloom, around 60 strokes flock to this little town. It not only marks the end of winter, but also symbolizes new life, fertility, and happiness.
Cernay has played a critical role in their conservation, with nearly 30 storks being born each year. Their nests are dotted on the roofs throughout the town, and they visit the park during mealtimes.
You can tour the park for free and, even, catch a glimpse of these magnificent creatures up close!
Of course, there’s more to do in Cernay than visit the Stork Park. From the fortified walls that date back to the 12th century and the Musée de la Porte de Thann to endless bike paths, you won’t get bored here!
Getting there: From Strasbourg, take the train to Mulhouse (55 minutes). Change trains at Mulhouse, and take the train to Cernay (20 minutes).
Situated between Strasbourg and Colmar, Sélestat is one of the largest cities in Alsace. Its convenient location makes it an ideal base for exploring the area, especially the Alsace Wine Route and the glorious Haut-Koenigsbourg castle.
Of course, the city itself is full of things to do.
Highlights include the medieval churches, the old town, and the renowned Humanist Library. In fact, this library is one of the most significant cultural wonders in Alsace. They have thousands of artifacts on display, some dating back to the 15th century. So, if you’re in town, it’s an absolute must-see.
Getting there: From Strasbourg, trains run hourly and take about 30 minutes.
Nestled in the mountains, at the end of the train line, lies an absolute hidden gem, Kruth. It’s so secluded that you won’t find this Alsatian town in any guidebook.
And unlike the places listed above, Kruth isn’t known for its wine or colorful buildings. Instead, it’s home to beautiful vistas, gushing waterfalls, and endless hiking trails. If you love nature and the outdoors, you could spend a few days here, but one day is enough if you’re short on time.
Highlights include touring Château du Wildenstein for a magnificent panoramic view over Kruth, walking around La Thur Lake, and marveling at the Cascade du Bockloch.
Useful Tip: There is a small trail that begins at Cascade du Bockloch. Follow the zigging path to see more wonderful waterfalls. It’s about 30 minutes to the top.
Getting there: From Strasbourg, take the train to Mulhouse (55 minutes). Change trains at Mulhouse, and take the train to Kruth (1 hour).
More Amazing Places to Visit in Alsace
Alsace is not only home to beautiful villages, but also several other impressive sites. From towering medieval castles to the infamous Alsace Wine Route, there are so many places to visit in Alsace.
Below I’ve compiled a list of some other amazing places in Alsace you should visit while you’re here.
Mont Sainte Odile
At an elevation of 767 meters (2516 ft.), in the heart of the Vosges mountains, Mont Sainte Odile is a symbol of Alsace.
For centuries it served as an influential convent dedicated to the patron saint of Alsace, Odile. While the church is still active, the remaining buildings have been converted into a hotel.
Today, it mainly serves as a tourist attraction offering spectacular panoramic views over the region. From here you can even see Strasbourg’s Notre Dame Cathedral!
Getting there: While you can visit Mont Sainte Odile via public transport, I recommend hiking. The three most common starting points are Barr, Obernai, and Rosheim.
Built during the Middle Ages, Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle is one of the largest castles in Alsace. Up until the Thirty Years War, when it fell to Swedish forces, it served as a lookout point for the region.
But, after its collapse, it was burned to the ground and abandoned for more than 200 years.
Extensive renovations restored the castle to its original glory. And, today, this is an absolute must-see destination in Alsace, especially if you’re a history buff!
Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle can be accessed by car or public transportation.
- By car, it’s 55 kilometers (34 miles) south of Strasbourg and takes about 40 minutes.
- By public transportation, it can be easily reached from either Colmar or Strasbourg. First, take the train to Sélestat, then take the Haut-Koenigsbourg Shuttle directly to the castle.
Route des Vins (Wine Route)
Stretching from Marlenheim to Thann, the Alsace Wine Route is the most famous in France. This 170-kilometer route weaves in and out of all the Alsatian villages listed above. You’ll indulge in delicious wine and food while taking in some of the most spectacular scenery.
It’s something not to be missed if you’re visiting Alsace!
Useful Tip: My favorite winery is Horcher Wines in Mittlewihr. It’s a small family-owned vineyard with delicious wine. If you are looking for an intimate setting, this is the place for you.
Getting there: The best way to explore the Alsace Wine Route is to go on a tour of Alsace. It’s convenient, easy, and hassle-free!
Map of Towns in Alsace to Visit
Below is a map of the Alsatian villages that will be covered in this post. (Click the map to open Google Maps.)
What is Alsace Famous For?
Alsace stands apart from any other region of France. It offers a quaint mix of German and French cultures while showcasing medieval castles, vineyards, and traditional villages, all at the foot of the Vosges mountains.
Needless to say, Alsace is famous for a lot.
Below I’ll cover what Alsace is most known for so you know what to look for when you travel through the region.
Colorful Half-Timbered Houses
Alsace is most known for its brightly colored half-timbered houses.
And, while there are several theories on why they are so vibrant, two stand out.
The first suggests that the color of the building was used to identify the type of business (butcher, baker, etc.). And the second says that the colors represented the religion of the household. Blue for Catholicism and red for Protestantism. Today, the goal is to have a color different from your neighbor.
From the bright summer sun to the nutritious soil, Alsace offers the perfect environment for wine growers.
In general, there are seven varieties of grapes in Alsace, each one offering a unique wine. Some of the most famous include Gewurztraminer, Riesling d’Alsace, and Pinot Gris d’Alsace.
You can sample Alsatian wine at any restaurant or winery in the region.
Flammekueche, more locally known as tarte flambée, is a regional pizza-like specialty that consists of thin dough topped with lardons, onions, and crème fraîche. While many restaurants use a regular oven, it’s not considered a ‘real’ flammekueche unless it’s cooked in a wood-fired oven.
You can find this delicious treat anywhere in Alsace, with each town offering its own take on the recipe. It’s definitely a must if you are in the area.
Over the last 200 years, Alsace has changed nationality (between France and Germany) at least four times. And, even though it, now, belongs to France, it still retains many of the laws it once had under German rule. It even has its own language, Alsatian, a dialect that mixes both French and German languages.
Lively Christmas Markets
The Christmas markets in Alsace are, no doubt, the most famous in France.
Every winter, at the beginning of December, the region undergoes a spectacular transformation.
Local vendors from around Alsace fill wooden chalets with handmade crafts and trinkets while buildings are decorated with festive displays. The streets are lit with colorful lights as onlookers sip hot glühwein (mulled wine) and nibble on Alsacian delicacies.
It’s a fairytale-like winter wonderland that will leave you in awe.
Every year, during the months of February and March, storks flock to the region to nest. And it’s for this very reason that the stork has become the symbol of Alsace.
In fact, the arrival of the stork marks the start of spring. If you keep your eyes peeled you can often spot nests on the roofs of houses throughout Alsace.
Best Time to Visit Alsace
Alsace is a year-round destination where each season offers something unique.
Early Spring to mid-Summer (April to June) – The weather is mild, and the villages are decorated with fresh, vibrant flowers. The summer crowds have not arrived, so prices are reasonable. But, if you travel during this time of the year, you should still book your accommodation in advance.
Summer (July and August) – Alsace is alive and bustling with tourists. This is one of the busiest periods of the year. The sun is almost always shining, and the vineyards are in full bloom. Expect higher prices and make sure to plan your stay in advance.
Fall (September to mid-November) – This is my favorite time to tour around Alsace. The weather is mild, and the summer crowds are long gone. The vineyards turn bright orange, and the trees radiate with magnificent fall colors. It’s one of the most spectacular times to visit.
Winter (mid-November to February) – This is another busy time. In December, Alsace transforms into a winter wonderland as the Christmas markets start to open. Prices are also at their highest. The weather is cold and rainy, so make sure to bring warm clothing.
Getting Around Alsace
While the region is not gigantic, getting around Alsace can be tricky, especially for the smaller towns. Below I’ll cover the best ways to get around Alsace.
Visiting Alsace as part of a tour is the most convenient way to see the area. You won’t have to worry about organizing every step of the process or getting lost on the one-way streets. Everything is planned so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your trip.
If you prefer to travel at your own pace, then renting a car is the best option. You’ll have complete control over your itinerary and be able to plan exactly what you want to do. It will even give you a chance to get off the typical tourist path.
Taking a train is the cheapest option. Keep in mind that several of the smaller villages don’t have train stations. So, you won’t get to visit these places, but you’ll still be able to see the main highlights.
If you’re up for an adventure then renting a bike is the best option. There are tons of biking paths, including the Alsace Wine Route.
FAQS About Towns in Alsace
What is the most beautiful village in Alsace France?
There are so many beautiful villages in Alsace. But the most beautiful is Colmar.
What is the main town in Alsace?
The main town in Alsace is Strasbourg.
Is Alsace more French or German?
While Alsace is more French than German in terms of politics, there are hints of both cultures in its architecture and cuisine.
Are the people in Alsace friendly?
Yes, people in Alsace are friendly and very welcoming. Residents embrace visitors from all over the world and will happily share their local knowledge with tourists.
Do people speak French in Alsace?
Yes, people speak French in Alsace. Some locals also speak the regional dialect called Alsatian.
Conclusion: Most Charming Towns in Alsace
Alsace is a must-see region in France. Whether you love history, culture, or nature, there is no shortage of things to do. Visit the cobbled streets of Eguisheim or sample a glass of wine in Dambach-la-Ville. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. So, now, all that’s left to do is pack your bags and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!
Read More Articles About France
I hope you enjoyed my article on the most charming towns to visit in Alsace and found it useful. Here are some other articles about France that I think you might enjoy!
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