Colmar, situated in the northeastern part of France’s Alsace region, is a charming little town that captivates visitors with its picturesque beauty and rich history. With its well-preserved medieval old town and stunning blend of German and French architectural styles, Colmar is a must-visit destination for those wanting to explore a picture-perfect Atlassian town.
One of the main draws of Colmar is its remarkably well-preserved old town. The canals and lanes are lined with colourful and historic half-timbered houses.
From Little Venice to Fishmonger’s district, strolling through the medieval streets, you will encounter an array of charming shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Other than its immaculately preserved architecture, Colmar is also home to Auguste Bartholdi, the famous sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty.
Lastly, food lovers will be delighted by Colmar as it sits in the heart of the renowned Alsace region, celebrated for its delicious cuisine and exquisite wines.
Here’s a very short video with some of the highlights from our trip to Colmar.Subscribe to my YouTube channel
With so much to see and do, let us help you plan your trip to Colmar and discover the best way to explore all its top attractions!
How to visit Colmar?
Nestled near the borders of Germany and Switzerland, Colmar is a sought-after destination for travellers not only from France but also from its neighbouring countries. For instance, it’s just an hour’s drive from Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany or Basel in Switzerland. Alternatively, taking a train is even quicker.
If you happen to be in the bustling city of Strasbourg, France, you can easily reach Colmar within 30 minutes by train or an hour by car, following the A35 route. And for those starting their journey in the French capital, Paris, a direct train will whisk you away to Colmar in a mere 2.5 hours, allowing you to savour the town’s charm in no time.
How many days should you spend in Colmar?
Many visitors opt for a day trip to Colmar from nearby cities, such as Strasbourg or Basel.
While it’s feasible to see the town’s main attractions in a day, we recommend staying overnight in Colmar. This allows you to fully immerse yourself in the charm of its museums, narrow lanes, and delightful culinary scene.
Where to stay in Colmar?
So, if you do decide to follow our advice, Colmar offers plenty of accommodation options in the form of budget and luxury hotels, and apartments. Here are our top curated options for you:
- Reflets Sur La Lauch offers accommodation next to the Little Venice of Colmar and with a view of the Lauch River.
- Hotel Le Colombier is another fine establishment also located in the Little Venice district of Colmar town centre.
- L’Esquisse is a 5-star hotel and spa in the heart of the historic centre. In the green haven of the Champ de Mars, it offers you a unique and precious experience.
- Finally, Studio “PFISTER” is a charming budget apartment located in the heart of Colmar, a short walk from the Unterlinden Museum and right next to the famous La Maison Des Têtes. This is where we spent our nights in Colmar.
If none of the above options interests you, feel free to pick one from the map below.
Things to do in Colmar
With its picturesque half-timbered houses, medieval architecture, crisscrossing canals, maze of cobblestone lanes and delicious cuisine, Colmar offers plenty of things to do.
Here is our list of must-do things in France’s fairytale town.
1. Explore the Old Town and Little Venice
Little Venice, or Petite Venice, is perhaps the most popular attraction in Colmar. It is the charming name given to the part of the Lauch River in Colmar.
This designation likely originated from the alignment of houses on both sides of the river, which stretches toward the southeastern part of the city and the river that resembles a canal passing through the town.
And just like the real Venice, visitors also have the opportunity to enjoy boat rides in this picturesque area.
This colourful district starts behind the Koïfhus building, passes through the fishmonger’s area, and extends to Rue Turenne and Saint-Pierre bridges, two of the best viewing points.
On the sides of the canal, behind the colourful houses, are quaint cobblestone alleys sprinkled with cafes, bakeries, and other hidden gems.
2. Stroll along the Quai de la Poissonnerie
The Quai de la Poissonnerie, or the fishmonger’s district, was my favourite attraction in Colmar. A short walk from Little Venice, the fishmonger’s district possesses a fairytale-like charm thanks to the colourful half-timbered houses that adorn the side of the canal.
The fishmonger’s district was once home to the majority of professional fishermen and boatmen who stored the fish they caught in fish ponds or sold them within the district.
Unfortunately, a devastating fire in 1706 ravaged over forty houses in this area. However, between 1978 and 1981, significant renovation efforts were undertaken to restore numerous charming half-timbered houses in this district.
Be sure to enjoy the vibrant ambience of this waterfront promenade lined with restaurants and cafes, and savour the local cuisine. For the best views, head to the Pont Rue des Ecoles.
3. Savour Alsatian Cuisine
We did not know much about Alsatian cuisine before visiting Colmar and Strasbourg but as food lovers, it didn’t take us much time to appreciate the local delicacies! Local dishes such as Choucroute garnie and tarte flambée soon became our favourite Alsatian dishes!
Choucroute garnie is an Alsatian recipe for preparing sauerkraut with sausages and other salted meats and charcuterie, and often potatoes.
Flammekueche (in German or Alsatian), or tarte flambée (in French), is a speciality of the region of Alsace that resembles a very thin pizza. The original recipe calls for it to be covered with fromage blanc or crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons.
A visit to Colmar would be incomplete if you didn’t visit La Soi, widely regarded as the best restaurant in the town for tarte flambée.
With its limited tables and cosy atmosphere, we highly recommend booking well in advance.
17 Rue des Marchands, 68000 Colmar, France
+33 3 89 29 63 50
Another must-visit restaurant in Colmar is Aux Armes de Colmar. Known for their delectable selection of local dishes and wines, and extremely friendly service, this restaurant should also be on your list.
Once again, we recommend making a booking well in advance.
Aux Armes de Colmar
2b Rue Rapp, 68000 Colmar, France
Another old and amazing establishment that we dined at was Restaurant Pfeffel, located right next to the Unterlinden Museum.
4. Discover the Saint-Martin Church
The towering spire of the Saint-Martin Church is visible from almost every corner of Colmar’s old town.
This religious landmark is known for its splendid Gothic architecture and historical significance. Dating back to the 13th century, the church stands as a testament to the rich religious heritage of the region.
From up close, you can admire its intricate details, from the soaring spire reaching towards the sky to the exquisite stained glass windows that allow colourful light to cascade onto the interior.
The interior of the church is equally impressive, featuring ornate stone carvings, and graceful arches.
As mentioned earlier, one of the notable features of the Saint-Martin Church is its impressive spire, reaching a height of approximately 70 meters (230 feet). Climbing the steps to the top provides a one-of-a-kind vantage point to appreciate the beauty of the church and the surrounding area.
5. Explore the Bartholdi Museum
The Bartholdi Museum celebrates the life and work of its most famous resident, Auguste Bartholdi. The building that houses the museum is his birthplace and childhood home.
The museum showcases a diverse collection of Bartholdi’s works, including sculptures, drawings, models, and personal artefacts.
Here you can trace the artist’s creative process and delve into his artistic vision through the extensive exhibits.
From statues portraying historical figures to monumental public artworks, each piece on display reveals Bartholdi’s remarkable talent and artistic expression.
But most notably, the Bartholdi Museum houses original sketches and studies for his most iconic creation, the Statue of Liberty. With a floor dedicated to it, you can admire the entire history and effort that went into one of the most iconic statues in the world!
6. Visit the Pfister House
The Pfister House, constructed in 1537, was originally owned by Ludwig Scherer, a hatter who amassed his wealth through money trading in Val de Liepvre.
Stand in front of the house and marvel at one of Colmar’s most iconic buildings, a well-preserved Renaissance house adorned with beautiful frescoes and other notable features such as a two-story corner oriel, an octagonal turret, and mural paintings.
Over the years, the Pfister House has become a symbolic representation of old Colmar. And in case you were wondering, the name Pfister comes from the family that restored and resided in the house from 1841 to 1892.
7. Visit the Unterlinden Museum
The Unterlinden Museum is a highly regarded cultural institution in Colmar that is home to an impressive collection of art spanning from the Middle Ages to modern times.
Housed in a former 13th-century Dominican convent, the museum showcases an array of masterpieces, with the renowned Isenheim Altarpiece being the centrepiece.
Beyond the Isenheim Altarpiece, the museum boasts an extensive collection of artworks, including European paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and archaeological artefacts.
Although we missed out on visiting the museum, we recommend that you do and learn more about it on its website.
8. Visit the Dominican Church
Located close to the Saint-Martin Church, is the Dominican Church. The church completed construction in the 14th century and showcased the architectural style of the mendicant orders.
A fire in 1458 caused damage to the roof and cloister, leading to reconstruction efforts. In 1720, the church underwent baroque decoration, giving it a less austere appearance.
Throughout most of the 19th century, the Dominican church was repurposed for non-religious use, only to regain its religious function in 1898.
Since 1973, the Dominican Church has housed Martin Schongauer’s masterpiece, the Madonna of the Rose Bush.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t enter the church during our visit and only got to admire it from the outside, where the Easter Market was in full swing.
9. Enjoy the Covered Market
The Covered Market was designed in 1865 and has served various purposes over the years, before eventually returning to its original function as a market hall.
The market is located in the heart of Quai de la Poissonnerie, next to the Pont Rue des Ecoles.
Step inside and indulge in regional gastronomy by browsing through local produce, cheeses, wines, and other specialities.
10. Visit the Replica of the Statue of Liberty
If you happen to drive into Colmar from Strasbourg, don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by the Statue of Liberty!
This replica of the Statue of Liberty, sometimes referred to as the “Little Sister of Liberty, ” is a tribute to Bartholdi, who was born in the town. It stands at a height of 12.65 meters (about 41 feet) and was unveiled in 2004. While smaller in scale than its iconic counterpart, it captures the essence and grandeur of the original statue.
The replica of the Statue of Liberty is located on the Rte de Strasbourg and can be visited by bus. Or if you have a car, it’s a short 10 min drive from the old town centre.
11. Admire La Maison des Têtes
If the Pfister House didn’t excite you as much, take a short walk down to La Maison des Têtes (literally house of heads), a fascinating historical building that holds much intrigue within its walls.
Built during the early 17th century, this unique gem gets its name from the numerous sculpted heads adorning its facade. The elaborate sculptural details depict a variety of characters and mythical creatures, adding an element of whimsy to the building’s exterior.
These intricately carved heads represent a remarkable blend of Renaissance and Baroque styles, making La Maison des Têtes a unique sight to behold.
Throughout its history, La Maison des Têtes has served a range of purposes. Originally a private residence, it later functioned as an inn, a pastry shop, and even a museum for a brief period. Today, the building is home to a luxury hotel and restaurant.Stay At The Relais & Châteaux La Maison Des Têtes
12. Grab a Coffee and Cake at Au Croissant Doré
If you’re looking for a place to take a quick break to relax those legs, be sure to grab a coffee and a slice of cake at Au Croissant Doré.
This famous cafe in the heart of Colmar offers a selection of French pastries, cakes, and savouries. The cosy decor and the charming hosts will be more than happy to give you their recommendations or talk about the history of the town.
The cakes finish by late afternoon, so be sure to get there on time!
13. Enjoy the Christmas Market or Easter Market
Colmar is known for its famous Colmar Market which draws thousands of visitors every year!
Fortunately, we visited the town during Easter and the Easter Market is equally beautiful. It made Colmar come alive with local artists, wineries, and gastronomical delights. But of course, if you’re visiting during the holiday season, you should definitely immerse yourself in the enchanting atmosphere of Colmar’s famous Christmas Market.
14. Shop at Le Comptoir de Mathilde
We found Le Comptoir de Mathilde to be one of the most charming shops in Colmar.
The shop sells some of the most delicious and unique gastronomical delights. Step inside and discover their selection of chocolates, pâtes, cakes, biscuits, jams, honey, and other local surprises!
Colmar – France’s Fairytale Town!
I’ve been wanting to visit Colmar for many years and after finally visiting it, I completely understand the charm of this Altsasian town!
Colmar’s unique blend of architectural beauty, and cultural and gastronomic delights make it an irresistible destination for travellers seeking a taste of quintessential French charm in the heart of picturesque Alsace.
Thank you for reading our guide to Colmar. If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it on the social media channel of your choice. And check out more photos from our trip in our Colmar photo gallery.