Every town in Alsace France is like a postcard, beautifully coloured house’s, small streams and stalks nesting on roofs. Alsace towns make you feel like you are stepping into a 1600’s canvas painted by one of the masters. Colours and designs hit you from all directions. It is hard to pick the best place to visit in the Alsace
You drive through the countryside and you see miles and miles of grapes and produce growing as far as the eye can see. It is an amazing area on the French/ German Border with many things to do in Alsace.
There are Alsace attractions everywhere you look. Every windy road, every small village will provide you with a unique experience. Strasbourg is the biggest city in the Alsace Lorraine region.
Wine and produce are the order of the day or week when visiting the
I have purposely left Strasbourg and Colmar out of this list as I see articles regarding them everywhere.
Strasbourg and Colmar are beautiful towns and are a must-see if you are in the Alsace area.
I have focused more on the lesser-known towns and attractions in Alsace because sometimes you can get away from the bustling area in these towns. We think these 5 things not to miss in Alsace are amazing attractions in this region. Visit Alsace for all the finest things in France
Visit Alsace – Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg
Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg through the centuries has fallen under the banner of the Habsburgs and Wilhelm II the last of the German Emperors. We opted to for a self-guided tour with an audio guide so we could explore at our own pace. Koenigsbourg has 3 levels to explore on your self-guided tour.
Take your time to stroll the castle some of the views are amazing. We took 2 plus hours to wander the castle but much longer could be spent without time restrictions. The castle has a restaurant, souvenir shop and toilets on site. Click HERE for a more detailed article on our visit to Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg.
Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg sits upon its mountains at an altitude of 800 meters like a king overlooking his kingdom. This king had a 270-degree view over all his lands and can see any challengers coming from miles away. The view reaches as far as the black forest in Baden Wattenberg Germany. These days all that is surveyed is tourist streaming up the roads of the Vosges Mountains that lead to Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg.
What to do in Keyserberg
Kayserberg is located between Colmar and Ribeauville. Kayserberg is generally considered to be one of the most attractive small towns in the Alsace region. The ruins of Chateau de Kaysersbergs sits on a hill on the outskirts overlooking this amazing little town.
The chateau was built in the 13th century when an important trade route used to pass through this valley. This route has been protected since Roman times. The town sits in a valley with hills full of grapes raising around it.
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The Weiss river runs through the town. You cross over the river on a beautiful 16th century stone bridge which adds more charm to this already mesmerising picturesque town. The main street is full of amazing colourful wood and stone houses dating back to the 16th century. The Keyserberg Christmas markets rank among the most popular events in Alsace. Kaysersberg features on the Alsace Wine Route.
The wine route plays a big part in Alsace tourism. For some, the wine is the best of Alsace. The wine route is popular with many tourists as it passes through many picturesque villages and vineyards that cover the hills of this area and the small towns of France in Alsace.
Alsace France – Montagne Les Singes
La Montagne des Singes is home to 200 Barbary Macaques. A 60-acre reservation on a mountainside in France is a strange place to find monkeys I must agree. This is an amazing sanctuary for these animals. The Barbary Macaques is listed as an endangered species by the United Nations.
La Montagne des Singes is playing its part in the conservation and breeding of these monkeys. Since the reservation has been in use 600 of its Barbary Macaques have been re-introduced back into their natural habitat in northern Africa.
The sanctuary allows the monkey to freely roam the area. When you enter you are given popcorn to feed the monkeys. The monkey will come and take the popcorn from your hand. It’s an amazing experience to be able to get this close to these animals.
It’s a unique experience to walk the park and see babies and families of these beautiful animals up close. There are workers present throughout the park who are happy to answer your questions. One of the best things to do with kids in Alsace France.
Family Travel Tip: Make sure you look up the times for the feeding of the monkeys. The park staff put on a presentation and a question and answer time while feeding the monkeys. The kids will love this as nearly all the 200 monkeys in the park converge on the one place.
Alsace attractions – Ribeauville
Ribeauville has an amazing main shopping street, maybe the best in the Alsace region. The Grand Rue is a narrow street that winds it was up a slight incline while featuring a castle on a hill that always sits in your line of sight. There is 3 castle on the hills that surround Ribeauville.
Chateau Saint-Ulrich, Chateau Ginsberg and Chateau Haut-Ribeaupierre all overlook the town. There is marked walking trails that lead from the town that passes all three castles. The street is filled with boutique shops selling the best produce of the Alsace region. Drinking and eating are popular activité Alsace.
Beer, Wine from grand cru vineyards of Alsace, meats, cheese, fruit, and vegetables along with handicrafts are readily available. Along with the other towns, I have mentioned Ribeauville has an abundance of beautiful houses and building that will have to reach for the camera.
Ribeauville has preserved some of its medieval fortifications as part of the town walls and a watchtower are still standing today. Ribeauville features as part of the Alsace Wine Route.
Looking to get away from the tourist in Ribeaville? Gourman Drinks at 51 rue des juifs is just the place. It is where the locals come to have a beer, wine or coffee. Just turn left at the end of the town square where the Credit Mutuel bank is. Walk about 100 meters and you see Gourman Drinks Ribeaville on you left.Gourman Drinks is open 11am -2pm and 5pm till late everyday except Monday
Beauty and the Beast inspired by Alsace
Beauty and The Beast was inspired by Alsace. Belle’s hometown were inspired by some of the villages in Alsace. The real villages of Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé, two neighbouring towns in the Alsace region. Disney animators visited Riquewihr and Ribeauvillé for inspiration for the village created in Beauty and the Beast
Alsace Region – Riquewihr
Riquewihr is the smallest of the amazing towns we visited in Alsace. It’s another typical tradition town of the region bright coloured house and cellars full of wine. The tightly built house date back from the 15th century onwards.
The town walls once used to protect the town and now covered in the grapes. The Dolder town gate dates back to the 13th century. Riquewihr is sometimes known as The Gem of the Alsace Vineyards. Riquewihr is home to one of the most famous Alsace wine house Dopff Au Moulin.
Dopff is famous worldwide for its Alsace Gewurztraminer and is one of the major vineyards to visit in Alsace. The tourist office can provide you with a map so you can explore the historic town of Riquewihr and the best of Alsace.
Family Travel Tip: Riquewihr is also home to the most amazing Christmas shop that you will ever see. Two floors of every type of Christmas decoration and trinkets you could ever imagine. Our kids were mesmerised by this shops we had trouble getting them out the door.
Le Palais du Pain d’epices
Who would have thought that there is a museum dedicated to Ginger Bread? Well in Alsace such things exist. Visiting a Ginger Bread museum is certainly one of the unique things to do in Alsace. This amazing Alsace museum is in Gertwiller.
The museum guides you through 5 different fun themed gingerbread worlds of Alsace. You will move through the Attic which explains you the history of Alsatian Gingerbread. In all these worlds you will be guided by The Manele ( French for a Gingerbread Man ).
The bedroom takes you through interactive games and helps you discover the legend and smells of the Gingerbread. Mannele’s Kitchen world shows you how the traditional Alsace Gingerbread is made.
The world of Hansel and Gretal in the amazing garden shows you an enchanted world of all things gingerbread before you finish up in the Christmas traditions in Alsace. This should certainly be on your any Alsace tourist map you are following.
As you exit the Gingerbread museum you enter the shop which sells the Alsatian Gingerbread. You will find Gingerbread in all shapes, sizes and flavours. You will also find other regional specialities, such as wine, beer, jams, biscuits and more.
The Colmar Christmas Market
The Colmar Christmas Market is the most famous of the Alsace Christmas markets. Visiting the Colmar Christmas Market at night is an assault on your sense in all directions. Visually it’s amazing with Christmas lights making the evening darkness dance, with the food smells make your mouth water and the sounds of Christmas bring joy to your ears.
The Colmar Christmas market is certainly an experience. The Colmar town centre is a pedestrian zone making it totally accessible for the whole family to experience the area safely.
You will find carousels and ice rinks, you will find local crafts and gourmet delicacies. The Colmar Christmas Market generally runs for 5 weeks finishing just before New Year’s Eve. The Noel en Alsace ( Christmas in Alsace ) is the most popular time to visit.
You will find Alsace Christmas Markets in most towns with popular markets located in Munster, Keysersberg, Turckheim, Eguisheim, Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, Neuf Brisach and Rouffach. Each of these towns celebrates Noel en Alsace with a different theme.
Sitting on the hill behind Equisheim is Chateau Hohlandsbourg, Looking more like a prison than with its square shape and high walls than a French Chateau. This Alsace Chateau is small but packed full of great features. The walls of the Chateau Hohlandsbourg are walkable.
The views from the top are amazing. On one side you can look into Germany and the Black Forest and on the other side into valleys and forests of the Alsace. You will find some permanent exhibitions displaying artifacts from the Chateau. There is a cafe/restaurant on site. We enjoyed some coffee and cake while taking in the beauty of this Alsace Chateau.
Wolfberger Wines Eguisheim Alsace
Looking for a place to taste and buy a great selection of Alsace Wines. Look no further than the wine caves of Wolfberger. The seller door allows you to taste a few wines before you buy. This winery has been working the vineyards of the Alsace since 1908.
You will also find a small museum in the seller door area that explains the history of the winery. Like all good business’s they have diversified and now produce spirits, cordials and flavours that can be added to beer and wines.
Mont Sainte Odile
Set high in the Vosges Mountains of the Alsace above the town of Barr is Mont Sainte Odile. It’s a beautiful but solitary place sounded by forest and perched on a cliff face. Just the sort of place for a saint to be buried. Odile was blind but regained her eyesight after Saint Erhard of Regensburg was led, by an angel where he baptised her, thus bringing her eyesight back.
The Monastery was originally built sometime in the early 7th century, but has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the years. Today there is a Church, chapels, hotels, cafe and gift shop. Mont Sainte Odile is one of the most beautiful spots in all of the Alsace to visit.
Neuf – Brisach
Neuf-Brisach is a small town very close to the Rhine and the German border. Neuf-Brisach is known for its fortifications, built in the 17th century by the famous French military architect Vauban. The octagonal design of the fortification makes this a unique site. UNESCO classifies it as a world heritage site. You can park and go for a walk on the defensive walls.
This allows you to see the scopa nad design of Neuf Brisach much better. Inside the town itself, there is a large town square dominated by the local cathedral and a few shops opened here and there. This is an important Alsace attraction being 1 of only 2 UNESCO sites in the region. The other being The Humanist Library in Sélestat
Things to do in the Alsace with kids
Struthof Natzweiler Concentration Camp
The only Concentration Camp in France ever set up by the Nazi’s is located in the Alsace. The Alsace Concentration Camp Stuthof is located high in the Vosges Mountains. It would be hard to pick a more scenic spot for such a horrible place to exist. Surrounded by high trees, mountains and natural beauty Struthof opened its doors in 1941 on the direction of Hinrik Himler.
52,000 prisoners moved through Stuthof with over 22,000 of them losing their lives. Most died during work duties, extracting red granite from the nearby mountains. Today at the camp several buildings remain including the camp barracks, the former gas chamber, a national cemetery, as well as the Europen Center of Deported Resistance. It is a touching and moving site to visit.
Hiking in the Alsace – The Bruche Valley
The Bruche Valley high in the Vosges Mountains is popular with people looking to explore the amazing nature in the Alsace. In the Bruche Valley, walking and Mountain Biking are second nature in the summer months. In winter nordic walking and cross country skiing take over.
The area has over 450km of marked trails as well as 32 Discovery Trails, and 2 sculpture tracks. We witnessed many families out with their children enjoying the early winter snows with toboggans or just walking the dogs. Outdoor experiences are important to the people of the Alsace in France
I purposely left Strasbourg to last in this article because I wanted everyone to see more of the Alsace than just Strasbourg. Strasbourg is the biggest city and the capital of the Alsace. Strasbourg has a long history dating back to Roman times and more recently being part of Germany then France then Germany and finally France again.
Palace Rohan in Strasbourg has a long history dating back to the 17th century and has hosted guests including Marie Antoinette and Napoleon. Today the Rohan Palace Strasbourg is home to some amazing museums to visit.
The Strasbourg Cathedral site next door to the Rohan Palace. Construction started in 1015 and for a while, it was the tallest building in the world. Today it the highest extant structure built entirely in the Middle Ages .
Petite France Strasbourg is the most popular od the tourist attractions in the city. the area is known for cobblestone streets, canals, and well-preserved half-timbered homes that are painted in bright colours.
A stroll around this area and you find artisan eateries and craft souvenirs. There is picture waiting to be taken on every corner of the Strasbourg Petite France area.
Getting to Alsace:
Alsace is located in Eastern France on the border with Germany and Switzerland.
Alsace France is best accessed by Strasbourg Airport or the Basel Mulhouse Freiburg Airport. We recommend MOMONDO for your flight searches.
From Paris the TGV fast train services to Basel, Strasbourg and Freiburg. From Germany, Freiburg is the key access point for transport arrivals by train and bus.
Book a bus to the cities of Alsace France such as Strasbourg, Colmar or any of the small towns of France from domestic and international locations
Rent a car on arrival at Airports with Auto Europe
Getting around Alsace :
All the areas of The Alsace Region are conveniently linked by public transport. There is a network of buses and coaches. The most simple way to organize your trip is to plan your public transport needs on the Vialsace.
Alsace destinations are accessible by 2500 km of bike paths and green paths. This makes the Alsace region very attractive for cyclists. The A 35 motorway crosses Alsace from the North to the South going through Strasbourg, Colmar, Mulhouse et Saint-Louis. You can exit here for Basel.
Where to stay in Alsace:
Alsace has accommodation options for every budget from Hostels, to apartments and hotels rooms.
Hostels can start from as little as 16 Euro a night for a shared dorm room.
Hotels in Alsace generally start from around $88.00 a night for a double room 3star and increase incrementally as the luxury rating rises towards the 5-star average price of $233.00.
(All coloured text in the Getting to Alsace, Getting around Alsace and Where to stay in Alsace links to the pages mentioned for your information and booking convenience. We at Wyld Family Travel will make a small commission from any bookings you make. This money goes into maintaining our website)
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About the Author
Mark Wyld is a father, husband and traveller. Having been to over 30 countries worldwide I think I know a thing or 2 about travelling with kids. I have been writing about travel on our website for the last 4 years and have featured on numerous other websites. When I am not talking, dreaming and planning travel I can be found working in disability support .