Every town in Alsace France is like a postcard, beautifully coloured houses, cobblestone streets, 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 things to do in the Alsace. One thing we can say is if your taking holidays in France then visit Alsace is a must
- All the very best things to do in the Alsace
- Things to eat in the Alsace
- Getting to Alsace
- Where to stay in Alsace
You drive through the countryside and you see miles and miles of grapes and produce growing as far as the eye can see. The Alsace is in North East France wedge between the Rhine River and the Vosges Mountains.
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. A trip from Paris to Strasbourg is easily done.
Wine and produce are the order of the day or week when visiting the
All the very best things to do in the Alsace
I have focused on some of the lesser-known towns and attractions in Alsace as well as the gems Colmar and Strasbourg. We think there 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. 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. Take your time to stroll the castle some of the views are amazing.
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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 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.
Drink wine in the Alsace
The route de vin plays a big part in Alsace tourism. For some, wine is the best in Alsace. The Alsace 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. Look out for the regional specialty Alsace gewürztraminer
2 of the best Alsace wineries to visit include Wolfburger and Dopff. Wolfburger Wine Cave in Eguisheim is amazing for both buying and tasting the fine Alsace wines. In Riqewhir you will find the Dopff Moulan winery and cave. Dopff was founded in 1574.
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.
- All the best tips for visiting Chateau Haut Koenigsbourg
- 5 of the very best Christmas Markets in the Alsace
- Things to do in Strasbourg with teenagers
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.
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.
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 in one place.
Alsace attractions – Ribeauville
Ribeauville is one of the best small towns in France. This Alsace village 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.
Ribeauville has preserved some of its medieval fortifications as part of the town walls and a watchtower is still standing today. Ribeauville features as part of the Alsace Wine Route. The Cave de Ribeauvillé, the oldest wine cooperative in France which today operates 225 hectares of vineyards on hillsides around Ribeauvillé and the surrounding towns. The street is filled with boutique shops selling the best produce in the Alsace region. Drinking and eating are popular activité Alsace.
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. Walkabout 100 meters and you see Gourman Drinks Ribeaville on your left.Gourman Drinks is open 11am -2pm and 5pm till late everyday except Monday
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.
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 ).
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 Alsace Christmas Markets
December is a time when the Alsace comes alive. Every town and village has a Christmas market running either every day or at least on the weekends. Some of the Alsace Christmas markets such as Colmar and Strasbourg are well known worldwide. Strasbourg first held a Christmas Market back in 1570. Expect to find locals mingling drinking the season mulled hot wine and eating Christmas food s such as fried potatoes and sausage. The Christmas markets of the Alsace are jammed full of stalls selling local crafts, jewellery, food and beverages
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. Visit Alsace for that authentic Christmas experience
Exploring Colmar is like jumping into a fairytale, you nearly expect to see houses made of Gingerbread. You will find amazing coloured wooden house, blooming flowers stalks on roofs, the sort of stuff that inspired stories like Beauty and the Beast. Colmar is charming, enchanting and absolutely captivating for all, its an assault on the senses both sight and taste. You will find some amazing things to do in Colmar.
In Colmar, the Little Venice area is not to be missed. Much like the Petite France area of Strasbourg, Little Venice in Colmar is all about canals, colours and traditional Alsace houses. Stroll the old town area taking in its cobblestoned streets, poke your head into the wine caves, visit some museums, eat and drink. In a nondescript area of town, in the middle of a roundabout people will find the French Statue of Liberty. What makes Colmar and the Alsace so special is a mashing of influences from France, Germany and Switzerland
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.
Things to eat in the Alsace
The Alsace region is known for its amazing food and wine as mentioned above. The Alsace has the greatest density of Michelin-starred restaurants in France. There are a few foods that we highly recommend trying while you are visiting Colmar and the surrounding areas. The following foods are a must-try
- Flammkuchen is a speciality of Alsace and the Baden-Württemberg region on the German-French border. We call it the Alsace Pizza as It is composed of bread dough rolled out like a thin crust pizza base. It is topped with Fromage blanc or crème fraîche ( both white soft kinds of cheese), thin-sliced onions and bacon batons. Flammekueche is a must when you visit this region
- Choucroute Garni is an Alsatian recipe for preparing sauerkraut with sausages and other salted meats. Traditionally the Alsace version of the recipes calls for three types of sausage: Morteau sausage, Strasbourg sausage and Frankfurt sausage. Fatty, inexpensive or salted cuts of pork such as ham hocks, pork knuckles and shoulders, back bacon and slices of salt pork are also added. These meats are served along with sauerkraut (cabbage) and in some places potatoes.
- Croque Monsieur, a ham and cheese sandwich is a highly popular fast food item sold everywhere
- Baeckeoffe combines potato, cubed mutton, onion, beef, and pork which has been marinated overnight in Alsatian white wine and juniper berries. The dish is then slow-cooked in a bread-dough sealed ceramic casserole dish. Some people add herbs and additional vegetables such as leeks and carrot.
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
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 Heinrich Himmler.
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
Storks have been part of Alsace for centuries, each year the storks would migrate from Africa, where they spent the winter, and come to Alsace in the summer. The Alsace storks are thought to be symbols of happiness, faithfulness, fertility and good luck. Maybe this comes from the association that Alsace Storks deliver babies. The Stork appears in legends and folk tales from the French Alsace region.
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 is 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 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 a 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 bike tours a great way to see Alsace attractions. 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. Weather it is a weekend in the Alsace or month you will find somewhere amazing to stay.
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.
We hope this article from us here at Wyld Family Travel has given you some great ideas for your trip to the Alsace region in France. It is easy to find so many things to do in the Alsace that will make your trip to France unforgettable. For more amazing ideas on where to holiday in France click through to our France Destination Guide page for more brilliant inspiration.
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Mark WyldAuthor Bio:
Father, husband, traveller and chief destination manager here at Wyld Family Travel. When Mark is not talking travel or planning travel you will find him working in disability support. Mark is a family travel advocate having travelled to over 45 countries with his kids from 10 months old, through to their teenage years. You will find his work here and on other popular websites.