When I first saw photos of the town of Colmar, it immediately got added to our travel wish list. With its colorful buildings, bouquets of flowers, and scenic streets, it looked like it was plucked right out of a fairy tale. With a little more research, I was thrilled to learn that Colmar is just one of many fairytale towns you can visit in the Alsace wine region. We spent several days touring the Alsace wine route and here are our ten favorite fairytale towns.
The Alsace Wine Route
Located in eastern France, the Alsace Wine Route spans 170 km, starting near Strasbourg in the north and ending just south of Colmar.
This area is a wonderful blend of French and German culture. Colorful, half-timbered buildings line cobblestoned streets. For most of the year, flowers are everywhere…spilling out of flower boxes, lining the streets, and adorning doors and windows. Add in French bakeries, wine tastings, boutique shops, and gourmet restaurants, and you have all of the ingredients for the perfect European getaway.
Over seventy towns line the Alsace wine route. To help narrow things down, here are ten picture-perfect towns to visit.
Fairytale Towns in the Alsace
Colmar is the heart of the Alsace wine route. And the heart of Colmar is “la Petite Venise,” also called Little Venice. Half-timbered buildings line the canals in central Colmar, creating a city center that feels similar to Venice, in more ways than one. During the summer months, Colmar is a crowded, postcard-perfect place to visit, just like Venice, Italy.
You can wander through Colmar in just a few hours, but with more time, you can sample a few restaurants, go shopping, go wine tasting, and even visit one of several museums.
Colmar is one of the largest towns in the Alsace so it makes a great home base for exploring the area.
LEARN MORE: One Perfect Day in Colmar
Little Venice, Colmar | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
Colmar, France | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
Eguisheim is one of our favorite towns in the Alsace. The narrow streets really look like something out of a fairytale.
Eguisheim is a member of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (“the most beautiful villages in France”) and in 2013 it was voted “Village préféré des Francais” (Favorite French Village).
Eguisheim | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
This is another very photogenic town in the Alsace. Ruins of an old castle stand on the hillside above town. Explore the maze of colorful streets and walk along the very picturesque Weiss River.
Kaysersberg | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
Riquewihr is another town that tops the favorite list of many travelers to the Alsace wine region. We loved wandering this tiny town that is packed with some of the prettiest streets in the Alsace.
This is another Alsatian town that is a member of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.
Riquewihr | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
This small town is located right around the corner from Riquewihr. Ribeauville is a very pretty village and the ruins of the castle on the hillside create a unique backdrop.
Ribeauville | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
The town of Obernai is another popular stop on the Alsace wine route. Obernai is larger than many of the other towns on this list. It also doesn’t pack in the colorful, charming streets like Eguisheim and Riquewihr.
What it does have is a large main square (Place du marché) that is the site of an open market on Thursday mornings. If you like shopping at markets, then you’ll love a visit here during this time. But if shopping is not your thing, Obernai can be a nightmare on Thursday mornings.
We visited Obernai on a Thursday morning and finding a parking space was nearly impossible. The main square was packed with people and small stands selling food, clothing, and jewelry. However, the side streets were quiet.
If you want to explore the town when it is less crowded, skip Thursday mornings when the market is running.
Obernai market | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
Compared to Obernai, Rosheim feels quiet and empty. This is a very small town with one main road running through the center of it. We felt like we were the only tourists in town while we were here.
The main attraction is the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, which dates back to the 12th century.
Rosheim | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
This is another quiet town on the Alsace wine route. Surrounded by medieval walls and containing buildings that date back to the middle ages, this small town is a joy to wander through. It doesn’t take long to explore the town, and with fewer tourists than Colmar and Eguisheim, it is a great place to escape the crowds on a busy day.
Dambach-la-Ville | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
We visited Kintzheim at the recommendation of Marie, the lady who runs the apartment we rented in Colmar. Kintzheim doesn’t typically get the large number of tourists you find at Colmar or Riquewihr. This is a town where the locals visit, according to Marie.
We visited Kintzheim first thing in the morning and it felt empty. It is a very pretty town located in the hills near Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg. This is a great place to visit at lunchtime or later in the day, when the restaurants are open and you can go wine tasting.
Kintzheim | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
I love this little town. Also recommended by Marie, I had never heard of Bergheim before arriving in Colmar. This little town just blew me away.
Quiet, colorful streets and a wonderful view out over the vineyards…it was a perfect experience. We visited Bergheim in the early afternoon.
For lunch, we ate at Auberge des Lavandieres, a lovely outdoor restaurant located right on the main street. This was our best meal and one of our favorite moments in the Alsace.
Bergheim | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
Bergheim | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
Two More Places to Visit near the Alsace Wine Route
Strasbourg is small city that is located near the northern region of the Alsace wine route.
Many people who visit Strasbourg love it here. I can’t say the same thing for us. After visiting the fairytale towns in the Alsace, Strasbourg felt a little bit like a letdown. Strasbourg, with its “city vibe,” lacks the charm that you get in the smaller towns.
In Strasbourg, there is a very pretty historic city center. While you are here, explore the streets lined with half-timbered buildings, wander the canals, and climb the tower of the church.
If you make Strasbourg one of your first stops on the Alsace wine route, then your trip will just keep getting better, as you head south to the gems of Bergheim, Riquewihr, and Colmar.
Strasbourg | Best towns to visit on the Alsace Wine Route
Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg
Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg is a medieval castle located in the Vosges Mountains. It is located near Kintzheim and Saint-Hippolyte on the Alsace wine route. Tour the castle and enjoy the stunning view out over the vineyards and small towns of the Alsace wine route.
PRO TRAVEL TIP: The castle gets very crowded midday. Get here at opening time to get a close parking spot and to tour the castle without the crowds.
Towns on the Alsace Wine Route: On a Map
Our favorite towns on this list are Colmar, Eguisheim, Riquewihr, Bergheim, Kaysersberg, and Ribeauville.
Touring the towns is fun but it does get to be repetitive. If you want to narrow down this list, the towns that are the most “skippable” are Obernai, Rosheim, and Kintzheim.
To escape the tourist crowds, visit one of my favorite spots, Bergheim.
There are more fairytale towns on the Alsace wine route that we did not visit. We simply ran out of time. Others to consider visiting are Hunawihr, Barr, and Turckheim.
About Our Visit
We visited the Alsace wine region in early August, during an unusual heat wave in Europe. Daytime temperatures reached 35°C (95°F), which is much warmer than normal. Towns like Colmar, Kaysersberg, and Riquewihr were crowded but it wasn’t unbearable.
We spent three days exploring the region by car before moving onto Lucerne, Switzerland.
Learn how to spend 3 days in the Alsace: 3 Days in the Alsace Wine Region
Where We Stayed
We stayed in Colmar at Reflets Sur La Lauch Appartements. This place is amazing. With an unbeatable location in Colmar and nearly perfect reviews on Booking.com, it’s going to be hard to find a better place than this. We stayed in a two-bedroom apartment that had a kitchen, a living room, one and half bathrooms, and a washing machine. The best part was the awesome view out of our windows over Little Venice. We loved it here and we would stay here again on a future visit to Colmar.
If you are looking on Booking.com, we stayed in the “Loft.”
View from our room in Colmar
Have you been to Alsace, France? What is your favorite town? Share your experience in the comment section below!
More Information for Your Trip to France
ALSACE WINE REGION: Learn how to plan your visit in our 3 Day Alsace Wine Region itinerary. We also have a guide about how to spend one perfect day in Colmar.
PARIS: Start with our article Best Things to Do in Paris for ideas of what to do in Paris. Plan your time in the city with our 2 Day Paris Itinerary and 3 Day Paris Itinerary. We also have a Paris Hotel Guide, advice on visiting Paris with kids, a Paris Food Guide, and advice for visiting Paris at Easter.
CHAMONIX: Riding the cable car to Aiguille du Midi is one of the best things to do in Chamonix. Also, learn how to hike to Lac Blanc and the Argentiere Glacier, two of the best hikes in Chamonix.
FRENCH RIVIERA: Plan your visit to the French Riviera and Provence in our 10 Day French Riviera Itinerary.
TRAVEL INSPIRATION: Here are 15 fairytale destinations to visit around the world. And if you are considering a trip to Europe, check out our article 30 Beautiful Places to Visit in Europe.
Planning a trip to France? Read all of our articles in our France Travel Guide.
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How did you find the driving was like there. I’m going with a friend soon but the prospect of driving is making me nervous
Driving between the towns was very easy. The parking lots are usually located outside of the city center so don’t have to do much city driving. The biggest challenge can be finding a parking space midday with the towns are more crowded. Cheers, Julie
Hi Julie, thank you for sharing this. Did you visit all of these villages/towns mentioned here within 3 full days only? If so, does it mean you visited 2-3 different villages in one day? Did you stay in Colmar as your base in all 3 days? Thank you!
Hello Anh. Yes to all of your questions. 🙂 It was a very busy three days, starting between 8 and 9 am and sometimes going until 7 pm. Colmar was our base…we stayed here for 4 nights and had 3 full days for the Alsace region. 3 towns a day is not too ambitious…one in the morning, one for lunch, and one in the late afternoon. Have dinner in the 3rd town or back in Colmar. For dinner, make your reservations in advance, especially in Colmar. Cheers, Julie
Hi Julie, love your site and following your itinerary, we are looking at going in September to Europe and now I would love to go to the Alsace area. Do you think it is possible to do Alsace road trip and the Romantic Road in Germany in the same trip? We would fly in from Canada, where would you suggest to fly in and out? Would you suggest renting a car or taking the train etc? We were thinking 2 week or less.
Any advice is appreciated.
Hello Linda. Which itinerary do you plan to follow? But yes, you can visit the Alsace and the Romantic Road on the same trip. Having a rental car is your best option for both of these places. Depending on how quickly you like to move when you travel, I recommend a minimum of 3 days for the Alsace and 2 to 3 days for the Romantic Road. You could fly into Paris or Zurich, spend a little bit of time here, rent a car, and drive to the Alsace for a few days. Then, it will take a half day to drive to the Romantic Road. You could go through Strasbourg and work your way to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. From Rothenburg, you could day trip to Nuremberg. The next day, start the drive down the Romantic. You can do this in one busy day or spend the night at the halfway point. End with a few days in Bavaria (we loved staying in Garmisch-Partenkirchen) and end in Munich and fly home from here. And of course, you could do this in the opposite order. Cheers, Julie
Hi Julie, Sounds like a great trip! I was hoping to visit Pfungstadt and Zwingenberg (near Darmstadt) too as I have ancestral roots there and end in Munich for the Oktoberfest. It is a bit overwhelming to put it all together.
Thanks for your advice!
Your tips are amazing, I’ve follow them for France and Italy and the insights are super helpful. Planning on doing South and East of France and Switzerland this year.
One question: did you go from Colmar to Lucerne by train?
Any tips on that?
I’m glad you like our website! We had a rental car so we drove to Lucerne. For more info on train travel, go to Raileurope.com to look at train options from Colmar to Lucerne. It looks like you will transfer in Basel and have two different tickets, since the train companies are different for France and Switzerland. Cheers, Julie
We are staying in Ribeauville for 10 nights. At the Hotel Mouton and driving to these little towns that you have mentioned. With Switzerland and Germany being so close and having so much to offer. Will I feel bad that we didn’t go to a Paris.
You can always visit Paris on a future trip! 🙂 The Alsace is a beautiful area, and yes, visits to Germany and Switzerland are great add-ons to your trip. Cheers, Julie
Hi! Thank you so much for all of the great info! My husband and I will be traveling from Paris to the Alsace region in May. We plan on taking a train to Strasbourg then renting a car. We will have 6 nights before we have to head back to Paris and are trying to figure out the best course of action. Did you stay in Colmar every night and drive from town to town each day, then back to Colmar? I’m starting to wonder if 6 days would be too much, even if we stayed in a couple of different villages? I’m wondering if we should head to Switzerland (or somewhere else) for two nights..
Yes, we stayed in Colmar the entire time. It’s a bit far to go to Strasbourg, but you could spend one night in Strasbourg (explore Strasbourg the day you arrive). The next day, visit the northernmost towns that look interesting to you, then base yourself in Colmar. I agree, 6 days sounds like a lot here. Three days is great, 4 is nice too. But Switzerland is a great idea. You could visit Zurich, Lucerne, or Interlaken/Jungfrau region. Lots of great options and tough decisions! But if you have just two nights in Switzerland, you could stay in Lucerne and visit Mt. Pilatus and maybe day trip into the Jungfrau region. Cheers, Julie
Hi Julie – my husband and I visited Italy in Sept 2019 and followed your site and it was amazing trip – thank you for your great site and all the work you put into it. Now I am going to Paris from a Sunday to a Sunday next month with my daughter, and beginning to think that we should do more than Paris (keeping in mind we have 6 days total with travel to and from the states). We have looked at Brussels, Nice and Alsace region. Nice looks beautiful but might be difficult and take too much travel time. What are your thoughts as an add-on to Paris? Many sites indicate that you can see the highlights of Paris in 3 days (including this site). Thanks!
Hi Terri. Thanks for writing in to us! Yes, 3 days in Paris is the perfect amount of time. I wouldn’t recommend Nice…it is far to go and in March I don’t think that the weather will be good. Nice is really nice in late spring, when it is warm but not too crowded. Nice, the French Riviera, and Provence would make a great future trip. You can do Brussels, or even Amsterdam, on this trip, since they aren’t too far away by train. The Alsace is also very nice. Just check the weather…if its chilly and rainy, it won’t be crowded, but it might also be lacking some of the charm that see in our photos, and others online. If you haven’t been to Amsterdam and don’t mind a slightly longer train ride, I like Amsterdam a lot more than Brussels. I also really like the Alsace, but like Nice, I wonder if it would be worth saving the Alsace when you have a little more time during warmer months. I hope this helps! Cheers, Julie
Thank you for sharing your travels with the rest of us. My wife and I are traveling to Europe for the first time ,in November.
We booked your suggested place in Colmar. Can’t wait! Thank you.
We would like to go to Lucerne or Wegis to stay in a quiet place for 1 night before we head back to busy Brussels. Any suggested stays for family of 5?
We loved that place in Colmar!! At the end of our article on Lucerne, I give some hotel recommendations. We did not stay in any of these (we slept near the airport) but they all get good reviews on Booking.com. Have a nice trip! Cheers, Julie
Julie, thanks for putting this together! You inspired us to book the “Loft”. We’ll be starting in Strasbourg and making our way to Colmar – we have just 2 full days really. I’m assuming it’ll be best to rent a car so we can visit towns in between at our leisure? How is the parking situation? Also, anything specific you did in any of the towns that is a must? Or restaurants that were a must? Thanks!
Hello Susie. Yes, definitely rent a car, it’s the best way to get around this area. Parking isn’t too bad. We were here at peak time last summer (early August) and always managed to get a parking space, even midday at the more popular towns. We have some Colmar restaurant recommendations in our article about Colmar. If you haven’t seen it, we have more info in our article about 3 days in the Alsace region. I think the best part is just wandering the towns. One thing that I wished I had done, but didn’t was a wine tasting. I don’t have any specific recommendations but there are many options for this in most of the towns. Have fun! Cheers, Julie
Just got back from a river cruise on the Rhine. I thought Strasbourg was interesting, especially Heidelberg Castle. My favorite town was Obernai & disagree with you not including it as one of the best towns in Alsace-Lorraine
I did include Obernai as one of the best towns to visit in the Alsace. Cheers, Julie