Riquewihr

10 Fairytale Towns to Visit on the Alsace Wine Route

Julie France 9 Comments

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

#1 Colmar

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.

Colmar France Alsace Wine Route

Colmar Alsace Wine Route

Biscuiterie

Colmar Shops


#2 Eguisheim

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 Alsace Wine Route

Eguisheim in August

Eguisheim Street Alsace Wine Route

Eguisheim Alsace Wine


#3 Kaysersberg

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 Alsace Wine Route

Kaysersberg Street Alsace Wine Route

Kaysersberg Buildings


#4 Riquewihr

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 in August

Riquewihr Shop

Riquewihr France

Riquewihr Alsace

Alsace Wine Route France

 


#5 Ribeauville

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.

Best Towns Alsace Wine Route

Ribeauville Street


#6 Obernai

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

Obernai Market


#7 Rosheim

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 Gate

Rosheim France

Rosheim Church


#8 Dambach-la-Ville

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 Gate

Dambach la Ville

Dambach Street


#9 Kintzheim

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

Kintzheim Auberge


#10 Bergheim

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 Entrance Alsace Wine Route

Bergheim Alsace

Bergheim France Alsace Wine Route

Bergheim Alsace Wine Route

Two More Places to Visit near the Alsace Wine Route

Strasbourg

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 Square Alsace Wine Route

Strasbourg View

Strasbourg Canal


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.

Chateau de Haut Koenigsburg Alsace Wine Route

See Them All on a Map

Our Recommendations

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.”

Apartment View

View from our room.


Have you been to Alsace, France? What is your favorite town? Share your experience in the comment section below!

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Comments 9

  1. 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..

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      Author

      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

  2. 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.

  3. 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?

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      Author

      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

  4. 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!

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      Author

      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

  5. 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

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      Author

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