Figuring out the best things to do in Colmar, France, is definitely a great idea to guarantee you a perfect day trip in this lovely town.
Colmar is one of the prettiest towns in Alsace, and you will learn why after visiting this city. In this article I collected for you 21 points that are must-see in Colmar, so you can choose the places that intrigue you the most.
With this knowledge, you’ll be ready to easily plan your trip and book enough time in your schedule to visit all the unique places you want to see.
- Best things to do in Colmar
- 1. Wander around the Old Town
- 2. La Petite Venise
- 3. Take a cruise on the river
- 4. La Maison Pfister
- 5. St Martin's Church
- 6. Koïfhus
- 7. Ride the tourist train
- 8. Musée d’Unterlinden
- 9. Musée Bartholdi
- 10. See the Statue of Liberty
- 11. Eglise des Dominicains
- 12. Musée du Jouet de Colmar
- 13. Hansi Museum
- 14. Choco Story
- 15. Shop at the Covered Market
- 16. Try Alsatian food
- 17. Take a guided tour
- 18. Explore the Alsace wine route
- 19. Take a photoshoot
- 20. Bike tour from Colmar
- 21. Visit the Christmas market
- When to visit Colmar?
- Where to stay in Colmar?
- How to get there?
- Best things to do in Colmar, France – more photos for inspiration
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Best things to do in Colmar
1. Wander around the Old Town
Number #1 of definitely the best things to do in Colmar (and quite obvious) is just to relax and take a long walk in the Old Town. The center of Colmar isn’t really big, so a peaceful walk like this is a great attraction. And the opportunity to admire the lovely Alsatian architecture.
The center of Colmar Old Town was born in Medieval times. So most of the buildings that you can see there now are really aged. But they are also incredibly lovely.
Half-timbered houses, build by using a wooden skeleton and brick walls as a fulfillment, are painted with lively colors. The local people that live there now take care to make the neighborhood look lovely by placing flowers in windows and decorating the walls, doors, and backyards with cute original details.
All of this makes this place look truly lovely and picture-worth. Like it was taken from a fairy-tale. That’s why a free walk among the adorable buildings is definitely something you should add to your list named “things to do Colmar”.
2. La Petite Venise
Little Venice (fr. La Petite Venise) is a small part of a district called Krutenau in Colmar. And it’s located very close to the historic city center. Here, you can find some of the most picturesque views in Colmar.
Here, the Lauch river flows through the city. The proximity to water and the colorful houses that surrounds the channel makes this place fabulously charming. This is the reason why this place is called La Petite Venise – it somehow resembles real Venice in Italy. Quai de la Poissonnerie is definitely a must-see in Colmar. It’s a lovely quay where fishermen used to sell fresh fish in ancient days.
If you want to know more particularly about this place read my blog post about La Petite Venise in Colmar here.
3. Take a cruise on the river
If you’re wondering what to do in Colmar to spend this time in a memorable and fun way, a boat trip in Colmar is a thing for you!
The Lauch river flows peacefully next to the Old Town, through La Petite Venise. One of the nicest tourist attractions though is to take a cruise through the canal. Traditional flat-bottomed boats operate on the river and bring wonderful entertainment to the city visitors.
One of the companies that organize boat trips like this is Colmar Au fil de l’eau – Promenade en barque – Sweet Narcisse.
4. La Maison Pfister
The Pfister House was built in 1537 as the first Renaissance building in Colmar. Like the rest of the city, it looks like taken from a fairy-tale with a staircase highlighted in construction and wooden galleries. The building was decorated with paintings representing biblical scenes.
Originally, the house was built for the wealthy hatter Ludwig Scherer. Yet it’s today’s name is dedicated to the Pfister family who restored the building and was living there from 1841 to 1892.
Today, La Maison Pfister is one of the symbols of the city, and a must-see in Colmar. Luckily, you will see it for sure while wandering around the historic center’s streets.
5. St Martin’s Church
La Église Saint-Martin is one of the most iconic sacral buildings in Colmar. It had been constructed between 1234 and 1365 on ruins of an even older church, dated to the year 1000. The temple is an example of Gothic architecture, with a Renaissance bell tower added when the original was destroyed during a fire.
Sometimes, because of the impressive dimensions, the Saint-Martin Church is called a cathedral. Even though Colmar has never been a home for any bishop.
The history of Koïfhus in Colmar is as rich as its decorations. It was built in Medieval times as an old customs house. Here the merchants were paying taxes for the imported goods. During the centuries, the building took many renovations, but the biggest one took place in the XIX century. It was also then when the beautiful green glazed roof tiles were added.
Koïfhus also was changing its meaning. First, the customs house. Later, it was also a magistrate, a theater, a bank, and a school. Today, many manifestations and public activities take place in this remarkable building.
7. Ride the tourist train
For those of you who, instead of walking, prefer to admire cities from vehicles, a ride in a touristic train might be an interesting attraction in Colmar. Small green and white trains run every day, and take you to the most important things to see in Colmar.
The ride takes a bit longer than half an hour and costs ~7.50€ (in 2022). You will see the places like La Petite Venise, La Maison Pfister, and the rest of the town. You can purchase tickets online or in place.
8. Musée d’Unterlinden
Musée d’Unterlinden is located in a very picturesque place – in a convent building from the XIII century. In recent times, the museum got connected to neighboring municipal baths from the beginning of the XX century with a modern extension.
The Unterlinden Museum presents an impressive collection of ancient art, mostly from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. After the restoration, it received a new display room for encyclopedic collections. After the visit, you can enjoy some outdoor time in the cloister garden and a local café.
9. Musée Bartholdi
Do you recognize a Lady with a crown and a torch that welcomes people coming to New York City, in the United States? Yeah, that one. The Statue of Liberty. It was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States as their symbol of freedom. Did you know that it was designed by a sculptor named Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi? And he lived in Colmar.
Today, the museum of his name is one of the most recognizable museums in the city. It’s located in the Old town, in the house where the artist was born. On three floors, you have an opportunity to browse his drawings, projects, sculptures, paintings, and notes, as well as get the feeling of the home interiors from the XIX century.
10. See the Statue of Liberty
Once you get to know Bartholdi’s history, you can take a long walk to see a smaller version of his most famous masterpiece. The little reproduction of the American Statue of Liberty has only 12 meters in height, but it also makes impression on tourists.
It’s located almost 4 kilometers from The Bartholdi Museum, but you can reach it by car or take a 50-minute walk. The small medallions on the ground will show you the way from the museum to the statue.
A small copy of the Statue of Liberty purchased originally in a place where its design was born, might be a good idea for a gift for a person who loves history.
11. Eglise des Dominicains
If you’re a fan of ancient sacral architecture, then visiting the Dominican Church in Colmar might be an interesting thing to do for you. The building of the church started in the year 1283, and during the years, the temple was going through many renovations.
The church had a turbulent history since the Dominican order was expelled from the city in 1330 for a while. Later the fire damaged a big part of a roof and cloisters. For a while, in the XIX century, the church was dedicated to non-religious use. But today, next to the St. Martin’s Church, is a very important temple in the city.
12. Musée du Jouet de Colmar
If you’re looking for really fun things to do in Colmar, you should check out the Toy Museum. This extraordinary place will take you on a sentimental adventure through toy history from the XIX century till our times.
There, you will see some ancient teddy bears, the first Barbies, the era of video games, and Playmobil figures. All the toys that we remember from our childhood.
The Toy Museum is located in the center of the Old Town. To avoid standing in a queue, you can purchase your ticket online by clicking below.
13. Hansi Museum
Jean-Jacques Waltz, also called Hansi, was a French activist, painter, and writer. He was born in 1873 in Colmar and lived through the I and II World Wars. His charming aquarelle paintings were documenting everyday life in Alsace.
And today, you can visit the place where he lived and feel the atmosphere of the city from the turn of the century. In the museum, you will, of course, see Hansi’s drawings, aquarelles, and even some adverts and hand-painted tableware and clothes. The museum is created in an interesting form of a village that gives you the feeling of jumping into the time machine and getting to a 100 years younger Colmar.
The Hansi Museum is also located in the city center, so for sure you’ll be passing by it while taking a walk.
A printed artwork of a local painter might be also a cool idea for French gifts for your beloved ones.
14. Choco Story
If you’re a cocoa buff and love visiting chocolate museums all over the world, then Choco Story will be a place for you!
This lovely chocolate museum is located in the center of Colmar and will give you a lot of joy. It’s a modern and interactive exhibition so you will have a chance to dive deeply into the world of chocolate. All of your senses will get engaged in experiencing the history, the production, and all of the sweet things involved in chocolate mastery.
You can purchase a standard ticket online to visit the museum. Or, what will give you even more fun, you can participate in a chocolate creation workshop where you will create your own chocolate sweets!
15. Shop at the Covered Market
If you would like to explore the everyday life of people living in Colmar more, you might want to visit Marché Couvert. In the Middle Ages, the district La Petite Venise which we talked about before, was a place where local farmers and fishermen could sell their commodities to the people living inside the city walls of Colmar.
In 1865 a new covered market hall was built next to the Lauch river to become a safe place for people to sell and buy groceries. And it fulfills this duty till today.
You can visit the covered market every day except Mondays and buy some delicious local Alsatian foods, including fresh fruits, vegetables, wine, meat, and sweets.
Love the photos?
I’m taking my photos with Fujifilm X-T100 Mirrorless Digital Camera. I love this cute camera because:
- it’s perfect for beginners and occasional photographers
- the battery lasts for the whole day trip
- it’s affordable
- it comes in lovely champagne gold color!
16. Try Alsatian food
Colmar is a really good place to try some tasty Alsatian food. In the Old Town, you will find plenty of lovely restaurants, where you can try among others la tarte flambée (germ. flammkuchen) – a thin pizza on a crispy dough covered with sour cream, onion, bacon, and sausages, and bäckeoffe – a one-pot dish with sliced potatoes and tasty portions of a different kind of meat.
17. Take a guided tour
The absolute best way to really get to know the city is to purchase a private or a group tour with a professional guide. On a tour like this, you will learn more about the city’s history, culture, architecture, and everyday life. You can also ask anything to find answers to questions that nurture you.
In Colmar, you will find plenty of opportunities to join a tour like this. The best way is to search for guided tours on Viator and book the one that interests you the most.
18. Explore the Alsace wine route
The city of Colmar is also a great place to try some local Alsatian wine. Especially because it’s a stop on the Alsace wine route.
In the city, you will have plenty of opportunities to degustation wine of Alsace. In this part of France, winstub is a very popular place to go. It’s a wine bar that offers various local types of wine but also fine snacks to add.
If you’re a real wine buff, an interesting Colmar to-do-thing for you might be taking a tour with a local wine guide and learning more about your favorite drink.
19. Take a photoshoot
Colmar is an incredibly photogenic place and, in fact, one of the best photography spots in France. So if you are a creative person, then another great thing to do among Colmar attractions is to take a photo session in Colmar.
Colmar is a very Instagrammable place (and yes, I spotted Colmar for the first time on Instagram). And even if you’re taking photos only to put them in your vacation photo album, you’ll have a lot of fun while taking photos in this charming city.
Alternatively, you can also book a private tour with a local photographer to help you find the best photo spots in town!
20. Bike tour from Colmar
Maybe this is not exactly a thing you do in Colmar, but it’s definitely something that you should consider if you’re looking for active entertainment.
Taking a bike tour in Colmar is a great way to spend some time with family and friends if you travel together. But also a time that you could spend chatting about the region of Alsace with your guide – and learning something new!
In Colmar, you will find a few companies that organize bike tours, like this one for example.
21. Visit the Christmas market
For the very end, I left the seasonal tourist attraction in Colmar. By the end of every year, the city changes into a wonderful scene. And spending Christmas in Colmar is definitely one of the most beautiful experiences that you can get there.
Colorful lights, green trees, and lovely decorations are everywhere! The scent of hot chocolate and gingerbread is in the air. And everywhere you can hear the Christmas songs and carols. For sure, it’s a unique and magical experience to see it all.
When to visit Colmar?
I’ve been traveling to Colmar in May 2022 and honestly, it was a perfect time. Late spring comes with beautiful flowers blooming everywhere and that was a lovely background for sightseeing in Colmar.
Another great time to visit is definitely December when all the Old Town is delightfully decorated for the winter holidays. And spending Christmas in Colmar must be a wonderful experience.
But Colmar can be interesting in any part of a year. Here are some events that took place in a city throughout the year which might interest you:
- Colmar International Festival: a classical music festival, July
- The Alsace Wine Fair: one of the biggest wine festivals in the region, July
- Folk Music Festival: open-air festival of local traditions, from May to September
- The Colmar Music and Culture Festival: various genres of music, April
Where to stay in Colmar?
Colmar offers a lot of various accommodation options. Spending a night in this city might be a good idea and gives you the opportunity to watch the town also in the evening.
Here I found a few interesting places for you to check. All of them offer breakfast so you will have the energy needed to walk through the city, and all of them are very close to the Old Town:
- Ibis Budget Colmar Centre Gare – budget hotel – here is the perfect option for you if you’re looking for a budget hotel in Colmar where you can only sleep, eat breakfast and leave your baggage. Simple yet tidy rooms meet all the basic standards for travelers hungry for adventure.
- Hotel Saint-Martin – mid-range price – this hotel is perfect if you’ve got a romantic traditional soul and looking for a unique place to stay in Colmar. Cozy, classic furniture, rough brick walls, and beautifully exposed wooden construction are a perfect background for your visit to this Medieval town.
- Suites Residences Spa – a luxury at an affordable price – if you’re planning a romantic couple trip to Colmar, this might be the best pick for you. The rooms are pretty simple and nicely combine modern interior design with old-fashioned wooden furniture. Yet the best thing is that many rooms come with an exclusive SPA bath tube in a private bathroom. So it’s a very cool place to relax in a bath after long hours of walking around the city.
How to get there?
Colmar is very easy to get to from many places. Here are just a few options:
- car rental: if you plan to visit also other places in Alsace, a very good option might be a car rental.
- train: France is very easy to travel by train, you can easily get from Paris or Strasbourg to Colmar by train. Actually, you can even get from Basel to Colmar by train which is very cool. The Old Town in Colmar is located just a few minutes walk from the train station. You can book your train tickets here.
- bus: the bus might be the cheapest way to get to Colmar from Strasbourg for instance. In Europe, there is an international bus company Flixbus, which offers very affordable tickets in many directions. You should check out the schedule here. We’ve been using Flixbus while traveling in Northern Italy and it was a very cool way of commuting.
Best things to do in Colmar, France – more photos for inspiration
And for the end, I’m posting some more lovely photos from Colmar!
Like it? Pin it!
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Dominika is a founder of Sunday In Wonderland and she recently switched her life to be local independent. She aims to travel the world and admire all of its wonders. She is much focused on sustainable life, self-development and making this world a better place.