Is Colmar worth visiting? A common question since this small French city doesn't get much attention. Get my take on Colmar, France, why I enjoyed it (and have returned three times already), plus plenty of photos!
Colmar, France may not have well-known museums or famous cathedrals, but it's one of the most picture-perfect fairytale towns in Europe.
The mix of German and French culture/cuisine, famous wines, twisting water canals, and half-timbered houses make this a memorable place to visit and a photographer's delight.
My first visit to Colmar, France was a quick stop on a river cruise. When we arrived, Jake and I couldn't believe our eyes. "Is this place even real?".
Our camera never left our hands as we were constantly snapping pictures. Every street seemed to spill over with charm and personality.
Our few hours in Colmar were not nearly enough. And sure enough, I've returned to Colmar three times in the last three years.
This has become one of my favorite places on the planet. When asked about my favorite destinations, the Alsace region has been in my top 5 for the last few years.
Obviously, my answer is "yes" to the question "is Colmar worth visiting?". But whether the answer is yes for you depends on what type of traveler you are.
This city isn't meant for everyone and may not offer enough sights and attractions for the average tourist.
Now let's get into "is Colmar worth visiting", my take on the city, some general information, and a ton of photos!
Before we get into, is Colmar worth visiting, let's get some housekeeping out of the way. I'll discuss some general information and the most common questions I'm asked about this region.
Where is Colmar, France?
First things first. Where exactly is Colmar, France? This charming city is located in the Alsace region (northeast France).
Alsace borders southern Germany and is famed for its wine and half-timbered houses.
Colmar is also very close to Switzerland. Basel is a 45 minute train south of Colmar.
How to get to Colmar and the Alsace region
Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport, BSL, is the best airport to fly into. The direct train to Colmar from Basel is 45 minutes.
Zurich Airport (ZRH) and Paris (CDG) are both 2.5 hours via train. Expect to have at least one or two transfers.
Other airports to look into are Frankfurt (FRA) and Stuttgart (STR). Both are about 3 hours away by train with at least one of two transfers.
Whether you're coming directly from the airport or taking the train/bus from another European city, you'll be walking distance to Colmar's city center.
It's about 20 minutes from the train and bus station to most hotels in the city center.
How to get around Colmar
I love a walkable city! Not only is the historic center of Colmar entirely walkable (you can walk the entire length in 15 to 20 minutes), most of it is car free and pedestrianized.
This significantly adds to the overall atmosphere and joy of wandering the city.
What about staying in Strasbourg vs Colmar, France?
Most people choose to base themselves in Strasbourg as opposed to Colmar when visiting the Alsace region.
Strasbourg is the closest "major" city to Colmar. It's a 30 minute train between the two cities. If you like staying in a place with more to do, you could easily stay in Strasbourg and take the direct train to Colmar.
Strasbourg has more hotels to choose from
There are also considerably better hotel options in Strasbourg with it being a larger city. I loved my stay at Maison Rouge - Marriott Autograph Collection.
Though, I'm still partial to Colmar because it has more of a "fairytale vibe". I'll deal with the higher rates and fewer hotel options.
Strasbourg has more direct train connections
Another thing to note with Strasbourg is that it's easier to reach by direct train from other cities in Europe than Colmar. Some of the more popular nearby cities that have direct trains to Strasbourg are Heidelberg, Munich, and Basel.
To get to Colmar from most major cities, you'll most likely have to change trains.
Don't forget to check buses as well. I've traveled to/from Colmar twice via Flix Bus and it was great.
Strasbourg has more group tour options
Lastly, unsurprisingly, Strasbourg has more tours to choose from. These are some of the tours I recommend:
Recommend day tours from Strasbourg:
- Medieval Villages and Wine Tasting from Strasbourg - I would do this tour again in a heartbeat! My tour was the Christmas version and focused more on the markets and skipped the wine tastings. Up to 17 people.
- Alsace Wine Route Wineries & Tasting Small Group Guided Tour from Strasbourg - maximum of 8 travelers.
- Boat Alsace Visit Strasbourg in a private boat + Captain - while this isn't a day trip, it's a fun tour to consider if you're staying in Strasbourg.
When is the best time to visit Colmar, France?
I've visited Colmar, France in fall, summer, and winter.
While Colmar is beautiful year-round, Christmas is without a doubt my favorite time to visit. Jake agrees.
The weather is mild and the Christmas markets are on another level. The entire city is decked out in twinkle lights, teddy bears, and holiday decor. It's incredible.
In fact, the Alsatian Christmas markets (not just Colmar, but the surrounding villages as well), are some of my favorite Christmas markets in all of Europe.
It's why Jake and I have visited multiple times during the holidays.
I also prefer the holiday season because the Christmas markets give you something to do. Its fun to shop, wander, and eat your way through the markets.
Will you love Colmar, France? It depends on what type of traveler you are
I absolutely LOVE Colmar, France. So much so, I've visited this tiny French town 4 times in the last 5 years. Jake loves Colmar almost as much as I do.
Why do we gravitate towards this town? It's beyond picturesque and a joy to wander. Colmar is so perfect it almost doesn't feel real. The moment you arrive you feel like you've stepped inside a fairytale...until all the tourists arrive.
Our mornings and evenings in Colmar, Alsace are always beyond magical. Once the crowds have left and you have the city to yourself (more so in the morning vs. the evening)...I can't even begin to describe it. It's like you're on a movie set.
Jake and I have traveled a lot. And we have spent a lot of time in Europe. We don't like to cram our itineraries with a million museums, tours, and tourist sights. For us, half the fun of traveling is experiencing the culture, views, food, people, and overall atmosphere.
This is why we love Colmar, France. We are in our element just wandering the city, stopping at cafes, taking photos, enjoying long morning jogs, etc.
If you like destinations that have a lot of attractions, tours, activities, sights, and museums...then Colmar is most likely not worth your time.
My sister, who likes a packed itinerary with tours and activities thinks we are crazy for going back to Colmar again and again. "But what do you DO there?" is always the question.
So, is Colmar worth visiting? If you like to wander, take photos, relax at a cafe while people watching, and don't need a list of museums and sights to visit, then you'll love Colmar.
There's more to visit beyond Colmar, France
Beyond wandering all the picturesque areas in Colmar, popping into St Martin's Church, checking out the food market (Marché Couvert Colmar), shopping, and restaurant/coffee stops...there isn't much to do. In fact, you can see the historic core of Colmar in one day.
So is Colmar worth visiting if you can "do it" in just a day?
Yes! Because you are within striking distance of other worthwhile places.
I highly recommend doing a full-day tour to visit all the charming Alsacian Villages. If you think Colmar is magical, just wait till you see these fairytale towns.
Jake and I rented a car and visited three of these towns (Eguisheim, Kaysersberg, and Riquewhir) on our own. Which was fun, but I much preferred when I joined a tour on my own the following year.
Parking was sometimes difficult in the villages and we wasted a lot of time getting our rental car (we had to Uber to it).
With the tour, I was able to see four villages (Eguisheim, Kaysersberg, Riquewhir, and Ribeauville) and it was really nice to be dropped off in the center at each place.
There's also the Alsace Wine Route. This is wine country! Cyclists will be spoiled for choice with bike routes between the villages and vineyards. There's also plenty of tours to join both by bike and by car/van.
Colmar is a 30-minute train ride from Strasbourg, the biggest city in the Alsace region. Strasbourg has a picturesque area similar to Colmar called La Petite France, but also has a lot more in terms of shopping, museums, and an incredible cathedral.
Basel, Switzerland is a 45 minute train from Colmar if you want to check another country off your list.
So, while Colmar may not have days' worth of attractions, you could easily keep yourself busy for 3 days with side trips.
That way you can enjoy multiple mornings and evenings in Colmar...when it's most magical.
Recommended day tours from Colmar:
- Alsace 4 Wonders Small-Group Day Trip from Colmar - this tour stops at all the villages I visited on my day trip, but also includes wine tastings and is a smaller group of just 8 people.
- Alsace 4 Wonders Private Full Day Trip - same as the above, but a private tour.
- Alsace Full Day Wine Tour from Colmar - maximum of 8 travelers.
- Through Alsace Vineyards and Wine Villages Private Bike Tour
Is Colmar worth visiting? If you enjoy small, picturesque town and are happy to spend your day wandering, stopping at cafes, and taking photos, then you'll love Colmar.
If you're the type of traveler who needs an itinerary jammed with sights, attractions, and tours, then Colmar may not be the right fit for you. Beyond enjoying the overall atmosphere and fairytale setting, there isn't much to do in Colmar.
I will also note that Colmar, and the entire Alsace region, is unlike any other area in France. If you want something entirely different from Paris, Lyon, Burgundy, etc., Alsace will offer a nice change.
I love Colmar and the Alsace region is one of my favorite places on the planet. But that's because I'm happy to just soak in the atmosphere and not have an itinerary full of museums and attractions.
Hopefully, this post steered you in the right direction if Colmar is worth visiting for you.