Visit Alsace – TOP 35 must-sees and must-dos

by | Dec 4, 2022 | Must read | 0 comments

What to do and what to visit in Alsace? This is the question you might ask yourself if you want to visit Alsace. I have good news for you: there really is lots of things to see, do and taste in Alsace! Although the region is quite small, it is rich in historical monuments and various attractions and offers ideas for visits during all times of the year. It’s simple, there’s something for everyone! That’s why I quickly fell in love with the region. The landscapes are beautiful and diversified (between the Wine Route, the Ried plain and the Vosges mountains, for example, there is nothing to compare), the cities are rich from a cultural and architectural point of view, the Alsatian villages are charming, the gastronomy is tasty, the wines are excellent… Moreover, Alsace has a real strong identity which makes it exciting. In short, it is the ideal place for a weekend or a vacation!

I have prepared my personal list of places to visit and experiences to do when visiting Alsace. These are for me the must-sees of Alsace! They are only my favorite activities or sites, those I think of when I am asked for my ideas of visit in Alsace and that make me smile in advance so much I appreciate them.

Of course, you won’t be able to do everything in one weekend: that’s okay! On the one hand, because you will be able to choose according to your tastes, on the other hand because you will just have to come back or extend your stay in Alsace😉 To know which period is the best for a visit, consult my article When to visit Alsace?

If you need ideas for accommodations, don’t hesitate to check out my section dedicated to hotels as well as my favorite addresses in charming bed and breakfastand charming gites in Alsace… And tocome and sleep at my placeif you feel like it!

petite-france-strasbourg

Sommaire

Take a road-trip or ride your bike on the Alsace Wine Route

The Alsace Wine Route is really a must in Alsace. The oldest wine road in France winds its way through the vineyards and across the slopes of the Vosges mountains, passing through villages, each more charming than the last, and offering magnificent views. Impossible to get bored of it, personally I still marvel every time I pass by (I’ve been through it many times!). For an even more pleasant experience in my opinion (and more ecological), don’t hesitate to ride the Alsace Wine Route by bike!

kientzheim-view

Stroll through the flowered streets of the small Alsatian towns and villages

You will see it quickly if you come to visit Alsace, the region is very flowery! When spring comes, geraniums and other plants overflow from the window boxes and majestically adorn the facades of the magnificent half-timbered houses. Stroll in the alleys of small towns of Alsace like Obernaior villages like Eguisheim, Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, Kaysersberg (to name only the most famous) is a joy. But above all, don’t hesitate to go and see other villages than these: they are the most touristic, they are very beautiful but there are a lot of very beautiful villages, and you will also be more quiet… Do not hesitate to consult my article on The most beautiful villages of the Alsace Wine Route.

riquewihr-alsace

Visit a winery on the Wine Route and talk with a passionate winemaker

It is impossible to come to Alsace without visiting a cellar, tasting good Alsatian wine and especially, taking the time to discuss with the winemakers! Winemakers are often passionate people who love their job and, of course, have a lot of knowledge. What better way to learn about the culture of the region? It would be a shame to miss a nice meeting around a glass of crémant, riesling, gewuztraminer or pinot noir, no? Here are my good addresses of winegrowers in Alsace. In any case, make an appointment, it’s always better! I really like the website Rue des Vignerons, which allows you to book online visits, tastings and even food and wine pairings with quality winemakers!

tasting-wine-domain-hering-barr

Visit Strasbourg, European capital

Strasbourg is a dynamic city that is very pleasant to visit. Of course, the Petite France and the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Strasbourg are not to be missed, but the city has much more to offer. You can walk through its charming streets and enjoy its lively atmosphere: stores, bars, restaurants… The people of Strasbourg like to go out and the city does not lack animations! Go to this article for all my ideas to visit Strasbourg and this one for the ideas of things to do in Strasbourg with your family as well as on my other blog for a weekend program idea in Strasbourg (in French).

place-tripiers-strasbourg

Browse through the beautiful Colmar


Colmar
Colmar is the small postcard of Alsace: you can hardly do more charming! It is very pleasant to walk there (especially for a romantic weekend!) and essential to make a small tour in a boat in the Little Venice. Its only small flaw: it is very quiet, do not expect crazy parties! 😉

My guide to Colmar

Plan an unforgettable stay in Colmar without wasting time looking for information with my guidebook : the most beautiful places, the activities not to be missed and the best addresses!

colmar-quai-fish factory

Colmar

Visit the superb Unterlinden Museum in Colmar

The Unterlinden Museum in Colmar is a superb museum acclaimed by art critics around the world. It must be said that it hosts a collection of impressive wealth for such a small city, and that the building is beautiful! An ideal place for art lovers…

altarpiece-issenheim-museum-unterlinden

Discover the richness of Mulhouse’s industrial heritage and its creativity

Mulhouse is a little bit the unloved city of Alsace. This is a big mistake, in my opinion. It may not have the charm of Colmar but it has many other assets. It is an extremely dynamic and creative city with an impressive industrial past that has managed to reinvent itself. Don’t miss a visit to one of the many museums in Mulhouse such as the Cité de l’Automobile, the Cité du Train or the Musée de l’Impression sur Etoffes.

mur-peint-mulhouse

Sit down to an Alsatian meal in a winstub

Alsatian gastronomy is rich and tasty. Not very light on the other hand, especially since, as you will see, the portions are generous in Alsace, but it would be a shame not to enjoy them at least once during your stay. Sauerkraut or other Alsatian specialties, there is a lot of choice… The important thing is to choose your restaurant carefully so that you can also enjoy the traditional warm atmosphere of a real Alsatian winstub (the local brasserie). Here are my good addresses in Strasbourg and in Colmar and our favorite places for eat a good tarte flambée in Alsace.

baeckeoffe-tire-bouchon-strasbourg

Conquering the castles of Alsace

Alsace has many castles. Many of them are in ruins but, good news, many of them are also very well preserved! The most famous and the most impressive is without any doubt the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg which is really a must-see in Alsace, but other castles are also interesting, like the Castle of Haut-Barr, the Castle of Hohlandsbourg, Fleckenstein, Lichtenberg, etc. Not to mention the ruined castles that are also great places to walk.

le-chateau-haut-koenigsbourg-alsace

Travelling the route des Crêtes

The Route des Crêtes is the road on the crests of the Vosges, between Sainte-Marie aux Mines and Cernay. It can be walked or driven (or cycled for the brave!). In any case, it is magnificent and offers beautiful panoramic views of the Vosges peaks! Please note that the Route des Crêtes is totally closed in winter.

walk-route-cretes

Enjoy a quiet moment and admire the view from the Mont Sainte-Odile

The Mount Sainte-Odile is an old abbey erected in the Vosges, on the heights of Obernai. It is a magnificent place, very peaceful and offering a superb view on the plain of Alsace, the Black Forest and the Vosges mountains. An ideal place to recharge your batteries…

alsace-mont-sainte-odile

Dive into Alsatian culture at the Ecomuseum of Alsace

The Ecomuseum of Alsace is an atypical museum: it is an open-air museum, conceived as a big village in which one walks. It includes authentic half-timbered houses saved from destruction (Alsatian houses have the particularity of being able to be dismantled: the houses of the ecomuseum were therefore dismantled and transported here in order to preserve the heritage) and many animations. The program is impressive and appealing for young and old: I love this place! Its visit is one of the best ways to dive into the Alsatian culture.

ecomusee-alsace-interieur-maison

Enjoy a flammekueche (flamed pie) in the Kochersberg

You’ll see, the tarte flambée is everywhere in Alsace! But beware, they are often pale frozen counterfeits of the real flammekueche. Alsatians will tell you that to avoid being mistaken, you must go to the villages outside the cities. The ideal place to go is the Kochersberg, the birthplace of the tarte flambée, which has many good restaurants to taste it. Go to L’Oie gourmande, Le Marronnier, Auberge de l’Espérance or Taverne de l’Ackerland, you won’t be disappointed! I know it well, it’s where I live 😉

flammkueche-recipe

Hiking in the Vosges

In Alsace, we are lucky to have mountains: the Vosges! Nothing to do with the high pointed peaks of the Alps, but the Vosges are nice mountains with forests that are very pleasant to walk, ride or ride a horse. There is no shortage of hiking trails in the Vosges mountains, the Northern Vosges or the Alsatian Jura. There is no shortage of ideas for hiking, and there are often castles to discover along the way!

viewpoint-trekking-path-geological-barr

Eat a marcaire meal in a farm inn

After the effort, the comfort… A good table is never far away in Alsace! 😉 In spring and summer, the farm inns of the Vosges open their doors and welcome hikers (or others). A farmhouse produces the food it serves. The marcaire meal is one of the great classics of the farmhouse, and includes a winegrower’s pieThen roïgabrageldi (potatoes in strips, onions and butter, all cooked slowly in a cast iron pot) served with smoked pork (collar or chuck for example) and finally a dessert, traditionally Siesskass (fresh cheese of the day with sugar and kirsch) or a homemade pie. I might as well tell you that you will have to walk to be able to eliminate, it is very rich! Fortunately, it is also possible in general to take only a part of it… This is the best way to keep walking afterwards 🙂

pie of the valley-wistub brenner-colmar

Take your children to visit unusual animal parks

Alsace has some really nice animal parks to visit with your family: the Monkey Mountain and its free roaming Barbary macaques, the Eagles’ Volley and its impressive birds of prey or the Naturoparc which has been at the initiative of the protection of storks, otters and hamsters of Alsace. Your kids (and yourself) should love it!

storks-natur-parc-hunawihr

Playing the border jumping game by visiting our German and Swiss neighbors

One of the things I love about Alsace? Its location in the heart of Europe, which allows easy access to many countries. This is of course particularly true for Germany and Switzerland. You only need to take one of the bridges over the Rhine to cross into Germany, and this can be done easily by car, bicycle, foot or even by streetcar in Strasbourg! On the Swiss side, the border is south of Alsace and it is easy to get to the beautiful city of Basel, for example, during a stay in Alsace. I love this mix of cultures!

ride-velo-rhine-germany

Take a family trip to an amusement park

Alsace has a few amusement parks like the The Little Prince Park. But above all, it is located just a stone’s throw from the famous Europapark located in Germany and elected many times best amusement park in Europe and even in the world! Yes, just that!

europapark-silver-star

Visit the places of memory in Alsace

Alsace has had a rather complex history: its proximity to Germany made it one of the strategic places of the two World Wars, the stigma of which remains. To dive into this painful part of history through the tourism of memory is very useful in my opinion: to know is the way to understand and thus not to reproduce! Among the most visited places of remembrance, we can mention the former concentration camp of Struthof, the Memorial of Alsace-Moselle, l’Hartmannswillerkopf and the Linge Memorial Museum.

old-camp-concentration-struthof-alsace

Discover the biodiversity of the Ried d’Alsace

The Ried d’Alsace is a natural region located in the plain of Alsace. It is an area often shunned by visitors because it is less “typical” of the image of Alsace that we often have in mind, with half-timbered houses and vineyards. It is however a corner which also presents a great interest and which I like very much, for its calm and its incredible biodiversity. If you love nature, go for it! There is also plenty to do in the Ried.

boatman-ried

Ride on the many bicycle paths in Alsace

Did you know that Alsace is one of the areas in France with the largest network of bicycle paths? It would be a real shame not to take advantage of it: visiting Alsace by bike a great way to go!

scherwiller-velo

Brewery tourism: visit an Alsatian microbrewery

We love beer in Alsace and the region has many microbreweries. These are often open to the public, provided you book your visit. Another great opportunity to meet a passionate person who will talk to you about his job!

brewer-ried

Relax in one of the many spas in Alsace or Germany

Want to bubble? We are fortunate to have many high quality spas in Alsace, my favorite being thespa de la Cheneaudière. Don’t hesitate to go and have a look at Germany, there are beautiful spas at very affordable prices (just don’t be bothered by the naturist areas, very common in Germany).

nature-spa-la-cheneaudiere-alsace

Taste the little Alsatian sweets

Kougelhopf, gingerbread,bredele, cottage cheese pie, chestnut torch… There is no shortage of sweets in Alsace! Don’t hesitate to try these delicious sweet specialties for breakfast, snack or dessert!

recipe-kougelhopf-alsace

Discover the North Alsace

The north of Alsace is often shunned by tourists because it is less known. However, it is full of riches! Go for a walk in the Parc Naturel Régional des Vosges du Nord, stroll through the magnificent Wissembourg, take a tour of the villages ofHunspach and Seebach, go and see the amazing troglodyte houses of Graufthal, visit the castle of Lichtenberg, walk in the huge forest of Haguenau and visit the potters and the glass sites I mention below.

visit-wissembourg-alsace

Observe the meticulous work of the potters of Alsace

The potteries of Alsace are famous for their quality. It is possible to admire the work of the potters and, of course, to shop directly in the two potters’ villages, Soufflenheim (which produces clay pottery, for firing) and Betschdorf (which produces stoneware pottery, for conservation). Be careful, if you buy them elsewhere and especially in very touristy villages, there are many counterfeits! Click here to read the detailed article on the pottery villages of Alsace.

decor-pottery-soufflenheim

Discover the art of glass and crystal

The northwestern part of Alsace has a rich history in the field of glass and crystal making. There are still a few sites in activity in this area between Alsace and Lorraine. It is for example where the Lalique factory is located (which cannot be visited but where you can visit the beautiful Lalique museum), the Cristallerie saint-Louis or the International Center of Glass Art in Meisenthal. Really interesting visits!

alsace-musee-lalique

Explore areas outside of the tourist sites

Tourists in Alsace are generally concentrated in the same area, between Colmar and Strasbourg. If you like to go off the beaten track, I invite you to go and see other parts of Alsace, which are also very nice. Let’s mention for example the north of Alsace, which I just mentioned, but also the beautiful hills of Sundgau (in the south), the charming city of Sélestat, the Ried, the northern and southern parts of the Alsace Wine Route (the Golden Crown vineyard, for example).

vue-depuis-chateau-ferrette-

Discover the mining history of Alsace

Ok, it may not be a must-see, but it is unusual and super interesting! Alsace has in the past exploited potash and silver mines. It is possible to follow the traces of this mining history by visiting the Carreau Rodolphe, the Tellure Park (which has a very playful aspect, ideal for families) or by taking a ASEPAM’s guided tour (also nice with children). Exciting!

visit-mine-saint-louis-eisenthur

Bring back souvenirs made with love by Alsatian craftsmen

Fortunately, the region still counts a good number of craftsmen making objects with talent and love. What if you bought your souvenirs from Alsace instead of bringing back a stuffed stork made in China? 😉

stecostar-boutique-obernai

In summer, swimming in a gravel pit or a mountain lake

Ok, we don’t have the sea in Alsace… It’s true, but fortunately we have mountain lakes and gravel pits! There is nothing like diving into the water when the summer heat invades the region…I haven’t (yet!) listed them all but here are for example the swimming places around Strasbourg and, in the south of Alsace, the lake of Kruth.

kruth lake

In December, immerse yourself in the magic of the Alsace Christmas markets

The Christmas markets in Alsace are certainly THE most famous thing. It must be said that this is a real tradition, which has absolutely nothing to do with the purely commercial side of the Christmas markets that have been flourishing for several years around the world. Of course, it is also commercial, but overall the quality and craftsmanship are still very well honored; As for the magical atmosphere of Alsatian cities and villages richly decorated for Christmas … I think you have to have experienced it once in your life, honestly! I may live in Alsace, but I can’t get enough of its Christmas markets 🙂

noel-strasbourg-quais

In winter, ski or snowshoe in the Vosges

Let’s be honest, winter is not a very cheerful time to visit Alsace: it’s grey, foggy, cold and everything is very sad. Everything but the Vosges! There is nothing like a little trip to the mountains, easily accessible from the plain, to cheer up! The sun often shines and you can enjoy the joys of the snow. You can ski downhill or cross-country, snowshoe, dog sled… All you have to do is choose! 😉

snowshoes-sun-sun

In March, attend a carnival

The carnival is a real tradition in Alsace, just like in Germany or in Basel (Switzerland). The number of carnivals organized between February and March is really impressive! I can for example advise you to go and see the one in Mulhouse, in
Sélestat
or Rosheim to get into the atmosphere (but there are many others!). Click here for our article dedicated to carnivals in Alsace and surroundings .

carnival-machores-selestat

Travelling through Alsace without a car

We don’t always realize it, but it is possible to visit Alsace without a car! We are fortunate to have a good rail network in the region. Of course, we won’t be able to do everything, but there is already plenty to do. I’ve put together here the program of a first weekend in Alsace without a car and I’ve listed here some ideas of activities and visits accessible by public transport.

half-timbered house-wissembourg

Option – Pronounce the names of the Alsatian villages 😛

Here is a last experience to live in Alsace: pronounce the names of the villages. Yes, I know, it’s not easy at first, but I promise you that you will get used to it! Come on, a little training before your vacations to get you in the bath: Scharrachbergheim, Oberschaeffolsheim, Krautergerstheim, Voegtlinshoffen, Helfrantzkirch… Oh, the sweet melody 😉

Bonus – Our tips for visiting Alsace responsibly

What a pleasure, this feeling of freedom that invades us when we travel and make discoveries, even close to home … but for all that, let’s not be careless (even unconscious) with our beautiful planet and splendid Alsace ! “The best waste is the one we don’t produce!” so little by little, let’s try to ask ourselves how to reduce, recycle, reuse in order to limit our impact. Here are some good practices acquired over time without any headaches, feel free to share your experiences.

The suitcase

In recent years, solid cosmetics have become widely democratized: shampoos, soaps, toothpastes, deodorants – small, space-saving blocks to test.

For travel documents, there is no need to print multiple copies of everything, just make sure that everything is in your emails, accessible from a smartphone or computer. For travel guides, they are available online(this blog on Alsace is a must!) or can be borrowed at the media library. Don’t hesitate for example to get our digital guide to Colmar 🙂

If you need equipment or clothes especially for your vacations, perhaps a relative will lend it to you, otherwise think of second hand (Bon Coin, Vinted, Emmaüs for example) before buying new!

The meals

On the go, take-out is convenient but often plastic-intensive – all for a few minutes’ use only. Think about reusable containers (with a sexy design now!): water bottle, 3-in-1 cutlery, folding cup will be your trifecta, with a bento box as a bonus if you have a little more space.

As for the material, I prefer stainless steel, which is a little heavier, but non-toxic, unbreakable, does not absorb odors and can withstand both hot and cold.

Also, think about slipping in some fabric items – very light and always handy: shopping bag, pouches for bulk food, cloth towel to wash everything off. And of course, take all your garbage with you, there should be nothing left on site!

Travel and activities

The preference is for soft mobility: we are lucky, the region lends itself rather well to it! On foot or by bike in the cities, by train, bus, carpool or bike outside when possible. Do not hesitate to consult our article on the Alsace without car.

As far as activities are concerned, it will depend on your pleasure and common sense: don ‘t go out of the marked paths, don’t pull out flowers and plants, don’t go in places where the fauna and flora are protected… Respect the (beautiful!) environment you are in 🙂

Memories

Would you like to bring back some souvenirs from your stay in our region? Great idea, but not just anything 😉 Opt for locally made artisanal products rather than a stuffed stork made in China or a bad industrial kougelhopf.

For example, if you want to bring back Alsatian pottery, be sure to buy genuine Soufflenheim pottery rather than Asian copies…

To go further

In terms of accommodation, certified establishments are becoming more widespread and allow for attention to be paid to the environment (waste sorting, water management, laundry impact, local products, etc.). Don’t hesitate to ask directly to the hosts, some of them are not especially labeled but have an interesting approach!

Enjoy your visit to Alsace!

Laurène

Laurène

Laurène est la créatrice du blog Mon week-end en Alsace. Bretonne installée en Alsace depuis 2014, elle est tombée amoureuse de sa région d'adoption au point de lui dédier un blog et d'acheter avec son mari une maison alsacienne dans un village du Kochersberg, près de Strasbourg. A pied, à vélo, sur ses chevaux ou au volant de sa voiture, elle aime partir explorer les moindres recoins de l'Alsace pour dénicher de bonnes adresses à partager sur le blog.

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