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 is really a lot to see, do and taste in Alsace! Even if the region is quite small, it is rich in historical monuments and various attractions and offers ideas for visits during all periods of the year. It’s simple, there is something for everyone! This is 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 delicious, the wines are excellent… Moreover, Alsace has a real strong identity that 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. For me, these are the must-sees in Alsace! These are only my favorite activities or sites, the ones I think of when I am asked for my ideas of visits in Alsace and that make me smile in advance because I appreciate them so much.
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 select according to your tastes, on the other hand because it will be enough to come back or to 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 accommodation, don’t hesitate to check out my section dedicated to hotels as well as my favorite addresses for charming bed and breakfasts in Alsace…
Take a road-trip or ride your bike on the Alsace Wine Route
The Alsace Wine Route is truly a must-see in Alsace. The oldest wine road in France winds its way through the vineyards, across the slopes of the Vosges mountains, through villages, each more charming than the last, and offering magnificent views. It’s impossible to get bored of it, personally I still marvel every time I drive by (although I’ve driven 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!
Stroll through the flowery streets of the small towns and villages of Alsace
You will quickly see it if you come to visit Alsace, the region is very flowery! When spring comes, geraniums and other plants overflow the window boxes and majestically decorate the facades of the magnificent half-timbered houses. Strolling through the alleys of small Alsatian towns such as Obernai or villages such as Eguisheim, Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, Kaysersberg (to name only the most famous) is a pleasure. 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…
Visit a cellar on the Wine Route and talk with a passionate winemaker
It is impossible to come to Alsace without visiting a cellar, tasting some good Alsatian wine and, above all, taking the time to talk to 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 over a glass of crémant, riesling, gewuztraminer or pinot noir, wouldn’t it? 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 pairing meals at quality winemakers!
Visit Strasbourg, European capital
Strasbourg is a dynamic city that is very pleasant to visit. Of course, you should not miss the Petite France and the Notre-Dame de Strasbourg cathedral, but the city has much more to offer. You can walk through its charming streets and enjoy its lively atmosphere: stores, bars, restaurants… The inhabitants of Strasbourg love to go out and the city does not lack animations! See this article for all my ideas to visit Strasbourg.
Stroll through the beautiful Colmar
Colmar is the little postcard of Alsace: you can hardly do more charming! It is very pleasant to walk around (especially for a romantic weekend!) and essential to take a little boat ride in the Little Venice. Its only small defect: it is very quiet, don’t expect crazy evenings 😉
My guide to Colmar
Planifiez un séjour inoubliable à Colmar et dans sa région sans perdre de temps grâce à mon guide numérique! Vous y trouverez les plus beaux lieux, les activités à ne pas louper et les meilleures adresses!
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 an impressively rich collection for such a small city, and that the building is magnificent! An ideal place for art lovers…
Discover the richness of Mulhouse’s industrial heritage and its creativity
Mulhouse is a little bit the unloved city of Alsace. It 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.
Sit down to an Alsatian dish in a winstub
Alsatian gastronomy is rich and tasty. Not very light, however, 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 an embarrassment of riches… The important thing is to choose your restaurant well in order to enjoy the traditional warm atmosphere of a real Alsatian winstub (the local brasserie). Here are my good addresses in Strasbourg and Colmar.
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 best known and most impressive is undoubtedly the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg, which is really a must-see in Alsace, but other castles are also interesting, such as the Castle of Haut-Barr, the Castle of Hohlandsbourg, Fleckenstein, Lichtenberg, etc. Not to mention the ruined castles which are also great places to visit.
Ride on the Crest road
The Route des Crêtes is the road on the crests of the Vosges, between Sainte-Marie aux Mines and Cernay. It can be done on foot or by car (or by bike for the courageous!). In any case, it is magnificent and offers very beautiful panoramic views on the Vosges summits! Be careful, the Route des Crêtes is totally closed in winter.
Enjoy a quiet moment and admire the view from the Mont Sainte-Odile
The Mont Sainte-Odile is an old abbey erected in the Vosges, on the heights of Obernai. It is a magnificent place, very soothing and offering a superb view on the Alsace plain, the Black Forest and the Vosges mountains. An ideal place to recharge your batteries…
Immerse yourself in Alsatian culture at the Ecomuseum of Alsace
The Ecomuseum of Alsace is an atypical museum: it is an open-air museum, conceived as a large 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 have been dismantled and transported here in order to save the heritage) and many animations. The program is impressive and seductive for young and old: I love this place! Its visit is one of the best ways to dive into the Alsatian culture.
Taste a flammekueche (tarte flambée) in the Kochersberg
You will see, the flamed pie is everywhere in Alsace! But beware, they are often pale frozen counterfeits of the real flammekueche. In order not to be mistaken, Alsatians will tell you, you have to go to the villages outside the cities. The ideal is to go to the Kochersberg, cradle of the tarte flambée, which has many good restaurants to taste it. Go for example to L’Oie gourmande, to the Marronnier, to the Auberge de l’Espérance or to the Taverne de l’Ackerland, you won’t be disappointed! I know it well, it’s where I live 😉
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 beautiful mountains with forests that are very pleasant to walk, ride a mountain bike or a horse. There is no lack of hiking trails, marked out by the Club Vosgien: Hautes-Vosges, Vosges du Nord or Jura alsacien, there is no shortage of ideas for walks, and there are often castles to discover along the way!
Eat a marcaire meal in a farm inn
After the effort, the comfort… A good meal 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 farm inn produces the food it serves. The marcaire meal is one of the great classics of the farm inn, and includes a winegrower’s pie, then roïgabrageldi (potatoes in strips, onions and butter, all cooked slowly in a cast-iron pot) served with smoked pork meat (collar or chuck for example) and finally a dessert, traditionally Siesskass (fresh cheese of the day with sugar and kirsch) or a homemade pie. You’ll have to walk a lot to be able to get rid of it, it’s very rich! Fortunately, it is also possible in general to take only a part of it… It’s the best way to keep walking afterwards 🙂
Take your children to visit unusual animal parks
Alsace has some really nice animal parks to visit with your family: the Montagne des Singes and its free-ranging Barbary macaques, the Volerie des Aigles and its impressive birds of prey or the Naturoparc, which was the initiative to save the storks, otters and hamsters of Alsace. Your children (and yourself) should love it!
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 makes it easy to go to many countries. This is of course especially true for Germany and Switzerland. You just have to take one of the bridges crossing the Rhine to go to Germany, and this is easily done by car, by bike, by foot or even by streetcar in Strasbourg! On the Swiss side, the border is south of Alsace and it is easy to go to the beautiful city of Basel, for example, during a stay in Alsace. I love this mix of cultures!
Take a family trip to an amusement park
Alsace has a few amusement parks like the Parc du Petit Prince. But above all, it is close to the famous Europapark, located in Germany and elected many times best amusement park in Europe and even in the world! Yes, only that!
Visit the places of memory in Alsace
Alsace has known a rather complex history: its proximity to Germany made it one of the strategic places of the two World Wars, of which there are of course still stigmas. To immerse oneself in this painful part of history through remembrance tourism 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 are the former Struthof concentration camp, the Alsace-Moselle Memorial, the Hartmannswillerkopf and the Linge Memorial Museum.
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 ignored by visitors because it is less “typical” of the image of Alsace that we often have in mind, with the half-timbered houses and the vineyard. 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 like nature, go for it! There is also a lot to do in the Ried.
Cycling on the many bicycle paths in Alsace
Did you know that Alsace is one of the corners of France that has the largest network of bicycle paths? It would be a real shame not to take advantage of it, Alsace by bike, it’s the best!
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 that you book your visit. Another great opportunity to meet a passionate person who will tell you about his job!
Relax in one of the many spas in Alsace or Germany
Want to relax? We are lucky to have many high quality spas in Alsace, my favorite being the spa de la Cheneaudière. Don’t hesitate to go and have a look at Germany either, there are beautiful spas at very affordable prices (just don’t be bothered by the naturist areas, very common in Germany).
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!
Discover the North of Alsace
The north of Alsace is often shunned by tourists because it is less known. However, it is full of treasures! Go for a walk in the Vosges du Nord Regional Nature Park, stroll in the beautiful Wissembourg, visit the villages of Hunspach and Seebach, see the amazing troglodyte houses of Graufthal, visit the Lichtenberg castle, walk in the huge Haguenau forest and visit the potters and the glass-making sites I’ll talk about below.
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!
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 active sites in this area between Alsace and Lorraine. For example, the Lalique factory (which is not open to the public but where you can visit the beautiful Lalique museum), the Cristallerie saint-Louis or the Centre international d’Art Verrier de Meisenthal. Really interesting visits!
Explore areas outside 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 told you about, 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).
Discover the mining history of Alsace
Ok, it may not be a must-see, but it is unusual and very 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 guided tour of the ASEPAM (also nice with children). Exciting!
Bring back souvenirs made with love by Alsatian craftsmen
Fortunately, the region still has many craftsmen making objects with talent and love. What if you bought your souvenirs from craftsmen instead of bringing back a stuffed stork made in China 😉
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 have not (yet!) listed them all but here are for example the swimming places around Strasbourg and, in the south of Alsace, the lake of Kruth.
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 it is a real tradition, which has absolutely nothing to do with the purely commercial side of the Christmas markets that we have seen blooming for several years around the world. Of course, it is also commercial, but overall the quality and the craftsmanship are still very well honored; As for the magical atmosphere of the Alsatian cities and villages richly decorated for Christmas… I think you have to experience it once in your life, honestly! I may live in Alsace, but I can’t get enough of its Christmas markets 🙂
In winter, skiing or snowshoeing in the Vosges
Let’s be honest, winter is not a very cheerful time to visit Alsace: it’s grey, it’s foggy, it’s cold and everything is very sad. Everything except the Vosges! There is nothing like a little trip to the mountains, easily accessible from the plain, to cheer you up! The sun is often shining and you can enjoy the joys of the snow: downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding… All you have to do is choose 😉
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 of Mulhouse, Sélestat or Rosheim to immerse yourself in the atmosphere (but there are many others!).
Visit Alsace without a car
We don’t always realize it, but it is possible to visit Alsace without a car! We are lucky 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.
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’ll 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 to visit Alsace in a responsible way
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 a few good practices acquired over time without any headaches, don’t hesitate to share your experiences.
In recent years, solid cosmetics have become widely democratized: shampoos, soaps, toothpastes, deodorants – small, space-saving blocks to test.
For travel documents, no need to print out multiple copies, 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 from the media library. Don’t hesitate for example to get our digital guide on Colmar 🙂
If you need a special equipment or clothes for your vacations, maybe a relative will lend it to you, otherwise think about second hand (Bon Coin, Vinted, Emmaüs for example) before buying something new!
When you’re out and about, take-out is convenient but often plastic-intensive – all for a few minutes’ use only. Think of reusable containers (with a sexy design now!): water bottle, 3 in 1 cutlery, folding cup will be your trio winner, 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 bit heavier, but non-toxic, unbreakable, doesn’t absorb odors and can be used in both hot and cold weather.
Think also about bringing fabric items – very light and always handy: shopping bag, pouches for bulk food, fabric towel to wash everything. And of course, take all your garbage with you, nothing should be left behind!
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, carpooling or bike outside when possible. Don’t hesitate to read our article on Alsace without a car.
As far as activities are concerned, it will depend on your pleasure and common sense: don’t leave the marked paths, don’t pull up flowers and plants, don’t go to places where the fauna and flora are protected… Respect the environment (beautiful!) in which you are 🙂
You want to bring back souvenirs from your stay in our region? Excellent idea, but not just anything 😉 Opt for locally made handicrafts rather than a stuffed stork made in China or a bad industrial kougelhopf.
For example, if you want to bring back Alsatian pottery, make sure you buy real pottery from Soufflenheim rather than Asian copies…
To go further
As far as accommodation is concerned, labeled establishments are becoming more and more common and allow you to be attentive to the environment (waste sorting, water management, laundry impact, local products…). Don’t hesitate to ask directly the hosts, some of them are not especially labeled but have an interesting approach!
Enjoy your visit in Alsace!