10 Best Things to Do in Alsace

What is Alsace Most Famous For?

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    A visit to the Alsace region of France is like travelling back to a simpler time. Most towns here retain their medieval walls and are filled with astonishingly well-preserved half-timbered houses. At least 6 towns in the Alsace region have made the shortlist of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (The Most Beautiful Villages in France).

    Historically, the Alsace region has changed hands a few times between France and Germany. The result is a unique mix of elements from both cultures. Of course, you can't talk about Alsace without mentioning its beautiful wine road. Follow the wine road from Strasbourg to Colmar – it’s a great way to discover the charming medieval towns as well as the beautiful countryside.

    What are the best things to do in Alsace?

    1

    Petite France in Strasbourg

    Explore narrow alleyways and half-timbered houses

    The Petite France neighbourhood in the centre of Strasbourg is the perfect start for your Alsace trip. In this part of town, the river splits into multiple water channels which are controlled by a system of locks. Petite France is part of the Grande Île of Strasbourg which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In the Middle Ages, the area was the former living quarters of the tradespeople like tanners, millers, and fishermen.

    The entire area is a pedestrian zone which means you can wander the narrow alleyways between the timbered houses and discover many small shops and restaurants.

    Poloha: Petite France, 67000 Strasbourg, France

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    Autor fotografií: Claude TRUONG-NGOC (CC BY-SA 3.0) upraveno

    2

    Strasbourg Cathedral

    Pink sandstone has never looked so good

    The pink sandstone Notre Dame de Strasbourg Cathedral is hard to miss – it’s the highest tower in the city. Enjoy panoramic views over Strasbourg from the tower viewing platform. While climbing the tower stairs, check out the graffiti carved by cathedral visitors from as early as the 1600s. The carving script is artistically done and surprisingly adds to the beauty of the building.

    Find one of the world’s oldest anatomical clocks in Strasbourg Cathedral – the current clock, complete with its mechanical rooster, was built in the 1800s but there have been similar versions dating back to the 14th century. The original version had a rooster that crowed (using bellows) and is displayed at the nearby Museum of Decorative Arts.

    Poloha: Place de la Cathédrale, 67000 Strasbourg, France

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    3

    Take the Alsace Wine Route from Obernai

    Your starting point for exploring the Alsatian countryside

    A great place to start your Alsace wine adventures is in Obernai. Not only will the legendary wine route take you past hundreds of wine cellars, it also winds through some of the most charming villages in France. This is one of the first cities that you’ll encounter when heading into the Vosges mountains after your time in Strasbourg.

    Wine tasting rooms normally have a sign outside that says Vin d’Alsace and you may need to ring a bell since the hosts may not be waiting in the shop. The area’s most famous wine varietals are Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Muscat. These are all dry, white wines which grow well in the Vosges foothills.

    Poloha: Route d'Ottrott, 67210 Obernai, France

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    Autor fotografií: Calips (CC BY-SA 3.0) upraveno

    4

    Mont Sainte-Odile and surrounding hiking trails

    Hike to the historic pilgrimage destination and take in the view

    The Mont Sainte-Odile cathedral is just up the hill from Obernai in Alsace. From the top, you can look out over the Alsatian countryside with its small towns and extensive vineyards. On a clear day, you can even see the hills of the Black Forest in Germany, right across the border.

    Saint Odile is the patron saint of the Alsace region and was born in Obernai, just down the hill. The cloister is now an important spiritual destination in Alsace. Mont Saint-Odile can be reached by car, or you can take the 5-km hiking trail through the forest from Ottrott.

    Poloha: Mont Sainte-Odile, 67530 Ottrott, France

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    5

    Try tarte flambee in Ribeauvillé

    A traditional dish after a long day in the countryside

    After a long day of hiking and sampling the local wines in Alsace, Ribeauvillé is a great place to have dinner and stay overnight. The town is located in a valley with vineyards on the surrounding hills. If you have more energy to see another castle, the Chateau Saint-Ulrich is accessible from Ribeauvillé via hiking trails or by road.

    At this point in your Alsatian adventure, it’s time to sample the region’s famous tarte flambee, or flammkuchen in German. It’s a thin flatbread, traditionally with creme fraiche, bacon, and white onions. Any traditional restaurant in Ribeauvillé will serve this iconic dish.

    Poloha: 68150 Ribeauvillé, France

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    6

    Butterfly Gardens near Hunawihr

    For when you need even more natural beauty

    Jardin des Papillons (Butterfly House) is home to a variety of butterfly species from Africa, Asia and the Americas. You’ll likely see many cocoons in the butterfly nursery as well as newly emerging butterflies during your visit. The greenhouse is also home to a large selection of tropical plants and flowers.

    Visit in summer, and you’ll likely see storks flying through the skies. In spring and summer, the Alsace region becomes their breeding ground. The locals love their winged visitors – during your time in Alsace, you'll see plenty of wooden or iron structures on the tops of buildings which the storks build their nests on.

    Poloha: Route de Ribeauvillé, 68150 Hunawihr, France

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    Autor fotografií: Didier (CC BY-SA 2.0) upraveno

    7

    Vibrant timbered houses on Riquewihr’s main street

    Believe the hype. Riquewihr is stunning.

    Riquewihr is the jewel of the Alsace Wine Route. It stands out thanks to its brightly coloured half-timbered houses. They’re painted cobalt blue, brick red, and mustard yellow. The city is one of at least 6 Alsatian towns on the list of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (The Most Beautiful Villages of France).

    The town’s main street is lined with shops selling cheeses, local produce and wines. The Dopff winery at the end has award-winning wines and offers cellar tours. It’s also home to a Michelin star restaurant serving regional classics with a twist. The beautiful town can fill up with tourists by lunchtime, so try to arrive early in the day.

    Poloha: Riquewihr, 68340 France

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    8

    Charming Kaysersberg

    Roman roots and medieval charm

    Kaysersberg is one of the great examples of a well-preserved medieval town in the Alsace region. The Sainte Croix church has a Roman-style entrance arch. There is also the fortified bridge towering above the castle which marks the original place of the Roman road linking Alsace and Lorraine. 

    The town of Kaysersberg is full of charming half-timbered houses, cobblestoned streets and water canals that run through the town.

    Poloha: Kaysersberg-Vignoble, 68240 France

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    9

    The 3 castles of Eguisheim

    Take a short hike through history

    Eguisheim, one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France (The Most Beautiful Villages of France), is known for its hiking trail on the Schlossberg hill. The trail brings you past 3 towers, Les Trois Châteaux d'Eguisheim, which are part of a network of castle ruins. The middle tower was built in AD 1006 on the spot where a Roman watchtower once stood. The other 2 towers were additionally built in the 12th century.

    You can visit the ruins for free and imagine a time when 3 castles stood in close proximity. The hiking trail is about 4 km long, starting from Eguisheim’s town centre. Beautiful views from the hilltop look over Colmar nearby, the vineyards in the Alsatian plain, and the Vosges mountain range.

    Poloha: 68420 Husseren-les-Châteaux, France

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    Autor fotografií: Gzen92 (CC BY-SA 4.0) upraveno

    10

    Colmar’s Little Venice

    The perfect place to end your trip in Alsace

    Colmar and nearby Riquewihr are said to be the inspiration behind the town depicted in Beauty and the Beast. The town centre is nicknamed Little Venice, because of the many waterways that run through the area.

    Colmar is also the birthplace of the Statue of Liberty sculptor, Auguste Bartholdi. In his honour, the town erected a Statue of Liberty replica in an unassuming place: right in the middle of a traffic circle! While it may seem too mundane, the benefit of the statue's location is that it greets most of the people who are coming into Colmar on the north side of the city.

    Poloha: 68000 Colmar, France

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    Monica Horak | Přispěvatel

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