If there is a region that is famous in the world for their incredible Christmas decoration and their spectacular fairy tail villages, this is Alsace, a region located in the northeast of France, in the border with Switzerland and Germany. We want to show you this area outside Christmas period as we decided to stay 3 days in Alsace in a summer period, so we can talk about the beauty of the region on another period.
Alsace is not an extensive region and not very inhabited (less than 2M in the whole region) and it is a place where the main languages are French and Alsacian, a dialect very similar to German as this was a region that changed of country during their history, so it has strong German influences. The actual capital city of the region is Strasbourg, city that we were also able to visit during our days there.
To reach this region, the best option is to go to Basilea airport, where we could find the cheapest flights (around 75€ from Barcelona). Once there, you are 45 min from the main Alsace villages.
We decided to stay at Colmar, one of the must-visit places of the region. It is a place that is near everything, so it’s a key point where you can sleep. The accommodation we chose was top, a small apartment in the center with private parking. Review the link as it’s totally recommended.
To end up, we want to recommend that you rent a car to visit Alsace. It’s not an extensive area, but we believe that renting a car will give you freedom enough to see the key places in few days. We leave you a link here to rent a car at the best price!
With that being said, let’s go with our 3 days in Alsace!
Day 1: Colmar and Eguisheim
Our flight landed in Basilea at midday and we took our car to start our route. The first stop of the route of 3 days in Alsace was the village where we were staying, Colmar.
Colmar is one of the most famous cities of the Alsace. As most of their villages and cities it is famous due to Christmas, but it is a super interesting place to visit whenever you want. We spend two hours walking in the city to discover the main points, so it’s not a big place. Some recommended places are:
– Petite Venise: Area where the river flows and some small boats take you through the navigable area. The views from this place to the typical Alsacian houses are beautiful.
– Place des Dominicans: One of the main squares known to have the Iglesia de los Dominicos, a really interesting place to see.
– Place de la Cathedrale: As the name indicates, it is a square where you can fins the access to the Saint Martin church, a gothic church that is important in the region.
– Rue des Marchants: A narrow street where you could see many typical colorful houses and take some great pictures. You will see that the whole Alsace is really photographable.
– Museo Bartholdi: Do you know that the sculptor of the Statue of Liberty was born in Colmar? You can visit his museum, where you can find some statue replicas.
– Statue of Liberty: Yes, there is a replica of the Statue in the city entrance. It is a small scale one, but you can go and admire it.
– Colmar market: A place that doesn’t stand out due to the architecture or for being a beautiful place but you can find lots of local products and enjoy some beers, wine and food of the area.
– Rue de la Poissonerie: The street that is just in front of the market and one of the most famous photos of the city. It is nice the view from the bridge with all the colorful houses in the background.
After the visit, we decided to go a recommended village that is near Colmar and it’s one of the most beautiful villages of the Alsace, Eguisheim. The truth is that we really enjoyed this place, it looks like you are in a fairy tale. In addition, you could see one of the most photogenic places of the region, Le Pigeonnier. Our recommendation in this place is take a local beer just near le Pigeonnier in a local called Brasserie RS and walk through their streets while you find lots of places that you can take a picture to. You can also visit the main square, la Saint-Leon Square.
Later, we came back to Colmar to have a dinner in the village. We chose a top place where where you can find more than 200 wines. You can also try some local cheese, a typical French dinner that we really love. The place is called Le Cercle des Aromes and it costed us 24€ per person.
Day 2: Haut-Koenigsbourg castle and Strasbourg
In this second day of this series of 3 days in Alsace, we went to visit the capital of the region, Strasbourg. But before, we went to a nice place in the area, the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle.
It is the most important castle of the Alsace region, crowning a mountain that served as a defensive place. The first construction of the castle was in XII century, but after wars and some non stable periods, it was abandoned. It was rebuilt in the 1899 by the German emperor (as we mentioned, the region was part of the German empire before).
For us it was a nice visit, it is imposing, well conserved and you can see incredible rooms decorated like in the middle ages. Moreover, as it’s in a high place, the region views are incredible.
The castle visit can be done alone or with a guide. We opted for the free one, that costed 9€ per person and the schedule is from 9 to 17:45.
Later, we went to one of the places that we were more excited to be, Strasbourg. In this place, we were lucky as we had 2 friends that had been living in the city for 6 years, so we could have a free tour with them. The main recommended places in this express visit are:
– La Petite France: It is the most beautiful and known neighbor of the city and World Heritage by the UNESCO. Inside this place, we recommend the Saint Martin Bridge, place from were you can take one of the best pictures with great river views and the picturesque houses. In this place, you can see the touristic ships that stop to level the water and be able to navigate through another part of the river with more flow. It is also remarkable the Maison des Tanneurs, a typical tanners house were they did some tasks of their job. We recommend to walk through the streets taking pictures of the different places, you won’t regret!
– Catedral de Notre Dame: This place is amazing. It is located in the city center and it’s also World Heritage by the UNESCO. The ccathedral was founded in 1015 and experimented some renovations during the history. It is a building of gothic style, similar to other cathedrals like Koln. We strongly recommend to reach the viewpoint, from where you can admire the whole city from a privileged place (BE CAREFUL, there are lots of stairs). You can go up to the tallest point, that between the 1647 and 1874 was the tallest building in the world. The price is 8€.
After ascending, you can visit the interior that is also spectacular. For us, the best part is the astronomic clock.
– In the cathedral square you can find the Kammerzel house, the oldest house in the city, an architectonical jewel from another period.
– Pont Couverts and towers: A serie of bridges and defensive towers that surrounds the Petite France. The best is to walk through the area and you will find those places.
– German Neighbor (Neustadt): There is an area of the city where you will find a different architecture to the rest of the city. As we mentioned above, the city went from Germany to France. Nowadays, there is a neighbor that still has the German architecture as it was created before the city was lost after the IWW. It reminded us a lot of some areas of Berlin, due to their big avenues and imposing buildings.
– Barrage Vauban: We recommend to go inside the viewpoint of the Barrage Vauban, place that contains the dam closures that were used when an enemy ship was arriving to attack the city, limiting the entrance through this area and forcing them to attack from another place. Currently, you can go to the top area and you can have the best view of the Pont Couverts, towers and the Notre Dame Cathedral at the background in a spectacular view of the main attractions of the city.
– European area: In Strasbourg, as a sign of brotherhood between european nations as it’s a city with some historical problems, you can find some European organisms. The Human Rights Court, the European Parliament or the European Council. We recommend to go in a schedule that you can visit the buildings, it’s not worth if you can’t do it.
Another option if you have less time it to take a cruise through the river that takes you through the different main places of the cities even the European zone, so you can see the buildings from the river. It costs 15€ and it takes one hour and a half and it’s called Batorama.
We also wanted to recommend the places where we ate, two top places. The first is called Chez l’Oncle Remy and it costed us 28€ per person. We could try some typical Alsatian food like the Cervela with Münster (the typical cheese), an Alsatian salad, choucroute or the Spätzle.
For our dinner, we wanted to try another typical dish, the Tarté Flambée, a kind of pizza (don’t say that to them) very tasty. We had dinner in Binchstub.
Day 3: Villages and Basilea
The last day of our 3 days in Alsace, we decided to visit some recommended villages of the area, the typical fairy tale villages that we are used to see when looking for Alsace.
They are small villages, so you can visit their attractions in 1-2 hours walking in their main streets. The best way to visit it is to walk through it, and you will discover the main places. Another advice we would give is to check for trekkings in the different villages in case of having time, as they have nice excursions to see castles and vineyards.
1. Ribeauvillé: The biggest village of the ones we visited. To visit it, we would take the Gran Rue and we would go yo the Sant Grégoire church. In this street, you will see lots of nice places, as the Torre des Bouchers, the most famous place.
2. Kayserberg: For us, the most beautiful one. It has a river going through the middle of the village, so that creates some nice pictures around it where you can take some photos of the typical Alsacian houses. We recommend to walk through the streets and the squares around the river and see places like the Fortified Bridge, Rue des Forgerons or Fontine Constantin. It also has a castle on the top of a hill that you can visit if you have time and see the views from the top.
3. Riquewihr: Another fairy tale village. Almost everything happens in the main street, Rue du General Gaulle. In thi street there is all the village life and all the markets and furniture in Christmas period. The most remarkable place is Torre Dolder, the village icon.
After visiting this villages, we wanted to go to Basilea, as our flight departed from this city airport and we still had 3 hours left. We couldn’t see much, but we really enjoy the things we could. We went to the river area to cross two of their manin bridges and take some photos of the cathedral. We were surprised because, as there was a summer period, people were descending through the river following the river flow. We think it is a great option if you have time in Basilea, we really wanted to try it, so we need to go back 🙂 After this, we went to the Cathedral of Basilea, that is really nice and has nice views to the river.
After this quick visit, it was time to say goodbye and go back home 🙁
As you can see, we did a express stay in the Alsace but we really enjoyed it! We believe it is a super recommended couple getaway as it combines some key aspects like the gastronomy, good wine, nice villages and a big charming city as Strasbourg.
We hope we could transmit the beauty of this place and that you could visit it and explain us if you enjoyed it as we did!