A bit of history

Colmar was ceded to the German Empire in 1871 and then became French again after the armistice of 1918. Nicknamed “Little Venice” because of its numerous canals, its medieval half-timbered colorful houses, and its abundant flowers, it is a very romantic city. Having been annexed by Germany for a long time, you can clearly feel its influence in the language and cuisine.

Colmar is also the birthplace of Auguste Bartholdi, the creator of the Statue of Liberty in New York. That’s why, upon your arrival, you will see images or replicas of the statue all over the city.

Where to stroll in Colmar?

Head to the old town with its extensive pedestrian zone, where you can wander from restaurants to artisan shops, traveling between the Middle Ages and the 18th century.

Then, continue to the Little Venice district and its romantic canals. This is where you will encounter the most tourists, all gathering on the bridges to take the prettiest photos, but it is also the most beautiful neighborhood.

Next, move on to the Tanners’ Quarter with its white houses.

Colmar is also the city of Christmas. When you think of Alsace, you think of Christmas and its famous Christmas market. As you stroll, you’ll come across temples of Christmas magic. These large spaces dedicated solely to the Christmas celebration are actually stores, with magnificent decorations that evoke magic as soon as you enter! However, be aware that these are primarily aimed at tourists! You’ll find mostly the same decorations as in garden centers but at five times the price!

Our advice: Visit for the visual delight but don’t get swindled.

What to do in Colmar?

The city boasts a beautiful heritage and offers numerous activities for both children and adults:

  • A flat-bottomed boat ride on the canals: Yes, it’s very touristy but incredibly charming! We loved this activity and highly recommend it, though the ride was a bit too short for our liking. The cost is 8 euros per person and free for children under 3. We strongly recommend booking online or securing your afternoon slot in the morning upon arrival.
  • The Natural History Museum: A must-visit if you have children. The museum is small but features a variety of collections, including local and wild fauna. It also offers temporary exhibitions, details of which can be found on the museum’s website. We have written a complete article about this museum.
  • The Toy Museum: Located at the edge of the old town, we stumbled upon it by chance and it was a delightful find! We loved this very comprehensive museum. Housed in a former cinema, it spans several floors, covering the history of toys up to the 1990s. You’ll find classic toys, rare gems, and an entire floor dedicated to model building.

There are many other museums in Colmar, making it a highly cultural city, but exploring them all would require several days. Here are some notable ones:

  • Museum of the Battles Memorial
  • Hansi Village and its Museum
  • Chocolate Museum
  • The well-known Unterlinden Museum

Like many tourist cities, Colmar also has its famous little train that takes you on a tour of the old town, passing through its most famous neighborhoods. The fare is 7.50 euros per adult and 3.50 euros per child.

Where to park and stay in Colmar?

There are numerous car parking lots all around the old town of Colmar, which are well signposted and convenient for visitors.

For campervans, the city provides a dedicated campervan area located about a 30-minute walk from the old town. The area offers all necessary services including water, electricity (charged by the kWh), and laundry facilities. Expect to pay around 16 euros for 24 hours. It’s a fairly basic area without much charm, where you’ll be parked closely to other vehicles, but it serves its purpose well for visiting and staying in the city.

If you prefer not to stay overnight at the campervan area, there is a day parking option closer to the city center priced at 6 euros for 4 hours.

Colmar offers a wide range of accommodation options including homestays, guesthouses, and traditional hotels. You can plan your stay by booking directly through the city’s tourism office website, where you’ll find a variety of choices to suit different preferences and budgets.

Things to do around Colmar

Colmar is ideally located for exploring the heart of Alsace and the neighboring regions:

  • Strasbourg: Approximately 70km from Colmar, another iconic city of Alsace.
  • Black Forest, Germany: Don’t hesitate to cross the border and discover the Black Forest. Close to Colmar, we recommend Freiburg im Breisgau, about 50km away, renowned for its streams and medieval city.

Our thoughts on Colmar

The city is beautiful, immaculately clean, and adorned with flowers, truly resembling a postcard. We loved wandering through the charming alleys and taking in the atmosphere.

The flat-bottomed boat ride was a hit with the whole family, despite being very touristy and involving a considerable wait.

For museums, don’t miss the Natural History Museum and the Toy Museum if you’re traveling with children. We’ve even written a comprehensive article about the Natural History Museum.

When it comes to gastronomy, Colmar boasts numerous shops selling Alsatian specialties. However, not all of them feature locally sourced products or items made in the region, so we recommend checking labels carefully to ensure authenticity.

We had a delightful lunch at Hansi, located right in the heart of the old town: delicious homemade meals featuring local specialties. We highly recommend this place!

About Author

We are Sophie, Adrien, and our two adorable little ones. Passionate about travel, discovery, and gastronomy, we bought a 2007 Rapido camper van to travel differently, travel more, and introduce our children to the world. Here, we share our wonderful discoveries and tips for activities to do with children in France and beyond ! Welcome !

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