After visiting Colmar a couple years ago we decided we needed to come back again. When the opportunity arose last year to come again with Angela’s family we jumped at the chance. This colorful little town in the Alsace region of France is a the Christmas capital of the world and visiting during the holidays is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! We couldn’t wait to show Ang’s family around this fairytale town.
During the holiday season Colmar is a huge travel destination, and for good reason. With 5 Christmas markets scattered throughout the old town Colmar is one of the most festive towns in Europe and is easily accessible by train.
Right on the border of France and Germany Colmar shows signs of both cultures. Expect to taste French cuisine with German flavors. And see German architecture on the French building facades.
Stroll along the canals of Petite Venice
The undoubtedly most colorful and picturesque area of town is called Petite Venice. Situated along the canals these brightly colored buildings look like different crayons in a box and the reflection of the canals below make you feel like you are Alice in Wonderland.
Explore the Christmas Markets
During the holiday season the Christmas markets in the old town are the main attraction. There are 5 Christmas Markets in town. Each Christmas market is different and each stall sells it's own unique items. Christmas ornaments, decorations, meat, cheese, wine, chocolates, toys, candles, you name it! Grab a glass of vin chaud (hot mulled wine) to keep you warm and take a stroll through these charming little markets.
Wander the streets of the Old Town
With or without all the Christmas decorations the old town of Colmar is so adorable you will feel like you are walking through the pages of a children’s fairytale book. The streets are all cobblestone which shine when they are wet from rain and the buildings are all painted bright shades.
The entire old town is a pedestrian only zone so you can slowly meander along the alleyways at ease while taking in all the quaint little corners of Colmar.
Explore the city at night with a glass of Vin Chad (Hot Wine)
There is nothing more magical than Colmar at night. When the sun goes down the thousands of Christmas lights around the town turn on and we promise you’ve never seen Christmas lights like this.
Lights are strewn across the streets, on the buildings, and along the canals in Petite Venice. The reflection on the water make the entire canals glow with light.
TIP: Vin Chaud or hot mulled wine is a Christmas Market tradition. Buy a reusable cup for a euro and take it with you as you sample different types of mulled wine from stalls across the town. There is white, red, and rose vin chaud.
Visit the town of Eguisheim
Only a short taxi ride away from Colmar are some of the most beautiful towns in France. One of our favorites is the tiny town of Eguisheim. This walled city has only cobblestone streets and limited car traffic.
Spend an afternoon exploring the narrow alleyways, stopping to take photos of the beautifully colored building facades and stop for a glass of Alsatian wine at the winery. This day trip is a must for anyone visiting Colmar.
Eguisheim also has it’s very own Christmas market and it is as just as cute as you would expect in this adorable tiny town. The towns of Kaysersberg and Riquewihr are also nearby and worth a trip. They each have their own Christmas markets and are only a short car ride away.
Where to Stay
Hostellerie le Marechal
4 Place des 6 Montagnes Noires, 68000 Colmar, France
Constructed in 1565 on the city's original fortified walls, this 4-star hotel is located on the picturesque canals of Petite Venice. With a ton of history this is one of the most famous hotels in the old town. The rooms are small and outdated but the breakfast buffet makes up for it. With seating over the canal, fresh baked pastries, local cold cuts, foamy cappuccinos, and unlimited mimosa this buffet makes waking up in Colmar that much better.
One of the most famous photos of Petite Venice is of the canals in the picture below. And in every photo the star is the Hostellerie le Marechal which is the tall green building. If you look close you can see the breakfast/dining area of the hotel along the bottom along the canal.
Where to Eat
9 Rue des Écoles, 68000 Colmar, France
We eat at this little restaurant every time we visit Colmar. It is always packed and very warm and cozy inside. You can find Maison Rouge tucked along the cobblestone alleyways and when you smell roasting meat you will know you found the right spot.
The specialty of this restaurant is the roasted pork. You can see it spinning on a spit as soon as you open the door. This succulent pork is what keeps bringing us back time and time again.
Marche Couvert - The Covered Market of Colmar
13 Rue des Écoles, 68000 Colmar, France
We love this covered market! To get away from the cold for awhile, slip into this market for a drink and some lunch. It’s located in the Petite Venice area and has some great cheaper food options. They have everything from cheese, meat, and produce to flavored salts, oysters and wine. They even have a stall that sells Christmas decorations, go figure!
Christmas Market Stalls
Some of the best food in Colmar comes from the quaint Christmas market stalls throughout the city.
These little stalls have it all! Traditional Alsatian holiday classics like pretzels, spätzle, chestnuts, chocolates, candies and more! Our favorite’s were the warm pretzels with local cheese which goes great with a glass of vin chaud.
We love visiting this fairytale town in the Alsace during the holidays. It has to be one of the most festive places on earth during the holidays which is why visiting Colmar during Christmas should be on everyone’s bucketlist. Where do you celebrate the holidays?