Have you ever experienced a real Christmas fairytale? With an abundance of Christmas lights, streets full of smiles and warm-hearted people singing Christmas songs, the smell of tasty food and drinks, with a beautiful Christmas tree and magic in the air? If you have ever experienced it, there’s no doubt that you would wish to repeat this experience as often as you can. There are many places on Earth where Christmas is celebrated in a grandiose way and I recently wrote about one of such places, which is Strasbourg. Since the Alsatian region is a perfect place to celebrate Christmas, I can’t help but describe one more incredible Alsatian city – Colmar. This gingerbread little town that looks like a place from a child’s dream is an excellent spot to celebrate Christmas!
Why Colmar Christmas Markets Should Be on Your Bucket List
How to Get to Colmar
You can visit Colmar on a one-day trip from Strasbourg by using a private car or a train (these towns are located very close to each other) or, if you’re coming from Switzerland or Germany, you can use an airplane.
Colmar – Houssen Airport is located only 1 kilometer from Colmar, so it will be very easy to get to the city from there. Stuttgart in Germany and Zurich in Switzerland are the two big cities that are situated the closest to Colmar.
Top 10 Things to do in Colmar During Christmas Holidays
1. See the Colmar Christmas Markets
The official Christmas season in Colmar this year is from 22nd November to 29th December and there will be six Christmas Markets! Each of these markets is like a separate little village with its special atmosphere and craftsmen from all over Alsace. It won’t be an exaggeration if I tell that the whole city will be turned into one giant Christmas Market with 180 stalls in total! There’s really nowhere to hide from Christmas in Colmar. The six Colmar Christmas Markets are:
- Place de la cathédrale
- Place des Dominicains
- Place de l’Ancienne Douane
- Place Jeanne d’Arc
- Children’s Christmas Market
- Indoor Craft Market
Make sure to explore all of them!
2. Taste the food and drink mulled wine
You can always try a lot of tasty delicacies on the Christmas Markets and here’s a list of gastronomic delights which I can recommend:
- A plate of 6 oysters with a glass of wine for 15 euros.
- Mulled wine including non-alcoholic options like mulled apple juice or mulled orange juice. Or try some local wine. After all, Colmar is an Alsatian wine capital.
- Traditional Alsatian Christmas cookies – Bredele.
- An Alsatian version of gingerbread – Pain d’epices.
- A bread with dried fruits macerated in kirsch – Berawecka.
- The famous cake of Alsace topped with sugar and nuts – Kugelhopf. Tastes great with coffee.
Find out more about Alsatian gastronomic specialties here.
3. Explore Petite Venice
A place where you can get the most picturesque views in Colmar becomes twice as beautiful during the Christmas season. Dreamy half-timbered buildings located on both sides of the canal will make you feel like you’re in another time or another world. You will find magnificent Christmas scenes on facades and may even meet Santa himself.
4. Make Your Jaw Drop at St. Martin’s Church
Being one of the most popular attractions in Colmar, St. Martin’s Church also becomes a little more special during Christmas celebrations. It’s because starting from 2018 a new Christmas market is being organized there. As for the church, make sure to explore it from both outside and inside. From the outside, it’s a majestic gothic church with an impressive spire and inside you can find a rococo organ from the 18th century and a late-gothic sculpture of the Last Supper.
5. Christmas Ice Rink
The more Christmas fun, the better! And one of the great ways to add up fun is to go to the Christmas Ice Rink. Whether you’re a pro or a newbie, you’re bound to have a good time there!
In 2019 the 800m² Ice Rink will be located on Place Rapp with lots of holiday activities throughout the Christmas period. The entrance fee is 1.50 € and you will also need to pay 1.50 € to rent the skates.
6. See the Tribute to the Statue of Liberty Creator
It may sound a little weird but there’s a Statue of Liberty in Colmar. The same as in New York, but of different size. There’s actually nothing confusing about it if you know that the Statue of Liberty originated from France and that her creator came from Alsace, namely Colmar. His name was Auguste Bartholdi and he worked on the New York’s Statue of Liberty from 1875 till 1886. To commemorate Auguste’s life and creation, his family created a quarter-scale version of his most famous work in 2004. The statue is 12 meters high and is located at the north end of the town. You will probably see it while driving to the town from the airport.
Interestingly, you can find little triangles with the Statue of Liberty all over Colmar pedestrian streets. These triangles show the way to the city’s attractions.
7. Explore the Old Town
Renaissance palaces and beautiful wooden houses that you can see in the Old Town of Colmar have witnessed many things and can tell a lot of stories about the days of long-forgotten past. The history of the city is complex and rich and you can literally feel it while walking through the Old Town. If you prefer riding to walking, you can take a tourist train, pick your language and enjoy the ride.
8. Attend Special Christmas Events
There will be so many things to do during the Christmas season this year that your head may go round! Just take a look at several of them:
- Attend the exhibition of nativities
- Listen to the children’s choir on the boats
- Create a Christmas table decorations
And a lot more! You can take a look at the full list of events here.
9. Let Your Breath be Taken Away at Ballons des Vosges
On one of those days in Colmar, you may get hungry for outdoor adventure and if it happens you should see the majestic peaks of the Vosges mountain located in a regional natural park. One of the highlights of Ballons des Vosges Regional Natural Park is the Gazon du Faing peak, above the Lac Noir.
10. Attend Musée Unterlinden
It’s one of France’s greatest museum that covers almost 7,000 years of history. It’s located in a beautiful place (former Dominican convent from the 13th century) and has a little bit of everything from different periods of time. A must-visit place for those who are interested in history in general and in Alsatian history in particular.
Recommended Tours & Trips
There are a lot of interesting tours that you can take both inside and outside of Colmar. Let’s take a look at some of them:
- 2-Hour Segway Tour: I bet you never explored the city on a Segway. You have a chance to do it in Colmar! This 2-hour Segway tour includes visiting the Old City Center, various interesting neighborhoods, the “Quartier des Maraichers”, the German part. You will also have a chance to experience Colmar’s nature.
- Alsace Half-Day Wine Tour and Full Day Wine Tour: if you’re in Alsace and you love wine, you definitely need to taste the local wine specialties. And one of the greatest ways to do this is to take a half-day or a full-day wine tour from Colmar. You will learn about the traditions of wine production and explore the famous wine route stopping at various famous wineries of the region.
- Day trip to the Capital of Christmas: if you came to Colmar to experience the Christmas fairytale, then you also might want to go to the Capital of Christmas – Strasbourg, which is located only 74 kilometers from Colmar. A short ride to this city will make you experience another Christmas idyll and enhance your holiday spirit. I totally loved Strasbourg and I recommend you to visit it, too. You can read more about my impressions here.
Places to stay in Colmar
- La Maison Des Têtes: an excellent five-star hotel located only 200 meters from the center in the classic the 17th century building. It has spacious modern rooms, decent restaurant and shaded patio. Good choice for those who aren’t used to saving on accommodation.
- Hôtel Kyriad Colmar Centre Gare: as the name suggests, this hotel is centrally located with main sights in walking distance. It has cozy rooms and nice breakfasts.
- Hotel Saint-Martin: if you want to experience some traditional Alsatian style, this hotel is for you. Located in the heart of Colmar’s Old Town, it has beautiful rooms, a reading room, and a good restaurant.
Places to eat in Colmar
- La Cour des Anges: located in the city center, yet a little hidden, this restaurant with a pleasant and bright terrace serves delicious dishes that fit any kind of diet. In case you don’t plan to eat only Alsatian food while being in Colmar, it’s a good place to stop by.
- Le 20ème Colmar: this restaurant has an excellent service, an interesting and creative menu and a welcoming and pleasant atmosphere. If you’re not sure what to drink, make use of their wine recommendations.
- La Fleur de Sel: the small size of this restaurant makes it very cozy. It’s located in the Little Venice of Colmar and it’s a great spot for those who want to taste traditional Alsatian food. Although the menu is small, it has all the classics and they are delicious.
Felling the spirit of Christmas is very easy for me now. All I have to do is to recall the wonderful experience I had in Colmar and Strasbourg. Don’t refuse yourself in creating a stock of beautiful Christmas memories and plan a trip to Strasbourg or Colmar to make your Christmas dreams come true!