This past year we spent about nine days in France. Known for its fairytale villages, pretzels, and famous white wines, Alsace has been on the top of my list for a while. With only two nights available in our itinerary, I wasn’t sure it would do it justice. Well, I’m happy to report you can see a lot of Alsace in just two days. I definitely would like to go back in the future, but this itinerary is the perfect highlight of Alsace. Here’s how we spent two days in Alsace, France.
Getting to Strasbourg
I’ll admit, the first day of this itinerary is tiring. We flew to Paris from Boston and landed at Charles de Gaulle around 7:00am. Then we took a two-hour train ride to Strasbourg, arriving around 10:00am. If you book this trip using points and miles like I did, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of Air France’s AIR&RAIL combined trips. Our flight in economy and the train to Strasbourg was bookable for 27,000 Flying Blue points and $70 in taxes per person. Once we arrived in Strasbourg, we picked up our rental car from Europcar, conveniently located across the street from the train station.
For this itinerary, we decided to drive to the farthest point south on our itinerary first and then backtrack to Strasbourg. There aren’t really a ton of sights to see in Alsace. It’s more about picking which villages you want to visit, walking around, and enjoying delicious food and wine! Also, don’t worry about parking in the villages. They each have their own paid parking lot and it never costs more than a few euros.
Colmar is the reason I wanted to come to Alsace in the first place. While it’s certainly picturesque, Colmar is larger than the other villages on this itinerary, and as a result, is less charming. Nevertheless, you’ll want to spend at least a few hours walking around Colmar.
Little Venice is the highlight of Colmar. Colorful houses line the Lauch River which flows through the center of Colmar. This is where you’ll take a majority of your pictures.
After checking out Little Venice, we walked around the rest of Colmar’s Old Town. This area of Colmar has cobblestone streets and colorful half-timbered houses.
Colmar is a good place to grab lunch or stop for a coffee. When in Alsace, a tarte flambée is a must!
There’s also a rotary at the north end of Colmar at the intersection of D83 and D201 with a Statue of Liberty replica in the center. The replica is an homage to Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, the designer of the statue of liberty, who was from Colmar. The replica Statue of Liberty stands 39 feet tall.
After Colmar, we drove 15 minutes south to the small village of Eguisheim. My husband was pretty tired at this point so we sat in the car for thirty minutes while he napped! Eguisheim is one of the cutest villages with Rue de Rempart being its most photographed spot.
We then headed to the town center where we stumbled upon the annual Eguisheim New Wine Festival.
There was a band playing, people dancing, and tons of food and drink. We decided to try the new wine since we were at the new wine festival after all! It looked like beer and kind of tasted like cider. I’m still not totally clear on what it was.
Eguisheim isn’t huge so you don’t need much time. We spent a few hours here because of the festival but otherwise might have been fine with an hour.
After Eguisheim, we headed north to Kaysersberg to check into our hotel Le Chambard. We had some trouble accessing it since it’s right in the village which is pedestrian only. Eventually, we found our way to the free hotel parking. We were tired from our full day of travel and sightseeing, so we decided to take a nap before dinner. Exploring Kayserberg would have to wait until the morning.
Dinner at Auberge de l’Ill
For dinner, we ate at Auberge de l’Ill, a two Michelin star restaurant in the town of Illhaeusern. The food was definitely good, but we’ve had better at other restaurants. We’ve dined at a few two and three Michelin star restaurants (like Odette in Singapore!), and this was by far the most attentive waitstaff. My husband reached to refill our wine glasses, which is apparently a big no-no. The waitress rushed over and apologized profusely for not having done it herself earlier.
A highlight of the meal was the cheese course. The waitress came around with a huge cheese selection and kept having us try more even though we were stuffed. Also, the outdoor area of the restaurant is so pretty. We visited in October so didn’t get to spend time outside, or see it in daylight, but it’s worth a trip here just for the setting.
Auberge de l’Ill isn’t cheap, but it’s a nice experience for a fancy occasion. We were treating this as a wedding anniversary trip.
We spent the next morning walking around Kaysersberg.
Kaysersberg had some of the prettiest store fronts.
This town is situated on the Weiss River which makes for some great photos.
We also made the short hike up to Kaysersberg Castle, a ruined castle dating back to 1220. Even if you don’t go inside the castle, the hike has some amazing views. You can even see parts of Germany which is less than 50 miles to the east.
Next up was Riquewihr which is said to have inspired the village in Beauty and the Beast. Riquewihr was certainly one of the most beautiful stops. It was also the most crowded!
After walking around, we posted up at the Hugel et Fils Tasting Room. We tried all of the Alsatian classics including Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris, and Gewürztraminer. We bought two bottles to enjoy later on in our trip.
Our last village was Ribeauville which, with Riquewihr, was part of the inspiration for Beauty and the Beast. I have to admit Riquewihr was more picturesque, but it’s still worth walking around both. Ribeauville has a beautiful mountain backdrop with three ruined castles. You can see one in the picture below.
We then headed back up to Strasbourg where we stayed at the Sofitel. It started raining pretty hard but we managed to visit the magnificent Strasbourg Cathedral. We happened to arrive at the start of mass so we decided to attend. I wasn’t really planning on going to church on vacation, but why not!
For dinner, we ate at La Binchstub, a tiny restaurant with a huge selection of tarte flambées. We were extremely lucky to get to sit without a reservation, so I suggest having your hotel call ahead.
Day 3 – Bonus Day
You can easily do all of the sightseeing in Strasbourg in one afternoon, but we chose to walk around a bit more in the morning before heading to Paris. We walked a big loop around Petite France, Strasbourg’s tourist area with cobblestone streets, canals, and more half-timbered houses. After two days of visiting the villages on the Alsace Wine Route, Petite France isn’t quite as impressive, but it’s still a nice place to visit.
Have an Extra Day?
If you have more time in Alsace, here are some other things you can add to your itinerary:
- Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle: Visit this mountain castle dating back to the 12th century and abandoned after the Thirty Years’ War.
- Hike to the three castles of Ribeauvillé: Nestled in the Vosges Mountains, it will take about three hours to visit all three of the castle ruins on foot.
- Visit a vineyard: Keep in mind that they might be closed on certain days of the week or during the harvest. If we had more time, we would have visited Trimbach or Domaine Weinbach.
- Stop at more villages: Check out this list of the top ten villages in Alsace for inspiration.
While it was tiring, you really can fit a lot into two days in Alsace! I was originally most excited to stop in Colmar, but Kaysersberg and Riquewihr were the highlights for me. I can definitely see myself coming back to Alsace in the future and exploring the villages, castles, and vineyards at a slower pace.