Things to do in Colmar in Winter – Travel Guide

WHAT TO DO IN COLMAR IN THE WINTER MONTHS

One of the prettiest towns to visit in France in winter is Colmar – actually, it is always great to visit, but especially in winter. It has a special charm and is thus a popular destination.

But not because it is a winter sports heaven – rather it is so cute and nice to visit in the winter months and has some special events that you can’t go wrong with when visiting Colmar in the winter.

Alsace, France’s smallest region, is perched on the edge of Germany and Switzerland, and the influence of Germany is very visible.

It is now part of France (but has been part of Germany several times) and combines the best of these two countries. So, here is what to know for your winter trip to Colmar.

You can get a free Colmar map either at the hotel or the tourism office and walk the route that is outlined and see the best Colmar attractions (in winter). Or you can, of course, use this winter guide to Colmar and plan your trip.

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What to Do in Winter in Colmar

So, the old town in Colmar is the best place to visit in winter – here, you will find most of the attractions, so you will spend most of your time here.

Little Venice

Very picturesque, Little Venice is the main tourist spot.

Old town in Colmar is one of the best places to visit in winter
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This colorful neighborhood starts behind the Koifhus and goes through the fishmonger´s district and to the bridges Turenne and Saint-Pierre. It has the prettiest, colorful buildings. While there are many pretty buildings, it is quite small, so you will probably not spend all day just admiring the buildings, with these colorful houses, narrow streets, and the canal.

Whether you visit in the summer or in the winter, there are many little shops, restaurants, and bakeries, so you can eat your weight in all the delicious food or shop for what you need.

Christmas Markets

Alsace, and Colmar in particular, is very well-known for its Christmas Markets.

Christmas Market in Place des Dominicians is one of the top things to do in Colmar in winter
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So, if you visit at the end of November and throughout December (until Christmas), make sure to hit the Christmas markets. You cannot really miss them as there are several different markets and they are spread all over the old town.

I recommend, seeing all of them and not just visiting one particular one (remember Colmar´s old town is small and it’s easy to walk from point a to point b).

There are six markets:

  • Place de la Cathédrale
  • Place des Dominicains
  • Place de l’Ancienne Douane
  • Place Jeanne d’Arc
  • Children’s Christmas Market
  • and the Indoor Craft Market

Here you can shop for Christmas presents (especially if you are after more unique and/or handcrafted gifts) and have your obligatory mulled wine (is it really obligatory? For me, it isn’t but it seems for almost anyone else who visits a Christmas Market), hearty food, and sweet desserts.

But of course, it is not only about the small little stalls selling all kinds of stuff – the town is beautifully decorated and illuminated. So, it doesn’t surprise that it was voted the second best Christmas Market in 2017 in all of Europe.

Saint-Martin Collegiate Church

In winter, especially in December, churches become even more popular and so it doesn’t surprise that a visit to Saint-Martin Collegiate Church at Place de la Cathedrale is a popular place in winter.

This is probably the most impressive church in Colmar – not only does it look impressive from the outside, but from the inside, too – so pay a visit (and if you are religious, you can attend services, too).

Alsatian Wines

Alsace is famous for its white wines – nothing you can win me over with, but apart from the mulled wine at the Christmas markets, you can enjoy some wine tastings.

The vineyards in Alsace are great to visit in summer, but you can enjoy some local wines indoors (the most famous is probably the Riesling wine – most famous because even I have heard of it). If you have more than one wine, it even warms you up. 🙂  You can also visit wine cellars and find out more about Alsatian wines.

Canal Cruise

It doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit Colmar, doing a canal cruise tour is a fun activity.

Gingerbread houses at Petite Venise. Christmas decoration of local craftsmen
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So, you can do canal cruises in the winter months and it might be even prettier with all the Christmas decorations on the buildings.

Architecture

One of the best things to do in Alsace in the winter is to just enjoy the different buildings and their stunning architecture.

Whether it is the Pfister House, featuring paintings from the Bible, or the House of Heads, or one of the many other unique buildings – keep looking up to see the beautiful architecture.

Koifhus

Once the town‘s business and political hub, the Customs House (or Koifhus) was built in 1480 and served as a warehouse, market, and customs office for centuries.

Before Christmas, you can see the creations of about 20 local craftsmen and women – ceramicists, potters, master glassmakers, and more.

You can also visit the Toy Museum during the Christmas Market period at the Koifhus.

Ice Rink

What would winter be without an ice rink? There is a small ice skating rink in Place Rapp for families, adults, couples, and groups of children.

Nestled in the heart of a magical setting, this 800-square-meter ice rink is perfect for people of all ages. From the end of November to the end of December, there are even several extra activities you can enjoy at the ice rink. 

Father Christmas Letterbox 

If you visit Colmar in winter with children, stop at the huge mailbox of Santa Claus – in Little Venice –  where children can send a letter to Santa.

And while Santa might be busy, it is promised that all letters with a correct address will receive an answer.

So, whether your kids were naughty or nice – they might not get a gift, but at least a letter – that does count for something, doesn’t it?  And if your kids are lucky, there is even more than just a letter. 

On Wednesdays at 4 pm, 14 children are actually given a gift by Santa Claus (these gifts are offered by the exhibitors of the Christmas markets of Colmar).

The Magic of Lights

On Fridays and Saturdays, as well as every night during Christmas, you can see the Magic of Lights – 1150 computerized lights make Colmar even prettier with a light show.

Unterlinden Museum 

One of the best winter activities in Colmar is to visit a museum.

Unterlinden Museum is one of the main museums in the town – and the most visited.

It is housed in a 13th-century Dominican religious sisters’ convent and a 1906 former public baths building, and exhibits many art pieces – so, what better way to warm up than while enjoying art from different time periods.

Strasbourg

If you are in Colmar for more than one day, you might want to visit Colmar´s bigger sister, Strasbourg.

Strasbourg is also a great place to visit in the winter and you can easily get there by public transportation. Like Colmar, Strasbourg is known for its beautiful Christmas Markets and, given its bigger size, there might be even more to do in the winter months.

So, whether you visit Colmar before Christmas or in January or February – there are fun activities to do, though December might be the best time to visit for a fun winter trip.

COLMAR WINTER TRAVEL TIPS

Here are some essential travel tips for your Collar winter trip.

How to Get to Colmar

  • Flying: Colmar does not have a regular airport and the closest airports are Strasbourg-Entzheim (70km from Colmar), Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (about 70 km away) – from both airports, you can easily get to Colmar by train.
  • Train:  In the winter months, I suggest getting to Colmar by train.  It is linked to the largest French and European cities either directly or by changing trains. The train station is close to the old town of Colmar and you can walk from the train station to the old town.

How to Get Around

Colmar in winter means staying mostly in the old town. Colmar is so small and walkable that walking is the best way to get around.

Where to Stay in Colmar

  • I stayed at a 3-star Colmar Hotel, and I loved it. I booked it more or less last-minute via booking.com.  It is my preferred booking site, as I can often cancel hotels up to 24 hours in advance, which helps since I am a very spontaneous person. I mostly booked the hotel because of its free parking and proximity to the old town. It is not directly located in the old town, but about a 10-15 minute walk. It is just next to the train station, so whether you get here in your own car or by train, the hotel is perfect. Also, the breakfast was great (including muffins, crepes, pancakes, and much more) and the rooms were clean, bright, and modern. It is for sure my first pick for Colmar.

To find out more about the hotel click here.

Hopefully, this Colmar winter travel guide helps you plan your trip and do some of the best winter activities. In case you read this in December: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Safe Travels, Arzo
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