After landing in Basel, we had one day to spend in France before heading to Frankfurt the next day to meet our mothers. We planned a Colmar day trip to start our big Europe trip off.
So, after barely making our flights, we traveled from Basel to Colmar. This town is the perfect size to spend one day, here’s our itinerary.
What to Expect from a Day Trip to Colmar
Colmar, France is a quiet town located in Southeastern, France. It is less than an hour from the borders of both Germany and Switzerland. Given this, it has a very unique feeling because you can really see both the German and Swiss influences.
If you close your eyes and imagine what Belle’s provincial French town from Beauty and the Beast looks like, you would imagine Colmar. Heck, while we were walking around in the morning, a baker with a tray of cookies leaned out the window and said Bonjour! Then offered us a sample.
You can’t get any more Beauty and the Beast than that. It is rumored, but never confirmed, that the town from Beauty and the Beast is in fact based on Colmar.
Where to Stay for a Day in Colmar
Colmar is a small town and one of Europe’s best kept secrets. That being said it is easy to find a hotel at an affordable rate. Read our travel smart tips to find out where to find cheap flights and hotels.
When we stayed in Colmar we stayed at the Kyriad Colmar – Central Station hotel. It is a small basic hotel, but a steal at $47 a night. However, we visited during the off-season, but even in the peak summer season this hotel will run you only $70 a night.
If this hotel is not your cup of tea or is completely booked. Given the size of Colmar, there isn’t really a bad place to stay as everything is pretty walkable, but ideally the closer to the city centre the better.
Colmar Day Trip – Itinerary
It is easy to see everything Colmar has to offer in less than a day. So don’t rush around in the morning. Sleep in, relax, and start your Colmar day trip off on the right foot.
Breakfast in Colmar
If you are having breakfast in your hotel in Colmar, you are missing out. Just take a few steps outside the Old Town and you will know exactly why.
The smell of baked goods fills the air and the sweet smell will make you crave everything that the local bakeries have to offer. There’s no shortage of amazing baked goods in Colmar, let yourself get lost as you wander between Patisseries, sampling the best the town has to offer.
Here’s some of the Patisseries we would recommend:
- Gilg Pattiserie— 60 Grand Rue, 68000 Colmar, France
- Pattiserie Lorber – 44 Grand Rue, 68000 Colmar, France
- Thierry Mulhaupt Chocolate Patisserie– 6 Place de l’École, 68000 Colmar, France
- Richon — 8 Rue Stanislas, 68000 Colmar, France
If you prefer a more traditional Sit Down breakfast though, check out Bistrot Gormound. For less than €10 euro you can get a breakfast that includes cured meats, cheeses, bread, crepes, local made jam, juice, and coffee.
Late Morning/Early Afternoon
While exploring these bakeries, you will have walked past some of the major sites in Colmar. Now it’s time to fully explore them.
La Petite Venice, Colmar
You should head directly to La Petite Venice. Translated to Little Venice, here you will find the picturesque main canal. The canal is surrounded by brightly colored houses running through the Old Town.
The view here is stunning. Stop, take some photos and go to the Footbridge of Saint Pierre.
Take a Boat Tour
From here you should take a boat tour. This 30-minute tour costs €6/person and will take you on a relaxing boat ride through the main canal in Colmar. The view from the water surpasses any views that you will get from the bridge. Not to mention how spectacular your pictures will look.
You can take the boat tour in English, German, or French, and the guide will provide you with the history of Colmar and the Alsace region. This is an absolute must for your Colmar day trip.
Once you have completed your tour, head to the Marche Couvert (Covered Market). Originally built in 1865, the covered market stands at the intersection of the three main streets in the old town and the main canal.
If possible, the best time to visit is on a Thursday as they have additional stalls set up outside the market, and you get the full experience.
In the past, the market allowed local artisans to easily transport their locally grown goods, by cart or boat to the market.
Built out of bricks and iron this building is authentic to Colmar’s transition to the industrial era. After being reopened in 2010, this market is now home to the best in locally produced foods.
You may still be full from breakfast, so treat this as a light lunch. Sample some cheeses, cured meats, bread, jams, and sweet treats. There is no real shortage of great food in Colmar.
Late Afternoon/Early Evening
This is a great time to take a short break if you need it. There is not much public transportation in Colmar, so travelling mostly by foot can be tiring. Once you are rested it is time to head to Saint Martin’s Church.
St Martin’s Church
This church, which took 130 years to build, stands out from the small brightly colored fairytale buildings due to its size and gothic architecture.
This church is absolutely beautiful, with its rust and green patterned roof and its gray, yellow, and red bricks. The Church is open 8am-6:30 PM and has on display some of the best examples of religious artwork in France.
Colmar’s Old Town
Once you are done exploring Saint Martin’s, put your map and phone away and explore the old town. It is an absolutely beautiful place that seems to be untouched by the passage of time.
Every street is beautiful. Every twist and turn makes you think “WOW! How is this real?” It felt as if I was an immaculate amusement park, exploring a world of fantasy.
Immerse yourself in it. Go and explore some of the local shops, stop at a cafe and sip on some local wine. Or, have some unbelievable chocolate at a local chocolatier.
Things to Look out for in the Old Town
Stop and admire some of the most popular buildings in Colmar.
- La Maison des Têtes (house of heads).
- Quai de la Poissonnerie (Fisherman’s Dock).
- The Tanner’s Quarter.
- Eglise des Dominicains (Dominican Church).
You could easily do this for hours, but eventually you will be ready for dinner.
Dinner in Colmar, France
There are a lot of restaurants in Colmar, but most of them are extremely small and have limited seating. It is best to call ahead and make a reservation.
Eat some Tarte Flambee
Tarte Flambee is the Alsace region’s answer to pizza. It’s a bread dough rolled out into a thin rectangle. The dough is then covered with creme fraiche/fromage blanc and sprinkled with thinly sliced onions. Sound familiar?
The place known for the Best tarte flambee in the city is La Soi. Not only do they offer great tarte flambee, but they are extremely affordable. Nothing on their menu is over €10. We wanted to eat at La Soi, but it turns out even in February you needed a reservation.
We ended up eating at a restaurant down the Street Le Fer Rouge. The food at Le Fer rouge was also extremely good, but was significantly more expensive, about €20 a person. I do regret not getting to try Tarte Flambee, so do yourself a favour, call ahead and make reservations.
Best Time to Visit
We visited Colmar in February. This is the middle of winder and the off-season in Colmar. It was actually pretty great for one thing, no crowds. However, it was pretty cold and some tourist activities like the boat tour are closed during this time.
Based on our conversations with the locals, the best time to visit is early spring, especially around Easter.
Colmar is full of decorations at Easter and the weather is great, and the high tourist season hasn’t quite started. It is supposed to be the perfect mix of that peaceful vibe and beauty.
Don’t let the busy season scare you away though. Colmar is beautiful all year round. As one of the best kept secrets in Europe, even its busy season is not too crowded.
Have you ever wanted to live in a fairytale? Do you love Beauty and the Beast? Do you love wandering through a town that smells like fresh baked bread?
If you do, Colmar is a place that should not be missed. This little provincial french town is one of a kind, and does not feel like anywhere else in the world.
You will lose yourself in the beauty, fantasy, and whimsy that is Colmar, France.
Kevin Bookbinder from Happy Wallet Adventures has spent the last decade finding the best deals around so that he can travel as much as possible. Through his website,Happy Wallet Adventures, he hopes to share his experiences of budget travel to help others travel more often and for longer!
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