You have decided to visit the Alsace region in France, which is an excellent idea. But which Alsace villages and medieval towns in Alsace are actually worth your time? I give you a list of my 9 top-favorite villages in the Alsace and Alsace towns that are worth stopping for.
Did you know the famous Alsace wine route consists of 170 kilometers (105 miles) and 120 towns? One is even cuter than the next. Some are medieval, others are walled. Some can be called cities or tourist traps. So how, on earth, are you going to visit the cutest and most beautiful villages in the Alsace?
I didn’t visit all 120 (in all honesty) but I did visit a lot. Some I drove through or cycled through. For others, I stopped, parked the car, and walked around, or even stayed overnight.
And I came to the conclusion that not all villages are worth the hype. And some definitely are. So here are my personal recommendations to plan your Alsace village tour!
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9 Must-see Alsace Villages and Towns
that actually are worth your time
- Things to note about villages in Alsace and visiting them
- My 9 favorite Alsace Villages that I recommend
- More Alsace towns that are nice to visit
- Villages still on my list to visit in Alsace
- How to best enjoy the towns in Alsace
Things to note about villages in Alsace and visiting them
Before we dive into an overload of cuteness, you have to know a few things. From the 120 towns in the Alsace wine route, some are easier to visit than others. Here are some things to keep in mind while planning.
Accessibility of Alsace towns
The bigger cities like Colmar, Strasbourg, and Mulhouse can be reached by train. They have international connections with Switzerland and Germany, as well as high-speed trains connecting with Paris and Lyon.
Other towns have a train station, but regional trains are far and few in between. Sometimes, the train station is located over 2 miles from the walled and medieval city center.
If you really wish to explore some of the Alsatian villages, your own transport (by car or bike) is your best option. Most villages have paid or free parking-lost just outside the town’s center.
Sadly, due to their steep hills, cobble-stoned streets, high sidewalks, and obstacles placed everywhere, I found the Alsace villages very mobility unfriendly. If you have trouble walking, or need the use of a walker or wheelchair, Alsace is not the place for you. (sorry!)
Size of an Alsace village
Looking on a map, the dots are spaced closely together and you wonder: how can there be so many amazing settlements so close to each other?
Well, the answer is simple: some towns are very tiny! Sometimes the center of town is no more than a street with houses on each side. Other times the village is walled in and the center consists of a few streets.
Regardless of their size, each village consists of at least a few restaurants, winstubs, wine tasting options, and cute houses.
If you have to park your car outside the city center, it might take a few minutes to walk to town. If you consider visiting a tiny town, it might not be worth your extensive time on the train and walking 20-30 minutes to the town.
In most of these cute villages, walking from one end of town to the other, without stopping for shopping, tasting, or restaurant breaks, might take up anywhere between 10 to 40 minutes.
However, an extensive lunch, getting to and from the train station or parking lot, and shopping, tasting and photography might take considerably longer of course!
Staying overnight at one of the Alsatian villages is always a good idea!
Some of the medieval villages can become quite overcrowded at lunchtime and during peak tourist season. But after dinner, you can have the little village all to yourself!
Therefore, it is always a good idea to stay overnight in the town of your choice!
You get to experience the sweet little town all for yourself, interact with locals, do some excellent wine tasting and get value for money on your accommodation.
My 9 favorite Alsace Villages that I recommend
Now, without further ado, I give you my 9 favorite villages in the Alsace because they rank high on accessibility, value for time, and cuteness overload!
1. Colmar, Alsace’s cutest city
Colmar has to be number 1 on the list. Technically, not a town or village, but actually one of Alsace’s cities. But it is probably your best base to explore the region and your starting point.
It is easily accessible via train (both internationally and in France) as well as by car.
It has a gazillion hotels, pensions, apartments, and AirBnB options and you only have to throw a pebble and you’ll hit an excellent restaurant, bakery, wine shop, or market.
You can find the cutest houses lining the waterways, old fisherman’s quarter as well as historic buildings and shopping options. You can easily spend a few days in Colmar and get a good taste of the Alsace region.
Ribeauvillé is definitely a village. And one of the most beautiful ones in the Alsace.
It does have a train station but this is located nearly 4,5 km/ 2 miles outside the main historic town.
There are several parking places right on the edge of town and you can follow the main street to the fountain and city gate on the other side.
From there, you can see the silhouette of the 3 castle ruins up on the hill.
I stayed 2 nights at an amazing luxury hotel in Ribeauvillé overlooking the vineyards and had the town to myself in the evenings. Check out Le Clos Saint-Vincent Hotel here.
Louis Sipp is the name in town to go to for wine tasting, and with 3 Michelin recommendations, there is plenty of excellent food to have.
When I visited Riquewihr, I basically did everything wrong.
I visited on the busiest moment of the day when all restaurants and bars were full with lunch guests and some shops closed for lunch.
By the time I was done browsing the town I was very impressed but also a bit overwhelmed.
Riquewihr is by far one of the most touristic Alsace villages and with good reason.
The village is less stretched out than Ribeauvillé but offers many side streets. The keep at the end is very impressive and they offer many local shops for cheese, delicacy and wine shopping.
There is no option to arrive in Riquewihr by train, so you need your own transport. Parking lots are placed on each end of the town, but depending on the hour of the day, can be full.
For wine tasting, I highly recommend Hugel & Fils (Family Hugel and sons). Their Pinot Blanc tastes especially much to my liking.
Another name in town is Dopff. In town, they have a tasting room, but I went to Dopff au Moulin, just outside of the historic center.
They offer set tasting menus of Grand Crus for a fixed price, which is waived if you buy a bottle. As the tasting is 12€ per person, and one of their finest Riesling Grand Crus costs €11,80 it was an excellent trade.
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Eguisheim must be one of my personal favorites. Mainly because I stayed 2 nights in an absolutely breathtaking hotel with an infinity pool overlooking the vineyards and the town. Check out the James Vignobles Hotel here.
But also because Eguisheim is beautiful.
Unlike the other villages, it is not a main road stretching through town.
Eguisheim seems like a small circle with the other streets circling around it towards the center with the church and the stork nests. Eguisheim’s main historic center is also car-free, which is an added bonus.
This does mean you have the park a little further afield, but it is worth it. Sadly, there is no train station in Eguisheim.
They do have a very excellent, locally-owned bike shop that rents bikes and e-bikes. I took full advantage of this and rented a bike for 2 days.
Eguisheim is the perfect base for a few cycling routes.
In the evening, when the day-trippers have vanished, the little town is lovely, quiet, and tranquil. Beyer is a big name in town for wine tasting and most restaurants offer their wines too.
I can highly recommend the small, and Michelin guide recommended Pavillion Gourmand with their excellent food and service.
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5. Strasbourg, biggest city in the region
Technically, another city on the list. Strasbourg is not a town or village but by far the biggest city in the region.
But in my opinion, it has to be on the list as it offers great options for international travelers as it has fast train connections, millions of places to stay and eat. And it shows visitors a hint of small village life in the Alsace.
I visited Strasbourg on a day trip by train and had an excellent time.
Strasbourg has a really international vibe as you can learn all about the European parliament.
A must-do in Strasbourg is their boat tour, Batorama, which takes a good 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Stroll through the historic center, catch up on your shopping and admire the picturesque Petite France district with its canals and wood timbered houses.
I spent the biggest portion of the day enjoying the excellent surprise menu at Utopie. A tiny gourmet restaurant that soon will get their Michelin star (I’m sure of).
Book ahead as they only have a few tables and are nearly always full. A lunch or dinner is a truly tasteful experience at Utopie!
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Obernai was on the top of my list to visit and therefore, one of the first villages I visited in Alsace. It is located further north along the Alsace wine route, not far from Strasbourg.
The city has its old city walls. I parked at the free parking place near the market. On Saturday mornings they have one of the biggest biological food markets in the region which is worth a visit if you have the chance.
Obernai does have a train station, not far from the old town, so it is only a short walk.
I loved the approach of Obernai, crossing the old moat, through the old city walls, and into the historic center.
Again, it was nearly lunchtime, but I had a blast browsing the cute independently owned shops, houses, and the main square which seemed like an island floating amidst wood-timbered houses and colorful facades.
I didn’t taste any wine in Obernai, but I do recommend Winstub Le Freiberg. Sadly, it is not located on the main square, but this makes it a little hidden gem. The family runs the place and offers excellent food for very reasonable prices.
Or Kaysersberg in short.
The small town is dominated by the silhouette of the Schlossberg Castle and the whole area is surrounded by Grand Cru wine fields.
Whatever wine you taste here, it will be a tad more expensive than elsewhere, but also infinitely better!
I approached Kaysersberg from the vineyards in the east, as I was passing by bike. The village doesn’t have a train station but also offers small parking lots on the edges of town.
The main street in Kaysersberg leads up to the romantic stone bridge with lovely views of those typical Alsatian houses.
Again, the place is very popular with day-trippers, so if you can, arrive at the start or the end of the day. Or stay overnight.
Neuf-Brisach also has a special place on my top favorites list.
It is not because of the typical Alsace village vibe or cute townsmenship.
Neuf-Brisach is absolutely nothing like any of the other towns in Alsace.
It is actually not even on the Alsace wine route.
What it does offer is Unesco World Heritage status. This is Vauban’s (the Sun King’s architect) masterpiece. As the city is laid out in a perfect octagon. You can walk the whole perimeter of the fortifications and the outer moat forms a lush and green park.
Some of the bastion fortifications can be visited.
But the highlight of my visit was the Mausa, a street-art museum in one of the underground fortifications.
No internet or an abundance of natural light, but carefully selected street-art artists from all over the world, displaying their best work in the tiniest of villages in France.
The entrance fee of €10 is a bit steep, but the museum is non-funded and the endless halls of vibrant, dark and twisted, and mind-blowing art are worth it.
Take some time to chat with the curator who offers excellent personal stories about the artists and the becoming of the museum and you’ll soon agree with me.
Neuf-Brisach does have a train station, but this is only used for their touristic train journeys (some by steam train!)
Sadly, due to the bad weather and high levels of the river Rhine, my steam train ride and boat cruise didn’t happen, so I don’t have any personal stories to share.
Rouffach was one of those hidden villages that I’ve stumbled upon and was quite taken by. I was riding my bike in the region and wondered why my route made a specific detour to Rouffach.
I imagined it must be worth the time and it was!
The town of Rouffach has a train station, only a mile from the historic town. But the village also offers ample parking options.
The main square is dominated by the giant Notre Dame church but the side streets offer lovely shopping opportunities, and cute houses.
The best views of Rouffach you might find from the prestigious Hotel Chateau d’Isenbourg & Spa. It is set high on a hill, overlooking town. A great place for a drink, lunch or to pamper yourself a bit.
I had lunch at the main town square at the local restaurant A La Grappé, which offers Alsatian cuisine mixed with international flavors. Their set lunch menu had an excellent balance between Alsatian and oriental flavors and the price was excellent.
More Alsace towns that are nice to visit
9 out of 120 Alsatian villages is really not that much. But I imagine you don’t have a month to visit.
And you’re interested in the highlights and best the region has to offer. I also don’t want to overwhelm you with a massive list of must-visit villages.
But, if you’re insatiable.
Or have more time.
Or have visited before, or suffer from massive FOMO, then I can offer you some more villages that really looked lovely and could be nice to stop at.
So here are a few other villages I’ve enjoyed:
I passed Bergheim a couple of times on my way on the Alsace wine route.
What stood out more than other villages were its pastel-colored timbered houses. No bright yellow or orange here, but soft pastel hues like pastel green and pink. Together with the ever-present baskets of flowing flowers, it paints a very pretty picture.
Kintzheim, excellent base for some of the top attractions of Alsace
I also passed Kintzheim a few times, because the village lies at the base of some of the region’s major attractions.
Of course, you have the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, which is a must-see if you love castles. And views. And history.
Tucked away in the woods above Kintzheim, you’ll also find the Birds of Prey show at Kintzheim Castle and the Monkey Mountain. These top attractions make Kintzheim an excellent base to stay at.
A tiny village, not far from Obernai and closer to Strasbourg than Colmar, Barr is easily overlooked.
I passed through it by car, which immediately marked the downside of the town. It doesn’t have a car-free historic center.
The narrow streets are lined on both sides by tall, wood-timbered historic houses. Offering overall great impressions of the town, but not a must-have photo opportunity.
But do stop at one of the many ice cream shops or wine bars. Away from the massive crowds, you can enjoy yourself in peace.
Kientzheim was a surprise I stumbled on while I was cycling around.
As soon as I passed the city gates, the quiet peaceful medieval vibe hit me.
I mainly stopped for the winery of Blanck & Fills (either André or Paul- same family but different wines), which was an excellent choice.
But once I proceeded towards much more famous Kaysersberg, I was drawn in by the lovely main square which makes for an excellent quiet lunch stop.
Should Hunawihr be on the list?
I often see Hunawihr mentioned on the lists of most beautiful Alsace villages too.
But I don’t agree.
Or I’ve missed a major cute view.
I’ve visited the sleepy town of Hunawihr and didn’t find any nice views besides the main fountain and lovely hotel/restaurant.
The best view that could be worth your time is when you climb up to the church and cemetery.
Here you can see the vineyards, the different villages of Ribeauville and Riquewihr on the other side, and the gorgeous castle ruins in the distance.
Nearby NaturOparc was a nice visit and also Domaine Schwach offers great wine tastings. I guess the best view of Hunawihr is when you drive on the main road from Ribeauville to Riquewihr and you see the small town with the church tower sticking out from the vineyards.
In all honesty, I must admit that, sadly, I didn’t make it to Munster myself.
I wanted to, but my lack of energy and oversaturation of Alsace villages got in the way.
Munster is the base of the famous Munster cheese. The village itself offers a million excellent restaurants and you can visit local farms in the Munster valley to get your cheese at the source.
I guess I have an excellent excuse to go back one day!
What about Mulhouse?
Mulhouse is the 2nd largest city in Alsace and I visited it on my last day in Alsace.
Technically, again not a village, but I did want to visit.
I timed my visit with the biggest market in Europe and tried to catch some street art. But Mulhouse is quite different from the other places I’ve visited in Alsace.
Its industrial past plays a large part in this.
In Mulhouse, you’ll not find those cute wood-timbered houses that are ever-present in the rest of Alsace. I find Mulhouse a bit like any other bigger town/small city in the region.
It does have its quirks and fun elements that make it worth your time, but if you’re looking for stereotypical Alsace villages, then I’d steer away from Mulhouse.
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Villages still on my list to visit in Alsace
Because I can’t visit them all, but I’ve read great things about these villages.
For a new visit, I’ll be sure to include them.
- Wissembourg. Located all the way in the north of Alsace, this village is actually recently named as ‘le plus beau village de france’ or one of the most beautiful villages in France.
- Rosheim, north of Obernai
- Dambach-La-Ville centrally located
- Guebwiller, more to the south of the wine route in Alsace
How to best enjoy the towns in Alsace
Wow, you’re still here.
I guess I could go on and on and keep mentioning all 200 tiny hamlets and towns in Alsace, but we have to stop.
I hope you get a good idea of the villages that are worth your time and worth stopping for. Others you can drive or cycle through.
I hope you’ll have an excellent time in Alsace, especially with my tips and recommendations as they are based on my personal experiences.
Whatever you do, time your visit early morning or late afternoon. Or better yet, stay overnight to experience the towns at dinner time and without the main crowds (parking is usually free after 7 pm!)
Take a glass of wine, have lunch at a local place and enjoy the views of these lovely Alsace villages.
Which of these villages will you put on your must-visit list? Which town appeals the most to you?
Let me know in the comment sections below, I’d love to hear from you.