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Things to do: sightseeing, museums, historic sites
Alsace is a small region on the west bank of the upper Rhine River adjacent to Germany and Switzerland and is known for its traditional timber-framed houses, "Little Venice" network of canals, and Christmas markets. The region has changed hands between Germany and France on several occasions, making the local culture very distinct, with historic cities and châteaux. A popular sightseeing itinerary for you to enjoy is the Alsatian Vineyard Route, which is a pleasurable walk or drive to each town where you can try many local wines. Due to their tumultuous history, Alsatians are tremendously proud to be French and take offence when mistaken as German. Also called the "Heart of Europe," Alsace is divided in the east by the Rhine River (forming a natural border between France and Germany) and to the west by the Vosges mountain range. Make your own Alsace vacation itinerary, with a little help from those that know the place like the back of their hands, by using our France vacation trip planner.Read the Alsace Holiday Planning Guide »
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©Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
©En ville à Kaysersberg
©La Petite France
©Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg
©Cité de l'Automobile
©Parc de l'Orangerie
©Cité du Train - Musée français du chemin de fer
©Musée Alsacien de la ville de Strasbourg
©Mont Sainte Odile Convent
©La Volerie des aigles
©Fort de Mutzig
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Best things to do in Alsace
Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg
Visit for: 3h 30m
En ville à Kaysersberg
Visit for: 2h 30m
Visit for: 4h
Visit for: 1h 30m
Parc Zoologique & Botanique de Mulhouse
Visit for: 2h 30m
Visit for: 1h 30m
Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg
Visit for: 2h
Mont Sainte Odile Convent
Visit for: 1h 30m
Visit for: 1h 30m
Kid Friendly Attractions
La Montagne des Singes
Visit for: 2h 30m
La Volerie des aigles
Visit for: 1h 30m
Parc du Petit Prince
Visit for: 8h
Cité de l'Automobile
Visit for: 3h
Cité du Train - Musée français du chemin de fer
Visit for: 1h 30m
Musée Alsacien de la ville de Strasbourg
Visit for: 1h 30m
Recently planned trips to AlsaceView more plans
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Alsace Holiday Planning GuideOn the west bank of the Rhine, just next to Germany and Switzerland, lies the charming region of Alsace--known for its traditional timber-framed houses, "Little Venice" network of canals, and Christmas markets. The diminutive region has changed hands between Germany and France on several occasions, creating a distinct local culture, complete with historical cities and châteaux. Topping Alsace itineraries is the Alsatian wine route, a pleasurable walk or drive to each town, where you can try many local wines. Due to their tumultuous history, Alsatians are tremendously proud to be French. Also called the "Heart of Europe," Alsace's topography includes the lush Rhine to the east and the majestic Vosges mountain range in the west.
Places to Visit in AlsaceStrasbourg: Known for its stunning city center with World Heritage Site status, Strasbourg is a busy metropolitan area perfect for visiting museums, historical landmarks, posh restaurants, and more, all best experienced by cycling around the city.
Colmar: Also known as Little Venice, this city is renowned for its picturesque canals, stunning architecture, and old town, while foodies will adore Colmar for its delicious pastry shops and Alsace wine.
Ribeauville: Located at the foot of the Vosges, picturesque Ribeauville makes a perfect stop on your Alsace itinerary. Stroll around the old town with its ancient walls, medieval homes, Gothic churches, and a town hall displaying age-old artifacts.
Mulhouse: Nicknamed the French Manchester, this city is famous for its cultural significance, including a Peugeot factory, Alsatian wine production, and two popular museums for automobile and railway exhibitions--the two largest of their kind in Europe.
Obernai: The charming commune of Obernai offers medieval streets lined with traditional, half-timber houses and bars where visitors can try the tasty local beer and wine.
Selestat: Among the top places to visit in Alsace is Selestat, where you can walk down street after street displaying rich and diverse architecture; highlights include Romanesque and Gothic churches, a 17th-century Baroque clock tower, and a neo-medieval water tower.
Kintzheim: In addition to scrumptious local cuisine and wine, Kintzheim is famous for its 13th-century castle overlooking the town as well as several wildlife and nature parks.
Eguisheim: A wine tour of Alsace may well bring you through Eguisheim, a medieval city serving as a production hub for high-quality vintages and a charming traditional setting with colorful houses, ancient landmarks, and large vineyards.
Things to Do in Alsace
Popular Alsace Tourist AttractionsCathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg: Once known as the world's tallest building, this cathedral still represents the highest standing structure built entirely during the Middle Ages, boasting magnificent Gothic architecture and a 19th-century astronomical clock built by Schwilgue of Strasbourg.
La Petite France: Topping the list of things to do in Alsace, a stroll through this World Heritage Site in the center of Strasbourg yields a maze of canals, alleyways, Baroque sandstone buildings, and medieval houses.
Little Venice: Formerly used as a butcher's, tanner's, and fisherman's quarter, the city center of Colmar is riddled with canals reminiscent of Venice, and gondolas offer visitors romantic rides around town.
Cité de l'Automobile: Mulhouse boasts the largest automobile museum in the world, where you can view 500 vehicles from nearly 100 different makers--a collection in the works since the 1940s.
Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg: Visitors flock to this popular Alsace tourist attraction, a 13th-century castle once owned by royalty and knights, where you can wander the restored halls and climb the towers for excellent photo ops.
Musée d'Unterlinden: View a large collection of local and international artwork from prehistory to present day, including medieval and Renaissance art, all housed in a 13th-century Dominican convent.
Musée Alsacien de la ville de Strasbourg: Learn about local lifestyles in pre-industrial and early industrial times, view an exhibition of over 5,000 artifacts, and explore a traditionally reconstructed medieval house complete with furniture in this extensive museum.
Parc de l'Orangerie: Founded in the 17th century, this park has grown exponentially to include thrilling attractions like a mini-zoo, mini-farm, stork-breeding enclosure, retro rides, canoes, and skateboarding and BMX facilities.
La Montagne des Singes: You don't have to trek into the mountains to get a peek at the Barbary macaque, the only free-living primate in Europe; instead, visit this 24 hectare (60 acre) park where the macaques and their young roam without a care and eat treats offered by guests.
Mont Sainte Odile Convent: Set atop a mountain peak, this impressive stone fortification once served as a haven for Utrecht bishops fleeing from the Vikings and is surrounded by charming Celtic settlements.
Planning an Alsace Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Alsace with KidsWith the beautiful outdoors and bustling city scenes at your fingertips, you will never be short of fun on your family's Alsace vacation. Start in Mulhouse and explore the largest automobile and train museums in the world. Another city with plenty of indoor activities is Dorlisheim, where the whole family can challenge themselves at blacklight mini golf and laser tag or catch a film at the cinema.
Hiking trails, lakes, sky resorts, and more await in the Alsace outdoors. The Vosges mountain range is a veritable playground in nature, and Orbey makes a good jumping off point, offering hiking trails for all ages and fitness levels as well as ski resorts. Also tour the wetlands, with several conservation centers to visit and boat tours your kids will enjoy.
Things to Do in Alsace with KidsTrain enthusiasts on your Alsace tour will love a stop at Cité du Train - Musée français du chemin de fer, the largest of its kind in the world with hundreds of exhibits and educational displays. In the same city, Parc Zoologique & Botanique de Mulhouse hosts 1,200 animals, including exotic birds and monkeys, and lets your kids get up-close-and-personal with adorable Moroccan dwarf goats and Indian runner ducks in the petting zoo. Find another thrilling wildlife attraction at La Volerie des aigles, a performance featuring eagles and other birds of prey like the Andean condor and hawks. Kids can meet the magnificent birds while experienced trainers give demonstrations.
After this experience, head to the amusement park at Cigoland - Parc des Cigognes et Attractions. This stork-themed park and zoo offers mini golf, bumper cars, more than 25 animal species, and educational displays. If your Alsace holiday falls in winter, do not miss the chance to hit the slopes. Station de Ski du Lac Blanc provides all-inclusive ski and snowboarding packages for all skill levels. Special courses and snowshoe trails are perfect for small children and families. Finally, take a break from sightseeing and let loose at LaserMaxx. The laser tag is housed in a dark maze with exciting special effects and caters to individuals, small groups, and even large teams.
Tips for a Family Vacation in AlsaceVisit Strasbourg during the winter and the kids will be in for a real treat: the city transforms into a magical wonderland with festive decorations and lights, a sight your children will always remember. For another unforgettable experience during your family's trip to Alsace, hop aboard Waldeisenbahn Abreschviller. This historical tourist train travels between Abreschviller and Grand Soldat through gorgeous forested countryside.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Alsace
Cuisine of AlsaceAlsace cuisine carries a distinct German influence, as evidenced in the famous "choucroute," a variety of sauerkraut traditionally served with pork alongside potatoes or dumplings. While the food is delicious, it's the wine that really stands out, and a trip to Alsace would feel incomplete without a sampling of its celebrated vintages. The best way to do this is along the Alsace wine route, a stretch of vineyards from Thann to Marlenheim where wineries flourish thanks to perfect natural conditions. Take a tour of famous winemakers including Vins d'alsace HORCHER, which produces specialty wines like Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, and Crémant d'Alsace. At Sipp Louis Grands Vins d'Alsace, view the extensive cellars and taste the wine that has been in production since the end of World War I. Companies like Ophorus Alsace wine tours help you line up your vineyard itinerary, arranging private winery tours departing from major cities and including informative tour guides.
Shopping in AlsaceBe sure to purchase a few souvenirs from your Alsace holiday at any of the numerous shopping malls or villages around the region. Travelers with a sweet tooth should check out Chocolaterie du Vignoble Daniel Stoffel, a chocolate shop offering delectable candies as well as packaging and shipping options. Foodies might also like Marché couvert de Colmar, a large indoor market lined with butcher, baker, and cheesemonger stalls.
Pick out unique jewelry at Poterie Tonin, a shop full of handmade bronze necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and other pieces set with precious stones. If you're looking for plenty of retail in one place, head to Galeries Lafayette in Strasbourg. This excellent department store offers brand-name clothing, shoes, and electronics along with books, entertainment, and a large food court.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Alsace
History of AlsaceAlsace's notoriously tumultuous history passing between France and Germany is evident in virtually everything about the region, including its language, cuisine, and traditions. However, its history stretches far back before these conflicts, with Celts settling here around 1500 BCE and then the Roman invasion of 58 BCE, which established winemaking in the region. Upon the fall of the Roman Empire, Alsace became a territory of the Germanic Alemanni, whose language forms the basis for the present-day Alsatian dialect. To learn more about life in prehistoric and ancient Alsace, head to Musée Archéologique, housed in the basement of a palace and displaying artifacts including Merovingian arms, jewelry, glassware, and ornate burial structures.
From the 13th century onward, numerous notable churches were built throughout Alsace, including Strasbourg's most famous landmark, Cathédrale Notre Dame de Strasbourg. French influence came to the Germanic area in 1639 when France conquered the region during the Thirty Years' War; by 1648 most of Alsace was attached to France under the Peace of Westphalia.
The German people did not forget the loss of Alsace and, following the Franco-Prussian War, won it back under the Treaty of Frankfurt. Alsatians, however, largely identified as French and hundreds of thousands chose to leave the newly appointed German territory. Alsace passed between France and Germany several more times after Germany's defeat in World War I, the rise of Nazi Germany in 1940, and the Allies' victory in World War II.
Alsace is teeming with unique historical sites that reveal this tug-of-war for power; consider including some of them on your Alsace trip for a deeper understanding of the region. Tour a German fortress with armored turrets and original artifacts at Fort de Mutzig, the largest German fortification of its time. For a bit of World War II history, visit Le Fort de Schoenenbourg, a massive French underground defensive structure that withstood assaults of German bombs. Another sobering site from the war, Le Struthof concentration camp was the only category III (i.e., the most severe) concentration camp established on present-day French soil; today it displays recreated barracks, artifacts, and drawings documenting the horrors of those times. You can also get a sense of the challenges Alsace faced during World War II with a tour of Le Memorial de l'Alsace-Moselle, a museum dedicated to locals' personal recounted experiences.