Alsace is one of my new favorite regions in the world. This region is home to France’s oldest wine route and is dotted with fairytale towns and surrounded by lush vineyards. There are over 70 villages on the Alsace wine route. In my previous post, I narrowed down some of the best ones to visit. This post is a full itinerary that deep dives how to spend 3 days on the Alsace wine route. It also includes a travel guide as well!
Before I get into the 3 day itinerary for the Alsace wine route, I would like to start with a travel guide that will help you plan your trip!
Travel Guide for Alsace
Where is the Alsace Wine Route?
Alsace is on the eastern boarder of France, just a stone’s throw away from Germany. In fact, Alsace has changed hands between France and Germany several times before finally settling in France. Because of this exchange and proximity, this region shares a lot of similarities with Germany in terms of culture, cuisine and even architecture.
What is the Alsace Wine Route?
The Alsace wine route is a 170 km long route that starts from Strasbourg in the north and ends a little past Colmar in the South. In addition to its wine, this region is also famous for its colorful half timbered houses and fairytale villages. Everything is so charming in Alsace, even the little wells, flower pots and cobbled stoned streets!
As I mentioned above, Alsace is the oldest wine route in France. Alsatian wine is mostly white with a little bit of Pinot Noir. The predominant grapes are riesling, pinot gris, muscat, gewurztraminer and cremant (sparkling wine). Most of these same wines in the US are terribly sweet. But, that is not at all the case in Alsace. The wines here are a lot drier and SO good! I wish I could have packed them up and brought them home. In fact, the first thing I did when I got back home was go straight to my local wine shop and ask for Alsace wine (there wasn’t a lot of variety unfortunately).
If you want to taste wine in Alsace, look for the words “Degustation”. These are wine tasting places. Interestingly, some of the tasting are free while some have a more menu style (i.e., 4 for x euros, 6 for x euros) where you can choose whichever ones you want to from a variety of wines. You can just walk in most of the time. Some close during lunch though.
The Perfect Length to Visit
In my opinion 3 days on the Alsace wine route is the perfect length of time. There is a little bit of half timbered fatigue that would set in after that I think.
How to Visit the Alsace Villages
The villages and towns on the Alsace wine route are relatively small and can be covered in 2-3 hours. The only town that needs more time than this is probably Colmar, which deserves 1 full day.
Start early morning and visit the first village. You can grab breakfast here. Then hit the second village for lunch and the 3rd in the late afternoon/early evening.
If you’re wondering if this plans sounds too rushed, trust me it’s not. In addition to only needing 2-3 hours at each village, these villages are also 10-15 minutes a part from each other as well. My itinerary below couples nearby villages together.
How to Get Around Alsace
The best way to get around is to drive. Honestly, this gives you so much flexibility to just village hop along the wine route. I got to Strasbourg from Reims, and hired a car at the Strasbourg airport. You can also hire a car in Colmar. It really depends on where you are coming from and where you are going next. Try to pick-up and return in the same city as this is generally cheaper.
There is also a tourist train but it only runs through the bigger towns and not the smaller villages. You can check it out HERE.
One of the best options if you are not driving is to try the hop-on-hop-off bus. It goes to several villages on the wine route. It’s 17 euros for the whole day and you can hop on and off as many times as you like. Check it out HERE.
If you like to bike, you can also bike between the villages. I saw several people do this! Check out this site HERE to learn more.
There is a public bus service from Colmar to a few villages but schedules can be tricky. Best is to ask the Colmar Tourism office for details.
Another way to visit Alsace is through an organized tour. The only issue with this is that you won’t have the flexibility to see the villages you want to. You can check out one of the highest rated companies for organized tours on the Alsace wine route HERE.
If you have a car and are wondering about parking, (because we all know how painful it can be to park in Europe sometimes…Croatia still gives me the sweats!), don’t worry! It’s super easy to find parking in all the villages. There’s usually paid parking and sometimes it’s even free! If it’s paid parking, buy the ticket immediately and display it on your windscreen. You will need your number plate to buy a ticket so don’t forget to memorize it or take a picture. It’s only a couple of euros per hour.
If you have a cell phone with data, the best way to find parking is to search for a parking spot in the village you are going to when you are closer to it. Simply type in “parking near me” or “parking in X (village)” and you will be directed there. If you don’t have data, just get to start of the village and you should see signs and arrows for parking!
Where to Stay
Most people either stay in Strasbourg or Colmar. I found Colmar to be the perfect spot to stay for this 3 days on the Alsace wine route itinerary. It’s located a little south on the route but, in a good location to hit most villages on this itinerary. It also has better accommodation and food options. Colmar it self is so charming and has more things to do than the other villages. I highly recommend staying in Colmar over Strasbourg and perhaps even over the other smaller villages.
When to Visit
Alsace can be visited year around so when to go really depends on you! Alsace is the busiest during summer months and Christmas (November/December). I really can’t wait to go back during Christmas and visit all the villages decorated for the season.
If you want to avoid crowds, January to March and then September to November may be your best bet. This avoids the May to July summer peak, Easter peak and Christmas peak.
What to Eat
Alsatian cuisine has a lot of Germany influence. Here are some things to try:
- Pork and potato dishes
- Tarte Flambee
- Coconut macarons
Tips for 3 Days on the Alsace Wine Route
- Ask for a map from the tourist office of each village. The offices are usually located at the start of each village. These maps will give you all the history and show all the landmark buildings. No guidebook nor Google can give you all the titbits these maps can provide
- Make dinner reservations ahead of time. Specially during the peak seasons
- Book your accommodation ahead of time if you are planning on visiting during a festival or peak season
- Try the local cuisine
- Start your day early to avoid crowds
Itinerary for 3 Days on the Alsace Wine Route
As I mentioned, I visited 3 places each day. If your base is Colmar, then you can stagger Colmar like I did. I spent my evenings and very early mornings of each day covering the sights in Colmar. The itinerary I’m suggesting below is the one I put together originally as I was planning this trip. However, I had to change it on the go to avoid some bad weather. It was threatening to rain at certain times of the day and there were a few villages I wanted to photograph in good lighting, so I shifted villages around. That’s the beauty of the Alsace wine route and spending 3 days here! It’s easy to change plans as the villages are so close by that you can move things around, even on the go.
My adjusted itinerary if you are interested was:
- Day 1 – Riquewihr, Eguisheim and Colmar
- Day 2 – Bergheim, Ribeauvillé, Kaysersberg
- Day 3 – Turckheim, Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg and Strasbourg
I saw a little bit of Colmar everyday (see below). I think my original itinerary is a lot better from a driving and adjacency perspective and that is why I’m suggesting it to you!
Charming little Turckheim is not as busy as some of the other villages, which makes it a great one to visit! Its 13th century walls are said to be some of the oldest in the region. To tour Turckheim, enter through the France Gate and start at the tourism office and then make your way around the loop. Turckheim is famous its wines and one of the best things you can do here is visit Domaine François Baur. The family who owns this winery has grown wine for 9 generations! Phillip from the winery is such a wonderful person and a delight to speak to! Ask for Phillip and tell him shortgirlontour recommended you to come that way!
Eguisheim is unbelievably charming and has consistently ranked on the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” list since 2003. This is one of the smallest villages on this itinerary. The village is set up as 2 circles with a straight lined main street cutting the circles through the middle. I really loved walking around both circles. The little town square has a beautiful well with a castle and chapel as the backdrop.
Wine Tasting – I did a tasting at Paul Schneider and all the wines were fantastic! Ask for Claire! She was great at explaining everything! It’s 6 tastings for 11.50 euros. You can decide on the 6.
Colmar was one of my favorites! I got to see a lot of Colmar on the evening of day 1 of this 3 day Alsace wine route itinerary. I left the things I didn’t get to see for day 2 (morning and evening) and day 3 (morning). There’s more to see in Colmar than any of the other places on this post. So, if you are adjusting this itinerary in any way, make sure to keep about a day for Colmar (or the equivalent hours each day).
The main things to see in Colmar are Petite Venise, Unterlinden Museum and the Fisherman’s Quay. In addition there are a lot of noteworthy buildings and churches.
After waking up early to go and photograph Petite Venise in Colmar without the crowds, I set off to the beautiful village of Riquewihr. Riquewihr is one of the most visited, so highly recommend coming here as a first stop. This was one of the villages that inspired Walt Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I was in half-timber heaven here from the moment I walked in through the main gate! These colorful buildings are from the 15th to the 18th century. Pick up a map from the tourism office and walk along the main drag. The map explains most of the buildings and what they used to be back in the day. Another awesome thing to do is to see the village from the vineyards above.
Wine Tasting – there are quite a few places to taste wine in Riquewihr! I dropped by Caves Dopff et Irion and it was great!
There is parking on the right hand side about 150 meters or so before the main entrance.
The other village that inspired Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. From a square footage perspective, Ribeauvillé is slightly bigger but is beautiful nevertheless. This is another village where you need to pick up a map to really understand and appreciate what you are seeing. The main drag here is long and is lined with colorful half timbered shops. One of the notable things about this village is the castle that peaks in the backdrop.
Wine Tasting – Domaine Jean Sipp is a great place for a wine tasting. It’s free if you buy a bottle of wine! Leoni did such a great job explaining each of the 6 wines and what it pairs well with. Highly recommend checking them out!
There is a parking space just outside the main entrance.
I visited Keysersberg as the last stop on day 2 and it was relatively peaceful by that time in the afternoon! Keysersberg is surrounded by vineyards just outside it’s walls. In fact, this area has been producing wine for over 400 years! Some of the main things to do here includes walking down the main drag admiring all the half timbered houses, visiting the Church of the Holy Cross and the fountain featuring Roman Emperor Constantine, crossing the 16th century stone bridge and taking in the views of the Weiss river.
There’s parking outside both main entrances to the village.
If your first 2 days on this 3 day Alsace wine route itinerary were full of people, and you are looking for a quieter place, then you are going to love Bergheim. This walled village is one of the few Alsatian towns with its fortifications from the 1300 still intact. This town is small and untouristy but charming nevertheless. I arrived in the morning and left about 2 hours later and I was probably the only “tourist” around even then!
The best things to do here is to enter via the watch tower, walk through Grand Rue (the main drag) with all it’s flowery houses, visit the parish church and check out the beautiful well in the town square. I immediately burst into the opening song from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast when I saw the well!
The best place to park is in the lot in front of and outside the watch tower.
Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg
Sitting at almost 700 meters high, this Château overlooks the Alsace villages from it’s impressive height. Built in the 12th century as an Imperial castle that served the Holy Roman Empire, this Château was designed to protect trade routes. It was destroyed in the 17th century but restored in the early 1900s. Today, you can tour the castle and on a clear day you can see amazing views of Alsace and the Vosges mountains.
Parking is available on either side of the street leading up to the entrance. Closing times vary by season so check out the website before you go!
Strasbourg is the capital of Alsace and the biggest town on the Alsace wine route. It’s also one of the capitals of the European Union. If you are looking for a village feel, you won’t find it at Strasbourg, but it’s still worth to visit in my opinion. A few notables places here are the Gothic Cathedral, the old town, the covered bridge and Petite France. Strasbourg is supposed to be the prettiest during Christmas and is said to have one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe. If you are visiting peak summer, there’s also a light show on the façade of the Cathedral like in Reims.
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