What should we do to avoid crowds and experience the beauty?
This formula works for most towns anywhere that get a lot of tourists:
Get up out as early as possible, like 7 am then around 10 am take a day trip somewhere else returning later after 6 pm.
It is a good thing that the days are long in France in the summer.
Fun side trip: go to Christine Ferber’s Jan shop just outside Colmar. To die for!!!
As is true of many places, the tourists usually visit briefly and don't go far from the main street.
Colmar is wonderful......I have been there at Christmas time as well and experienced the large crowds but it didn't take away from what Colmar has to offer. One side trip I did take was the short bus ride over to the town of Eguisheim which is a picturesque small village and is also known for some of the best wineries in the Alsace. It has winery trails like many of the villages on the Alsace Wine Route but the landscape is awesome and dotted with hilltop castles. An easy ride from Colmar.
Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle! Be sure to stop at "Monkey Mountain" on the way back from the castle where you can hand feed Barbary macaques.
We enjoyed a wine tour with Orphorus. Got us out into the countryside, lots of insight on history and culture as well as wine. We did not have a car so this was a great way to see a few small towns.
Another day we took a taxi to Riquewihr then walked to Hunawihr and Ribeauville along the Sentier Viticole des Grands Crus, returning to Colmar by bus. Start early though, in July heat!
In Hunawihr we enjoyed the Centre de Reintroduction which supported the stork repopulation as well as aiding several other species.
If push came to shove, Haut-Koenigsbourg is probably my favourite castle visit (so far) in mainland Europe. It's interesting, you can walk around willy-nilly without a guide, has some nice hiking around it through a forested area. You will, however, require a car or bus/train and taxi.
Quick train to Strasbourg. As mentioned above, Riquewihr can be reached by an hourly bus and from there it a fairly easy and pleasant hike to Hunawihr (pretty restaurant here, may be the only one) and Ribeauville (3 great castle ruins here, if that is your thing). I found the hiking trails in general, although well laid-out, posted and promoted, are sparcely populated. Kaysersberg and Eguisheim can be reached by public transport. Not sure about transport to Bergheim, my favourite non-touristy village.
Do visit the Unterlinden museum in Colmar. When we were there it was closed but had a temporary display in one of the churches, which itself had a very attractive interior.
Freiburg, and especially Staufen, are well worth a visit on the Black Forest side, but may take up too much travel time without a car.
I don't spend much in restaurants. Penny for penny, Alsace is probably the best of all values for food and wine. You can spend a lot of money in restaurants, though, if that is important.
I stayed in Colmar Easter week and the place was crowded,hotels were full,we were pre booked.Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle was packed but well Worth the visit.The Wine Route towns are a must see,Eguisheim,Riquewihr,Ribeauville and Kaysersberg are the four best but you need a car to get to These towns.Colmar has a nice canal with Restaurants and boat rides.
There is bus transportation from Colmar to some of the surrounding towns. I haven't taken it recently, and it may be quite infrequent (conceivably non-existent on Sunday), but sone of the distances are short enough that traveling out by bus and back by taxi might be affordable.