Please sign in to post.

Colmar or Strasbourg or ??

I've pretty much planned out and am anxiously awaiting my 2022 trip. I'm jumping ahead to June 2023 sloshing ideas around in my novice brain. One idea that popped up in my mind is to return to Paris, then go to the Alsace region before heading to Munich and ending in Vienna. If you had three nights would you stay in Colmar or Strasbourg? My first inclination is Colmar but I don't know why except pretty town pictures.
Please don't get too carried away with go here, go there because I'm just tossing ideas around for now. Only absolute for this trip is Vienna. It may include RS Munich, Salzburg, Vienna tour, or maybe not depending if I'm solo or traveling with someone. Everything is undecided at this point.

Posted by
2857 posts

I was just in both and much preferred Colmar. Strasbourg was just too big for my liking. It’s easy to stay in one and visit the other. So, I don’t think it matters too much which one you stay at.

Posted by
8655 posts

horsewoofie, I've been to both twice, and much prefer Colmar. Strasbourg is a nice enough city, but other than the cathedral, I didn't think it had much you wouldn't find elsewhere. You can reach it on a day trip from Colmar if you must. But Colmar was a much smaller town, and a more comfortable a place to be.

Posted by
3342 posts

In 2015, we traveled by train from Paris to Strasbourg; from Strasbourg to Munich; finally ending up in Vienna and flying home from there.

We stayed in Strasbourg for two nights. With hindsight, I wish we had stayed an extra night in Strasbourg, and one less in Munich. Vienna was by far the star of the trip for me.

I chose Strasbourg over Colmar because the train connection was more convenient. We were only in Colmar for a few hours on a "Pearls of Alsace" tour offered by Ophorus. I would have gladly stayed there, but have no regrets about staying in Strasbourg.

Posted by
7465 posts

Hi, here’s the details from the days we were in Colmar. We were there in Sept. 2019. I have been through Strasbourg twice, but didn’t stop there. Note: The Ophorus tour didn’t include Eguisheim, but another person asked if we could also go there, too. I absolutely love Salzburg (& nearby St. Wolfgang) and Vienna! Have a wonderful time planning!

COLMAR: When my husband & I arrived at Colmar we found a quaint town completely filled with tourists. Many of the shops had street displays of trinkets instead of locally made items. Both of us were disappointed because it felt like a fake version of a town, especially since we just came from Nancy which was so authentic and friendly. It wasn’t until later evening after the tourist crowd left and early morning before they arrived that the Colmar we had wanted to see became apparent.

We tried local specialties; I chose Quiche Lorraine since we were in the Lorraine region, and my husband had a traditional meat pie - both excellent. We ate fairly early ~7:00pm both nights and noticed that the outdoor tables were all filled by 7:20pm.

On Sunday, 2300 participants ran in the half and full marathon that went by our hotel, Saint-Martin. We loved that they began the race with three small teams - each grouped around a severely handicapped person in a modified bike. As they ran by our hotel, they were smiling while we cheered them on enthusiastically.

We reserved a village tour with Ophorus Excursions & Tours for the afternoon. Our half-day minivan tour to several small villages outside Colmar was very special. Our friendly guide briefly drove us to sites beyond the tour plan to thoroughly explain the significance of this area during WWII since it’s near the German border. His information, showing us bullet holes in stone building walls, and pointing out the American flag flown high up the hill at a memorial were very meaningful. He also provided lots of details about the wines & origins for this area. The villages were all so cute (he even drove us down to Eguisheim which was my favorite!), and with his time with us, it made an afternoon to be grateful, too.

Posted by
3062 posts

You can take direct trains from Paris Est station to Strasbourg (2h) and Colmar (2h 30m). From Colmar to Munich requires two changes and from Strasbourg one change.

Posted by
1172 posts

We have been to both many times. We love Colmar, but after a day, it was pretty much all the same. Once you've seen the town square area, you've seen Colmar. Strasbourg is bigger, but it also has more to offer after hours. We loved walking through La Petite, along the river, the cathedral as mentioned earlier, the shopping, and it's just a beautiful city. You can easily get to Colmar by train, and if you are in to renting a car, drive to all the little wine towns. There are also lots of yours that can be designed for what you would like to see. From Strasbourg you can also easily get to Gengenbach, Germany. It takes about 45 minutes, and is quite a charming little town. We love the Alsace region.

Posted by
27435 posts

I agree with the other respondents that both places are nice. Since you're thinking of spending three nights in the area, I assume you'd like to see more than just Strasbourg and Colmar. If you also want to visit one or more of the little wine towns, that will be easier from Colmar because of their proximity to the latter. There's even some public transportation from Colmar, though having a car for a day would certainly be helpful. Take a look at a map and note the locations of the wine towns mentioned in guidebooks.

If Strasbourg and Colmar are your only interests in Alsace, Strasbourg would probably be a more convenient base because it does shorten the onward trip to Munich, as previously pointed out.

Posted by
10402 posts

We are going in March (🤞🏼), arriving from Germany. We have 5 nights and decided to spend the first night in Strasbourg, leaving late the next afternoon to spend 4 nights in Colmar. We will probably rent a car for two days while in Colmar, unless there are tours we can take or decent public transportation to the small wine villages. We don’t care about wine tasting because we are surrounded by wineries where we live. I know we have more time than you do, but at least for us the villages are the draw to stay that long. With 3 nights you will have 2 days. I guess I would ask myself what appeals most, a larger city or a smaller place with better access to the villages.

Posted by
15710 posts

I was in the region in October. I liked Colmar. Yes, even with the pandemic it was crowded. But by late afternoon, most tourists had left and the town was empty. The tourist shops closed and it reverted back to an old city. I enjoyed wandering around without having to worry about bumping into people.

My suggestions would be to stay near the older part of town to allow for easy evening access.

I had dinner one night t Gastub Brenner. (excellent food) in the Little Venice area. It was a 10 minute walk back to my hotel. I think I saw four people. But the walk itself, on the cobblestone streets, felt like I had gone back in time.

Posted by
10 posts

My family stayed 3 nights in Colmar in the summer of 2019. We actually did a 4 countries in 1 day on our day of arrival: flying to Zurich from Mallorca where we had visited a former exchange student), driving to Rheinfalls (border of Germany and Switzerland) for lunch, then an afternoon beer and pretzel in Freiburg (which is a great daytrip from Colmar) at the beer garden in one of Rick's short travel blog videos, before heading across the border to Colmar. We stayed in a cute apartment just up the street from the main square. We picked Colmar because we were there for the Tour de France, which was finishing in Colmar the next day, and the following day had a mountaintop finish on nearby Planche de Belles Filles. The morning of the TDF finish we did Rick's walk, picked up food for a picnic on the lawn of the Unterlinden museum before walking to our spot along the barriers. We didn't get to the Bartholdi Museum, but would have liked to. They were having a local wine festival every evening when we were there in mid-July right in the town center. Different local wines every night. It was delightful. Even without the TDF, Colmar would have been a delightful town to stay for 3 nights, using it as a base to explore other nearby places (Freiburg, Strasbourg, the Alsace wine road, Basel -- which is actually where we returned our rental car before taking and ICE train to Paris).

I can't compare it to Strasbourg because we didn't make it there, but I don't think you should feel discouraged by the size of Colmar.

Posted by
4600 posts

We did Strasbourg as a day trip from Paris, it works well. The city was full of Christmas market revelers and things were pretty crowded. Unlike another poster we did the cathedral at night and it wasn't all that special, obviously to see all the stained glass you really want to do this in the daytime. We liked the boat tour, even though it seems you spend half the trip in the lock going up and then going down. Wish we had more time to explore the old town area. Because of all the EU buildings and personnel, it's a bit more cosmopolitan than you might think.

Besides the cathedral there's another nice church to visit St. Paul's church. The train station is nothing special and has almost no room to wait inside for your train, but the big glass facade added to the outside is pretty spectacular.

The big dish in the area is Flammekueche, or tarte flambée, "a speciality of the region of Alsace. It is composed of bread dough rolled out very thinly in the shape of a rectangle or oval, which is covered with fromage blanc or crème fraîche, thin-sliced onions and lardons" So kinda like a pizza without tomato.

Posted by
391 posts

I've been to both and with a 3 nite stay I would choose Strasbourg. Colmar makes a nice daytrip and by the afternoon you've wandered most of the streets and visited the museum. Strasbourg has different districts to wander, more to see and do. I'd like to go back there again someday, actually.

Posted by
2924 posts

Aimee, beauty does not have a religion.

Thanks everyone for all the information and links to day tours. A friend is thinking of joining me on this trip but we haven’t started planning. My proposal is a 25ish night trip which includes Paris, then spend 2 nights in Colmar, 2 nights in Strasbourg before doing an overnight in Stuttgart on our way to Munich then Salzburg and finally Vienna. That way we wouldn’t shortchange either town, have time for 1/2 day village and/or wine tours and better train connections to Germany.

Posted by
7080 posts

I question the night in Stuttgart, unless you have a strong interest in the car museums there (even though the Mercedes-Benz museum is great). It is not necessary and you might get tired after many short stays.

Posted by
2924 posts

Balso, there are several reasons I was thinking an overnight in Stuttgart. Please tell me if my thinking is wrong; I'm open to suggestions. We won't have to rush to catch a train out of Strasbourg (leisurely morning); it looks like, on DB app and Rome2Rio, all the connections through Stuttgart to Munich are 10 minutes so why rush (short train ride); it's among the gazillion places I haven't been. I don't mind car museums since I live with a car buff and a garage full of 1938 Studebakers in various stages of restoration. Plus Stuttgart has a pig museum/restaurant, something very different from churches and museums to see (probably touristy but that's who we are).

Posted by
88 posts

We visited the Alsace region in spring 2018. We'd seen Colmar before on the RS Best of Eastern France and wanted to see that area again but at a leisurely pace so we scheduled nine days. It'd be hard to say which location was our favorite, so I'll let my picture count help tell the story. BTW, we did it all by public transportation (or the tour's minivan).

Town - # nights - # pictures
---Colmar - 4 nights - 314 pictures;
---Selestat - 2 nights - 407 pictures;
---Strausbourg - 3 nights - 365.

Comparing the # pictures per day, it seems I found Selestat the most photogenic and/or interesting, followed by Strausbourg, and Colmar.

Specific highlights from our trip:
Colmar - "The 4 Wonders of Alsace" tour from Alsace Original Experiences (visits four towns - Eguisheim, Ribeauville, Riquewihr, and Kaysersberg)
Selestat - self guided tour from local tourist office (free handout was very well done)
Strausbourg - day trip to Obernai

And, as mentioned by phred, the tarte flambée / flammekueche is a must!