Please sign in to post.

Help with travel to and around Colmar, France

We are a family of 5 traveling to Colmar in late May. We are renting a house for 7 days and would like to take some day trips into Strasbourg, Lucerne, Germany (thinking Freiburg, Triberg, and Gengenbach?) and other small Alsace towns. What would be the best way to travel...train or rent a car or both? I was thinking we should take a train to Strasbourg but not sure if I should book the tickets in advance. What is the best way to get from the airport in Basel to Colmar? Do I need to book these tickets in advance as well? Is renting a car the best economical option to get to Switzerland and Germany? Or would it be better to take a train? We would love to bike to the small Alsace towns from Colmar if that is doable.

Any help or info would be greatly appreciated!!

Posted by
20309 posts

Is your house walking distance of Colmar station?

Without a car, take the bus from Basel airport to St Louis station and take a TER train to Colmar. TER trains are unreserved and always the same price, so no point booking in advance. That goes for a day trip to Strasbourg as well. Once you get to Germany, you can ride all day after 9 am weekdays (anytime weekends) on Regional trains throughout Baden-Wuerttemberg for one price of 48 EUR.

You might want to rent a car for a your time in Colmar. You can rent at Basel airport, and if you rent on the Swiss side, it will come with the vignette required for diving on Swiss motorways.

Posted by
12 posts

Thank you so much Sam. The house in Colmar is 0.5 miles away from the train station. Is the regional train to Germany 48 Euros a person or is that total for 5 people?

Posted by
20309 posts

The 48 EUR is once inside Germany. Closest way is to take a bus from Colmar to Breisach, across the Rhine river. Another way is to cross the river from Strasbourg in Kehl, Germany.

Posted by
27349 posts

I'm sure Sam means that's the price for your entire group. Germany has wonderful deals on regional day-tickets. They aren't a bad deal even for a solo traveler. As you add more people to your group, they become incredible deals.

Do investigate travel times, though. to be sure you aren't planning day-trips that have you spending all day on a train (or bus)--unless it's specifically a sightseeing route you have chosen. The Deutsche Bahn website is really easy to use.

I think you'll find it rather expensive to travel far into Switzerland for a day-trip. The Swiss trains are not cheap. If you want to explore fares within that country, be aware that the figures shown on the SBB website have in the past assumed that the traveler holds a half-fare card. That probably wouldn't be cost-effective for a single day-trip, so for the adults you may need to double the fare shown. I am not sure about that, because I just looked at the website and the interface is different. If your traveling party includes children, there will probably be special deals for them.

Posted by
20309 posts

Given what you want to do, I think a car is going benefit you for the whole week. I just went through what would be involved in a circular day trip going Colmar to Gengenbach to Triberg to Freiburg to Colmar. Assuming 3 of your family are 16 to 24, That is 73 EUR for train from Colmar to Kehl, Germany, then 48 EUR for a Baden-Wuerttemberg Ticket for 5. I can't find a price for the bus from Breisach back to Colmar, but I guesstimate 5 EUR per person. So that comes to about 150 EUR for the day in bus and train tickets.

You can probably rent a car for a week for 5 people and a bit of luggage for about 350 EUR plus insurance. A car will be a benefit for a day trip to Strasbourg, and to Luzern, not to mention from Basel airport to Colmar. You don't say where are are going afterward, nor the ages of everyone in the group, which will effect public transport tickets. 12 to 25 get 25% discount on non-rush hour TER trains, 4 to 11 get a 50% discount.

Posted by
12 posts

Our kids are 16+ years so we won't get the half off discount. We will be flying to the UK out of Basel so if we rent a car, we could drop it off at the Basel airport. So appreciate all the help!

Posted by
782 posts

I am picking up a car in Strasbourg in April and will stay in Colmar and day trip from there.There are many Small towns in the area of Colmar easily accessed by car as well as crossing into Germany to the Black Forest.

Posted by
15644 posts

Some of the best of Alsace are the wine route villages, Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, and Monkey Mountain near Colmar, and a car is the best way to see them. I'd check the rental rates from Basel and compare with rates for renting from Strasbourg. AFAIK there is only one rental agency in Colmar.

Posted by
101 posts

Hi, Caroline

We were just in Colmar at Christmas time. We spent 4 days there - with one day being a day trip to Strasbourg. We took the train for that day trip and it worked out perfectly. If you're hotel in Colmar is a half mile from the train station - you should be fine. We were closer to a mile away and walked back to our hotel after our return from Strasbourg. We didn't book tickets in advance and had no problem getting tickets. One thing we did notice is that taxis are scarce in Colmar - and its nearly impossible to find one on a Sunday evening.

And I would be remiss if I didn't suggest you have one meal at Au Fer Rouge. Great local restaurant with a regional menu.

Posted by
12172 posts

There may be options but I'd strongly recommend a car. With a car you can cover ground quickly and come and go on your own pace. It's probably the most economical for five people.

Each wine route town is worth an hour or two to look around, one may appeal to you slightly more than another. I found them all beautiful. You can cover a couple a day, or twice that, going at the pace you want to go.

I'd also recommend the Chataeu du Haut Koenigsbourg, roughly halfway between Colmar and Strasbourg. It's a great castle visit. There is also a monkey mountain near there. I didn't go but it might appeal to your group.

Posted by
1602 posts

As above, Chataeu du Haut Koenigsbourg is well worth a visit, and there is some nice hiking to be had around the hilltop paths. The area in general is great for nice, relatively easy walks. A car is beneficial. With only one week I would give Lucerne a miss, swap Staufen for Triberg, try and include Bergheim in your list of Alsace villages, and Endingen just over the border. I liked Colmar but I'm not as enamoured with Strasbourg as most are. Good crémant wines are plentiful and reasonably priced.

Search websites of the local areas for hiking and cycling options, as well as the main villages and sights.

Posted by
627 posts

Hi Caroline,
Various & Sundry:
-maybe consider the tiny twin villages of Sankt Peter and Sankt Margen, near Freiburg? Lovely rural authenticity in both cases.
-the Colmar daily covered market has one booth that sells some of the best Boeuf Bouguignon that you will ever taste. Easy to find.
-at the same Halle du Marche Couvert, check out the incredible pies and cassoulet @ Citron & Basilic. Frankly, I forget whether that same deli was the one that also sold the aforementioned beef or not. No matter. The market will serve you well!
-the closer-by small Alsace towns are well worth a visit: say, Eguisheim for lunch and a gentle walk in the very nearby vinelands; touristy Riquewihr is nothing if not photogenic; the lesser-known trio of Husseren/Katzenthal/Ammerschwir (the latter's cemetery has an amazing Red Creeper vine); Hunawihr has a remote feel plus a butterfly centre; gentrified Kaysersberg, where Anthony Bourdain took his life.
-the sentier viticole countrified lane goes north from Riquewihr's Tourism office above to Kientzheim, then onto Kaysersberg: excellent views along the way, esp. during first half of the walk/drive (take your pick).
Bon Chance!
I am done. The end.

Posted by
10331 posts

We spent 4 nights at a farmhouse in Sankt Peter. It's a lovely area. Next year as part of our trip we will base ourselves in the Alsace and do some day trips to the Black Forest. It is easy to combine the two areas, particularly with a car.

Posted by
44 posts

You can easily and cheaply get from Colmar to Strasbourg via train, and if you're on a tight budget, you can also get to some lovely wine villages (Ribeauville, Kaysersburg, Riquewihr) via bus from Colmar--though you have to be willing to bus in early and bus back around 6:00 or 7:00 PM, since they don't run frequently. If you want to hit Germany or just have more flexibility, though, as others have said a car is the best option. We rented from Sixt at the Colmar rail station and had a good experience.

Biking from Colmar to Eguisheim is very doable, and maybe some of the other wine villages, but you will have to be ok sharing the road with faster-moving cars.

Switzerland--as you'll quickly discover in Basel--is expensive, and you'll have to pay a fee to drive across the border.

Posted by
12 posts

If we drive to Lucerne, is it hard to find all day parking? Expensive?
Our rental in Colmar does not include parking, so that is a factor as well

Posted by
173 posts

We were just in Colmar last Sept and stayed in apt in town center. It was a great home base for exploring. We did have a car so we could go over to Germany easily as well and drove up to Strasbourg.
However, the highlight of the trip was renting bicycles at the train station in Colmar and then biking out to all of the little wine villages! We were on the Route du Vin and there were very few cars, basically only the people working that region and some of the paths were bike only paths. It is a little tricky finding the bike path out of Colmar so make sure you get good directions when rent. And the rental place does close for lunch in middle of the day, so keep that in mind. We rented electric assist bikes and we were glad we did, as there are some hills.
Have a great trip!!