Alsace is one of the most beautiful parts of France. There are a few large cities on the slopes of picturesque hills, scattered small towns and small villages, and many well-groomed vineyards. If you are in Strasbourg and decide to take a day trip around the area, we can tell you about 10 great nearby places to visit.
The largest of these villages can be reached by bus (see tickets here). But the most intimate magical places can be seen only by those who are willing to travel by car (we recommend this service for renting).
» READ MORE - How to get from Paris to Strasbourg?
The distance from Strasbourg to Colmar is 76 km. Colmar is the third largest city in Alsace by population. It's full of cozy houses, decorated in their own way. There is a well-preserved historical district where literally every stone breathes with centuries-old wisdom. This part of old city is the beautiful quarter called Little Venice. Its houses are built on water.
Colmar is also famous for the fact that the architect who created the Statue of Liberty, which now decorates New York City, lived and worked there. The outstanding master's name is Frederick Bartholdi. In memory of this great countryman, a copy of the Statue of Liberty is installed at the city's entrance.
You can get better acquainted with Colmar during a city tour. You can order it here.
Colmar and its environs offer an ideal microclimate for growing grapes. In terms of winemaking, this district successfully competes with the world-famous vineyards of Bordeaux. The so-called Alsace Wine Road passes through the city, a route on which the main wine-growing villages are located. Drive along this route with an English-speaking guide for an exciting excursion. You can find out the details and order the excursion at this link.
Six kilometers from Colmar and seventy kilometers from Strasbourg there is a small village, Eguisheim. It is famous for the fact that in 2003 it was recognized as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Public transport is not very good here, so it is better to use your own car or a rental (you can rent a car here).
You can get acquainted with Eguisheim by visiting Colmar. For the first meeting with these places is quite enough one light day.
» READ MORE - 10 beautiful villages to visit in Alsace
Mulhouse is located a little further from Strasbourg: 118 kilometers. It's very close to the Switzerland border. From here you can easily reach the famous Swiss city of Basel.
Townspeople take pride in one of the best collections of vintage cars. In over one and a half hectares, 400 unique car models are exhibited. For the avid car enthusiasts a visit to Mulhouse will be a great surprise.
Many different festivals are held in the city: music, street art, beer. The most colorful winter carnival gathers guests from all over the world, and at the Christmas market you can buy excellent souvenirs.
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The distance to Obernai from Strasbourg is 24 kilometers. The city is located on the Alsace Wine Road, between Strasbourg and Colmar. This place will remind you of a medieval fairy tale brought to life. Beautiful houses, flower pots on the windows, majestic stone churches, old wells. It seems that time has stopped here several centuries ago.
The French consider Obernai one of the most picturesque places in their country. Tourists are also very fond of the city. It's the second-most visited city in the Lower Rhine Valley. The perimeter of the old city is a double fortress wall. The inner wall has a length of 1400 meters with 4 city gates. The outer wall is now used for hiking.
If you walk along the fortress wall, you will see charming old houses to the south. Their facades are facing the moat, and behind them you can see well-groomed gardens. In 1969, a brewery was built in Obernai, producing the most popular beer in France, Kronenbourg. When their production facilities were first opened, it was the largest brewery in Europe.
You can get to know Obernai and the castle of Haut-Koenigsbourg, which we will tell you about a little bit below, during a one-day tour from Strasbourg on a wine route that takes you to several Alsace villages.
The castle Haut-Koenigsbourg
Built in the 12th century, castle Haut-Koenigsbourg is 67 kilometers from Strasbourg. The castle is located on a picturesque mountain, at an altitude of 800 meters above sea level. From here you can enjoy a beautiful view of Alsace, Vosges and the Black Forest. In good weather, you can even see the Alps.
Throughout its history, the castle has witnessed brutal wars between the rulers of European states. Its owners were legendary personalities, including the last German Kaiser Wilhelm II. In 1937, French film director Jean Renoir filmed one of his best films "The Great Illusion" on the castle grounds.
The castle, whose name translates to Upper Koenigsbourg, has a large collection of furniture and weapons from the 15th-17th centuries. Travelers can visit the castle at any time of year. Entrance to the Historical Museum costs 8 euros, and children under 18 get free entry. The museum is closed to visitors January 1, May 1 and December 25.
Spending a whole day in Haut-Koenigsbourg is great for those who love medieval history and long walks. However, climbing to the castle on foot is not an easy task. The serpentine road loops among pine forests. Luxurious landscapes open up from the observation platforms: green valleys and huge vineyards. All platforms have tables and benches, where travelers can not only have a rest, but also enjoy a small picnic.
The village is located at the foot of the mountain on which Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle stands. If you decide to visit the castle for a day trip, the rest of your time should be devoted to St. Hippolyte. The House of the Vintner is one of the interesting sites to visit. The building was finished in the late 17th century, but its gates were installed a hundred years earlier. They are decorated with grape leaves and the cross of Lorraine, the family coat of arms of the vintner.
The village is located on the Wine Road of Alsace, so there are many vineyards in the neighborhood. After visiting the castle, travelers are advised to visit one of the wine bars. Local wine can be savored for a long time, but it is better to limit yourself to four or five different varieties.
Mutzig is located just half an hour from Strasbourg. The main attraction in this town is the Rohan family castle, built in the 13th century. After the French Revolution, the owners were repressed and the castle became state property. Nowadays, it houses a historical museum and cultural center with a cinema.
The city of Bouxwiller is 44 kilometers from Strasbourg. There was a small settlement on this territory in the days of ancient Rome. In the 15th century, Bouxwiller was one of the centers of the then county of Hanau-Lichtenberg. Despite this, its status as a city wasn't obtained until a hundred years later. The medieval city authorities took care of the inhabitants. At the beginning of the 16th century there was already a hospital, and at the beginning of the 17th century students could attend a Latin school.
The city became part of France in 1680. The turbulent times of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars led to its decline, and many houses were destroyed. Nevertheless, quite a lot of frame houses (half-timbered) that were built in the 17th century have been preserved.
The city has a unique ethnographic Museum of Alsace Jews. A distinctive feature of the Jews who lived here in the Middle Ages was their unique Alsatian Yiddish dialect. The museum is located in the building of the former synagogue.
Traveling just 35 kilometers from Strasbourg will bring you to the small town of Haguenau. The history of the settlement is similar to that of many medieval cities. First, in the 12th century, the Duke of Swabia Frederick II built a fortified castle on one of the islands, and half a century later a village formed around the castle, which later received urban rights.
Haguenau is famous because the trial of Richard the Lionheart took place here in the 12th century. He was captured on the way to England and kept in prison until a ransom was received. In the Middle Ages, the city was prospering. In the 13th century, it was the capital of the Alsace holdings of German King Rudolf the First. In the 14th century, Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor, created the Decapolis, an alliance of ten Alsace trading cities. Haguenau was the capital of this union until its dissolution in the late 17th century.
40 kilometers from Strasbourg, right on the border with Germany, there is a city with a glorious history. In the early Middle Ages it was the residence of the German king. In the early 13th century, a fortress wall was built around Sélestat and it was granted the status of a free imperial city. Among the main attractions is the Schlettstadt Humanist Library, which has existed since the middle of the 15th century.
There are many interesting places around Strasbourg, which can be visited during a one-day tour. The choice is yours.
Have a nice trip!