I took the train from Basel to Colmar. When I arrived in Colmar, I did a dumb thing and waited for a bus to take me to the old town area in Colmar. So unnecessary! Although I don’t usually mind taking the scenic route, I did not have a lot of time to explore Colmar, and the bus took so long to get to my destination. If I had done my homework, I would have known that the old town area was just more than 1km on foot from the Colmar Station! I had so little time left to explore Colmar. So, make sure that you know where you will arrive if you use different modes of transport to get to Colmar!
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Things to do in Colmar
Here are my favourite things to do in Colmar:
The Unterlinden Museum was the first building I saw in Colmar after disembarking from the bus. It used to be an old monastery in the 13 AD. The Museum is an art museum with many collections, some religious, on display. The Museum’s art collections cover 7 000 years of history and include many encyclopaedic collections. Plenty of information about the Museum’s architecture is available. The Unterlinden Museum also has a former baths’ building that is currently used for temporary events such as displaying art from famous artists, including Picasso, Monet and Dubuffet. The most important piece in the Museum is the Retable d’Issenheim (Issenheim Altarpiece). Other items not to be missed is the cloisters. Give yourself at least 2 hours to explore this Museum.
You can buy tickets to the Museum online. Admission with an audio guide is 15 €, without the audioguide it is 13 €. The Museum is open from Wednesdays to Mondays between 9:00 – 18:00. It is closed on Tuesdays.
The Old Town of Colmar
The Old Town of Colmar is a pretty place. It is quite small, so it is easy to explore. The Old Town has been preserved and is protected. The buildings are colourful and have been restored, with improvements are ongoing.
There are half-timbered houses, beautiful canals and many restaurants and souvenir shops. As you walk around the Old Town of Colmar, you will smell a range of smells from Indian food to sweet French desserts. The landscaping is excellent with the scent of flowers everywhere.
Little Venice is actually the reason I visited Colmar. The Little Venice district starts behind the Koïfhus, passes through the fishmonger’s district and includes the bridges of Turenne and Saint-Pierre.
In the olden days, the area was occupied by wine-makers, gardeners and boatmen. For a unique experience, try a canal ride in Little Venice. It takes about 25 minutes and takes you through the beautifully coloured houses with their unique windows.
The Pfister House was completed in 1537 for the hat-maker Ludwig Scherer. It is one of the oldest houses in Colmar and was the first example of the renaissance style in Colmar.
The house exhibits several unique features, including the corner oriel, a wooden gallery, biblical and secular scenes, and an octagonal turret. The house’s name is from the family who restored the house from 1841 to 1892. The building’s facade and roof were restored in 2012.
The House of Heads
The House of Heads was built in a renaissance style in 1609 by Albert Schmidt. The window decoration consists of a facade with 106 heads – human and animal heads. Zooming in with your camera will capture the incredible detail of the heads. Albert Schmidt and August Bartholdi added a copper statue to the roof in 1902. The windows are more than three floors high.
The building was restored in 2012. The oriel windows extend over three floors in height. The house currently houses a hotel and restaurant – to make a booking, click here.
The Adolph House was built around 1350. It is one of the oldest houses in Colmar. The Adolph family, where the name of the house is from, removed the house’s gothic picture windows at the end of the 19th century. The third storey of the house and its half-timbered roof were added in the 16th century.
The Green Train of Colmar
The Green Train made exploring Colmar so easy. It reminded me of the Lucern City Train – it is basically a tractor pulling several wagons filled with tourists. Commentary is provided in many different languages. The Green Train provides a concise overview of Colmar, its buildings and history. I can definitely recommend taking the train when you visit Colmar.
Tickets can be booked online by clicking here – tickets for adults cost 7, while kids under 12’s tickets cost 3.50. The train runs daily, but times differ with the seasons and time of year.
Best places to stay in Colmar
Here are some hotels and apartments in Colmar with excellent ratings:
- Relais & Châteaux La Maison Des Têtes
- Odalys City Colmar La Rose d’Argent
- Hôtel Roi Soleil Prestige Colmar
All too soon my time in Colmar was over and I had to return to Basel. I loved my half-day visiting Colmar. There are so many things to do in Colmar – I definitely want to return and visit the places I have not yet seen. I would love to overnight in Colmar to give me enough time to explore this old town properly.
Have you visited Colmar in France? What were your favourite things in Colmar