A Wonderful 3 Day Itinerary in Alsace

Betsy and Chelsea on the streets of Colmar in the Alsace region of France

Betsy and Chelsea on the streets of Colmar in the Alsace region of France

A glass of Alsace wine is like a summer dress or a flower in spring, it’s the ray of sunshine that simply makes life brighter.

— Christian Dior

Some of the amazing architecture in Colmar, France

Some of the amazing architecture in Colmar, France

If you are Planning a Trip to France and haven’t decided exactly where you want to go, you just might consider visiting the Alsace region. It is not as heavily touristic as some other parts of Europe, and is absolutely stunning. The Alsace Route de Vin is filled with beautiful wine, incredible food, fairytale villages and gorgeous scenery. You will also experience a more relaxed pace and a genuinely welcoming hospitality, which are sometimes difficult to find elsewhere.

You could easily spend a week or more here, but if you only have a few days, that can work well too. It would be great to include Alsace as an extension to a vacation in France or Germany. This 3 Day Itinerary in Alsace is perfect for that. You will thoroughly enjoy this particularly lovely part of France filled with charming villages with half-timbered houses and incredible wine-producing towns.

Which town should you stay in? How can you start planning a trip here? We have recommendations, below, or let us plan it all for you! Contact us to put together your custom vacation. We’d love to design a unique itinerary just for you, or lead your small group of travel companions on a tour through this extraordinary region. Or follow the travel tips we provide here and plan your own special trip through Alsace.

Where is the Alsace Wine Route?

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The Alsatian wine route is in eastern France, across the Rhine River from Germany. This part of the country has passed from France to Germany and back again many times over the centuries and the architecture and food reflect that fascinating history. Imagine what it was like before the Euro gave the region a common currency. I met a man who said he used to carry two wallets – one for French francs and one for German deutschmarks. It’s much easier now that you can use the Euro in both countries!

The Alsace Wine Route itself stretches 170 km, starting in Marlenheim near Strasbourg in the north and ending in Thann in the south, although the Alsatian region extends further in both directions. Along the Routes des Vins, the vineyards benefit from the terroir available to them between the Vosges Mountains in the west and the Rhine river in the east. Alsace is famous for its white wines that are highly acidic and truly delicious. Tastings here are intimate, friendly, and generous.

How do you Get There & Where Should You Stay on the Routes des Vins Alsace?

You could take a day trip from Strasbourg, but it’s more fun to spend several days in the Alsace wine region to get a true flavor of the area. You could easily take the Paris to Colmar train or the Strasbourg to Colmar train, to get there, depending on where your trip originates. You could even arrive by train from Basel in order to visit Alsace. If you have a car, it’s even easier to get around and gives you more options on where to stay and explore.

Colmar offers some lovely accommodations and is a bit bigger than most of the other towns in the area. If you want more to see and do and the feel of a bit larger city, I recommend staying here. Ribeauvillé is smaller but also offers an idyllic village and a good home base, as does Riquewihr. Ribeauvillé has the added advantage of being accessible by train but the station is about 2 miles outside town, so plan to walk to get into town, or you can call a taxi. We stayed in Kaysersburg and found it to be one of the cutest towns ever. It has a beautiful fast flowing river running through the village. We could walk to the market, to bakeries, to wonderful restaurants and even to wine tastings. Each village holds its own charm. I recommend picking one and staying there for the duration of your trip. Then take day trips to the other villages. This will make your time in Alsace more relaxing, and will give you a chance to soak in all the region has to offer.

Take a Road Trip and Visit the Delightful Towns in Alsace

There are about 70 towns located along the Alsace Wine Route and 20 of these are among the top places to visit in the region. It’s really hard to narrow them down! Choosing one picture perfect town over another is tough because you never know what gem you might find around the corner! The colorful buildings in these towns look like they came straight out of Les Miserables. Concentrating on those that are most quaint and have the best wine is a good strategy. I find that those listed above as places to stay, Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, Kaysersburg and Colmar all make the list. Add to that Equishem, Turckheim and Hunawihr and any others that seem particularly intriguing.

Fairly tale villages of Alsace

Fairly tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Fairy tale villages of Alsace

Go Wine Tasting in Alsace

Alsace has an incredible setting for wine making. I am usually a red wine lover, but visiting Alsace was a chance for me to learn to love and appreciate some extraordinarily well made and absolutely delicious white wines. This picturesque area is blessed with many desirable conditions including ancient soils, noble grapes and an amazing climate that is one of the driest in France. Here, freshness and minerality aren’t just descriptors, they are the story of the wines. Many of the wine families here have been growing grapes and perfecting the art of the vine for centuries.

The tasting room at the Kientzler winery in Ribeauvillé

The tasting room at the Kientzler winery in Ribeauvillé

Visiting the wineries in this region is a different experience than in other places I have visited. If you are not there in season, you will want to make an appointment for your tasting. Don’t expect a tour in most places – you are there for a tasting; but it will be special. You may even have the chance to meet a member of the family who makes the wine, as many of these vineyards have been in the same family for generations. Tastings tend to be reasonably priced, generous and wonderfully delicious.

In Ribeauvillé, Kientzler offers a spectacular tasting. Our host, Eric, let us taste his beautiful Rieslings, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and more. Each one was incredible.

From our home base in Kaysersburg, we walked to Kientzheim to our tasting at Paul Blanck. Our host, Corrine, was lovely and the tasting was so generous that we started to experience palette fatigue, which can happen quickly with these highly acidic wines. We walked home through the vines and enjoyed apertivo in our Airbnb with sparkling that we got at Kientzler earlier in the day. What a lovely way to spend an evening!

In Ribeauvillé, Trimbach has a fantastic tasting. This is a fun winery to visit because it is an Alsatian wine that you can often find in North America. Visiting the winery, observing the setting, and then looking at the label brings it all together. When I enjoy a bottle of Trimbach back in the States or Canada, I can easily remember my wonderful tasting at this beautiful winery. They make great wine and were really generous with their tasting as well.

Barrel room at Paul Blanck

Barrel room at Paul Blanck

There is a terrific wine shop in Riquewihr called Boutique Vini. It was fantastic and the gentleman in the shop was incredibly helpful. We had a great conversation and he even showed us the cellar. He recommended a beautiful Riesling by Catherine Riss – it was fantastic! The next day, we returned and bought the last 2 bottles.

We also went to a tasting at Weinbach. It is on the site of an old monastery and the beautiful house reminds me of a winery we once visited in Beaujolais. It was an interesting tasting. We sat down in a dark room with wood panels on the walls. There were family pictures all over the place. There was a US distributor in the next room, also tasting that day. We were initially greeted by a woman we think is the matriarch of the family, and then one of her sons led us through their lovely wines. After the tasting, we got to go see their distillation process. They were making marc – which is like French grappa. This was so much fun to get to see!

Taste what the Alsatian Region has to offer

Carafe of wine at Winstub Brenner

Carafe of wine at Winstub Brenner

The food in Alsace is extraordinary!! One of the specialties is tarte flambé. We enjoyed this local dish at Restaurant au Passage de la Tour in Ribeauville and it was absolutely delicious.

Our favorite restaurant in the area is Winstub du Chambard in Kaysersburg. It was fantastic!!  We hardly ever go to the same restaurant and we ended up dining here twice while we were in the area! We even had one of the same dishes on our second visit because it was so delicious! The first night we had beautiful fresh fish in cream with leeks, spectacular morel mushroom cassoulet, escargot, vegetables in butter, salad, Munster cheese flambé and a molten chocolate dessert with ice cream and cream. We also had sparkling wine to start and an orange wine by Jean Yves Peron that was funky, fun and delicious. It was an amazing dinner. It wasn’t cheap – but this was a really special meal. One of the best we’ve had!

The second evening we went to Chambard we enjoyed another GREAT dinner. This time we had the traditional baeckeoffe which is like meat and potatoes in a beautiful casserole dish. Apparently, ladies would make this and leave it with the baker when they went to the river to do laundry, which took all day. Then the dish was ready for dinner when they returned. We also had fish with morels and the morel cassoulet we had the night before – everything was exceptional.

Colmar is such a fantastic city and we enjoyed a wonderful lunch there at Wistub Brenner. We were surrounded by buildings that look like they were the inspiration for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Lunch was fried Munster cheese with duck breast that was delicious, veal head, and smoked salmon. We ate outside, by the canal. It was an amazing lunch in an impeccable setting.

The pastries are amazing in Alsace too!!  Try the Linzer tarts in different flavors like lemon and raspberry, and accept the offer of a free macaron right out of the oven when they are offered. Then buy a few bags to take with you. You won’t be disappointed.

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Take a Hike among the Vines, visit Castle ruins, or both!

Hiking above Ribeauvillé

Hiking above Ribeauvillé

I love to walk among the vines and there are lots of places where you can do this throughout Alsace. It’s also a great hike to climb up to Chateau de St. Ulrich, high above Ribeauville. Take a picnic (with some macarons) and enjoy the views from the top.

The most famous castle in the area is Koenigsbourg Castle, and it is definitely worth a visit. This stunning site dates back to the 12th century and is everything you want in a medieval fortress. The castle is situated in the Vosges mountains with a stunning view of the Alsatian plains. The castle attracts ½ a million visitors every year. It tends to get quite crowded in the middle of the day, so try to arrive in the morning to miss the crowds. If you are driving from Strasbourg, it is a good place for a first stop as you head south toward the Alsace Wine Route.

An Alsace Itinerary of about 3 Days

Now let’s put it all together: choose a home base that suits you in terms of size and what you can see and do, then schedule in walks through several charming Alsatian towns, wine tastings at your favorite vineyards, dinners at restaurants that highlight local flavors, a hike or two. and a castle visit. This will make a picture perfect and delicious holiday in Alsace. Say it with me:  C’est manifique!!

Looking down form Saint Ulrich Castle above Ribeauvillé

Looking down form Saint Ulrich Castle above Ribeauvillé

Are you ready for a trip to this gorgeous part of the world? We can help with that! Remember, we are always available to you and your friends and family for custom trip planning to Europe. We are experts in creating custom travel itineraries and leading small group trips to European destinations. You can always send Betsy an email to discuss the possibilities. We would love to help you make your travel dreams to Europe come true!

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Betsy Ball – Betsy is co-founder and partner of Euro Travel Coach (ETC), which crafts custom European vacations for independent travelers and leads small group trips to Europe. She is a passionate and culturally curious traveler who thoroughly enjoys sharing her love for exploring Europe with ETC clients. Prior to founding ETC, Betsy taught International Business at Tarleton State University in Texas (part of the A & M System) where she led study abroad trips to multiple European countries and other worldwide destinations. She retired from teaching two years ago and now travels 9 months of the year in Europe. She has a degree in hotel, restaurant management from Michigan State University and an MBA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She also holds a Level 3 certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust.

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One thought on “A Wonderful 3 Day Itinerary in Alsace

  1. This is so awesome! Thank you for writing such a detailed and extensive itinerary for la Route des Vins. Alsace is a little overlooked by international tourists sometimes, between Paris and the Riviera… the other regions have so much to offer as well 🙂

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