Last updated on December 6, 2022 by Sophie Nadeau
When deciding which Alsatian destination to add to your itinerary, many people are faced with the difficult choice of choosing between Strasbourg and Colmar, which also happen to be two of the largest cities in the Alsace region. Here is your ultimate guide to deciding between Colmar or Strasbourg.
Colmar or Strasbourg: What to visit?
The short answer as to which French city you should visit is that you don’t have to choose! Instead, you should make sure you visit both towns, especially since they’re only about half a train ride from each other, making them perfect for visiting. part of a long car trip or Route of the Christmas markets.
If you only have one day…
If you’re the type of person who likes to cover a place entirely, wander its most famous streets and tick off a list of all the top attractions, then you’ll want to head to Colmar rather than Strasbourg.
It is because, while Colmar can be discovered in one day, Strasbourg is much bigger and you’ll probably come away feeling like you haven’t seen it all. Strasbourg is the largest city in the Grand Est and therefore has many more museums, restaurants and cultural institutions than the neighboring city of Colmar.
If you like a lot of culture…
As I mentioned, Strasbourg definitely has more museums and restaurants and therefore wins hands down when it comes to deciding which city has the most culture. If you’re looking for a place to dedicate a whole weekend to exploring, then you should be sure to opt for Strasbourg over Colmar.
Strasbourg also has one of the largest cathedrals in France and is therefore a must if you are interested in ecclesiastical history. There is a big caveat to this though; if you are an oenophile then Colmar should be visited above Strasbourg.
Indeed, it is located along the Alsace wine route, the oldest wine route in France which encompasses many vineyards and crowns Colmar as its capital. Colmar’s enviable position nestled amongst the vineyards also lends itself as an ideal base for visiting nearby villages such as Turckheim, Eguisheimand Kayserberg Vineyard.
If you want to visit a quaint and cute place…
There’s no denying that Strasbourg is beautiful, but there’s also no denying that it’s a vibrant and bustling capital. So, if Strasbourg is charming, Colmar is like stepping straight into the pages of Beauty and the Beast. From the canals of Little Venice (Little Venice in French) to the city’s many historic buildings, it feels like a gingerbread town around almost every corner.
Which Christmas Market is better: Strasbourg vs Colmar?
Both the Strasbourg Christmas Market and the Colmar Christmas market are world famous and hundreds of thousands of people flock to France every year from all over the world to enjoy these festive events.
Strasbourg calls itself the capital of Christmas and it is undeniable that it is not only the largest Christmas market in France, but also the oldest. As such, there are hundreds of stalls to choose from selling everything from Christmas market food to vintage clothing.
That being said, Colmar’s Christmas offer is certainly not small and, just like Strasbourg, the whole town turns into a winter wonderland, with lights and illuminations hanging on every corner and market stalls Christmas at almost every turn.
Personally, I prefer the Christmas market in Colmar because I feel like each of the markets in town are a bit more intimate and you can really get to know them in an hour. However, if it’s your first time to a traditional Christmas market and you want to see it all, then you’ll want to head to Strasbourg as the city has a wider variety of stalls.
A final note
As you can see, whether you choose to visit Colmar or Strasbourg will come down entirely to your personal preferences and the kinds of things you like to see and experience while on vacation.
If it boiled down to that, I would probably choose to see Colmar over Strasbourg simply because it’s so unique and really feels like stepping into a storybook, as opposed to Strasbourg which is more of a modern city with the typical kind of convenience stores and chain restaurants assorted.
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