I’ve wanted to visit Colmar since a very long time. Pictures of the half timbered houses and the canals always invited me. I went to Colmar on a day trip from Zurich.
Highlights and tips:
- Colmar is small, but beautiful. Crowds peak around mid-day, so early morning and evening is great.
- The village of Riquewihr is wonderful, however, quite crowded at mid-day. Walk on the trails above the village.
- Most restaurants close around 2 PM, so make sure you have your lunch before that.
- Consider staying in and around Colmar and taking trains/car to neighboring villages. I found the villages very beautiful as I passed across them, so you need to take your time while traveling across them. Unfortunately the train/bus service isn’t very efficient to travel around.
- The bus/train schedules are tricky, and not available on google maps. So you would need to plan well. This was a cultural shock for me, after being in Switzerland for a while.
- Operating the ticket machines is not easy, and it takes time to get a ticket from the window, so have the SNCF app ready.
I took a train from Zurich early in the morning, changed at Basel and reached Colmar. I had a good breakfast at a cafe outside the old town. The old town was dramatically different from the newer parts of the town. Wonderfully painted and maintained. It was quite early in the morning, maybe 8.30, so things were very quiet and peaceful. No tour groups and harsh sunlight and heat. Spent at least a couple of hours walking around, the high point being the Little Venice area. Headed out to Riquewihr by bus. The village of Riquewihr was wonderful. The houses on the main street are wonderful. But so are the side alleys where you won’t find any people at all. However, mid-day was a busy time, the town would feel more pristine in the evenings. I took one of the paths above the village, through the grape plantations and walked for a while. The views across the villages, the plantations were amazing. I wish I could have walked for longer, but I had a bus to take to get me back to Colmar(the next bus was 3 hours later).
Colmar felt very chaotic by time I came back. I began looking for a lunch place, but most places were closing for the afternoon! Finally I managed to find an Italian take-out place, the lentil salad and lasagna were actually very good. I found Colmar too busy for me to roam around, so I decided to go to Chateau Konigsburg. I took a train Selestat, and then a bus to the castle. But then I had only 45 minutes to roam around the castle because of the timings of the last bus. Still, worth it. The castle has good views of the surrounding plains, since it’s perched high up. But I wish I could have found a place which had a view of the castle itself.
Back in Colmar, things had calmed down, I took a walk across the old town again, and got myself some dinner at a “Tarte Flambee” place. I had a tart with several vegetarian toppings, it was quite well made. Soon, it was time for my train back to Zurich. I left with a desire to come back on a more relaxed holiday, perhaps in the Fall.