Magical, petite and calming. The Alsace region is a perfect little getaway for those who are searching for something different in Europe.. or France. I only stayed to explore the region for 3 nights – long enough to see the surroundings of the wine route and the little villages that are built in the area. Even though I wish I had more time – mostly because there is so freaking much good food to eat around here. However, these three days were perfect for a short getaway – We took it slow, drove the detours, discovered the area around the popular villages, we ate, drank and relaxed. And from those three days I’ve learned that there are enough gems close to home. Once again Europe reminded me of how pretty she actually is.
Today, I am going to give you a bit of inspiration for your trip to the Alsace region in France. And so here are 7 stops we made while driving through the region – that I’m really glad I didn’t miss out on.
Let’s start with the number one highlight from probably 80% of the tourists that visit the region. Just a guess, but I can imagine it being true after seeing the number of tour groups that made their way through town. So, so many tourists. Colmar looks like any other village in the region. You can eat a shitload of pretzels and flammkuchen, drink heeps of beer and (of course) wine, and explore the unique, charming streets. The only difference is that the streets of Colmar are more festive and cheerful. The houses are colorful and every street is decorated with flowers and plants which gives this town a hint of ‘extra’. It’s cute, charming and makes you feel as if you entered a Disney-village.
Not gonna lie, while Colmar lived up to expectation, it wasn’t my favorite from the Alsace region. Just a bit to ‘commercial’ and busy for my taste!
As you do when you are visiting Europe: you go and visit at castle. The Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle wins over the Alsace region, and if you want to visit only one castle.. than this is the one. When driving the wine route, you’ll see the castle from time to time, watching over the vineyards from the hill where it’s built so many years ago. It takes you one short drive, and a bit of a steep walk to reach the castle for yourself. Visiting can take less than two hours of your time, so don’t make time an excuse to not visit. If only you visit for the view from off the castle! Definitely worth it.
After visiting the Haut-Koeningsbourg Castle we drove into the hills, away from the villages and this is when stumbled upon this little restaurant. With a short walk we arrived at this little place, with a wonderful view over the hills and vineyards of the Alsace region. And while the restaurant was basically packed – it was almost as quiet as the woods surrounding it. To me this restaurant was a perfect little surprise for everything that I wasn’t expecting. The route towards it didn’t disappoint either. So my number one tip for you would be to visit this restaurant and get lost in the hills afterwards. Find the quietness and forget about the tourists.
Riquewihr was one of my favorites from the Alsace region. Small, charming and not as busy as the rest of the towns we visited around the area. Although, not gonna lie, it was hard enough to find a parking spot around the area. I can’t explain why Riquewihr was my one of my favorite villages. There is just something about this town that made it extremely charming. Discover the little streets of this town while driving north to south over the wineroute of the Alsace region and try one of the many, many restaurants you can find at this little town.
If you ever travel to Strasbourg and want to visit a different bar where you don’t even need a drink to be entertained.. go to La Mandragore. This is the craziest bar I’ve ever been to, and if you can’t talk about their fabulous cocktails (I recommend the Thailander – still raving about this cocktail), you have to talk about the decor of this bar. History buffs, nature geeks and everyone with a hint of alternative will absolutely love this bar, located in Petit France of Strasbourg.
We discovered this bar purely by accident, when walking around the area late at night. La Mandragore isn’t located at a busy street, which is why most of the tourists don’t even find this bar. But once you’re there, you know you found the right spot to order a drink.
So whenever you are at Strasbourg at night: remember to visit La Mandragore.
Kaysersberg is one of the first stops people tell you to make when you are going to the Alsace region. While just as lovely and pretty as other villages around Strasbourg and Colmar, Kaysersberg feels less ‘discovered’ and less ‘commercial’ in a way. Or at least, those are the exact reasons why I loved it so much. Kaysersberg also is the home of the Castle of Kaysersberg (no surprise there), which gives you one heck of a view over the little village as well as her surroundings – excisting out of endless vineyards and green hillsides.
Domaine Fernand Engel
After spending three days in Alsace and driving the wine route, we couldn’t stay behind and miss out on a good bottle of wine. So while driving back to our hotel we found Domaine Fernand Engel, where we stocked up on bottles of Pinot Gris, my favorite wine from the region – which I learned during the days when tasting the different wines of the region. Of course, there are plenty of vineyards where you can stop for a quick wine tasting session but I’m still glad we found this one.. good.. good wine!