I may earn income from affiliate links or partnerships in this post. *Only travel when it is safe to do so and you are not putting your destination or home country at risk. Some recommended tours, businesses, hotels, and excursions may be closed at this time. Please do independent research.
Are you curious about the best place in Europe to spend Christmas?Christmas in Alsace, France, is one of the most magical times of the year! Every square inch of the town is decorated to the max – almost as if one of Santa’s elves spewed Christmas cheer all over the place. Colmar has a total of six Christmas markets to explore. But, the fun doesn’t end there. Colmar is the perfect launching point to visit some of France’s most beautiful towns as they enter the advent season. Utilizing the Colmar Christmas Shuttle, you can easily reach Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, and Kaysersberg. These small towns genuinely embody the very essence of old European Christmas, and you’ll feel as if you’ve been taken back in time.
This Colmar Christmas market guide is part of my 7 days Alsace Christmas market road trip itinerary. Make sure you read these posts together so you can spend a magical week visiting the very best markets in Alsace. That post also has my sustainability and eco tips to ensure you’re giving back more than you take during your time in Alsace. But, before we get started, let’s cover some of the basics.
The Colmar Christmas markets are some of the best in Europe
Use this guide for a magical Christmas Colmar
Two-day itinerary features nearby medieval towns
How to Get to Colmar
By Car: If you’re following my Alsace road trip itinerary, then you’ll be arriving by car. Assuming you picked up your car in Strasbourg, it is about 50 minutes along with the A 35.
By Train: Colmar is pretty accessible for Europeans. I always advocate for train travel within Europe to reduce your carbon output. Plus, the trains are comfortable, and you can sit back and relax, and the snowy landscapes unfold. The best way to reach Colmar by train is first to navigate to Strasbourg. From there you can take the non-stop TVG train to Colmar which is only about 25 minutes!
If you plan to take full advantage of the Colmar region and visit the small Alsatian towns in the vicinity for Christmas, you’ll need to plan your itinerary carefully. While the Colmar Christmas markets are on from the end of November to the end of December, several nearby smaller markets are open only on a select few weekends.
You’ll want at least 2 full days in the Colmar region – 1 day for Colmar and 1 day for nearby Christmas markets. Depending on your travel type, you might want 3 nights to take it at a slower pace and avoid traveling at night. If you’re a person that doesn’t mind packing things in, then 2 nights and 2 full days should be plenty.
Christmas Market Dates and Opening Hours
2021 Colmar Christmas Market Dates
November 26 – December 30, 2021
The market is closed on Dec 24, 25, and 26th.
Hours are not posted for these markets by I expect them to be open from 10 am – 8 pm.
2021 Riquewihr Christmas Market Dates
November 27 – December 22, 2021
Sat-Sun: 10 am – 7:30 pm
Mon – Fri: 10 pm – 6:30 pm
2021 Kaysersberg Christmas Market Dates
Fri – Sun (weekends only) November 26 – December 19, 2021
10 am – 8 pm
The market is closed over the Christmas weekend
2021 Ribeauvillé Christmas Market Dates
December 4-5 2021 and December 11-12 2021
Saturday: 10 am – 7 pm
Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm
The best dates for 2021 to visit Colmar and the surrounding Alsatian towns is December 4-5 or December 11-12. This suggestion is optimized for when the Christmas shuttle is running, and all markets in Colmar, Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, and Kaysersberg are open. Do not plan your trip between the22-26 of December. Most markets are closed on Christmas and the days before and after. As tempting as it is to spend Christmas day drinking Vin Chaud under Christmas lights, you will be sorely disappointed.
All dates and times are subject to change due to the ongoing pandemic. Please do independent research or reach out to the tourism office for the latest up-to-date information.
I know, I usually tell you to avoid places like this on weekends, because of crowds, but this is the only way to experience markets in all four places. However, it is worth noting that the towns are still very festive and decorated even when the markets aren’t happening. Most shops sell Christmas gifts and locally made products. So, if you can’t plan your trip to align on those weekends, worry not. You can still take advantage of public transportation to see these towns all dressed in their Christmas best.
Where to Stay in Colmar for Christmas
Colmar has lots of options, from modern boutiques to historic luxury. While I have been to Colmar for Christmas, I haven’t stayed the night, as we prioritized staying in small towns rather than using Colmar as a hub. In hindsight, though, I wish we would have as parking in smaller cities is a nightmare. Living in Germany and having been to Alsace twice, I know the area well and have picked a few spots I think are ideal for your Colmar Christmas itinerary. I also added a few cool spots I know my readers and fans of boutique hotels will love. All the hotels have a rating higher than 8 on booking and would book the next time I’m in Colmar for Christmas Markets.
If you prefer a more modern experience then Paul + Pia is a colorful alternative boutique hotel just outside the city. This hotel is highly rated and exactly where I would choose to stay. Colmar can get very busy during the holiday, so staying away from the center allows for a more relaxed and quiet holiday. The hotel is near a parking garage.
Booking a cozy apartment in the heart of Colmar is also a great choice. This adorable apartment offers a look inside a historic building with modern updates. This apartment would be my choice for a more romantic Christmas getaway in Colmar with my husband.
Winter Weather and What to Pack for Colmar
Layers are always best, and you’ll want to make sure you have a solid coat and good rainproof walking shoes or winter boots.
There are a total of 6 Christmas markets in Colmar, each with a different theme, so exploring these markets in full will take up most of your day. Colmar markets are known for “art and tradition,” and you’ll find plenty of hand-crafted art pieces intertwined with traditional food and gifts. The Colmar markets and historic streets are covered in white Christmas trees and rustic decorations, offering a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Smells of roasting nuts and mulled wine make you feel as if you’ve been transported into a European Christmas Fairy Tail.
My favorite thing about Colmar is that Christmas is everywhere. Teddy bears hand from balcony windows, and frosted glass baubles fill your vision. Most of the markets are close together, and with so much decoration around the city, you can easily just venture out and explore Colmar without an itinerary or purpose. You’ll surely experience everything and then some on your own. If, however, you want to make sure you visit all six markets, I’ve got you covered with the low down on each market.
Gourmet Market Start was easily my favorite market in Colmar. A new addition in 2018, this market features 9 gourmet food stalls serving hot, fresh, and local cuisine. This isn’t your standard Christmas market food, such as fried potatoes and roasted nuts. The food here comes from renowned chefs. I ordered a bowl of truffle risotto and paired it with a festive glass of Champagne. Hello, bougie Christmas market food – come to momma. Other options included gourmet soups, roasted chicken, and more delights. Of course, I’ll remind you to skip the unethical Foie Gras and opt for one of the vegetarian dishes. The market serves food from 10 am – 10 pm. The space is rather small, and it is standing room only. Make sure you bust out your reusable utensils.
As you explore the Colmar Christmas markets keep an eye out for other tasty Christmas market food including, Vin Chaud or mulled wine, potato pancakes covered in cheese, vegetarian savory (or sweet) crepes, and roasted nuts. These are all vegetarian and essential Alsace Christmas market foods.
Indoor Craft Market – Ok, this one might actually be my favorite market, or at least it is a close second. The craft market is THE PLACE to get all your handmade items such as pottery, jewelry, furniture, blown-glass ornaments, and unique wood gifts. The best part is this market is in a historic medieval building. There are plenty of opportunities to meet the artists and crafters behind the gifts you purchase as you explore over 20 booths. Make sure you save your money for this one because some of the gifts are premium quality.
Dominican Square is of the first markets you might encounter. This market is in the court year of the small Dominican church. The church is a charming backdrop with stained glass windows glowing at night. However, this market is a bit basic, with lots of typical Christmas decorations and gifts in rustic wooden stalls. In my opinion, the best part of this market is the ambiance at night, and make sure to grab a Vin Chaud as you stroll into dusk.
Place de L’Ancienne Douane istucked into the city’s heart, the market stalls line the small channel that runs through the city. The feature here is more on the historic ambiance with the Schwendi fountain and the old customs house. However, the gifts are a bit average.
Place Jeanne d’Arc invites you to step into a magical Alsacian village with twinkling lights and cozy huts lined with snow. You’ll find plenty of artisanal foods and drinks such as schnapps, cheese, biscuits, and wine. So, stock up on more snacks for the road. I recommend visiting this market in the later evening or at night, as it really lights up.
The Children’s Market is the place for families with rides and apple cider. They even had a nativity with animals. I would recommend skipping the pony ride for ethical reasons.
Special Christmas Events in Colmar
There are loads of special events happening in Colmar. Every other day starting on Nov 27, you can join a Christmas Market Tour for a guided look at the markets between 4:30 pm – 6 pm.
Little Venice lights up with a children’s Choir on Nov 27, 2021, and Dec 22, 2021. There are other concerts and Christmas events in Colmar throughout the season, and you can check the calendar.
Once Upon a Time in Alsace Ice Show happens on Dec 4th during two different viewings.
If you are really in Alsace just for the wine and the Christmas season is an added bonus, then you do not want to miss the Christmas wine tasting at Karcher wine cellar. This must be booked in advance, and you’ll try Alsatian wines and learn local Advent folklore.
Just outside the city center at Place Rapp, there is an ice rink. Enjoy festive skating and special events such as ice hockey games and shows. It costs 2 Euros to skate, and I recommend trying this at night when the rink lights up!
Day 2: Visit Alsace Villages – Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, and Kaysersberg
You’re in for a treat on the second day of your Colmar Christmas market itinerary. You’ll be taking advantage of the Christmas Market Shuttle that runs from Colmar, stopping at Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, and Kaysersberg. These are three adorable medieval towns in Alsace, and they come alive during the Christmas Season.
Using the Colmar Christmas Shuttle
There is a weekend Christmas Shuttle that will take you to all the fantastic towns near Colmar. If you drove to Colmar, I highly recommend parking the car and using the shuttle. We had a nightmare of a time trying to park in these small towns and actually missed our opportunity to experience some of the magic – I don’t want that to happen to you. There are two lines, and they both depart from the Colmar GARE central train station.
On Friday, shuttles leave every hour, starting at 9:30 am and finishing around 6:30 pm.
On Saturday and Sunday leaves every 30 minutes starting at 9:30 am and finishing around 6:30 pm.
However, times are subject to change, and it is in your best interest to check for updated information with the tourism office or the timetable.
So, this is a circular route, and two lines are running in opposite directions. Adult tickets are 8 Euro, and you can buy tickets from any of the stops, so in this case the Colmar train station. You can also buy them at a local tourist office. There are also some public transportation options. I recommend asking the tourism office or using Google Maps to help you navigate this system.
Riquewihr Christmas Market Guide
Riquewihr is ranked one of the most beautiful villages in France, and it comes alive during Christmas. Due to an unfortunate traffic situation, we missed this market, but hopefully, you can visit by taking advantage of the Christmas market shuttle or just visiting the town on a weekday without the market. This adorable village is still tucked away inside a historic wall. Surrounding the walls are rolling vineyards growing the finest Alsace grapes. Inside the walls, the cobblestone streets are lined with brightly painted timber houses. This town is quintessential small-town Europe. As you visit during the Christmas season, you’ll find the entire town lit up as if in a magical fairy tale and window boxes decorated to the max. There is only one market here, and vendors are nestled in their wooden huts beneath the historic buildings. You’ll find plenty of Christmas goodies and snacks alongside handicrafts and unique gifts.
Special Christmas Events in Riquewihr
The Men’s choir will sing on December 3, 2021, starting at 8:00 pm. The show will take place at Place des Trois.
Ribeauvillé Christmas Market Guide
Ribeauvillé is a medieval town that truly goes all out for Christmas. This was one of the most charming stops along the way, and my travel crew and I simply enjoyed meandering the streets gazing at all the decorations. While this festival is only open during two weekends in December, it is totally worth visiting if you can swing it. Unfortunately, we just passed through the town on a day the market wasn’t open, but the entire town was still decorated and shops were still selling gifts. I definitely want to come back here during the market day. The entire town embraces the Medieval spirit as street performers and musicians parade around the streets in traditional clothing. At dusk, creatures from fairytales come out and haunt the streets. You’ll feel as if you’ve been transported back in time as vendors wear medieval costumes and sell Vin Chaud in chalices and serve hearty stews. This experience is the closest you’ll ever get to experiencing Christmas from medieval times. This festival isn’t so vegetarian-friendly, but you’ll be able to find some soups, bread, and sweets hidden among the roast pig.
Kaysersberg Christmas Market Guide
I loved the Kaysersberg markets because they had an ample selection of artisanal handmade gifts and local food. There are two markets here, but, the Christmas feeling extends beyond the markets as the entire town of Kaysersberg lights up for the holiday season. Even as you wander the main shopping street, each storefront and timber house is lit up with lights, displays, and cheer away from the holiday vendors. You can do plenty of Christmas shopping away from the official market booths, and Kaysersberg has loads of boutique and local art shops. I encourage you to spend ample time exploring the entire town, including a small hike to the Kaysersberg castle for a nice scenic view of the town and surrounding vineyards. If you want a genuinely horrifying experience, you can also visit the fairy tale exhibit for a strange puppet display.
A Traditional Alsace market is tucked away in a bit of an alleyway behind Eglise St. Croix. In the shadow of the impressive cathedral, 30 glowing market stalls are filled with cute handmade gifts. I bought a ring made from upcycled paper. It is a bit spooky as the market is parallel to a graveyard, but the Christmas ambiance keeps you warm and cherry. The market is best if you enter near the town hall and exit into the main shopping street to continue exploring the town.
Farmer’s Christmas Market is full of all the best gourmet delights of the Alsace region packaged for Christmas. Try and buy local cheese, wine, bio Vin Chaud, honey, herbs and spice, apple cider, and more. I stocked up on lots of great treats to take home to spice up our holiday cooking and appetizer trays for visiting friends and family.
Special Christmas Events in Kaysersberg
Open for the entire festive season – so not limited to the weekends of the Christmas markets, there is a hall of Christmas trees in Kaysersberg. Trees are decorated by different local artists, and each tree has a unique flare. One is decorated in hand-blown glass, while others in fabric and textile patterns. The trees are on display at 39 Rue du General de Gaulle, Arsenal Hall.
Discuss and Share
I hope this post sparked your curiosity to see the beautiful region of Alsace at Christmas time. The Christmas markets in Colmar and the historic villages of Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, and Kaysersberg are unparalleled to anywhere else in Europe. You’ll experience the true magic of Christmas in Alsace with this detailed two-day itinerary and guide to Colmar Christmas markets.
Are you dreaming of Christmas in Alsace, France? Which Christmas market looks like your favorite?
Have you been to Colmar, Riquewihr, Ribeauvillé, and Kaysersberg during Christmas? Share your experience.
What is your dream destination for Christmas in Europe?
Make sure you pin and share this guide to share the holiday spirit.
Susanna grew up in small-town Alaska where the changing climate was always on her mind. Through traveling, she gained an interest in the power of sustainable and regenerative travel. She now attends a Master's program for environmental sustainability and bridges sustainable travel with environmental science. When she's not outside playing, you'll find her drinking whiskey with her cat and partner while trying to get to level 99 in life.