Colmar in Winter: Epic Travel Guide + Christmas Market FAQFrance
Visiting Colmar in winter is an absolutely magical experience, and truly one of the most festive things to do in all of Europe during the Christmas season.
We’ve visited a lot of European destinations in winter, and can confidently say that Colmar is among our favorites.
Want to find out what it’s like to live inside a Christmas movie set come to life for a couple of days? Book a trip to Colmar in winter.
Here’s what to know before you go.
Table of Contents
Best Things to Do in Colmar in Winter
Visit all the Christmas markets.
Visit Colmar in December or even late November, and you’ll be greeted with some of the best Christmas markets on the planet seemingly around every corner.
Bursting with everything from sweet treats and savory delights to handmade crafts to children’s rides, Colmar’s Christmas markets are some of our absolute favorites in Europe.
We’ll go into these in more detail below, but suffice it to say they’re easily the number one reason to visit Colmar in November or December.
Go ice skating at Place Rapp.
Release your inner child and hop on a pair of skates during your trip to Colmar in winter!
Once you’re finished, head to the nearby stalls for some churros, a crepe, or a waffle accompanied by a glass of vin chaud (hot wine).
Splurge on a Michelin Star meal.
For a tiny town, Colmar packs a huge gastronomical punch, with no less than 10 restaurants that have earned one or more Michelin stars, as well as 10 Bib Gourmand restaurants.
Foodies will want to come with their wallets out and ready to splurge at least once when visiting Colmar in winter!
… or just head to a winstub.
Prefer to stick with more casual (or just less expensive) fare?
Colmar has plenty of cozy winstubs–think pubs serving delicious Alsatian food. Restaurant Schwendi is a popular one that we enjoyed enough to return to on our second visit to Colmar.
And while it’s not technically a winstub, I do want to take a second here to point out our favorite casual place to eat in Colmar: Cafe Jupiler. Don’t miss a chance to devour one of their rostis during your trip–they’re phenomenal.
Stroll through La Petite Venise.
La Petite Venise is Colmar’s prettiest and most photogenic neighborhood–and based on the name, I’m sure you can guess why!
In La Petite Venise, Colmar’s colorful, half-timbered houses are situated right on the edge of several canals, and they’re absolutely beautiful.
They’re also, to the surprise of absolutely no one, I’m sure, some of the most popular photo spots in Colmar!
Take a day trip to delightful Alsatian villages.
While Colmar is absolutely stunning, don’t miss your chance to visit even more of Alsace’s incredible villages!
Personally, we adore Eguisheim, which is only a short drive away from Colmar, as well as Riquewihr.
If you’d like to road trip outside of Colmar, we recommend booking a rental car through Discover Cars–Alsace makes an excellent place for a road trip, especially if you have someone with you who’s willing to be the designated driver after a couple of winery stops!
Also, if you’re driving yourself, be sure not to miss seeing the Statue of Liberty on the way out of town! Here’s the address: 45 Route de Strasbourg, 68000 Colmar, France.
Book your rental car for Colmar today!
Duck into a museum or two.
Too cold (or rainy) to be outside for the day and want to warm up with an indoor activity?
Colmar has plenty of interesting museums to choose from that are perfect for days when you want to stay inside.
Consider taking part of your trip to Colmar in winter to explore the Unterlinden Museum, the Bartholdi Museum, or the Colmar Toy Museum!
All About the Colmar Christmas Markets
There are six of them!
For a town the size of Colmar, six Christmas markets may seem a bit over the top–but no, it’s just the right amount.
You can get exact details on locations here–our personal favorites are the ones at Place de l’Ancienne Douane and Petite Venise!
… plus several other festive areas in town.
You’ll notice that spots like Place Rapp, with its epic ice skating rink, spinning carousel bar, and tasty food stalls aren’t technically Christmas markets–but they’re still lots of fun and a great way to join in the festivities in Colmar!
Come prepared to eat.
Plenty of Alsatian food is up for grabs at the Colmar Christmas markets, including classic foods like sausages and crepes as well as trendier options like churros (seriously, every churro line we passed on our recent trip to Colmar in winter was the longest one around–they’re insanely popular at the Christmas markets right now!).
You can definitely plan to eat a full meal or two at the Christmas markets in Colmar, as well as plenty of snacks.
Takeaway snacks are available as well, including treats like mini loaves of gingerbread and candied nuts.
… and shop.
Want to knock off all your holiday shopping during your trip to Colmar in December? The Christmas markets can help with that!
From Christmas decor to handcrafted knits to all the ornaments you could ask for, the Christmas markets in Colmar are an excellent place to shop.
We picked up an ornament, a knit hat, a pair of gloves, and a few other odds and ends (like gingerbread!) during our winter visit to Colmar.
There are cup rentals, but don’t expect mugs.
The whimsical Christmas mugs that are so synonymous with Christmas markets these days? Sadly for visitors to Alsace, those seem to be more of a German (and Austrian, and Luxembourgian) tradition that hasn’t translated to France.
The Christmas markets in Colmar rent out plastic cups for their mulled wine, and they are both festive and unique to each city!
Also be sure to try to vin chaud blanc (hot white wine)! It’s not available at all the Christmas markets in Europe, but it is popular in Colmar, and we personally prefer it to the more traditional red version.
Christmas music plays at many of the Christmas markets in Colmar.
… and it’s a delightful addition to the ambiance.
The Colmar Christmas markets are largely family-friendly.
None of the Christmas markets we’ve visited in Europe are impossible to visit with kids, but many of them do cater more to adults than children.
The Colmar Christmas markets appeared to have a delightful mix, and had all the usual adult attractions prominently available, but also typically threw in a children’s ride, a sheep to pet, or an interactive nativity scene in order to keep little ones busy.
The markets close early.
Colmar’s Christmas markets tend to close by 7:00 PM on weekdays and 8:00 PM on the weekends, so don’t plan on using the markets for late-night dinners.
The schedule isn’t a big deal, though–it has already been dark for several hours at that point, after all.
The Colmar Christmas markets are some of the first to open in the area.
If you want to jump into Christmas market festivities as early as possible, Colmar might be the destination for you! The markets tend to open in the last week or so of November and are some of the first to open in the surrounding area.
Before booking your trip, check official market dates here.
Bring cash, and ideally small bills.
While some stalls will take card for substantial purchases, cash is the only option at other stalls (especially when buying small things like food) and is often preferred.
Twilight is our favorite time to visit the markets.
In our opinion, the best time to visit the Christmas markets in Colmar is from an hour or so before sunset until an hour or so after sunset.
This will give you some of the prettiest light (and you’ll get to see the Christmas lights come on for the evening!), you’ll have enough daylight early in your visit to snap some photos, and you’ll get to see the markets fill up with locals and tourists alike as the evening wears on.
Where to Stay in Colmar in Winter
Colmar is full of adorable places to stay–here are a few places to consider when planning your winter trip to Colmar!
Ibis Budget Colmar Centre Gare — Basic, clean, and within an easy walk of both Colmar’s train station and city center, Ibis is the perfect option for budget travelers visiting Colmar who want to prioritize a walkable location while not breaking the bank.
Hotel Kyriad Colmar Centre Gare — We loved this hotel in Colmar! The rooms were spacious and incredibly clean, the staff excellent, the building refurbished to feel brand new, and best of all, the location was perfect.
Located on a quiet street just a short walk from both the train station and Colmar’s city center, we couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay during our winter trip to Colmar.
Hotel Le Colombier Suites — Located in the heart of La Petite Venise, you can’t ask for a more picturesque place to stay in Colmar.
Boasting beautifully decorated rooms, excellent customer service, and a wonderful included breakfast, a stay at Hotel Le Colombier Suites will ensure your trip to Colmar is incredibly relaxing.
Winter Weather in Colmar
High temperatures average around 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius).
… So while it’s not frigid, you’ll definitely want to bundle up and bring plenty of warm layers!
If you visit Colmar in November right around when the Christmas markets open, you may experience weather that’s a smidge warmer, but not enough to really make a difference to your wardrobe.
Hope for snow, but don’t expect it.
The best chance to see snow in Colmar is later in winter, well after the Christmas markets close–for the best chance of a snowy trip, consider visiting Colmar in January or February.
Keep in mind the days will be short.
The sun sets well before 5:00 PM in Colmar during winter months, so don’t expect to be shooting photos out late!
What to Wear During Winter in Colmar
The key to being comfortable during winter in Colmar is simple: layers.
My winter in Colmar uniform was essentially two pairs of tights (one fleece-lined), warm boots, a dress, a coat, and a hat, scarf, and gloves (the hat and gloves I actually bought once we arrived in Colmar–I knew I would want to shop at the markets!).
Jeremy’s was jeans or slacks, warm boots, one undershirt/t-shirt, one long-sleeved shirt, a coat, a scarf, and sometimes a hat.
The weather was about average for winter in Colmar when we visited, and we were completely comfortable to walk around for hours at a time.
As with any destination, though, be sure to check the weather shortly before leaving for your trip–you never know when an unexpected heat wave or cold snap could hit.
A Fashionable Coat
As I often like to point out when discussing packing for anywhere in Europe in winter–be sure to pick a coat you like, because it’ll end up in basically all your photos!
Hat, Scarf & Gloves
When choosing the right winter boots for your trip to Colmar, keep in mind that comfort is key!
Fleece-lined leggings are my favorite winter accessory–a pair like this is perfect and bound to keep you looking great while also feeling like you’re wearing pajamas (so a win/win, basically).
What to Pack for Colmar in Winter
Travel Insurance — We don’t ever suggest traveling without travel insurance–anything can happen, and a special festive trip to Colmar is definitely a case of better safe than sorry. We use and recommend World Nomads for trips to Colmar.
Travel Adaptors for France — If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll definitely want to make sure you can plug in your electronics once you arrive!
Nalgene — Don’t waste money or plastic on plastic water bottle after plastic water bottle at the Christmas markets in Colmar–come prepared with a reusable one instead! You’ll be so glad to have it after devouring your first salty snack of the trip.
Umbrella — Winter in Colmar means rain is a risk–we broke out our umbrellas more than once during our trip.
Lotion — Winter in France can be rough on the skin–be sure to pack a moisturizing lotion.
Lip Balm — You know what’s not fun? Eating Christmas market food with chapped lips.
Portable USB Charger — Avoid having your phone die when you’re out exploring, and throw a portable USD charger in your day bag! They also come in particularly handy on long flights.
Purell Hand Sanitizer — Christmas markets in particular tend to mean lots of finger foods, eaten outside, often not near a bathroom where you can wash your hands. Bringing along hand sanitizer will make your life much easier.
Travel Journal — We can testify that travel memories that aren’t written down quickly can often fade–especially the small details that may not seem special now, but will mean a lot more five or ten years down the road. If you don’t want to commit a lot of time to writing each night, I’m a big fan of this One Line a Day Journal that allows you to easily track your experiences over five years. I’m more than two years into mine now and adore it!
Money Belt — This is up to you: we no longer use a money belt, but if you’re more comfortable having your passport with you at all times in France, you can consider bringing one. We used to use this one and had no complaints.
How Long to Stay in Colmar in Winter
Many visitors to Colmar visit as a day trip from Strasbourg, but honestly, we think a few days in Colmar is even better if you can swing it!
While you can check off the biggest things to do in Colmar in a day or so, by traveling slowly, savoring the Christmas markets in Colmar, and spending plenty of time soaking up the atmosphere, it’s easy to pass several days in town and still not be ready to leave (we sure weren’t on our most recent visit).
Colmar also makes an amazing base for day trips around Alsace, so if you stay in town for a few days, you can also build in trips to nearby villages–we recommend starting with Eguisheim and Riquewihr.