By Vicky · Published Jul. 1st, 2023 · Updated Aug. 30th, 2023
Colmar is a beautiful town in Alsace with many sights and quaint neighbourhoods, best explored on a walking tour.
This walking tour starts from the Collégiale St-Martin, or St Martin’s Church, in the centre of Colmar. There are several car parks near the center, or you can take the train. On the train Colmar is only 2hr20 from Paris, 30 minutes from Strasbourg, 45 minutes from Basel and 2 hours from Zurich. The train station is just 15 minutes walk away from the centre of Colmar.
Colmar Walking Tour Map
Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with Maps.me on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the Maps.me bookmarks.
Tips for Colmar Walking Tour
- Colmar gets busy in the summer holidays and in December when the Christmas market occupies the main square.
- Colmar is on the Alsatian Wine Route and also has delicious Alsatian cuisine (think a blend of French and German)
- Make dinner reservations in advance, especially in the summer season and sunny weekends.
- Alsatian cuisine includes Choucroute (sauerkraut), Tarte Flambée (flammkuchen, similar to pizza) and Baeckeoffe (a meat casserole). There are of course also delicious local wines, such as Riesling, Muscat and Pinot Gris.
- For more walking tours and hikes, see our France Hiking Page.
Top Sights in Colmar
On this self-guided walking tour you’ll see the main sights and attractions of Colmar. Up to one day is the perfect amount of time to spend in Colmar. If you’re just walking around, half a day is enough, while if you want to visit the museums then allow a full day. It also makes a fine base for exploring the surrounding cute towns on the Alsace Wine Route.
- Collégiale St-Martin
- Old Town & Rue des Marchands
- Petite Venise
- Covered Market
- Tanner’s District
- Église des Dominicains
- Musée d’Unterlinden
On this walking tour of Colmar you’ll also pass other sights such as the Musée Bartholdi, Maison des Têtes and the Place de l’Ancienne Douane (Old Custom’s House).
Colmar Walking Tour Route
This walking tour starts from Collégiale St-Martin, the main church in the center of Colmar.
1. Collégiale St-Martin
Key Information: Open Tue-Fri 8:15am-5:45pm, Sat 10am-5:45pm, Sun 10am-7pm. Closed to visitors during services.
The Collégiale St-Martin (or Saint-Martin Collegiate Church) is one of the most impressive religious buildings in Colmar. The church dates back to the 13th century and features Gothic architecture and beautiful stained glass windows. It was a cathedral at one point, but only for 10 years during the French Revolution. Don’t miss the large Baroque organ and the outer walls, constructed from locally quarried pink limestone.
Directions: Leave the church square at the southeast corner, down a cute narrow street.
At the corner on your right you’ll see the Maison Pfister. This is one of the very old, wonderfully restored houses in Colmar. It has a distinctive octagonal tower, timber facade, corner turret and elaborate carvings and frescoes, all dating back to the middle ages. The house is named after the family that owned it in the 16th century, a wealthy Pfister family – Pfister comes from the Latin word for baker. Today, the ground floor is occupied by VINUM, a rather exclusive wine shop.
Opposite Pfister House is the Maison Schongauer, or Swan House. It was home to the famous artist and engraver Martin Schongauer from 1477-1490.
Directions: At the corner, head right along Rue des Marchands and the heart of Colmar Old Town.
2. Old Town & Rue des Marchands
Rue des Marchands in the old town is a charming street lined with half-timbered houses and boutique shops. It’s one of the most picturesque in Colmar, so it’s worth taking your time to explore.
Directions: Take the first left to see the grand Law Court building. Then cross the square in front and head right to walk towards Little Venice, or La Petite Venise. Look out for Maison des Chevaliers on your right, which looks a bit like a Venetian palace.
3. Petite Venise
Petite Venise is a neighborhood centered around a canal (the Lauch Canal) and full of cute colourful houses. It’s not that reminiscent of Venice, but that’s where it gets its name from anyway. It can be a great place to relax and soak in the beauty of Colmar. However, it can get busy so take advantage of an early start for some peace and quiet here.
The first viewpoint of Petite Venise is from the first bridge you’ll see on your left. This is the bridge on Rue Turenne and is one of the best viewpoints of Little Venice. There are some very cute restaurants here, some half floating over the water. After admiring this view, head back to continue walking down the road on the same side of the river. Take the first left and this will lead you to another bridge with another viewpoint of Petite Venise.
Directions: Just across the bridge, take the steps down to your left. This walkway leads you back to the first bridge along a cute small lane.
Quai de la Poissonnerie
Renting a rowboat for thirty minutes (€6) is a great way to see the cute houses of Little Venise and the Fishmongers’ Quarter (Quai de la Poissonnerie) from a different perspective. You can buy tickets from La Krutenau restaurant – you’ll see the wooden boats just outside.
Continue walking close to the river along Rue de la Poissonnerie. You’ll now be on the Quai de la Poissonnerie, the old Fishmongers’ Quarter where fishermen used to live and work. It’s an extremely photogenic street, so a must-see on a walking tour of Colmar.
Directions: At the next bridge, turn left to reach the Marché Couvert, or Covered Market.
4. Marché Couvert de Colmar
Key Information: Open from 8am Tue-Sat, from 10am on Sundays, and closed on Mondays.
Colmar’s Covered Market is a great place to explore and taste the local produce. These include regional cheeses, most of which are smelly, such as Munster, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. You’ll also find food stalls with options to either eat just outside the stall or take away. Additionally, a couple of stalls sell non-food items and tourist trinkets.
One highly recommended cafe is La Terrasse du Marché, inside the market but with tables on a terrace overlooking the canal and old buildings. A great place to stop for a break on this walking tour of Colmar.
Directions: Continue walking around the market, straight across the road and take the first left into the next district of Colmar.
5. Quartier des Tanneurs
The Quartier des Tanneurs is, as the name suggests, the old tanners’ quarter. This area is filled with beautiful half-timbered houses (from the 17th-18th centuries) and narrow streets, and it’s a great place to explore. The central square here, the Place de l’Ancienne Douane, holds the famous Christmas Market, or Marché de Noël, in December time.
Walk around a few of the lovely, quiet backstreets before heading across the bridge to the Old Customs House. This colourful building is also called the Ancienne Douane, or Koifus. It’s a rather striking piece of architecture dating back to the 1400s. Not only beautiful, this house used to play a vital role in the town’s economy. All goods entering the town had to be brought here for local taxes to be paid before they could be sold onwards.
Directions: Walk through the customs building and head right to walk through more of Colmar. You’ll see the Old Hospital on your right and then pass St Matthew’s Church. After this, take the first left along one of the major shopping streets of town. Take the second left, then bend right to reach the square in front of the Dominican Church.
6. Église des Dominicains
Key Information: Open 10 am – 1 pm and 3 – 6 pm, closed Mondays and Wednesdays. Entrance costs €2/1/free per adult/child/under 12.
The Place des Dominicains just outside the church is a picturesque square with beautiful architecture. The fountain in the centre tells the story of a local legend. The Église des Dominicains itself dates mainly from the 14th century. There are beautiful stained glass windows, but the real highlight is the Madonna of the Rose Bush, painted by local master craftsman Martin Schongauer.
Directions: Head right around the church and follow the waterways to the Musée d’Unterlinden, just after the large garden.
7. Musée d’Unterlinden
Key Information: Open every day except Tuesday, 9am-6pm. Tickets cost €13/8 plus €2 for an audioguide (recommended).
The Musée d’Unterlinden (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is housed in a former convent dating back to the 13th century. It’s been modernized and wonderfully combines both old and new architectural elements, making it one of the top cultural attractions in Colmar. The museum’s collection includes works by famous artists such as Picasso and Monet, as well as a range of medieval and Renaissance art. Be sure to check out the famous Isenheim Altarpiece while you’re there. And don’t miss the archaeological section, which covers excavations from around Alsace.
Directions: The final stretch of the Colmar Walking Tour continues down Rue des Têtes, to the right after the garden. You’ll find the Maison des Têtes on your left as you walk along the street.
Maison des Têtes
The Maison des Têtes got its name from the over 100 heads that adorn its front. It dates from the 17th century, built by a wealthy merchant in a Renaissance style. From 1902 the house contained the local wine exchange, while today you’ll find a Michelin-star restaurant and a fancy hotel* in the building.
Directions: At the end of the street turn left, head right across the square, and continue along Rue des Marchands.
Key Information: Open 10am-noon and 2pm-6pm. Closed Mondays and all of January. Tickets cost €5/free for adults/children.
The Musée Bartholdi (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*) is an excellent small museum in the historical city centre. It displays work by Auguste Bartholdi, a sculptor born in Colmar in 1886, most famous for the Statue of Liberty. The museum displays several sculptures, along with a few of Bartholdi’s private belongings, all in the house where he once lived.
Directions: Take the next road to the left and you be back at St Martin’s Church and the end of the Colmar Walking Tour.
Extra Sight: Toy Museum
Key Information: Open Jan-Nov 10am-5pm, closed Tuesdays. July, August & December open every day 10am-6pm. Tickets cost €6.10/4.70 for adults/children.
If you’re interested in toys, and especially if you have younger children, then the Toy Museum (Website, Tripadvisor Reviews*), or ‘Musée du Jouet’ is well worth a visit. It’s housed in a former cinema and not too far from the town center. On display are collections of toys from the 19th century to the present. There are teddy bears, dolls, toy trains, video games, and much more. A particular highlight is the train network which occupies the entire second floor.
Best Places to Stay in Colmar
Colmar has many places to stay, from budget hostels to fancy hotels and everything in between. Check out the best hotels in Colmar below:
- Ibis Budget Colmar Centre Gare*: One of the best cheaper hotels in town. Clean rooms with a good location.
- Hôtel Turenne*: A modern boutique hotel close to La Petite Venise with great service and private (paid) parking.
- Relais & Châteaux La Maison Des Têtes*: A five-star luxury hotel for those wishing to push the boat out. There’s private parking, a lovely shaded patio out back and a Michelin-star restaurant on-site.
- Belle chambre cosy*: Rooms not far from the town centre with a shared lounge and fully equipped kitchen, free parking and a 24-hour front desk. A great choice for those on a modest budget.
- Odalys City Colmar La Rose d’Argent*: Apartments in a hotel, all with small fully equipped kitchens and free WiFi.
- Apartments Center Colmar*: Lovely, spacious apartments with a great location. These apartments all include WiFi, a fully equipped kitchen and free parking. Perfect for a comfortable stay in Colmar.
Guidebooks & Maps for Exploring Alsace
For more walking tours and hikes, see our France Hiking Page.