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The 8 Most Enchanting Christmas Markets in Alsace

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When it comes to France, Paris and the French Riviera get most of the attention of international visitors. However, the magical region of Alsace is the country’s shining light at Christmastime.

Sightseers and Christmas lovers make the pilgrimage to this stunning region of eastern France each holiday season. Here, they’re dazzled by opulent decorations, charming half-timbered houses, delicious food, and cozy mulled wine (known as vin chaud in France).

Christmas Market in Strasbourg, Alsace
Alexi Tauzin / Adobe Stock

Many European countries spread Christmas cheer through markets, but Alsace is home to the best Christmas markets in France and, arguably, the world. Christmas markets can usually be found in the center of each town, but many have expanded into multiple markets spread throughout the city or village.

Christmas markets in Alsace feature local, regional, and national specialty drinks and dishes, including mulled wine, raclette cheese, foie gras, and apple cider. You can find local artisan crafts, clothing items, and more.

Since I’m from Hawaii, the cold winters can be tough while I’m living in France. Visiting Christmas markets makes it completely worth it and it’s something I look forward to every year. Here are a few of my favorites!

The Most Enchanting Christmas Markets of Alsace

1. Strasbourg Christmas Market

Christmas decorations in Strasbourg, France with the Strasbourg Cathedral in the background
Woodrow Matthews / ViaTravelers

Known as the unofficial capital of Christmas, the charming city of Strasbourg is home to the best French Christmas markets, securing the city’s #1 spot on our list. When winter rolls around, much of the city’s old town is adorned with whimsical decorations, dazzling lights, and a festive atmosphere.

There are 13 large Christmas markets spread out throughout the old town. My favorites are in front of the Strasbourg Cathedral, Place Kléber, and Place Broglie. Place Kléber is great for families because it includes a gourmet market filled with a variety of food stalls, lots of hot wine and hot chocolate, rides for the kids, and a giant Christmas tree illuminated with beautiful lights.

It is absolutely magical to walk around Strasbourg at night during the Christmas season. There are so many elaborate decorations and bright lights that will definitely get you in the festive mood. Strasbourg has had time to tune its market to perfection – it is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to the 1500s!

Stay at the Aloft Strasbourg Etoile for incredible views of the Strasbourg Cathedral through your room’s floor-to-ceiling windows. It was such a treat to open the blackout curtains to see that stunning cathedral – I almost didn’t want to leave the room!

See Related: Maison Rouge Strasbourg Hotel: ViaTraveler’s Review

2. Colmar Christmas Market

Christmas decorations in Colmar, France
Brittney Liu / ViaTravelers

Teddy bears, Christmas biscuits, local wine, oh my! The Colmar Christmas Market has everything the Strasbourg Christmas Market has, but on a slightly smaller scale.

While there are technically six Christmas markets in Colmar, it feels like one giant Christmas party. Instead of several separate markets, it is more like one continuous market connected by the narrow cobblestone streets of the old town.

My favorite part of the Colmar Christmas Market is the fairytale-like half-timbered houses decorated with lights, garlands, bows, and adorable teddy bears. It’s like a Christmas village come to life!

Colmar offers a shuttle between the two main parking garages (located at Parking Bleylé and the Parc des Expositions) every weekend and free public bus service every weekend as well. There is also a Christmas shuttle between Colmar and neighboring villages like Kayserberg, Riquewihr, and Ribeauvillé. Check out the Navettes de Noël (Christmas shuttle) timetable and buy tickets here.

Strasbourg and Colmar are the largest towns in the Alsace region, so if you don’t want to keep switching accommodations, I recommend staying in one of these two cities. The Grand Hôtel Bristol continues the festive vibes and is conveniently located near the main Christmas market and the Colmar train station.

See Related: Best Day Trips from Strasbourg, France

3. Mulhouse Christmas Market

Snow Filled Christmas Market in Mulhouse, France
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

Mulhouse is another incredible place to visit in Alsace during the Christmas season. The market in Mulhouse takes place in the stunning Place de la Réunion, fronting the Temple Saint-Étienne. Here, you can find many food, drink, and souvenir offerings in quaint wooden chalets.

This beautiful town is famous for its textile production industry, which is highlighted throughout the Mulhouse Christmas Market. Each year, visitors can find a unique fabric pattern designed specifically for the season.

Additionally, the tourist office hosts a variety of events and workshops for Christmas lovers of all ages. These activities include knitting snowflakes, baking traditional biscuits, and making decorations. Many of these activities are free or low-cost. Check the schedule of events here!

Mulhouse is another great base for a Christmas extravaganza. La Maison Hôtel Mulhouse Centre is just a two-minute walk from the market and is not far from other great Mulhouse attractions like the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Mulhouse Historical Museum, and the National Automobile Museum.

4. Riquewihr Christmas Market

With its spot on the official list of the most beautiful villages in France, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more picturesque Alsace Christmas market than the one in Riquewihr. This adorable village is in the heart of the Alsace wine region and is a worthy stop along the famous Alsace wine route.

Don’t let the small size of this village fool you; its unwavering Christmas charm could turn any Grinch into a Christmas devotee in an instant! Riquewihr boasts over 100 individual stalls at its Christmas market, serving up everything from Christmas beer to traditional roasted chestnuts.

Riquewihr is also known for its incredible winemakers, making it the perfect place to sample some cozy mulled wine, which even includes white wine! Many wine cellars throughout the town are also decorated for the Christmas season.

This beautiful village is only a 20-minute drive from Colmar, so the Riquewihr Christmas Market is fantastic to visit as a day trip. However, if you want to stay in a small, authentic village, Riquewihr is hard to beat. The Hôtel De La Couronne is a family-run hotel located in the heart of the village set in an old half-timbered house.

See Related: Things to Do in Beaune, France

5. Ribeauvillé Christmas Market

The Ribeauvillé Medieval Christmas Market is a unique experience in one of the most beautiful villages in France. Whereas most markets in Alsace are all about enjoying food and wine, the Ribeauvillé Christmas Market is a truly immersive experience!

Throughout the market, you’ll find people dressed in medieval attire and all kinds of mesmerizing performances. It’s not uncommon to see jugglers, acrobats, and even fire dancers performing throughout the village’s squares and the Grand Rue.

Visitors can easily identify the many German influences in Ribeauvillé, from the architecture to the food and drinks. While enjoying medieval gourmets like roasted pig and hearty soups, stroll through the market to find unique craft items only found in this region.

This special Christmas market is only held during the first two weekends of December, so make sure to keep a Saturday or Sunday free during your trip. It’s just a 20-minute drive from Colmar or 45 minutes from Strasbourg, so it can easily be done as a day trip along with a stop in Riquewihr.

See Related: Best Cafes in Paris: Brasseries, Pastries, and More!

6. Kaysersberg Christmas Market

With its focus on local farmers and producers, the Kaysersberg Christmas Market gives visitors an authentic taste of the Alsace region. Here, you can find traditional treats like Alsatian wine, bredele (traditional biscuits), kougelhopf (traditional bundt cake), and berawecka (fruit cake).

The Kayserberg Christmas Market is comprised of many wooden chalets surrounded by the stunning backdrop of the Alsatian countryside and castle ruins dating back to the 13th century. Be sure to head over to the Place de la Mairie to check out the special Christmas farmers market, where you can find all sorts of local products, including spiced bread, cheese, and wine.

This Christmas market is open for four weekends every year – typically beginning with the last weekend of November. Kayserberg, Ribeauvillé, and Riquewihr are all in the same general area, so I highly recommend utilizing the Christmas shuttle from Colmar or renting a car to easily travel between these three villages.

7. Eguisheim Christmas Market

Crowd strolling in Eguisheim Christmas Market
Valentin F.R. / Flickr

Eguisheim is incredible to visit any time of year, but it is particularly enchanting during the Christmas season. This gorgeous town absolutely comes alive with bright lights, stunning displays, and just the best Alsatian Christmas vibes.

Aside from Colmar and Strasbourg, I truly believe Eguisheim is one place you absolutely should not miss when visiting Alsace. The village’s concentric alleyways eventually lead to Eguisheim’s main square, where all the big festivities take place.

While the Christmas market is the main attraction in the winter, you should definitely take some time to explore the rest of the town. Up above the town are ruins known as the Three Castles of Eguisheim, which date back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Other things to add to your list include Chapelle Saint-Leon IX, the Unterlinden Museum, and the various wineries throughout the town.

The Eguisheim Christmas Market is open everyday from late November until the end of November, but it does close from December 24th to December 26th. End the day at Hotel SPA Husseren Collections, which is located in the foothills below the Three Castles of Eguisheim and features stunning views of the Alsace region.

See Related: Holiday Celebrations From Around the World

8. Obernai Christmas Market

Obernai Christmas Market in France
Valentin F.R. / Flickr

The Christmas season is the perfect time for foodies to visit France. You can find so many delectable bites that are unique to each region, along with some true French and Swiss classics like raclette cheese, sausage, and baked goods.

The best Christmas market for foodies in Alsace is in Obernai. This market is totally dedicated to gourmands – showcasing more than 40 chalets full of delicious food.

Many stalls are run by chefs and owners of local restaurants. Obernai is also known for its unique mulled wine made with white wine and cozy spices.

In addition to tasty dishes, the Obernai Christmas Market has several vendors selling hand-crafted wooden decorations, Christmas wreaths, and hand-blown Christmas ornaments. It’s truly a special place to explore and is just a short train ride from Strasbourg.

While I recommend Obernai to be visited as a simple day trip from Strasbourg, a night in this town will make you feel like you’re living in a fairytale, especially at Le Parc Hôtel Obernai & Yonaguni Spa. This luxurious hotel perfectly combines a tranquil spa atmosphere with the quaint countryside ambiance of the surrounding Alsace region.

When to Visit Christmas Markets in Alsace

Christmas markets in Alsace are typically open from the last week of November until the last week of December. The main markets are open every day (weather permitting) and are free to enter. Christmas markets in smaller towns may only be open on weekends and may close on the actual Christmas holiday.

Some other European countries start their markets even earlier in November, so make sure to do some research if you’d like to visit ones in Eastern Europe or Germany. Since Alsace is on the German border, adding a German Christmas market or two to your itinerary can be easy to do.

Also, if you love souvenirs, many offer collectible Christmas mugs and cups. They may cost an extra Euro (or two), but they make great keepsakes! If you get a plastic cup and don’t want to keep it, many markets will give you a one Euro refund if you return it to any drink booth.

How to Get to Alsace

Christmas Market Sign in Strasbourg, Alsace
Leonid Andronov / Adobe Stock

By Train

Flying to Paris is the easiest, cheapest, and most convenient way to get to France for most international visitors. From Paris, you can easily take a train from the Paris Gare de l’Est train station. The train from Paris Gare de l’Est to Strasbourg, the unofficial “capital of Christmas,” takes just under two hours.

Regional trains depart often and can be used to visit other towns within the Alsace region, like Colmar and Mulhouse. The two main towns in Alsace are Strasbourg and Colmar, so I suggest basing yourself in one of these towns. Mulhouse is another popular base.

See Related: Riding the Eurostar from Paris to London after Brexit

By Plane

The Alsace region is served by two main airports, the EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg and the Strasbourg Airport. This is convenient if you are visiting from around Europe, but there are no direct flights from outside Europe to these airports.

The two main options are to fly into a larger airport (such as Paris or Frankfurt) and take a train or a connecting flight from a different European airport. Check out Skyscanner to find the best cheap flight deals to France.

By Car

If the primary purpose of your trip is to experience multiple Christmas markets in Alsace, I highly recommend renting a car. This will allow you the most flexibility with your time and itinerary. It’ll also ensure you won’t have to deal with the possibility of public transportation strikes (common in France) and other unforeseen circumstances.

Use RentalCars.com to compare different rental car companies and find the best deal. I also recommend downloading the EasyPark app since many parking lots in the area use it (though traditional payment methods can be used, too). You can easily add more time to your parking meter through the app.

FAQs

Is the Strasbourg Christmas Market worth it?

In one word: absolutely! The Strasbourg Christmas Market is the largest of the Alsatian Christmas Markets in France. It is one of the most famous Christmas markets in Europe and also one of the oldest – dating back to the 1500s!

Which Christmas market is better – Colmar or Strasbourg?

Colmar is slightly smaller, offering cozier vibes and a more traditional feel. The Strasbourg Christmas Market is spread out throughout the city and has a larger variety of stalls and decorations.

Related Resources

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