Alsace: what to do, what to see...

What are the things you just have to see, do, and taste while you’re in Alsace? From Strasbourg’s Petite France to the little Venice (Colmar), and on to the vineyards and bars, this list is far from exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start.

Not to miss sights in Alsace

• Notre Dame Cathedral and the Petite France district in Strasbourg

A masterpiece of Gothic art, in pink sandstone lace, the cathedral soars above the roofs of Petite France, with its cobbled streets and picturesque canals, inviting you to stroll.

• The old town of Eguisheim on the Alsace Wine Route

This typical Alsatian small town awaits for you to wander in the heart of the ramparts, in a maze of alleys lined with old half-timbered houses.

• The village of Kaysersberg

Elected the favorite village of France in 2017, you'll see why when you walk along its fortified bridge and through its medieval streets that lead up to the castle.

• The Railway Museum and the Cité de l'Automobile in Mulhouse

By visiting these two Alsatian museums, you get a peek into the epic history of transportation, from the first locomotives to today's high-speed transit and the most beautiful car brands in the world: Bugatti, Mercedes, Rolls-Royce and more.

• Colmar, little Venice

Capital of Alsatian wines, Colmar is queen of the water too, home to dozens of Venetian-style canal snaking around the half-timbered houses.

• The humanist library of Sélestat

The building designed by Rudy Ricciotti serves as a showcase for the outstanding collection of the humanist Beatus Rhenanus collection, composed of medieval manuscripts and documents of the fifteenth and sixteenth century.

• Unterlinden Museum of Comar

This former convent, now a museum houses works of art from the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, including the famous Isenheim altarpiece.

• The Lalique Museum in Wingen-sur-Moder

The glass creations in all their splendor—the museum depicts the delicate art of René Lalique from the 1920s, like chandeliers, perfume bottles and vases.

• The pretty city of Mosheim

At the foot of the vineyards, the old university town has preserved some amazing buildings, such as the large church of the Jesuits, the Carthusian monastery and a butcher shop from the Renaissance.

Not to miss sights in Lorraine

• The Pompidou-Metz Center in Metz

This very contemporary building houses works among the most beautiful of modern art, drawn from Centre Pompidou collection in Paris.

• The citadel of Belfort

Built between the 17th and 19th centuries, this imposing fortified town, partly designed by Vauban, overlooks the lovely city of Belfort.

• Place Stanislas in Nancy

Bearing the name of the King of Poland, the square was built in the 18th century and connects two neighborhoods, the old town and the medieval town. Place Sanislas is a perfect example of French classicism, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Things to do in Alsace

• Ride the giant zip line in the Brumath Forest

Guaranteed thrills with this zip line along the water's edge! The other zip line courses in this forest suspend you in a forest of oaks and beeches.

• Tour the historic sites of the Great War

The "Historial de la guerre from 14-18" memorial traces the tragic events of WWI all the way to the summit of the Hartmannwillerkopf massif, nicknamed the Mountain of Death by the soldiers.

• Take off the barefoot trail of Lac Blanc

If you've ever dreamed of running barefoot through the forest, this is the place for you. On a 1.2 kilometer (0.7 mile) long course, you can fly over a variety of landscapes: stones, wood, bark, slabs, sand, fir cones, creeks—all on foot!

• Breathe in the perfume of anise and cinnamon at the Christmas market in Strasbourg

Held since 1570, these 300 small cottages hold everything that creates the magic of Christmas: confections, decorations, gingerbread, traditional crafts, toys and anything else you can think of!

• Play knight at the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle

To visit this castle is to dive into the Middle Ages. This ancient fortress 800 meters (2,400 feet) above the plain of Alsace has been fully restored in the spirit of the 12th century.

• Take the reins of a horse-drawn carriage and explore the Ried

On 2000 hectacres (almost 5000 acres), the Ried is a rich nature reserve of swamps and forests. Discover it all the old-fashioned way, by carriage drawn by draft horses.

• Treat yourself to a gastronomic moment in one of the Michelin-starred restaurants

Alsace is a land of great chefs. Some 30 Michelin-starred restaurants populate the region, such as L'Auberge de l'Ill in Illhaeusern, Bistrot des Saveurs in Obernai, Painter's Workshop in Colmar, Le Kasbür in Saverne, and many more.

• Dine in the vineyards at Philippe Sohler Estate

An unforgettable experience in the heart of the vineyards, this is the ideal spot for an al fresco dinner, where you can taste great wines paired with the excellent dishes.

• Cross the winter and the Munster Valley with sled dogs

Nothing is more invigorating than crossing the snow-covered forests of the Vosges, pulled by a team of dogs. Live out this mountainous fantasy at the Ballon d'Alsace, at the foot of Black Lake or at the Platzerwasel pass.

• Approach the Barbary macaques at La Montage des Singes (Monkey Mountain)

In a forest of 24 hectares (59 acres), the monkeys play freely, as if their rainforest home was transported to Alsace. The reserve offers guides to explain everything about the macaques' odd, but also familiar, behavior.

• Visit the Christmas markets

Alsace knows how to do Christmas, and the traditional markets are the highlight. Those of Strasbourg, Colmar and Mulhouse are the most known, but the countryside ones in Ribeauvillé, Eguisheim, Hunspach, Rosheim have their own rustic charm.

The must-do activities in Lorraine

• Follow the bison on safari in Petit Réderching

Originating in the United States, these bison are raised in freedom in the heart of Bitche, in a ranch sprawling over 103 ha (254 acres) of pastures.

• Get fresh ideas in Vittel and Contrexéville

These spa towns of the Vosges spring with water to help your health, providing well-being in a Belle Epoque atmosphere.

• Enjoy Lake Gerardmer

In the summer: paddle, row, sail and swim. In winter, this is Alsace's capital of skiing on 100 kilometers (70 miles) of Nordic trails connected to the area of Xonrupt and La Bresse.

• Relive the Battle of Verdun

Symbol of WWI, Verdun is an emotional site: its memorial, its ossuary, its underground citadel, its World Center of Peace all urge visitors never to forget the violence of this conflict.

Getting to Alsace