Day trips from Strasbourg
If you're looking for some extra sightseeing during your stay in Strasbourg, you should definitely take some time and explore the Alsace region with its fortified medieval towns, charming villages, breathtaking nature sights, incredible gastronomy and other interesting features. One way you could very easy discover all attributes of Alsace is by car - just driving around the countryside, wandering around enchanting villages and enjoying in local architecture, history or food will make your tour unforgettable. On the other hand, if you're passionate about nature and prefer more active sightseeing, the best way you could get full pleasure from Alsace is by bike (there are few bike-rental agencies in Strasbourg that could also provide you with detailed bike maps for tours). Although Alsace is the smallest French region, it has the longest bicycle tracks that are appropriate for bikers of all ages and physical strength.
Of many picturesque towns in Alsace, you should specially devote your time to discover countless magical marks of Colmar, a town that is called Little Venice due to its enchanting canals and bridges loaded with colorful flowers. Colmar is also famous as a birthplace of Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, world known French sculptor who created the Statue of Liberty. His museum is a must-see local attraction. Some other Alsace villages you shouldn't miss are Saverne (visit the castle, the botanic garden, the river port or dine at one of the traditional restaurants), Bouxwiller (small and very picturesque village, home of the Alsace Jew Museum), Hagenau (visit the castle that was favorite residence of Frederick I Barbarossa Redbeard), Riquewihr (famous for its wine cellars), Soufflenheim (industrial tow famous for its ceramic workshops which produce typically Alsatian ceramics with floral decoration), Kayserberg (birthplace of famous missionary doctor Albert Schweitzer and home of a museum dedicated to his legacy), Molsheim, Obernai, Barr, Selestat, etc.
Alsace is the European region with the greatest number of medieval feudal castles - more than 400 of them have been discovered to this day. Although most of them are ruined, they tell a story of turbulent history of the province. Castles that are essential for the full Alsace experience are Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, Castle of Wangenbourg , Castle of Petit Arnsbourg (Obersteinbach), Fort Mutzig (the most biggest fort built prior to First World War), etc. Also, one of the most interesting historical sights in Alsace is placed on the top of the mountain St Odile and is known as the Misterious Pagan Wall.
As for its charming villages, Alsace is also famous for its untouched nature. The best place one can enjoy in Alsatian natural history is the Natural Park Vosges du Nord located in the northern part of the Vosges massif and designated by UNESCO as one of the biosphere's world reserves. The most amazing features of the park are sandstone crusts that were carved by erosion to strange shapes reminiscent of towers, giant mushrooms or huge arches. As more than 60% of the Park is covered by deep forests, various activities (hikes, riding tours, bike tours, courses in nature discovery, themed excursions, etc.) enable visitors to discover local flora and fauna and to get an insight into the lifestyle of the region. The Park Information Center (Maison du Parc) is situated at the Chateux de la Petite-Pierre.
If you visit Strasbourg during the winter, you shouldn't neglect the fact that Vosges presents one of the best skiing resorts in France. Downhill skiers have 170 lifts to choose from ad many stations are equipped with snow-making machines and lightning for night time skiing, notably Gerardmer, La Bresse, Le Markstein and Lac Blanc. For all the information and reservations, contact local tourist offices or log on to www.skifrance.fr for the latest update on snow conditions and accommodation opportunities.
As Alsace is France's third most important wine making region (after Bordeaux and Burgundy) and has been producing wine uninterruptedly since about the year 300 AD, one of the most visited tourist feature of the region is its famous Wine Road (Route du Vin). This 170 km long road begins at the collegiate church of a small town called Thann and winds through the Vosges Mountain on the north of the region. The cellars of the winegrowers situated alongside the Wine Road are open to everyone who wants to take a chance and taste some of the best French wines such as Rieslig, Gewurztraminer, Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Tokay Pinot Gris, Muscat Alsace etc.
If you want to know more about winegrowing in Alsace, you can visit The Vineyard and Wine Museum of Alsace situated in the famous Kientzheim castle in Colmar. As for its wines, due to the close impact of German culture, Alsace is very famous for its brewery and beers as well. Few breweries in the Alsace region offer visits to tourists, with preliminary booking required (Heineken brewery in Schiltigheim, Kronenbourg brewery in Strasbourg and Schutzenberger brewery in Schiltigheim Cedex).
If you want to discover Alsace with your family, there are numerous sights and activities that you could enjoy in together with your children. For example, there are few safari parks in Alsace that are beautifully landscaped and provide a full time family fun - Les Naiades Park in Ottrott, Cigoland in Kintzheim (dedicated to storks, symbol of Alsace region), Monkey Mountain in Kintzheim, Zoological Park in Mulhouse, Park of Butterflies in Hunawihr, Fantasialand in Hagenau and Vivarium du Moulin in Lautenbach Zell. Due to many lakes, streams and canals that stretch throughout Alsace, there are many places visitors can enjoy water - swimming center Nautiland in Hagenau and swimming pool in Saverne are just some of them.
If you're looking for the real Alsace tradition, visit the Écomusée D'Alsace, open-air museum that consists of some 50 traditional old houses scattered over an area of almost 25ha. This houses that date from 15 th to 19 th century and were planned to be demolished, were patiently located all over Alsace and the carefully taken apart and rebuilt in the new village. The Museum is situated in Ungersheim.
But if you're looking for ultimate family fun, you will have to get out of Alsace and go to a nearby German town Rust (it's one-hour ride from Strasbourg) and visit Europa Park, one of the biggest European amusement parks.