However, after visiting both, I clearly have a favorite. And it’s a sentiment i’ve heard from a lot of my friends who have also visited both places. If I had to choose between visiting either Colmar or Strasboug at Christmas time, I would choose Colmar every time.
While both cities were all dressed up for Christmas, Colmar just felt more spirited to me. Here’s why:
1) Size: Colmar is quite a bit smaller than Strasbourg, and for that reason, it just seemed cozy. A good majority of the streets were closed to cars, so pedestrians ruled the day! This meant that getting around was so easy, and took relatively little time to travel on foot from market to market. Strasbourg is bigger, and while it was still beautiful, it seemed a bit more impersonal and disconnected to me. People in Colmar just seemed friendlier!
2) Christmas Markets: The Christmas markets in Colmar were just better than those in Strasbourg. I’m not sure why this was, but on the whole the products sold in Colmar seemed more authentic. I found so many items I wanted to buy in Colmar, and had trouble finding anything I wanted to buy in Strasbourg. Strasbourg’s markets had more commercialized items than Colmar. One whole market in Colmar is devoted to home-made crafts, which I found charming. My sister and I chatted with so many “mom and pop” vendors who had honed their craft in their own home.
3) Christmas Activities: I found there to be more holiday activities at your fingertips in Colmar (and maybe this was in part to how accessible everything was!). While both cities have events going on all the time, Colmar’s were just more obvious. They had an ice skating rink, a kids carnival, a Christmas tree market, so many food vendors, and loads of Christmas concerts in the local church a few blocks from our apartment. To be fair, because of the terrorist bombings in Paris, many activities in Strasbourg were shut down.
4) Architecture: Both cities have stunning architecture and quaint buildings, but Colmar seemed a bit more fairy tale like to me. Both cities have canals, timbered houses, and typical Alsatian style, but Colmar was just more colorful. Strasbourg did have some lovely areas, but they were more spread out and just bigger in mass. If you love old churches, Strasbourg has a very impressive cathedral that’s worth seeing.
Essentially, Colmar being a tiny little hamlet just compounded the Christmas spirit in a deeper way. There was So much to do and see (in some ways, even more than Strasbourg!) and I would go back in a heartbeat. This is not to say that Strasbourg is not worth seeing, as it totally is, it just has a bigger city feel that isn’t as cozy.