8 Top Things to do in Riquewihr France

Discover the top things to see and do in Riquewihr. This charming town is enthralling and that for a good reason, and while you are there, make the most of your time with me guide!

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🧭 Where is Riquewihr?

Riquewihr is located in north-eastern France, in the historical region of Alsace, right next to the German border. Alsace is now part of – with the Lorraine and Champagne region – the newly formed administrative region of the Grand Est.

The small fortified town has been around for centuries, right next to other well-known boroughs and right at the center of some of the most precious vineyards in France.

The Vosges mountains create a special climate, which has resulted in top class wine, making the terroir famous for its white wine varieties.

Therefore, Riquewihr and neighboring villages are conveniently located on the Alsace wine route.

The town is also nicknamed the pearl or the gem of the Alsace vineyards.

🏠 Discover the Old Town

The moment you enter the medieval town of Riquewihr, you will get enchanted and find yourself in a colorful setting, between medieval stone walls and vibrantly painted old half-timbered houses.

It is therefore not surprising that Riquewihr has been nominated as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Cobbled roads, fantastic water fountains, old roman artifacts, wine barrels and plenty of flowers – the old town is filled with small details and things to discover. The unique atmosphere will surely impress you!

You can enter Riquewihr from the main gate, the old hotel de ville, a neoclassical building turned into the city hall with a large open entry arch.

Walking the main road to the Hotel de Ville Riquewihr
Walking the main road to the Hotel de Ville
Old Town of Riquewihr
Old Town

From here you can walk up the main street of riquewihr, known as the Rue du général de Gaulle, to the Dolder tower. Smaller inner side streets take you to more secluded but equally charming corners of the fortified Alsatian village.

13th and 16th century rampart walls partially enclose the city, which was then financed thanks to the prosperity of the village winemakers and growers. The fortifications kept enemies out and the inhabitants safe!

Look out for the following picturesque buildings and sites or join a private Riquewihr walking tour:

Riquewihr in Alsace
Sainte-Marguerite Protestant Church

⛪️ Dolder Tower

The Dolder tower is one of the most recognized landmarks in Riquewihr, you just can’t miss it! Ironically, this town and its tower inspired fairy tales and the Beauty and the Beast creators.

Situated at the end of Riquewihr’s main street, the rue du général de Gaulle, lies this tower, which was used as a town’s gate, fortification watchtower and belfry.

Today, this impressive building has been turned into a museum, that talks about the defense strategies of the tower and communal use as a fire and night watch tower.

You can climb the tight hallway stairs to the 4th level to get the most stunning view of Riquewihr and to get a glimpse of the rooftops of the Alsatian houses. This is the town’s highest point.

Dolder Tower and Museum
Dolder Tower and Museum

The museum itself charts the history of the fortified town across the ages. Level one talks about the building evolution of Riquewihr’s half-timbered houses with fortification. You will find a weapons exhibition on the second level and the third level is the watchmen’s quarters.

You can visit the Dolder tower daily in the peak season from 10:30 am to 01:00 pm as well as from 02:00 pm to 06:00 pm. In the off season, they open their doors only at weekends and on holidays.

Entry is for adults is just €3 and kids up to 15 years of age go in for free. You can also get a 2 in one ticket (Dolder museum with the nearby Thieves’ Tower) for just €7.

Unfortunately, this tower is not built accessible for wheelchair users.

Colorful houses in Riquewihr
rue du général de Gaulle

🏰 Thieves’ Tower

The tower museum of thieves, which is better known as the Tour des voleurs in French, served as a prison for criminals and as an effective keep during medieval times.

It’s located right near the Dolder Tower, down the Rue des Juifs (Jewish road). You will recognize it thanks to its octagonal outer shape.

Riquewihr served as an administrative seigniorial justice center for the area. The lordship’s law and order was taking place in this small fortified village.

That means this tower was used as a prison and it also contains chilling torture rooms. The exhibitions elaborate on medieval justice, and you can see the rooms as they were then, including torture devices and all variations of tools to hurt the human body.

You will also come across the maison des vigneron (the house of the wine growers) here. That includes a wine barrel work shop and a wine cellar (without wine) with a recreated space that will show you how people lived back in medieval times.

This makes for an informative tour, and you should visit this place if you want to learn more about the European Middle Ages or if you are a history buff, just like my wife.

Plan to spend about 30 minutes in the thieves’ tower, and they are open from 10:30 am to 01:00 pm as well as from 02:00 pm to 06:00 pm daily.

Entry for adults is €5 and kids up to 15 years of age go in for free. Keep in mind that the tower isn’t accessible for wheelchair users, as these are old buildings with plenty of steps.

Outer Walls of Riquewihr near the Dolder
Outer Walls of Riquewihr near the Dolder

🍷 Wine Tasting Cellars

When in Riquewihr, drink wine! The village is clearly a wine heaven made for all connoisseurs and those who strive to become one.

Before you even enter the town, you will be greeted by vineyards and, of course, Riquewihr is not isolated, as the vineyards sprawl to the surrounding villages.

Visitors can take part in a winegrower tour or a wine tasting session. Some of the most notable domains are:

Look out to buy local wine varieties such as the classic dry Riesling, the neutral Pinot Gris, the aromatic Gewürztraminer and the sweet Muscat.

Traditional wine glass with green stem and pottery jug in Alsace
Traditional wine glass with green stem and pottery jug in Alsace
Green grape variety on a vineyard in Riquewihr Alsace
Green grape variety on a vineyard in Riquewihr Alsace

⭐️ Experience Christmas and Grocery Market

One of the key experiences is to visit the region during Christmastime for the town’s Christmas markets. Riquewihr hosts one of the most charming Christmas markets, right at the entry of the village next to the town hall.

The Riquewihr Christmas market season starts at the end of November and lasts until the 24th of December. During that period, the magic of Christmas unfolds, and you can expect picturesque Christmas decorations lightning up the charming little town.

You can purchase handmade Christmas ornaments, crystal baubles, gifts, wooden toys, and typical handmade specialties from the region.

Alsace is known for its unique green stemmed wine glasses and earthenware jugs. Furthermore, the French Dutch oven maker Staub is originally from Alsace, so Dutch ovens of all sizes can be purchased here.

Christmas food is, of course, another reason why you will want to take a relaxed stroll through the Christmas market. Look out for roasted almonds and chestnuts, Glühwein mulled wine, cookies such as Lebkuchen Gingerbread and Spritz.

Feerie de Noel
Feerie de Noel

If you can’t make it for Christmas, make a stop at Riquewihr’s own Christmas shop, the Feerie de Noel, right opposite the Dolder belfry tower. Here you can purchase every Christmas goodie, all year round!

During the rest of the year you will also find a local grocery market at the place of the Christmas market. Small Alsatian food producers and artisans open up their little stores, and you can chat with them, and they will give you the best recommendations, while you get to buy quality french foods.

The grocery market takes place every Friday, from 8 am in the morning to noon and the earlier you come, the better the choice of foods!

Tip: Look out for Mirabelle plums in August in the grocery market. These small yellow plums are just divine!

Artisanal store Riquewihr
Artisanal store

🚶‍♂️ Hiking Trails and Cycling Routes

Since the village is literally surrounded by vineyards, it makes it easy for you to discover and take in the beauty of the area.

One of the easiest trails is the Riquewihr Wine Trail. This 2.6 miles (ca. 4 kilometers) long loop is relative simple, without many elevations, and it’s partially paved. You get some lovely views while moving right through the vineyards. You will want to take some pictures here!

Walk or cycle to the Château de Reichenstein, a castle ruin near Riquewihr. This is a 30 minute slightly elevated, but easy walk or a 20-minute cycling tour.

Another equally interesting castle ruin can be found in the Bilstein valley. A hike to the Bilstein ruin can take 2 hours, and you will also find some convent ruins up there. You can come back to Riquewihr via Hunawihr, an equally pretty village.

If you are looking for a more challenging circle, than you might want to do the Roche du Tetras loop trail. A steady incline awaits you through the Ballons des Vosges Regional Nature Park on this 10 miles (ca. 16 kilometers) long hike.

Outer walls of Riquewihr with vineyard to the right
Outer walls of Riquewihr with vineyard to the right

Tips for the Area:

  • Most places are very well indicated, just look out for signboards
  • Be aware of ticks in forests. Those pesky creatures are common in the area.
  • You can hire an e-bike to get around effortlessly, and I think that’s the best way to get discover more!

🍲 Eat Local Food Specialties

You can’t possibly come to Alsace and Riquewihr without trying some local food specialties.

The region is known for Sauerkraut (called Choucroute), Lebkuchen, Tarte Flambé, Foie Gras (good or duck liver), Kugelhopf (bundt cake) Escargots à l’Alsacienne (snails) and much more.

For an authentic atmosphere with good food and service, I can recommend the Restaurant Le Manala. The Au Dolder is also known for excellent Sauerkraut.

Manala Restaurant in Riquewihr
Manala Restaurant

For local pastries, look out for the Au Petit Delicé, but our personal favorite was the Kouglopf and Cie Bakery.

If you are seeking a place away from other tourists and the busy main road, then I can recommend the Restaurant La Grenouille. The people working there are full of good humor, and they are so very helpful!

Choucroute Alsatian Sauerkraut sold in Jar
Choucroute Alsatian Sauerkraut sold in Jars
Restaurant Menu prices in Riquewihr
Restaurant Menu prices

🏫 Visit Nearby Towns

Riquewihr is one of the charming little towns in the region but not the only one that you should add to your bucket list. Add the following towns to your itinerary.

  • Ribeauvillé – Colorful quaint elongated town. You can hike to the castle ruins on the nearby hills.
  • Hunawihr – A lesser known tiny village, known for its vineyards, legendary fountain and church on the hill.
  • Kaysersberg-Vignoble – Good vibes await you also in this village and a good selection of unique boutiques.
  • Colmar – The center of it all, Colmar is the administrative city and undisputed gem, which you simply can’t skip!
  • Eguisheim – A town built in a circling loop with tight cobblestone passages. Enchanting in its own right.
Hunawihr vineyard with church
Hunawihr vineyard with church
Keysersberg-Vignoble in Alsace
Kaysersberg-Vignoble in Alsace
Eguisheim in Alsace
Eguisheim in Alsace

🚗 Getting There & Parking

The easiest way to access Riquewihr is by car and the next best way is by public transport.

By Car

We got there conveniently by car and I highly recommend visiting during the morning hours if you intend to visit during peak season to get a spot without hassle.

A large designated parking area can be found to the northern city walls right between the town and the vineyards.

The charges are not that cheap and the machines are a bit of a hassle, as you have to type in your number plate, but you can’t be picky with parking spots in these old towns.

TownDistanceTraveling Time
Colmar10 miles (ca. 16 kilometers)about 25 minutes
Mulhouse34 miles (ca. 55 kilometers)about 50 minutes
Strasbourg45 miles (ca. 72 kilometers)about 60 minutes
Typical medieval house in Riquewihr
Typical medieval house
Rue du général de Gaulle Riquewihr
Rue du général de Gaulle

By Public Transport

The region Grand Est (the new French region with Alsace included) has a great public transport website to check connections, timing, and prices. It’s called Fluo, and it shows bus and train connections in English.

TownInfoTraveling Time
ColmarThe cost is €5 and you can get direct buses.about 40 minutes
MulhouseYou will have to take a trian from Mulhouse to Colmar and then continue by bus from Colmar to Riquewihr.about 1 hour 40 minutes
StrasbourgTake the train from Strasbourg to Colmar and then the bus to Riquewihr.about 1 hour 30 minutes

You can grab a regular bus from Colmar to Riquewihr or the special tourist bus Kutzig, which starts off from the tourism office in Colmar. The Kutzig bus is only operational from April to October. That same bus can take you to other villages along the Alsace wine route.

Kouglopf & Cie Bakery House with the Well
Kouglopf & Cie Bakery House with the Well

🛏️ Accommodations in Riquewihr

Imagine waking up in a fairy tale village. Wouldn’t that be a dream come true?

You can make this happen by booking a night or more in one of the hotels in the historical old town. Most hotels are traditionally family run inns, but you can also get a room in a three or four-star establishment.

BEST Hotels:

Hôtel De La Couronne in Riquewihr
Hôtel De La Couronne
Riquewihr with vineyards at the back
Riquewihr with vineyards at the back

BEST apartments:

💭 FAQs

How long does it take to see Riquewihr?

Plan at least 1 hour to stroll around and enjoy Riquewihr. To make the most of your trip, spend a morning, an afternoon, or an evening there.

When is the best time to visit for fewer crowds?

The peak season in Riquewihr is during the summer months, July and August, and in December during Christmastime. During that period, it can get really packed at 10 am already because tour bus groups fill up the small roads within minutes. Therefore, the best time to visit outside peak season. May and June are great in spring, but the prime season on your calendar should be September and October because that’s when the wine harvest starts, and you really don’t want to miss that! For the least possible people, to literally see the town with just locals and no tourists, and colorful houses, come in January or February.

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