Located in eastern France, the Alsace region (formally known as Grand Est) is home to world-class vineyards, fairytale villages, and dramatic castles that once kept guard over this historically volatile area. (The prevalence of gated and walled towns also hints at a history of conflict.) Over the centuries, it has been both German and French, and this blending of Gothic and Latin cultures has led to a uniquely Alsatian identity.
Today, Alsace’s traditional imagery- the bretzel, the beloved Alsatian crane, the vineyards on the rolling mountainsides of the Vosges- conjure up a sense of a slower, bucolic pace of life. In warmer months, it’s a place for cyclists, hikers, and oenophiles; in winter, it shines as a hub of European Christmas markets.
There’s plenty more to see in Alsace beyond those places included on this list, but for a first-time visitor, these are your must-sees!