Mountains, vineyards, the mighty river Rhine and some of the most-beautiful villages in France make Alsace a tempting place for a camping or glamping holiday.
At the very heart of Europe, this region in north-east France has an identity all of its own with German accents detectable in more than just the language. The half-timbered buildings, the Reisling wine and the legendary Strasbourg Christmas market combine with French châteaux, culinary heritage and amazing outdoor destinations to make this part of France a true one-off. Situated between the Rhine valley in the east and the Vosges mountains in the west, it’s no surprise that there are some great camping and glamping sites in Alsace. Whether you want to pitch up and visit vineyards in the summer, or find a cosy cabin for a spot of winter glamping, Alsace will have a site to suit you so pack up the car and hit the road. And don’t forget the corkscrew!
Between the Vosges mountains and the Rhine river, Alsace in north-east France is a great place for camping and glamping. The natural beauty of the area gives its campsites beautiful backdrops and offer activities for campers from hiking in summer to skiing in winter. There are woodlands and meadows lining river banks and hillsides but human influence has shaped the landscape too. Alsace vineyards, and the wine produced from them, are another of its big attractions. And nestled among them are some of the most beautiful villages in France – great places to visit during a camping or glamping holiday in the region. There’s also Colmar with its canal-side, timbered buildings and bustling Strasbourg, with its gothic cathedral, as well as dozens of museums and historic sites.
Alsace is situated at the heart of Europe and if you fancy an international day trip during your holiday you can nip across the border to visit Basel in neighbouring Switzerland or spend a day in Germany’s Black Forest. While German influences in Alsatian culture are obvious, the campsites here are definitely French in flavour with facilities and services that French sites are famous for. If you’re looking for the best campsites in Alsace you’ve come to the right place. Whether it’s camping or glamping you’re looking for; riverside or mountain-side, summer or winter, Alsace is a great year-round destination.
The varied landscapes of Alsace mean you can find campsites with mountain views, campsites near vineyards, riverside sites and even campsites close to Strasbourg. Campers who like to pitch their own tents are well catered for and will find that French campsites will usually leave you wanting for nothing. Here at Hipcamp we usually like smaller, independently-run places over the commercial big-brand sites – but, small or large, French campsites tend to have more facilities than we’re used to in the UK. There’s often a swimming pool and sports courts or facilities; at the very least you can expect table tennis and/or petanque (French boules). The French love their boulangerie and you will probably be able to order in baguettes and croissants for daily delivery on site.
France is undoubtedly the easiest European destination to get to for a camping holiday. You can simply pack up the car, hop on a ferry and drive yourself to your perfect pitch. It’s great value too and, compared to jetting to the other side of the world, relatively eco-friendly. While Alsace is a great destination for any type of holiday, we think it’s incredible natural scenery makes it particularly suited for camping – whether you take your tent on a tour of the wine route or set up on a site for the whole summer.
With Alsace such a great year-round destination, it’s no wonder that campsites offer places to stay that are a little cosier than your average tent. If you’re hoping to visit the Christmas markets of Strasbourg, or the towns and villages of the Alsace, what could be more festive than a stay in a cosy wooden cabin or a gypsy caravan (roulotte) with a log burner? Thankfully, Alsace camping and glamping sites do a great line in these types of places. Of course, they are not only there for the winter and they also offer great bases for summer breaks too. In addition to cabins and chalets, there are luxury tents including safari tents, yurts and bell tents available to hire which can be nice options in the summer months as they are closer to classic camping.
With a glamping holiday you won’t have to pack so much and won’t have to worry about pitching your tent after a long journey and taking it down at the end of the holiday. Your accommodation will be set up, ready and waiting for your arrival and there are varying levels of luxury available. You might want to choose somewhere that simply takes the hassle of pitching a tent out of the holiday, or you may want somewhere that’s more like a hotel – with a private bathroom, fluffy towels provided and maybe even a hot tub.
The Alsace region is a long narrow strip covering 190km (just under 120 miles) on the north-east side of France, bordering Germany and Switzerland. It’s this situation on the cross-roads between countries that has given it such a unique identity. It may now be the place where Europe is united in the European Parliament (or at least some of it is, some of the time) but it’s border country and has changed hands between France and Germany more times than most Alsatians care to remember: most recently during the Second World War. Since 2016, when France, redrew the internal borders of its administrative areas, Alsace has been part of Grand-Est, tying it to the neighbouring regions of Champagne-Ardennes and Lorraine. Just 50km (or 30 miles across) it is made up of two departments (or counties): the Haut Rhin or Upper Rhine and the Bas Rhin, the Lower Rhine.
The Upper Rhine Valley is the southern part of the region, closest to the river’s source in the Swiss Alps.The capital of the Upper Rhine is the small and attractive town of Colmar. It has cobbled streets and cheerfully-painted medieval timbered buildings around a series of town-centre canals and is a must-see destination for visitors to the area. Unsurprisingly it’s known as the “Venice of France”, and like that destination it heaves with the number of tourists in the summer months – but you’ll probably want to join them as its picturesque streets have to be seen to be believed. Colmar shares its charm with the villages of Eguisheim, Riquewihr and Ribeauville: three of the many villages in this wine-producing region which can be visited on the Alsace Wine Route. The fairy-tale beauty of these villages will have you reaching for the camera at every turn and is as charming in winter when Christmas markets take up residence as in summer when hanging baskets and floral displays are in full bloom.
Although Colmar is the capital, Mulhouse is the Upper Rhine’s largest city. More industrial than pretty Colmar, it is home to two of the world’s largest transport museums: the Musée National de l’Automobile and the Musée Français du Chemin (dedicated to cars and railways, respectively). If the type of transport you favour is on two feet (or even two wheels) then head for the Ballons des Vosges Regional Natural Park. This protected park includes the Southern Vosges Mountains: two thirds of it is forested but there are also wetlands, lakes and farmland and hundreds of hiking trails and places to visit on days out from your campsite. You might like to call in to a farmhouse inn for a lunch of local produce from the area including its Munster cheese.
It’s almost impossible to run out of walking routes in the Vosges mountains as there’s a total of 18,000km of footpaths (that’s more than 11,000 miles) across Alsace. In the Lower Rhine area, another regional park, the North Vosges Natural Regional Park offers more space for hiking, mountain biking and generally enjoying the great outdoors. Rolling hills, lakes and yet more woodland characterise this area and it’s known for its wildlife including deer and lynx.
To the east, the Lower Rhine is still wine-country with yet more vineyards which can be visited as part of a tour of the wine route or in isolation. The wine towns of Obernai and Barr also feature on the route and have typically Alsatian, brightly-coloured, timbered buildings. The capital of the region is Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament, and renowned for its gothic cathedral, its Petit France quarter and its Christmas market in December. Outside the city are yet more attractions: the hilltop Château de Haut-Koenigsbourg, for one, a re-built 12thcentury castle in the Vosges which can make a great rainy-day activity during camping holidays in Alsace.
The Alsace Wine Route can make the basis of a great touring holiday if you are travelling by car, campervan or on two wheels. You can pitch up or park up at campsites along the way giving you the chance to see more of this region of France – and, of course, try more of its wine. The 170km-route was launched in 1953 and is said to be one of the oldest wine routes in France. Wine has been produced in Alsace since Roman times so they know a thing or two about it. If you don’t know your muscat from your gewürztraminer, now’s your chance to find out. It’s almost exclusively white wines in the German tradition that are produced here and calling in to wine cellars on the route will give you the chance to find out how the subtle differences between grape varieties and processes affect the resulting wines.
The wine route takes you through the vineyards in lower slopes of the Vosges mountains visiting towns and villages in the Lower and upper Rhine. It’s a great way to see the towns and villages whose fortunes are tied to wine production including canal-side Colmar, the oldest medieval village in Alsace – Ribeauville and picturesque Riquewihr. Between April and October, villages along the route hold harvest festivals to celebrate their crops.
Here at Hipcamp we salute those who like pitching a tent in all seasons, whatever the weather. In our opinion, if you’ve got the gear, camping can be as good on frosty mornings as on balmy ones. There’s something quite magical about emerging from your snug canvas cocoon to find the grass around you has frozen while you slept soundly. On the flipside, there’s not much worse than a sleepless night because you’ve only got a light summer sleeping bag so do as any good scout would advise and go prepared.
Alsace is an amazing destination in the winter months and with campsites that are open all year, there’s no reason not to try a winter camping getaway. Still not convinced? Okay – there’s always glamping and, while we have a soft spot for traditional camping in tents, we have to admit there’s something quite tempting about booking in to a log cabin for a winter getaway where you can curl up next to the log burner. If you’re looking for glamping near Christmas markets, look no further than Alsace. There’s the famous Christmas market in Strasbourg, one of Europe’s oldest, and smaller ones in Colmar, Mulhouse, Obernai and some of the villages. If you go glamping or camping in Alsace when there’s snow, you’ll be able to feast your eyes on the Christmas-card scenes in the timbered villages and to head in to the foothills of the Vosges for winter activities from skiing to sledging and snowshoeing.
Fancy combining a camping holiday with visiting some vineyards? Take a look at our guide to the best campsites in Alsace. Camp at the foot of vineyards, in a site where campervans and caravans are welcome. If that’s not your thing, we have a selection of riverside and woodland campsites, family-friendly sites and glamping spots.