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Best things to do in Besancon

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Where in the world: Europe  /  France  /  Bourgogne-Franche-Comte  /  Doubs  /  Besancon

Top 15 things to do in Besancon

1. Citadel of Besançon

Well preserved since its construction in 1668, Citadel of Besançon is the most visited monument in the region, in part because architect Vauban's masterpiece now houses three large museums and the Vauban center. Fortifications on 11 hectares (27 acres) are more than 100 m (328 ft) above the old city at the River Doubs' loop. Encircled by ramparts, the site has many walkways you can access with watchtowers, turrets, and walls that rise up to 20 m (65 ft) and are 6 m (20 ft) thick. You can stroll the rampart walks for spectacular views of the old town, the river, and surrounding hills.

Audio tours in English are available for the Museum of Resistance and Deportation and the Vauban Center. A discovery tour in English describes the citadel, and an actor-led tour in French allows you to discover the citadel with a local dressed up in period costume. If you prefer a self-guided tour, a free booklet with a map and a discovery booklet for 7-11-year-old children are available at the welcome center. You can dine at the on-site restaurant or your choice of two snack bars.

The Museum of Resistance and Deportation fills twenty rooms on two floors with photographs, texts, original documents, and military equipment related to World War II. During the occupation, a firing squad shot a hundred French resistance fighters at this location--making this is a poignant place for the museum and the outdoor memorial. Many documents are frail and not available to the public, but you can access 160 works of Léon Delarbre and Jean Daligault using the interactive terminal in room 15.

The Museum of Natural History has more animal species than any other zoo in France. Six areas include the zoo, small farm, aquarium, insectarium, noctarium, and the evolution trail. The noctarium reverses day and night so that you can watch nocturnal animals, and the zoo holds two endangered species of big cats, the Asian lion and the Siberian Tiger, 20 species of primates, and 30 species of exotic birds. Not only will you be entertained by these collections, you will also discover the museum's three objectives: research, education, and conservation of endangered animal species.

The Musée Comtois focuses on the cultural and heritage identity through its 16 showrooms on three levels, describing the art and popular traditions of Franche-Comté inhabitants' daily life in the 19th and 20th centuries. Four main themes for you to explore include regional food, entertainment, thought, and work. The museum also has a large photographic collection of regional ethnography and a scale model of the entire citadel.

Vauban Center (Espace Vauban) explores the life and work of military architect Vauban, as well as important places and people including Louis XIV and Molière. Four exhibits describe Vauban, the wars for control of the Franche-Comté, and the musketeers at the citadel. A 10-minanimated film takes you on a journey through the 30-year construction of the 17th century citadel.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
Learn more about Citadel of Besançon

2. Room Escape Games

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Learn more about Room Escape Games

3. Little Venice, Colmar

Criss-crossed by the canals of the River Lauch, Little Venice formerly served as the butcher's, tanner's, and fisherman's quarter. Originally a rural wine-producing community, commercial gardeners and fishermen inhabited the canal area, which is now the city center of the small town. You can charter a romantic boat to float around the canals and gain a picturesque perspective of the half-timbered houses.
Suggested duration: 4 hours
Tours from $22 › Learn more about Little Venice

4. Self-Guided and Interactive City Tour - Colmar

FROM $69
Explore the city with family and friends, let our application guide you! Discover its buildings, heroes, legends and secrets. Play together! Navigate through the city, take quizzes and observation challenges. Your answers will unlock 6 specially selected local Alsatian surprises from the backpack! PRICE PER GROUP! Share 1 pack containing 6 surprises. All group members can download the app. Totally FLEXIBLE: take a break when you want (museums, restaurants, shopping...) then continue exploring the city! Take the tour whenever you want! The pack can be picked up at the Colmar tourist office, open every day: Monday to Saturday 09:00 - 18:00 Sunday/Holiday 10:00 - 13:00 Audioguide included! Read the texts or listen to the audio commentary. Offline mode included! Take the tour without internet connection after unlocking the application with your email and password. It is possible to download the audio commentaries before the tour so that they are available without internet access in the city. You will receive the application password on the Viator/Tripadvisor messaging system as well as via SMS/Whatsapp. (If you would like several backpacks, please make several bookings) A cultural, innovative and fun experience!
Suggested duration: 2h 30min
Tours from $69 › More about this tour at viator.com ›
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5. Musee National de l’Automobile – Collection Schlumpf, Mulhouse

Calling all car enthusiasts! Musee National de l’Automobile – Collection Schlumpf is the largest museum of automobiles in the world with 500 vehicles, including 464 cars from 98 different makers. This one-of-a-kind museum also boasts the famous Fritz Schlumf collection, which dates from 1878 to the present day, as well as the largest collection of Bugattis in the world. The museum itself is located in an old 1880s mill. Founded by two Swiss-born brothers, Fritz and Hans Schlumpf, the collection gained its first acquisition back in the early 1940s during the second World War. The brothers continued to build their collection over the years, and it wasn’t until 1977 that the public became aware of the collection. Not only is it the largest collection of automobiles, but it has been described as the most prestigious collection.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
Learn more about Musee National de l’Automobile – Collection Schlumpf

6. Parc Micaud

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. Parc de la Gare d'Eau

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Learn more about Parc de la Gare d'Eau

8. Private Tour: Alsace Villages and Wine Day Trip from Colmar

Likely to sell out FROM $272
Get to know the most beautiful villages of Alsace and get introduced to the wines of the region too on this private day trip. You will visit Riquewihr, Colmar and Equisheim. The tour will start at the Castle of Haut Koenigsbourg. This tour is designed for all people that want to do more than just wine tasting. Also if your time is limited and/or if you travel with children this tour is a great opportunity for you.
Suggested duration: 8h
Tours from $272 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

9. Musee du Temps et Palais Granvelle

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Learn more about Musee du Temps et Palais Granvelle

11. Owl's Trail, Dijon

Get your walking shoes on for an unforgettable trek on Owl's Trail. This self-guided tour meanders past 22 numbered highlights on the cobbled streets, paths, and quaint walkways of the charming town, while bringing you back in time with signs displaying historical tidbits. The entire trail is short enough to cover on foot as you tread past art galleries, museums, outdoor cafés, and boutiques known for the finest goods in Dijon.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
Tours from $34 › Learn more about Owl's Trail

12. Colmar: Private guided walking tour of the Historical Center

FROM $192
Enjoy a personalized and scenic private walking tour through the vast pedestrian area of old Colmar, classified "protected area", where you can admire a rich heritage, civil and religious, perfectly preserved, ranging from the Middle Ages to the 18th century: the famous district of the "Petite Venise" and the Tanneurs district. You cannot miss the majestic Collegiate Church of Saint-Martin, which will seduce you by the many details of its gothic architecture and its very particular colours. If the traditional half-timbered houses make the fame of Colmar, the remarkable bourgeois houses will not fail to attract your attention. Examples include the Adolf House, the oldest house in Colmar, or the 16th century Pfister House and the majestic Maison des Têtes. From lesser-known attractions in Colmar's old town to its most renowned sites, you will be accompanied by an expert local guide who will share with you the history and secrets of this lovely city.
Suggested duration: 2h
Tours from $192 › More about this tour at viator.com ›

13. Old Town, Colmar

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
Tours from $192 › Learn more about Old Town

14. Foret de Chailluz

Suggested duration: 4 hours
Learn more about Foret de Chailluz

15. Colmar:Self Guided Scavenger Hunt

FROM $22
Explore Colmar on your own pace while solving riddles. Use your imagination, observation, logic and team spirit in order to accomplish the tasks. Learn interesting information about the beautiful city of Colmar while walking around narrow streets and 10 of the most important attractions. Pause when ever you want and continue later. Discover hidden gems. Snap beautiful photos. Far from crowds and schedules. Start any time you wish! Everything in your smartphone!
Suggested duration: 2h
Tours from $22 › More about this tour at viator.com ›