WHAT TO DO IN ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER FOR AN AMAZING TRIP
If you are looking for a beautiful place to experience a real fairy-tale feeling, you should add Rothenburg ob der Tauber to your Germany itinerary. In this post, you will find out about the best things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, plus more travel tips.
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Is Rothenburg ob der Tauber Worth Visiting?
In short: Yes, Rothenburg on der Tauber is worth visiting. It is one of the, if not the, prettiest town in Germany with a wonderfully preserved old town with a fairy-tale feel.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is located in the southern part of Germany (in Bavaria), and though I am German, it took me quite a while to finally visit. And all I can say is: It took me way too long! I cannot believe I had not been to this town before.
It is a beauty! It is one of the first (or last) stops of the Romantic Road. The end (or beginning) of the – more than 400-kilometer-long – road trip (where you will pass many medieval towns and pretty castles) is Neuschwanstein Castle near the Austrian and Swiss border.
The minute I “entered” Rothenburg, I fell head over heels in love with this gorgeous city/town. I revisited it one year later, just because it is so pretty, and I still loved it!
BEST THINGS TO DO IN ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER
Rothenburg´s old town is surrounded by walls, with several towers rising up. The beautiful and colorful timbered houses that line the path (though there are also some newer houses) make for plenty of eye candy to enjoy. The more I saw, the more I liked Rothenburg.
Here are my ideas for things to do in Rothenburg in one day or two.
Walk Around the Old Town Walls
One of the very best things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is to walk the old town walls – known as the Tower Trail Rothenburg.
From the 16th century and beyond, it earned its nickname “Franconian Jerusalem” thanks to all of its stunning towers – so, why not come to see why this town has been making jaws drop for centuries?
Rothenburg’s old quarter has about 42 towers, and most are along the city walls. Many sections of the Tower Trail lead along the top of the city wall, while a small part also leads around it.
Just follow the circuit around the old city. Some parts are even so narrow that it might be difficult to walk if two people are standing next to each other or have some big bags with them. Thus, I recommend walking along the old town walls early in the morning or in the evening.
- You can find out everything about the city’s defense system when walking the four-kilometer-long trail.
- If you take some breaks and enjoy the views, it should take about 2-3 hours.
- After walking many city walls in other parts of Europe (e.g., Budva or Dubrovnik), I have some good news: there is no entrance fee.
- The walls are open 24/7.
- There is a brochure available with more information at the Tourist Information (5 Euro).
Chill at the Burggarten (Castle Garden)
After walking the city walls, you might want to take a break. The Burggarten is also in the old town and a perfect place for a stroll or to relax. If you like to enjoy the views from the bench, do not forget to get some drinks beforehand and then… enjoy.
And though it is called Castle Garden, you cannot expect to find a castle there. Unfortunately, this Medieval relic – the former Stuafenbzrg was destroyed many moons ago. But if a dream of a beautiful green garden area come to Castle Garden, because this is what you will find and makes up for the lack of a castle.
Grab your camera and get ready for some breathtaking sights! As you stroll through the Burgtor towards Castle Garden, don’t forget to stop at one of its two observation platforms for a picture-perfect view of the Tauber Valley. That’s Instagram gold right there – so strike those poses!
A vibrant flower bed lies nestled in the backdrop of an old gardener’s house. As photographers flock to capture its beauty and serenity, you’ll find statues sprinkled throughout representing the four seasons with their fresh colors and fragrant aroma – all accompanied by a babbling fountain adding that extra touch!
- Get to Castle Garden via the Burgtor (the large orange gate).
- If you stand on the observation platform and look north you will see the Detwang district – your next destination.
- If you look south, you can see, amongst others, the An der Eich vineyard into the Tauber Valley with the Kobolzeller Church and Double Bridge.
- This is also another fun and free activity in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Short Hike to Detwang
If you want to go on a quick hike, walk to Detwang. It takes a 20-minute walk from Castle Gardens to reach St. Peter’s and Paul’s church with its Gothic arcades that are more than 1000 years old.
Inside you will find an important artwork by Tilman Riemenschneider – the crucifixion reredos. He was a German sculptor and woodcarver active in the 15th century – and one of the bests during the transition period between late Gothic and Renaissance.
- Email the church about opening hours: firstname.lastname@example.org
Since this stop takes about an hour or two in total, you could skip it if you are short on time.
Head to St. James Church
Then head back to the old town and visit one of the most distinctive buildings. The St. James Church was finished in the 15th century after 173 years of work. It was a Catholic church at first, but later it became Protestant and is now the main church of the city.
Rothenburg is situated along the ways of Saint James to Santiago de Compostela, and each year, over 1000 pilgrims make the trek along St. James’ Way and wind up in Rothenburg ob der Tauber – quite a journey! Here they’ll find the aptly named Church of St. James waiting to greet them with open arms (figuratively speaking).
You will find a wooden altar by Tilman Riemenschneider, which dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries. It is one of the most important medieval artworks in Germany.
- OPENING HOURS: Monday – Saturday: 10 am – 6.30 pm, and Sunday: 11 am – 6.30 pm
Get Lost in the Streets
Yes, I know I mentioned it before, but seriously, Rothenburg is drop-dead gorgeous, so I recommend getting lost in the old town.
Before visiting Rothenburg, I was kind of tired of medieval cities and old towns (as I saw too many last year). I was also unsure if Rothenburg could live up to its name. But be assured: it can! Rothenburg´s old town is bigger than anticipated, though not huge.
It is lovely to walk around and wander aimlessly from one corner to the next, and whether you have only one hour in Rothenburg or one day – this is a must-do! Here you´ll find some of the most interesting tourist attractions in Rothenburg that you should not miss: Plönlein — Rothenburg´s most photographed sight, the Market Square, and more.
Looking for the main attraction in Rothenburg? Look no further than Plönlein in the Spital quarter, where you’ll find an iconic crooked yellow timber-frame house as its centerpiece. This yellow timber-framed house – tilted and crooked – is at the entrance of the Spital quarter.
“Plönlein” is actually translated as a “small square at a fountain.” The Plönlein also includes the fountain in front and the two towers of the old city wall that rise to its left and right.
This quaint corner of Rothenburg ob der Tauber features the enchanting timber-framed house, two majestic towers from the old city wall, and even its own fountain are also part of Plönlein!
It’s like something straight out of a fairytale – don’t miss this magical experience for anything in the world! Apparently, it inspired Walt Disney’s classic “Pinocchio” (in 1940) and has represented a typical motif of Rothenburg’s old quarter since then.
Visit the Town Hall of Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber’s Marktplatz is the perfect place to take a breather after embarking on an adventure through its historic alleyways. There, you’ll find yourself in front of a masterpiece – the Town Hall that stands as proud testimony to former citizens’ passion for their city!
Another top thing to do in Rothenburg is to explore the market square with its beautiful Town Hall.
With its grand stairs, the Renaissance façade and surrounded by timber-framed buildings, Rothenburg’s Town Hall is impressive.
Get to the Top of Town Hall Tower
Next to the Town Hall, you will find the Town Hall Tower. If you have some extra time, visit the top of the Town Hall Tower and enjoy great views of Rothenburg ob der Tauber from the observation platform.
From the Town Hall Tower, get ready to take in some of Rothenburg’s finest views! To your west lies the Burgtor and Tauber Valley – a great spot for admiring Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas shops as they come alive with activity.
Take this moment also to enjoy an eyeful of Marktplatz off towards the east. Enjoy these stunning sights from high above – it’ll be worth every step up to this tower!
Look to the northern side of town, where St. James Church is ready to teach you all about ancient times! For even more culture and intrigue, swing by the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum in the south – it’s part of an extended Spital quarter that will take your breath away with its stunning sights.
- The entrance fee is about 2€, and you have to climb 220 steps to enjoy the views.
Stop at Markusturm
One of my favorite places in Rothenburg was the Markus Tower – dating back to the 13th century – with the pretty buildings surrounding it. It is one most beautiful gateway structures in the town.
Pay a Visit to The Christmas Museum
Another highlight – for many – is the Christmas Museum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. It is a museum dedicated to one of the most popular celebrations in the world. You guessed it – it is all about Christmas.
Need a little Christmas spirit? Then Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the place to be! Germany’s self-proclaimed “Christmas Capital” boasts Käthe Wohlfahrt’s magical museum filled with historic decorations, trees and candle arches. Snap an Instagram shot at the entrance with their oversize nutcracker or red bus full of gifts – festive fun all year round!
- The museum is open 360 days a year!
- I was there before 10 am, so I could not get into it (also, I had my dog with me, and dogs are not allowed).
- For about 4€, you can visit one of the most famous attractions in Rothenburg.
Have a Coffee at Cafe Einzigartig
I do not often recommend cafes or certain restaurants because I usually decide very spontaneously where and what I want to eat, and sometimes my decision is a failure. Cafe Einzigartig (translated: Cafe Unique) is a great place to visit in Rothenburg. Be assured that its name reflects its theme: that cafe is, indeed, very unique.
If I had to name the cutest cafe in the world, it would be this one! This tiny, sleepy town is home to the sweetest cafe ever, and I think it is even a cool landmark in Rothenburg.
As I loved the cafe so much, I went back there on my second trip and brought enough cash…then I found out that from 2018 they accept card payments. I am not sure if they accept debit card payments only or also credit cards, though.
Their website is in German only, but you can see the opening hours if you scroll down to the bottom.
ROTHENBURG IN 2 DAYS
Assuming that you followed my advice and decided to stay longer than a few hours in Rothenburg, it is a good choice because I recommend a few more activities. I could not do them because I traveled with a dog or had another good excuse, but these seem like fun things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Visit the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum
Visit the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum and learn about the jurisdiction of the only law museum in Europe. It is actually the largest museum in Europe on legal rights. It focuses on medieval crimes and has an unusual collection of torture tools, legal tomes & art. Rothenburg does not seem that romantic anymore, right?
- April to October from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm and November to March from 1 pm to 4 pm. On certain days, like Christmas Eve, opening hours are different.
- Tickets for adults are 8,00€.
Do a Night Tour
Do a night tour! It was rainy on the first day that I was there, so I changed my plans and did not do the night tour. But, otherwise, this would have been on my list: The almost-daily walk with the famous Night Watchman through the darkness. Step back in time and learn about the history of Rothenburg, especially medieval times. The reviews are fantastic, and apparently, the famous night watchman does an amazing job playing the watchman.
- Unfortunately, tours in English are only available on Fridays and Saturdays at the moment
- No reservation is needed, just be at the market square at 8:00 pm
- The tour takes about 1 hour
- Tour prices for adults are about 9€
- Check out the website for more information
Visit Christmas Markets
The good thing about Rothenburg is that it is great to visit throughout the year. December is one of the most popular times to visit as there are famous Christmas Markets. So, if you are looking for the best thing to do in December (or the last few days in November), then add the Christmas markets to your Rothenburg itinerary.
- Every year for a bit more than 3 weeks, Rothenburg transforms into a wintertime fairy tale – and this has for the last 500 years with minimal changes from its historical origins over this time.
- You will find the markets at Marktplatz, Grüner Markt, and Kirchplatz, and there are around 70 stalls offering snacks, souvenirs, and more snacks. And let’s not forget about all the drinks, especially the popular mulled wine that is so famous.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber FAQ
Here are some FAQ and the answers.
How to Arrive in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
- By car: There are parking options in the Old Town, but at hectic times it might be difficult to find any parking spots. And it definitely costs money in the daytime; you might find free parking from 6 pm until 9 am. Rothenburg is a popular stop when making a road trip through Southern Germany.
- By train: Rothenburg ob der Tauber has a train station, and it is very easy to get there by train. It takes about 2-3 hours from Munich (the capital of Bavaria), and then you can either walk to the old town or take a bus. TIP: There are several Rothenburg in Germany, but some are spelled differently, so make sure to look for the correct one.
Day Trip From Munich or Frankfurt to Rothenburg
Though I recommend staying longer than a few hours in Rothenburg, there are several organized tours from cities like Munich or Frankfurt for a day. If you are interested in doing an organized tour, click here and see the available options.
- Check out Prices: München- Rothenburg Guided Day Trips
- Check out Prices: Frankfurt – Rothenburg Guided Tours
- P.S. For tours, I mostly book with GetYourGuide – though I have not done these specific tours, I know the website is amazing when it comes to their cancellation policy and their customer service.
Rothenburg does not have many attractions per se – but if you just come here during the day, prepare yourself for some crowds!
Where to Stay in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Here are some hotel recommendations (which have very good reviews):
- €€ – Hotel Eisenhut
- € – Hotel Zur Silbernen Kanne – I booked my room 2 or 3 nights before my arrival. I was looking for a budget hotel located directly in the old town of Rothenburg as I knew I was not going to spend much time in the hotel, so I did not care much about the amenities, etc. However, I was surprised by the hotel. It was very basic but cute and had a great location.
More Rothenburg Travel Tips
- Bring cash — seriously, several restaurants and cafes denied me service because I could not pay in cash.
- There are ATMs, but I did not want to withdraw money from a bank that is not mine because of the fees.
- In some parts of Rothenburg, ob der Tauber is free wifi (have to log in once). Do we not all love free wifi?
- There are several water fountains. So bring your water bottle and just refill it (not all water fountains provide fresh drinking water, so have a look at the signs at the fountains).
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN ROTHENBURG, GERMANY
Rothenburg is a small town but full of charm and thus one of my favorite places in Germany, especially in Bavaria. Though one day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is enough to see all the main attractions, it was so charming that I came back and revisited many of the pretty places.
I hope this post has helped you find out about the best things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.