Best Things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

WHAT TO DO IN ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER

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.

Believe me, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a place that is worth the trip. I am sure you will not be disappointed, and if you are wondering what to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the best places to see and visit, you’ll find the answers in this blog post.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER

Before talking about the best things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, here are some quick tips to ease your itinerary.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means, I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

Why Visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber?

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 one year later, just because it is so pretty, and I still loved it!

P.s. I still believe that the very best place to visit in Germany, though, is my home town Bremen.

Rothenburg in one day- an itinerary
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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.

Rothenburg has not 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 in a lovely way by this hotel that I stayed at. 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).

THINGS TO DO IN ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER

Do you remember when I wrote “when I entered Rothenburg…” at the beginning of my post? The reason I phrased it like that is simple: Rothenburg´s old town is surrounded by walls, with several towers rising up.

The minute I passed one tower and was inside the “wall,” I felt like I was in a theme park — one without roller coasters but with a fairy-tale atmosphere.

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.

Enjoying a walk in Rothenburg - Town Wall - Rothenburg ob der Tauber things to do
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  • 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.
  • I recommend walking along the old town walls early in the morning or in the evening.
  • 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 you.
  • Great views are guaranteed!
  • 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).

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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.

Castle Garden in Rothenburg
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Castle Garden in Rothenburg

View from the Burggarten in Rothenburg - things to do in Rothenburg Germany
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  • And though it is called Castle Garden, you cannot expect to find a castle there. The former Stauferburg was destroyed, but the green garden makes up for the lack of the castle. 
  • Get to Castle Garden via the Burgtor (the large orange gate).
  • This park includes pretty views and lovely scenery. 
  • 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: pfarramt@rothenburgtauber-evangelisch.de

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.

St. James Church in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
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St. James Church in Rothenburg ob der Tauber @Pixabay

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.

Rothenburg is situated along the ways of Saint James to Santiago de Compostela, and so more than 1000 pilgrims arrive at St. James Church each year.

  • 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, and so I recommend getting lost in the old town.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber - getting lost in its streets - Rothenburg Germany things to do
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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.

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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 and that you should not miss: Plönlein — Rothenburg´s most photographed sight, the Market Square, and more.

See Plönlein

This yellow timber-framed house – tilted and crooked – is at the entrance of the Spital quarter. To be really honest, I did not really get the hype. Rothenburg has so many beautiful buildings. This did not stand out to me personally.

“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.

Things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, ARZO TRAVELS
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However, it inspired Walt Disney’s classic “Pinocchio” (in 1940) and represented a typical motif of Rothenburg’s old quarter since then.

Visit the Town Hall of Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Another thing to do in Rothenburg is to explore the market square with its beautiful Town Hall.

Market Square in Rothenburg
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@pixabay
Market Square in Rothenburg
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Market Square in Rothenburg, Town Hall

With its grand stairs, the Renaissance façade and surrounded by timber-framed buildings, Rothenburg’s Town Hall is impressive. 

Get to 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.

Rothenburg ob der Tauaber, view from Town Hall Tower
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Rothenburg ob der Tauber, view from Town Hall Tower
  • The entrance fee is about 2€, and you have to climb 220 steps to enjoy the views. 

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.

rothenburg ob der Tauber tower
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@Pixabay

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. 

Kith Wohlfahrt in Rothenburg ob der Taue - Christmas all year - best things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
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  • 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 fail. 

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.

Cafe Einzigartig in Rothenburg ob der Tauber best cafe in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
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If I had to name as 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 payment. I am not sure if they accept debit card payment only or also credit cards, though.

Cafe Einzigartig in Rothenburg - where to drink in Rothenburg tourist attraction
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Their website is in German only, but you can see the opening hours if you scroll down to the bottom.

WHAT ELSE TO DO IN ROTHENBURG???

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? 

OPENING HOURS AND TICKETS:  
  • 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 about 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 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.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST ACTIVITIES IN ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER

Rothenburg ob der Tauber 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.

Safe Travels, Arzo
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