If you want to feel like you are walking through a Disney movie come to life you definitely have to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This gorgeous little town is hands-down the most beautiful town I have ever been to. Inside the medieval city walls, you will find colourful half-timbered houses and cobblestoned streets. We visited this fairytale town for one day, which was enough to see most it has to offer. Read on to find out the best tips and things to do in Rothenburg!
How to get to Rothenburg ob der Tauber?
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is located halfway between the German cities of Frankfurt and Nuremberg. We visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber for a day trip while we were staying in Heidelberg, which was only a two-hour drive away. Travelling by car is a great way to discover Germany. The Autobahn (German highway) offers a large road network that has many parts without any speed restrictions. This makes travelling by car fast and easy.
Rothenburg also has a train station that’s located about 10 minutes walking distance outside of the medieval centre.
Important: There are several ‘Rothenburg’ towns across Germany, make sure you go to the ‘ob der Tauber’ one! (The Tauber is the river next to this town.)
Where to park
The old city centre of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is surrounded by medieval city walls. We found it most convenient to park just outside these walls. There are several parking lots where you can park for just 5,50 euros for the entire day!
Electric Car Charging Stations
P5 (Parkplatz or parking lot number 5) on the northside of the walled town centre is the only car park with 2 charging stations. If you need to recharge your vehicle, like we did, I would advise you to arrive early. Both were already taken when we arrived around 11 AM. Charging is allowed for a maximum of 4 hours. Germans usually stick to the rules, so we checked the parking time on the parking ticket of the parked electric cars and came back around the 4-hour mark. We only had to wait for about 15 minutes before the owner arrived to move his car. This was a great relief because otherwise, we would have had a problem getting back to Heidelberg. Travelling with an electric car definitely adds some extra challenges to a road trip. If you would like to know more about travelling tips and tricks for electric cars let me know in the comments below!
What to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber?
Are you wondering what you can do in this charming medieval-looking town? Below I will give you the highlights of our visit. With these tips you can plan your best day trip to Rothenburg.
Walk around the magical town centre
Rothenburg looks like a magical town right out of a fairytale. The cobblestone streets and coloured half-timbered houses look like a Disney decor come to life. We walked in through an archway in the northern part of the wall near parking lot number 5. Upon entering the medieval part of the town you will find a sign with a map of Rothenburg. It is only a small town and walking through all the streets will make you feel like you have gone back in time. I suggest you spend some time just roaming the streets and back alleys of this charming place. Around each corner, you will find another picture-perfect house or street. Most tourists stay near the main square (Markplatz or Market square), but there is much more to see!
We visited this enchanting town during the final week of December, this meant that even though the Christmas markets had already packed up, the Christmas decorations were still up making this place even more magical. We did notice that the opening hours of museums were limited during the winter months. During the spring and summer months this town is covered in flowers making it a perfect weekend destination or day trip opportunity year-round.
Where to eat in Rothenburg?
You will find most restaurants and shops around the Marktplatz and its nearby streets. This is also the busiest area where most tourists stay. There are many bakeries around and their delectable looking cakes will be luring you in. Go for it! A little coffee and cake break is a great way to replenish your energy while exploring this town. The bakeries also sell large salty pretzels (they are the size of your head!) and giant cookies. These are great to nibble on if you want to waste no time exploring the streets of Rothenburg.
We were in luck that towards the end of the afternoon a late Christmas market popped up in an alley opposite the Christmas Museum (more on this little gem later on!). So our dinner, once again, was made up of mulled wine and Spätzle. We are just suckers when it comes to Christmas market foods, we can’t resist the cosy atmosphere and tasty treats! If you want to know more about Christmas market food read my Hungry in Heidelberg post where I talk about all my favourite Christmas Market food finds!
No doubt you will also come across a local delicacy called a Schneeball (or snowball). These large round pastry balls certainly look interesting. They are basically deep-fried dough balls. Most are covered in chocolate or sugar and they come in a large variety of flavours. They are traditional to this region and this town is famous for this treat. We had already tried them in Heidelberg and truth be told, we were a bit disappointed. They look great but don’t have much flavour.
Most of the shops in Rothenburg are tourist orientated, but there are some cute shops with handcrafted items around. Since this town is so used to tourists the locals speak English quite well and are very helpful if you have any questions. Keep in mind that most shops are closed on Sunday.
Walk along the city wall
Rothenburg is surrounded by a medieval city wall that was built to fortify the town. You can actually walk the length of this wall and enjoy the great views along the way. The surrounding area is beautiful and the vantage point of the wall or one of its many towers will give you a wonderful view of the valleys and nature around this picturesque town. The entire length of the wall is about 4 kilometres and it has six gates (and some smaller archways for pedestrians) where you can enter or leave the town. Along the wall are several stairs where you can climb up or down the wall, so you can hop on or off the wall whenever you want. I must say that the looks of the wall seriously reminded me of Game of Thrones, I can’t be the only one right?!
Eventually, our walk along the wall led to the Castle Garden (or Burggarten). The Castle doesn’t exist anymore, but the garden is still there. It is a great spot to take a short break and devour one of those giant cookies on one of the many benches. I told you, you should have bought some cookies at the bakery ;)
I have to admit that in the middle of winter the garden isn’t all that impressive, but the views of the surrounding area and gate back into the old town are gorgeous. I have seen some very impressive photos of this garden during the summertime when all the flowers are in bloom and the plants look lush. In the garden you will also find varies statues and monuments.
Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Shop & Museum
If you love Christmas you must visit Käthe Wohlfahrt. This year-round Christmas shop is amazing! They are filled with fully decorated Christmas trees and all the decorations you can think of. It’s impossible to leave this shop without buying something glittery or gold. I found out about this shop a couple of days earlier during our stay in Heidelberg (Another gorgeous town that’s less than a 2-hour drive away from Rothenburg!).
Inside the shop is the entrance to the Christmas Museum. At the time we went the entrance ticket was 4 euros per person. The museum tells you all about the history of Christmas traditions. It wasn’t huge, but the price was about right for the size of the place. Inside you will find oldfashioned Christmas trees with decorations to match each era. Lot’s of fun facts and it is interesting to see how our traditions changed over time.
Medieval Crime and Justice Museum
Where the Christmas museum is all jolly and nice this Crime and Justice museum is rather gruesome and dark. Right in front of the entrance, you will find a pillory that some people used to take selfies. The museum looked interesting, but we didn’t go in because of the limited opening hours during the winter months. When we were in Rothenburg the winter opening hours were from 1 PM until 4 PM and the entrance fee for adults is 7,50 euros. It was already nearing closing time so sadly we had to skip this one. Online reviews are good though. Inside you will find medieval torture devices and learn about how crimes were punished back in the day. Have you visited this museum? Was it worth the visit or would you rather skip it to wander the magical streets of Rothenburg instead? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!
Are you looking for more travel inspiration for Germany?
Check out this blog article about Heidelberg. This gorgeous medieval town is overlooked by its own castle! Find out all you need to know to spend a perfect weekend away in Heidelberg.
Make sure you don't go Hungry in Heidelberg. Check out my top tips on where to eat in this romantic town!
Have you been to Rothenburg ob der Tauber? What were your favourite things to do and see in this magical medieval town? Let me know in the comments below!