Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany Guide: How to Spend a Perfect Day in Rothenburg

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Disney gave me unrealistic expectations about many things in life… things like the bounciness of my hair, the helpfulness of birds and of course, the cuteness of architecture.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved growing up in Canada, but the glass skyscrapers in Vancouver were hardly a fit for my storybook dreams. Luckily, since moving to Germany, spots like Rothenburg ob der Tauber have remedied this problem, even for just a weekend.

Now, as far as fairytale towns go, I’d consider Rothenburg ob der Tauber to be the jewel in Germany’s (seriously bedazzled) crown. Commonly recognized as one of the best medieval towns in Germany, this little slice of storybook heaven will quickly capture your heart and tie it up in a big fancy bow. And while Rothenburg ob der Tauber is hardly a secret (as most critics will note), a visit is more than worth it, because while there may be heavy crowds and tourism, there is also a ridiculous amount of beauty.

Of course, in an ideal world, I would happily spend days, weeks, maybe years rolling around Rothenburg like a giant human schneeball (more on this treat later), BUT… sometimes, all we have is a day. So, here’s a guide on how to make the most of a day trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber (including a suggested one day itinerary at the end!)
A must-read guide if you're visiting Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany on a daytrip. This beautiful medieval town is one of the cutest fairytale towns in Germany. This guide will walk you through what to see and do with a 1 day itinerary included.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Know before you go

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is not the only Rothenburg in Germany! Avoid arriving at the wrong one by confirming that you are, indeed, going to Rothenburg ob der Tauber and not one of the others. You may laugh, but I drove towards the wrong one for an hour before realizing my mistake, and others have caught the train to the wrong one too!

Understand the pros and cons of on/off-season. I mean, Rothenburg is one good looking city, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it gets busy during the summer months. I went in the off-season (February) and was treated to significantly less crowds, which I loved. The flip side however was that there were reduced opening hours for the museums and less organized tours for us tourists (which start their season in April). That’s the trade-off – a Rothenburg ob der Tauber winter visit is less crowded, but the weather is moodier and hours are reduced, while a summer visit means definitely more crowds, but a more visitor-friendly atmosphere.

A must-read guide if you're visiting Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany on a daytrip. This beautiful medieval town is one of the cutest fairytale towns in Germany. This guide will walk you through what to see and do with a 1 day itinerary included.
Some of the adorable views when walking Rothenburg ob der Tauber’s city walls

Know that on Sunday, most shops are closed. As with the case in most Bavarian towns, Sunday is a day of rest in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This means if you’re keen to go shopping, the majority of stores will be shut on Sunday. Many cafes, restaurants, museums and souvenir shops however will still be open.

Consider staying the night for a more peaceful experience. Rothenburg, in all its charming glory, is very, very popular among day trippers. If you’re one to avoid crowds (like me) or just want the feeling of having this city to yourself, book a room to stay the night! The experience of walking the streets after all the crowds have gone home (or in the morning before they arrive) is just unbeatable. There’s a lot of inexpensive but cozy guesthouses to choose from. Click here to browse the best deals on where to stay.

A must-read guide if you're visiting Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany on a daytrip. This beautiful medieval town is one of the cutest fairytale towns in Germany. This guide will walk you through what to see and do with a 1 day itinerary included.

How to get to Rothenburg ob der Tauber

WITH A TOUR: The simplest way is to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber is of course with a tour who takes care of all the transportation. Tours aren’t for everyone, but if you do want to book one, I highly recommend Get Your Guide, who has a low price guarantee (meaning they refund you the difference if you find a cheaper price). That way you know for sure you’re getting the lowest price possible! Here’s a day trip option from Munich.

BY CAR: From the Rothenburg ob der Tauber tourism website: “Take Highway A7 Würzburg – Ulm to Rothenburg. Take exit 108 “Rothenburg / Tauber” and follow the signposts for the town center. After two kilometers you will come upon one of the car parks from which you can reach the old town on foot in just a few minutes.” NOTE: If you’re not staying the night at a place with parking provided, it’ll probably be easier for you to park outside the city walls and then walk in. Parking isn’t too easy to come by in the Old Town!

BY TRAIN: The Rothenburg ob der Tauber train station is located very close to the Old Town, so you can get there by foot very easily. Remember, the train station you want to reach is ‘Rothenburg ob der Tauber’, so don’t get confused with any of the other Rothenburgs in Germany! Use the Deutsche Bahn website to plan your journey.

Munich to Rothenburg ob der Tauber by train: There are frequent departures from Munich’s main station to reach Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The train journey takes 3-4 hours depending on which train you catch, so while it’s “doable” as a day trip, I wouldn’t recommend it because you would be really limiting your time in the city. QUICK TIP: If you are going with a group, look into purchasing a Bayern Ticket, which could be more cost effective as it grants you unlimited travel in Bavaria for up to 5 people in one day. The base cost is 25 euros + 7 euros for each additional person. For more info, you can click here for my full Bayern ticket guide.

BY BUS: Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a popular stop along many coach bus tours. For instance, you can take the Romantic Road Coach, although be sure to do your research because the trains might be cheaper. Another option is to book a guided tour. Here are some options from Viator.

Munich to Rothenburg ob der Tauber by bus: I would highly recommend taking the train to Rothenburg (rather than a bus), because it’s more comfortable, convenient and similar price-wise. During the off-season, there are no direct buses from Munich to Rothenburg, but from April – October, you can catch the Romantic Road Coach. If you feel like adding Würzburg to your itinerary, Flixbus does have a route from Munich to there, and you can then catch a quick train ride down to Rothenburg.

A must-read guide if you're visiting Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany on a daytrip. This beautiful medieval town is one of the cutest fairytale towns in Germany. This guide will walk you through what to see and do with a 1 day itinerary included.

Things to see in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

The Plönlein

This little square is probably the most iconic view you’ll find in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. An adorable half-timbered house, sandwiched by tall towers and perfect cobblestoned streets. Yup, it’s for real and it’s as close to postcard-perfect as you’ll get.

TIP: Come in the morning or in the early evening to avoid day trip crowds.

A must-read guide if you're visiting Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany on a daytrip. This beautiful medieval town is one of the cutest fairytale towns in Germany. This guide will walk you through what to see and do with a 1 day itinerary included.
One of the most iconic shots of Rothenburg ob der Tauber 🙂

Marktplatz

This is the city’s main hub, where you’ll find the Rathaus (town hall), the Ratstrinkstube (Councillor’s Tavern), the Tourist Information Centre and just nearby, George’s Spring.

If you plan on taking any of the city’s guided tours, this is where the meeting point will be. Also, when the Festive Season kicks in, it’s here that you’ll find the Christmas Market!!!! Giggity. *jingles some bells*

A must-read guide if you're visiting Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany on a daytrip. This beautiful medieval town is one of the cutest fairytale towns in Germany. This guide will walk you through what to see and do with a 1 day itinerary included.

St. Jacob’s Church

This is one of the most dominant sights of the Rothenburg ob der Tauber skyline and the city’s main church. It carries a wide variety of religious artworks, including a main altar that is recognized as one of Germany’s most important.

A must-read guide if you're visiting Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany on a daytrip. This beautiful medieval town is one of the cutest fairytale towns in Germany. This guide will walk you through what to see and do with a 1 day itinerary included.

The city walls of Rothenburg ob der Tauber

One of the biggest draws of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is its well preserved walls and of course, its many awesome towers and gates. You’ll surely stumble upon these as you walk through the city, but I’m partial to Klingentor and Markusturm (so don’t miss them). Here’s a full list from the tourism board!

A must-read guide if you're visiting Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany on a daytrip. This beautiful medieval town is one of the cutest fairytale towns in Germany. This guide will walk you through what to see and do with a 1 day itinerary included.

Old Castle Gardens

While these gardens weren’t exactly buzzing in the winter, I can only imagine how gorgeous they would be once the flowers are back in bloom. Definitely worth a stop if you come at the right time of year.

For a more thorough list of unique and significant buildings, check out this page.

A must-read guide if you're visiting Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany on a daytrip. This beautiful medieval town is one of the cutest fairytale towns in Germany. This guide will walk you through what to see and do with a 1 day itinerary included.

Fun things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Visit the Christmas Museum.
One of the quirkiest of Rothenburg ob der Tauber tourist attractions and well worth the entry fee! This museum is housed in a beautiful Christmas shop, and walks you through tons of really interesting Christmas history (e.g. where did decorative baubles come from, why do some parts of Germany have Christmas pyramids instead of trees, etc.) I’m a holiday fanatic, so I loved exploring this super fun little museum.

A must-read guide if you're visiting Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany on a daytrip. This beautiful medieval town is one of the cutest fairytale towns in Germany. This guide will walk you through what to see and do with a 1 day itinerary included.

The Medieval Crime and Justice Museum.

This museum is a bit morbid, but don’t miss it. (And pro tip: don’t eat before coming here like I did). If you want to know the gutwrenching and bloody details of how crime/punishment were handled back in the good old Medieval days, this is your place! It goes in serious detail about what went down, and boasts an impressive collection of artefacts (torture instruments included) that will wow you/make you squirm.

PS: It is HUGE. Like seriously huge. If you plan on doing this museum thoroughly, allow for a lot of time.

Walk the city walls.
This is a must. The views are really nice, and you get a great overview of the city. The steps to climb up can be found next to pretty much any of the towers.

A must-read guide if you're visiting Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany on a daytrip. This beautiful medieval town is one of the cutest fairytale towns in Germany. This guide will walk you through what to see and do with a 1 day itinerary included.

Try a schneeball.

These delightful looking treats can be found all around town, and are balls of fried pastry usually covered in chocolate and other wild toppings. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by it, because I had such high expectations and it ended up tasting like plain pie crust… BUT to each their own 🙂 They’re a specialty of Rothenburg, so try one if you’re curious!

Go on the Rothenburg Night Watchman tour. 

I didn’t get to do this on my visit (as the tours aren’t daily during peak season) but I’ve heard great things! It’s supposedly an awesome and funny way to learn about the city’s rich history, so be sure to give it a try if you’re staying the night. Visit the official Rothenburg ob der Tauber website for a tour schedule. 

A simple 1 day itinerary for Rothernburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is no doubt a city best explored on foot. Here’s a rough itinerary for you to follow if you want to maximize your time!

MORNING: Wake up/arrive early to visit Plönlein and enjoy the view before the crowds settle in. Then grab a coffee or breakfast at a cozy cafe, preparing for a busy day of sightseeing. If you feel like you’ll need a map, head over to the Tourist Information Centre to grab one. If it’s open, climb up the Rathausturm (Town Hall tower) for a great view over the city. You can view the opening hours here.

AFTERNOON: Walk around town, enjoying the picture-perfect streets. If you prefer having a guide (and are visiting from Apr-Oct or during December), there are daily guided tours at 2pm offered through the city for 8 euros.

Make time for at least one museum. I loved the Christmas Museum, but if you’re looking for something darker, I highly recommend the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum as well!

If you still have an appetite after seeing all those torture instruments, don’t forget to grab a hearty lunch and enjoy some tasty Franconian fare. (Otherwise, eat before museum hopping!) I adore Nürnberger Bratwursts, which are little pork sausages typically served in sets, but supposedly their white asparagus is awesome as well.

LATE AFTERNOON: Walk around the city walls for some cool views and enjoy the rest of your day shopping (or enjoying a few glasses of Franconian wine!). Try a schneeball if you’re curious, but keep your expectations low, as many people don’t like them.

EVENING: Catch the world famous Rothenburg Night Watchman tour for 8 euros! This is offered daily during peak season, but only on Saturdays during the winter. Check here for the schedule.


So, I hope you found that guide to Rothenburg ob der Tauber helpful!! It is honestly one of THE most picture perfect places I have ever been, and if you plan well, I’m sure you’ll love it too.

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Tell me – have you ever visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber? If not, what’s the most magical place you’ve been to? Let me know in the comments!

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38 thoughts on “Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany Guide: How to Spend a Perfect Day in Rothenburg”

  1. Looks fantastic! It’s on our itinerary for May when we visit Germany but I’m thinking we need to change our plan up a little to give us some more time.

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    • Yay!! I think one full day is adequate to get a feel for the city, but of course if you don’t wanna rush, then extra time wouldn’t hurt 😉 I’m so excited for you, Stacey. Your trip sounds awesome.

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  2. Wow how come I’ve never heard of this town before? It looks so gorgeous! I really need to visit Bavaria ASAP, because I keep seeing some beautiful cities and towns in the area! I’ve also never actually visited Germany, but hopefully I’ll finally get there during Christmas Market season this year!

    Thank you for the informational post (and of course the beautiful photos) :). Bookmarked it for further trip planning!

    Greetings from Transylvania!

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    • Haha the first time I saw a photo of Rothenburg, it was on the cover of a Lonely Planet guidebook and I was soo shocked I hadn’t ever heard of it before. It’s really well worth a visit and YES all of Germany is beautiful, especially during Christmas time. I hope you get to visit this winter and see for yourself! 🙂 <3

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    • Ahhh Nürnberg is so close to here too!! Definitely go the next time you visit 🙂 And there’s a few other lovely towns along the Romantic Road as well (Google it!) I unfortunately didn’t have the chance to visit any others, but I’ve seen photos and they look SO cute.

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  3. It’s such a pretty town 😀 I feel like it’s almost beauty and the beast like – except it’s in Germany and not France!
    I miss the architecture of Europe!

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  4. This absolutely looks like a day in a fairytale! I love it! Definitely going on the bucket list! The colorful buildings are so happy!!!! Thank you for sharing all thishappy beauty!

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  5. Wow, this totally looks like a place right out of a movie or video game, I can’t believe it exists! And I never heard of it before. Thanks for the pictures and article…This is definitely going on my list when I get to go to Germany and a must visit location! I’d love to walk the city walls, try the foods, and go on the night watchman tour, sounds like so much fun and I’d probably take a million pics lol!

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    • Right?! Hard to believe it actually exists hahah. Bavaria is full of amazing gems like this. Hope you get to see it all for yourself someday soon 🙂

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  6. Very informative post! Thanks for sharing- I had never heard of this cute little town until I saw your photos on Pinterest. I definitely want to go there the next time I visit Germany. I would love to visit the Christmas Museum.

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    • It is honestly such a fun museum hahah. I felt like a little kid running through it! Thanks for reading, Kat 🙂 <3

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  7. There tend to be many towns of the same name in Germany. To keep from getting the towns confused Germans tend to use the name of the local river, for example you fly into Germany at Frankfurt aM on the Mainz. There is another Frankfurt in Germany Frankfurt aO on the Oder.
    I love Rothenburg ob der Tauber and have managed to stay there a couple of times. I rented a Fewo, vacation home, near Klingentor for a week in 2010. We walked everywhere and it is a small enough place that you can simply just stroll around. I spent a few days wandering inside the Reichsstadmuseum. You’ll learn much about the history of Rothenburg ob der Tauber by visiting there.
    We would pick a road and walk down it until we found something interesting, failing that we’d find another road to explore.
    Near the train station, across the street actually is a shopping mall where you can get meals pretty cheaply from the deli. Staying in an apartment with a kitchen helps save money on the dining bill.
    At Klingentor you see a half house against the wall. This was originally a barracks for troops defending the wall so they didn’t have a long way to go to get to their post.
    There is also a laundromat just outside of Rödertor on the left, visible from the roadway just tucked back a bit. Just in case you’ve been traveling a bit and need clean clothes.

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    • Ahh that explains a lot! I did always wonder why it was called Frankfurt am Main sometimes haha. Thanks for sharing your experience in Rothenburg, William.. it sounds like you had a great time there! Great tips too 😀 I’ll definitely keep them in mind when I go back!

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  8. I remember that in the early 80’s the only wheeled traffic allowed in the old city walls were bikes and strollers. A little disappointed that they allowed cars in some of the roads in 2013. Still beautiful to visit!

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    • Dodging cars mid-photo opp wasn’t ideal, but Rothenburg is still a lovely place for sure! 😉 I wish I could have seen it back before they allowed cars in. It must have been like a step back in time!

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  9. Love Rothenburg, it is worth visiting for 3 days. The magic happens once all of the day trippers get out of town. That is when the streets become quite and you can get some epic photos. We did and so many travels say it was not like that when we were there….

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    • Yes – totally agree! A day trip does NOT at all do the place justice. So happy to hear you had such an amazing time in Rothenburg 🙂

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  10. Your pictures are absolutely amazing ! You are a great photographer and writer. Do you mind if I ask what type of camera you used to tAKE these pictures ? I hope to go to Rothenberg next year !!

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    • Thanks so much, Nicole! You are too sweet. I use a Nikon D3200, a very basic beginner level DSLR 🙂 Highly recommend it! And yessss go to Rothenburg if you get the chance. It’s amazing.

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  11. Great article and fantastic photos!
    We went there last year, stayed 1 night and had a couple of hours the next morning.
    Nowhere near enough time!
    We are planning to go back in the future, maybe during Christmas time for several days.
    It is a stunning little town with so much history, and the Night watchman was a fantastic experience!

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    • I’d love to go back at Christmas! I’ve heard their Christmas market is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Greg! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip.

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  12. Thanks so much for this review of Rothenburg…fantastic pics and write-up…we were in Rothenburg in the beginning of December and the atmosphere was awesome… literally walking through a Winter Wonderland. Although I am a senior citizen Rothenburg brought out the child in me… the snow was an extra bonus for me, coming from the sunny island of Malta (we don’t get snow in winter). Planning to visit again in Spring.
    Meanwhile wish you loads of luck and good health for 2018.
    Doris Agius

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  13. I’m planning a trip to Nurenberg and the nearby towns in December and your article about Rothenburg ob der Tauber was the best I have found (and I have read a lot of them). Thanks a lot! Very nicely written. The Night Watchman Tour sounds great. I will try to do it.

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  14. The best time to visit Rotenburg is in late May or early June on Pentocost weekend when the Master Draught Festival is held in the old city. I spend three days back in 1995 in Rotenburg and the experience created a lifetime memory. I hope to make the trip again some day. We stayed in a hotel in the city, walked the streets, shopped the stores, visited the museums, and ate at the quaint cafes. During the Master Draught Festival re-enactors retell the story from the Thirty Years’ War of when the city was conquered by the troops of General Tilly and only saved from destruction by the city mayor Nusch. It is said that Nusch impressed the enemy general by drinking 3 1/4 liters in one go. The story is retold by historical groups throughout the city and, in particular, in multiple theater performances in the Kaisersaal. As a keepsake from that trip, I purchased an original Black Forest German Cuckoo Clock that I still enjoy to this day.

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  15. My father, my daughter and I absolutely adored Rothenberg ob der Tauber we visited in July of 2006!! I would go back there again in a heartbeat! We also went to Salzburg and had an incredible time there. So many great memories …

    Reply

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