Rothenburg ob der Tauber, the city of medieval charm and Christmas magic. It is very well known for its old, timbered houses and unique location over the Tauber valley. The city invites many tourists from around the world to experience its charm. Besides many cultural things to do in Rothenburg (we’ll get into that in a bit), this area is also well known for its tradition around wine. So make sure to take some time to indulge in some good franconian food accompanied with a variety of delicious wines along with it! 🙂
when is the best time to visit Rothenburg o.d.T?
Since we live quite close, we’ve seen Rothenburg in the summer and during the wintertime. Even though many would say, Christmas Season is the best time to go (it really is an amazing place to get into the Christmas mood), we found the warm summer days to be just as amazing. No matter if you’re up for summer nights, wine and a picnic in the park, or some serious Christmas shopping and mulled-wine tasting during Christmas Market: there are plenty of things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber for everyone!
But enough said for now! Let’s dive in…
The top 7 Things to do in Rothenburg
1 | Walk the City wall on the Tower Trail
Did you know the city with its 46 historic towers is often called the “franconian Jerusalem “? That’s because the towers’ silhouettes and the views over the valley often remind visitors of the view towards the Temple Mountain in Jerusalem. Rothenburg’s old town is surrounded by a town wall, which can be entered through several gates and doors. Walking the tower trail itself is one of the main things you should do once you’re here. On an approximately 4km trail, you can explore the towers and the wall while enjoying a beautiful view from up there.
I have to be honest here: it took us quite some time to find the correct entrance the first time we went to Rothenburg, lol. If you’re struggling like us, don’t hesitate to ask at the Tourist Information, and they’ll help you out. They also have brochures explaining everything around the towers. You can’t miss doing this once you’re there! The most common tower to start your walk around the trail is the “Rödertor, ” and we found the views to be most beautiful in the early morning!
Just be careful while walking up or down the trail since the old stones are slippery and uneven. Not suitable at all for small children if you’re asking me. (I nearly fell off once, but I am an incredibly clumsy person, to be fair)
2 | See the famous Plönlein (…and take a picture!)
The Plönlein is probably the most iconic view in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. (Just type in #rothenburg on Instagram, and you’ll see)
Plönlein actually translates into “small place at the fountain, “which describes the scenery quite well. The yellow, tilted timber-framed house behind the fountain at the street crossing is a pretty cool sight, usually very packed with people, though. During high season you will barely be able to snap a picture without people squeezing between you and the lens. So if you’re here for THAT pic, don’t be frustrated if it’s requiring a little patience. We’ve been lucky since we went there one morning during the pandemic, so it’s been only locals in the city so far.
3 | Get into Christmas mood at Kaethe Wohlfahrt
First of all, there are two places concerning Kaethe Wohlfahrt Christmas activities:
→ the “Weihnachtsdorf” (means “Christmas village” when translated into English)
→ the Christmas museum
Since these two are incredibly famous, it might get packed, especially in the winter season. (We were “lucky “to see it during the pandemic, so it was empty compared to usual).
Inside the 1000m2 area of the Weihnachtsdorf, you’ll find not only the biggest rotating Christmas tree I’ve ever seen but also anything your heart desires when it comes to Christmas decoration. We went for fun ornaments this time and had a hard time deciding which ones to take since the offer was enormous. Want a pug hanging on your tree? Or a fire truck? No problem. Kaethe got you covered! By far one of the fanciest stores I’ve ever been in. Even though it’s open the whole year, it’s most magical during Christmas time (of course).
Please keep in mind that it’s prohibited to take any pictures inside. Nevertheless, there is this cute little “Santa Truck” in front of the store that’s just perfect for that quick snapshot after you shopped.
The Christmas Museum is located directly across the Weihnachtsdorf and guides you through Christmas’s history in a very beautifully displayed way.
4 | Try some Schneeballen
Schneeballen – which is the german word for snowballs – is one of the local specialties here. You can find them in any bakery and in various sizes. I’d recommend getting a pack with different glazings. They’re delicious to snack on while having some coffee or tea!
5 | Enjoy a walk through the castle garden
If you’ve been on the tower trail before coming to the castle garden, you might already have had some breathtaking views. Nevertheless, the castle garden offers a great view above the vineyards and the Tauber valley. Since the “Stauferburg “was destroyed, you will only be able to see the memorial site. The small baroque styled garden, the Blasius chapel, and the collection of historic trees invite you to stay for a little while.
6 | Visit the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum
Very informative but still a little scary – this museum is actually Europes largest museum of legal rights. The museum doesn’t only display torture instruments but also covers law development since the middle ages. After learning about shame masks, executioner’s swords, and more, you’ll learn about another topic covered in the museum: the emperor’s treasures. On the third floor, you’ll be presented with the imperial crown, the scepter, and the apple.
7 | Stroll through the old town
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of many cities with old, timbered houses. I personally love that kind of architecture! Since the old town of Rothenburg isn’t too big, I’d recommend just strolling through it. The Market square, Rödergasse, and St James Church are just three spots to name that will cross your way earlier or later. If you’re still down for some more epic views, climb up the town hall tower’s observation platform. If you’re done with heights, you can also visit the wine – cellar below the Town Hall and – of course – taste your way through it. Yum!
…other things to do in Rothenburg
- visit the Rothenburg Museum
- „Rothenburg dungeon“ – experience the Historical Vault
- get out of the city into the Tauber Valley
- hike or bike the surroundings to see the Double Bridge, Herrgotts Church, and much more…
what about driving the romantic road?
If you’re in for charming, german cities with the typical timbered houses, you might want to consider driving the Romantic Road. That’s a route going from Würzburg all the way down to Füssen, close to the Austrian border. It guides you through many different cities -some are rather small, and some are bigger and more famous (like Rothenburg ob der Tauber).
Here we go, that’s it for the top things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber – such a lovely city if you’re asking me. Its charm fascinated me from day one, and I can’t wait for travel bans to be lifted so we can enjoy a glass of franconian white wine in the castle garden and explore even more of the city.
Until then, I hope you’re staying safe and healthy wherever you are! And if you’ve already been to Rothenburg, let me know your favorite sight in the comments!
See you soon,