I love small towns in Europe and Rothenburg ob der Tauber or Rothenburg as it’s more famously known is the textbook definition of “cute small town”. This post covers how to spend one day in Rothenburg.
Situated along Germany’s Romantic Road, Rothenburg is a fortified town in the state of Bavaria that hasn’t lost any of its charm from the middle ages. In fact, Rothenburg is considered to be one of the most well preserved medieval towns around!
It’s full name, Rothenburg ob der Tauber literally stands for “Red fortress above the Tauber” in German. Tauber is the name of the nearby river.
This relatively tiny town is easy to explore in one day. I stopped in Rothenburg on my way to Munich and stayed there for one night.
Here’s how to spend one day in Rothenburg
Fall in Love with the Architecture
You will witness beautiful Bavarian architecture, exquisite wrought iron signs, decorative water fountains and colorful facades all over Rothenburg. Its accolade of being one of Germany’s best preserved medieval villages is not just myth or hearsay. Rothenburg’s heydays were between the 1200’s to the 1400’s and you can still see remnants of that time inside it’s town walls.
Shop or Window Shop
If shopping (or window shop) gives you endless joy, then prepare to be on cloud number nine here! Rothenburg has so many colorful and delightful little shops, filled with all sorts of trinkets and goodies that adorn its shop windows.
Visit the Christmas Shops and Museum
If you love Christmas and think Christmas in July is the best idea yet, you are going to be in seventh heaven in Rothenburg where Christmas is an everyday affair!
Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas shops are an absolute must in Rothenburg and is sure to bring out your inner child. There’s also a museum which shows you the evolution of Christmas ornaments and the Christmas tree through the ages. Even if you’re not a big fan of Christmas, the shops are still well worth a visit for the sheer craftsmanship of their ornaments and decorations.
Try Food from Rothenburg
Schneeball is one of Rothenburg’s most famous eats. It’s a deep fried dough in the shaped of a snowball covered in either powdered sugar, chocolate or marzipan. These sweet snowballs make for a very interesting and appetizing window display that’s sure to lure you in.
Walk the Fortifications
Rothenburg’s fortified walls and towers are a great way to escape into its glorious past! You can also walk along the walls for commanding views of the city!
Watch the Clock in the Town Hall
Legend has it that when Rothenburg was under attack in the 1600’s, during the time of the Thirty Year War, its captors gave Rothenburg two options; someone in the town had to drink a gallon of wine in one go or watch the city burn. Determine to save his city, the retired Major of Rothenburg rose to the challenge and drank an entire gallon of wine in one go, thus saving the city from destruction. The Ratstrinkstube, or Councilor’s Tavern, an old building situated in the Town Square has a clock that reenacts this heroic act. At the strike of each hour the doors on either side of the clock opens to display a figure of a man chugging a large stein of wine letting the town and its visitors never forget the Major who saved this beautiful town.
Go on a Walking Tour with the Town’s Nightwatchman
Every night visitors gather at 8 p.m. in the square in front of the Town Hall to walk the town with the Nightwatchman. The town’s Nightwatchman Georg, leads you with a lamp and a medieval weapon on an one hour walking tour through the town giving you a glimpse of what it would have been like to live in medieval Rothenburg. His stories are both funny and scary; entertaining and informative. People who lived in the middle ages sure led interesting lives!
- Nightwatchman tours are available from mid March until Christmas
- No reservations are required. Just show up on time
- The fee is 8 Euro for adults and 4 Euro for students and he collects the money after the tour
Click here to learn more.
Where to Stay
There are lots of cute little hotels and B&B’s all over Rothenburg. I stayed at Restaurant Alter Keller. Despite the name it’s a small hotel-cum-restaurant that is super close to the town’s central square. It’s run by a lovely couple who let me check in before noon. They have a 9.1 overall score and a 9.6 location score on booking.com. Here’s the link if you want to check them out.
Please let me know if you have any questions about this beautiful town!
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Looking for more fairytale towns in Germany? Check out my post about Cochem HERE.