Rothenburg ob der Tauber visit

The fairytale town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber

We tend use “fairytale” to describe a whole lot of places, but after seeing Rothenburg ob der Tauber, I firmly believe that all other cities need to forfeit that right. Rothenburg is nestled in the Bavarian countryside just 75 km from Nuremberg, and visiting it is a magical experience.

The preserved Medieval town of Rothenburg

Driving into Rothenburg is a little bit like entering another century. The city is completely surrounded by intact city walls, one of the only three towns in Germany that still have them. This means you can only enter through one of the city’s main gates. Once you cross over, you’re surrounded by colorful half-timbered houses, ornate storefront signs, and lovely cobbled streets where it still looks like the 1600s. The fortified wall has walkable ramparts that are 3 km long, which gives you an idea of just how small the town is. You can walk the entire length of Rothenburg walls in 2 to 3 hours, but you can also take stairs at different points to walk just a part of it.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

It’s certainly not the only well-preserved Medieval city in Germany – it’s not even the only Rothenburg. Though the full name is a bit cumbersome (meaning Rothenburg on the Tauber River), it’s important to distinguish it from the other Rothenburgs in Germany. It is also undoubtedly the most precious. Which obviously makes it the most popular with tourists. So you can expect the tiny streets of Rothenburg ob der Tauber to be absolutely crawling with visitors and massive tour groups that are shuttled in by dozens of buses that park just outside its walls every day.

What to see and do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Throughout the town, you’ll find a host of adorable landmarks like the iconic Plönlein, the small square with the fountain that is at one of the town’s entrances. You can also visit St. Jakob’s Church, the town’s main religious site, which costs a small fee to see. In Rothenburg’s central Market Square, among the half-timbered shops and restaurants, stands the large Renaissance-style Town Hall building. If you’re up for the 220 stairs, you can climb the Town Hall tower to see a bird’s eye view of the city. The fountain in the Market Square has a cartoonified replica in Disney’s EPCOT at the German Pavillion. The many picturesque buildings have been repurposed from blacksmith’s forge and apothecary to modern shops and restaurants.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber visit

Rothenburg also enjoys a lot of surrounding greenery, which is easily accessible on foot from the center of town. These include the Castle Garden, which if you’re wondering, no longer has an accompanying castle. The gardens, with their sweeping views of the Tauber River valley, were built on the site of where a castle once stood in 1142. You can also enjoy the small Covent Garden that is adjacent to the town’s monastery. But pretty much anywhere you take a peek out over the city’s walls, you’ll see the lush greenery of the Tauber Valley. You can even walk down to it down one of the many green walking paths, like the Landscape Garden “An der Eich,” which takes you through a vineyard.

visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Shopping is also one of the most popular activities to do in Rothenburg. The town is known for its German woodworking specialties like cuckoo clocks and for being a Christmas destination all year round. You can buy ornaments, toys, and other special souvenirs to take (or mail) back home.

visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Should you spend a night or two in Rothenburg ob der Tauber?

Rothenburg is about 2.5 hours from Munich and about an hour away from Nuremberg by car/bus, so many people opt to take a day trip. This means, like most cities that are popular with day trippers, that you will be visiting the city during its most crowded time of day. We found that staying just for one night gave us the opportunity to have a nice leisurely dinner at the charming Am Platzl and rest right around Market Square at the historic Hotel Eisenhut, which felt a little bit like staying in a Medieval castle.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber travel

So if you have the time, it doesn’t hurt to stick around. I would even consider returning to enjoy even more of the hiking in the Tauber Valley.

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