Rothenburg ob der Tauber Top Things to Do

If you wanted to take a trip back in time to the Middle Ages and visit a German town that offers both charm and history, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is your place to go. Located along the Romantic Road in Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a true gem. The name stands for “on the Tauber River.” Now, don’t get this confused with another town by the name of just “Rothenburg,” make sure you have Rothenburg ob der Tauber on your GPS; otherwise, you may be driving to a destination other than Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Rothenburg ODT (I’m just shortening it up for you), was on top of our list to visit in Germany. We had a long weekend to take advantage, so we didn’t waste time visiting this charming town. With Covid measures still in place, we made sure to follow safety precautions. Fortunately, Rothenburg had lots of good, safety Covid measures during our visit. So, without further ado, here are our top recommendation of things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Bonus: towards the end of this, be sure to read up on some nice Tips for touring Rothenburg for free and other discounts you can get! And, if you plan to do a day trip, check the parking tip at the end as well! Happy Reading!

**Also, if you see any highlighted word, be sure to click on the word to find more info! *** Tip: It’s easier to click on the info on Google Chrome as some sights are in German, but Chrome will translate to English.

Things to Do in Rothenburg

  • Walk the 2-mile long City Wall

     

    • If you want to find the best views of the city of Rothenburg  from above, walk the City Wall.  This wall wraps around Rothenburg ODT and can be done in less than an hour.  Just a caution for those tall folks in the back, if you are over 6 feet tall, you may have to stoop for most of the walk. 

      • Covid measures- the walkway is narrow, so be mindful of those coming in opposite directions
      • There are 20 plaques (yes, they’re in English) along the way that you can read on the history during your tour of the wall.
        •  
      • Wanna do the walk the full circle of the wall, the best place to start is at the Spitaltor Tower and then go counterclockwise.  The tourist office has a wonderful map they have online here you can follow.  But it really doesn’t matter where you start because there are several towers you can start or stop your tour at. 
      • My family and I enjoyed walking along the wall and admiring the views.  We made several stops along the way to take candid photos of beautiful buildings we passed by.  Bonus, since it was in October, the fall view was amazing from above!
        • Cost: FREE and open daily, best time to visit is during sunrise
  • Visit St. Jakob’s Church
      • If you love visiting the many beautiful churches of Germany, St. Jakob’s Church, the main church for Rothenburg, is one you should visit.  The outside exterior shows off its gothic style building with the many beautiful statues of biblical figurines. 
      • Inside, you’ll find the front, main wooden altar with its intricate details and the stained-glass window behind it.  Don’t forget to walk behind the altar and you’ll find a beautiful painted mural of Rothenburg and also the face of Jesus- it’s well worth the look.
      • Find the Blood of Christ (literally speaking):
        • This church has another one of the oldest, most beautiful wood altar on display, carved by Tilman Riemenschneider.  The altar is known as the “Altar of the Holy Blood.”  This altar is located on the second floor of the church, towards the back, behind the pipe organs.  You’ll find the blood of Christ on a cross, high above the altar.  It’ll be in a round crystal capsule and inside the crystal is a drop of blood that is believed to be the blood of Christ.  
    •  

      •  Cost:
        • Groups € 2.00 per person (over 10 people)
          Groups under 10 people and individuals € 2.50
          Families (2 adults + children): € 6.00;  Children : free (up to 12 years).
          School children and students : 1.50 €.
          Individual visitors will receive a beautiful postcard with a motif of St. Jakob with their “entrance ticket”
      • Hours:
        • January to March and November: 10 a.m.
          to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. April to September: 10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.
          October: 10 a.m. to 5.15 p.m.
          December: 10 a.m. to 4.45 p.m.
      • More info here on their website; they also have a free pamphlet that is in English.
  • Take the Night Watchman’s Tour:
      • Seriously, though, this tour came highly recommended by so many that we had to do it, and it was part of the reason why we stayed overnight in Rothenburg ODT! 
      • There’s no booking online involved, you just show up at the main market square area at or before 8pm and wait for the dreary Night Watchman to come with his lantern and his tall pike. 
      • Our tour guide, Mr. Hans Georg Baumgartner, spoke wonderful English!  It was enjoyable to tour the city at night while you hear recounts of historical past events and stories from the Night Watchman.  Also, you won’t regret his funny antics and dreary jokes along the way, which made the tour enjoyable, even in the cold, October night. 
      • Covid Measures- we wore our masks during the entire outdoor tour.
      • Tour Location:
        • Meet at the Market Square in front of the Town Hall steps at 8p; No reservations required
      • Duration: 1 hour
      • Fee: Adults: 9 Euro for adults, 4.50 Euro for students, kids under 12 years old are free of charge
      • English Tours are on Fridays and Saturdays
      • More info here
  • Visit the Plonlein

 

      • Ok Disney Fanatics, this is a must!  Grab your camera and prepare your Instagram feed for some insta worthy photos in front of this famed Disney-inspired location in Rothenburg.  Can you guess what Disney movie was inspired by this location?  
      • This fork in the road on Untere Schmiedgasse is the famous location for photo ops with half timbered homes surrounded by the cobblestone street.  The half-timbered house in the middle with a pointed gable and fountain in the front, makes this a fairytale worthy scene straight from a Disney movie, like maybe,  Pinocchio?  Yep, that’s the movie!
      • Tip:
        • For photo ops, come early in the morning before 10am to beat the morning rush of the crowd, since most shops don’t open till 10am.

 

  • Visit the MarktPlatz (aka Market Square) and Watch a Cool Reenactment (see below)

     

    City Hall
    • Ok, ok, I know it’s just the market square, but seriously, this is the heart of the city.  This is where you have access to most of the shops, restaurants, and also the Tourist office.  The whole facade of this area shows off the charms of Rothenburg.  

 

    • Listen to the clock chime at the strike of each hour and you can watch the doors open to one of the windows high above the Tourist Office building (facing the Market Square) to the reenactment of the legend of the heroic mayor who saved Rothenburg by drinking a gallon of wine.
      • You can find the interesting story here   
    • There’s a Farmers Market that takes place here on Saturday mornings and Wednesday afternoons (subject to change due to Covid restrictions).  Find more info here 

 

  • Visit the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum (Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum)

 

 

    • It drizzled one morning during our stay, so we decided to pick this museum as our indoor adventure.  If you’ve wondered what type of torture or punishment took place during the Medieval Ages, this place is interesting. 
    • Four floors of medieval historical artifacts and what the justice system used then for punishment.
    • No worries, it is kid friendly and they offered signs with the descriptions of the items and history in English as well!  
    • Covid measures: the museum allotted a certain amount of people into the museum and there were arrows directing one-way traffics.  Masks were enforced inside as well. 
    • Visit this museum, it is rated as one of the top 100 sights and attractions in Germany as of 2020 and is Number 6 of the top museums in Germany!
    • Cost:
      • Adults: 7,50 euro
      • kids over 6yo: 3,80 euro
      • Family pack: 18,50 euro
      • More prices here
    • Find more information about the museum here.
  • Find the Gerlachschmiede

 

    • I didn’t have this originally on my list, but we passed this house during our walk along the wall, and I took so many photos of it!  Needless to say, this house is pretty important in Rothenburg ODT!
    • Located on Wenggasse, this quaint, charming house with a triangle gable was built in the 1400s.  Unfortunately, it was bombed in 1945 and was rebuilt shortly after and was used by a blacksmith until 1967.
    • When we visited, we had the opportunity to tour inside the front of the house.  Inside there were old relics and artifacts inside. We even took a photo inside the carriage, on the porch of the house, with permission from the gentleman who gave us the tour.  We bought a postcard from his store as it was free to tour inside.  

 

  • Get an amazing view at BurgGarten (Castle Garden)
    • If you want to see more amazing views beyond the walls of Rothenburg, go by the BurgGarten and take in the views of the landscape.
    • This is a great photo op area too.  

 

  • Find the Toppler Castle:
    • This 600 year old castle was known as the summer home of the medieval Mayor Toppler.  It’s a cute, skinny tower located just right outside the wall of Rothenburg and you can walk to it from the BurgGarten. 
    • We drove by it on the way out of Rothenburg, it didn’t appear to be open.  But it was neat to take a peek at this neat looking summer home.
    • More information here  

 

  • Go Shopping and Visit the Christmas Stores 
    • Along Obere Schmeidgasse, the road from the Market place, and Herngasse and Haffengasse, you’ll find many shops and stores. I spent some time just browsing each shops and admiring some of the watercolor paintings of Rothenburg.  I wanted to buy one of the authentic watercolor paintings of the Plönlein and found one that was painted by a local.  
    • Käthe Wohlfahrt has six Christmas Village shops in Rothenburg.  Visit one of their shops, the main (and biggest one) is on Herngasse where you’ll find all sorts of Christmas everything and the German Christmas Museum.  We visited this main shop but did not get a chance to enjoy the Museum.  There is a cost to visit the museum.
      • Covid safety measures were followed with only a set amount of visitors allowed and each guest must have a basket to help the staff keep count of the numbers of people in at a time. 
The main Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Store. There are 6 in Rothenburg.

 

    • Check out Die Waffenkammer (The Armory Store).  If you’re into cool swords, knives, knights armour and other medieval-like contraptions and Renaissance Fair dress ups, this place is for you.  It is kid friendly and not all weaponry dangerous, but it’s a neat store to check out for souvenirs and more.  

 

  •   Try a Schneeballen

 

    • Ok, this may not be important, but when in Rothenburg ODT…. try a Schneeballen!  What’s that you ask?  
    • Schneeballen (snowball in English), is a German specialty pastry that consist of strips of short crust  (think of left over pie crust cut in strips), that has been intertwined to form a ball and then deep fried and then topped with powdered sugar or other toppings, such as cinnamon sugar, chocolate, coconut, etc.
    • It’s quite popular in Rothenburg and in Christmas markets.
    • Most Bakeries (Bäckereien) offer these around Rothenburg ODT.

 

    • Final thoughts on taste, they were ok, a bit dry.  They were hard to bite into, so we had to break the hard, deep fried strips apart to be able to eat them.  Still worth a try.  We bought several flavors from chocolate, to coconut, the original powdered sugar, and cinnamon sugar.  The Chocolate one is pretty good if you want more taste.  

Where to Stay

To get a better feel of Rothenburg, we decided to stay at a hotel inside the wall; which made the experience all the while worth it! We knew one day wouldn’t be enough, so we stayed the weekend at the Hotel Reichsküchenmeister.

This charming hotel is located in the heart of Rothenburg ODT. Literally, walking distance from the main Market Square and the Tourist Information Center. We booked this hotel due to us making last minute reservations and it was the one hotel that was within our budget that was inside the wall that had availability and breakfast included.

I am glad we stayed there as it was a wonderful stay. We didn’t get to stay in their main hotel, but right across from the main hotel was another building that housed rooms (just like regular hotel rooms) for guests. Though the rooms were small, it was still quite nice and we enjoyed being able to stay overnight in the heart of Rothenburg.

Breakfast was offered, but, with Covid, you must make reservations the day before for a time slot to have breakfast and pick from one out of four dish choices, and you must be on time. We made the mistake of coming 30min. after the start of our breakfast time (we thought we could come between the times given to us), so we had to eat quick. But no worries, we are a family that do not take our time when we eat lol. The breakfast was simple and pretty much a complete European Breakfast.

  • Parking for the hotel is not included.  We paid an extra 14 Euros/night for the garage, the outdoor parking was 10 Euro but was already fully booked.

If you are still looking for other hotel accomodations inside the wall, here are some Booking.com suggestions.

Where to Eat

There are so many great places to eat at Rothenburg ODT.  Here are our picks:

  • Hotel Reichsküchenmeister:
    • We stayed at this hotel, but their food did not disappoint!  We had dinner one evening at the restaurant (make reservations in advance).  I highly recommend their Flammkuchen.  It’s just like a pizza or flatbread, but has a sour cream-like base for the topping and other toppings based on the type of Flammkuchen you choose from the menu.  

  • Zur Höll:
    • Wanna eat at the oldest building in the town, dating back to the year 900?  We sure did!  But try getting reservations as soon as you can for their wine cellar, the oldest room inside the building.  I was able to snag us the table in this room (that can fit up to 6 maybe) and the family and I enjoyed the experience of being able to eat inside the cellar of the oldest building in Rothenburg. 

    • The food did not disappoint.  Though the menu did not have a kid friendly menu, the kids did enjoy their rack of ribs they had on the menu. 

It was a bit pricey for our family, but we enjoyed being able to experience being able to eat inside the cellar and oldest building in Rothenburg. 

    • I hear they are also known for their wine!  So make sure to ask the waiter what they recommend!  
    • Wanna know the kicker here?  The Zur Höll in English means “to hell.”  
  • Hotel-Gasthof Goldener Greifen
    • This came highly recommended, but we did not get a chance to eat there, I hear they have an affordable kids menu and the prices for the meals are pretty reasonable as well.
  • Tobingo Döner:
    • If you want quick and easy, I hear this is a good Döner (like gyro) place to check out 
  • Not a Restaurant recommendation, but don’t forget to try Rothenburg’s local Franconian Wines at any of the restaurants or bars, or buy them at any stores that carry these, like Die Waffenkammer.  The Franconian wines are known for their shape of short and round bottles and are called Bocksbeutel.
    • I didn’t realize the significance of these cute shaped wine bottles until we visited Rothenburg and found a few neat looking sculptures of these stubby bottles. 

Go Visit!

Whew! I know that was a long one for you to read, but believe me, there is so much more to do in Rothenburg than what I have listed. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a one of a kind gem. Oh, and I hear the best time to also visit, is during their famous Christmas Market! Can you imagine how magical the town must be during this holidays? We have yet to visit their Christmas market (darn Covid).

Though, it can get touristy, Rothenburg is one of the oldest German towns in the country (not that there aren’t that many) that still maintains it’s history and charm quite well. The people are friendly and speak perfect English, and knows Rick Steve quite well from what I hear (see more freebie tip below). So, add this to your list of places to visit while in Germany! Until next time! Tschüss!!!

Finally: End Tip: if you have a Rick Steves Germany book, be sure to read up on some of the discounts you can receive on just having this book, from 10% off at one of the Käthe Wohlfahrt store or getting a free Rothenburg colorful map from one of the local stores in Rothenburg (find the name of the store in the book)! Plus, he offers a self-guided circular “Rothenburg Town Walk” you can take by reading his book or download it on his Rick Steves Audio Europe App (it’s free) and he will guide you during this audio tour as you listen to the history of Rothenburg! We loved using this feature at many European locations we have visited!

Also, don’t forget to grab a city map from the Tourist Information office! There’s also a 5 Euro coloring book of Rothenburg at the Tourist office I hear is great for kids!

If you plan to go for just a day trip. Parking is hard to find inside the walls, but there are parking available outside the wall. For parking information, check here!

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