I discovered Rothenburg ob der Tauber a couple of years ago thanks to a fellow blogger, Cali Globetrotter. The storybook buildings captured my imagination and I just knew that this needed to be a destination on my next European trip. Luckily, when I started sketching out my route for last October it
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is widely known for its well-preserved buildings. Many of them were built before 1400. While we were there we learned a very interesting story of the old town being spared during World War II. Rothenburg gets its name from the German word for “red,” and if you climb to the top of Rödertor tower, you will see that most buildings have red roofs. If you are planning a trip to Bavaria in Germany, you must come here.
This post contains a few affiliate links. Thanks for supporting The Voyageer!
The closest airports to Rothenburg ob der Tauber are Frankfurt, Stuttgart, and Nuremberg. Each airport is about 1-2 hours away, so you will need a secondary mode of transportation to get you to town for your visit.
Getting to Rothenburg ob der Tauber was trickier than I originally expected. We took Flixbus from Prague to Karlovy Vary and Bamberg, but Flixbus doesn’t service Rothenburg ob der Tauber. However, Deutsche Bahn (the train) brought us to the old city (after 3 transfers) and it was only a short walk from the station to the city center. We booked our tickets through Trainline.
When you plan your trip, keep in mind that only a few trains go in and out of town each day. If you drive, remember that parking is limited within the old city walls.
The secret of Rothenburg ob der Tauber has been out for decades—it really is no secret anymore—it’s simply a must-visit spot for anyone interested in picturesque Germany. I found this town extremely lovely. It is an excellent example of medieval half-timbered buildings. My husband and I stayed for two days, which was enough for us to really see the town without feeling rushed. Stretching the trip longer would have been quite relaxing (our itinerary was pretty intense).
It was fairly busy, even in mid-week, but the tourist groups were all courteous to one another. Rising early and photographing the town as it wakes up is a great way to avoid droves of tourists in every shot.
When You Go
- The highlight of my time in Rothenburg ob der Tauber was hanging out in the impossibly picturesque Marktplatz, or Main Square. On two sides it is lined with cafes, pubs and gift shops. On the other two sides, the imposing buildings of old and new town halls. It is common practice to sit on the steps of
townhall with snacks and a drink, taking in the ambiance.
- I cannot recommend the Night Watchman Tour highly enough. I have expressed my skepticism of touristy gimmicks before, but the Night Watchman Tour exceeded my expectations. The pacing was perfect, with many informational stops along the way. The host was very theatrical and funny while still being informative. He takes his job as city host seriously, but with the right wink of irony that comes from acknowledging the literal
rolehe is playing.
- Many consider Germany to be the birthplace of Christmas as we know it. You will find Christmas shops in almost every small German town, but here you can visit the Christmas Museum, any time of year.
- Another site that sets Rothenburg apart is its Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum. Consider how far we have come when considering the punishments that used to be assigned. View
thousand year old“correction” (or torture) mechanisms and stand in awe of their creativity and inhumanity. Bonus: Continue down the unassuming street to find Zur Höll, or “To Hell,” the oldest-standing bar in Rothenburg, with a cornerstone laid in the 8th century.
- The city is surrounded by a fortified wall that is one reason we get to enjoy it today. The wall did its job well during the numerous wars of the past thousand years; while other German cities changed occupiers several times, Rothenburg was able to hold strong. Walk the wall (1-2 miles) for nice views of inside and outside the town.
Bonus: Lots of Rothenburg ob der Tauber posts will encourage you to try a
We stayed at the beautiful Gasthof Butz guesthouse. The room was very comfortable, the breakfast was good, and it was just one alley away from the main square. Tourism is the town’s main industry so there are plenty of accommodations to choose from. I recommend staying near the main square where you can hear church bells and leisurely stroll out to the weekend market for a coffee or pastry. My full review of Gasthof Butz can be found here.
Most of the guesthouses in these small German towns are pretty similar. Use the widget below to find your perfect room!
Did I miss anything? Have you ever been to this storybook town? Please leave a comment below!
Photos by Doug and Staci Jackson for The Voyageer.