Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a fairytale town located in Bavaria along the Romantic Road. It is a popular destination and one of Germany’s best-preserved historic walled towns.
You’ll find great restaurants, plenty of shops, and unique museums including a year-round Christmas museum/store. It also has a beautiful medieval architecture that has inspired both Disney films and theme parks.
I know trip planning is almost impossible right now with the current worldwide pandemic, but traveling will happen again. And when that day comes, consider adding Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Germany to your list. Rolls right off your tongue, doesn’t it?
We only had 24 hours to make the most of our trip, so I’m sharing some of the best things to do in Rothenburg.
24 HOURS IN ROTHENBURG, GERMANY
If you’re following my handy Germany road trip, Rothenburg will be a 2-2.5 hour drive from Fussen. If you’re driving in from Munich it’ll be a similar distance. I do recommend driving instead of taking the train if you plan to visit other towns beyond Rothenburg.
Renting a car helped us save time and money versus the train route. Saving time is very important when you don’t have many days to explore a new place. Plus, the roads in Germany are wonderful to drive. Read more about it in this post.
NOTE: When booking or getting directions for your Rothenburg trip, make sure you enter the entire name of the town, Rothenburg ob der Tauber. There is more than one Rothenburg in Germany, and you wouldn’t want to end up in the wrong town!
WHERE TO STAY IN ROTHENBURG
One day isn’t enough to spend in Rothenburg, but we did our best with the hours we had. Unfortunately for us, we wasted a handful of them because we had to book a new hotel at the last minute. Something we’ve never experienced.
Jorge always checks the bed before we settle into any accommodation. The original place we had booked in Rothenburg (Hotel Spitzweg) had these weird little bugs on the bedspread. They didn’t look like bed bugs and weren’t in the crevices of the bed. But they were still creepy little bugs, and there were way too many of them for our comfort.
It’s insane because I do so much research beforehand and read all the reviews for mentions of bugs and no one said anything. So I’m not sure if it was just a one-time deal, came from the laundry service, or what happened with that room we booked especially because the rest of it seemed spotless.
Just goes to show you can prepare all you want, but you never know what you’re going to get while traveling. I know this can happen anywhere in the world, but I always hoped it wouldn’t happen to us. I won’t bore you with my full review of that hotel and that morning, but we were truly traumatized.
We sat in the car for hours trying to find another hotel that would meet our standards. We ended up booking Gästehaus Eberlein, located right outside the old town walls. It was nothing fancy, but it was clean, had a good breakfast, a very friendly host, and free parking. We were able to leave our car parked the entire time and just walk 7 minutes to the old town.
THINGS TO DO IN ROTHENBURG
EXPERIENCE THE SMALL TOWN CHARM | Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a small and incredibly picturesque town that is easily walkable. Take advantage of that and explore every beautiful nook.
VISIT THE FOUNTAIN OF ST. GEORGE | If you’ve ever been to the German Pavilion in Walt Disney World Orlando you may have seen the replica, but why not check out the real deal in the Marktplatz. This fountain has been in Rothenburg for over 400 years and makes for a cool photo opportunity. In the photo below you’ll spot it behind the flowers because I didn’t realize (before writing this post) that I was right by this famous fountain.
PHOTOGRAPH PLÖNLEIN | Make sure to stop at Plönlein, the most charming spot in town and a popular angle you’ve probably seen on Instagram. This is one of Rothenburg’s most iconic streets and made an appearance on Disney’s Pinocchio (the classic 1940s version).
CATCH THE NIGHT WATCHMAN TOUR | If you’re there in the evening, try to catch the Rothenburg Night Watchman tour. It’s a free walking tour and supposedly quite entertaining and informative. We had it on our list but due to our hotel drama, we weren’t able to make it.
VISIT A CRIME MUSEUM | This is another thing I had on my list but we weren’t able to do. The Medieval Crime Museum has exhibits on over 1,000 years of crime and punishment in Germany with a focus on the torture tools used.
CLIMB THE TOWN HALL TOWER FOR SUNSET | You can climb up the 220 steps to the observation platform in the Town Hall Tower to get one of the nicest views of Rothenburg and the surrounding area while catching the sunset.
DON’T MISS THE CHRISTMAS MUSEUM | Rothenburg is known as Germany’s Christmas capital, so you’ll find the holiday spirit year-round at Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Museum (and beyond). The store is free to browse and buy, but you’ll need to pay a small fee to enter the museum.
WALK AROUND THE OLD TOWN WALLS | I was too exhausted at this point to climb up and walk around the old town walls, but I regret not doing it. Don’t be a lazy heifer like me, climb up there and get some great photos! Jorge went up briefly and got some cool angles so I can only imagine how much more we would’ve seen if we walked the whole thing.
EAT ALL THE GERMAN CUISINE | We had a great traditional German dinner at Gasthof Butz with a generous side of Riesling. Riesling originated in Germany so don’t miss it. Rothenburg had lots of great looking restaurants to choose from but they can get booked quickly. Make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time.
There it is, an incredible 24 hours to spend in Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber. Many people visit this town on a day trip, but as you can see that just isn’t enough time to cover all that Rothenburg has to offer. After writing this post I realized how much more I have to see and hope to return to this inspiring town soon.