Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a fairytale town located along the Romantic Road in Bavaria. 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 beautiful medieval architecture that has inspired 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.
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. It’ll be a similar distance if you’re driving in from Munich. I 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 lovely to drive. Read more about it in this post.
NOTE: When booking or getting directions for your Rothenburg trip, make sure you enter the full 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, we wasted a handful of them because we had to book a new hotel 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, mainly because the rest of it seemed spotless.
I won’t bore you with my full review of that hotel, but we were truly traumatized. It just shows 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.
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, an amiable host, and free parking. We were able to leave our car parked the entire time and walk 7 minutes to the old town.
Things to do in Rothenburg
EXPERIENCE THE SMALL TOWN CHARM | Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a small, incredibly picturesque, and walkable town. 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 appeared on Disney’s Pinocchio (the classic 1940s version).
CATCH THE NIGHT WATCHMAN TOUR | If you’re there, try to catch the Rothenburg Night Watchman tour in the evening. It’s a free walking tour and supposedly quite entertaining and informative. We had it on our list, but we weren’t able to make it due to our hotel drama.
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, focusing 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 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 excellent 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 many great-looking restaurants to choose from, but they could get booked quickly. Make sure to reserve your spot ahead of time.
There you have it, 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 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.
VISITING OTHER PARTS OF GERMANY? HERE ARE SOME HELPFUL GUIDES
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This German city looks so amazing. I’ve been meaning to visit Germany again to explore more places. Adding this one to my list!
Thank you! I can’t wait to go back to Germany, too! There are still so many areas left to visit.
What a beautiful German city to visit! I love medieval cities like this so I’m adding it to my list for sure.
Thanks so much! Medieval cities are a favorite!
I love the timbered houses in this place! Rothenburg ob der Tauber is on my list since a while! It reminds me of the Alsatian cities like colmar.
Ah yes, the Alsace region is beautiful. They definitely have their similarities. Thanks for reading!
Rothenburg looks like the cutest destination! It looks like stepping straight into a fairy tale! I could definitely lose myself in the town for a few days admiring the bright colours and quaint architecture! Thanks for the wonderful guide!
Thanks for reading!
The bugs sound nasty, but otherwise really a fairytale place to visit. Unfortunately bugs can surprise you everywhere. Then it is a matter of how you handle the problem and manage to get over it. I hate when that happens! At least you found another place.
Haha yeah they were bad! I wonder if they came from the laundry service bc the rest of the room was so spotless. But for sure they can be anywhere in the world that’s why we always do our thorough checks before even setting our bags down. It was bound to happen to us at some point!
I loved Rothenburg when I visited last year for the Christmas markets. It is such a quaint and charming little storybook village. I definitely think it makes for a great day trip and is perfect for just one day. 🙂
I can imagine how magical it is during Christmastime!