Be prepared to be transported through time to Medieval Germany.
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After two and a half days in the Bavarian Capital, we were ready to start the second leg of our journey through Germany. We jumped on the train and headed for Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a charming fairytale town come to life in the heart of Bavaria’s Fraconian region.
I pride myself on being a solid writer, but no words on this page could possibly describe how beautiful and magical Rothenburg truly is. You’ll have to reference the pictures for that. This well-preserved medieval gem is nestled above the Tauber river and is enclosed by towering city walls. Inside the walls you’ll find a network of cobblestone lanes lined with colorful mix-matched buildings showing off their historic half-timbered facades. A visit to Rothenburg is a unique opportunity for a time-travel-like moment out in the German countryside.
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Getting to Rothenburg
The trip from Munich to to Rothenburg, though relatively short and cheap, was not the easiest. Clocking in at 2 hours and 30 minutes, it required four different trains. On the heels of Oktoberfest, it wasn’t the most comfortable experience for my fragile body and mind. We also ran into a *slight*, mildly hilarious hiccup during one of our transfers. Two versions of the story (both long and short) are below:
The actual story: The trains use hand motion sensors to open the doors at each stop. We kept trying to push the sensor like a button when we arrived at one of our transfer stops. As a result, the door didn’t open, the train pulled away from the station, and all of the people watching got quite the show when we, the American trio, erupted in a panic. It went a little something like this:
American trio: “Speaken de english?”
German train crowd: *lots of head nods “no”*
American trio: FUCK!!!!”
We ended up continuing through the countryside until we we were able to turn around at an upcoming stop. This stop was the bleakest, most desolate train station at which I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying a royal hangover.
TL;DR: We couldn’t figure out how to get off the train, missed our stop, and eventually had to turn around.
Click here to read more about the Deutsche Bahn train line, and a breakdown of the route so you can grasp the journey, in the event you’re planning it yourself.
Once you get to Rothenburg, it’s an easy 10-minute walk to the walled city. We opted for a tiny Airbnb just outside the walled city, but in an area still considered Rothenburg ob der Tauber. There are hotels on each and every corner in the walled city, so if you’re looking for an even more authentic accommodation experience, you’ll have plenty of options. By the time we arrived, we had a full afternoon and evening in the city. We only stopped here for one night before heading to Berlin.
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Rothenburg See + Do
While you can join tours and plan specific itineraries around Rothenburg, merely walking around the city and taking in the sights could be enough for a visitor. You do not need a plan to make this visit worthwhile, and while it may be crowded at the height of day, walking through the streets in the evening is peaceful.
While we did our fair share of aimless wandering, we also hit a few specific spots of interest. Below includes a list of things we saw, where we ate, and where we stopped for drinks. I’ve also created a google map to share some of my favorite spots!
Burggarten – A small green oasis on what was previously castle grounds. You can get great views of the city’s skyline from this park.
Glocke Restaurant, Hotel, and Winery – Wine tasting is the name of the game here! While there is an array of options to satisfy any palate in Rothenburg, Glocke offers classic German dishes. While you can order drinks a la carte, I would highly suggest the wine tasting. You’ll get a variety of 6 small wines to try with your dinner.
Landknechtstübchen – Try saying this one three times fast. If you’re looking for help on proper pronunciation, I cannot help you. Here you’ll find classic German eats in a low key setting. We stopped here for lunch
Hotel Gerberhaus: We popped into the Hotel Gerberhaus cafe for a late afternoon Aperol Spritz. You’ll find a really unique ambiance at Hotel Gerberhaus. The cafe seating area is full of mix matched furniture, natural light, and rustic decor.
Plönlein: Greetings from Rothenburg! Odds are, you’ll see this half-timbered residential building on your Rothenburg postcard. While Plönlein is often considered as just the building in and of itself, it also refers to the entire area that’s marked by the two towers opposite sides of the fork (you can see the second tower slightly peeking out from behind the right side of the building.) YOU WILL BATTLE CROWDS FOR A PICTURE WITH THIS GEM.
Marktplatz + Town Hall: Welcome to Rothenburg’s city center, where the quaint winding roads open up into a bustling mini metropolis. Here you’ll find Rothenburg’s impressive Town Hall, along with a number of shops, cafes, and other quintessential buildings. We passed through here on our way from the Christmas Museum to Plönlein.
Käthe Wohlfahrt: A trip to Germany’s Christmas Capital wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Museum. While we didn’t take an official tour of the museum, on which you’ll learn about the origins of Christmas traditions in Germany and beyond, we checked out the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Village. The Christmas Village is essentially a labyrinth of the most impressive Christmas decorations and ornaments you ever did see. Take a gander here to see what I mean!
Other things to see:
I flagged a few buildings with awesome facades for you to check out. You can find them on my map here, but if you’d like to look a little further:
- Marine Apotheke
- Hotel Reichsküchenmeister Das Herz von Rothenburg
- Burg Hotel
- Galgentor and the city wall (Galgentor is a tower built into the city’s walls. You can actually walk on top of the walls on guided tours (which we did not get to do).
- Obere Schmiedgasse (access the street from Marktplatz and walk straight to Plönlein. You’ll find tons of boutique stores, gift shops, and bakeries where you can try Rothenburg’s classic Schneeballen.