Top 10 Things to do in Rothenburg
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is without doubt one of Germany’s most magical medieval towns year-round, and we’re so excited to share some of our favorite stops if you are lucky enough to visit. Note that Germany has several Rothenburgs, so make sure you book your train ticket to "Rothenburg ob der Tauber" (Rothenburg above the Tauber River).
1. Wake up early and head for a stroll.Since Rothenburg is beloved by tourists from around the world, we recommend waking up early to get pictures of the town without the crowds. Before breakfast, head over to the Market Square and stroll down Schmiedgasse for some picturesque photos of this fairytale town. Then, climb up one of the towers and walk atop the old town wall. While most of the western section of the wall is inaccessible, you can walk on top of the entire northern and eastern sections.
2. Grab a schneeball!After you’ve had your morning walk and worked up an appetite, you’ll want to try Rothenburg's signature pastry, the Schneeball (snowball). It is made of strips of dough that are formed into a ball and deep-fried, and is absolutely delicious. Traditionally, they were dusted with confectioner's sugar (hence the "snowball" moniker), but today you can find countless flavors such as hazelnut, chocolate, cinnamon sugar, nougat, strawberry and more. Schneeballen are sold at every bakery in town, but our favorite spot was Zuckerbäckerei.
3. Snap a photo of Plönlein.The Plönlein roughly translates to “small square at a fountain”. If there’s one image that encapsulates Rothenburg, it’s this fork in the road on Untere Schmiedgasse. You’ll definitely want to take home a photo of this iconic postcard of Rothenburg. In the center of the fork is a yellow timber-frame house with a pointed gable and a little fountain in front.
4. Step into Christmas at Weihnachtsdorf.
Even if you don’t visit Rothenburg during the Winter season, you can still take in all the Christmas magic at Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Village. Located just a stone’s throw from the Market Square, you’ll find over 16,000 square feet of Christmas decorations – from snow-covered villages to trees covered with ornaments.
5. Visit our TROVE makers!
We highly recommend visiting Ralf, the confectioner extraordinaire featured in your Germany Box, at his shop Rothenburger Bonbonmanufaktur to see these adorable bonbon hard candies made by hand from ribbons of sugar. We also recommend swinging by Loretta’s Wood Art shop where you’ll find an impressive assortment of Franconian wooden art, and each one can be engraved for free before your eyes. These both make for wonderful souvenirs and gifts for friends and family back at home.
6. Cross under the Burgtor (Castle Gate).
Built around 1460, it is the tallest gate of the town’s fortification system and its western access. It shows traditional medieval defense systems such as the so-called “Eye-of-the-Needle”, a narrow opening on the heavy gate to allow previously authorized people to enter or exit at night without the exposing risk of opening the whole gate, and an opening on the ceiling of the gate which could be used to pour boiling tar on eventual attackers.
7. Visit Saint James Church.
The most important church of Rothenburg has its origin in 1311 and holds two impressive treasures: a wooden work of the famous caver artist Tilman Riemenschneider depicting a representation of the Last Supper in the Altar of the Holy Bloodand the Twelve Messenger Altar by Friedrich Herlin which portrays the oldest known representation of the town. This temple in homage to Saint-James attracts many pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago.
8. Grab a drink at Altfraenkische Weinstube.
We fell in love with this old Franconian wine bar inside a home form the 1300s. It was so cozy and the perfect place to rest your feet after a day of exploring with a glass of wine or some great German beer.
9. Have dinner at Villa Mittermeier.
We had a delicious and wonderfully creative meal at Villa Mittermeier, which was on the Michelin Bib guide. You can enjoy either a 5-course lunch or 7-course dinner here.
10. Join the Night Watchman tour.
The tour with the Night Watchman starts at the Market Square of Rothenburg ob der Tauber – right at 8:00 pm for English-speaking guests (every Friday and Saturday) and at 9:30 pm for the German-language ones. The route goes from Marktplatz along Herrngasse, sharing stories from the Medieval times (think the Medieval version of Rick Steves).
We’re so excited for your holiday trip to Rothenburg and hope you enjoyed this short roundup of some of our favorite places in this cute town!