Have you ever read a fairy-tale and pictured a quaint village with half-timbered houses and flowers hanging on the window ledge? I have and on my trip to Germany, I found my real life fairy-tale village, Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, Bavaria.
Off the beaten track of Romantic Road, Bavaria you’ll find a medieval town. The German town, which dates back to 970 AD, is definitely not one to be missed. Rothenburg is protected by a gothic styled town wall, which still contains some of its original construction, and the very picturesque clock tower, which still stands strong today.
Note: There is more than one Rothenburg in Germany. The one I am writing about is Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber, so please don’t go to the wrong one and be disappointed.
Getting to Rothenburg is a little bit of an extra effort, but I assure you it is well beyond worth it.
You can travel to Rothenburg by train, bus or car.
Train: When my family and I went, we travelled to Rothenburg via train. We Travelled to Würzburg (or you can travel to Ansbach) and caught a regional train to Rothenburg. Be sure the regional train goes via Steinach then onward to Rothenburg.
Frankfurt airport is the closest airport to Rothenburg. It is just an hour and a half away from Würzburg, which is where you would catch the train. Click here to find out other airports that are within 5 hours of Würzburg.
Once arrived in Rothenburg, the medieval town is walking distance from the train station, so save some cash where you can (Rothenburg is quite expensive).
Car: Hire a rental from the airport and Travel on the Highway A7 Würzburg – Ulm to Rothenburg and take exit 108.
Bus: The Romantic Road coach takes you to the Village. Click here for more details about the coach. Not only does the Romantic Road coach stop in Rothenburg, but also it stops at multiple stops along the Romantic Road. So perhaps arrive at Rothenburg by afternoon and spend a day discovering the region. The bus doesn’t stop long enough in Rothenburg to have a complete experience, so I suggest spend a night or two to get the best out of your time there.
What to do
This village is alive with history; so don’t miss out on your opportunity to step into an evening walk with the night watchman. We did this, and wow was it worth it, I totally recommend it! You also get a chance to purchase the DVD so you can take Rothenburg home with you.
You can also walk on the town wall and immerse yourself with amazing views of the town and of the countryside that sits just outside.
After a morning walking the wall, shopping may be included in your itinerary. Everything you know Germany to be (cuckoo clocks to stein glasses) Rothenburg sells, so save your shopping for your stop here. Rothenburg is famous for Christmas time all year round. There is no doubt that you won’t walk past the giant nutcracker at least once, walk through his doors and you walk into the Christmas wonderland of Käthe Wohlfahrt.
Don’t forget the Medieval Crime Museum; if it’s not on your Rothenburg to do list make sure you add it on. So many years of history to discover.
Buildings you MUST see: Don’t miss out on checking out theRothenburg Town Hall, Das Plonlein, Gerlachschmiede and theKobolzeller Tor. These are just a few of the incredible medieval works you can not afford to miss on your Rothenburg trip.
When to Go
Christmas time is a magical time in Rothenburg. It is a Christmas wonderland coming to life before your eyes. When we went, it was a few months before Christmas, but I assure you that it was beyond perfect. They had all the Christmas decorations set out, the Christmas stalls and shops decked out with festive decorations.
Rothenburg even has a Christmas museum with history of how the tradition came to life upstairs of a Christmas decorations store. This museum is open all year round, so if you aren’t there at Christmas time don’t worry, you won’t miss out. But it makes it that little bit more magical if you are there at Christmas time.
However, the Christmas markets are only on during the month of December. I recommend going a few months before Christmas, so you are able to experience the Christmas festivity without all the crowds (minus the Christmas markets).
If you don’t enjoy the colder months, then spring and summer are also an exceptional time to go. This is the time you can enjoy all the blooming flowers hanging on window ledges and enjoy the warm weather. It is also very busy at this time, so I suggest going early autumn to avoid crowds.
Do you want the most accommodating hotel for you and your family? Then the Goldener Hirsch is the hotel for you. Our Eurail trip took us to 5 countries and a heap of places within, and out of all the hotels we stayed at this one was the best.
The breakfast room was overlooking the countryside that sits outside of the village and may I add it was an amazing breakfast. The staff were also extremely friendly and if I was to go back, I would stay here again. I totally recommend checking it out!
Click here for your complete Rothenburg guide from the best restaurants to the best hotels.