How to Spend One Day in Rothenberg, Germany

Steve Cummings

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

Are you heading to Germany the next time you travel abroad and are looking for an exciting, fascinating, and activity-packed day in one of the most beautiful towns in the world? In that case, consider spending a day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Before we start looking at frugal travel tips in this beautiful town, you may have questions about the meaning of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. When translated, the town's name is Red Castle above the Tauber, located on a plateau that looks out onto the glorious Tauber River. 

Now, on to the fun part of our guide. It will tell you a great way to see Rothenburg in just one day. You could spend longer here and never run out of amazing things to do, but let's see what we can cram into just a day in the town. 

1. Start The Day Right With a Rothenburg Breakfast

German Breakfast
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Whether staying in a smaller establishment or one of the city's fine hotels, there is no better way to start your day than with some Rothenburg ob der Tauber food. German breakfasts, including cured meats, salami, bread, eggs, butter, and coffee, can be very filling. 

You may also find that if the hotel is of high standing and supportive of its heritage, it will include many delicacies you can only find in Germany and Rothenburg, like the Rothenburg Snowballs—more on that in a moment. 

2. Schneeballen

No matter what else you choose from the extensive list of things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, you must head to a bakery and purchase Schneeballen. As alluded to in the previous section, one delicacy that Rothenburg is particularly fond of is Schneeballen or snowballs. These are best enjoyed with some German coffee and are essentially small or big balls of pastry crust that are fried and then topped off with various sugary extras.

Some of the best can be found at Zuckerbackerei, Backerei Striffler, and Backerei-Café Friedrich Schobel. However, it is unlikely that you will come across any bakery that doesn’t sell snowballs.

3. Explore the City Walls

Rothenburg ob der Tauber City Walls
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Did you know that only three cities and towns in Germany have their medieval walls completely intact? One of those is Rothenburg ob der Tauber. For the frugal travelers, a free walking tour of Rothenburg ob der Tauber includes the city walls. If you prefer to do it on a specific schedule because you are only there for a limited time, you can still explore them. 

The walls provide an insightful look at what the town would have been like hundreds of years ago and offer stunning city vistas. The easiest way to start exploring is by heading to Plonlein, veering to the left, and going through the arch of the tower. Then, take a left turn once you pass the yellow and red building known as Landwehr-Brau am Turm. Look ahead, and you will find a staircase that leads up to the side of the old city walls. 

You can head to the top of the staircase, walk left, and follow it to the other side of this beautiful town. This is especially great for frugal travelers as it does not cost anything different than any supplies you may take for the journey, which takes around 35 to 60 minutes. Please note that the pathway has been used for years, so it is not always the most level path.

4. Just Walk

Dog Walking
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Many great Rothenburg ob der Tauber attractions are available during a day trip to the city. While we do not suggest you miss any of these, we recommend you enjoy strolling and exploring the town on foot. One suggested path around the city is to start at the Tower Trail endpoint, walk through the nearby parking lot, and head into the heart of Rothenburg ob der Tauber Old Town. Given the size and layout of the place, it is challenging to get lost entirely, so don't worry about looking at Google Maps or a paper copy of a street map. Just go where the roads, streets, and alleys take you. 

Some of the best attractions in and around Rothenburg can be found this way. Such places as St. James's Church, the Pope's house, many little shops, and somber Holocaust memorials are hidden throughout the city. Next, you should try going to Burggarten and looking at the views from the wall on the city's left. It allows you to see down the valley and enjoy gazing at that famous landmark, the Plonlein. 

5. Plonlein

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Speaking of Plonlein, among the many great Rothenburg ob der Tauber attractions, Plonlein is one of the most famous and, for many people, a reason to visit the city. When translated into English, it means “small square at a fountain.” We wouldn’t want to fail to mention the most significant tourist draw in the city. Moreover, it is free and will only take a little time on your itinerary. It is perfect for the frugal traveler.

What's the big deal about it? It is incredibly picturesque and looks like something from an old Disney animation. Disney was inspired by the town for Pinocchio and for the German pavilion at the Epcot Center in Walt Disney World. 

It is important to remember that, as this is so popular, there will be a lot of crowds there before too long, so go as early as you can to get the most out of it. 

6. Marktplatz

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Many have commented on how much Rothenburg looks like a permanent Christmas town. But if you choose to visit the city in winter, you will experience the real thing: the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market. Found between St. Jakob and Town Hall, the market runs from the last Friday before the first day of Advent and ends on the day before Christmas Eve. Around 54 stalls are open every day, and brass bands play music on a particular stage in the Green Market. 

In addition to all the stalls there, you should pay close attention to the town hall on whatever day you are there during Advent. A specially designed Advent window opens every day on the 2nd floor of the building. Youth groups and school classes from the local area are commissioned to do the work. 

7. Something Nice to Eat

Eat Tapas
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Reich Kuchenmeister is one of the best German restaurants in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This is perfect for a spot for lunch. While the restaurant is charming, the beer garden is great for sitting and having some food and drink on better weather days. Try the delicious Keller bier and flammkuchen if you want something that reminds you of home. It is pizza and beer, German style. Flammkuchen, or tarte flambee, as it is also known, is famous in the Alsace region and consists of bread dough that has been rolled into very thin ovals or rectangles and then covered in crème fraiche or fromage blanc and lardons and finely sliced onions. 

8. Explore the Museums

Suppose you want to learn more about the town's history and surrounding area or escape unpleasant weather conditions. In that case, there is a Rothenburg ob der Tauber Museum that suits your interests. One of the most famous, still on the subject of Christmas, is the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas Museum, which is free to visit throughout the year and displays many exciting and cute classic German Christmas decorations and ornaments. 

Another curious museum you can visit is the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum or the Rothenburg Museum. The latter is vast and expansive, includes a stunning selection of exhibits, and is located in a historic spot. 

9. Dinner In One of the Oldest Restaurants in the World

Couples at restaurant
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As the day goes on, you will likely want to try some authentic Rothenburg ob der Tauber food. One of the best restaurants in Rothenburg ob der Tauber for dinner is the curiously monikered Zur Höll, which translates from German to English as To Hell. It opened more than 1,000 years ago and still serves diners in a pretty, cool, but still a little creepy candle-lit cave. 

Don't worry about whether it is style over substance, as the food is incredible. As it is so tiny and trendy, the reservations each night are snapped up quickly. So, to avoid disappointment, you should book a table as far in advance as possible. Generally speaking, they have two dinner seatings, one at 5 p.m. and one at 8 p.m. We suggest you aim for an earlier time.

10. Night Watchmen Tours

As well as giving you more time to fit activities into your schedule, having an early dinner means enjoying one of the best things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber: going on a Night Watchmen tour. These occur every night punctually at 8 pm, so we suggested an earlier dinner. The tour meets at the Marktplatz. Look for the strange-looking man in medieval attire holding a stick and lantern. That's your guide. The great thing about this is that it is inexpensive and you don't need to make a booking. You pay him once the tour is over.

11. Marktplatz

Marktplatz Rothenburg
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If you want to check out the famous Rothenburg ob der Tauber clock tower or the Rothenburg ob der Tauber castle, the best place to do this is Marktplatz. Even if you are looking for a place to stop and chill out with a beer or two, one of the best moments in a day in Rothenburg happens when the clock strikes the start of a new hour and the mayor chugs on some wine. You can climb the tower if the weather is good and look over the city. 

12. More Hiking

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We have already covered exploring the city walls, but there are more places to go and more things to do on foot in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. For instance, if you head from the city at Burggarten, where a trail will take you past beautiful vineyards to a pretty little church, a double bridge will take you across the rolling Tauber River. If you keep going, you will reach Rothenburg ob der Tauber castle. 

So, if you are interested in history or just exceptional views, this would be a great thing to do during your trip. 

13. Check out Plonlein at Night

Okay, so it's true we have already highlighted the stunning landmark and most popular site in all of Rothenburg, Plonlein, but if you have time, we recommend making another stop there once it's dark. 

The town square is even more remarkable once the sun sets and many tourists have dispersed. Generally speaking, not many places are open after dark, so you can walk around this pristine and picturesque fairytale-esque city almost entirely undisturbed by anyone.

Undoubtedly, it is one of the best things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Cities often have a different atmosphere at night. Rothenburg ob der Tauber certainly does.. 

Final Thoughts

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: a beneficial guide to things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. As you can see, there are plenty of cheap and affordable things to do for even the most frugal travelers visiting the city. From the Christmas market to the clock tower, the museums, and the Castle, there is enough to fill a good couple of days in the area. 

If you have not planned your flights or made travel bookings yet for your trip, you should know that the best way to get to Rothenburg ob der Tauber from the US is by flying directly to Germany and then driving to the city. The closest airport to Rothenburg ob der Tauber is Stuttgart, a one-and-a-half-hour drive away.

We hope you enjoyed our day trip guidance. Let us know in the comments section if you have any other suggestions.

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