Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Sights with Travel Guide and Tips


Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the most beautiful small towns in Germany . Without a doubt, because the numerous historic half-timbered houses in the medieval old town with its 42 historic towers , crooked houses from the Middle Ages and the picturesque cobbled streets are simply beautiful to look at and exude a special flair.

Thanks to Corona, I took the chance to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber again after many years. Also, the “Thanks” absence of tourists from Asia and North America, a little dream. Because you won’t be able to experience this small town so empty anytime soon. 

The city gates, towers and fountains in the old town are all still intact, which makes the beautiful city so charming and attracts millions of tourists every year. I’ll show you the most beautiful sights of the fairy-tale city as well as the most famous attractions such as the  Plönlein , the city gates with the historic city wall and of course the  old town hall  with  the medieval market square . Have fun with our city tour through beautiful Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Are you planning a trip to Rothenburg or a road trip along the Romantic Road or Castle Road? Then I’ll tell you my best tips and highlights for Rothenburg ob der Tauber – from the sights to cafés, museums and special city tours that are worthwhile.

Tour of Rothenburg

I’ll take you on a walk through the old town of Rothenburg. You don’t need a real plan, because it is surrounded by the old but well-preserved city wall, which you can walk almost without interruption on the Rothenburger Turmweg. 

The good news: The sights in Rothenburg ob der Tauber are only a few minutes’ walk away from each other. If it’s not too crowded, you can comfortably explore the city in one day. But since Rothenburg embodies Germany’s fairytale town for Chinese, Japanese and Korean tourists, it’s always busy.

So I’m afraid that the streets will fill up again quickly after Corona and you’ll have to go through the old town with many other visitors.

Hence my first tip: travel to Rothenburg ob der Tauber during the week or in the low season. Worth it. Rothenburg is idyllic again in the evening when the many tour buses have left. Then the old town exudes a special magic. Stay the night (you can find my overnight tips further down in the report).

5 Top Highlights in Rothenburg

I have summarized the most famous landmarks in Rothenburg ob der Tauber as well as the historically most important places in the city and activities here. In my opinion, you definitely have to visit these places worth seeing on your first visit. These are my absolute highlights:

1. Historic old town in Rothenburg with lots of half-timbered houses and Plönlein
2. Medieval crime museum 3. Explore
Rothenburg’s city wall and towers on the Turmweg
4. Ghost tour with the executioner in the evening
5. Eat a snowball

Of course you will find the most beautiful photo motifs on the Plönlein , the most famous and romantic view in Rothenburg or in all of Franconia. I also really liked the view of the Röderbogen and the Markusturm

Top Sights

1. The Plönlein – Rothenburg’s landmark

Probably the most popular photo motif in Rothenburg is the Plönlein. Now you’re probably wondering: What does that mean? The Plönlein is not just the yellow half-timbered house at the entrance to the hospital district, as many people think. No, because this half-timbered house is only in the center of the Plölein. If you want to translate Plönlein exactly, it means something like “small square at the fountain”. 

Accordingly, in addition to the yellow half-timbered house, the Plönlein also includes the fountain in front of it, as well as the two towers of the old city wall: the Siebersturm on the left and the Kobolzeller Turm on the right. 

Interesting fact: The Plönlein is often used as a film backdrop. Did you know that the Walt Disney classic Pinocchio from 1940 was based on Plönlein ? An ideal scenery for the representation of European medieval scenes. 

One of the most beautiful cities in Germany is on the Castle Road: Rothenburg ob der Tauber old town (here the “Ploenlein”)

2. Turmweg – Walk on The Old City Walls

To get a first impression of the old town , you should explore the four kilometers along the battlements of the old city wall on the Turmweg . 

In summer and in December for the Christmas market it can get very busy in Rothenburg’s streets. How good that there is a good reason to leave it anyway: the Turmweg along the city wall. The fortifications, built between the 13th and 15th centuries, are a prime example of medieval fortification technology – each part served a specific purpose.

Start at the Röderturm . In addition to the town hall tower, it is one of two towers that you can climb. From the top the view is great (2 euros, daily 11am to 3pm) and at the top you can visit a permanent exhibition about the destruction of the north-eastern quarter of Rothenburg in March 1945 and the subsequent reconstruction.


If you keep walking, you will reach the Gerlachschmiede after a few meters.

The building immediately stands out. It was destroyed in an air raid and rebuilt. The former farrier is now privately owned and cannot be visited.

The Weiberturm and the Galgentor follow , through which you reach the Galgentor– where the gallows once stood. At the far end you will find the Kummereck tower . The name says it all about the security of this tower. Rothenburg was most threatened at this point. Next comes the Powder Tower , in which the gunpowder was stored.

Next follow the Kobozeller Tor with a beautiful view over the Tauber Valley . Via the Teufelskanzel and the Rossmühle you reach the Spitalbastei and the end of the Turmweg.

A few meters further on are the Klingentor and the tower that served as a water reservoir, the punishment tower and the castle gate . Exit the tower path and take a closer look at the gate. Can you see the mask through whose mouth the tar was dumped for attackers?

I really enjoyed the walk on the old city wall. Be sure to look at the roofs of the towers, because a stork had its nest on St. Mark’s Tower and stood in the nest at sunset. A great picture during the ghost tour.

Note : Rothenburg is said to be called “Franconian Jerusalem” because the view from the Kalkturm in the Spitalviertel in the direction of the northern Old Town is said to be reminiscent of the view of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem . To be honest, I couldn’t understand it now, but fortunately opinions are very different.

  • Length 4 km, duration approx. 2 hours
  • Access is possible around the clock, but the most beautiful time is at sunset.
  • The starting point of the path, which is marked with a tower symbol and can be walked in both directions, is the Rödertor (there are parking spaces nearby); With the exception of the battlements, the Turmweg is almost barrier-free.
  • Information about the Tower Trail
  • You can ask for the Turmweg brochure at the Tourist Info on the market square. Along the tour, there are also boards with information about the towers, their special features, and their uses.

3. Medieval Crime Museum

For me, the crime museum (also called the torture museum) is one of the absolute highlights in Rothenburg.

A dishonor for bakers who cheated their customers with bread that was too light marks the entrance to Germany’s most important law museum. Numerous instruments of torture, tools for carrying out sentences of shame and honor as well as numerous documents and graphics provide an insight into more than 1000 years of legal history.

For me, the most spookily fascinating attractions in the museum are the medieval instruments of torture and punishment: shame masks for slanderers, chastity belts, a wicked basket, a ruff for quarrelsome women, and a beer keg-shaped cell for drinkers. Several versions of the “Iron Maiden” are also on display. Super worth seeing and really interesting.

The museum has over 50,000 exhibits, making it the largest of its kind in Europe.

My tip: Visit the Medieval Crime Museum first and take part in the ghost tour with the executioner in the evening. Ideal in combination. I found both very interesting and worth seeing.

  • Admission: 8 euros, view and book tickets and opening times on the website.
  • You can also book tours at the museum. I explored everything on my own.
  • Take your time as there are many boards with information about the procedures and instruments.

4. Market Square, Town Hall, and Half-timbered Romance

As in the past, the market square lined with magnificent town houses, the crossing point of two historic long-distance trade routes, forms the center of the city. Today locals meet tourists at the weekly market. Here around the market square, you will find some architectural gems and the largest fountain in Rothenburg.


City ​​Hall

The large show staircase in front of the  Renaissance facade of the Rothenburg town hall is a popular meeting place for locals and also for city tours. Furthermore, the imposing town hall with its semi-Gothic part and the newer Renaissance facade from the front is the more striking in the surrounding half-timbered romanticism. Instead of a Ratskeller in the town hall, there is the  imposing Ratstrinkstube , which towers over the market square.


history vault

Via the atrium, which connects the two parts of the town hall, you reach the historical vault, in which numerous exhibits show the time of the Thirty Years’ War. Behind the closed gates were once the vaults of the traders who offered their goods here.

Council Drinking Room

On the north side, you should look towards the former Ratstrinkstube (today Tourist Info) every hour on the hour (from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Then two small doors open to the right and left of the old city clock (1683) and everyone looks enthusiastically at the key scene of the historic “master drink” ( Wikipedia ), with which Mayor Nusch once saved the city.

In front of the southern facade is the Georgsbrunnen, which was renovated in 1608 in the style of the late Renaissance. The column is adorned with coats of arms, crowned by the figure of the eponymous dragon slayer. The largest fountain is also in Rothenburg is 8 m deep and holds 100,000 liters.Council drinking room on the market square in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Town Hall Tower

220 steps up to the town hall tower, from where you can enjoy a fantastic view of Rothenburg and the Tauber Valley.

Meat and dance house and Marie pharmacy

At the marketplace, the fountain are the beautiful buildings of the former meat and dance house as well as the Marie pharmacy. In the meat and dance house, you can view exhibitions by the Rothenburg Artists’ Association.

5. Spital Bastion and Covered Bridge

If, like us, you park in the large P1 car park, you will probably also get to the old town via the Spitaltor , the mighty bulwark of the Spitalbastei and the covered bridge . The hospital district was only included in the city wall in the 15th century and was the last to be included.

At the Spitaltor you will therefore also find the “most modern” part of the city fortifications. Furthermore, look for the Hegereiterhaus with its pointed tent roof and the slim, round stair tower.

Fun fact: The hospital gate greets each other in Latin with the words Pax intrantibus, salus exeuntibus  (“Peace to those who enter, hail to those who leave”). The builders of Haneda Airport in Tokyo liked this saying so much that they simply adopted the motto.


6. St. James Church

The name of the town church already suggests it: Rothenburg ob der Tauber is on the  Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela. More than 1000 pilgrims come to the Jakobskirche every year. World famous: the impressive altar of the Holy Blood by Tilman Riemenschneider. You shouldn’t miss it, but a detailed visit to   St. Jakob’s Church, completed between 1311 and 1484, is also worthwhile. We explain why.

With two 55 and 57-m high towers on the east choir, Rothenburg’s town church towers over the roofs of the town. The name of the church is no coincidence, as Rothenburg ob der Tauber is on the Way of St. James to Santiago de Compostela. Rothenburg’s main church is world-famous for one thing: the altar of the Holy Blood by Tilman Riemenschneider in the west gallery.

You should definitely see it. The peculiarity of the carvings is the unusual interpretation of the Last Supper. It is not Christ who determines the scene here, but Judas, the traitor. The Lord gives him the bread and says: “One of you will betray me”. The effect of these words is reflected in the faces of the disciples: dismay, excitement, perplexity.

A rock crystal capsule is incorporated into the gilded cross above the shrine, which is said to contain three drops of Christ’s blood and was a venerated relic in the Middle Ages.

Information on visiting St. James’ Church:

  • Opening timesJanuary to March from 10 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 4 pm. From Easter onwards, St. James’ Church is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Information can be found on the website .
  • Entrance to the church: 2.50 euros
St. Jakob Church Rothenburg ob der Tauber

7. Castle Garden

At the end of Herrngasse you reach the Burggarten, where there is no longer a castle. However, you get a little peace and quiet from the hustle and bustle and have a wonderful view over the Tauber Valley and the Spitalviertel.

The beautiful garden with its eight stone figures is really an oasis of calm. At the city wall you have a fantastic view of the Tauber Valley and the houses.

8. Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Museum

Did you know that Rothenburg ob der Tauber is considered THE Christmas town in Germany? It’s not only because of the really beautiful Christmas market in the middle of the old town, but also because of Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Museum.

In the  Herrngasse  in the immediate vicinity of the market square you will find everything about the  origin and further development of Christmas customs above Käthe Wohlfahrt ‘s Christmas shop, in the Christmas village.  Historical Christmas trees and Christmas decorations from the 19th century – a dream and must-see for Christmas fans .

Even in midsummer, you will get into the Christmas spirit here. Chains of lights shine everywhere, there are nutcrackers and Christmas pyramids or gleaming Christmas tree balls. We were able to take exciting facts about Christmas with us.

You can’t miss the building, because even in summer there are oversized nutcrackers and a red history bus with gifts at the entrance to the Christmas village.

  • Address : Herrngasse 1, 91541 Rothenburg ob der Tauber
  • Admission: 5 euros for adults
  • Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 3.30 pm

9. Toppler Castle

The Topplerschlösschen was already built in 1388 and served the most famous mayor Toppler as a place to relax. You can visit the building after registration. Have a look at my Taubertal Highlights, there you will find more of these extraordinary buildings.

The best way to get to the Topperschlösschen is from the Spitaltor (P1) via the stone Tauber Bridge, which is also worth seeing – often also called the double bridge – and is best done by bike. If you are on foot, you can walk along the Taubertal cycle path to the Topperschlösschen in about 20 minutes. The way from the castle gate is shorter (about 10 minutes), but you won’t get to your destination over the Tauber Bridge.

Leaving the market square, you will find the beautiful Herrngasse with the Herrnbrunnen. You pass the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Museum with a Christmas shop, and other small interesting shops, and then you get to the Herrbrunnen. Around the fountain, you will find nice cafes and restaurants to sit outside and linger.

Topper castle Rothenburg ob der Tauber

10. The Prettiest Streets

Other idyllic alleys are GalgengasseHeugasse, and Wenngasse.

You Shouldn’t Miss That Either

11. Ghost Tour with The Executioner

My highlight was the tour with the executioner through the old town. There are many stories about the executioners and outlaws of the city. He also points out hidden attractions that you would not discover without a guide. For me, this tour was very entertaining and entertaining. The best tour in Rothenburg that you can book spontaneously on-site.

  • The meeting point is the stairs at the town hall on the market square
  • The tour costs 8 euros, which you pay in cash to the night watchman on site.
  • Duration: approx. 1 hour
  • You don’t have to register, just be there at 6 p.m
  • More information about the tour, executioners,, and witch hunts can be found on the “Henker” website

12. Eating snowballs

There is one specialty throughout the Tauber Valley (not just in Rothenburg): snowballs. They have the same name because they are the size and shape of a round snowball. Therefore, you will find bakeries everywhere in the old town that places this specialty in the shop window. 

The snowball is made from short-crust pastry, dusted with powdered sugar. However, there are also variations with chocolate, lemon glaze, white chocolate, and a few more. Also, in the Stiffler Bakery, you can watch the confectioner in the glass production area as he makes the snowballs. 

Map: All sights at a glance

Here you can find an overview of all the top sights in Rothenburg ob der Tauber on a map.

Day Trips from Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Explore The Lovely Tauber Valley

The best way to explore the Tauber Valley is on a bike tour. Furthermore, the cycle path takes you through the beautiful Tauber Valley from Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Wertheim (approx. 102 km). Everywhere along the route, you will find winegrowers and inns to stop off. In recent years, the charging stations for e-bikes have been expanded so that you never run out of electricity.

I was traveling with the camper in Taubertal. Check out my highlights in Taubertal (in Baden-Württemberg) here.

The castle ruins in Wetheim in the beautiful Tauber Valley

Aplaka hike in Niederstetten

Ever wanted to go for a walk with Aplakas? In Niederstetten you can get to know a large herd of studs, stallions, and babies at the Hohenloher Alpakahof. It’s really fun – not just for children.

View all information here

You can hike with alpacas in Niederstetten (between Bad Mergentheim and Rothenburg).

Eating and Drinking

In general, the following applies in Rothenburg on a weekend: You have to eat where you can find space. So I’ve listed several options that we’ve already tried.

  • Breakfast: Café Einzigartig (large selection of breakfast, also delicious cakes), Café Lebenslust (opposite Jakobskirche, often full), or BrotHaus Café in the slaughterhouse (large selection of rolls, cakes, and pastries)
  • Snowballs: There are three great bakeries for Snowballs (actually you can get them anywhere). We can recommend the following: Diller SchneeballträumeConfectionery, and Striffler Bakery.  
  • Alex – Allegra Schokolade: At the chocolatier, you can get the finest chocolate and pralines.
  • Reichsküchenmeister Restaurant: Rustic restaurant with delicious Franconian food, and upscale cuisine.
  • Altfränkische Weinstube: Also a Franconian menu with a large wine list.
Standing in line to buy snowballs: confectionery in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Sightseeing Tips

Recommendation travel guide for Rothenburg ob der Tauber

I can highly recommend the DuMont Travel Pocket Book for the entire Franconian region. In addition, you will find all the important information about the sights and highlights in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The author tells you his private tips and many tours and excursions are described.

Best travel time for Rothenburg

I find that Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a year-round travel destination. It is said that the best time to travel to Rothenburg is from June to August, as the temperatures are pleasant and it rarely rains. For me, around Easterwhen the fountains are decorated, is ideal for visiting Rothenburg. December is also great because the Christmas market is one of the most beautiful in Germany.

How many days trip to plan in Rothenburg?

Rothenburg is perfect for a 24-hour break. Because the city is so small and the number of sights is manageable, you can give yourself plenty of time to explore the area. A stress-free city trip was something completely different for me too.

Here you can sit relaxed in a café without fear of missing out. This is exactly how I imagine a short vacation for 1 to 2 days. For the most important highlights, you should stay in Rothenburg ob der Tauber for at least 24 hours. For excursions at least 2 to 3 days longer.

getting there

You can reach Rothenburg by train via Steinach because trains from Munich or Würzburg do not stop directly in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

For the Romantische Straße, there is the Romantische Straße Bus, which stops at the main bus stop at the train station and at the more centrally located Schrannenplatz.

You can also get there by car via the A7 (Würzburg – Ulm). Use exit 108 “Rothenburg/ Tauber” to get to the city center and the large car park after about 2 km.

Parking in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

You will find five large car parks around the old town. You can walk to the old town in five minutes from each. We parked on P1 at the hospital gate. In addition, you can easily pay for the parking spaces with the Parkster app (24 hours cost 5.50 euros).

Just across the street is a large RV park (P2, 24 hours for 12 euros) which I parked overnight on another visit. Make sure you stand as far away from the road as possible because younger people from Rothenburg like to do their laps with squeaky tires on P1. That’s loud.

You can find charging stations in the P5 car park, at Lidl, or at some guest houses and hotels.

Despite a devastating bomb attack shortly before the end of the Second World War, Rothenburg was able to retain the townscape that had developed in the Middle Ages. Narrow cobbled streets, pointed-gabled half-timbered houses, city towers, and churches are concentrated in the old town to form a romantic cityscape. You usually can’t enjoy so much beauty alone. Every year more than 500,000 guests and around 2.5 million day visitors come to Rothenburg.

What does the “ob” mean in the city name?

On a rocky outcrop high above the Tauber Valley, the Staufer king Konrad III build an imperial castle in 1142 – the Rothe Burg. Also, a settlement quickly developed around the fortress, which was declared a free imperial city as early as 1274 by King Rudolf I. The wealthy patricians soon ruled a fast-growing city-state that included more than 160 surrounding villages. 
Since Rothenburg ob der Tauber was built on this hill above the Tauber River, the “ob” (above) comes from the town’s name.

My conclusion and experiences about Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg is simply the perfect place for a little break from everyday life. Especially lovers of old towns and half-timbered houses will find what they are looking for here. If you have the opportunity, take the opportunity and come to Rothenburg during the week. Then you have the city almost to yourself (even in winter, when the beautiful Christmas market is on) and you can relax and enjoy all of the top  Rothenburg ob der Tauber  sights  in peace.

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