Rothenburg ob de Tauber Germany

One Day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Learn how you can spend one day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, on the Romantic Road, as a great getaway from Munich, or other Romantic Road town, on your Germany solo travel.

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Rothenburg ob der Tauber Packing Essentials

About Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the 16 charming towns along the Romantic Road located in scenic Bavaria, Germany.  The road is only 305km long starting with Füssen on the southern end – my suggested home base for visiting the Neuschwanstein and Hohenshwangau Castles – and ending with Würzburg on the northern end.

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Is Rothenburg ob der Tauber Worth Visiting?

Rothenburg ob der Tauber (German for “Red castle above the Tauber”) has been overlooking the Tauber River since the 1st century. It has seen its share of history, including the Thirty Years’ War, WWI and WWII, and still stands with its idyllic, half-timber buildings enveloped within its well-preserved medieval city walls.

Rothenburg ob de Tauber clock tower
One of the many towers in Rothenburg

Visiting Rothenberg is like stepping back in time – from the middle ages to the 18th century. Nowhere else in Germany can you wander cobblestone streets, walk fortification walls, or learn extensive European history all on foot in such a centralized and charming location.

Add the roaming hills and vineyards of the Tauber Valley and you’ll see why Rothenburg ob der Tauber is worth visiting and a very popular tourist destination.

It’s so picturesque, it’s even been the shooting location for the films, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1).

How Long Do You Need in Rothenburg?

You can easily spend one day in Rothenburg and head on to another town along the Romantic Road or Munich by nightfall.

To really soak in the history, and possibly the surrounding vineyards, take your time and allow for a full day. This may mean staying overnight.  I recommend a stay in Jugendherberge Hostel, which I have done inexpensively. It used to be a mill and sits in the heart of Old Town. Otherwise, you can choose from several other Rothenburg accommodations.

Tourists walking Old Town Rothenburg ob de Tauber
Rothenburg is very walkable

How to Get to Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is easily accessible by car, train, or bus. However, you know I’m not big on rental cars in Europe when their train and bus lines are so extensive, inexpensive and eco-friendly.

You can easily town hop along the Romantic Road by train, catch the Europabus Romantische Strasse (Romantic Road bus), or catch a tour bus.

From Munich to Rothenburg ob der Tauber

If you have a car, you can get from Munich to Rothenburg ob der Tauber in two hours, making a day trip to Rothenburg from Munich doable.

By train, you can reach Rothenburg in 4 hours, but why would you want to spend a whole day on a train if you only have one day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber?  Yep, stay the night in Rothenburg.  That’s the ticket.

My Munich to Rothenburg ob der Tauber trip included Dinkelsbühl, another picturesque Romantic Road town. However, if you can’t find that trip, there are other tours to Rothenberg from Munich like the tour offering a stop Harburg, also on the Romantic Road.

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What to Do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber in 1 Day

However you arrive, make sure your comfy walking shoes are on to see my suggested top sights to see and do in one day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Rothenburg ob de Tauber city streets
Old Town

Old Town

You can spend hours strolling within the fortress walls of Old Town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Soak in the historic atmosphere, pop into shops, and dine on German cuisine. This alone can make most tourists happy, but the following you won’t want to miss.

Spitaltor (Spital Gate) – There are 5 main gates that enter the city, but the Spital Gate on the southern entrance has a fortification built in a figure 8 dating in the 16th century.  I suggest you start your wandering here. Explore the fortification under and around the Spital tower, for a grand entrance into the Old Town. 

Marktplatz (Market Square)  – Head up the path to the Marktplatz. Residing in its center since 1446 is the Marktplatz fountain topped with St. George and the dragon. A replica of it can be found in Disney World.

This may be lively with festivals or shopping and food stalls.  Don’t miss the Christmas market happening late November to late December.

Rathaus (Town Hall) – Built in the 13th century, and rebuilt in the 16th century after a fire, its Baroque style arcade towers over the central Marktplatz.

Take a look inside and definitely walk the 220 steps up the 52-meter tower for stunning views of the town and Bavarian countryside. Entry is €2,50 (at time of writing).

View of Spital Tower and Rothenburg from Town Hall Tower
Spital Tower from Town Hall Tower

Ratstrinkstube (Councilor’s Tavern) – from the Town Hall, turn right and you’ll be facing the Ratstrinkstube (where the Rothenburg Tourism Office is located) adorned with the town clock dating to 1683 and a sundial from 1768.  At the top of the hour between 10am and 10pm General Tilly and the mayor Nusch make an appearance from the clock. It’s not the Munich Glockenspiel, but it’s still cute.

Plönlein – this half-timbered house sits between two streets which most tourists take snaps of. From Marktplatz, you can find it along Obere Schmiedgasse. Plönlein is the address.

Mittelalterliches Kriminalmuseum (Medieval Crime Museum) – down the path from Plönlein is the Medieval Crime Museum, a must to get a glimpse of 1000 years of legal history in Europe including numerous torture devices horrifically used. Crazy.

St. Jakobskirche (St. Jacob’s Church) – completed in the 15th century, explore yourself or take an audio or guided tour.  This Gothic church’s gallery holds the Holy Blood altarpiece and the High Altar relic. It also houses an enormous organ built by Rieger Orgelbau in 1968, I can’t believe that this is one of the churches on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Now, that’s a hike.

St Jacob's Church Rothenburg ob de Tauber
St. Jacob’s Church

Burggarten (Castle Gardens) – at the western side of town, through the Castle Tower, you can enter the Castle Gardens.  Although there is no castle now, this is a great place for an outdoor picnic and view of the Old Town skyline and Tauber Valley.

Walk the Old Town Walls  – in few places can you actually walk medieval fortress walls.  These well-preserved walls have a roof covering and stretch almost two kilometers around the Old Town. Enter at the Klingen Gate at the northern end of town.

Röder Gate – also one of the main gates and part of the original town fortification, the Röder Gate is the only gate tower you can go up. From the tower, walk the Röder passage to find the iconic Markus Tower over the Markus arch. In the middle of the road is the Röder fountain built to be a drinking fountain. At Easter, you’ll find it covered with over 2000 Easter eggs.

Hold the water and plan on quenching your thirst with beer brewed only on Rothenburg at the Romantik Hotel Markusturm.  You won’t be able to get this beer anywhere else in the world. If you’re coming from Munich, this hotel would also make an ideal accommodation.

Let Me Hear From You

I would love to hear if this post was helpful to you on how to spend one day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Post me your thoughts or questions in the Comments section below. Thank you!

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