Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a super charming traditional German town, on the Romantic Road (Romantische Straße). It’s quite touristy (almost like Main Street U.S.A. in Disneyland), but it is still a great town to visit, stroll the traditional shops, walk the city walls, and spend a night or so on a road trip through Germany. If you really, really like Christmas shopping, you could probably spend even longer there. We chose to arrive late afternoon, and leave mid to late morning.
On our 2011, multi-generational trip through Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. This was our first night, having arrived in Zurich in the morning, and stopped around lunch time in Konstanz (in retrospect, our schedule was a bit aggressive).
We rented an apartment in Rothenburg, via Booking.com, which was part of a hotel. The unit was actually quite a bit larger than we expected – two bedrooms and a common area where the kids slept. With 6 people, we had to looked into apartments. We were relieved to find that in most locations we could rent a 2-3 bedroom apartment with a kitchen, and sometimes a washer and dryer, for significantly less than the type of hotel rooms that we would need.
Seeing the Town
Evening Arrival: Shopping and Schneeballs
With a 5:00pm arrival, and two very tired kids, we didn’t have time to do a ton, but we did manage to see a few of the shops that were still open in the center of town. Given that my mom loves Christmas ornaments and the like, she was thrilled with what she saw and spent some time browsing the shops.
Much of the fun of Rothenburg is simply walking around the town, enjoying the atmosphere. It can be crowded in the afternoon with day tripped, but the evenings are much quieter and more peaceful.
We also decided that we couldn’t go to Rothenburg without getting a schneeball, a weird pastry originating in this town. I’m not quite sure why they are so popular. Maybe I just got a stale one. Here are some pictures from 2007:
So we got a few and ate them on the City Hall steps. Note that due to over-touristing, many European cities (e.g. Rome, Venice) are starting to ban eating on steps, so look around and see what other people are doing before you decide to picnic and risk a fine.
Having landed in Zurich earlier in the day, we were quite exhausted and felt that it was time to end our evening. Once key to beating jet lag is to get as much afternoon sunshine as you can and power through until as close to a normal bedtime as you can manage. If you are successful the first night, the rest of your trip will go much better. Often times we will spend the evenings resting and journaling if we don’t have energy for anything else.
A Morning in Rothenburg: Walking the City Walls
In the morning, we decided to walk the city walls, an activity that I would highly recommend. Lacking pictures from 2011, here is one from 2007:
The walls go straight through town, and many of the hotels (like the one we stayed in 2007) are built right into them. It’s a lot of fun to be able to walk right out of an upstairs hotel door onto the walls.
There are a ton more things you can do in Rothenburg, but our goal was mostly just to give my parents a feel for the city and to break up Jeremy’s jet-lagged drive to the Neuschwanstein Castle near Füssen.
To find more activities for a longer stay, visit Rothenburg’s tourism website.
Getting to Rothenburg
Many people visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber from Frankfurt – it’s about a 2 hour drive from Frankfurt, and it’s along the Romantic Road from Würzburg to Füssen.
For us, coming from Zurich, it was about a 3.5 hour drive. We chose to break up the drive with a stop in Konstanz, which added an extra 30 minutes of driving.
On the other side, the drive from Rothenburg to Füssen is about a 2.5 hour drive.
The main problem that we encountered on our drive was that our GPS tried to put us on a ferry across Lake Constance to Meersburg. This was not the route we wanted to take and we spent a few minutes lost and confused, but it all worked out and we got on the right road and did not end up on the ferry.