Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a perfectly preserved walled medieval town, and a day trip or overnight stop for MILLIONS of tourists. I was braced for selfie stick toting pushy tour groups but – surprise! – it wasn’t like that. In fact, it was very relaxing.
Austria, Czech Republic, and Germany Map
Hotel Markusturm, 2 nights in a standard double room, breakfast included.
We found a lot to love in Rothenburg, starting with our charming hotel practically in the center of Rothenburg.
If you’ve looked for walking tours in Rothenburg you’ll have come across the popular Night Watchman tour, what you might not know about is the daytime walking tour that begins at 2:00. We got into Rothenburg, dropped the luggage off, parked the car and headed to the Tourist Info office in Marktplatz, the center of town.
The 2:00 tour starts at the town hall, over to the St. Jakob church, then the wide street Hermgasse – THE address in town, where anyone who was anyone had their huge homes. The walk continues to the Burggarten, what used to be the site of a castle long ago. You end up back at Marktplatz with a great deal of appreciation for this preserved medieval town. Fascinating history of a once wealthy town on what used to be a trade route. The tour is 90 minutes and well worth the €7.
The Night Watchman tour begins at 8:00 – fun, informative, and a LOT of people. This hour long tour is quite different from the daytime tour, the tour guide really gives a performance and is a great story teller with impeccable pacing. Should be – he’s the only one doing the tour and has been at it for years! Enjoy both tours to get the most out of a stay in Rothenburg.
Tip: If you’re put off by the big crowd on the Night Watchman tour you can always leave, on this tour you pay your €7 at the end.
Great Break: After the Night Watchman tour, head over to the Reichs Küchenmeister beer garden next to St. Jakob’s church. Terrific outdoor setting.
Walking the Town Walls
A top activity in Rothenburg is walking completely around the town on the walls and next to the walls. The whole loop can take an hour or so. Throughout the wall walk you’ll see stones with names on them from all over the world. Rothenburg had a clever strategy to get money to rebuild after the devastation of WWII (Rothenburg WAS bombed). They appealed to the world for donations, and stones were permanently placed in the wall with the name and hometown of the benefactor.
Medieval Crime and Justice Museum
Who isn’t somewhat gruesomely fascinated by the macabre punishments inflicted on the populace in the middle ages? Rothenburg’s large and interesting Museum of Crime and Justice is more than just creepy torture instruments, it has exhibits on all aspects of medieval life, law, and punishment.
I thought the Shame Masks were really interesting – there were quite a few for gossipy women, but the most interesting one to me was the shame mask for a man, which had everything covered: the big nose symbolized sticking his nose in others business, horns showed that the wife cheated on him, the snake and devil that he had very bad thoughts.
We found the town very relaxing especially in the mornings and evenings when the number of tourists subsided. 2 nights wasn’t “too much” – we could easily have spent another day or two here making it a base to explore the surrounding countryside. But our plans were for 2 nights in Würzburg, the last stay of our trip.
Travel: Drive from Rothenburg to Wurzburg – 45 minutes.