2020 Update: Unfortunately, the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market has been canceled this year – but it’s never too late to start planning for 2021!
I first visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber when I was just 14–the first stop on a 3-week class trip through Germany. It was the first time I had been abroad without my parents, and I became absolutely enchanted and obsessed with this perfectly preserved medieval town.
It’s touristy beyond belief, but it’s also magical in a way that no other town in Germany–or even Europe–is. So when I started planning my Christmas market trip through Germany, I knew I had to return to visit the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market.
Colorful houses, narrow streets, and a medieval wall surrounding the city–plus the fact that it’s home to a Christmas MUSEUM–make Rothenburg ob der Tauber one of the best places to visit for a Christmas market break!
How to Get to Rothenburg ob der Tauber
The closest airports to Rothenburg ob der Tauber are Stuttgart and Nuremberg. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll likely find the best flights into either Frankfurt or Munich, which are a bit farther away but easily accessible by public transport.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is served by a train station just outside the city walls and a short 10-minute walk to the center. You’ll need to connect through Steinbach.
The best place to book tickets is on the bahn.de website. If you book at least 3 days in advance, you’ll also save a bit of money!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is part of the Romantic Road, so is also a great stop on a road trip!
It’s easiest to park outside of the city walls at one of the designated parking lots.
By Guided Day Trip
If you’re short on time, then there are plenty of guided day trip options from different major cities in the area, including Frankfurt and Munich.
This day trip from Munich takes you not only to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but to other popular destinations of the Romantic Road as well, such as Harburg Castle.
This day trip from Frankfurt focuses mostly on Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but also includes a short stop in Würzburg–another famous Christmas market!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market Hotels
Although Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a popular day trip destination, I highly recommend staying the night. Not only will you be able to experience the night-time atmosphere of the Christmas market this way, but you’ll also find that you have the town practically to yourself!
Rothenburg Youth Hostel – If you’re on a budget, then you’re in luck with the Rothenburg Youth Hostel. Located in an old mill, it’s just a 10 minute walk from both the train station and the centre of town. Although there isn’t much in the way of amenities, there is free breakfast, which is more than can be said for a lot of hostels in Germany! I stayed here for 1 night and it was perfectly fine.
Hotel Eisenhut – Described by Rick Steves as “Rothenburg’s fanciest hotel,” Hotel Eisenhut is nothing to be laughed at. When I decided to stay an extra night in Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the hostel didn’t have any extra rooms, though, a single room at the Hotel Eisenhut was actually one of the cheapest options. So I booked it. And it was so charming. Cozy beyond belief and decorated like a medieval manor house, it’s an absolutely amazing hotel.
Hotel Goldenes Lamm – I stayed here on my first ever visit to Rothenburg ob der Tauber with my high school German class, and I remember it being a super comfortable spot with good breakfast. Right on the market square, it’s also in an amazing location!
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market Guide
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a small town, so therefore only has one Christmas market. But what it lacks for in number it makes up for in charm and spirit.
The Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market, also known as the Reiterlesmarkt, is based around the medieval history of the town, with a knight as it’s mascot.
Here you’ll find plenty of different types of glühwein, delicious bratwurst, and Rothenburg’s famous Schneeballs, along with musical performances and a few rides for the kids!
There are several different artisan stalls, perfect for gifts, as well as stalls selling ornaments and other Christmas decorations, alongside all of the delicious food.
Unlike the Nuremberg Christmas Market (and many others), which features many rows of squished together booths, the Rothenburg ob der Tauber market is spread out over several squares, with the booths lining the outer edge. It gives you SO much more room and just feels so much less claustrophobic, which I loved.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market Opening Times 2019
Here are the opening times for the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market 2019:
- November 29th – December 23rd
- Monday to Thursday: 11.00 am– 7.00 pm
- Friday to Sunday: 11.00 am– 8.00 pm
For up-to-date information, click here.
What to Eat at the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is known for its Schneeballs (snowballs): little balls of pie crust, dusted with powdered sugar.
Sure, they look a lot better than they taste, but they’re one of those things that you still have to try. And they do still taste pretty good!
A good ol’ classic bratwurst is what you’ll find at the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market, with middle-aged men grilling them as you watch and stuffing them into huge brötchen (rolls) to eat them with. Sooooo good!
Another dish you have to try while you’re in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the Käsespätzle! Sold at one of the stalls between the two main squares of the market, these cheese covered egg noodles topped with fried onions are some of the best I’ve ever had (think: made sacrificing my lactose intolerant guts to it best I’ve ever had).
Gebrannte Mandeln (candied almonds) are a staple at any Christmas market in Germany, but I found the ones at the Christmas Market in Rothenburg ob der Tauber to be particularly addicting.
I highly recommend finding the stall that sells the Weinachtsmandeln – almonds candied in a special, cinnamon-y Christmas spice mix!
Of course, it wouldn’t be a German Christmas market guide if I didn’t mention glühwein. Like everywhere else, the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market features plenty of glühwein.
My personal favorite was the Quince glühwein sold at one of the stalls. So sweet and delicious!
What to Buy at Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market
Christmas markets are a great spot to pick up gifts for friends and family as well as Christmas decorations. Here are a few things I recommend buying.
Käthe Wolfhart Ornaments
Käthe Wolfhart is famous around the world for her Christmas ornaments, but did you know that their origin is actually in Rothenburg? You’ll find the original Käthe Wolfhart store (complete with Christmas Museum) across the street from the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market, as well as a stall selling ornaments in the market itself.
If you’re looking to pick up a few new ornaments for your tree, then you can’t go wrong with some Käthe Wolfhart ones!
Like every other German Christmas market, Rothenburg ob der Tauber has its very own glühwein mugs. Since you pay a pfand (deposit) for the mug when you first get your glühwein, they’re also super easy to bring home as a memory of your trip.
Plus at only €2 for the pfand, they’re one of the cheapest souvenirs you’ll find!
Medieval Writing Instruments & Toys
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is known as one of the best-preserved Medieval towns in Germany, so of course there are several different stalls selling medieval-themed things, including toys and medieval writing instruments (quills). These would definitely make for great gifts!
Other Christmasy Things to do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Alongside the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market, there are plenty of Christmas-y things to do in town. Here are just a few I recommend.
Visit the Christmas Museum
Right across the street from the Christmas market you’ll find the Käthe Wolfhart flagship store and the German Christmas Museum. While open year-round, during Christmas is definitely the time to go!
Going into the actual museum will cost you a few euros, but I honestly found that just exploring the store was enough for me-it was pretty magical all on its own!
Wander the Streets
Honestly, there’s nothing more magical and Christmassy than wandering through the amazingly preserved streets of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. I was lucky enough for it to snow while I was there and… holy cow, I have never experienced anything more heartwarming.
By wandering the streets away from the main market square, you’ll find so many hidden gems–and get away from the crowds!
I wandered the streets alongside Rick Steves’ audio walking tour, which I highly recommend!
Get a birds-eye view at the Old Town Hall
If you want a bird’s eye view of Rothenburg and the cute little huts of the Rothenburg Christmas Market, then head up the tower of the Old Town Hall!
You enter through the entrance of the New Town Hall on the main market square and then walk up a series of ever-narrower staircases until you reach the top. There, you can pay €2.50 for the best view of the city.
AND you’ll work off all of that delicious Christmas market food you’ve been eating!
Take a Night Watchman Tour
Finally, it’s not a proper trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber if you don’t take a nighttime tour of the city with the Night Watchman. Hans Georg Baumgartner has been leading the tours for more than 20 years now, and is an absolute expert on all things Rothenburg.
It might not seem like the most Christmassy thing to do, but trust me when I say that it’s surprisingly charming!
You don’t need to book ahead of time to take the tour – just show up in the market square a little before 8 PM and pay €8 per person (€4 for children)!
If you’re looking for something a little more ~spooky~, there’s also a ghost tour of the city leaving at 7:15 during the Christmas market, also from the market square.
And there you have it: the complete guide to Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market. I hope you enjoyed!
If you’re planning a bigger Christmas market trip through Germany, be sure to check out these other guides: