Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market 2019 Guide: Things to do, What to Eat, and What to Buy

Rothenburg ob der Tauber
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a large evergreen tree covered in snow in a colorful square at the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market
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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

By Air

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.

Click here to search for flight deals to Germany.

By Train

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!

By Car

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 EisenhutDescribed 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 LammI 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

A large evergreen tree in the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market square at night
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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

Schneeball

A hand holding up a rolled up ball of pie dough covered in powdered sugar
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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!

Bratwurst

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!

Käsespätzle

A hand holding up a small dish of extremely cheesy egg noodles - käsespätzle at the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market
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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

a bunch of candied almonds (gebrannte mandeln) in a tray
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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!

Glühwein

a hand holding up a gluhwein mug at the rothenburg ob der tauber christmas market
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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

The Käthe Wolfhart store lit up for Christmas
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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!

Glühwein Mugs

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

A small yellow house between two roads with towers on the end
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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

a birds-eye view of Rothenburg ob der Tauber
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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:

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Christmas in Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the most magical times of the year.
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MY FAVORITE TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES

Booking Flights: The first place I turn when I’m searching for flights is actually just Google Flights - it’s great to figure out what sort of routes are available. Then, I check Skyscanner and Kiwi for deals. I also love Kiwi for its destination: anywhere feature!

Transportation: I love Omio for figuring out the cheapest way to get from one place to another, and Trainline for booking train tickets within Europe.

Accommodations: I absolutely love Booking.com for finding great hotel deals. After you stay a certain number of nights, you get Genius discounts! For hostels, Hostelworld is my go-to, and I use Airbnb occasionally as well (click here for $40 off your first booking!)

Travel Insurance: I knew that I shouldn’t travel without insurance for the longest time, but I really learned my lesson when I got an infected cut in Bali. Thank goodness I had travel insurance! I use and love World Nomads for their extremely comprehensive coverage.

Travel Insurance: I knew that I shouldn’t travel without insurance for the longest time, but I really learned my lesson when I got an infected cut in Bali. Thank goodness I had travel insurance! I use and love World Nomads for their extremely comprehensive coverage.

Tours: I always check Urban Adventures for great day tours of cities first–I’m obsessed with them! GetYourGuide and Viator are also great options. For multi-day tours, I highly recommend Intrepid.

Camera Gear: I use a Sony Alpha A6300 camera with an 18-105 mm lens and a 35 mm lens. My tripod is the MeFoto Backpacker Air and I loooooove it! I also use a DJI Mavic Air and a GoPro and which allow me to capture everything my regular camera can’t.

1 thought on “Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market 2019 Guide: Things to do, What to Eat, and What to Buy”

  1. Käthe Wolfhart may be touristy and the destination specific ornaments may be expensive, but they are so beautiful. I find the “regular” ornaments to be way better priced than anything you can find in the US, too… especially for the quality!! Your photos are magical with the snow! We just got rain… but enjoyed it either way. We loved warming up with coffee and hot chocolate at the Eisenhut… especially because they let us add amaretto to it. 😉

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