plonlein rothenburg ob der tauber germany must see attraction for your first time in rothenburg

Frozen-in-time, Rothenburg is a well preserved walled city in Bavaria Germany. Founded in 1274, it is known for its medieval architecture, and was the inspiration for Disney’s Pinocchio. Disney may have been inspired by it, but it is also exactly the kind of place that surely could have inspired endless tales from Jacob and Wilhelm, the brothers Grimm. Let Rothenburg transport you back in time, to a day when fairy-tales and real life were not so easy distinguished!

As a child, we lived just 13 miles from this historic city and it is one of my absolute favorite places on planet earth! I’ve been blessed enough to be able to return to this magical place and would love to help you make your first trip to Rothenburg as special as it can be. 

In this article I’ll offer up a few suggestions on the best places to stay and eat, and the best things to do on our first time in Rothenburg!

The iconic view of Rothenburg, the Plönlein, often associated with the 1940’s Disney version of Pinocchio.

#1 best place to stay in Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany if you want to feel like you have stepped back in time!

There are lots of nice places to stay in Rothenburg but for me there is only one!

Gotisches Haus Hotel is one of the best hotels in Rothenburg a simply a MUST!

Our stay at, Gotisches Haus (The Gothic House) hotel, a 700-year-old building in Rothenburg, where emperors and crown princes stayed along the way, was a trip highlight for me. As an added bonus, it is right smack dab in the middle of everything. They book up early, especially during festival season so you’ll want to make reservations early. We booked with but last I looked they were not currently offering rooms there. I found it easy to book through their official website.

gothic hotel Historik Hotel Gotisches Haus Garni rothenburg germany best place to stay first time in rothenburg

Now that you know where you are staying you may be wondering what the best things to do in Rothenburg to make the most of your time there.

Here is a list of my top 5 things to do your first time in Rothenburg ob der Tauber Germany

#1 The Medieval Crime and Justice Museum

One of my favorite parts of Rothenburg is the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum, where you will be treated to displays and genuine artifacts relating to criminal trial, torture, death penalties and executioners, public humiliation, witches and robbers, and much more…the even have a real Iron Maiden!

criminal museum exterior rothenburg ob der tauber bavaria germany
torture masks criminal torture crime and punishment museum rothenburg ob der tauber germany bavaria

#2 The Night Watchman’s tour: history of beautiful Rothenburg!

On the famous Night Watchman’s tour, you’ll get a good bit of the overall history of Rothenburg. It’s quite interesting.

My favorite story from the tour relates how the enchantment and charm of this little village literally saved it from total destruction during WWII. The mother of a military commander had purchased a painting of Rothenburg, that hung in her home . Because he was aware of the history and beauty of the city, he was able to persuade his commanding officers not destroy the beautiful little village. Take the Night Watchman’s tour to hear the full story and learn more about Rothenburg’s town history!

after dark rothenburg ob der tauber germany at night

#3 Walk Rothenburg’s Medieval Wall

About 2.5 miles long, you can walk around Rothenburg on the wall that fortified this city, hundreds of years ago. Here are a few things you can see while walking the wall:

wall walk rothenburg ob der tauber germany scenes from the wall

#4 It’s Christmas year round at Käthe Wohlfahrt’s

Did you know that Christmas can be found year round in Rothenburg? Käthe Wohlfahrt’s has thousands of traditional Christmas decorations on display for your viewing enjoyment, and for sale because you will probably want to take something home. Ask them to direct you to the “made in Germany” section. It really is a feast for the eyes. This store was so big I actually go lost in there. The store is free, they charge a small fee for entry into the Christmas museum.

kathe wohlfahrt christmas store and christmas museum rothenburg ob der tauber germany

#5 Sore from all the sight seeing? get a massage!

Ok I know this one seems a little odd, but massages are a recurring theme in our travels, and one of my top travel tips… we stumbled across a Thai massage parlor and had them work us over pretty good. Sore achy travel muscles be gone!

thai massage therepy for tired travelers rothenburg ob der tauber germany

Food in Rothenburg: my top picks for where you should eat

The food in Germany is always delicious. I have never had bad food in Germany. Germans are craftsmen, and take pride in everything they do, and that includes their food.

Zur Holl Restaurant:

If I had to recommend just one place to eat in Rothenburg I would steer you straight away to Zur Holl Restaurant (translates to “to hell,” in English.) What a find! When the weather is nice you can dine al fresco at a 1,000 year old building…simply amazing! In Germany, it is common practice to share a table with strangers. Our next table neighbors were quite friendly, and spoke English, so we had a nice conversation with them over dinner and had an opportunity to get to know the locals. We were served a tasty meal of pork steaks with a creamy chanterelle mushroom sauce, and the waitress came by and offered us seconds. What??!!! Make sure you take a peek at the basement where the bathrooms are. It looks SO old down there! as if it hasn’t been changed in the last 1,000 years, oh my heart!

tip for first timer’s in Germany: Speaking of bathrooms, do you know that you will often need to pay to use the bathrooms in Germany, and in many other parts of Europe?

zur holl restaurant rothenburg ob der tauber unique dining experience historic dining

Ratsstube Cafe

Ratsstube Cafe, is located on the main town square and a great place to eat outside when weather permits. In the almost two weeks in September that we were in this part of Europe, we were in fact able to eat outside almost every day. 

Ratsstube Cafe rothenburg ob der tauber germany outdoor dining schnitzel german potato salad wurst sauerkraut

Bratwurst with kraut and German mustard, and wienerschnitzel with German potato salad. Ahhh, German food…

Baumeisterhaus Restaurant: a treat for the taste buds, and for the eye!

While searching for a treat, we stumbled upon Baumeisterhaus Restaurant. Built in 1596, you can dine in an indoor multi-story courtyard, the walls of which boast some beautiful murals.

Baumeisterhaus Restaurant rothenburg germany unusual dining experience

Sweet Treats! strawberry torte and apple strudel with cream and ice cream. Germans make THE BEST desserts!

doner kebabs!

After the Nightwatchman’s tour, we grabbed a late night doner kebab. Have you heard of these? They really are the best thing ever, and once you have tried them, you will crave them for life!

doner kebab late night snack street food rothenburg ob der tauber germany

Reichskuchenmeister Hotel

The Reichskuchenmeister Hotel is yet another place to eat outside. Try the flammkuchen. It’s like a very thin pizza, German style. 

And there you have Rothenburg ob der Tauber, in a nutshell! What a fantastic little village. I can’t wait to go back, perhaps for a Christmastime trip when snow dusts the cobblestones, and the smell of gingerbread, mulled wine, and roasted nuts from the Christmas market delight the senses….be still my heart. Come see Rothenburg for yourself, you may just leave a little piece of your heart behind.

Reichskuchenmeister Hotel outdoor dining flammkuchen rothenburg ob der tauber germany

Another popular spot in Bavaria:

Hohenschwangau Castle, and King Ludwig II’s fairytale castle, Neuschwanstein

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