I’m well known as a major Christmas enthusiast and every time someone asks me which European Christmas Market to visit, I always recommend them Rothenburg ob der Tauber first and then Dresden, both in Germany.
In fact I loved these Christmas fairs so much that I visited them twice during Advent and I’m fairly sure I’ll continue to return to see them. Rothenburg in particular looks like it stepped out right of a fairy tale and it’s a dream come true for anyone that loves the holiday.
So read on to find out my best tips on visiting the amazing Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market in Germany.
- When does the Rothenburg Christmas Market take place?
- Rothenburg Christmas Market: Best things to do
- 02. Shop for Christmas gifts and decorations
- Where is Rothenburg ob der Tauber located?
- How to get to Rothenburg ob der Tauber?
- How much time to spend in Rothenburg?
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market: Final thoughts
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Check my full disclaimer here.
When does the Rothenburg Christmas Market take place?
Rothenburg’s Christmas market is called Reiterlesmarkt and it usually takes place in the town squares from the end of November until 2 days before Christmas.
❄ Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market 2023 ❄
In 2023, Reiterlesmarkt starts on 1st December and ends on 23rd December. The Christmas market is open every day during this time frame, from 11.00 AM until 7.00 PM (Monday to Thursday) or from 11 AM until 8.00 PM (Friday to Sunday).
Rothenburg Christmas Market: Best things to do
01. Admire the festive decor
Rothenburg is the best place to be around Christmas time. The old town has numerous shops that sell beautiful Christmas ornaments and while the prices are a bit on the expensive side, admiring their intricate and extravagant decorations is totally free.
And as it gets dark, the whole place becomes nothing short of magic.
02. Shop for Christmas gifts and decorations
If your wallet has no problems funding your Christmas shopping sprees, you’ll find a lot of beautiful things here, which you can buy as gifts for your loved ones or for yourself. Trust me, you’ll treasure them forever.
During my first trip, I managed to keep myself under control, mainly because I have way too many decorations already.
So we only bought a clear snowman (actually my fiance secretly got it for me after he saw me admiring it), a turtledove (because of Home Alone, which are my favorite Christmas movies), a bear ornament, a velvety deer and a small Nativity scene.
During my second visit, however, it seems I forgot the fact that I already have too many Christmas decorations and went a bit overboard.
I bought an angel and a tree made from glass (fingers crossed my two cats won’t break them), another clear snowman, a big snowflake, a 2nd turtle dove since in Home Alone there were two, a clear bird and the Käthe Wohlfahrt car which is probably my favorite and most expensive purchase at 9.95 euros.
And you might be puzzled right now because it doesn’t seem like I got a lot more ornaments than the first time, but the thing is.. Rothenburg was just one of the stops on a special Advent itinerary, which counted 9 Christmas Market destinations in total.
I also bought some beautiful decorations from Colmar, Prague, and Vienna Christmas Markets. And you can bet everything I got gets prime spots in my tree every Christmas.
03. Eat bratwursts
Bratwursts are a popular Christmas market street foods, especially in Germany, so make sure to try them. In Rothenburg ob der Tauber, they sell several types, including a delicious half-meter-long one (it was 6.5 euros in 2022).
04. Drink mulled wine
Mulled wine is the perfect Christmas drink in my humble opinion. Sure, there are several others like glogg, hot chocolate, or eggnog, but nothing beats a mug of hot red wine with spices like cinnamon and clove. Besides, it will help keep you warm as you move from stand to stand admiring the decorations and buying gifts.
Also, if you want a different kind of souvenir, I have a great tip for you. Many Christmas Markets in Europe have specially made mugs to serve mulled wine during the festive season.
This is especially true for fairs in Germany and Austria, where the design often changes every year.
The first time you buy a mug of mulled wine, they’ll ask you for a deposit (usually around 5 EUR). That is for the mug. This way you can take your hot wine with you as you explore the Christmas market and get refills from other stands as you go.
When you’re done for the day you simply return the mug at any of the stands that sell mulled wine and they’ll give you back the deposit. However, you can also keep the mug as a souvenir and the deposit will then act as a payment for it.
I have an entire collection of such mugs from Vienna, Strasbourg, Dresden, Salzburg, and Nuremberg Christmas Markets and I treasure them dearly.
Sometimes, if they have leftover mugs from previous years, they’d reuse them. So if you want to keep yours as a souvenir, but notice it’s an old design (the year and signature of the artist is usually on the side), just ask for the current one.
I was on the hunt for the 2022 design (white in the photo above) for about half a day and kept receiving an older one (blue mug), until I finally asked about it at a stand and they happily gave it to me.
05. Try the various types of sweets on offer
From gingerbread in different shapes and forms to sugar-coated apples, there are a lot of sweets to try at the food stalls in Rothenburg ob der Tauber’s Christmas market. So make sure you leave some room for dessert :).
06. Visit the Christmas museum
In Rothenburg, you can visit a Christmas museum! It is located in one of the bigger shops (Käthe Wohlfahrt) in the old town (so you can also buy decorations from there) and it shows how Christmas was celebrated and how customs evolved over the years in Germany. You’ll also see there many historic decorations like Christmas trees, candle arches, etc.
The best thing about it is that the museum is actually open all year long, so you can still enter even if your visit falls outside of the Advent period. You can easily identify its location by the red Käthe Wohlfahrt car with gifts that’s parked in front.
07. Buy a ceramic replica of a real house in Rothenburg
One of the most unique souvenirs you can get from Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a handmade ceramic replica of a real historic house in the city.
I bought the Toppler Castle from a shop called ART 21 GmbH, located on Ob. Schmiedgasse – the main street connecting the central square with Plönlein, the most photographed spot in the Rothenburg.
The real Toppler Castle, now a museum, is a bit outside of the historic center and it belonged to Mayor Henry Toppler (hence the name).
08. Tour the fortified walls
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is well known for its medieval architecture and one of the best things to do while in town is to walk atop its fortified walls.
This will not only offer you a unique perspective of the town and its charming half-timbered houses, but it’s actually a totally free activity.
Where is Rothenburg ob der Tauber located?
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a medieval small town located in Northern Bavaria, Germany, on the so-called Romantic Road.
This scenic route consists of around 460km (290 mi) between the towns of Würzburg and Füssen and connects several picturesque towns and charming villages in southern Germany.
It is important not to confuse Rothenburg ob der Tauber with either Rotenburg or Rotenburg an der Fulda, both situated further north.
How to get to Rothenburg ob der Tauber?
The closest airport to Rothenburg ob der Tauber is in Nuremberg. From there, you can reach the picturesque town by car, train, or bus + train.
Driving is the fastest option out of the three with the journey time being around 1h and 10 minutes. You can rent a car directly from the airport, check the rates here.
For parking, I recommend P5 – Bezoldweg (PKW, Motorräder). It’s decently priced (5.5 euros/day), quite big and really close to Rothenburg’s historic center (it’s located just outside the fortified wall).
If you opt for public transportation instead, travel times will vary from 1 hour and 40 minutes (train) to 2 hours and 20 minutes (train and bus). You’ll also have to change connections.
First of all, you need to get to Nuremberg Central Station from the airport (U2).
Once you’re there, you’ll get the train to Ansbach (S4 or RE90), where you’ll either change for the bus to Rothenburg (732) or continue by train to Steinach (RB80). From Steinach you’ll take the train to Rothenburg (RB82).
You’ll notice that the connection timings for trains are rather tight, but in my personal experience, the schedule was respected.
I thought I should mention this, as I was rather nervous myself about the possibility of missing one of the connections.
How much time to spend in Rothenburg?
Some people opt to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber on a day trip, but honestly this is too little, especially if you visit during the winter when the days are short.
For this reason, try to spend at least one night in the town, while two are an even better choice.
During my first trip to Rothenburg, I stayed overnight at Gästezimmer Michelangelo, a comfortable small hotel in the old town center, and while I had enough time to enjoy the Christmas market and stroll around, I do wish I spent at least two nights there.
This is because we ended up arriving in the afternoon and between the check-in procedure and the cloudy short day, we had limited daylight for sightseeing, especially since the next morning it started raining heavily.
And don’t get me wrong, Rothenburg really shines after dark when all the shops and decorations light up, but I regretted not being able to take some more pics during the day as well.
During the second visit, while we stayed for only one night again, we arrived earlier so we had more daylight hours to explore.
This time, we opted for Hotel Schwarzer Adler, within city walls. The rooms are a bit old fashioned, but they’re affordable, clean and comfortable, so overall it was a good pick.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market: Final thoughts
If you’re looking for a beautiful and festive Christmas market to visit this year, be sure to check out Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Germany.
This charming town is home to one of the most well-known and picturesque markets in the country, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for some holiday cheer.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE