The Ultimate Festive Guide to Rothenburg Christmas Market
Planning to visit the Christmas market in Rothenburg ob der Tauber? Here’s everything you need to know in a festive practical guide for a perfect visit to Rothenburg Christmas market Germany.
If there was even a Christmas town in Germany, then Rothenburg ob der Tauber is it. Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Market is one of the most stunning Christmas Markets in Germany. Known also as Reiterlesmarkt the market takes place each advent just before Christmas.
It’s not just the market that’s the draw here. The real gem is Rothenburg town itself, a place that looks like it’s been transplanted right out of a wintry fairytale.
Home to Christmas decor icon Käthe Wohlfahrt too, there’s no better place to be to get into the Christmas spirit than Rothenburg. Explore the market, shop for gifts and decor, and sip warm gluhwein all to a stunning Medieval town backdrop.
If you’re looking to visit the best Christmas markets in Europe or Germany then make sure to add the Christmas market in Rothenburg ob der Tauber to your bucket list. Here’s everything you need to know before visiting.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide to the Nuremberg Christmas Market, Germany
*This ‘Christmas markets in Rothenburg Germany’ post contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with top-quality content for free.
Where is Rothenburg?
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a small town in Germany’s North Bavaria region. It lies about 85km west of Nuremberg and 61 km south of Würzburg. It sits on the peaceful Tauber river, hence the name.
The town lies on the so-called German Romantic Road, a scenic route running from Würzburg to Füssen that connects many charming towns and villages along the way. Rothenburg is just one of these but it might just be the most popular and the most picturesque.
You’ll find the Rothenburg Christmas Market located on Rothenburg Market Square, just outside the town hall. Stalls snake around to the side of the town hall too and around the back of the church of St. James.
How to Get to Rothenburg ob Der Tauber?
Most travelers visiting Rothenburg ob der Tauber get there either by car or by train. If you’re planning to explore beyond just Rothenburg and perhaps Nuremberg it might be worth your while to rent a car, as trains between villages and small towns aren’t too frequent.
From Nuremberg, it’s a fairly easy train ride to Rothenburg.
Getting to Rothenburg by Car
Renting a car and driving around Germany and North Bavaria is one of the best ways to see this part of the country and the German Christmas Markets in this area. If you’re planning to visit multiple markets or multiple cities in Germany, renting a car might be worth your while simply due to the freedom it allows.
For the best car rental deals, I always use Discover Cars to find the cheapest rates for car rental in Germany. They generally have the best service, policies, and deals. Click here to check rates for your dates with Discover Cars.
Cars can be rented in Nuremberg, at the airport or in town, or almost any other city in Germany like Frankfurt or Munich.
Getting to Rothenburg by Train
Trains are a great way to travel in Germany. Even though trains in Germany often suffer delays, the trains are new, comfortable, and fast.
Most travelers arrive in Rothenburg by train from either Nuremberg or Würzberg. Both journeys take about 1 hr 10 minutes and involve some changes.
From Nuremberg: First, you’ll need to take a train to Ansbach. You can take a local S-Bahn train, a regional (RE/RX) train, or a faster ICE/IC train. At Ansbach, you’ll need to change for the regional train that goes to Steinach and from there another regional train that goes between Steinach and Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
This is a lot easier in reality than it sounds and if you buy your ticket online here, it shows you all the information you need to change trains.
From Würzburg: From here the journey is a little easier as you only need to change once. From Würzburg take the RB (regional) train to Steinach and then the RB 82 train to Rothenburg.
If you’re coming in from further afield like Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne or Hamberg, make your way to Nuremberg or Würzburg first before continuing on to Rothenburg.
When to Visit Rothenburg Christmas Market
Rothenburg is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Germany at any time of the year, particularly in the run-up to Christmas when this little town shines.
One of the biggest draws when visiting Rothenburg in the winter is the Rothenburg Christmas Market where you can wander around, sipping on gluhwein, enjoying one of the most spectacular festive atmospheres in Germany.
The Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market 2022 runs from 25th November until the 23rd December. Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market hours are from 11 am until 7 pm daily or 8 pm at weekends (including Friday).
Many people visit Rothenburg Germany at Christmas as part of a day trip which is a good idea because the town and its market are quite small and manageable. It helps to visit during the week if you’d like to explore the market and town with fewer crowds. As you can imagine, the closer to Christmas you visit the busier things get.
Make sure to give yourself some time to wander the town and Rothenburg Christmas Market both during the day and after dark. This way you’ll be able to catch the full beauty of the town during the day while also getting the best of the sparkling Christmas lights after dark. As it tends to get dark at 4 pm during this time of year, this tends to be an easy thing to do.
What to Do at Rothenburg Christmas Market
There are actually quite a few things to do in Rothenburg od der Tauber but as this guide is all about the Christmas market, I’ll stick to the most Christmasy things to do in town.
You can, however, quite easily cover the Christmas market in a couple of hours, which will leave you time to explore, the other, not-so-Christmasy things to do in Rothenburg.
Walk Around and Splendour the Magic
The Rothenburg Germany Christmas Market is located on the main market square (Marktplatz) just outside the town hall in the town center. This part of town is incredibly beautiful and makes one of the best backdrops to any Christmas market we’ve been to.
One of the best things to do when here is just to look around and savor the moment, the surroundings, and the place because there are fewer places that get more Christmasy than Rothenburg.
With a large Christmas tree at its center, at Rothenburg Christmas Market you’ll find many stalls selling local crafts and traditional food and drink. There’s also a merry-go-round and a variety of daily entertainment.
You’ll notice decorated Christmas trees everywhere, fairy lights glowing and extravagant Christmas displays in all the local shops. Rothenburg Christmas Market and the town around it really is nothing but pure magic.
Shop for Christmas Gifts
Rothenburg Christmas market is full of local and handmade decorations from snow globes to wooden figurines. If you’re thinking about updating the Christmas decorations you have at home this year, then buying Christmas ornaments from Rothenburg Germany is a no-brainer. The hard part is choosing what to take home with you.
Feast on Traditional Food and Drink
Much like other Christmas Markets in Germany, Rothenburg Christmas market is full of traditional German food and drink you can try in between shopping and exploring.
The most famous culinary delight on offer is bratwurst, a traditional German sausage that’s a popular street food. At Rothenburg Christmas Market you’ll find different versions of bratwurst including a wild boar one, beef bratwurst, and a half a meter bratwurst.
For vegetarians, there are cheese noodles and to finish, lots of lebkuchen (gingerbread).
In terms of drinks, you’ll be able to find stalls selling glühwein (mulled wine), both red and white, Christmas Punch as well as beer.
Visit the German Christmas Museum
Luckily the Rothenburg Christmas market isn’t the only Christmasy thing to do in Rothenburg in December. Just off the main square, you’ll find the German Christmas Museum, a unique guide to all things Christmas throughout history and an insight into festive German culture.
The museum shows how German Christmas customs evolved throughout the years and have a look at some historical and classic Christmas decorations.
The museum is open throughout the year but it just makes sense to visit during the festive time of year.
Shop at Käthe Wohlfahrt Rothenburg Christmas Store
Käthe Wohlfahrt is the Christmas shop that is synonymous with Christmas for many Germans. If you’re a big fan of all things Christmas then this Rothenburg Christmas store will be the best shop you’ve ever stepped foot in.
Decked floor to ceiling in everything Christmas- the most beautiful of trees, decor, and lights, this Rothenburg Christmas shop is a festive feast for the eyes- it really is difficult to not walk through and be in total awe!
Almost like a living, breathing Christmas museum (the museum is just next door), walk through this vast department store and shop for all things lights, decorations, candles, and even Christmas tableware to upgrade your holiday decor.
Where to Stay in Rothenburg ob Der Tauber
While Rothenburg is doable in a day, staying the night in the quiet town is really magical. Once the day trippers leave, you’ll have a magical town to yourself, covered head to toe in Christmas lights and trees. Staying the night and taking an evening walk around town is a lovely experience. Here are the best places to stay.
Historik Hotel Gotisches Haus Garni– Located right in the center of Rothenburg, this traditional-style German inn has everything you need for a short stay; warm, cozy rooms, a great location, and a delicious breakfast. Check rates and availability here.
Tilman Riemenschneider – A bright clean and airy inn in the center, this is another great option. With large, comfortable rooms, traditional, 16th Century Franconian style decor, perfectly fitting for Rothenburg and great wifi and breakfast this is a sure win. Check rates and availability here.
Top Tip: If you’re heading to the Rothenburg Christmas Market on a weekend in December, make sure to book your stay well in advance. Hotels are limited and small in size and rooms sell out fast!
German Christmas Market Tips
↠ Bring cash. Not many stalls take cards so make sure to bring plenty of cash with you. Luckily given the central location of the market, there are many ATMs to be found around. Right by Weisser Turm (White Tower), there is a Sparkasse bank with ATM.
↠ Drinks at German Christmas markets do not come in plastic or disposable containers but instead in mugs or glasses. This is an amazing way to keep waste down. When you order your first drink you’ll need to ‘buy’ the mug/glass which costs just a few euros. If you like the cup and want to keep it as a souvenir (each market has its own cup design) then you can. Otherwise, when you’re done drinking you bring back the cup and get your deposit back.<