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Romantic Rothenburg’s Reiterlesmarkt

Red-tiled roofs on crooked half-timbered houses. Horse carriages that clippity-clop over the cobblestone streets. Stone walls studded with 42 towers. This is Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a Medieval town that looks like it could be straight out of a movie. I imagine that the town is enchanting any time of the year, but with Christmas lights strung up, a towering Christmas tree in the Market Square, and the wooden stalls of the Rothenburg Reiterlesmarkt snaking through the narrow lanes, Rothenburg is transformed into a living Christmas card. That’s why I think the Rothenburg Christmas Market is the most romantic Christmas market we’ve been to!

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Great views of Rothenburg from the tower!

Though much, much smaller than the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt just an hour away, the Rothenburg Christmas Market has been a feature of wintertime in the town since the 15th century. That makes it the oldest Christmas market in Germany full of more than 500 years of tradition!

Franconian sausages

Yum! Franconian sausages with a squeeze of mustard.


Glühwein from Rothenburg’s only wine maker

And while the Christmas market was smaller with around 60 stalls compared the the 180 in Nuremberg, we found that it was far less crowded. What the Rothenburg Christmas Market definitely wasn’t lacking was an abundance of goodies to excite any foodie. We snacked on red sausages, toasted pumpkin seeds tossed in toffee, and clenched steaming cups of the traditional white Glühwein.

Kathe Wolhfahrt

Nutcrackers at Kathe Wolhfahrt

With a plethora of treats to snack on, I could even leave Tim to patiently wait while I dove into the Christmas wonderland known as the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Store, not once but twice. With more than 30,000 items on offer in the mega-shop, I could have spent hours looking at everything! (An inside look at the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Store, thanks to Rothenburg Tourismus Service and a press badge, coming soon.)

Rothenburg Schneebälle

That’s a lot of Schneebälle!

Of course, we couldn’t miss out on Schneebälle, the traditional dessert of the area that we saw piled high in market stalls and windows of every pastry shop in town. Strips of a special dough with plum-brandy are formed into a ball and fried and then covered with powdered sugar. Rothenburg may not have changed, but nowadays the Schneebälle come with a variety of toppings from cinnamon sugar to chocolate covered. We may have brought home three, though they didn’t last long.

Rothernburg ob der Tauber

The Town Hall and Market Square

Rothernburg ob der Tauber

One of the tower gates into Rothernburg ob der Tauber

What makes the Rothenburg Christmas Market so romantic is being able to stroll around the stalls serenely hand-in-hand and finding a stoop to snuggle up on with a cup of Glühwein, stealing kisses between sips. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is truly a one-of-a-kind German town and one of the most charming we’ve had the pleasure to visit.

Know Before You Go

  • The Rothenburg Christmas Market is open daily from November 29 – December 23 from 11am – 7pm Sunday – Thursday and 11am – 8pm Friday and Saturday.

Getting to Rothenburg ob der Tauber

  • Rothenburg is easily reached by car from the A7 Autobahn and the Romantic Road bus travels to Rothenburg seasonally.
  • Frequent trains connect Rothenburg with a number of German cities. Check Rail Europe for routes.
  • Frankfurt Airport is 112 miles away and Munich Airport is 130 miles away.

Disclosure: Our trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber was courtesy of Rothenburg Tourismus Services in order for us to bring you this story. As always, all opinions are entirely our own. We were in no way influenced by being stuffed full of Schneebälle, sausages, and Glühwein.

Jennifer Dombrowski

Jennifer Dombrowski is a location independent globe trotter and bases herself in Prata di Pordenone, Italy. She works as a social media and innovation strategist in higher education and is a regular contributor on johnnyjet.com. Her website, jdombstravels.com, is the 2012 Destinology Travel Bloggy Best Newcomer award winner. Google+

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  1. Caitlyn

    Argh! I love Rothenburg! I thought it looked Christmas-y enough even in the middle of May, let alone now. Looks so lovely :)


  2. T.W. Anderson @ Marginal Boundaries

    Ok, the sausage is divine! Sooooo hungry now :)

    Love the tower gate photo….post-card perfect!


  3. Katherine Belarminio

    That sausage is ridiculous. You need a second bun! Rothenburg looks beautiful.


  4. Ellen Christian

    I just love those nutcrackers!


  5. Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett

    I have been to Rothenburg twice and it’s awesome! I even managed a trip when the market opened with the Reitler riding in to open the market (the nightwatchman in disguise!)
    Such a belter of a walled town in Germany and well worth travelling to!


  6. Maria Alexandra @LatinAbroad

    so long since I’ve been in Rothenberg: miss it so much. Incredibly charming architecture, culture, PEOPLE. In fact, the friendliest Germans I found in the entire country! :) I visited in the summer though, so time to give it a visit during Christmas it seems like ;D

    -Maria Alexandra


  7. Stef

    Seems like you had a pretty good time in Germany and I’m happy to hear that. I actually never heard of Rothenburg (shame on me) but it looks really pretty. Have to travel more southbound I guess.


  8. Sand In My Suitcase

    Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a fairy-tale town! So “Hansel and Gretel” – we visited it some years ago in the summer. It was delightful then. It must be equally (or even more) so at Christmas.


  9. Cathy Sweeney

    Rothenburg is now added to my German Christmas market to-do list. The German markets are so fun and beautiful. I’m craving some schneebälle just from your description and photo — never heard of it before!


  10. Lori

    wow – loved the night photos and the “dolls”. This is definitely a place to go during Christmas!


    Jennifer Dombrowski Reply:

    We really liked it Lori! Not nearly as crowded as Nuremberg, but very picturesque.


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