Perfect Munich to Rothenburg Day Trip

One of the most charming towns in Bavaria is Rothenburg ob der Tauber, renowned for its exceptionally well-preserved medieval architecture. Here’s how to have a perfect Munich to Rothenburg day trip!

On my trip to Munich this winter, I got to visit Rothenburg for a day and it was just wonderful! I combined it with some time in Nuremberg which is charming too. The town’s picturesque streets are lined with charming half-timbered houses, cobblestone alleys, and fortified walls, creating a fairytale-like atmosphere that you’ll fall in love with. 

Table of Contents

About Rothenburg

There is more than one Rothenburg in Germany. When planning a day trip here, make sure you’re planning it to the right one! In Germany, when multiple cities have the same name, the younger places are usually differentiated by more information. Hence, the name Rothenburg ob der Tauber means Rothenburg above the Tauber (River). 

This is the Rothenburg that almost all tourists refer to when visiting, and it is the one in this post.

Rothenburg is Germany’s best preserved walled town, and while there are many contenders, it has so much charm. It’s part of the Romantic Road, which stretches from Wurzburg in the northern part of Bavaria to the southern border of Austria at Neuschwanstein Castle.

In the Middle Ages, when Berlin and Munich were just wide spots on the road, Rothenburg was Germany’s second-largest city, with 6,000 residents. Today, it’s a well-preserved and worth-visiting medieval town, enjoying tremendous popularity with tourists without losing its charm. There’s a thousand years of history packed between its cobbles.

Rothenburg is an extremely popular day trip from Munich and other major cities like Frankfurt. To fully enjoy it, consider staying overnight as well.

How to Get to Rothenburg from Munich

A day trip from Munich to Rothenburg ob der Tauber is absolutely feasible, although it’s a bit of a journey given the distance between the two cities. There are three main options for getting from Munich to Rothenburg. I’ll outline each below so you can choose the best option for you!

  1.  Train: Enjoy the scenic train ride through the Bavarian countryside. The journey from Munich to Rothenburg typically takes around 3 – 4 hours, depending on the route and connections. When I was searching for trains, I didn’t find any that had fewer than two transfers.
  2.  Drive yourself: Renting a car in Germany is simple, and you can easily drive from Munich to Rothenburg yourself. The drive takes about 2 hours and 50 minutes and will pass some beautiful places and cities you may want to stop in, like Nuremberg and Augsburg. 
  3. Take a tour: Some tours offer day trips to Rothenburg from Munich, which could be a great option if you don’t want to drive yourself or take a train. Tours vary, but a few options are below. They typically offer limited time, so it’s up to you what works best!
Reminder: Rothenburg is an extremely popular day trip from Munich and other major cities like Frankfurt. To enjoy it fully, consider staying here overnight as well. I did not stay overnight, but since I drove myself, I was able to stay far past the day trippers and was happy I did.

Tour options:

Powered by GetYourGuide

Morning

Depending on what time you leave Munich, you may arrive to Rothenburg in the morning. I’d recommend starting your day as early as possible from Munich so you have ample time in Rothenburg ob der Tauber to explore. If you leave around 7-8 am, you’ll arrive around 10:30 – 11 (depending on traffic and whether you make stops).

Upon arrival in Rothenburg, head straight to the Old Town area, where you’ll find the town’s most charming attractions. Rothenburg’s train station is located a bit outside the Old Town, so you may need to take a short taxi ride or walk to reach the heart of the city.

Spend your midday exploring Rothenburg’s Old Town’s picturesque streets and landmarks. Highlights include the iconic Plönlein (a scenic square with a charming half-timbered house), the medieval city walls, and the Market Square (Marktplatz), which has historic buildings and a lively atmosphere.

Take some time to browse the shops and boutiques in Rothenburg, where you’ll find a variety of unique gifts and souvenirs. From handmade crafts and Christmas decorations to local wines and culinary delights, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

I loved taking time to walk around and enjoy the picturesque streets. The old town is small and walled in by a medieval stone wall, so it’s hard to get lost and just enjoy yourself here.

Lunch in Old Town

Take a break from sightseeing and enjoy a leisurely lunch at one of the local restaurants or cafes in Rothenburg. Sample traditional Franconian cuisine, such as bratwurst, schnitzel, or schneeballen (a local pastry specialty), while soaking up the ambiance of this historic town.

While in Rothenburg, I found several different places that offered these traditional dishes, and while I didn’t like the scneeballen as much as I thought I would, I am glad I tried it!

Afternoon

Spend the afternoon exploring some of Rothenburg’s museums and attractions. Below are a few different attractions you might want to consider. There’s plenty of medieval history and buildings to see here.

  • Medieval Crime Museum (Kriminalmuseum) to learn about the town’s judicial history
  • Walk the historic town walls (start from Spitaltor Plönlein or any of the multiple entrances around the town; the stairs are very steep!)
  • See the historic Town Hall (climb the tower for great views)
  • Take a walk into the Tauber Valley. A trail leads downhill from Rothenburg’s idyllic castle gardens to a cute, skinny, 600-year-old “castle-ette,” the summer home of the town’s mayor in the 15th century, Mayor Toppler. 
  • Visit St. James Church (beautiful wooden carvings here that are over 500 years old)
  • Visit the German Christmas Museum
  • If you visit during the holidays, the Christmas market here is known to be very charming.

Evening

If you are driving yourself or taking a later train, there’s one more really cool activity you can do in Rothenburg ob der Tauber: The Night Watchmen Tour. The town’s tourism office offers this tour, which will take you back in time!

Before the 20th century, the night watchman was one of many citizens of Rothenburg responsible for the safety of the inhabitants of this walled, fortified city. The good citizens went to bed early. The people he met on the streets were the drunks and the thieves. He carried an intimidating weapon called a hellebore to protect himself and show his authority.

The Night Watchman gathers his followers in the Market Square in the heart of historic Rothenburg ob der Tauber, with the Councilor Tavern in the background April – December, offering a unique view into medieval history.

Plan the perfect Munich to Rothenburg day trip and immerse yourself in the charm of this well-preserved medieval town in Bavaria.
Plan the perfect Munich to Rothenburg day trip and immerse yourself in the charm of this well-preserved medieval town in Bavaria.

As the day ends, head back to the train station or your car to catch your return journey to Munich. Rothenburg is one of the most charming towns in Germany, and you’ll love spending a day here!

Meghan

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

10 comments