The German Town of Rothenburg is a Grown-Up Christmas Grotto

by | 22 Dec 2023

Nestled in the heart of Germany, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a fairytale town that captivates the hearts of travelers throughout the year. However, it’s during the Christmas season that this medieval gem is at its most magical. Stepping into Rothenburg during the holidays is like entering a storybook world, where cobblestone streets twinkle with enchanting lights, and the air is filled with the sweet melodies of carols.

There truly is nowhere in the world quite like Rothenburg ob der Tauber at Christmas.



a close up shot of a brown bear’s face, with shaggy brown fur

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of just three German towns that still has its medieval defensive wall intact. The other two towns are Nördlingen and Dinkelsbühl.

Medieval Charm

Christmas period aside, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a perfectly preserved medieval town. Built in the 1200s, it is only 3 kilometers / 2 miles long. Its half-timbered houses, cobbled alleyways and historic architecture are a sight to behold at any time of year. Walking through the town feels like stepping back in time, with every corner seemingly telling a tale from a Brothers Grimm folk story. It’s no surprise, then, that this picture-perfect fairytale town is the backdrop for the festive period.

Indeed, there’s something truly special about Rothenburg during Christmas, especially at night. The glow of the fairy lights illuminate the old timbered medieval buildings, adding even more fairytale wonder to the town – if that was even possible.

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Christmas Markets

The heart of Rothenburg’s Christmas magic lies in its enchanting Christmas markets. The main market square, Marktplatz, transforms into a winter wonderland, with stalls adorned with handmade crafts, ornaments, and festive treats. The aroma of mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, and local specialties wafts through the air, inviting visitors to indulge in the spirit of the season.

Close-up of a gingerbread biscuit, with decorative icing spelling out the town name


The Reiterlesmarkt

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is home to one of Germany’s oldest and most traditional Christmas markets – the Reiterlesmarkt. Dating back to the 15th century, this market is a testament to the town’s rich history. Named after the “Reiterle,” a mythical figure from German folklore, the market captures the essence of old-world Christmas traditions. Wooden stalls, festive lights, and the joyful chatter of locals and visitors alike create an atmosphere of warmth and merriment you can’t get anywhere else.

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a close up shot of a brown bear’s face, with shaggy brown fur

The 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was filmed in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Snowflakes and Sleigh Rides

If you’re lucky enough to experience a snowy Christmas in Rothenburg, the town transforms into a winter wonderland straight from the pages of a storybook. Snow-covered rooftops, snowflakes gently falling, and the sound of horse-drawn sleigh rides through the cobblestone streets evoke a sense of pure magic. It’s a scene straight out of a holiday postcard, making Rothenburg ob der Tauber an even more unforgettable destination.

a close up shot of a brown bear’s face, with shaggy brown fur

During Christmas, the town hall opens an Advent window on the second floor. Each window is artfully decorated by local schools and youth groups in the region.

This German chocolate-box town is one of the most idyllic places to take the family during the holiday season. Whether you’re strolling through the Christmas markets, admiring the festive decorations, or simply taking in the beauty of the town draped in twinkling lights, Rothenburg ob der Tauber offers a Christmas experience that is nothing short of magical. It’s a destination that not only celebrates the season but also transports visitors to a world where the magic of Christmas is alive in every cobblestone and every snowflake.

Visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber with the whole family on the Best of Germany tour

I'm Jay – born in Italy, raised in South London. Having French sisters and Hungarian ancestors, I've always been fascinated with the world and its cultures, and I carry this curiosity into my writing for Insightful. My favourite destinations I've traveled to so far have been Italy, Peru, France and Brazil.