Rothenburg ob der Tauber: One of My Favorite German Christmas Markets
Christmas market in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany

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Christmas market in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the best-preserved medieval towns I’ve ever been to!  It’s an 800-year-old town on the Romantic Road situated approximately halfway between Munich and Frankfurt.

The main square in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany
The main square
Snow coming down over the church in Rothburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany
Snow coming down over the church

 The defence towers and city wall that encloses much of the city makes it feel like you are stepping back in time.  Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the epitome of medieval romance.

I loved Rothenburg ob der Tauber when I was there in April a couple of years ago.  And was excited to return to visit its famous Christmas market, the Reiterlesmarkt (Rider’s Market).  The Rothenburg ob der Tauber has a long tradition dating back more than 500 years.  Its name comes from a messenger riding a horse.

Christmas Market in Rothburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, GermanyIn medieval times it was believed that otherworldly messengers would appear and float through the skies carrying with them the souls of the dead.  Not a very Christmasy thought!  Fortunately times have changed and today the mystical messenger is now considered to be a friendly messenger and is welcomed.  The messenger makes his appearance on the first day that the market opens (at the end of November).  I missed this by a week, but locals tell me it’s worth seeing.
Christmas market in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany Also not to be missed is a visit to Käthe Wohlfahrt, which is self-described as “the most exceptional Christmas specialty store in the world.”  It just may be with its 30,000+ assortment of Christmas decorations on offer! I was certainly impressed with all the monkeys on display:

Upon entering I heard one American teenager declare “This is the coolest store I’ve ever been in.”  Even if you’re not there to buy, it’s worth a look with its Christmas village illuminated with over 130,000 LED lights:

Later on,  I overheard an elderly English lady declaring it to be “Christmas heaven”.   It’s definitely enchanting!  There’s also a Christmas museum upstairs, which takes visitors through the history of Christmas.  Käthe Wohlfahrt and the Christmas Museum are both open year round, but really get into full swing come December.

What really makes the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market alive is its atmosphere.  I feel like I’m slipping back in time a few centuries as I sip my white mulled wine (different from the usual red mulled wine that you find at other Christmas markets) so be sure to try it.

The only difference is that as I head back to Hotel Rappen Just outside the Würzburger Tor (one of the city gates), I fortunately don’t see any criminals left to hang as their punishment for their crimes, as I may have seen in medieval times.

I turn up the heat and crawl under my cozy covers, shivering at the very thought of how cold it would have been back in the middle ages when there was no heating.

Perhaps there is no time to visit Rothenburg ob der Tauber like the present – when I can have the best of both worlds!

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For more information see the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Tourismus or Bavaria Tourismus Marketing.


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About Author

Laurel Robbins is the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an adventure travel blog and company that helps people plan their hiking, cycling and wildlife vacations in a sustainable way. Although Canadian, she lives in Munich, Germany. You can find her hiking in the mountains on most weekends.


December 5, 2012
Love the water/snow on your lens, it adds to the atmosphere! German Xmas markets are quite famous I think, even in France, the biggest Xmas markets are the ones by the German border.
December 5, 2012
Lovely Christmas atmosphere. And how did you manage to catch the decorative snow on the photos?
Alex @ ifs ands & Butts
December 5, 2012
I went last fall and would lvoe to see the market since it's so Christmas themed all year round!
Crystal @ Little Sightseers
December 5, 2012
How was your stay at Hotel Rappen? Would you recommend it for families? I have a 4 and 6 year old, and would love to make it to this market! Thanks!!
December 6, 2012
I love Christmas markets! They are one of my favorite things about living in Europe. I can't believe that after 3 years living in Europe I still haven't been to a German Christmas market though!
December 6, 2012
Ah lovely! I'm so glad I'm going home to Germany over Christmas, but I'll miss all the Christmas markets as I land just before Christmas Eve. Love Nuremberg's market, and have never been to Rothenburg, but it sure looks gorgeous!
December 8, 2012
@Christina - Glad to hear that you're coming home, but too bad that you'll just miss the Christmas markets :(. I liked the market in Rothenburg even better than the one in Nuremberg.
December 7, 2012
Fun!! I love Christmas markets
December 8, 2012
@Andrea - Me too, I can never get enough of Christmas markets.
December 8, 2012
When I lived in Germany years ago this was one of my favorite destinations. It was a great place to visit year round but to really appreciate it you have to go during the Christmas season.
December 8, 2012
@The Traveling Fool - Completely agree.
December 9, 2012
All this talk of Christmas markets is making it actually seem like Christmas. To me, it doesn't feel like Christmas until I'm with my family in my parent's decorated house.
December 9, 2012
@Christy - Agreed, that's why I love the Christmas markets in Europe so much, really puts me in the spirit.
December 10, 2012
Love the snow in the photos. It certainly completes the mood! :)
December 11, 2012
@Cheryl - Christmas markets are always prettier when there's snow :).
December 15, 2012
Now that will put you in the Christmas spirit! Suddenly my dogs in their Christmas bows in 60 degree weather aren't cutting it....
December 28, 2012
@Abby - Awww, but dogs with Christmas bows are very Christmasy :)
December 16, 2012
I was in Rothenburg when I was 16 on a tour, but I'd love to go back and see it again. The Christmas market looks great, I wish I had enough time to see more of them around the country. I love your pictures of the snow falling!
December 28, 2012
@Ali - Highly recommend Rothenburg, one of my favorite towns in Germany, especially at Christmas time.
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