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Rothenburg’s Christmas Market

Are you on the search for the most charming Christmas market of all time? You’ve got to go to Rothenburg in winter and attend the Rothenburg Christmas Market. You’ll love it!

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a small city in the German state of Bavaria, should be on everyone’s Germany Itinerary. It’s on our Germany Top 5 List and you’ll soon see why! Whenever you go, winter, spring, summer, or fall, this small medieval city will captivate you, but to be honest, we love it in winter the best!

The reason is simple. The Rothenburg Christmas market, the Reiterslesmarkt, is one of the famous Bavarian Christmas markets, and it just adds to the charm of this medieval walled city.

We’ve visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber countless times, and I’ll probably go back again because it’s just wonderful. Here’s why we love winter in Rothenburg and its amazing Christmas market.

In this article:

Rothenburg's Galentor with snow.
The Galentor during the winter looks very imposing.

Why Winter is the Best Time to Visit Rothenburg

If you like snow and winter and warming up with a cup of mulled wine, you might want to wait and visit Rothenburg in November or December. This part of Germany doesn’t get much snowfall, but it doesn’t take much frost and snow to turn this medieval town into a fairytale wonderland of icicles and snowy rooftops.

Sparkling lights cheerily light up the town, and Christmas scenes adorn storefront windows. The town embraces its magical nature with an entire week of celebrations during Fairytale Week in early November. Bavaria is full of fantastic Christmas markets, and we like trying them all, but Rothenburg just may be our favorite!

Christmas Market, Rothenburg - Sweets and treats booth.
Christmas in Rothenburg means tasty treats and hot mulled wine!

Weather in Winter

Winter in Rothenburg can be quite chilly and damp. Temperatures hover right around freezing (around 32 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit) during the winter months. The sky is often overcast, seeing about six days of rain in November and December (source), so it’s important to dress in layers, and maybe bring an umbrella or at least wear a water-resistant coat. Hats are a must as well.

The great thing about being so cold is that you will want to venture into more cafés, shops, and museums, and there are plenty of cozy ones, that’s for sure.

Rothenburg Christmas Market Magic

Weather in Rothenburg is frosty and cold in winter.
Bundle up, Rothenburg weather can be frosty and cold in the winter.

Rothenburg’s Christmas market, or the Reiterlesmarkt, starts at the end of November and runs right up to Christmas Eve. There’s not a lot of open space within the Rothenburg city walls, so don’t expect a large, sprawling festival.

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Instead, the holiday cheer is much more intimate and colorful, with the small wooden booths lining the narrow and medieval town streets and occasional open squares. Local music bands and singers take the stage in the Gruner Market putting everyone in the holiday spirit.

Birds-eye view of Rothenburg Christmas Market.
Rothenburg Christmas Market is one of the best in Germany

Pro Tip: For a real treat, stop in at the Advent Cafe in one of the church buildings behind the St. Jacobs cathedral. This is a relativity quiet spot in the middle of the Christmas market where you can find a gorgeous slice of homemade cake or pastry and enjoy a cup of Weisser Gluhwein (mulled white wine), a local specialty. The gluhwein mugs have a new design every year and make an excellent souvenir, so it may be a hard decision on whether to return it for your deposit or not.

The Rodertor is a gate into the walled part of the city.

What To Do In Rothenburg in Winter

Rothenburg is a charming medieval town that is nothing short of magical in winter! 

The initial castle fortifications date back to the 10th century, but the bulk of the town was not built until the 12th century. For some time during the Middle Ages, it was a very profitable city, the second largest in what would later become Germany.

Due to its wealth, many invaders battled, sieged, and ransacked the city, especially during the Thirty Years’ War.

Romantic Rothenburg Hotel in medieval building.
One of the Romantic Rothenburg Hotels is in this 13th century customs and toll house.

Taking a stroll through the curving narrow streets and under arched city gates with bits of snow and ice helps you to feel you’ve been transported into a real fairytale town. Climb the defensive watch towers for a breathtaking view of the town square, a bird’s eye view of the Reiterlesmarkt and town square is not to be missed.

Of course, the spectacular medieval architecture makes for some stunning photographs, especially with a backdrop of snow. The town’s tumultuous history is peppered with tragic stories, but now it’s a cozy winter wonderland. Warm up with a cup of hot chocolate accompanied by a Schneeball (local favorite) at a comfortable café or bakery.

We know the Rothenburg Christmas market will keep you busy, but don’t miss the Medieval Crime Museum. It’s entertaining and memorable, and everyone will love it.

Medieval Crime Museum displays toruture and punishment devices from the middle ages.
Don’t miss the Rothenburg’s Medieval Crime Museum.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber Map

Walking map for Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas Markets
Use our Rothenburg ob der Tauber Google Map
Christmas Smokers are popular gifts.
Incense smokers are popular tourist souvenirs and can be found in the Christmas market in winter or the Kathe Wolfahrt store in the rest of the seasons.

Our Rating

Christmas market 5 star rating.

As far as charming Christmas markets go, you won’t want to miss this one! It’s great for both kids and adults; there’s something for everyone. The food choices are amazing, and the town is one of the most beautiful in the whole country!

What to Eat in Rothenburg

Seasonal dishes are always common in Germany and most restaurants in Rothenburg follow this tradition with game and goose in the fall and winter; white asparagus, or spargel, in spring; and fresh chanterel, or pfifferlinge, mushrooms in the summer.

During the Rothenburg Christmas Market, there are several booths dedicated to the culinary arts serving up Schneeballen, charcoal grilled sausages, mushrooms in cream sauce, crepes, and a variety of sweets and sugar roasted almonds (my favorite).

Christmas market stalls.
Christmas market stalls in the center of Rothenburg glow as the sun goes down.

How to Get to Rothenburg ob der Tauber from Frankurt

By Car: The journey takes approximately 2 hours. First, take the A3 road out of Frankfurt towards Wurzburg for around 115 km. Next, take the A7 road towards Ulm/Rothenburg o.d.T. After driving for 50 km, take exit 108 and follow the signs to Rothenburg.

By Train: There are several trains available during the day, including InterCity-IC, InterCity Express-ICE, and Regional Express-RE, that go to Wurzburg. From there, switch to the Regional Bahn (RB), and take it towards Treuchtingen. Once you arrive at Steinach b. Rothenburg o.d. Tauber, transfer to the Rothenburg train. The time at the stations is enough to catch each of the connecting trains, and the whole trip should take between three and three and a half hours.

One of the many food stalls at the Reiterlesmarkt or Rothenburg Christmas Market.

How to Get to Rothenburg ob der Tauber from Nuremberg

By car: It takes approximately 1 hour. Simply take the A6 out of Nuremberg towards Heilbronn and continue for around 80 km. At the A7 junction, turn towards Wurzburg/Rothenburg o.d.T. and proceed for another 21 km to exit 108. From there, just follow the signs to Rothenburg.

By train: It will take about one and a half hours. Take the S-Bahn or regional express to Ansbach and then transfer to the Regional Bahn to Steinach bei Rothenburg o.d. Tauber. Finally, transfer to the local train that goes directly to Rothenburg.

Schneeballen sold at the Rothenburg Christmas market.

How to Get to Rothenburg ob der Tauber from Munich

By Car: The journey takes approximately two and a half hours. First, head towards Stuttgart on the A8. After covering around 105 km, you’ll see signs for the A7 towards Wurzburg. Follow these signs for another 115 km until you reach exit 108, and then follow the signs to Rothenburg.

By Train: The travel time by train is around three and a half hours. Take the regional express train to Treuchtingen and then transfer to the Regional Bahn to Steinach. From Steinach, transfer to the local train that goes to Rothenburg ob der Tauber.


When it comes to parking in Rothenburg, you will find that the parking areas are clearly marked and easy to locate. However, remember that during the days of the Christmas market, parking can be harder to find, especially later in the day.

You’ll find pay-for parking outside the main gates to the Old Town. Topplerweg will lead you right to the entrance of both P1 and P2 parking lots, but we really like parking in the P6.


Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a cozy winter getaway, Rothenburg is a must-visit destination.

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Rothenburg Christmas Market is one of the most magical Christmas markets in all of Germany!
Rothenburg Christmas Market is the most magical Christmas markets in all of Germany!
Rothenburg Christmas Market is the most charming in all of Germany!