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Rothenburg ob der Tauber or Nuremberg

Hello! I am working on our itinerary for an 11 day trip to Germany at the end of May/beginning of June. We are flying in and out of Munich and want to spend time in the Nuremberg area, the Salzburg area and Munich.

I have read so many great things about Nuremberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Bamberg. Is it better to have Nuremberg as a base and visit those other areas of Rothenburg? I have heard that both of those towns are very enjoyable in the evenings as the crowds die out. I am thinking 2-3 nights. Any advice would be great! Thanks!

Posted by
2643 posts

I hope my recent trip report will have a few helpful suggestions.

I vote for sleeping in Rothenburg -
morning walks on the town wall, evening sunsets in the Castle gardens, not to mention the NightWatchman Tour.
I love this town, and have been there three times, and will return.

Haven't been to Bamberg or Nuremberg, so can't help there.

Do include Salzburg and the beautiful Berchtesgaden area .

Enjoy the trip and the wonderful dry Reisling- I'm not a white wine fan, but it was quite delightful in Germany.

Safe travels!

Posted by
1005 posts

"Is it better to have Nuremberg as a base and visit those other areas of Rothenburg?" Nürnberg. Read the history. It's a rail hub. If you are in Rothenburg with a car, then you can drive the Tauber River. I usually suggest a stop at Keltisches Oppidum Finsterlohr Burgstall for perspective.

Bamberg is a great town. Much to see and If you like beer, that's where to go. Lots of fun in of brewhouse like the Brauerei Fässla with a good crowd..

Posted by
1973 posts

I was unimpressed with Bamberg. I would do Nuremburg as a day trip from Rothenburg.

Posted by
7510 posts

N-berg is a city, R-burg a small village. Two different experiences.

Posted by
2627 posts

Of the three, Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Bamberg are probably the more picturesque (and Rothenburg is the quintessential German town with the half-timbered houses). So it really depends on what you want from this trip segment. If you want to spend the evening and night in a picturesque German village, I would go with basing yourself in Rothenburg and take a day trip or two to the others.

If you want the most efficient method, then you should base yourself in Nuremberg and take day trips outside to Bamberg and Rothenburg. As was pointed out, Nuremberg is the hub of a wheel and spoke system, so it's easier to get trains to outlying towns and villages. But again, atmosphere counts and a lot of people prefer to spend the night in a charming town.f

Whatever you choose, I'm sure you will have a wonderful trip - that whole area is wonderful!

Posted by
29667 posts

car or train? It will make a difference.

RodT is at the end of a small train branch line - very nice to visit but not at all convenient as a train base to other cities. Bamberg (I like it a lot and I don't drink) would be particularly difficult by train from there.

Posted by
6452 posts

I have been to all three places and all are good, but Rothenburg is a village and the other two are cities.

Rothenburg is a medieval walled city that only sustained minor WWII damage, while Nuremberg was severely damaged in the war and most of the city was rebuilt in the old style. You can do Rothenburg in a day, but the other two cities would take more time.

Posted by
40 posts

So hard to choose, but we will not have a car and will be using trains to get around. So, based on logistics I think Nuremburg is probably the best place for us.

It will be myself, husband and two sons ages 18 and 20. Any recommendations for a hotel with a family room, a hotel to get two rooms or an apartment type from or VRBO type of site? And while I am asking about lodging, any similar recommendations for Salzburg and Munich would be great!

Thanks so much for everyone's suggestions and recommendations!!

Posted by
840 posts

I'd use Nuremberg as the place to stay and make a day trip to RodT. forget Bamberg; you won't have time. In Nuremberg I like Le Meridian when on the expense account, otherwise I use Lowe's Merkur (on the other side of the Bahnhof).

In Salzburg stay at Botiquehotel am Dom.

The pension I used to love in Munich is closed, but there's lot's recommendations on this forum.

The area inside the old walls of Nuremberg is very walkable at night. The walk along the Pegnitz River that runs through the city is a favorite for night life and stays busy fairly late. You'll find the Altstadt is, like Nuremberg, different and busy in the evenings. It's my favorite time to walk both of those cities. I like Rothenburg in the mornings. Walking the walls as the sun comes up means no crowds. Getting the first hot pastries, the smells of the Backeri, watching the tradesmen; that all goes away by 0930 when the tourist busses start to arrive.

I'll make a different suggestion, and that is to stay in Ansbach. It's on the main rail line, so you can get into Nuremberg easy (60+ trains a day), To Rothenburg you can go cheap with train or bus, or do the drive in 30 minutes by taxi. Ansbach is pretty much unknown to American tourists, but has had US Military based there since WWII and it's a really nice town. Stay at the Plattengaten, which is by the park and Schloss.

Posted by
18616 posts

I think the difficulty in getting to/from Rothenburg is overstated. I've been to Rothenburg via Steinach three times and never thought the connection was difficult. True, it's on a spur line, 15 minutes from the Steinach Bahnhof, but the shuttle train runs every hour and it's an easy change in Steinach. And, Steinach is on the main line between Augsburg and Würzburg. There is even a direct (no change) RE from Munich to Steinach every two hours (at 35 min past the odd hour). It takes less than 3 hours to Steinach.

The change in Steinach is the shortest time, 4 minutes, if you are coming from the south, Augsburg and Munich. It's no sweat. Just be aware when you are arriving in Steinach and be near the door of the coach, ready to get off when the train stops. Most everyone who gets off in Steinach will be going to Rothenburg, so just follow the herd. Go down the steps from platforms 2/3 and up the steps for platforms 4/5. There are signs in the tunnel for the platforms, but everyone will be going there too. When you get to platform 5, there will be a conductor standing there holding the train. He/she will not release the train while people are still getting on.

I'm not a city person, so I would prefer Rothenburg or Bamberg to Nürnberg, but that's just me. Been to all three; definitely prefer Rothenburg.

The first time in Rothenburg we stayed in Ansbach and trained in for the day. The next time we stayed within the walls (Reidel). The last time we stayed here, at Gastof Post. I would recommend Post. It is outside the town walls, but only about half a mile to the town square, and if you stay at Post, you can walk it without your luggage. Post is at the corner of Bahnhofstraße and Ansbacher Str., about 300 yds from the rail station, and just outside Rödertor, the main gate to Rothenburg.

Posted by
2600 posts

@Lee-thank you for those detailed directions of transferring from Nuremburg to Rothenburg obdt. We are doing this as well, and since we have not done a whole trip by train, I was apprehensive about the two changes. Your directions are very clear.

Posted by
18616 posts

thank you for those detailed directions of transferring from Nuremburg
to Rothenburg

Actually, the directions I gave were for arriving in Steinach from the Ansbach, to the south (coming from Munich or Augsburg), but if you are coming from Nürnberg, the same advise would probably apply. It looks like today connections from Nürnberg go through Ansbach. It looks like at least some of the connections in Ansbach are cross platform, which make them simple.

There is also a connection from Nürnberg via Neustadt (Aisch), which comes into Steinach on a line from the East. It gives a 16 minute connection in Steinach, but a connection via Neustadt no longer seems to be the default connection on the Bahn website. You might seek it out if you want more time in Steinach.

Posted by
68 posts

I'm with Lee regarding the train. I've stayed in Rothenburg ob der Tauber multiple times. The train change in Steinach has never been a big deal to us. We have always lodged inside the walls. Inside the walls id a wondrous place to wander before and after the tourist buses arrive and depart. I find it to be magical. And a tour with the night watchman is not to be missed. The flowers in May should be spectacular.

Whatever you decide to do I wish you a fantastic trip!

Traveler Girl

Posted by
395 posts

I have been to both a couple times and break down your options like this. If you prefer easy train logisitics and want a home base with lots of sights to choose from, then N-berg is the best choice. If you don't mind easy train connections and place more value on the small and quaint experience where you can stroll around the beautiful town, then R-berg is your answer. It's a tough choice but hopefully you make the best one for you.

Posted by
40 posts

I have actually made reservations in both towns and will make a decision based on how we plan things. Thank you so much for all your feedback! Once I have a rough itinerary, I will post it on the forum for feedback.

Posted by
78 posts

I wanted to visit Bamberg and Nuremberg, as well, but we only had 6 nights in Germany, and covered a lot of ground, mostly in the Rhine. I don't know you how feel about one-nighters, but we did just one night in RodT on our way from the Rhine River to Munich, and that was plenty.
Personally, I would not want to spend the daytime in Rothenberg odT. After dinner and before lunch were the best times, which is why I'd suggest an overnight. It is busy from 11AM-dinner. We arrived in the afternoon, checked in to our hotel at 4:00. The town was so packed with people, not to mention 90 degrees in a stone city... The church was closed due to a choir rehearsal, so we went to the torture museum for a bit of respite from the heat. The museum was nothing to write home about. We unfortunately ate at a Mexican restaurant for dinner (not the best choice, but it was so hot, and German-faire didn't sound appetizing). We did the Nightwatchman's Tour (bring CASH). Everyone departed at dusk, so we walked the town and part of the ramparts after it cooled down... the town is sleepy at night, few bars stayed open late. We got up early and explored the rest of the ramparts by around 8:30. I think we saw most of the wall through one hour at night and a couple hours in the morning. The church and the wood carved statue there was lovely, if you like old church art. Didn't require a long visit. We bought some souvenirs and took off around noon... by then the town streets were already busy again. I felt that was enough time to see what I wanted to see.

The hotel we picked was a 400 year old former police station, redone it looked like in the late 1700 or early 1800s, and we got one of the rooms that had a fantastic view of the Tauber Valley... message me if you'd like the suggestion!

After visiting Brugge in Belgium, and Bacharach on the Rhine, Rothenberg was cute, but very touristy, and the coolest part was certainly the wall... I read that the town suffered a bit of damage during WWII and had some rebuilding, and you can get the sense that it's not as authentically old, though I know much had been recreated using old photographs.
If it were me, I would stay 1 night in RodT, and 2 nights in Bamberg, and then visit Nuremberg on a day trip from Bamberg (unless staying in Nuremberg appeals to you, but our friends who lived outside of Nuremberg for several years didn't have a lot of wonderful things to say about the city, as much of its old core was lost).

Posted by
2643 posts

We were on Rothenburg this last late April. The Castle gardens were beautiful, and I was fascinated by the tulips there and all over Germany and Austria. I don't see many tulips in California, and they were in bloom everywhere, even as cut flowers in vases on the tables in the restaurants.
Also in Rothenburg late April- the nesting storks!

Posted by
8440 posts

Spent a couple of days in Bamberg last Oct. and really enjoyed the city. Lots to see! Wonderful restaurants.

Do be aware that Rothenburg is heavily restored. 40% of the town was destroyed in the war. There are many other medieval towns in Germany that were not bombed in the war and that have city walls. It is a lovely town (full of tourists), but it has been really hyped up.

I edited my comment, though I still think there are better, medieval towns to visit.

Posted by
1943 posts

It is a myth that it is the best preserved medieval town, especially since the houses that are there are mainly built after the 30 years war, so late 1600s.

I'm sorry, but this is completely wrong. Rothenburg's decline began long before the Thirty Years' War because it was virtually surrounded by the hostile Margraviate of Brandenburg-Ansbach. In all important guides to architectural history there is a reference to the fact that after that war no significant building activity took place (e.g. Dehio, Handbuch der deutschen Kunstdenkmäler, Bayern I, p. 730: "Nach dem Dreißigjährigen Krieg keine Neubauten" / "After the Thirty Years War no new buildings"). The last expansion of the city to the east, the one that was destroyed by the US Air Force bombing in March 1945, was completed towards the end of the 16th century. Therefore, the art guide by A. v. Reitzenstein (Reclam) says as succinctly as true: "The imprint of the city body is medieval outside as well as inside".

Posted by
40 posts

Thank you for all of the replies. I am now so conflicted. These three towns have so many positives and some negatives. Not sure how this will be planned! Either way, it is our first trip to Germany so I am sure we will love it no matter what!

Posted by
18616 posts

To put it simply, in 1988, visited Rothenburg for the first time, although I stayed in Ansbach for two nights and trained in for a day. In 2002, I returned and spent two nights within the town walls, near the main square.

In 2007, I visited Nürnberg for a day, seeing the market square and the castle. The next morning I visited Bamberg for half a day. I have not been back to either place, not do I have any plans to do so.

In 2017, I again visited Rothenburg for two nights, staying just outside the town walls, near the bahnhof.

I'm not sure I would return to Nürnberg or Bamberg, but I would return to Rothenburg.

Another place I really liked was Nördlingen. Nördlingen is Rothenburg's less touristy little sister. Like Rothenburg, it has a complete wall with a Wehrgang you can walk on. All Nördlingen "lacks" is a Christmas shoppe and a Crime and Punishment Museum.

Posted by
455 posts

If you choose Nürnberg I can recommend the Adina apartment hotel. We love this chain because there is a kitchenette and a washing machine/ dryer in every room. We thought the location was very good, with restaurants and a grocery store close by. We did a walking tour with a historian that was superb. I know Munich also has an Adina, but we have not yet stayed there. We love Munich and have used it as a base during several trips. From Munich we have made day trips to Bamberg (where the smoked beer is famous), Salzburg, Regensburg, Kufstein,etc

We spent a few nights in Rothenburg, and found it very touristy. Kind of like staying at Disney, with similar mediocre, overpriced restaurants. The night watchman tour was fun. Even so, Rothenburg is probably our least favorite of all the places we have been in Germany. We have not stayed in Salzburg, but have visited it many times.

I would focus on what your preferences are based on specific interests- history, museums, food, music, nature, etc. Then pick a base of operation that makes it easy for you to get to locations that match those interests. Public transport is comprehensive and organized, so no need to have a car.

We have made many trips to Germany and Austria. Some of our first experiences were in Bavaria, but the northern cities ( Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Hannover, Bremen …) are also excellent. Then there are the Rhine villages for true relaxation. And lake areas like the Bodensee. And…
For your next trip right? 😊.

Have a wonderful trip, and embrace the RS motto of “ assume you will return”.

Posted by
346 posts

Do not forget about Dinkelsbühl :-) Whatever Rothenburg is I prefer Dinkelsbühl, Nürnberg, Bamberg and Nördlingen.

Posted by
40 posts

I have been reading and researching so much for this leg of our trip. Now I am thinking of using Bamberg as a base. Here's what I am thinking right now...

5/25 AM - Arrive Munich - train to Bamberg - wander city (basically try to stay awake as long as possible to fight jet lag)
5/26 - Bamberg
5/27 - day trip to Nuremberg
5/28 - train to Salzburg

Here's a question - is it worth it to go add Rothenberg or even Wurzberg to this? My plan now is to arrive in Salzburg on 5/28 - but no timetable to this is in stone.

Thanks so much!

Posted by
366 posts

I lived in Nurnberg for five years and went to Rothenburg odT many, many times on day trips. They're both great, and Nurnberg has even more museums than it did when I lived there.

I see no reason to go to Bamberg. Bamburg, Furth, Ansbach--they're all just suburb towns to Nurnberg without much in particular to see.

Posted by
8440 posts

Spent 3 days in Bamberg and loved it. So many corners to explore on winding streets, cool boutique stores, fabulous old churches and monasteries and great food. Took a ton of fantastic photos.

Posted by
5792 posts

5/25 AM - Arrive Munich - train to Bamberg

Personally, right after an overnight transatlantic flight, I would prefer NOT to spend nearly three hours (even with the fast trains) getting to Bamberg on 5/25, lovely as it is. Even the minimum 2 hours to Nuremberg (with 1 change of train) will seem like a long slog. You have to catch a train into Munich for both destinations anyway. I would VISIT MUNICH FIRST. 40 minutes on the S-Bahn from MUC Airport and you are there.

Now, you probably put Munich at the END of your trip, partly because you have to go there to fly out. But your arrival day is more critical. You don't know what time you'll get there - flight delays etc. might intervene - which means you might not catch whatever train you intend to catch upon arrival, which might have financial consequences as well. So with Munich as your first stop, you get on the S-Bahn whenever you can, and you will get rid of your bags and start your walk or whatever much more quickly and easily than you would in the alternative cities.

At the end of your trip... assuming you plan to spend a final night near MUC for your 6/4 flight out... you don't have to arrange a fixed time to get to Munich or Munich airport for your final night there. If you're coming from either Munich or the Nuremberg area, the Bayern Ticket day pass will get you back there at any hour you like. whenever it's convenient.

Here's what my trip would look like with your destinations...

  • Book 5/25 + any additional nights for your Munich stay (1 night?)

  • Book x number of nights in Nuremberg and make day trips to Bamberg and/or Rothenburg (3 nights?) Nuremberg is an excellent rail hub base with cheap day tickets - and it will SHORTEN the journey you make when you leave, wherever you're headed.

  • Book x number of nights in Salzburg (3 nights?)

  • Book 6/3 in Munich or at MUC airport

Your transport should work out very simply and inexpensively with this plan.

Posted by
366 posts

@SuzanneBlack Why would you skip Furth? Why would you skip Erlangen? Because you can't do everything. Bamberg is just an ordinary small town. I can't imagine putting it over a real city with significant museums. I'm not killing 3 days wandering around a place that was merely nice.

Rothenburg is highly artificial--for me it's a day trip. It's like Venice in this way, has been for decades.

Consider Bayreuth and Regensburg if you want real history. And then you also need to see Heidelberg. You see? You can't do everything.

Nurnberg is a 3-4 day city for me. Only because the 4th day I'd be visiting the non-touristy places I used to frequent when I lived there. As a tourist, 3 days should be plenty.

Posted by
2643 posts

I suggest you spend at least one night in Rothenburg so you can decide for yourself if the evenings and mornings are worth it! Safe travels!

Posted by
5792 posts

It's not necessary to sleep in Rothenburg to spend the evening in Rothenburg. There are evening trains back to Nuremberg as late as 10 pm and 11 pm.