We visited Rothenburg today. A very beautiful city. Enjoyed the walk along the wall and great cafes. My only question is does anyone think that is has been over run by tourist? I ask this because nearly every shop in the center of town sold the same souviners. Same Christmas ornaments, beer steins and little dolls. While I enjoyed the town it seems that some have set up shop to take advantage of the tourists.
Interestiing choice of words, "smirk".
Help us, James! Give us a few other RODT to visit...preferably on a train line :-)
I need history, etc. - not just 'cute'...
Try Quedlinburg or Lübeck. They are up north, closer to Berlin. Check out Büdingen, or Michelstadt or Bad Wimpfen. Seriously, there are dozens and dozens and dozens of historic, beautiful old towns and villages in Germany.
Here is a website with a little video of Büdingen, and though in German, you can get a good idea of what the place looks like. It is an original, never been bombed castle and fortress.
Nördlingen is a lot like Rothenburg (almost intact wall with a Wehrgang, fachwerk buildings, a church tower you can climb) without the touristy feeling. It's on a rail line about 27 minutes from Donauwörth.
Regensburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its medieval buildings. It has a history as great and storied as any in Germany. It was formerly a Roman stronghold; there are a few remaining ruins. It is a University town with some manufacturing on the outskirts. Its Thurn & Taxis palace is still occupied by the family's current princess and is open for guided tours.
I personally like Rothenburg and Regensburg, and will visit both this December. Rothenburg is a bit better in the off season.
I still love Rothenburg. I have been twice and if I am in the area again, I will go again. I don't care about the shops, I just like walking around. I like my cute but very old hotel I stay in. I like the atmosphere. I like the meals that I have eaten. I like the Christmas markets that I attend (I go in the winter) and I really like the gluewine that keeps me warm. I don't think that I need to stay more than 2 nights, but Rothenburg is a little guilty pleasure for me. I have been able to see past all the mobs that flock the town. It has never stopped me from having my away from home experience.
Rothenburg is overrun and does make me squirm a bit. English is the Lingua Franca. It can be insufferable. But I don't know of another village quite like it, so uniquely well preserved.
I'll say that I liked nearby Weissenburg very much on my visit there. The town wall is largely intact, and you can visualize the moat that once helped protect the place. Barely a tourist in sight there.
Although not exactly devoid of tourists either, Schwäbisch Hall is a good alternative.
Even in the middle of the day when the Christmas shops and market square are swamped with tourists, you dont have to walk far in Rothenberg to escape the crowds. One street away are old buildings and shops, a few more streets and you are on the walls or in the garden, almost on your own. And then when the tour busses go you have the town to yourself. We have enjoyed Rothenberg for almost 35 years and keep on going back when we can. We have however noticed a significant increase in the number of tourists in Dinkelsbuhl,Nordlingen and other old favorites, but stil very enjoyable
Dinkelbuhl, south of Wuerzburg, is a wonderful untouristy intact walled medieval town which is well worth a visit. Good quality assortment of inexpensive hotels and restaurants. I can quite understand your reserve about the tourist shops in Rot.ob d T but it nevertheless worth a visit. It's main income is now from tourism so you can't really complain. Walk around any tourist destination and you will be assaulted by cheap tack, Edinburgh for instance is full of tartan gonks with red beards and restaurants selling haggis and neeps for £15.00! I can't imagine that Rot.ob d T is worse than Disneyland!and at least it is a real living town. Read about the history of it in the town museum. It was bombed by the Americans in the days after WW2 had officially ended in Europe.
Yes, definitely touristy but still interesting (especially if you avoid the shops).
But, don't you think, sometimes you just have to indulge in the touristy cities? Yes, I like to find the little places that haven't been overrun by American tourists, but sometimes the touristy places can be fun, too. Would I spend a week there? No. A night or 2? Sure. To me, it's on par with the Eiffel Tower or Prague or Cliffs of Moher. Yes, tons of tourists go there, but it's worth a stop, even with all of the tacky souvenirs (which I kinda like, anyway).
I grew up in Germany but didn't feel any inclination to visit Rothenburg odT precisely because of huge number of foreign tourists. However, when I wanted to show my Canadian friend the country we did decide to go and planned it the visit outside the busiest daytime hours. After 4 pm and before 10 am the town is actually very quiet. Yes, the souvenir shops are still there but you don't have to go inside.
Yes, Rothenburg has lots of tourist during the day. But at night, not at all. If I were in the area, I would go back and here is why:
1) the museum of crime and punishment is one of the most memorable museums I have ever been to.
2) beautiful city
3) great history and esp as told from the Nightwatchman
4) the side streets get you away from the crowds and I had one of the best sausages with mustard and with a fantastic beer, that I have ever had. Worth going back for that alone.
5) walking the city walls, going to the park and looking down at the views from the city will get you away from the crowds.
We loved Rothenburg regardless of being over run with tourists and we had our first European fender bender there. Hope to return someday. The Christmas ornament shop, IMO, was ridiculously overpriced and much of the stuff was made in China. TJ Maxx is the place to purchase these items. I agree that Dinkelsbuhl is a very charming and quiet little town.
How nice to read what Maureen had to say. It is precisely because these places are unique that they become tourist traps.
I went to Rothenburg a few years ago and it was a major disappointment. Hated the crowds and the touristy atmosphere.
I'd never heard of Rick Steves when we stopped in Rotherburg. We both immediately thought holy **** how did all these Americans & Japanese suddenly drop out of the sky? It was a cool little town but the faraway foreigners/Germans ratio was unfortunate.
Same thing happened in Murren. Heck we just took a narrow valley into alps and suddenly there were 80% Americans. Nice places but geez you're all going to the same exact few places. It really wierd because the lack of a normal distribution of foreign tourists is quite obvious.
I went to Rothenburg last week, mainly because I wanted to socialize my new puppy to crowds of people... and to my surprise, the town was fairly empty. The tourists were noticable, especially the Japanese (with all the pictures they took of my puppy, I'm sure she's all over Japanese Facebook pages by now!), but it wasn't overrun, by any means. So, it is possible to visit Rothenburg during the day and not feel like you're in Las Vegas or Disney World... probably not in the summer, though.
We have only been to Rothenburg 2x, 2002 and 2004 and we thought it to be quite touristy but still enjoyed our visits here. We loved Dinkelsbuhl (sp?). It was charming and and untouristy.
My fiance and I will be landing in Frankfurt in January and I'm planning on spending the first night in Rothenburg and then driving down into the Alps the next day. I'm figuring we'll have the town pretty much to ourselves in the middle of January.
I visited Rothenburg five years ago with some family and while the city was crowded with tourists (like us), we found out that the family that runs the Glocke restaurant was having a wine festival outside the city walls that day. We were some of the only non-germans in attendance. We were treated like part of the family and we were even given a tour of their wine cellar. It was a priceless experience and completely unexpected and unplanned. Like most people on this board, i think interacting with the locals and experiencing another culture is the true gem of travelling. Sometimes you have to look a little harder and have a little luck to find it
One may be surprised by this. In the winter, a lot of the tourist that mob Rothenburg are Germans that are Christmas shopping. I have been told this twice, by the hotel proprietors, when we asked besides Asian, who else is obsessed with ROthenburg. They come from all over Germany, but mainly northern Germany.
James... I have never visited Noerdlingen but your comments have made me decide to go. Can you recommend a reasonably priced hotel?
Nördlingen is accessible by train from the south, from Augsburg, and from the west, from Aalen in Baden-Württemberg. Although in Bayern, it is considered a border station for the Baden-Württemberg-Ticket, which is valid to Nördlingen. From the north it is only accessible by bus, from Dinkelsbühl (about 1 hr).
I'm glad I created such a response. While it is true that if you walk outside the main square of Rothenburg, you get away from the touristy shops, the same can be said of many cities. Würzburg and Munich are good examples. We loved the walk along the wall and the great cafes and wine shops. The crime museum was just something to do while it was raining. A crime and punishment thing would do good anywhere. People love blood and gore; why do you think they made 20 Friday the 13th movies or there are 5 spin offs of Law and Order. All I'm saying is that while I know I'm a tourist, I don't need to feel like one being taken advantage of over and over again.
Alfeld is a nice town also - not sure how "touristy" it is. It has a factory built by Walter Gropius in 1911 in the Bauhaus style, and of course the usual "cute" early modern buildings covered with painted sculptures.
To me, RodT is similar to Venice with respect to large crowds of tourists...completely different feel after dinner when the crowds disperse. A difference for me is that Venice can feel like Disney World because of the daytime crowds...RodT never has (in two visits anyway). If you're going to be in the area, I say go visit...it's worth at least one half or one full day and one night.
The great thing about this forum is the input from so many with alternate spots to visit. Goes to show how much there is to see and experience in Germany. Rothenburg was worth the visit and even with crowds of tourists it was worth the stop, no regrets.
BTW, The Night Watchman's Tour in the evenings (English speaking tours available) is very enjoyable. I think he is shut down for the winter but in season a fun evening event.
Disney is the epitome of taking advantage of tourists but we go anyway and I will likely never "willingly" go back.
One more vote for Regensburg tho I liked RODT especially for kids.
it seems funny to me that it is too touristy to us tourists. we have come so far i guess. i have been to rothenburg twice, stayed overnight both times and loved every minute after the tour buses left. it is great during the day if you plan correctly. but after dark it is amazing. great food, great people. i have never been in any of the christmas shops, but have enjoyed their windows many times. once in february with snow on the ground it was magical. relax. tourists need touristy sights at times. rothenburg should be enjoyed at least once, overnight. have fun, be safe.