Weekend in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.
Trip tips: Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a medieval museum with its 42 towers, five gates with 13th- to 16th-century guard towers and a wall that encircles this romantic town (plan a 1.5-mile walk along the top of the wall). Its Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic churches, homes and fountains pull in huge numbers of tourists, making its narrow cobblestone streets feel like a theme park. For a respite from the crowds, plan an off-season visit or take day trips out and return to a quieter town in the late afternoon.
The “Reiterlesmarkt” (Nov. 25-Dec. 23) is considered to be one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Germany.
When dialing direct, use the prefix 011 followed by 49 (country code) + 09861 (city code) + the phone number shown below.
Getting there: Nonstop flights on Delta or Lufthansa to Frankfurt are $985 on Oct. 30-Dec. 15 or Dec. 24-April 6, 2017, departures. Valid on midweek travel and a minimum stay of seven or more nights. Buy by Sept. 8.
Stay: Stay with the Familie Frohlich in their restored home from the Middle Ages. A first-floor holiday flat for two is $50 per night or $45 per night for stays of two or more nights. The apartment has a full kitchen, dining, living and separate bedroom. The town square is a two-minute walk. Deutschherrngasse 3, 709-709, www.froehlich-rothenburg.de.
Eat: The Schneeballen (Snowball cake) has been a Franconian specialty for over 300 years. This pastry of dough ribbons is shaped into a ball, deep-fried and rolled in powdered sugar, nuts or chocolate and filled with sweet marzipan or liqueur-infused creams ($2.25). Try one with a coffee and a people-watching session on the Market Square at Konditori Prezel. Marktplatz 5, 2365.
Experience: Visit the German Christmas Museum in the Old Town, a permanent exhibit of historical Christmas decorations from the different areas of Germany dating from 1870; about $4.50. Herrngasse 1, 409 365, www.weihnachtsmuseum.de. Take a walk back in time with an entertaining one-hour Night Watchman of Rothenburg ob der Tauber guided tour; $9 adults, free under age 12. Market Square, www.nightwatchman.de.
Stay: The family-run Romantik Hotel Markusturm is in the center of the pedestrian-friendly Old Town. Guest rooms have town views, canopy or four-poster beds, beam ceilings and seating areas with a sofa. The building was once a toll house and dates back to 1264. Rates from $125-$150, including breakfast buffet. Rödergasse 1, 94280, www.markusturm.de.
Eat: Go for the classic German comfort dishes of schnitzel, knoedel (dumplings), krautsalat, spaetzle (egg noodle) at the uber-adorable Restaurant Alter Keller, $13-$20. Dry aged steaks to $35. Alter Keller, 8, 2268, www.rothenburg-restaurant.de.
Experience: Hop on one of over two dozen daily train departures from Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Wuerzburg. The one-hour ride is about $16 (www.bahn.de). Spend part of a day on a guided walking tour of this town set in the heart of the Franconia wine district and at the start of the Romantic Road in the north (halfway between Frankfurt and Nuremberg on the River Main). The best tour choice is to the Baroque Royal Residenz (www.residenz-wuerzburg.de), one of Europe’s finest palaces and a UNESCO site restored after World War II. Various tours priced from $3-$8.50. www.wuerzburg.de/en/visitors/guided-walking-tours/index.html.
Stay: The refined Burg-Hotel is built into the town’s old medieval walls and inside a peaceful monastery garden. Room rates from $180 include breakfast and dramatic views over the Tauber Valley. This beautiful property offers a fitness room and a spa with a sauna. Klostergasse 1, 94890, www.burghotel.eu.
Eat: On a pretty autumn day, dine on the elegant rooftop terrace at Restaurant Eisenhut (housed in Hotel Eisen, which is built within four converted 16th-century mansions). The Piano Bar serves small dishes, Franconian wines and freshly tapped beer (there’s also a winter garden area for dining, or a separate beer garden). A three-course “Taste of the Tauber” menu is $40 with soup or $47 with a starter. Add wine pairing for $24. Herrngasse 3-5/7, 7050, www.eisenhut.com.
Experience: Nuremberg to the east of Rothenburg ob der Tauber (one-hour train about $22) dates back to 1050, and the town’s famous Christkindlesmarkt (daily Nov. 25-Dec. 24) dates from 1628. Nearly 200 wooden stalls (made from local spruce and some used since 1890) sell traditionally handcrafted wares such as ornaments, nutcrackers, and porcelain Nativity sets. Taste a cup of warm blueberry Gluehwein at the Gerstacker stall with an original Nuremberger pork sausage spiced with marjoram (the recipe dates back to 1497). https://tourismus.nuernberg.de.
Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.