Getting out into nature – Hiking to and around Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Rothenburg ob der Tauber has a unique old quarter. With the beauty of its city center, it sometimes takes a second glance to realize that Rothenburg ob der Tauber is also nestled in a magnificent natural setting, between the Hohenlohe Plateau and Tauber Valley in the west as well as the Franconian Heights in the north-east. It’s a fantastic area for hikes. Visitors can expect not only spectacular views of Rothenburg’s old city but quaint taverns, refreshing beer gardens and an informative trail along the mills in the Tauber Valley. Over 1000 pilgrims enjoy the city views each year along the multiple Ways of Saint James leading to and from Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

13 Routes around the city – Rothenburg’s hiking trails

13 Hiking trails surround Rothenburg ob der Tauber. They wind along the Tauber to the many mills in Tauber Valley – its among Europe’s highest density of mills. Many of the hiking trails lead to the picturesque Wildbad, a great place to stop for an afternoon coffee. Rothenburg’s most impressive vantage points are along the Reitsächser Steige, the Engelsburg and the Hochzeitswäldchen near the Rothenburg Kletterwald. The view of the historic town walls and the An der Eich vineyard is also magnificent from the valley. If you prefer not to take a long route, you can also take an informative stroll along the wine educational trail or go around the old town along the Tower Trail – see brochure recommended by Rick Steves. Other trails lead along the Schandtauber valley or towards the Franconian Heights via Gebsattel to Kirnberg. The Franconian inns in the villages around Rothenburg invite you to stop and rest with refreshing drinks and delicious rural meals. In the Tauber Valley, you’ll pass the popular Unter den Linden beer garden if you head towards Detwang. In Detwang, a detour into the village church with its striking Riemenschneider altar is highly recommended.

Pilgrim site in Rothenburg’s center – St. James

On the St James Way near Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Sign of St James Way near Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Pilgrims from all countries are drawn to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This is due to the Ways of Saint James, which intersect at the Parish Church and also lead back out. Coming from Nuremberg, you can enter the old quarter via the Franconian Way of Saint James. Markings with the St. James shell indicate the path in the old quarter. It leads to St. James Church in the center, where a statue of St. James greets travelers, holding the distinctive shell in one hand. In the Middle Ages, as a pilgrimage church, this church once brought wealth to Rothenburg, the destination of the faithful: the Holy Blood altar by Tilman Riemenschneider. Today the guest pastor Oliver Gussmann takes care of visitors to St. James Church. On selected dates, such as during the hiking weeks, he also offers an introductory pilgrimage along the Way of Saint James. Those who would like to test whether they would make suitable pilgrims are very welcome here. Along the Way of Saint James, the path leads from Rothenburg via Speyer or Ulm towards Santiago de Compostela. The Via Romea is another, less known pilgrim path through Rothenburg. It leads from Stade in Lower Saxony to Rome.

Long-distance hiking trail on the Romantic Road

You can also hike a long distance from Rothenburg ob der Tauber along the Romantic Road, which leads from Würzburg to Füssen. A hiking map with a description of the trail and circuits in selected locations describes the route, which is a classic German holiday road that can also be traversed on foot. But you should have plenty of time: The distance from northern Bavaria to the south is 500 kilometers – or the other way around.

Hiking in Rothenburg ob der Tauber