Much-loved Rothenburg and Nuremberg markets
Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Nuremberg's markets are among Europe's most beautiful and traditional. Located just an hour apart via the A6 and A7, they can both be seen in a day or weekend.
ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER
The 15th-century medieval Rothenburger Reiterlesmarkt reflects the historic charm of this perfectly preserved medieval town. For a fantastic view of the market, climb city hall's tower. The tower stairway is steep and narrow, eventually turning from stairs to ladders — not for little ones or those with mobility issues. It's best to go up before making purchases that you'd have to carry.
Afterward, you will have worked up an appetite for the famous local treat, the Schneeball (snowball). This sphere of fried dough is doused in the topping of your choice. Beware: it is messy!
Christmas market dates: Nov. 23-Dec. 30, 2017
Helpful hints: You will need to park at one of five lots just outside the city walls. Parking is free after 6 p.m.
Beyond the market: The medieval city's creepy history is retold each night on hour-long walking tours led by the Night Watchman and ghost-hunting expeditions with the Executioner (not suitable for young children).
Nuremberg's old-world charm provides a memorable setting for a Christkindlesmarkt. Each year, the celebration begins with an appearance by the symbolic Christkind, a local youth in a golden angel costume who is said to bring gifts to children. Throughout the holidays, nearly 200 vendors line the square in front of the iconic Church of Our Lady. Savor the city's namesake Nürnberger Rostbratwürste and renowned gingerbread (Lebkucken). Take little ones to Hans-Sachs-Platz to spin round and round on the carousel, invent imaginative plots at the puppet theater, and brush up their culinary skills at the baking booth. Book a guided running tour of the market to get in your exercise — you won't have to feel guilty about that bratwurst. Or take a relaxing 10-minute ride around the market in a horsedrawn carriage.
Christmas market dates: Dec.1-Dec. 24, 2017
Helpful hints: The market closes at 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Pick up postcards and send them with a special Nuremberg Christmas market stamp, available at the market post office.
Beyond the market: Discover Nuremberg's role in World War II history at the Documentation Centre museum and former Nazi Party Rally Grounds. Journey up to the medieval castle, or have a look at vintage dolls and more at the Toy Museum.