A stroll through the cobbled lanes of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is all it takes to convince you that this is one of Germany's prettiest and most impeccably well-preserved medieval settlements. In fact, 'fairy-tale' might be the only way to describe Rothenburg's tall and timbered houses, plethora of fountains and looming ramparts that encircle the town.
One of the best ways to take in the beauty of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is at the Rathaus on Marktplatz. The 13th-century town hall features a mashup of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, a clock that chimes on the hour and a tower offering panoramic views of town and the Tauber Valley. You can also walk along sections of Rothenburg's four-kilometre-long city walls, which feature watchtowers, cannons and turrets overlooking the town's red-tile roofs.
Rothenburg's annual Christmas market is legendary, but even if you're not visiting during the holiday season, the German Christmas Museum will satiate all your ornament and decoration needs. Too cutesy for your taste? Pay a visit to the Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum, a former hospital whose fascinating exhibits feature devices for torture and punishment – think chastity belts and stockades – as well as an overview of Middle Age law.
There are limited avenues for art lovers in Rothenburg beyond its storied architecture. Weapons, armour and art are among the highlights of the former convent turned Reichsstadtmuseum, though the city's greatest artistic masterpiece sits inside St Jacob's Church – a half-century-old wooden altarpiece created by master German woodcarver Tilman Riemenschneider.