“Exit the ship and the town is right there,” said our cruise manager Piet. And, he was right. Wertheim was the second stop on my Uniworld Classic Christmas Market Cruise down the Main River from Frankfurt to Nuremberg.
Our itinerary allowed for a half-day tour of Wertheim, which worked out fine because the weather is cold in December and the beer garden at the castle was closed. Wertheim is located where the Main River meets the Tauber River in southwestern Germany and has roots that date back to the 7th century.
The town is unique in that it does feel as if you’ve stepped into a fairytale. It actually does flood and the residents are totally prepared for it. Way back when, the town streets were raised to help mitigate the flooding. You’ll see windows at ground level that look a bit off. This is why. And, the residents step into action to help each other during the floods, which our guide say happen every few years.
The town is so small that it’s nearly impossible to get lost, but here are some of the things to do in Wertheim, Germany.
1. Burg Wertheim (the Castle)
Perched up on a hillside, the Wertheim Castle is about a 15-minute walk uphill from the village. It’s pretty much just ruins, however, the views are spectacular and there is a restaurant and beer garden. We didn’t go up because the restaurant wasn’t open. Our guide said that the umbrellas (which are in view from the Village) are open when the restaurant is open. If you see them closed, then don’t bother. This is the landmark attraction in Wertheim so if you don’t go, take a better picture than I did.
2. The Pointed Tower of Wertheim (Spitzer Turm)
The short answer is that this used to be the prison for drunkards and “quarrelsome wenches” (really). It is now a place where you can go wine tasting with a view.
3. Shop the Boutiques
Each boutique in the town is a little bit different from the next with hand-curated kitchenwares, clothes, gifts, food and other fun items to browse. I read that there is a designer outlet center nearby called Wertheim Village that runs a free shuttle from town. We didn’t have time to see it. There’s also an alfi factory outlet that I would have loved to have stepped into.
4. Eat the Best Pretzel
Wertheim’s best pretzel awaits at Fritz Frischmuth bakery, which has been operated by the same family for 13 generations. There are even a few tables at which to rest your weary legs.
Our guide arranged for us to sampled some Christmas stollen. This, I believe, is the baker and he was hilarious.
5. Visit the Wertheim Glass Museum
Exhibits at the Wertheim Glass Museum range from “luxury glass of ancient times” to “industrial glass”, alternating special exhibitions, regular glass-blowing demonstrations and a Christmas exhibition in the Advent period.
(In anticipation of our stop in Wertheim, Uniworld organized a glass blower to come on board to do a demonstration on the ship! It was very cool.)
If you are short on time, definitely stop by the museum gift shop. I bought a number of Christmas ornaments (including many of these clip-on birds) at very reasonable pricing. Some I saw retail at the Christmas Markets for more than I paid here.
6. See Other Historic Buildings
Our group was particularly moved by this home, which was basically on the way to Wertheim town center from our ship. A Jewish family owned it and was evacuated during World War II. Our guide told us that the mayor of the town in the 1970s had this mural erected on this home as a symbol of unity and recognition of the family’s sacrifice. On the ground, metal plaques bear the names of the inhabitants who died during the war.
There’s another building with lines marking the level of flooding each year. It’s quite impressive. And, the town is so small that I don’t really tell you exactly where these things are. Just ask someone–you’re probably just a few steps away from it.
As night fell and my feet grew tired from shopping, I boarded the River Queen again just in time for the nightly cocktail hour. Here she is in Wertheim, though in daylight.
Have you been to Wertheim? For more information, check out Tourism Wertheim.
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