Journey time is 2 hrs 30 approx each way. Do you want to spend 5 hours on a (comfortable) train?
It's 5-6 hours of train travel using the fastest trains to Rothenburg and back, and you'll use 6 different trains. You can decide on the do-ability of that.
Würzburg is one stop on that route, only a little over one hour by direct train from Frankfurt, and a worthwhile destination. The Residenz is a 15-min. walk from the station. You could board a train in Würzburg that takes you to Ochsenfurt in about 15 min. and/or to its neighbor Marktbreit, on the same train line just a few miles away, in about 20 minutes.
Ochsenfurt and Marktbreit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLUgpoQIFHI
Miltenberg, about 1.5 hours from Frankfurt, might suit you as well:
Use the DB timetable to find schedules:
These are some Bavarian options. There are of course many other very nice towns you can visit from Frankfurt in other states, including Gelnhausen (about 35 min.)
Consider Büdingen instead. The difference to Rothenburg is a) that Rick Steves missed it, b) that it has about two million less visitors per year, i.e. no crowds, c) that there are no tacky kitsch tourist shops. Otherwise everything is there, from the town wall to the old houses, plus the castle/palace as bonus. Travel time from Frankfurt is about an hour by train.
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions. Doesn't seem feasible to do Rothenburg as a day trip. Will look into your suggestions.
Büdingen is just 15 minutes beyond Gelnhausen by train. You could see both on one outing.
-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-
This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.
To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html
We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.