Nuremberg is one of those magnetic cities that draws you back over and over again, or maybe it’s because we only lived about an hour from there. It’s a perfect example of a German city with lots of history, some good, some not so good. It’s a place to go and enjoy Bavarian food at some of the oldest, most revered restaurants. And it’s got one heck of a special Christmas market, one of Bavaria’s top 5, for sure. We would go into the city for movies, performances, festivals, and of course, the world famous Nuremberg Christmas Market. No matter what, there were always a handful of things we would do on every visit. Whether you’re staying in Nuremberg just for the day or even a couple, we’ve included some fantastic things to do on our Nuremberg itineraries for just one, two, or three days.
Table of Contents
- When is the Best Time to Visit Nuremberg?
- What We Loved in Nuremberg
- Nuremberg Festivals
- Nuremberg Itineraries
- Additional Must Know Information For Nuremberg
When is the Best Time to Visit Nuremberg?
Located in the German state of Bavaria, Nuremberg is quite temperate all year round. Summer temperatures only soar above 75 degrees a few days of the year and winter temperatures rarely go below 30 degrees. However, as you can see it rains frequently. Summer and, of course, Christmas time are the two high tourist seasons. Early summer and fall are the prettiest times of year with flowers or fall foliage in abundance. Fall brings lots of festivals, which also makes it a lot of fun. Winter, though, can feel very cold. This is fantastic for sipping that warm gluhwein at the world-famous Christmas market. If you do come to Germany in winter, don’t miss it.
What We Loved in Nuremberg
Visiting the Nuremberg Castle
One of the most historically important castles in Germany, the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg, was owned by the Hohenstaufens who often hosted dignitaries from the Holy Roman Empire. The city was located on a crossroads, and was often used as a stopping point for travelers, merchants, and armies. They needed a castle for protection and to impress visitors as a display of might and power. Nuremberg continued as a center of power throughout history and served as the heart of Nazi Germany during World War Two. As a result, most of the castle and the city was destroyed during Allied bombings in World War II.
Throughout the center of the city, you can see turrets and castle walls, and nowadays roads and sidewalks take you all around and through the city walls and green spaces below them. You can wander the ramparts all day long, but to enter inside the main castle grounds, you need to find your way to the top of the hill. As you walk through the gate and up the hill to the ticket office, you begin to feel what it was to live in something so charming. Like the many houses around it, the interior is filled with half-timbered buildings, with red shutters. The Sinwell Tower, really rises high from the rest of the grounds, and we couldn’t wait to climb it.
Entrance tickets for the exhibition, well, and tower can be purchased in the main building in the castle’s upper courtyard. The combination ticket costs about seven euros and covers all of the attractions in the castle. The exhibition climbs through the castle’s main building and is up and down many stairs to see the galleries on each level. There are various rooms that display everything from models and the history of the castle, the city , and its role in the Holy Roman Empire. It doesn’t take long to go through on your own–the complete audio guided tour is 90 minutes long.
Power Tip: If one of your party has a hard time with stairs, the exhibition can be difficult. It does have plenty of comfortable benches to rest on. The best part would be for that person to wait outside and visit the well only.
We walked into a very small room with a well, and to be honest at first I thought, “what the **ell?” I paid extra for this? However, I was impressed with our ten minute presentation of how old the well was, how it was built, how it survived, what was found in the well, and more. It was a great, albeit short, presentation, but I’m certainly glad that I did it. I think children would love it also.
As you might predict, there are plenty of steps to climb to reach the peak of the tower. The steps are a spiral staircase, made out of wood, and the steps are not too deep which make them easier to climb. At the top, the 360 degree view is well worth the trip, and there are placards describing not only what you can see now, but how the view has changed from after the war when the majority of the city was leveled by the Allies.
Sinwell Tower Views
The best part about climbing the many wooden stairs to the top of the tower were the views from the top. Nuremberg old town was laid at our feet, and it was easy to see what a great strategic advantage the tower provided to its important inhabitants with views of the surrounding countryside reaching for miles and miles. The tower dates back to the mid thirteenth century with a major rebuild in the 16th century done as part of a major renovation project to the whole castle. Surprisingly, Sinwell Tower was one of the few surviving buildings after bombing during World War Two. In fact, the Sinwell tower houses a collection of fascinating photographs of the castle following that horrific destruction.
Note: Unfortunately Sinwell Tower will be under re-construction for a couple of years. Go if you can.
Visiting the Nazi Rally Grounds, Nuremberg
For most of us, Nuremberg is best known for the Nuremberg Trials that took place there after World War II. As it had been the birthplace of national socialism in Germany, the city was chosen to hold these trials as a fitting location to completely dismantle the Nazi party, once and for all. While it might seem like putting the Nazis on display in a museum might be a type of memorial, the opposite is true. The Nazi Documentation Center and Rally Grounds have been preserved to remind the world of how such a dictator could have clawed its way up to such power and through education, hopefully ensure it won’t happen again.
The first time we tried to visit the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds, we didn’t make it very far. There was a huge music festival taking place and the entire area was swarming with hundreds of thousands of music lovers and partiers. While the sheer numbers may have been similar to a Nazi party rally, the message was one of peace and harmony not hatred and racism. We couldn’t even get close to the documentation center that day. On the next visit, the festival had been over for a few days, the cleanup and tear down was still in progress, but the center and most of the grounds were open again.
Pro Tip: Be sure to check on the website for closures to parts of the rally grounds. There are a few major festivals during the summer (June and July) that will see large crowds and areas closed. The Documentation Center will still be open, but it may be difficult to get to it.
Albrecht Dürer House
Perhaps Nuremberg’s most famous son, Albrecht Dürer rose to fame as an artist in the late-medieval period at the height of the German Renaissance. Somehow, his home and art studio have survived to this day despite the heavy bombing campaigns of WWII. Whether you are into art or not, this is the absolute best place to get inside of one of these incredible half-timbered buildings and see what life was like during the middle ages. My favorite part of the museum was watching the woodcut printing process from start to finish as well as being able to walk around the artist’s studio and learn about the different techniques and paints used during the time. A visit to the Albrecht Dürer house will take about 60 minutes. Watch your head as you walk around, there are low hanging ceilings.
Historical Art Bunker
Sometimes we find about things to do in a city after we’ve returned from a trip. You know how it goes, you’re back at work, telling your coworkers about your fantastic trip to Nuremberg, and they say, “Oh, I just love Nuremberg, did you go to the Art Bunker?” Well, that was the case here, and on every trip back to the city the bunkers were closed for one reason or another. This remains the sight we couldn’t visit to this day. We will be rectifying this at some point in time. Meanwhile, they sound fascinating, and unless you suffer from severe claustrophobia, who doesn’t want to wander through old beer cellars, vaults, and passageways chiseled by hand out of the natural bedrock under a castle? This has to be on our Nuremberg Must See list. The bunkers were set up to protect the city’s treasures and priceless artwork during World War Two in the old medieval tunnels and cellars under the castle. Visits are conducted through guided tours only (14:30 most days and English tours are only on Saturdays, but don’t let that stop you) and tickets can be purchased at the Albrecht Dürer House, Tourist Information Centers, or at the machine outside the bunkers.
As they say in Germany, there are five seasons in every year–winter, spring, summer, fall, and festival season! Nuremberg is no exception, and while it may not be as gigantic as Munich’s Oktoberfest, or as quirky as the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, Nuremberg has its share of fun, food, and tasty treats. Major festivals include the Spring Festival in late April to Early May, the Franconian Beer Festival in June, a major Rock Festival in July, the Wine Festival in July, and Autumn Fair in August and September, the Old Town Festival in September, and of course, the Christmas Market in late November on through to Christmas eve. Whenever you’re planning to visit, there’s bound to be something going on!
Burggraben Fest (Castle Moat Festival)
Combining the food, drink, and music of a traditional beer fest with the pageantry, thrills, and adventure of a medieval renaissance fair is just sheer brilliance. Stage the whole thing in the moat of the Imperial Castle? Brilliant! This is one of our favorite Nuremberg festivals. The Burgrabenfest, or Castle Moat Festival, is held every year in September (check the official website for exact dates as it changes from year to year) and is sure to please the whole family.
Nuremberg Christmas Market
Winter is a spectacular time in Germany, and of course the biggest draws are the charming Christkindlmarkts or Christmas Markets. And the biggest and best of them all is Nuremberg! This is the city that really started it all, and that’s why we included it on our One Week Bavaria Christmas Markets Itinerary.
The Christmas market started sometime in the early 16th century, after Martin Luther introduced December 6th as a gift-giving day. It grew and grew, and today is one of the biggest markets in Germany. Needless to say, it can get a little crowded, but it’s well worth a stop. One of the most interesting items to buy are prune dolls. Yes, dolls made from prunes and dressed as some type of worker, like a chimney sweep or kissing couples. They are supposed to bring good luck and the Nuremberg Christmas Market website tell us, “With a prune man in your house, money and happiness stay, too.”
Most Nuremberg visitors will only be coming for one or two days in connection with a river cruise. If your time is limited, you’ll want to do some careful planning to get in all of the sights that are important to you. If you are into medieval art and architecture or World War II history, then you’ll have some choices to make if your time is limited. Stay for two or three days to have enough time for everything on the must see lists and consider adding another day or two if you’re coming during one of the major festivals.
One Day in Nuremberg – All the Must-See Stuff
If you only have time in your schedule for spending one day in Nuremberg, you are going to miss some key things unfortunately. But don’t despair, you can still have a wonderful time and get acquainted with this diverse city. No matter how much time you have, consider spending the night in an Old Town hotel (location, location, location).
Morning Hopefully, you are staying close to the center where everything is right outside your door. Start out in the Market Square and wander around through the numerous stalls offering fresh produce and regional products. You’ll also find some traditional handmade items here for gift giving to friends and family back home. Continue out of the Hauptmarkt towards the river and cross on the Museumsbrucke with views of the picturesque Fleischbrucke. On this side of the river you’ll want to stop in at Kathe Wohlfahrt for a glimpse into what the Christmas Market might look like. This entire area is a pedestrian zone with beautiful buildings at every turn. You can just wander around following your curiosity but definitely don’t miss the Saint Lorenz church where you’ll likely find more market stalls and street food stands.
Lunch If you haven’t had your fill of snacks and treats from food stands or tempting sidewalk cafes, we suggest you eat lunch at the original medieval restaurant Goldener Stern for the uniquely delicious Nurnberger Röstla. Be sure to pop into the kitchen to check it out. This place has been serving hungry diners for hundreds of years in this gorgeous medieval building.
Afternoon First thing, head up to the castle. It will take about two hours to see all there is to see, including the exhibitions, wandering around the gardens, a trip into the well house, and climbing the tower (if it’s open). Afterwards, head back down the hill into the Old Town for a visit to the Albrecht Dürer house to see what life was like in Nuremberg near the end of the middle ages. Continue strolling along the cobbled streets under the beautiful half-timbered and stone buildings and make your way back to the Hauptmarket and the Rathaus. Take the guided tour of the Medieval dungeons (hourly from 11:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.). Next, it’s up the hill for the guided tour of the World War II Art Bunker to finish off your visit to the castle.
This is the time for festival going! If you’ve planned it right your in town for one of the big fests and will have the chance for partying with the locals at the beer fest in the castle moat, or sipping gluhwein or, my favorite, feuerzangenbowle during the Christmas Market. If you weren’t so lucky, don’t despair, there are still plenty of options for a night out on the town. On a warm summer’s evening have a few beers with the locals in the beautiful beer garden at Hexenhausle (the Witches House), the food there is fantastic as well. Or on a cold wintry night, stop in at the cozy Zum Flößla with only a few tables and some of the best Franconian food in town, consider phoning ahead for a reservation.
Two Days – Weekend in Nuremberg
Two days in Nuremberg gives you the time to spend at one of the many festivals the city is famous for, or to visit some of the other important sights located outside of the old town. Start your trip out with day one above then wake the next morning to continue your visit.
Morning (Day Two) If your hotel’s breakfast isn’t up to par, make your way to the Hauptmnarkt and go upstairs to ALEX, Nuremberg for one of the best breakfast buffets in town (and the views can’t be beat, either). Next, walk across the market square to Saint Sebaldus church for the 10:00 organ concert. You don’t have to be Lutheran to appreciate the mystical spells cast by the organ’s haunting melody. Afterwards, soak in some German art and culture at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum on the southern side of the old town. The impressive modern glass covered building houses the largest collection of art, historical artifacts an, cultural items from German speaking regions of Europe. Like most large museums, it ‘s easy to lose an entire day here, but we recommend you spend your time in the Renaissance, Baroque and Enlightenment exhibit to see some more of Albrecht Durer’s works. From here make your along the impressive city walls towards the Spittlertorturm.
Lunch If you haven’t been to Zum Goldener Stern for their original wurst, that should be your first choice for lunch. Otherwise, if you’ve grown tired of wurst and schnitzel, Nuremberg is home to a large Turkish community with some excellent middle eastern restaurants. Quick, affordable, and super delicious, consider stopping in for a kebab at Mevlana just outside the Spittlertorturm.
Afternoon Jump on tram 6 at the Plärrer tram stop and ride it all the way out to the Nurnberg Doku-Zentrum stop. Visit the Documentation Center first, with its chilling exhibit, Fascination and Terror, documenting the rise and fall of Nazi Nuremberg. Afterwards, get out of the monstrous Congress hall and wander the Nazi Rally Grounds making your way to the Zeppelin field. If the weather is nice, consider renting a row boat, or a paddle boat and spend some time on the water at Dutzendeich. Another option is to rent a bike at the kiosk just outside the documentation center.
Evening Make your way back to your hotel and the Old Town for dinner. We recommend dinner at Zum Spiessgeselle at the Rathaus. If you get there early enough they might still have some portions of Spannferkel (roast suckling pig), pair it with a thirst quenching naturtrubes kellerbier (unfiltered dark beer) served in an earthenware stein or one of the excellent Franconian white wines. Finish off with a visit to the Fest or Christmas market. No festivals going on? No worries, check out the Sunday Night Orchestra playing in the Tafelhalle for some cool jazz and sweet sounds.
Three Days or More in Nuremberg
Three days in Nuremberg is just about the perfect amount of time. This lets you slow down a little, spend more time at some of the attractions without feeling rushed, explore some of the other interesting small museums or take in a performance at the State Theater. Other options for families include the Nuremberg Zoo and Playmobil FunPark. Still looking for something fun and interesting? Why not take a how to make bratwurst class with an award winning German butcher?
Additional Must Know Information For Nuremberg
Whether it’s what to eat, where to sleep, getting around, or any other practical information you’re looking for our helpful information will hopefully be just that, helpful! You can always drop us a line or ask a question in the comments if you don’t find what you are looking for.
Best Restaurants in Nuremberg
Nuremberg has several great restaurants specializing in Franconian cuisine. This hearty and delicious food that will stick to your ribs. The best time for a good German meal is during the lunch hours when lunch menu specials will bring the cost down and the heavy meal won’t put you out for the night.
Zum Goldener Stern
At the self proclaimed oldest restaurant in Nuremberg, Zum Goldener Stern, the menu is all about the famous Nuremberg Rostbratwurst sausages. In fact the Goldener Stern has a pretty strong claim on being the oldest sausage restaurant in the world, and indeed this little stube has been selling theirs since 1640. What is special about these sausages? Well, to begin with they are cooked on a beech wood fire, and if you are in the restaurant while they are grilling you might not be able to stop yourself from jumping the counter and gobbling them up before they are finished. The smell is so enticing!
According to tradition, Nuremberg Rostbratwurst sausages are so small so that after the closing of the city gates at night they could be fed through the key hole to those who had arrived back too late to get in! These wurst are small but they are served on a pewter plate in the following quantities 6,8,10, or 12 sausages (don’t even ask for a different quantity) and are usually accompanied by either a traditional German potato salad or barrel sauerkraut. On every table you’ll find a mustard jar, but beware, traditionally you do not eat the sausages with mustard. Locals choose to eat it with fresh or creamy horseradish. You can usually order one portion, so look for it on the menu (Meerrettich). We were a little leary, but as you have probably guessed, the locals know best. It was delicious!
Bratwurstküche zum Gulden Stern
Zirkelschmiedsgasse 26, 90402 Nuremberg
+49 911 20 59 288
Open daily from 11:00 until 22:00
Traditional homestyle German cooking is on the menu at this cozy little restaurant at the edge of the Old Town. Red and white gingham covers the tables and windows, antique kitchenware and old photographs adorn the walls and shelves, and the rich dark wood and rustic ceiling beams all work to make this one of the most gemutlich (comfortable and welcoming) restaurants in town. It borders on kitschy but pulls off more of an Oma’s dining room feel. And it’s just far enough away from the crowds that you will feel transported to a different world yet still close enough to be just a short walk to the center. You’ll find a constantly changing menu here depending on the season, but no matter what you’re sure to finding something on the menu although vegetarian options are limited.
Unterer Bergauerpl. 12, 90402 Nürnberg, Germany
+49 911 227495
Open Tuesday through Saturday from 16:30 till 22:30
This is also one of our favorites. It’s a great place to go sit outside on a warm summer evening and enjoy a cool, refreshing fresh beer. The beer garden here is spacious and leafy green and sits in the castle moat just below the the castle itself. What a gorgeous view! Hexenhäusle translates to small witch’s house and that is exactly what it claims to be. Long ago an old woman, healer, herbalist, medicine woman, witch, lived here just outside the castle walls. She was tolerated for her effective home remedies and left to live in peace. Today, the peaceful garden-like atmosphere still heals the exhausted traveler. Stop here to enjoy a drink under the leaves or order a delicious German meal and let yourself fall under the spell of the Hexenhäusle. Some vegetarian options available.
Vestnertorgraben 4, 90408 Nürnberg, Germany
+49 911 49029095
Open daily from 11:00 until 22:00
Other Notable Dining Choices
Rathauspl. 4, 90403 Nürnberg, Germany
+49 911 23555525
Open Mondays from 17:00 until 24:00 and Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 until 24:00
Gostenhofer Hauptstraße 18, 90443 Nürnberg, Germany
+49 911 2744411
Open daily from 06:00 until very late
Where to Stay in Nuremberg
How to Get to Nuremberg
Flight to Nuremberg
Munich to Nuremberg
Getting Around Nuremberg
Place to Visit Near Nuremberg
Best time video…summer