Planning to visit the German city of Nuremberg? Here’s your ultimate guide and the best things to do in Nuremberg for the perfect city break.
The city of Nuremberg is the second largest city in the region of Bavaria in Southern Germany. It’s a small city but one of the best in Germany for history, culture and of course its yearly Christmas market.
Amongst Nuremberg’s charming, cobblestone streets you’ll find many pastel, half-timber houses, stunning Gothic churches, and the atmospheric Pegnitz river. Stay around long enough and you’ll be able to dig deep into WWII history, uncover the city’s interesting museums and discover the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg and the city walls.
Keep reading to find out about all the amazing things to do in Nuremberg and make sure you get the most out of your trip.
*This ‘Nuremberg Germany things to do’ travel guide contains affiliate links meaning I might make a small profit if you choose to book at no extra cost to you. This helps me to keep providing you with top-quality content for free.
When to Visit Nuremberg
Nuremberg is a year-round destination with many events, festivals, and things to do throughout the year. It’s worth noting that Germany experiences all four, very distinct seasons; summers can be hot and winters can be very cold.
The best time to visit Nuremberg for good weather and fewer crowds is in the spring and autumn. At this time you can see agreeable temperatures and brighter, sunnier, and longer days but at the same time not too many crowds. Hotel prices are also the lowest at this time.
Summer is the best season to visit in terms of warm and even hot weather but it’s also the most crowded and expensive.
If you don’t mind the cold, the end of November and December are also great times to visit Nuremberg. At this time you’ll be able to visit Nuremberg Christmas Market– one of the best Christmas markets in Germany. While, yes, it is more crowded and hotel prices increase, the added festive atmosphere is just magical.
I visited Nuremberg at the beginning of December most recently for the Christmas market and my stay was just wonderful.
Top Things to Do in Nuremberg, Germany
For a relatively small city, Nuremberg is packed with things to do. From learning about Medieval history to World War II history, from art to Christmas shopping there’s enough to fill at least 2 days in the second-largest Bavarian city.
Here are some of the best attractions and things to do in Nuremberg Germany.
Explore the Old Town or Altstadt
Nuremberg’s historic center- also known as Altstadt contains most of the city’s historic sights. When looking at a map you’ll notice that the historic center is divided in two by the Pegnitz river.
The north side is known as Altstadt-Sebald or Mitte and the south is known as Altstadt- St. Lorenz, each side named after the significant churches in the immediate area.
Many of Nuremberg’s best things to do are located in this area but before you rush off to see them make sure to take some time to wander the streets of the old town and really explore.
There are some truly beautiful cobblestone streets in the area, particularly in Altstadt- Sebald. You also notice colorful half-timbered houses with beautiful details. One of the prettiest streets in the Old Town is Weißgerbergasse which is a must to take in the gorgeous architecture on each side. Weißgerbergasse is also one of the best photo spots in Nuremberg.
If you’d like to discover the old town with the help of a guide, then I recommend this Old Town Guided Walking Tour. Not only will you discover the streets of the Old Town but also the main market square and all the hidden corners and secret spots. Click here to find out more and book.
Go Shopping at Handwerkerhof
If you arrive at Nuremberg Hauptbahnhof (central train station) and head into the center, Handwerkerhof will be the first great place you come across. Head through the Frauentor gate and you’ll arrive in Handwerkerhof, a Medieval model village full of cafes, beer bars, restaurants, and shops.
The little village is one of the prettiest and best places in the city where you can see how Nuremberg may have looked in Medieval times. Full of small, half-timber houses, stone pathways, and a looming round tower whose beer garden ‘Balkon’ is a must for beer lovers.
You’ll be able to shop for some typical Nuremberg snacks, coffee, and beer as well as crafts and souvenirs. It’s a lovely place to explore for a while.
Learn About German Art at Albrecht Dürer’s House
Albrecht Durer is one of Germany’s most famous painters and his house in Nuremberg is where the 16th Century painter lived and worked from 1509. Today the Albrecht Dürer house is a museum that shows not only many examples of Durer’s work but also what the house looked like over the centuries.
As this is one of the only 16th Century artist’s houses in Europe that have survived virtually unscathed, it provides a great insight into what life would have been like then. It’s also a great opportunity to discover works by Germany’s most famous Medieval artist.
You can also catch some changing municipal exhibitions in the house for an insight into more modern, local art.
Visit the Nuremberg Christmas Market
Nuremberg at Christmas is a beautiful sight. Flickering fairy lights, Christmas market stalls, beautiful decorations, Christmas trees everywhere, and the smell of gluhwein around every corner.
Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt is known to be one of the best Christmas Markets in Germany which takes over the entire Hauptmarkt each year for advent. It also happens to be the oldest too.
During the Christmas Market, you can walk around and stock up on Christmas gifts as well as decor and ornaments while warming up on gluhwein (mulled wine) and tasting all the best local snacks. The festive atmosphere in town is just magical as everyone strolls around and has a good time.
Explore Nuremberg Imperial Castle
One of Nuremberg’s most popular attractions is the Imperial Castle. Perched high on a hill above the old town, this castle has been a symbol of Nuremberg for centuries.
First built somewhere around the 11th Century it was used to serve and accommodate rulers throughout the Middle Ages, during the period of the Holy Roman Empire, and during the rule of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Actually, every Holy Roman Emperor stayed at the Imperial Castle in Nuremberg between the dates of 1050 and 1571.
You can visit the Nuremberg castle which includes the Sinwell Tower, a chapel, Imperial Hall, and the rose garden as well as walk around the grounds. You can also learn more about Nuremberg’s local history through the variety of different exhibitions. Make sure to also take in the best view of the Old Town from the Castle.
Things to Do in Nuremberg: Walk the City Walls
Nuremberg has some of the most impressive city walls of any city in Germany. The walls span 5km around the Old Town and were constructed between the 12th and 16th Centuries. Many segments of the walls are open to the public to walk around and explore including some of the gates and towers.
You’ll be able to walk around, get a great view of the Old Town from above and learn more about the walls and Nuremberg’s history. If you’d rather walk the walls with a local, knowledgeable guide who can also take you to all the hidden corners and secret spots make sure to check out this Private Old Town Walking Tour.
Marvel at the Churches
Nuremberg is filled with a few really lovely churches that are worth a peek inside while exploring the city. They are all located in the city centre so you needn’t go far to appreciate their stunning gothic architecture and stained glass windows.
The main churches to visit in Nuremberg are Sebalduskirche (St Sebald Church), immediately north of Hauptmarkt, Frauenkirche, and Lorenzkirche (St Lorenz Church). They are all slightly different in their own, great way, and equally impressive. Be sure to note their columns rising sky-high, ribbed ceilings, and colorful stained glass windows.
St. Sebaldus Church, named after the patron saint of Nuremberg, dates back to 1225. It was originally built as a Romanesque basilica but changing times and architectural styles meant that updates throughout the century cemented it as a more and more Gothic building. It was fully restored after WWII when it was seriously damaged.
St. Lorenz Church has a similar story and is one of the only High Gothic churches in Nuremberg. It still contains many of its pre-Reformation artworks.
You find Frauenkirche on Hauptmarkt, on the Old Town’s main square. What immediately stands out is its unique architecture and facade. Over 700 years old, the Gothic Church still contains many restored scriptures and historic works. It’s well worth a peek inside while exploring the Aldstadt.
All the churches are free to enter but you’re encouraged to leave a donation.
Learn about History at the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds
While not the most uplifting attraction Nuremberg has to offer, it is one of the most important. Historically Nuremberg was closely tied with the early formation of the Nazi Party.
The Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds was where the Nazi Regime held huge rallies inviting future Party officials and supporters to build friendships and show their support of Adolf Hitler.
The grounds have been preserved to this day, to teach visitors about the past but also as a stark reminder so that history never comes back to repeat itself.
Visiting the site you’ll be able to see all the most important places, the Congress Hall, for example, the Party’s Meeting Place. You’ll also be able to see the stand from where Hilter gave many of his speeches to supporters. In the Documentation Center you’ll also find many artifacts and documents about this time in history. For history buffs, this probably is one of the best things to do in Nuremberg.
Tiergärtnertorplatz is a wonderful square just by the Imperial Castle and Tiergärtnertor, one of the most imposing of Nuremberg’s old city gates. It’s full of charming half-timber houses almost everywhere you look and the perfect place for a Nuremberg snap.
On the square, you’ll find not only the Tiergärtnertor city gate but also Albrecht Durer’s House and some lovely cafes and restaurants. In general, the square has a wonderful atmosphere, especially on a summer’s evening when many flock here for a sundowner after a day of exploring.
For the best pictures and bird’s eye view of the square make to sure climb up Tiergärtnertor to the city walls.
Take a Walk Along the Pegnitz River
The slow-flowing Pegnitz river carves its way through the center of Nuremberg. The pleasant waterway is flanked on both sides by beautifully restored Medieval buildings, half-timber houses, and historic towers. A walk along the river is a must.
On your way around make sure to also pay attention to the small, historic bridges that cross-cross the river. Many of them date back to the Renaissance. Fleischbrücke for example, has a really lovely, stone Renaissance style to it, while Henkerbrücke is much more Medieval.
Head over Karlsbrücke and you’ll be able to spend some time on the little island in the middle of the river. One of my favorite spots along the river is this Medieval castle-like building which is perfect for some photos from the other side of the river.
Learn About Courtroom 600
Another place to learn more about recent German history is the Palace of Justice and in particular Courtroom 600- the place of the Nuremberg trials. After Hilter lost the war, many of his followers and high-ranking Nazis were imprisoned and put on trial. The trials took place in Courtroom 600 where Nazis were found guilty of various atrocities and human rights abuses.
Today you can visit the Memorium Nuremberg Trials where you’ll be able to learn more about the prisoners and the Nuremberg trials of 1946-49. You’ll find out why Nuremberg was chosen for the trials, how the prisoners were held and how the trials were conducted.
Just note that Courtroom 600 is still a working courtroom to this day so there is a possibility of it being in use when you visit. To avoid this it’s best to visit on Saturday or take a tour. The full WWII Guided Walking Tour is a great option for those that also want to learn more about this dark period in modern history.
See the Sights on Hauptmarkt
Hauptmarkt is Nuremberg’s main market square and it’s been this way for centuries. The cobblestone square is surrounded by beautiful, historical buildings and cute gingerbread houses.
As you walk around the square, there are a few things to take note of. First, Frauenkirche, it’s impossible not to notice the beautiful facade of this 700-year-old church and symbol of Nuremberg.
You’ll also see Schöner Brunnen, a stunning gilded fountain located toward the northwest corner of the square. This golden fountain dates back to the 14th Century and it’s one of the most impressive Gothic fountains in Germany.
You’ll also see a market on the main square too, with stalls selling fresh produce, dried fruit, snacks, and more, showing exactly what this market square must have looked like in the middle ages. During the period of Advent, you’ll find the general market on the main square to be replaced by the Christmas market.
Things to do in Nuremberg: Visit a Museum
On a cold or rainy day, there’s nothing like heading into a museum to escape but also to learn more about local culture. Nuremberg has some great museums to check out if you have a few spare hours in the city.
Head to the City Museum in the Fembo house to learn about 950 years of Nuremberg’s history. Housed in Nuremberg’s only remaining merchant’s house from the Renaissance period, the City Museum will take you on a journey of local discovery.
You’ll be able to see some of the city’s historical treasures and some of the merchant house’s most valuable rooms.
There’s also the Toy Museum, a rather fun museum dedicated to Nuremberg’s long, historical association with toys- the city has been a hotspot for toy making since the Middle Ages. Discover some of the world’s most historical and unique toys from brands like Barbie and Playmobil.
Nuremberg state museum of Art and Design is a great museum for design lovers and the Medieval Hole Prisons are perfect for those wanting to know more about prison life in one of the largest surviving prisons from the Middle Ages.
For the art and history buffs, don’t miss the Historical Art Bunker– a 24-meter- below ground bunker, located just beneath the Imperial Castle. It was here where the city’s most important artworks passed the second world war and survived the bombs unscathed.
Take a Day Trip to Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Rothenburg ob der Tauber is one of the most beautiful small towns in Germany and it’s only an hour away from Nuremberg. If you have an extra day in Nuremberg, taking a day trip to Rothenburg is definitely worth it.
Rothenburg has many things to do from exploring the extremely well-preserved old town to visiting Kathe Wohlfahrt, the German Christmas store (it’s open throughout the year). If you are in the area however during the holiday season, Rothenburg is magical with all the festive decor, lights, and market.
Here are some other awesome things to do in Rothenburg on a day trip from Nuremberg
- Walk the Old Town walls
- Visit the Käthe Wohlfahrt flagship Christmas store
- Visit the town hall (Rathaus)
- Explore the Old town- it’s one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe.
- Take a stroll through Burggarten
- Snap a photo at Plönlein- the Rothenburg postcard photo location
- Visit the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum and discover the Medieval dungeons
Trains to Rothenburg leave from Nuremberg Hauptbahnhof regularly however there are no direct trains. You’ll need to change at Ansbach and then again at Steinach to get there but it takes only around an hour.
Try the Rostbratwurst
Traditional German food might be far from vegetarian-friendly but if you eat meat and want to try some local delicacies, make sure not to miss the Rostbratwurst or Nurembergers- the local sausage from the city.
In fact, Rostbratwurst has been awarded a Protected Geographical Indication by the EU, meaning that this particular sausage has to be produced in Nuremberg in order to carry the name.
The sausages are small and finger-like- about half the size of a traditional German bratwurst. They are flavored with marjoram and traditionally cooked over a beechwood fire. They are normally eaten in threes, in a bun with mustard. You can also get them served on a plate with traditional sauerkraut and a good dose of mustard if you prefer.
Where to Stay in Nuremberg
As with most German cities, Nuremberg has many good hotels for all budgets and most large hotels are represented here. You’ll also find a few good boutique hotels. The best place to stay is in the city center for easy access to the best things to do in Nuremberg, the restaurants, cafes, and other top sights the city offers.
As Nuremberg has an excellent public transportation system. Wherever you decide to stay, you’ll be able to easily connect with other parts of the city should you choose not to stay in the center.
Here are the best hotels generally located in the center to consider as a base for your stay.
Hotel Agneshof Nürnberg – One of the few hotels in the old town, it’s hard to beat the location of this simple yet comfortable hotel. Spacious, warm, and comfortable rooms, some with great views as well as parking options. They also have a bar selling many different Franconian specialties. A solid, no-frills choice right in the center. Check rates and availability here.
Hotel dasPaul – Sleek, and modern with natural finishes, this fantastic choice is just minutes away from the Old Town Center. Opt for a classic double room with a river view for a balcony and the best views of the city. For larger groups, the three-bedroom apartment here is a perfect choice. Check rates and availability here.
Astoria Apartments – Located just outside the walled city center, Astoria Apartments are one of the best accommodation options in Nuremberg. These beautifully styled apartments are clean and spacious and have everything you’ll possibly need for your trip.
Each apartment has a kitchen for preparing simple meals as well as a washing machine. It’s perfect for those staying in Germany a little longer. Check rates and availability here.
Adina Apartment Hotel Nuremberg – For an apartment stay with the amenities of a hotel look no further. Opt for a fully equipped apartment with a kitchen, washing machine, private bathroom, and tea/coffee-making facilities. You’ll also be able to enjoy the gym, pool, and wellness center on offer too. Perfect location right between the central station and the old town. Check rates and availability here.
Getting Around Nuremberg
Nuremberg has brilliant public transportation links and a system of trains and buses that are plentiful, efficient, and fast.
Most of the best things to do in Nuremberg are located in the city center and the Old Town. This means that it’s very easy to walk from one place to another. The only exception of the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds which is located further outside the city center.
To get around the city you can use the U-Bahn (metro system) and the S-Bahn (urban trains) that crisscross the city. Tickets cost €3.20 for a single trip or €1.70 for a short trip. They can be purchased at the VGN ticket machines at each station.
If you’re flying into Nuremberg, you’ll be pleased to know that the U-Bahn connects the airport with the city center. The journey time to Nuremberg city center takes under 20 minutes.
Are you ready to discover the best things to do in Nuremberg Germany? Let me know your comments and questions in the box, below, I’d love to hear from you.
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