Renaissance splendor, an imperial castle sweeping you back in time, and local delicacies for foodie lovers. This travel guide with top things to do in Nuremberg (Nürnberg) has got you covered.
Known as the hometown of the world’s oldest bratwurst restaurant, the birthplace of Albrecht Dürer, and for its tumultuous history. You can find here an abundance of historical spots & musea, cozy bars & restaurants, gorgeous shopping areas, and local delicacies to try out. Walking around you will encounter several little squares with an energetic flair where people are enjoying drinks on terraces. The best is, even though it’s one of the bigger cities in Bavaria, in the old town all the attractions are easily reachable on foot.
This picture-perfect Franconian town is the ultimate getaway for a lovely day trip. Maybe even a full weekend since there are plenty of things to do in Nuremberg. After visiting quite some places in Germany, mainly in the Bavarian part, we can truly say that Nuremberg blew us off our socks. It’s that perfect kind of touristy destination that offers something for everyone who wants to go on a city trip.
This guide will take you on the perfect walking tour throughout the old city along with all the beautiful medieval sights. You can perfectly alter our recommendations to your liking, depending on the length of your stay. Combined with the best food spots on where to have the most delicious regional specialties, your perfect Nuremberg getaway is just a blog post read away.
Best Things to Do in Nuremberg | A Complete 2-Day Guide
Background & History of Nuremberg
The medieval city of Nuremberg (Nürnberg) is located in the Northern part of Bavaria, more specifically in the Franconian region. Most inhabitants consider themselves first and foremost Franken (Franconian), which can be noticed in slight cultural differences with their southern neighbors like Munich and Regensburg. This history-rich city is one of the most important centers in Germany when it comes to culture and art.
Nuremberg lived through some major significant world events, even dating back to the Roman Empire. Fun fact, the city was actually an unofficial capital of the Roman Empire. The Kaiserburg castle has hosted many ceremonies for centuries during those times. Walking through the medieval strongholds you will surely see the depth of history the city of Nuremberg represents. To this date, the old town (Altstadt) is still encircled by fortified walls with the mighty Kaiserburg higher up north watching over the surroundings.
When looking up Nuremberg, this city will pop up often in association with World War II and the trials that took place thereafter. On the rally grounds outside the city, you can find an in-depth museum about the Nazi regime, right at the Nazi congress hall. Actually, over 90% of Nuremberg was completely destroyed by air raids carried out by allied forces and thousands of civilians lost their lives. Many of the important medieval buildings that you see within the historic city walls have been rebuilt in their former traditional glory, even though it was impossible to recreate everything, especially hundreds of half-timbered houses are lost forever.
You will notice plaques at the entrance of buildings, mentioning the initial building date and the rebuilt one. Reconstruction projects are still ongoing, like the one on the beautiful Pellerhaus. This monument was originally a library and archive. Parts are already open to visitors on the weekends.
Best Things to Do in Nuremberg
Ready to emerge yourself into the tumultuous history and picturesque lanes of this wonderful place? Below you can find our recommendations of top things to do in Nuremberg. We outlined the perfect city trip, starting from the train station in the south. We will make our way along the east part of the old city, all the way to the north at the Kaiserburg castle. From there we go back south, journeying through the west side. On this walk, you will cover the main top attractions and pass by the most lively neighborhoods. We wanted to take our time to explore so we stayed overnight. We covered the east side within the old walls on day 1 and the castle together with the west side the next day. It is possible to see everything in one day, but then you might be rushing through everything.
The entrance to the old city
Coming out of the train station you will first encounter a bustling traffic street. When you take the crosswalk it will take you directly to the big entrance of the old town. An elevated drawbridge over a wide ditch, the Stadtgraben, leads you to the Frauentor (Women’s gate) and Handwerkerhof (Craftsmen’s Courtyard). These Stadtgraben are one of the longest-surviving ones in Europe. Today they serve as a city garden to enjoy a walk and some greenery. At the end of the drawbridge, you will enter through a big gate, which is adorned with the Black Eagle Imperial Coats of Arms.
The historic city walls
What’s so unique about Nuremberg is that the city was able to preserve a great part of its circuit of old city walls. Around 4 kilometers of the wall are still standing today, part of which is the Kaiserburg castle in the north and 67 defensive towers. Originally they were first put up in the 11th century but were modified for canons during the 16th century. Throughout history, the fortifications got only once captured, which was in 1945 at the end of WWII by the Americans, when most of the city was bombarded and destroyed.
A great way to discover Nuremberg is to walk through these old city walls. You will pass by numerous gates and watchtowers. The best part is probably the west side of the wall, between the Spittlertor and Maxtor. Head over to the Fürther Tor to get the best views of the Kaiserburg and the overall Old town. This medieval tower stands in the southwestern corner.
Upon entering the Old town through the main gate, you will find yourself at the Craftsmen’s Courtyard (or Handwerkerhof). This little courtyard looks and feels straight out of a medieval book. The small alleys with their old half-timbered houses just add to the medieval feel of Nuremberg. It’s a colorful area where you can find a myriad of traditional handicraft shops such as leather goods, mouth-blown glass, goldsmith products, and wooden ornaments. You can actually still see the craftsmen like goldsmiths and glass painters work on their art. Talking about a unique souvenir to take home! Walking around, you won’t be able to escape the delicious flavors of Nuremberg bratwurst and gingerbread either. This special attraction was definitely one of our highlights in Nuremberg!
When you exit the Craftsmen’s Courtyard on the east side you will pass by the Frauentor. Probably you already spotted it from the inside since it’s one of the four large tower points around the city wall. From here we will move further on the Königsstraße.
St. Lawrence Church
One thing Nuremberg surely doesn’t lack is the number of churches. However, the formidable St. Lawrence church (or St. Lorenzkirche) probably dominates the skyline the most. With its copper spires and spectacular twin towers (80m), it’s just impossible to miss this 14-century church along the road. It was severely damaged during WWII, just like the majority of the city, but got rebuilt after.
The impressive collection of German art, its superb stained-glass rose window, and its medieval tabernacle make it worth stopping by. You might almost think it’s more of an art gallery on the inside than a place of worship. The gothic church also houses one of the largest church organs in the world. This three-part organ exists out of over 12.000 pipes and 16 bells, of which supposedly date back to the 1300s. When you leave the church, two other highlights situated on the square are the Nassauer Haus and the Fountain of Virtue.
Heilig Geist Spital
The most beloved photo spot in all of Nuremberg must be the Hospital of the Holy Spirit (or Heilig-Geist-Spital). The Museumsbrücke bridge that runs over the Pegnitz River is probably the best place to take pictures. The hospital was established somewhere around 1339 and it served as a caring place for the elderly and sick. At one time the hospital held the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor. These days the place houses a renowned restaurant.
When you turn to the other side of the bridge you will look over the Fleischbrücke. The late-renaissance bridge was supposedly inspired by the famous Rialto Bridge in Venice. From here you can walk straight to Market Square. We decided to take a small detour around here though, to the other side of the Heilig-Geist Spital along the Spitalbrücke. This side of the hospital also offers some amazing views and a lively area with bars.
Nuremberg Main Market
After our little detour, we ended up in the Main Market (or Hauptmarkt) of Nuremberg. For centuries this was the location for a daily market. To this day it still has its weekly market traditions (Wochenmarkt), stalls selling fresh vegetables and fruits, bread, and local pastries. But most of all, Nuremberg’s Hauptmarkt gets its fame for having the largest Christmas Market (Nürnberg Christkindlesmarkt) in Europe. During these two weeks in the holiday season, you will see the marketplace fully transformed with lights and decorations. You can wander through alleys of stalls selling Christmas treats, ornaments, and handicrafts.
Church of Our Lady
While at the Hauptmarkt you will also see the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady (or Frauenkirche). You can’t miss it, with its spectacular gothic facade and rich details dominating the whole square. The landmark dates back to the 14th century and is adorned with sculptural decorations above the porch. Among them is a beautiful old clock with mechanical figurines. If you pass by at noon you will be able to see them perform the famous Nuremberg Glockenspiel. The inside of the church is rather humble compared to its outer appearance. Its most notable feature is the Tucher Altarpiece from 1440. Another thing you might notice is a David star, which has been placed in remembrance of the Jews that were killed during a pogrom in 1349.
Back on the Main Market you come across a spectacular fountain, called the Schöner Brunnen, which literally means beautiful fountain. It looks less like your typical kind of fountain, it almost more resembles a miniature version of a gothic church spire, embellished with all kinds of figurines and ornaments. The fountain is often surrounded by people that want to touch the famous golden ring. Apparently, it brings good luck to the person who turns it three times. However, this ring is more meant for tourists, you should be on the lookout for a second black ring. This is the one the locals go for to fulfill their wishes. In any case, touch them both just to be sure that your wish comes true ;).
St. Sebald Church
Right, when you leave the Hauptmarkt you will stumble upon another church, St. Sebald (or Sebaldus). It’s the oldest Protestant church in Nuremberg and dates back to the early 1200s. Make a quick stop inside along your way to the castle if you have the time. Inside you can find the tomb of the city’s patron, a bronze masterpiece from the late medieval period.
TIP | You can also join a guided tour of the towers and climb to the top to get a magnificent view of the city. Spots are limited, so make sure to purchase your ticket early and check in on updated information regarding timings.
OPENING HOURS | Daily 9:30 am-4 pm (Jan-Mar); 9:30 am-6 pm (Apr-Dec)
FEE TOWERS TOUR | €5 (children €2)
On a more macabre note, across from the church are Nuremberg’s Medieval Dungeons located. This tourist attraction takes you on a journey along with the medieval prison that held 12 tiny cells and a torture chamber. Here they locked away criminals that were sentenced to death back in the 14th century.
Before reaching the castle you will pass by some more good-looking buildings, among them the Fembo house. It’s the only surviving aristocratic house from the Renaissance period and nowadays houses the city museum (or Heimatmuseum). The 16th-century old merchant house displays the town’s history within a domestic interior.
Depending on how quickly you like to rush through these sights or like to take your time, maybe enjoy a terrace with a drink in between, you can decide to still check out the castle or leave it for the next day as we did. On our way to the castle, we passed by a beer brewery (more on that later on) where we decided to make a halt and enjoy a beer tasting. On our second day in Nuremberg, we opted to leave early in the morning towards the Nuremberg Kaiserburg and start exploring the other half of the town.
Nuremberg Imperial Castle
As one of the most important fortresses of Germany, there is no escaping the imperial castle of Nuremberg (or Kaiserburg) on your city tour. The medieval landmark not only clearly dominates the city skyline, but is also an important touristic highlight. Once it was the residence of German kings and Emperors from the 11th to 16th century and remains one of the most important surviving medieval fortresses in all of Europe. The castle is located on a hill, looking out over the old town, which takes a small hike to reach. Once at the top, a magnificent view of Nuremberg opens in front of you.
FUN FACT | Inside the imperial stables, on the lower end of the Castle, you can nowadays find a youth hostel. It is possible to spend the night inside an imperial German castle! The stables have been completely renovated, but still hold that old charm thanks to their vaulted ceilings and stone walls.
Inside the castle
The castle in its current form was built during the 13th century and after, however, it got heavily damaged during World War II just like most of the city. The imperial church was the only part that survived the bombings. The rest was mostly restored afterward. Once the fortified castle played a huge role during the Holy Roman Empire. It served as an important location for imperial assemblies whenever the Roman Emperor would visit. Upon his arrival, an impressive procession with music would be foreseen. A depiction of this scene can be seen in the Knight’s Hall above the windows.
In case participating in an organized tour is less your thing, there are also English audio tours available for a small fee. Inside the castle museum, you can see a wide range of surviving artifacts as part of the castle’s history. Moreover, it holds an impressive collection of medieval weaponry and armor.
From the Sinwell Tower (or Sinwell Turm) you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the surroundings. You don’t want to miss this!
More information about opening times and admission fees can be found on the website of Kaiserburg Nürnberg.
Make sure to not miss out on the Castle Gardens (or Kaiserburg Garten), which are perfect for a stroll and enjoying some quiet time on a bench. Somehow they often get skipped, maybe due to tight itineraries, or because the entrance isn’t that obvious. When hiking up to the castle, the entrance to the gardens is located towards the west. This was a truly peaceful area and during summer all the flora was in full bloom. On top of that, you get a wonderful viewpoint over the city from here!
Once you leave Castle Hill, find your way towards the Tiergärtnertor, which is a well-preserved 13th-century city gate located on a lively medieval square. You can find several cozy restaurants here (a bit more on the touristy side), an interesting sculpture that depicts Dürer’s Young Hare, and the actual Albrecht Durer House. You can definitely just hang around here for a while, soaking up the atmosphere, picking up ice cream or a beer, and get into the sounds of the street musicians that are jamming inside the city gate.
Albrecht Dürer’s House
Just a stone’s throw away from the castle stands the Albrecht Dürer House which was only recently restored. The original one dates back to the 15th century during the renaissance. Nowadays the five-story house is a museum dedicated to the artist’s life and work. The famous timber-framed house showcases many of the German Renaissance painter’s drawings, printed maps, and sketches. However many of his works are on display in every corner of the world.
Albrecht Dürer is probably the most famous citizen of Nuremberg. He was born in the city and spent most of his life here. Today it’s possible to visit his birth house where he lived most of his life until his death in 1528. Next to his best-known creations the museum also displays authentic furniture from the time and reproductions from Dürer’s workshop where you can enjoy demonstrations of his printings.
Hangman’s bridge & Weinstadel
The typical postcard view of Nuremberg that you just cannot miss is the Hangman’s bridge (or Henkersteg). This unique historic site is a roofed wooden bridge that connects the St. Lorenz quarter to Trödelmarkt Island. The idyllic little island on the Pegnitz holds some exclusive shops, and an overall cozy neighborhood to stroll through.
Although there is a museum inside Hangman’s tower, the main reason to visit is probably the picture-perfect setting. On a more historic note, the Henkersteg with its wooden bridge belonged to the “Henker” or the Executioner in the Middle Ages. Since the executioner was not allowed to have actual contact with the city’s honorable citizens, the bridge would isolate him.
Right next to the tower, you can see a typical medieval half-timbered house which is the Weinstadel. It’s a typical medieval wine warehouse but served many other purposes like a leper house, workhouse, and spinnery. Most recently it became a student dormitory and a popular tourist attraction. Make sure to put it on your list of things to see in Nuremberg ;).
TIP | While standing on the Maxbrücke admiring the view of the Hangman’s bridge, don’t forget to turn around to the Schlayerturm. In the front, you have Kettensteg, a pedestrian chain bridge, over which you can cross the river. On the other side, you end up in a Beer garden.
Another picture-perfect spot must be Tanner’s lane (or Weißgerbergasse), the most photographed alley in all of Nuremberg. It’s a street filled with beautiful half-timbered houses in all possible colors and will give you some fantastic photos. The Weißgerbergasse is the best-preserved and largest existing ensemble of these types of buildings. Before the city fell victim to the horrific bombings of the Second World War, most of the streets were filled with these traditional houses. Sadly enough this isn’t the case anymore and you can only find it here.
Moving further south you will pass by several shopping streets, feel free to roam around ;). Keep an eye out for the Ehekarussell, which is a big statuesque fountain with some more controversial figures. They are supposed to portray Hans Sachs’ poem: The Bittersweet married life. We were quite fascinated by the whole thing which is located right on the other side of the White Tower (or Weißer Turm).
Germanic National Museum
We are almost at the end of our tour through the old town when we arrive at the Germanic National Museum. This museum about German culture covers four floors holding an extensive collection of medieval art, making it the largest of its kind. It showcases over 22.000 cultural and historical artifacts coming from all kinds of German-speaking regions. A huge part of it is even everyday objects from throughout the centuries such as musical instruments, weaponry, clothes, etc. Some outstanding pieces you will find here are the first globe on earth, the Behaim globe, many paintings by Nuremberg resident Albrecht Dürer, the golden hat of Ezelsdorf-Buch, and many more big artworks. Since the museum is quite large, you can easily spend half a day here if you take your time to see everything.
Nazi Documentation Center
Of course, there are many more things to do in Nuremberg next to the ones we just covered. But we selected, in our opinion, the most significant and interesting ones for a weekend trip to the city of Nuremberg. If there is one more thing that may be worth mentioning that you could add it’s the Nazi Documentation Center. This all depends on your time and interest, also since it’s located more outside the city center. You might need to puzzle around a bit, personally, we couldn’t fit it into our schedule. But if you would like to dig a little deeper into Germany’s history, this might be a good fit for you.
Nuremberg has a rich German history but is sadly also known for the rallies that took place during the Nazi regime. This is where the Nazi Documentation Center came into existence. These former Nazi Party rally grounds are all that remains today from the former National Socialist Regime. This was the place where Hitler between 1933 and 1938 held its infamous propaganda rallies. The Congress Hall stretched over an area of almost 4 square kilometers and could hold around 50.000 followers.
What & where to eat in Nuremberg
Eat a Nürnberger Rostbratwurst
If you say German food, people tend to think of German bratwurst. But did you know that each region has its own specialty? Nuremberg is home to the Nürnberger Rostbratwurst, which you can recognize by its smaller size and you often get six in a serving. This local sausage can only be produced within the Nuremberg walls and is protected by the EU as a “protected geographical indication” (PGI). The Nürnberger Bratwurst has been produced since the 16th century and is traditionally grilled over a beechwood fire. It’s usually served together with a side of sauerkraut, potato salad, horseradish, and spicy Bavarian mustard.
We enjoyed a portion of Nürnberger Bratwurst at Restaurant Bratwurstglöcklein at the Handwerkerhof. It’s an adorable location with cozy benches directly at the entrance of the Handwerkerhof. The smell from the grill is welcoming you from all over the Craftmen’s courtyard coming from the chimney. They were absolutely delicious, you can really taste the smoke flavor. Prices are really affordable here, as well for the drinks. We can definitely recommend it and would come back on our next visit!
Another option would be Zum Gulden Stern, which is considered the oldest bratwurst restaurant in the world. Their meals are hand-crafted according to traditional recipes and are supposed to look like they come straight out of the Middle Ages.
Nibble on some Nürnberger Lebkuchen
Nuremberg is also known as the home of the original gingerbread or Nürnberger Lebkuchen. These sweet gingerbreads are made out of all kinds of spices and are mostly a Christmas tradition. Over 70 million are produced on a yearly basis and these days can be found all over the world. However, the real Nuremberg Lebkuchen are trademarked and can only be produced within the city walls of Nuremberg. There are many little bakery shops all over town where you can pick up a box of treats. We picked up a pack at Dornauers Lebküchnerei and were some of the best we ever had (and we know our Christmas treats)! It was a mix of some covered in chocolate, some sugarcoated, and others with nuts, but the classic one stays the best!
Sip a Nürnberger Rotbier
For those who are into trying out local beer, Nuremberg is known for its locally produced Red beer (or Rotbier). You will find it all over town, but the place to try it out is at Hausbrauerei Altstadthof, located near the Tiergärtnertor. They offer the best Rotbier around. We suggest sampling their tasting pallet with different beer varieties and the small beer schnapps. Further, we also took the snack plate with a variety of meats and Obazda (a typical Bavarian cheese delicacy), which went so well together with the beer. The place has a bunch of picnic tables out front, as well as a very cute area to sit and enjoy the atmosphere.
On the hunt for the best coffee spots
Nuremberg is filled with lively bars and restaurant squares, and certainly, doesn’t fall short with the offer of coffee bars. We gave a few a shot and recommend the following ones depending on the area:
Halt die Waffel – A cute little café close to the Tiergartnertor, it only has a few spots inside and a few seats on the terrace. The coffee was pretty damn good here and the location couldn’t be better. Besides coffee, the place mostly attracts people fancying gelato, which is supposed to be very good as well!
Kaffeerösterei Bergbrand – If you are checking out the sights around the beautiful Weißgerbergasse, stop by this place to enjoy their high-quality and house-roasted coffee. The café is rather small but has a nice rustic and industrial look to it. We can also highly recommend ordering some dessert here, they have a wide choice of (vegan) pastries and cakes.
Machhörndl – Close to the St. Lorenz Church and the shopping area, you can find Machhörndl on a side street. It’s a trendy coffee roastery with some relaxing seats outside.
Authentic Franconian food for dinner
We really wanted to have typical Franconian food for dinner, in an authentic setting. After googling a bit we came across Albrecht-Dürer-Stube, which seemed to be a Nuremberg favorite. It definitely didn’t disappoint! The restaurant has a very warm interior with a cozy atmosphere. The small restaurant is fully decorated with images and drawings from Albrecht Dürer. The service was super friendly and above all, the food was amazing. We went for the ragout with spaetzle, the best comfort food and filling after a long day of walking. The dishes were really worth their money, and actually super affordable overall. We advise making reservations for this one given its size and since it’s a loved place among visitors. We will certainly go there again on our next visit to Nuremberg.
On our way back to the hotel after dinner, we passed through the Lorenzer Strasse, which had some nice-looking food spots as well. As major Asia food lovers, we are always on the hunt for a good Chinese, Indian, or Vietnamese,… spot to go in a city. We looked a few up and Sao Mai (Vietnamese) and Chiba 小食光 (Chinese) have some really good reviews and their food looks amazing. We saved them for the next time we are in town. In case you have been, let us know your thoughts and recommendations!
Where to stay in Nuremberg
For our stay in Nuremberg, we booked a night at Le Meridien Hotel, which is located right at the entrance to the old city (Burgmauer) when you come from the train station. If you come by car, the hotel’s location is very convenient since you can just park across the street at the central station. The hotel has several spots reserved for its hotel customers. Le Meridien itself has very modern and clean rooms with very nice service. The entrance to the hotel however has more of a classic almost Parisian style to it. Breakfast was a high-standard buffet with a wide range of charcuteries, cheeses, and other toppings. Further, you can order all kinds of freshly cooked egg dishes. We can fully recommend this stay.
Another hotel located within the old city walls that looks really nice and has some very good reviews is the Melter Hotel, a sleek modern type of hotel.
Hotel Elch Boutique is housed in a rustic premise within the historic walls but combined with a stylish contemporary style. Both hotels are around the same mid-price range as Le Meridien.
How to get to Nuremberg
How to get to Nuremberg by car
If you are traveling around Germany or the Bavarian region by car, Nuremberg is pretty easy to access. It’s right by the highway (or Autobahn) and a favorite stop on the Romantic Road. Many people combine it with Rothenburg ob der Tauber on their road trip. The city itself is pedestrian-friendly and the best way to discover the main attractions is on foot.
So the best is to leave your car aside during your visit. Parking inside the city is a bit on the expensive side, we were lucky that it was included with our hotel. So unless you stay at a hotel that offers parking spots, we suggest leaving your car at a Park and Ride (P&R) and taking the S-Bahn into the city.
Nuremberg Park and Rides:
- Herrnhütte: If you come via A3 (north-east), B2, it’s around 8 min to the city center with U-Bahn-Linie U2.
- Bauernfeindstraße: If you come via A73, B8 (south), it’s around 7 min to the city center with U-Bahn-Linie U1
- Mögeldorf: If you come via A3 (east), 6 minutes from city center with S-Bahn-Linie S1
How to get to Nuremberg by train
Nuremberg is a major train stop within Germany, so it’s also really accessible by train. The central station (or Hauptbahnhof) is located south of the Old Town, you only need to cross the street and you are there! The city is fairly easy to get to from other bigger cities in Bavaria. Munich and Regensburg are around 1 hour away, Berlin with the ICE around 3 hours, and Bamberg only 40 minutes. With a Bayern Pass, you can travel throughout all of Bavaria by train with the Deutsche Bahn. This is a day ticket that you can use for all public transportation (S-Bahns, U-Bahns, trams, and buses).
How to get to Nuremberg by plane
Nuremberg also has its own international airport, called “Albrecht Dürer” (NUE) which has connecting flights to many European cities. There are a lot of great budget airlines available to find good flights. In case you would be flying in from outside Europe you might find better flights to Munich. From there you can take the train or get a rental car to get to Nuremberg. After landing, you can easily reach the city center by S-Bahn which leaves right from the front door.
Nuremberg Essential Resources
FLIGHTS | Find the best deals for flights to Nuremberg with Skyscanner.
TRANSFERS | Ready to travel to your next destination in Europe? Book your bus or train tickets via 12go.
HOTELS | Browse Booking.com for a place to stay in Nuremberg, from budget hostels to luxury hotels.
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