Nuremberg is located in the German state of Bavaria, and is Bavaria’s second largest city after Munich. We visited Nuremberg at Christmas time, when the city is so festive and full of merriment. The Old Town’s famous “Christkindlesmarkt” is one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world. Decorated and all lit up, it is filled with ornaments, handmade gifts, mulled wine, Bavarian sausages, and their famous local Lebkuchen. (Lebkuchen are deliciously chewy German gingerbread and nut cookies, sometimes with frosting, that date date back to the 16th century!). In addition to the holiday charm, Nuremberg is also full of history, including some dark chapters.
Top things to do in Nuremberg
Altstadt (Old Town) & Hauptmarkt
Old Town is full of beautiful architecture, rich with cathedrals and churches and where we spent most of our time exploring all that the city had to offer. It is divided by the river Pegnitz into a northern and southern half. Hauptmarkt is the main market square of Nuremberg and in the heart of the city centre. Many fairs and festivals take place here, including the famous Christmas market. Be sure to check in advance if anything is scheduled during your stay.
Tips: Visit the Frauenkirche (“Church of Our Lady”), a great example of brick Gothic architecture, and take the spiraling stone staircase up to the observation terrace for great views of the square and surrounding Old Town area. Also visit the Schoner Brunnen fountain (from the 14th century) and spin one of the brass rings, known to bring good luck to those that spin them!
Weissgerbergasse (Tanners’ Lane)
A street made up of colorful half-timbered artisan homes, many from medieval times. The name given to this street (“tanner”) represents the leather makers that lived on this street during the Middle Ages.
Nuremberg Castle is comprised of the Imperial Castle, the former Burgraves’ Castle, and other buildings erected by the Imperial City along the eastern part of the site. The main portion to visit is the Imperial Castle, built during the Holy Roman Empire, representing the city’s historical significance. The Nuremberg Castle offers spectacular views of the city and the surrounding areas.
Tips: Be sure to visit the Sinwell Tower for 360 degree panoramic views (note: lots of stairs to climb) and the Deep Well, which is 50 meters deep.
St. Lorenz Church & St. Sebaldus Church
Two beautiful medieval churches in Nuremberg’s old town. Both are impressive examples combining Gothic and some Romanesque architecture.
Medieval village area located just inside the old city walls, made up of small half-timbered buildings full of unique gifts and crafts, along narrow cobbled roads.
Located just adjacent to the Imperial Castle at one of its gates, this plaza is a great place for views of the Old Town.
Tips: Visit Cafe Wanderer and grab a coffee or afternoon beer and a snack and sit outside to people watch.
Kettensteg (Chain Bridge)
Pedestrian bridge over the river Pegnitz built in 1842, making it the oldest chain bridge on the continent of Europe! A nice bridge to cross to get from one side of old town to the other.
Tips: Stop at the Kettensteg Biergarten for afternoon beers and a nice view of the river and surroundings.
Small eclectic market area, including some boutiques and fine jewelry shops, located between the Karlsbrücke (Charles Bridge) and Unschlittplatz on the river Pegnitz.
Tips: Cross over the quaint, covered Henkersteg bridge (at the Henkerhaus museum) to reach the shopping area.
The Documentation Center & Nazi Party Rally Grounds
The Documentation Centre & Nazi Party Rally Grounds offer a powerful depiction of the Nazi party’s rise to power, and a somber reminder of the devastating consequences that unfolded. The museum contains a permanent exhibition highlighting the history behind National Socialism, including the criminal exercise of power and the devastation that ensued for the population. Standing at the rally grounds was an eerie experience, especially when looking up at the podium where Hitler spoke during the rallies. The grounds are mostly left untouched to this day.
Tips: Take the tram or bus from the city centre to get dropped off right in front of the museum.
Palace of Justice & Trial Courthouse
After the rally grounds, a visit to the Trial Courthouse, where the Nuremberg Trials were held, is a must. These trials were held by the Allied Forces after WWII to convict and prosecute various leaders of the Nazi party that took part in the Holocaust and other violent war crimes. Another somber reminder of the horrific events in Nazi Germany, but an important piece of history to understand.
Food and places to eat in Nuremberg
Traditional bavarian sausage roll (eat with some mustard!)
Burg-Backerei & Lebkucknerei
You can buy Lebkuchen (the chewy gingerbread and nut cookies) here all year round… a must try in Nuremberg!
Goldenes Posthorn: Recommended by our Airbnb host, but we ate at the Christkindlemarkt most of the time!
Brezen Kolb: If you are looking for delicious pretzels, just salt or even a meat/cheese pretzel sandwich, look for Brezen Kolb!