Nuremberg, a century old city with its imperial hilltop castle, has always played an important role throughout history. Follow us on a 1 – 2 day recommended journey through some of its well known sights, restaurants and museums.
Vibrant, even during the Middle Ages, all of the emperors of the Holy Roman Empire stayed within Nuremberg’s fortified walls at various intervals of their reign. It was also home to Albrecht Durer, world renowned Renaissance painter who revolutionized printmaking.
Learn more of Nuremberg’s role in World War II and what led to Nuremberg’s almost complete destruction.
So much history and so full of wonder! And so close to Munich (150km), that a 1-2 day trip is warranted. For overnight stays or longer, consider the Nürnberg Card, which allows you entry into over 40 museums and attractions. Plus it covers free public transportation for 2 days. Conditions apply!
Traveling from Munich to Nuremberg
By Train: From München Hauptbahnhof (Munich Central Station) to Nürnberg Hbf (Nuremberg Central Station)
- There are many ways to book your ticket, but I would start with DBahn
- If you purchase tickets in advance, you can get a great deal on the ICE trains (fast trains). They get you into Nuremberg in 1 hour. You will need to commit to a time and date though. I don’t think they are refundable.
- If you are a spontaneous traveler (like me), you might find decent pricing on tickets directly at the station, depending on the season, time of day, etc. Summer and Christmas time are peak season, meaning prices are up.
- The Bayern Ticket is the cheapest and most convenient choice, if more than 2 people are traveling. One Bayern Ticket covers up to 5 passengers. It restricts you to the regional trains which make several local stops. If you buy in advance, you get a good price and a semi-fast train (not an ICE train though). It also covers unlimited travel on all Bavarian public transport: U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Tram & local buses for that travel day.
- Check travel duration. Regional trains can take from a little under 2 hours to several hours.
- Print out your ticket and keep it handy, you will be asked for it.
It takes one hour by car to get to Nuremberg… depending on traffic. Friday afternoon is the worst day to drive. You will be stuck on the road with rush hour traffic as well as those heading north for the weekend. The first time I got stuck for four hours, was the last time I drove to Nuremberg.
Now you are there. Where do you start.
Tourist Information Center, right next to Königstor
Königstr. 93 (across the street from the main train station).
Tip: I like to get a map of the city and ask if they know of any temporary exhibits.
Königstor – this is the southernmost entrance into the old town.
Within its fortified walls, there is a shop full of local Frankonian handcrafts and products.
Walk along Königstraße until you reach the Pegnitz river. Along the way, a few churches might catch your attention:
Santa Klara – consecrated in 1274, this early Gothic church was completely renovated in 2007 into an open city church. People of all faiths are welcome to worship.
St Lawrence – one of the three most important churches of Nuremberg, along with St. Sebald and Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche), this Gothic church is worth a visit. Especially to see the organ, one of the oldest in the world and various important works of art. The facade is dominated by its two 80 meter tall towers and rose window, 9 meters in diameter.
Cross the river Pegnitz, over the bridge Museumsbrücke, where you can take some nice pictures. Keep walking until you reach the Hauptmarket (Central Market). This is the market in front of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady).
Central Market Square
My favorite time to visit is during the Christmas market season (starting Friday, before the first Sunday in Advent). This plaza gets packed with stalls selling gingerbread treats (Lebkuchen), the famous Nuremberg Bratwurst, countless other sweets and handcrafted items.
- The Schöner Brunnen (beautiful fountain) in the central square is Nuremberg’s most famous fountain. Gothic and shaped in the form of a church spire, this 14th century masterpiece has 40 colorful figures and two brass rings on the fence. Legend has it, turning the ring three times brings good luck or brings you back to Nuremberg, not sure. I turned it on my first visit and have been back three times. So, who knows!
- Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirsche) – An interesting feature of the church is the Mannleinlaufen, the mechanical clock on the front facade that commemorates the Golden Bull of 1356 (Emperor Charles IV declared that every newly elected future ruler must hold his first imperial Diet in Nuremberg). Every day when the clock strikes the hour there is a show of electors surrounding the figure of the Holy Roman Emperor accompanied by trumpeters and drummers.
Now to the castle… the symbol of Nuremberg!
Imperial Castle (Kaiserberg Schloss)
Close to a century old, this Imperial Castle, in its’ current state, dates back to the 13th century. It’s foundation dates back to 1050. Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa and his heirs built this impressive fortress high on a rock above the city.
Between 1050 and 1571 each successive German king or emperor of the Holy Roman Empire resided and held court here. After Nuremberg’s acceptance of the Reformation in 1524 the Catholic emperors alienated this Protestant city. In 1663, the Imperial Diet was relocated permanently to Regensburg.
In 1945 practically the entire Imperial Castle lay in ruins, but important Romanesque and late Gothic sections survived. Immediately after the war, Rudolf Esterer rebuilt the complex almost exactly as it had before the war on the principle of “creative conservation”.
The vistas from the viewing platform reach far across the rooftops of Nuremberg. The Tower also has an exhibition of photos showing the castle and city before & after the destruction of the Second World War.
Audio guides are available.
This museum showcases the setting in which Germany’s painter and graphic artist worked and lived from 1509 until 1528. They have a 15-minute multi-media show depicting the life and works of Albrecht Dürer.
Albrecht Dürer’s (1471-1528) half-timbered house was damaged, but not destroyed, in WWII. It now includes a reconstructed parlour, a kitchen and a large studio and workshop with a printing press that still works to this day.
Former Nazi Party Rally Grounds
From Nuremberg central station (Nuernberg Hbf) there is a tram that leaves you in Nuernberg-Dutzendteich in around 6 minutes. A bus, taxi and a 45 minute walk gets you there as well.
- Documentation Center – I remember being fascinated by the self guided audio tour. I spent hours listening to the evolution of the National Socialist party and the horrors they inflicted. So methodical, so sinister! It terrified me how capable of evil we are. A visit is recommended.
- Zeppelinfeld and Zeppelintribüne – although abandoned, the city is in talks to preserve these grounds as a historical and educational site. It is worth a walk around the tribune on a nice day.
After a hearty meal, we like to walk along the Pegnitz river banks and criss-cross the Henkersteg bridge (don’t miss it – the town hangman used to live in the tower) as well as the Fleischebrücke bridge. Our search for coffee and ice cream is never over.
Restaurants & Cafes
The following recommendations are from personal visits or from friends that have lived there. If you have never tried the Nürnberger Wurst, sausages that are still made with the same recipe dating hundreds of years, do so! It is the local specialty.
- Bratwurst Röslein
- Zum Albrecht Durer Haus
- Bratwursthäusle bei St. Sebald – Best Nürnberger Wurst!
- Einzimmer Küche Bar Restaurant
Thanks to a true local expat, Elizabeth from Red Clay Paper, for her recommendations.
- Wanderer Cafe @ Tiergartnertor square, get a coffee or an aperol & sit outside to catch the last rays of the day
- Schnepperschütz – open in summer, grab a spritz on the bridge steps & find a spot in the sun
- Weinstelle – cozy little wine bar
- Barfüser – traditional beer cellar
- Cafe Bar Katz – hip, always packed scene bar
- Die Rote Bar – cozy, usually good music and cocktails
I’ve been to Nuremberg several times and each time I discover something new. Each experience keeps me coming back for more.