Nuremberg (or Nürnberg in German) is what most people imagine when they think of a German city. The second biggest city in Bavaria, it has medieval heritage with its grand castle on the hill and encompassing city walls, its very own sausage, one of the best Christmas markets in the country, and even notorious reminders of Germany's National Socialist past.
Here you will find a complete guide on how to spend the perfect weekend in Nuremberg, including where to eat, what to do, and how to move about this charming German city.
Day 1: Morning
9:30 a.m.: Some visitors begin their journey into Nuremberg through the small city airport and travel the short distance into the the center by public transport (at just 2.50 euros and a 15-minute trip), but most people arrive by Germany's well-connected Deutsche Bahn trains and disembark at the Hauptbahnhof (central train station). If you are able to arrive in the morning, check with your accommodations about early check-in. The city is small and walkable so you can plan your travels by foot, or use the public transport system (VGN).
9:45 a.m.: Leave the Hauptbahnhof heading northeast following the wall. Enter the town through the impressive Königstor (King's Gate), one of the seven gates of the city. From here you can explore the Handwerkerhof (craftsmen's courtyard). You'll find hand-blown glass and metal items being pounded away at the foundry, ideal options for souvenirs.
10:45 a.m.: Continue north on Königstraße. If you are looking for more shopping, you can find pedestrian zone Breite Gasse to the east (via Wollengäßchen) or more high-end Kaiserstraße just south of the river.
11:30 a.m.: Take as much or as little time as you like shopping before continuing north to the Altstadt (old town) by crossing the picturesque Museumsbrücke or Fleischbrücke over the Pegnitz river. Stop at the historic Hauptmarkt (main market square) where local goods and products are sold from Monday to Saturday. Admire the wonderfully reconstructed buildings (most were destroyed in WWII) such as the Frauenkirche, which stands on the eastern side of the square. While you are there, try twisting the copper ring at the Schöner Brunnen ("The Beautiful Fountain") and making a wish. If you arrive in late November through Christmas Eve, this is also the site of the city's legendary Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas market) with its cheery candy cane striped booths.
Day 1: Afternoon
12:30 p.m.: By now you must be starving and ready for some classic Franconian food. There is no need to waste time on a big sit down meal as Nuremberg's Brezen (pretzel) is a perfect first meal, and local legend Brezen Kolb in the Hauptmarkt is the perfect place to eat. From here, continue north on Burgstrasse up to the castle.
1:15 p.m.: Pay to enter one of the star attractions of the city, Kaiserburg Nürnberg (Imperial Castle of Nuremberg). This castle was at the center of the medieval world and is still one of the most important castles in Germany. Among its highlights are the perfectly round Sinwell Tower, royal rooms, forward-thinking Deep Well, chapel, and castle gardens full of aromatic lilac trees and the best view of the city.
3:30 p.m.: Continue west along the city walls and find the square at Beim Tiergärtnertor. This is the site of the half-timbered Albrecht-Dürer-Haus, the only surviving Renaissance artist's house outside Italy and one of the few surviving burgher houses from Nuremberg’s golden age. If you're a fan, make time to visit the Albrecht Dürer museum. Whatever you do, you can't miss the striking Der Hase (The Hare) statue located here.
4:30 p.m.: Continue back south to the other side of the river over Karlsbrücke/Trödelmarkt heading to the Germanisches National Museum. Before entering, stop at the Way of Human Rights. This impressive outdoor sculpture includes 30 eight-meter high pillars with the articles of Universal Declaration of Human Rights engraved upon them. Within the museum, history buffs will be interested in the world’s oldest surviving globe from 1492.
Day 1: Evening
6:30 p.m.: It is finally time for your big Bavarian meal. Take yourself back to the Handwerkerhof to enjoy the city's number one sausage, Nürnberger Bratwurst. Prepared here since 1313, Bratwurst Glöcklein is the oldest sausage kitchen in Nuremberg. Enjoy fresh sausage roasted over a charcoal grill and served on a tin plate with sauerkraut, potato salad, horseradish, fresh bread, and, of course, a Franconian beer.
8:30 p.m.: Or a few Franconian beers. It is perfectly fine to call it a night after such a busy day and several hearty beers. But if you have more party in you, consider nearby Rosi Schulz for some dancing.
11:30 p.m.: Nuremberg's nightlife ramps up around 11 p.m. and runs until the daylight hours. For a small cellar club, join Nuremberg's youth for reggae, funk, and soul at Stereo. Das Unrat is conveniently located in the center of city. For an elite club experience, visit Mach I, the place to see and be seen with multiple dance floors and VIP areas.
Day 2: Morning
9 a.m.: Grab breakfast at your hotel. You've got a busy day.
10 a.m.: Besides all the lovely medieval history and Christmas charm, people come to Nuremberg to delve deeper into Germany's darkest chapter and Nuremberg's role as its spiritual headquarters. A short 20-minute tram ride away from the city center, the partially finished Nazi Party Rally grounds showcase the grand plans Adolf Hitler had for the city and the country at large. Never completed, the massive weed-covered grandstands and never-used Congress Hall are still impressive in their scale. Walking the site is surreal; this is where Hitler pictured he would celebrate the Nazi's victories and make plans for the future. Within the documentation center, there is newsreel footage and information covering the rise and fall of the National Socialist regime.
Day 2: Afternoon
12 p.m.: If you want to see the end of the story for the Nazis, go all the way through the city to the Memoriam Nuremberg Trials and the infamous courtroom where the leaders of the Nazi party were prosecuted. The trials took place by the International Military Tribunal between Nov. 20, 1945, and Oct. 1, 1946 and left a lasting impression on the world. Courtroom 600 is still a working courtroom, but the information and documentation center on the top floor of the Courthouse is open to visitors.
1:30 p.m.: Grab another snack—this time sweet—with Nuremberg's world-famous Lebkuchnerei (Nuremberg gingerbread). Fraunholz Lebküchnerei is a family-run gingerbread bakery has been in operation for more than 100 years. They have two shops on the northern end of town where you can find the traditional version, as well as modern dairy-free and gluten-free options. Snack on some now and buy some for home, but don't overindulge before lunch.
2 p.m.: Lunch is the main meal of the day in Germany, so prepare to load up at Bratwurst Röslein. This Old Town favorite from 1493 is another classic provider of the Nürnberger Rostbratwurst and holds the record for the largest Bratwurst restaurant in the world with room for up to 600 guests. If you are tired of sausage, have no fear! There are other German classics like schweinebraten, schnitzel, and rinderroulade. Vegetarians and vegans can also enjoy this place with a menu catered to their needs.
3:30 p.m.: Pick yourself up after the gloom of the morning with a visit to one of Nuremberg's trendier districts, GoHo. Here you can enjoy a modern German lunch or Kaffee und Kuchen at Cafe Meinheim before shopping for vintage finds. Then, grab an afternoon Spatler (local beer) like the locals do at Palais Schaumburg.
Day 2: Evening
6 p.m.: Continue your light day drinking with a cocktail at Mata Hari. Located on one of the most beautiful streets in Nuremberg, Weissgerbergasse, Mata Hari has been called “Germany’s smallest live bar" There are more than 40 cocktails (as well as beer and wine) on the menu and room for just 40 people. Watch the event calendar for live music and events.
7 p.m.: Enjoy some high culture. The Nuremberg Opera House is one of four Bavarian state theaters and shows operas, plays, ballets, and concerts. It is one of the largest theaters in German with a varied and interesting schedule sure to excite any visitor. Constructed in 1903 to 1905, its Art Nouveau exterior and red interior are striking.
9:30 p.m.: Take things back to casual at Schanzenbräu after a night at the opera. This brewery is a locals' bar. Its low-key atmosphere and quality bar food make it a staple.