The 950-year old city of Nuremberg (spelled Nürnberg in German) is the second-largest city in Bavaria and a frequent stopover for people on their way to the Bavarian capital of Munich. Although it's only the 14th most populous city in Germany, Nuremberg is alive with history and culture, offering visitors a wide variety of things to do. From wandering through the historic streets of Old Town to eating at the world's oldest sausage restaurant, history buffs, art lovers, culinary travelers, and romantics alike can find all sorts of activities to enjoy on their trip to Nuremberg.
Walk Through Nuremberg's Old Town
In the middle of Nuremberg, Old Town is home to the original walls of the city as well as a variety of architectural attractions, and the best way to explore this historic section of the city is to take a self-guided walking tour of the Bavarian-style homes. From the train station, a walk through Old Town takes about 30 minutes, but you'll want to set aside at least half a day to see all the sights.
Make sure to stop by the Castle Quarter (Burgviertel) to see sandstone and timber-framed houses dating back to the Middle Ages and check out Heilig-Geist-Spital, one of the oldest hospitals in the country. Then, visit the Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg), which served as the residence of Germany's Kaiser and kings between 1050 and 1571. In addition, take note of the fabulous statues and fountains; twist the ring on the Schöner Brunnen for luck or gaze in fear at the grim picture of marriage presented by the Ehekarussell.
One of Nuremberg’s most famous residents was Albrecht Dürer, an artist of the Northern Renaissance known across Europe for his high-quality woodcut prints. Northwest of Nuremberg's Alstadt near the Kaiserburg section of the Nuremberg Castle, the Albrecht Dürer House is a museum dedicated to the artist that served as his home for the last 20 years of his life, from 1509 to 1528. His timber-framed house in Nuremberg's Old Town, set underneath the Imperial Castle, displays Dürer’s original etchings, woodcuts, and paintings, and you can also tour the artist’s painting and printing workshop where Dürer's working techniques are demonstrated.
Located on Albrecht-Dürer-Straße in Old Town, the Albrecht Dürer House is open Tuesdays through Sundays year-round. Look for the artists' giant distressed bunny on the street out front to find the entrance to the Albrecht Dürer House, which is just a short walk away from the Lorenzkirche station on Tram Line 4 Tiergärtnertor.
Adolf Hitler declared in 1933 that Nuremberg should be “City of the Nazi Party Rallies," and although the grounds and Documentation Centre (Dokuzentrum) were never fully finished, they still host monumental buildings, arenas, and roads that were used for Nazi mass events and parades. Nowhere else in Germany can the remains of authentic Nazi architecture be seen as clearly as here.
In one wing of the unfinished Congress Hall, which was designed to seat 50,000 spectators, you’ll find the excellent permanent exhibition "Fascination and Terror," which explores the rise of the Nazi Party, the Führer myth, Nazi party rallies, racism and anti-Semitism, the German resistance, and the Nuremberg trials.
You'll find the Nazi Party Rally Grounds southeast of Nuremberg along Bayernstraße. It's easiest to take Tram Line to Doku-Zentrum station or the Suburban Railway S2 to Dutzendteich Bahnhof. The grounds are open seven days a week at varying hours. To get the most of your tour on these desolate grounds, book a private tour.
Open since 2010, the Memorium Nuremberg Trials is a museum in the east wing of Nuremberg’s Palace of Justice that offers an in-depth exhibition about the history of the Nuremberg Trials. The museum is located in the very same building where the Allies tried Nazi officials for crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity between 1945 and 1949. You can even tour the original courtroom 600, where the trails took place, but access may be limited as the court plays an active roll in Nuremberg law today—room 600 is still used for trials.
Memorium Nuremberg Trials is open for public tours on Wednesdays through Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Located on Bärenschanzstraße in the Bärenschanze district, the museum is easily accessible via Subway U1 to Bärenschanze station.
Nuremberg is famous for its tiny but tasty Nürnberger. These roasted pork sausages can be found throughout the city, but there is no better place to feast on them than in the oldest Bratwurst restaurant in the world. Since 1419, Zum Gulden Stern dishes up its tasty sausages, handcrafted by local butchers according to traditional recipes and grilled over a beechwood fire. Served six at a time, these sausages are best enjoyed with sauerkraut, homemade potato salad, and a side of horseradish cream. As an added bonus, everything you’ll eat here comes from family-owned farms from the region.
Zum Gulden Stern is located on Zirkelschmiedsgasse in Old Town near the Weißer Turm and Lorenzkirche stations on the U1 Subway Line. The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, 365 days a year.
The Nuremberg Christmas Market—which runs from late November through Christmas Eve each year—is one of the most popular Christmas fairs in Germany. Dating back to the 16th century, the traditional market takes place on the cobblestone streets of Nuremberg’s romantic Old Town, and its organizers always make sure the wooden huts are decorated tastefully for the season.
The Nürnberger Hauptmarkt—where the Christmas Market takes place—also serves as an open-air produce market year-round. Open Monday to Saturday, this centrally-located market is a great place to pick up local meat, produce, and baked goods or enjoy a festive holiday celebration at certain times throughout the year.
If you want to see all the sites of Old Town Nuremberg but don't feel like walking through the cobblestone streets, hop aboard the Mini-Train. The 40-minute loop around Old Town starts in the main market square and passes the Maxbrücke Bridge, St. Lawrence Church, the Hospital of the Holy Spirit, and the Imperial Castle before arriving back at the market. While you enjoy the ride, an on-board tour guide will share stories and histories of various buildings along the way.
Located on the Historical Mile in Nuremberg, Weinstadel is a medieval wine storage warehouse that originally served as a hospital for lepers. A visit to this historic structure is a quick stop in Old Town, but be sure to take a moment to marvel at this perfect example of German architecture in the Middle Ages. Its half-timber frame and sandstone brick walls and picturesque location alongside the river make it an iconic backdrop for a souvenir photo of your trip.
The Medieval Dungeons (Mittelalterliche Lochgefangnisse) are a series of twelve small cells and a torture chamber located in the vaulted cellar of Nuremberg's Old City Hall. A testament to medieval judicial processes, the dungeons served from 1320 onward as a place to punish criminals of all ranks and classes in the city. Located on Historische Felsengänge in the Bergstrasse district of the city, Old City Hall offers multimedia tours of the dungeons daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Germanic National Museum (Germanisches Nationalmuseum) is the largest museum of cultural history in the German-speaking world, documenting its past with over 25,000 exhibits. Founded in 1852, the museum houses a large collection of art and artifacts dating back to prehistoric times including decorative items, armor, books and scrolls, clothing, musical instruments, archaeological discoveries, and historic scientific instruments. You'll also find art from Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and Rembrandt as well as a variety of touring and rotating exhibits throughout the year.