I love Nuremberg. It is the perfect combination of half-timbered houses and a cosmopolitan vibe. I have to admit here that I find traveling in Germany to be a bit boring. The fault does not lie with Germany but the fact that nearly all the attractions somehow seem alike. The country has neither the ‘grungy classical’ beauty of Greece and Italy nor the panache of ‘France and Spain’. That is why I am yet to find one place in Germany that has taken my breath away and the closest I have come to being charmed is at Nuremberg. This beautiful Bavarian city is located on the Pegnitz River and it is the second-largest city in Bavaria. With its medieval atmosphere, cobblestoned streets, beautiful stone bridges, and a looming castle, Nuremberg, or Nürnberg as it is locally known is a postcard-worthy town. Interestingly, Nuremberg is also historically rich and it is one place that witnessed the extreme terror of the Nazi regime to the fullest.
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A powerhouse city
The historical importance of Nuremberg goes way beyond the Nazi regime and it was significant even during the Roman times. For centuries, Nuremberg was the uncrowned capital of the Holy Roman Empire and it was the most preferred city of the German kings. Most of them kept their crown jewels here and the city is filled with rich architectural wonders. Naturally, this drew artists and craftsmen to Nuremberg and the famous Albrecht Dürer was actually born here. The 19th century saw this Bavarian city becoming a powerhouse of the industrial revolution and it was the playground for the Nazis. They held party rallies here, stirred up the fanatical mood, and began their heinous anti-Jewish activities. The boycott of Jewish enterprises started here and it was in Nuremberg that the infamous laws outlawing German citizenship for Jewish people were enacted. Finally, in January 1945 the city was razed to the ground by Allied bombers, and 6000 people were killed in the process.
Nuremberg after WW II
Ironically, after the end of WW II, the city was also the site of the war crimes tribunal known as the Nuremberg Trials and its famous Schwurgerichtssaal 600 (Court Room 600) which sentenced to death the Nazi leaders like Göring, Hess, and Speer still functions today. Later, Nuremberg underwent a painstaking reconstruction, and nearly all of the city’s main buildings including the castle and the old churches were returned to their former glory. Thus it can be safely said, that a lot happened in Nuremberg. Perhaps it was the history that is so full of pathos or its beautiful old town that made me fall in love with Nuremberg. I spent two days there and though it was not enough to explore the neighbouring Bamberg, I enjoyed my stay to the fullest. So presenting a photo essay and a travel guide that will help you plan your Nuremberg trip better.
Nuremberg Travel Guide
Nuremberg is located in northern Bavaria in the Franconian region. Although officially a Bavarian city, Nuremberg considers itself Franconian. Therefore, the city’s culture and food differ from the rest of Bavarian cities like Munich and Regensburg.
How to Reach
By Train – Nuremberg is a major train station and is well-connected with the rest of Germany. The Hauptbahnhof is conveniently located in the Old Town and most of the attractions are around it. Nuremberg is 1 hour by train from Munich and 2 hours and 20 minutes from Frankfurt.
By Plane – Although Nuremberg has an airport, it is connected by mostly flights from Germany and other parts of Europe. There is a direct train U-Bahn U2 that will take you from the airport to the central train station in 15 minutes. The closest international airport is Munich.
By Road – Nuremberg is on the Romantic Route and is well-connected with the rest of Germany by Autobahn.
Nuremberg is wonderfully pedestrian friendly and since most of the attractions are in the Old Town (Altstadt), just grab a map and walk around. The city also has an efficient U-Bahn (underground train) that connects all parts. There are three lines U1, U2, and U3, and the trains run from 5 am until midnight. You can buy single tickets, four-trip tickets, 10-trip tickets, day tickets, and group tickets on the VGN website, app, or at any of the station ticket machines. Nuremberg also has a good bus and tram network. Tickets can be purchased as a day pass or can be purchased individually.
Is it worth buying a Nuremberg card?
The Nuremberg Card costs €28 and includes all your public transport for 2 days, and entry to various attractions (including Albrecht Dürer House, Imperial Castle, Germanisches Nationalmuseum, and the Documentation Centre). Moreover, it allows you to skip the line at paid-for attractions and this might come in handy during the crowded summer months. It makes sense since the transport alone will cost more than €18 for two days. As long as you visit two paid-for attractions, you know that you have made full use of your Nuremberg card.
Where to Stay
Nuremberg has a wide of hotels suitable for all travel styles and budgets. The city center also has hostels and guesthouses.
Best Time to Visit
Nuremberg is famous for its Christmas markets and winter is especially very charming in this old city. It is a year-round destination and can be enjoyed in any season.
How many days for Nuremberg
Although many people visit Nuremberg on day trips from Munich or club it with a visit to Bamberg, Nuremberg is best enjoyed in 2-3 days.
Things to Do in Nuremberg
Nuremberg is packed with interesting activities and impressive sites. Here is a list of the most interesting things to do in this Bavarian city.
- Tour the famous Nuremberg Castle – This is the highlight of the city; its most important tourist attraction. Built in the 11th century, Nuremberg castle held significant importance in the Holy Roman Empire. WWII saw this castle razed to the ground and it has been rebuilt back to its medieval charm. The complex consists of several medieval fortifications, a deep well, a double chapel, and the Sinwell Tower. The best time to visit the castle is in the morning as it can get crowded later on. The views of the city from the top are impressive and it is best to buy a combination ticket called Imperial Castle to enjoy the Palas with Double Chapel, Imperial Castle Museum, Deep Well, and Sinwell Tower. For more information check out the official site.
- Visit the Church of Our Lady – Famous for its brick Gothic architecture from the 14th century, the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) is one of the most impressive churches in Nuremberg. Located in the Hauptmarkt, the central market square, its most notable feature is the Männleinlaufen, a mechanical clock commemorating the Golden Bull of 1356.
- See the Schöner Brunnen – Loosely translated as the ´Beautiful Fountain´, the Schöner Brunnen is also located in the Hauptmarkt. It is a 14th-century fountain that is shaped like a Gothic spire and is 19 meters high.
- Enjoy the postcard-pretty views of the Holy Spirit Hospital – This is a quintessential Nuremberg sight. The view from Museumsbrücke towards the Holy Spirit Hospital (Heilig-Geist-Spital) is incredible, especially at night when the building is reflected in the river. During the time of the Holy Roman Empire, this medieval building was a large hospital. Nowadays, it houses a well-known restaurant.
- Stroll along the photogenic Weißgerbergasse – This is the prettiest street in Nuremberg. It has the largest collection of medieval half-timbered houses and the effect is absolutely photogenic.
- Admire the art at Albrecht Dürer’s House – No art lover can leave Nuremberg without visiting Albrecht Dürer’s House (Albrecht-Dürer-Haus). This famous German painter actually lived in the building from 1509 until his death in 1528. The house, which is now a museum, exhibits includes items from the city’s art collections, as well as copies of Dürer’s paintings. Right next to the artist’s house, is an interesting sculpture, the Dürer’s Rabbit (Dürer-Hase Skulptur). It’s a contemporary interpretation of Dürer’s famous artwork, The Young Hare.
- Visit the Toy Museum or DB Museum – This is perfect for rainy days or for travelers with small children. Spielzeugmuseum is a lovely little museum that has an impressive collection of 12,000 toys.
- Eat the famous Nürnberg Rostbratwurst – These slim, char-grilled Nürnberger Bratwürste are Nuremberg’s savoury specialty, and though the little sausages can be found at any restaurant in the city, they are best enjoyed when eaten hot from a street stall. Order Nürnberg Rostbratwurst in a bun or do it the traditional way: either get a plate of sausages (they are small, finger-like sausages) with a side of kraut and delicious mustard or get it in “Wickel im Drei,” which is typically three sausages on a roll.
- Try a local Lebkuchen – Although a Bavarian specialty, Nuremberg´s lebkuchen is quite well-known throughout Germany. Lebkuchen is a type of German cookie flavoured with honey and spices and tastes similar to gingerbread. The making of lebkuchen has been traced back as early as the 1200s in Nuremberg. It was originally a Christmas treat, but now is available all year around. It´s one of those love-it-or-hate-it dishes. You can even attend a lebkuchen baking class in Nuremberg. Click on the link for more information.
- Tuck in a hearty Schäuferle – Although the name is a mouthful, schäuferle (pig’s shoulder meat) is a hearty traditional dish. In Nuremberg, it is prepared by treating pig’s shoulder meat, pork rind, and bones in salt, pepper, and cumin, adding a generous amount of beer and vegetables, and baking the concoction for a few hours, till the meat is soft and almost separated from the bones. This Nuremberg version on the famous Franconian dish is served with a side of salad.
- Enjoy a local red beer – Nuremberg Rotbier has been brewed here since the Middle Ages and the process has always been in strict accordance with the purity law. The malt is specially roasted and that gives the beer its characteristic taste. Hausbrauerei Altstadthof Brewery near Tiergärtnertor is the best place to try Rotbier. Here the beer is as dark as coffee and is usually sold there in 1-liter bottles.
- St. Lorenz Church – Also known as the Lorenzkirche, it is a gorgeous 15th-century Gothic church with a magnificent west facade, featuring a splendid portal and a richly decorated rose window.
- St. Sebaldus Church – Sebalduskirche as it is locally called is one of the oldest churches in the city. It is dedicated to Saint Sebaldus, the patron saint of Nuremberg from the 8th century.
- Hangman’s Bridge – Nuremberg is a city of bridges and the Hangman´s Bridge (Henkersteg) is one of its most interesting bridges. Built after the flood of 1595, Henkersteg derives its name from the word Henker (from German – the Executioner). In the Middle Ages, the executioner was a much-ostracized person who was forced to avoid any contact with the citizens, owing to his profession. He had to live in an isolated house on the island and had access to the city only through this bridge.
- Nazi Party Rally Grounds – I just didn´t have the stomach to visit this site.
- Medieval Dungeons – It is another grisly Huremberg attraction that I avoided. Located in the vaulted cellar of the Town Hall, the Medieval Dungeons can be visited as a part of a guided tour. The tour takes you through 12 cells and a torture chamber while giving you insights into the justice system of those days. The tours are in German. English audio guides are available. The entrance is opposite St. Sebaldus Church (the entrance to the Old City Hall).
- DB Train Museum – The DB Museum in Nuremberg is the oldest railway museum in the world. It also has the largest collection of historical vehicles. The exhibit includes more than 2,000 models and 40 rail legends, including the oldest steam locomotive in Germany, the Nordgau.
- Browse the Handwerkerhof Market – This is located right outside the Nuremberg Hauptbahnhof. Restored and maintained as a medieval village within the Nuremberg city walls, it is the best place to shop for souvenirs, have some snacks, and grab a beer.
Day trips from Nuremberg
Because of its location in Bavaria and on the Romantic Route, Nuremberg makes an excellent base for various day trips. Some of the best day trip destinations from Nuremberg are:
- Rothenberg ob der Tauber – 1.5 hours by train
- Bamburg – 38 minutes by train
- Regensburg – 1 hour by train
- Wurzburg – 1.5 hours by train
- Munich – 1 hour by train
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- MOSAICS OF AACHEN CATHEDRAL
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RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE