Nestled in the heart of Bavaria, Nuremberg is one of the most captivating cities I have visited in Germany. I really loved it! With its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene, Nuremberg offers a myriad of experiences that can easily fill a few days. I think 48 hours is the perfect length of time to visit Nuremberg. From panoramic views at Nuremberg Castle to the mouthwatering delights of the world-renowned Nuremberg sausages, I can guarantee you’ll find something to love about this historic city.
Whether you’re a food lover craving hearty Franconian cuisine, a history nerd seeking to immerse yourself in medieval times, or an explorer yearning to uncover the city’s hidden gems, this essential guide is your gateway to an unforgettable journey in Nuremberg.
In this comprehensive travel blog, I break down everything you should see and do in Nuremberg. I’ll also give you suggestions for three local specialties you need to eat in Nuremberg. Plus, I’ve included all the practical details for visiting, like the best time of year and where to stay. Get ready to embark on a culinary and cultural adventure as I unlock the tapestry of flavors, traditions, and history that Nuremberg has to offer!
What You'll Find in this Article
Essential Guide for Eating, Drinking & Exploring Nuremberg
Free Things to Do in Nuremberg
Walk the City Walls
Some of the best preserved medieval walls in all of Germany encircle the city Nuremberg. They are a must visit attraction! The walls are a magnificent testament to the city’s long past, dating back to the 12th century. They were built when the city experienced significant growth and required fortifications to protect its expanding population. They served as a vital defense against external threats, protecting the city and its inhabitants during times of war and unrest.
While there are guided tours of the walls, I recommend simply wandering and exploring on your own. There are a number of spots where you can walk on the walls. Keep in mind there are stairs, uneven surfaces, and inclines along the way. You can also walk around the perimeter of the walls. Punctuated by 80 towers, each with its own unique design and purpose, don’t miss some of the most famous towers like Sinwell Tower and Tiergärtnertor Tower. You should also pass through some gates, such as the Frauentor and the Spittlertor, which continue to serve as entry points into the historic city center.
Pegnitz River Canals
Perhaps the most picturesque part of Nuremberg is the Pegnitz river canals. Strolling along the canals is one of the best things to do in Nuremberg, because it allows you to admire beautiful architecture and immerse yourself in the city’s atmosphere. The colorful facades and gabled roofs create an Instagrammable backdrop against the water. It has an almost romantic old-world ambiance. I think Maxbrücke offers the best views, but the whole area is lovely. Spend an hour wandering around and snapping pictures from all angles!
Like much of old town Nuremberg, the canals have a storied past. During the Middle Ages, Nuremberg was an important center for commerce and trade. Much like the canals in places like Bruges or Amsterdam, these canals played a crucial role in the city’s development, transporting goods, providing water, and powering mills. The canals are lined with half-timbered houses and historic buildings that reflect the city’s medieval and Renaissance architectural styles.
Old Town Churches
Old Town Nuremberg is home to several noteworthy churches, each with its own history, architectural style, and cultural significance. Plus, churches are free to enter in Germany! The most iconic church in Nuremberg is probably Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). It is situated at the main market square and it is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture. Now it doesn’t quite compare to the Cologne Cathedral in my home city, but I also might be biased. With an elegant spire, intricate stone work, and delicate stained glass windows, it is quite a sight to behold.
Another nice church to see in Nuremberg is St. Sebaldus Church. It is dedicated to St. Sebaldus, the patron saint of the city. Originally Catholic, nowadays this is a Lutheran church. The church features twin spires capped with copper-patina copulas that dominate the skyline of Nuremberg. Inside you can admire one of the largest pipe organs in the world. There are even scheduled performances on the organ if you want to hear its impressive sound.
Cool Attractions to Visit Nuremberg
Also known as the Nuremberg Castle, this magnificent medieval fortress dates back to the 11th century when it was built on a rocky outcrop. Due to its strategic location, you can probably imagine that it has incredible views over Nuremberg. The castle played a pivotal role in the history of the Holy Roman Empire, serving as a residence for German kings and emperors. It underwent several expansions, resulting in a complex series of buildings in different architectural styles connected by gates, walls and courtyards.
Nowadays, visitors can buy a ticket to explore the interior or simply wander the exterior. Inside, you can see a very well-preserved medieval castle along with various exhibitions and museums that showcase the castle’s history, including its role during the Holy Roman Empire. If you prefer simply to enjoy the views, the castle’s courtyards and gardens are free to enter and provide breathtaking views over Nuremberg.
Of all the places I wanted to visit in Nuremberg, the Nuremberg Trials museum was at the top of the list. Officially known as the Memorium Nuremberg Trials, the museum commemorates the groundbreaking trials held here in 1945 and 1946. During the trial, prominent Nazi war criminals were prosecuted for their war crimes. The trials were the first of their kind, giving a definition to crimes against humanity and genocide, as well as establishing the principles of modern international law. It paved the way for subsequent tribunals and played a pivotal role in setting a precedent for the prosecution of such crimes on a global scale.
I have a particularly strong interest in WWII history, so I knew I needed to visit and learn from this place of immense significance. Tickets can be purchased on-site or online in advance, and include an audio guide. I strongly recommend you use the audio guide, because it has audio transcripts and archival footage that really immerse you in the experience.
You can see the original documents and evidence that was used in the case against SS leaders. It culminates in a visit to the courtroom. I found the museum to be somber and thought-provoking without the gore and horror you find in other dark museums, like Dachau or NS-Dok. It provides an educational platform to engage with history, to honor the victims, and to learn from the past.
Shop the Christmas Market
If you happen to be traveling to Nuremberg in December, then you simply must see the Christkindlesmarkt. I even featured it on my list of the best Christmas markets in Germany! Considered to be one of the original Christmas markets in Germany, it is held each year on Nuremberg’s Main Market Square. The gothic Frauenkirche serves as a backdrop to the market, adding an impressive 14th century charm.
My favorite thing about this Christmas market is the sheer amount of handcrafts and gifts. Nearly all of them are traditional and local to Germany, including Rauschgold angels, wooden nutcrackers and metal nativity scenes. One of the most unique items you can find here are the zwetschgen figurines, which are assembled using dried plums and nuts.
When to Visit Nuremberg
Offering year-round appeal, there isn’t necessarily a bad time to visit Nuremberg. It really depends on what you’re trying to see and experience. You’ll find unique festivals and opportunities in all seasons, each with its own pros and cons. The best time to visit Nuremberg largely depends on personal preferences.
The spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October) seasons offer a balance of pleasant weather, fewer crowds, and lots of cultural events. Summer is, of course, the best time to maximize weather and daylight hours. But, you’ll run into the largest crowds, especially day trippers and large tourist groups. December is great for the enchanting Christmas Market, while January and February are low season. If you don’t mind colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours, you’ll be rewarded with minimal crowds and cheaper prices.
How Long to Stay in Nuremberg
While you could hit many of the highlights of Nuremberg in just 24 hours, I think it really warrants a longer visit. I think 2 or 3 nights is optimal, especially if you plan on visiting the castle and Trials Museum. You’ll need some time to go through both places, and you’ll want to decompress emotionally after the Trials Museum. Realistically, I think you could visit the city walls, river canals, and castle in one day. Then, you could visit the trials museum and churches on a second day.
What & Where to Eat in Nuremberg
Nuremberg is the capital of Franconia. Franconia isn’t its own federal German state, but it’s more like a cultural region that can be best explored through its delicious food! There are three local dishes that you definitely need to try – bratwursts, pretzels and lebkuchen.
First on the foodie’s list of things to try is the famous Nuremberg rostbratwurst. These mini sausages resemble a breakfast sausage, and are most commonly grilled over a beechwood fire. You order them by the number, usually starting with an order of 6 and then adding more like 8, 10 or 12. Bratwursthäusle is the best place to go, and it has been family owned since 1313.
An alternative option for bratwurst is Bratwurst Röslein. Located just off the main square, this traditional brauhaus is a great place to come if you only have one meal in Nuremberg. Their entire menu is Franconian food, so you can get a wide-range of the local specialties. As a bonus dip, order the Obatzter cheese spread – it is incredible. Plus, Röslein claims to be the largest bratwurst restaurant in the world.
Next, you definitely need to sample a pretzel in Nuremberg. Now I know – pretzels can be found throughout Germany; however, pretzels are firmly rooted in Franconian cuisine and were maybe even invented in this region. It would be a shame not to sample the best! Brezen Kolb is a local chain that bakes their soft, thick pretzels each day. While you can get them plain, I recommend going for one of pretzel sandwiches or one of those smeared with butter and herbs.
Final thing to try while traveling in Nuremberg is Lebkuchen (ginger bread). Lebkuchen is a traditional Nuremberg cookie most closely associated with Christmas. However, you can (and should!) buy it year round. When I first heard about Lebkuchen, I was expected something thin and crunchy, because that’s what I usually think of as ginger bread cookies. But in Nuremberg, the cookies are thick, soft and about 10cm in diameter. They’re usually seasoned with cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and then covered with a thin sugar icing. Wicklein Lebküchnerei is the real deal. With roots that can be traced back to 1615, pick the tastiest looking one from the window and enjoy!
Where to Stay in Nuremberg
If you are arriving in Nuremberg via car, you’ll probably want to book a hotel outside of the old city walls. Finding parking in the old city can be a challenge, so check if your hotel includes it. Looking for a budget option? We stayed at Hotel Motel One Nürnberg-Hauptbahnhof which was super convenient, being located next to the main train station. It is a little far from the Old Town though.
Located in the heart of the Old Town, Hotel Drei Raben offers a blend of modern design and historic charm. This boutique hotel features individually designed rooms with stylish décor, and thoughtful amenities. For a splurge, try Le Méridien Grand Hotel Nuremberg. Housed in a magnificent historic building, this place exudes luxury and sophistication. The hotel boasts beautifully appointed rooms with refined décor and plush furnishings. It offers top-notch amenities, including a gourmet restaurant, a stylish bar, and a spa.
Best Places to Visit Around Nuremberg
Located about one hour north of Nuremberg, the town of Bamberg sits on seven hills at the confluence of the Regnitz and Main rivers. With preserved structures dating back to the 11th century, the entire old town has a historic and charming feel to it. The most iconic feature of the town is the muraled and half-timbered town hall, which sits on an island in the Regnitz river.
Rothenberg ob der Tauber
Known for its medieval architecture, I can almost guarantee you’ve seen pictures of Rothenberg ob der Tauber. Images of Rothenburg’s city walls or historic towers adorn the cover of many German guidebooks or are used as a banner image on blogs featuring German travel tips. I can practically guarantee that this town will bring a smile to your face because it is just SO STINKING CUTE. Rothenberg ob der Tauber is well worth a detour from Nuremberg, and I think it is one of the best day trip destinations in all of Bavaria. I wrote a separate blog post all about it if you’re interested in visiting!
The city was nearly destroyed in WWII, with over 90% of the city being bombed or leveled. However, extensive renovation and restoration has happened since, and you can really admire how much Würzburg has recovered in the 75 years since then. Würzburg is known for its impressive architectural heritage, particularly the Residenz, a UNESCO World Heritage site. I even featured it on my list of the most beautiful palaces and castles in Germany. The Residenz served as the residence of the prince-bishops and is considered one of the most beautiful Baroque palaces in Europe.