The Top Things to Do and See in Nuremberg
The 950-year-old Bavarian city combines romantic charm with a turbulent past. Eat at the world’s oldest bratwurst restaurant, Zum Gulden Stern, explore Albrecht Dürer’s house and see the former Nazi party rally grounds – these are just a handful of things to do in Nuremberg.
Known for its sausages, gingerbread and handmade toys, it’s clear that Nuremberg has something to offer everyone. Delve into the medieval city’s colourful, and often tumultuous, history before wandering the picturesque streets of the old town and venturing inside its impressive churches and castle. Here’s what we recommend you put at the top of your to-do list while you’re there.
Visit Nuremberg Castle
© Brigida Soriano / Alamy Stock Photo
Whenever the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire returned to the Imperial Castle, his arrival would be heralded by a procession, festive music and the ringing of bells. Now, in the Knight’s Hall you can see an animated version of the spectacular scene depicted above the windows. The castle in its current form was built in the 13th century. Wander around the lavish Imperial Hall, admire the views from the Sinwell Tower or peer 48m (158ft) into the Deep Well.
Learn about Nuremberg’s history at the Weinstadel
© RossHelen editorial / Alamy Stock Photo
A typical medieval wine warehouse, the Weinstadel was originally built to house lepers who were allowed into the city for three days at Easter to receive food, clothing and medical attention. Since then it’s been a wine store, workhouse, spinnery and, more recently, a student dorm. Today, you can take photos of the beautiful half-timbered building, which sits next to the covered walkway known as Hangman’s Bridge – built to protect the hangman from infection.
Peek inside Albrecht Dürer's House
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo
A recently restored building, the house of the Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer is now a museum dedicated to the artist’s life and work. His works are currently on display in every corner of the world, even on chocolate bars and currency. Dürer is widely regarded as having changed the course of art history in terms of his mania for perfection and bringing technology to the medium of engraving. The timber-framed house houses sketches and engravings by the man himself – it is definitely worth seeing.
See the former Nazi Party rally grounds
© Uwe Niklas / tourismus.nuernberg.de
This monstrous structure is what remains from the megalomania of the National Socialist regime. It was here that Adolf Hitler infamously held a series of Nazi party rallies between 1933 and 1938. The unfinished Congress Hall is a vivid reminder of the period, covering 11sqkm (4.2sqmi) and designed for 50,000 spectators. It even boasted barracks where sympathisers could stay for weekend-long rallies. Today, the grounds are widely explorable and represent one of the only remaining mass architectural pieces left intact after World War II.
Eat bratwurst at Zum Gulden Stern
Restaurant, German, $$$
© agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo
Considered the oldest bratwurst restaurant in the world, the sausage tradition here is unbeatable. Zum Gulden Stern offers incredible meals straight out of the Middle Ages, hand-crafted and made according to traditional recipes only. Without boiling the meat ahead of time, the fresh sausages are grilled here after being marinated, smoked and prepared at a special butcher. Expect sides of fasskraut, a mild, ready-to-serve sauerkraut, homemade potato salad and freshly grated horseradish or creamed horseradish.
Explore the medieval dungeons
© Christine Dierenbach / tourismus.nuernberg.de
For a more macabre outing, journey along the labyrinth of passageways that formed the jail in the 14th century for the city’s criminals who had been sentenced to death. The medieval prison consisted of 12 tiny 2m (6.6ft) cells and a torture chamber. Once your eyes adjust to the dark, you can still see the instruments of torture hanging on the walls, which were once used to stretch and strangle prisoners as they awaited their capital punishment.
Marvel at historic artefacts inside the Germanisches Nationalmuseum
© B.O'Kane / Alamy Stock Photo
The Germanic National Museum is a treasure trove of German culture. Covering four floors, it’s the largest of its kind. Combining art, culture and historical artefacts, the museum holds an eclectic mix of more than 22,000 delights from German-speaking regions – from Rembrandts and sculptures to a Stone-Age axe and a medieval Spanish boot used as a torture device to crush heads.
Admire the beautiful Lorenz Church
© dbimages / Alamy Stock Photo
With its huge copper spires and 80m (260ft) towers, it’s impossible to miss the formidable Lorenz Church as you walk through the old town. However, it’s well worth popping into the Gothic church to check out the medieval altars, the stunning 9m (30ft) rose window and the impressive collection of German artworks. The church organ, with its 12,000 pipes, is one of the largest in the world. If you’re lucky, you may get to hear it played, accompanied by the church choir.
Book dinner at the Heilig-Geist-Spital
Restaurant, German, $$$
© Raimund Kutter / Alamy Stock Photo
The Hospital of the Holy Spirit (Heilig-Geist-Spital) was established between 1332 and 1339 by the wealthy patrician Konrad Gross. Its purpose was taking care of the needy and elderly. During World War II, the hospital was bombarded almost to ashes, so it is a 1950s reconstruction that you will see today. It’s now a traditional restaurant, serving up sausages, potato dumplings and apple fritters, which can be washed down with a stein of beer.
Eliza Marin contributed additional reporting to this article.
These recommendations were updated on July 9, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.