Nuremberg is a large city that feels like a small one, and it has plenty to do for all kinds of visitors. It’s a hub for business travellers and caters well to leisure tourists, with a range of focuses that makes it easy to fill several days — the only problem is deciding what to leave out. If you only have a day in Nuremberg, you’re spoilt for choice for what to do!
Many people automatically associate the name “Nuremberg” with the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war criminals after the Second World War. This is an important part of the city’s history, and a visit to the courtroom where the trial took place is worth doing if you’re a history buff. But Nuremberg was also an important Nazi city during the war; it was the site of eight Nazi party rallies from 1927 to 1938, and the Congress Hall at the Rally Grounds hosts an excellent museum that’s an essential stop for anyone interested in history.
The museum is a 15-minute bus trip from the central city and requires about 90 minutes to explore; add on a self-guided walking tour of the Rally Grounds (90 minutes) and you’ve got an itinerary for the whole morning.
After lunch, visit the Memorium Nuremberg Trials in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice; if a trial isn’t in session you might be able to see the courtroom itself. If not, you can learn every detail of how the trail progressed in the museum on the third floor.
You’ll find references to the war all over Nuremberg, especially in museums: for example, the DB Railway Museum includes a good display of how the railways were used during the war, the tour of the city’s cellars mentions how they were used as shelters; even the Fembo house, which focuses on earlier history, can’t avoid a mention of how 90% of the city was destroyed by Allied bombs.
Art in Nuremberg
Nuremberg seems to be packed with art galleries of every type, and you can easily fill a day just by visiting the ones that catch your attention: head to the ArtCultureQuarter for the Gallery of Contemporary Art; the New Museum for Art and Design is a ten-minute walk away. Between the two, you’ll find the impressive Germanisches Nationalmuseum, which is home to many Rembrandt prints (and several original paintings) as well as masterpieces by the city’s own Albrecht Dürer. Make sure to see the two oldest surviving globes in the world while you’re there — they’re incredible.
After lunch, walk through the city towards the castle until you reach Bergstrasse. There you can join a 2.30pm tour of the underground bunker used for storing artwork during the Second World War. The tour’s in German but you’ll be given an information booklet to read as the guide speaks; apparently audioguides are on order.
After the tour, head around the corner to Albrecht Dürer’s house. This closes at 5pm during the week (8pm on Thursdays), but an hour is enough time to see it all and learn a lot about the famous artist and life in the early 1500s — though how long you’re there really depends on how much time you spend playing with the multimedia touchscreens.
Although most well known for its role in the Second World War, Nuremberg’s history goes back a lot further than that. Start your day at the Fembo House near the Hauptplatz for a good overview of the development of the city as a whole as well as a look at how the house itself changed through time.
Then visit Albrecht Dürer’s House to see what life was like in the 1500s, or head underground to see a different side of the city. A tour of the rock-cut cellars runs every two hours from 11am to 5pm and audio guides are provided for non-German-speaking participants. If you want to know about the history of the castle and its fortifications, though, do the Casemates and Water Supply Conduit tour — this runs at 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm and you’ll have to read the notes provided if you can’t understand the German-speaking guide.
Of course Second World War history is important too, so spend the afternoon at the Rally Grounds mentioned above. If you’ve already seen enough about the war, you could go to the medieval dungeons in the town hall or visit the Museum of Industrial Culture; this documents the industrialisation of Nuremberg over the past two hundred years.
Nuremberg family day
If you’re travelling with kids, it’s easy to plan a great day for the whole family in Nuremberg. Of course it will all depend on what your children are interested in, but they’ll probably love riding the small train at the DB Railway Museum or watching the model railway run. The toy museum is worth a stop for its kids’ area on the roof floor, and there’s also a Children and Young Person’s Museum with hands-on exhibits — this is only open at the weekends, though.
Pack a picnic lunch and hop on tram 5 to the zoo; there are plenty of places to eat before or after you check out the animals (the manatees are particularly cool). At the back of the complex is a kids’ area with a large playground and signs geared towards children.
Nuremberg hasn’t traditionally been a shopping mecca, but in recent years this has started to change. Now, boutiques and specialist shops have started to spring up in back streets and you’re sure to find something unique.
As much of the central city is pedestrianised, it’s easy to stop in at shops that catch your attention. Start in the Hauptplatz for its daily open-air market, then as you walk along Konigstrasse towards the river you’ll find a lot of small stalls selling bags and scarves. Continue along Konigstrasse and you’ll reach Lorenzerplatz, which houses one of Nuremberg’s largest churches; turn right here along Karolinenstrasse for a long pedestrianised street lined with international shops.
If you’re after more unique options, you’ll have to move around a bit. From Weisser Turm (where you’ll end up after walking along Karolinenstrasse), aim for the Maxbrucke to cross the river again. Near the bridge is the Unschlittplatz (Tallow Square) as well as the Obere Wörthstrasse, which has become popular places for small shop holders to set up. Not far over the river you’ll find Weißgerbergasse (Tanner’s Lane), whose name testifies to its past — luckily it’s not as smelly now! The area around the castle also is also a good place to explore.
Whatever you choose to do, the charming German city of Nuremberg is sure to leave you wishing you had more time to spend there.