Nuremberg (also known as Nürnberg in German) is one of those big underrated cities people tend to oversee during their trips to Bavaria. During their day trip to Nuremberg, they explore the popular World War II sites, roam the contemporary history-filled streets but rarely give further thought to what happened in Nuremberg the centuries before.
Maybe due to a lack of information? I doubt it. Or perhaps the representative aspect of its recent history? I mean, Nuremberg has had its fair share of drama since its founding back in the year 1050 A.C. after all!
Anyhow, even if all you can do is take a day trip to Nuremberg, the (unofficial) Franconian capital is worth a visit and not only for all the WWII sites. Besides its gastronomic delicacies (hello, 3 im Weckla!) and the stunning historical city centre, the richness of its culture and history will be like a breath of fresh air.
But before I get started with this mini guide on making the most of your next day-trip to the Franconian capital and tell you more about all the things to do in Nuremberg, I want to ask you to please forget whatever you’ve heard so far about Nuremberg. Jump on your train with a clean fresh mind, let Nuremberg surprise you, enamore you, show you her true beauty. That being said, let’s get started!
THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN ONE DAY IN NUREMBERG
First of all, most of what you’ll see in the old town of Nuremberg is fairly, unfortunately, fairly new in spite of its looks. The city was one of the strategic centres of the Nazi regime, due to that as well as being considered the “most German city in Germany”, towards the end of World War II, the Allies bombed the Franconian city destroying it almost to its entirety.
However, when decision time came as to how the city should be rebuilt, lucky us, they decided to rebuild it in its historical style, in order to preserve a bit of its original flair. Needless to say, they did a fantastic job. However, this also means that the old traditional-looking area of the city is small. This also makes Nuremberg a very walkable city. This means, you probably won’t need to worry about buying a public transit ticket, as you’ll probably end up walking everywhere anyway.
That being said, walking around is -in my opinion- the best way to explore Nuremberg, so why not start your visit with one of the many themed walking tours of the city? These tours are an affordable yet effective way to make yourself acquainted with a new city at a much slower pace than the usual hop-on-hop-off buses and organised trips, and you usually come out with awesome tips on where to go from a local’s perspective. And, if you do your homework ahead of time, it is also a great way to support small local businesses.
During my last trip to Nuremberg, I found The Original Nuremberg Free Walking Tours (not sponsored, just loved the tour), a free walking tour company founded in 2016 by students in Nuremberg. They currently have a friendly staff of 10 and daily walking tours in 3 different languages (Spanish, English and German).
All tours are guided by locals who live and breathe Nuremberg, each of them with his/her own approach to making their tours the best experience for their guests. Our guide Gabi wasn’t only very knowledgeable and attentive, she made the 2.5 hours in the cold and rainy December weather an unforgettable experience. Hands down one of the best walking tours I’ve done in a very long time.
When your walking tour comes to an end, you should be able to find your way around Nuremberg fairly easily without a map and know where all highlights in town are.
If the weather is nice, grab a 3 im Weckla (a typical snack consisting of 3 Nuremberger Sausages in a bun) from one of the stands in town and sit at one of the many benches around the old town to decide where to go next from all the things to do in Nuremberg.
You can either decide to go back to any of the places you visited with your tour, like the market square to check the “Schöner Brunnen” in more detail and take a look at the churches, or pay a visit to the Human Rights Road and its neighbouring Germanisches Nationalmuseum (the largest museum of cultural history in the German-speaking region), or maybe you can go back to the castle and take in the views over the city.
Oh and let’s not forget learning all about the city’s prodigal child, Albrecht Dürer, the worldwide renowned artist. Born in Nuremberg, he went on to hone his craft in popular European lands where he was invited by the rich and the famous of the epoch but eventually returned to his hometown where he is now beloved like no other.
As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Nuremberg besides learning about World War II and visiting the sites in the area, so do not let “stereotypes” and assumptions stop you from taking a day trip to Nuremberg.
Anyhow, whether you are in Nuremberg on a day trip or as part of a longer visit through Bavaria, I’d highly recommend at least spending a night in the city to make the most of your time here. As I usually travel by train, I personally love arriving the night before I plan on visiting a place. Spending the night at one of the many available hotels and hostels in town allows me to get up early and beat the masses that will highly likely arrive later in the day. My favourite hotel in Nuremberg and one I keep on going back to whenever I’m around is the Five Reasons Hotel and Hostel. It is clean and affordable and the staff are friendly and welcoming.
And while you are in the area, why not go on a hike?