If your holidays lead you to Nuremberg this season, what should you expect? There are numerous exciting things to do in Nuremberg, and we’ve just made that list available for you.
Nuremberg is known as a hub for science and technology advancement for a good reason. First, it was the first city in Europe to establish a printing press, and second, this was the place where Nicolaus Copernicus’s most famous (1543) astronomy studies took place.
And that’s not all. The city also doubles as German’s key center for culture and arts. It has a rich historical heritage, with lots of buildings in the Old Town dating back to the medieval era. Although many of these buildings were ruined during WWII, most of them have since been restored to their former glory.
But what exactly makes the city such a unique tourist attraction? What are some of the main things to do in Nuremberg that will make you want to come back next holiday?
While this Franconia capital city has been through numerous momentous global events, here are some cool things to do in Nuremberg, you’ll undoubtedly love.
Fun & Best Things to Do in Nuremberg, Germany
1. Visit the Nuremberg Castle
Also known as The Imperial Castle, Nuremberg Castle is considered to be one of the most formidable medieval fortifications in all of Europe, which is why this tops our list of the most exciting things to do in Nuremberg. And, joining a two-hour fun-walking tour (for a fee) of the Nuremberg Old town can better expose you to the beauty of this castle.
This remarkable 351-meter-tall fortress lies on the steep sandstone and cliffs, atop Nuremberg’s Altstadt on the northern side. It’s part of the Nuremberg Castle and remains one of Europe’s most important surviving medieval fortresses.
The castle was home to German Kings and Emperors between 1050 and 1571. This historical landmark also carried real power during the era of the Holy Roman Empire. And, there’s an observation platform on the top floor of the castle where you can go and marvel at the city’s best panoramic views. Be sure to spend some time at the Imperial Castle Museum to get a direct look into the history of the castle, which features artifacts, weapons, and historic documents.
The imperial court’s sessions were held in this castle. Also, there was an obligation by decree that required every newly-elected emperor to hold a first Imperial meal at Kaiserburg. One of the castle’s main highlights is the Keep, located at the circular Sinwell Tower dating back to the 14th century.
While here, consider getting a tour guide to Tiefer Brunnen. This is a 50-meter-deep well dug into the sandstone, shielded in a half-timbered house in the courtyard. People light candles when going down.
Also, be sure to check out the Palas quarters with its exceptional double chapel, where the castle’s official functions were mainly held. The Palas, dating back from the 13th century, were once ruined but have been rebuilt severally since medieval times.
During winter, this makes Nuremberg one of the best Christmas cities in Europe due to its beauty, charm, and amazing Christmas culture.
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2. Tour the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds
The Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds, called the Dokumentationszentrum Reichsparteitagsgelände in German, is one of the most important—and most challenging— museums in all of Nuremberg.
Due to its central location in the German-speaking world and the Holy Roman Empire’s status, Nuremberg was crucial to the Nazi regime (National Socialist regime) and became a center as the Nazi Party Rally Grounds.
The party, led by Adolf Hitler since 1921, had already chosen Nuremberg for their annual mass propaganda rallies even before they rose to power in 1933. They even built a congress hall in the city.
Today, the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds is a museum dedicated to the frank preservation of Germany’s troubling history during, and after, World War II. This museum seeks to specifically highlight the Nazi rally that took place in Nuremberg in the early 1900s that drew a crowd of nearly 1 million germans.
This congress hall, which has a modern metal-framed glass stake on the northern side, exhibits ‘fascination, and terror.’ When you get here, you’ll be taken through the causes, reality, as well as aftermath of the Nazi regime.
There are in-depth things to learn about the Nuremberg rallies and the architectural city plans. The context is provided by photographs, official documents, eyewitness interviews, and computer graphics.
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3. Check the Nuremberg Trials Memorial
One of the most important buildings in world history is located in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice. Courtroom 600 is where the Nuremberg Trials were held between 1945 and 1946. These were the trials where Nazi party leaders had to answer for their many crimes in front of a military tribunal, including popular figures like Hermann Göring.
Today, Courtroom 600 remains a functioning courtroom. It sees ongoing litigation for important issues that impact Germany and the rest of the world.
Above Courtroom 600 rests The Nuremberg Trials Memorial. This memorial is a small museum dedicated to those trials and how they went on to shape international criminal law.
In addition, the memorial houses biographies of the defendants as well as their crimes in addition to the history of the trials. There are also exhibits discussing how these trials laid the foundation for modern international relations.
The Nuremberg Trials Memorial is also a forward-facing institution looking at the world we live in today. You can find exhibits on modern issues, like combating far-right extremism, at the memorial.
Though still in use up to date, Courtroom 600 is usually free to visit when not in session, especially over the weekends. Saturday is the best time to visit, where English speakers can take you through an audio tour of these historic rooms.
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4. Stopover at the Schöner Brunnen Fountain
This 19-meter Gothic fountain is another of the fascinating medieval Nuremberg attractions. And, it certainly should be part of your things to see in Nuremberg. The fountain is located at the edge of the main market square, next to the town hall, and is one of the most beautiful Nuremberg tourist attractions.
This 14th-century fountain was crafted between 1385 and 1396 by a stonemason and architect Heinrich Beheim. It was designed like a Gothic church spire and contained 40 polychrome figures on four levels, which evoke a ‘worldview’ of the Holy Roman Empire.
At the bottom, there are statutes that represent the philosophy and the seven liberal arts, right below the four church fathers and four evangelists. Above them, there are Nine Worthies and seven Holy Roman electors who idealized legendary and historical personages.
At the top of the fountain sits Moses and the seven prophets. During WWII, this monument was wrapped in a concrete wall, and luckily it remained unscathed throughout the war period.
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5. Experience the Wild at the Nuremberg Zoo
You cannot plan to visit Nuremberg and fail to go to the Nuremberg Zoo. The 67-hectare zoo is one of the largest zoos in Europe and is home to approximately 300 animal species. The zoo is one of the great parts of what to see in Nuremberg.
This zoo’s setting lies in a former sandstone quarry, just a few kilometers east of Altstadt. The zoo hosts Siberian Tigers and Asiatic lions that inhabit the former stone pits. It also has numerous new enclosures, recently built for snow leopards, gorillas, and polar bears.
Today, the zoo welcomes more than one million visitors every year. One of the recent popular tourist attractions and international celebrities is the Flocke, a captive-born polar bear born here in December 2007.
The zoo also has vast landscaped environments where animals such as giraffes, bison, zebras, and deer live in semi-freedom. Snow leopards and maned wolves are allowed to explore the generous vast outdoor areas.
Another newer tourist attraction in this zoo is the bearded vulture. It lives in an enclosure within a 17-meter-high walk away. Make a point of visiting this place to get a bit of encounter with the beautiful wild nature.
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6. The Roman Catholic Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady)
Frauenkirche is another iconic cathedral located in the city of Nuremberg. This cathedral was completed in the 1300s and is one of the most prominent sites overlooking the town’s old market.
The church was almost entirely destroyed during a bombing raid during World War II. The entirety of the church was leveled except for two standing walls.
Reconstruction efforts began for Frauenkirche in the 1950s and weren’t completed until the 1990s. The church that stands today is a recreation of the historic building using those standing walls and materials that remained.
Frauenkirche is known for housing important medieval artworks and religious artifacts. The church makes a great place for tourists who are interested in checking out a unique piece of historical architecture as well as the art pieces it houses.
One of the best times of year for tourists to check out the church is by visiting during the yearly Christmas Market. The opening ceremony for the Christmas Market starts here and is a ceremony that you just won’t want to miss.
Like many historic churches and cathedrals throughout Germany, tourists are free to visit the church with a small suggested donation. You can find guided tours as well as guides on the historic artworks located within the church as well.
7. St. Sebaldus Church
Several medieval churches have also been historical landmarks and a large part of cultural history in Nuremberg, and St. Sebaldus Church is an excellent example of this. Built from 1225 to 1273, St. Sebaldus Church (Sebalduskirche) is a Gothic church divided into two halves.
The western side of the naves and towers is made of Romanesque and early Gothic from the 13th century. The eastern section containing the hall chancel is the late Gothic, erected 100 years later.
It’s named after Saint Sebald, who was a Nuremberg patron saint in the 8th century. In this church, you can view his tomb which was designed in 1510 by Peter Vischer, the Elder. And around the tomb, you’ll see the Early-Renaissance bronze figurines that depict some sections and scenes from his life.
There are several other works of art to view in St. Sebaldus Church, including the Tucher family epitaph, wood sculpture, and the stained glass windows by the Renaissance virtuoso Veit Stoss.
8. Attend a Nuremberg Festival
If your timing allows, plan to attend one of the many Nuremberg festivals. Two of my favorites include:
The International Organ Week/Europe’s Festival of Sacred Music
This is one of the oldest and most prominent festivals of sacred music that runs in Nuremberg annually, in May or June. It began in 1951, and it remains one of the biggest cultural festivals in Europe to date.
Originally, the organ music was played by the two large protestant old-town churches, St. Sebald and St. Lorenz. But now, other churches outside the old city walls and the Catholic Frauenkirche also takes part in it. Churches in the Franconia region, such as St. Gumbertus, were often also included.
When you visit Nuremberg, make a point of attending this enthralling festival.
Old Town Festival Musical and Folk Event
This is a two-week-long, tradition-filled musical festival exclusive to the city center of Nuremberg, taking place every autumn, and features at least 60 free-of-charge musical events. These include several folklore programs, the famous Hans-Sachs-Spiele theatre program, and the traditional fishermen’s jousting in boats on the River Pegnitz.
During the festival, they organize entertainment programs for the whole family. You can enjoy some of Nuremberg’s traditional culinary delights, drinks including newly pressed wines, and even rides for kids. The market is also usually open for all, and you can purchase arts and crafts souvenirs when there.
When planning your visit to Nuremberg, don’t miss these captivating events. All you’ll need is to sit back and relax as you enjoy the deep-rooted Franconian traditions.
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9. Learn Some History at the Germanic National Museum
Museums are great places worth a visit when you want to learn a bit of history. This Germanic National Museum is a kind of treasury for the German-speaking world. It has over 25,000 exhibits that help map the German cultural past.
However, you may have to plan ahead by a few hours or a day if you want to visit this complex. Some of the things to see at the German National Museum include medieval-period decorative items, armor, toys, scientific instruments, books, clothing, liturgical treasures, musical instruments, and prehistoric and ancient archaeology toys.
Some of the other remarkable art exhibits worth seeing include Dürer’s rhinoceros, Albrecht Dürer’s portrait of his mother, Rembrandt’s renowned Wide-Eyed Self-Portrait, and Lucas Cranach the Elder’s portrait of Martin Luther.
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10. Explore Albrecht Dürer’s House
A visit to Albrecht Dürer’s House is another excellent place to visit in the heart of Nuremberg’s Altstadt (Old Town). Seeing the work of this, arguably the greatest German painter that ever lived, shouldn’t miss in your things to do in Nuremberg.
He worked at framed townhouse timber from 1509 until his death in 1528. This is the only well-documented and recorded 15th-century artist’s house in Europe.
During WWII, Albrecht Dürer’s House was partly ruined but was soon restored. However, the reopening was delayed until 1971 during Dürer’s 500th birthday.
The rooms of this house are decorated with Albrecht Dürer’s rotating drawing exhibitions and period furniture. The Albrecht Dürer studio reconstruction demonstrates the unique printmaking techniques of the period.
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10. Visit the Hospital of the Holy Spirit
Established between 1332 and 1339, this is one of the largest medieval hospitals still standing. It was established by a wealthy patrician called Konrad Gross to help the elderly and the needy.
The hospital is also known as the largest private hospital institution, belonging to the Holy Roman Empire. It’s a key German tradition structure in Nuremberg.
Like many medieval structures, during WWII, this hospital was severely damaged. Luckily, it was rebuilt during the 1950s. Visiting it has been among the top things to do in Nuremberg for countless tourists, and you, too, should make it a priority.
11. Enjoy the Lively Nightlife
The nightlife is also very buzzing, with plenty of stuff to do in Nuremberg. The top things to do in Nuremberg at night include attending a movie theatre, in places like Cine Citta or the Admiral Film Palast.
Also, you may consider taking a Nuremberg red beer or any other drink as you dance the night in one of the vintage and modern bars.
This can be after you munch on the Nuremberg sausages or dig into their signature dish, schäufele, a marinated pork meat that has been baked for hours. It is tender and juicy and can be accompanied by mashed potatoes & salad.
12. Nuremberg Transport Museum
The Nuremberg Transport Museum is one of the top things to do in Nuremberg. It’s actually a joint venture formed by two separate museums. The DB Museum, now called The Company Museum of the Deutsche Bahn AG, is the official museum of Germany’s national railway company. The DB Museum has been recognized as one of the flagship institutions of European industrial cultural heritage.
The other half of the museum is the Museum of Communications. The Museum of Communications used to be a dedicated building for the Royal Bavarian Postal Museum, but they have since combined these museums into one attraction.
The Museum of Communications features some of Germany’s oldest historic records for communications technologies. You’ll be able to find everything from postal services delivered by horse-drawn coaches to modern satellites.
The Nuremberg Transport Museum is recognized as one of the oldest industrial museums in all of Europe. The history of this museum is now over a hundred years old.
13. Neues Museum Nürnberg
Nuremberg is a city with a deep and complicated history. However, some of the most interesting things to see and do in Nuremberg have only been built in the last several years.
The Neues Museum Nürnberg was only built in the 1990s making it one of the most modern attractions on this list. It’s a museum dedicated to modern art and cultural expression. If you’re getting a little tired of visiting historic landmarks, swing by this modern art museum to revive your senses.
Everything about the Neues Museum Nürnberg is exciting and new. The Neues Museum Nürnberg was designed by a contemporary architect looking to break from tradition and even features beekeeping on the roof. You can buy the honey known as “City Gold” in the gift shop.
The exhibits inside the Neues Museum Nürnberg range from paintings to sculptures, to avant-garde artistic expressions that are sure to get your curiosity sparked.
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14. Explore Hauptmarkt (Main Market)
The Hauptmarkt is one of the largest markets in Nuremberg and it’s located in the heart of the city. Whether you’re just passing through or you’re visiting Nuremberg for an extended vacation, no trip to this historic Bavarian city is complete without a trip to the Hauptmarkt.
The Hauptmarkt is primarily open during weekdays where you can find a bustling market full of international produce, cuisine, and products. The shops come to life with rare delicacies from all over Europe and indeed the world.
Shoppers at the Hauptmarkt are treated to a blend of Old World German history and cosmopolitan European flair right in the heart of the old town. You can shop for some souvenirs to take home from your trip or pick up ingredients for the night’s dinner.
No Bavarian market would be complete without some beer. The Hauptmarkt has no shortage of places to sample a variety of delicious German beers as well as wine.
Hauptmarkt sits nestled in one of Nuremberg’s best neighborhoods for fans of Gothic architecture. A stunning cathedral overlooks the market and walking down any of the money-side streets will take you on a tour of some of Nuremberg’s best historic architecture.
The best time of year to visit Hauptmarkt is during the Christmas season. Christmas markets are iconic all throughout Germany, but Hauptmarkt is one of the most impressive.
If you visit Hauptmarkt in time for the first advent, you can see the Nuremberg Christmas Angel which draws visitors from all over the world to this iconic market. No matter what time of year you visit the Hauptmarkt, you’re sure to have a shopping experience right out of the history books.
15. St. Lorenz Church
St. Lorenz Church (St. Lawrence Church) is a cathedral that was started in the 13th century and features some of the most stunning Gothic architecture in all of Nuremberg. St. Lorenz Church was under construction for a little over 200 years before it was completed in 1477.
The eastern side, which is in the German Gothic style, also called “Sondergotik,” went up in the 15th century. It was among the first churches to convert to Lutheran in 1525.
Like many of the buildings in Nuremberg, the church was heavily damaged during World War II. Historic preservation efforts after the war helped to save this building and restore it to its former status as the oldest of its 16 bells was even cast in the 1400s.
If that’s not enough historic wonder for you, the three-part pipe organ in the church is recognized as being one of the oldest in the entire world. It features 12,000 pipes and 165 registers.
St. Lorenz Church has many valuables that escaped the iconoclasm of the period, as the wealthy patron that lived then helped look after the artworks. Some of the most valuable artifacts include the Angelic Salutation by Veit Stoss Renaissance and a stunning tabernacle by Adam Kraft, another renowned sculptor of the time.
Visitors are free to enter the church as they choose and you can even take a guided tour of one of its towers.
16. Visit the Toy Museum
If you are looking for the best things to do in Nuremberg with kids, be sure to visit the Toy Museum in heart of Old Town. The Nuremberg Toy Museum offers a vast collection of toys and is home to more than 805,000 toys worldwide. The collection stretches from ancient times to the modern days of the world.
Permanent exhibitions include wooden toys, dollhouses, and a number of other moving toys like trains and cars. You’ll get a glimpse of German culture and its excellence in toy-making of the past as well as the present. Visitors are also rewarded with games, crafts, and reading books. In the summer you can relax in a café outside watching model trains.
What is Nuremberg known for?
Nuremberg (Nürnberg) has a rich history that varies from centuries ago during the Holy Roman Empire to recent centuries as a major hub for the Nazi Party rally grounds. When visiting, you can see the history of the middle ages as evidenced by the old city walls that surround the old town.
In addition, Nuremberg has been a major commercial and economic center since the Middle Ages and its rich heritage remains visible today.
Is Nuremberg worth visiting?
Yeah, Nuremberg is an interesting place to visit with plenty to see. Nuremberg’s history is extensive and the city features ornate architecture from the Middle Ages and the Holy Roman Empire. In addition, Nuremberg offers excellent traditional cultural experiences such as Oktoberfest, one of the best Christmas markets in Germany, and the Old Town Festival Musical and Folk Event.
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