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 secondly, it’s 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 has been through numerous momentous global events, here are some cool things to do in Nuremberg, you’ll undoubtedly love.
Top Things to Do in Nuremberg and Its Surroundings
1. Visit the Kaiserburg Castle
Visiting the Kaiserburg Castle 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 the 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.
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, was once ruined but has been rebuilt severally since medieval times.
2. Tour the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds
Due to its central location in the German-speaking world and the Holy Roman Empire’s status, Nuremberg was crucial to the National Socialist regime.
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.
This 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 the 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.
3. Check the Nuremberg Trials Memorial
This includes touring Courtroom 600 at the Justizpalast. Though still in use up to date, the 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. The courtroom is where the high-ranking Nazis faced justice between 1945 and 1949 and is also where popular figures like Hermann Göring were tried.
The courthouses’ top floor has been converted into a museum about the Nuremberg Trials. In the museum, you’ll learn more about the defendants, their crimes, and how this process had a lasting impact on international criminal law.
4. Stopover at the Schöner Brunnen Fountain
This 19-meter Gothic fountain is another one 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.
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 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 the 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 celebrity 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 with a 17 meter-high walkaway.
Make a point of visiting this place to get a bit of encounter with the beautiful wild nature.
6. Tour the Medieval Churches
Various Churches have also been historical landmarks in Nuremberg. Two of the most common ones include:
St. Sebaldus Church
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 that 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 this church, including the Tucher family epitaph, wood sculpture, and the stained glass windows by the Renaissance virtuoso Veit Stoss.
St. Lorenz church was started in the 13th century and was later given a hall chancel. 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.
The 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.
7. Attend the Nuremberg’s Festivals
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 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, Germany, 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 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 the Nuremberg 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.
8. Learn Some History at the Germanisches 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 in this Nuremberg museum include medieval period decorative items, armor, toys, scientific instruments, books, clothing, liturgical treasures, musical instruments, 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.
9. Explore the Artist Albrecht Dürer’s Haus
A visit to Albrecht Dürer’s House is another excellent idea. 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 located in Dürer’s House Nuremberg from 1509 until his death in 1528. This is the only recorded 15th-century artist house in Europe.
During WWII, this five-story building 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 Dürer’s rotating drawing exhibitions and period furniture. Dürer studio reconstruction demonstrates the unique printmaking techniques of the period.
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 went down into ashes. 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 in Nuremberg, Germany
The nightlife is also very buzzing, with plenty of stuff to do in Nuremberg. Top on things to do in Nuremberg at night includes 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 the Nuremberg sausages or dig into their signature dish, schäufele, a marinated pork meat which has been baked for hours. It is tender and juicy and can be accompanied by mashed potatoes & salad.