Before visiting, the only thing I knew about Nuremberg was that it was home of the Nuremberg Trials that followed the end of WWII. I wasn’t even sure if there was anything else to do in Nuremberg. But turns out, there’s quite a lot going on!
Nuremberg, Germany has never been high on my travel bucket list. But when I found out it’s only a couple hours from Prague on the train, I figured we should pop by for a visit. But what is there to do in Nuremberg?
I’m glad I got to find out! We spent five nights in Nuremberg which included two day trips. While we managed to do a lot on our days, I think you could also squeeze the highlights into just a weekend.
What struck me most about Nuremberg is how it balances a dark history (it was a beloved Nazi city) with a lighter, more tourist-friendly, atmosphere. The contrast is really stark and I think it’s an important and interesting thing to see in modern-day Germany. I really respect how Germany doesn’t cover up their history as they are true believers in “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” But I think they are also proud of other things their cities have to offer.
What is there to do in Nuremberg? Wonder no longer!
Learn about the Nuremberg Trials at the Nuremberg Memorial
Of course, the number one thing to do in Nuremberg is all about what the city is most well known for: the Nuremberg Trials. If you need a quick history refresher, the Nuremberg Trials were a series of military tribunals held after World War II by the Allied forces in Nuremberg, Germany. The point of these trials was to hold Nazi leadership accountable for their roles in the Holocaust and other war crimes.
To learn more about these famous trials, you’ll need to visit the Nuremberg Memorial (or Memorium Nuremberg Trials). This museum is on the top floor of the courthouse where the 1945 trials took place and you can even visit the very same courtroom. Fun fact: The courtroom is still used today!
My best advice for your visit would be to go on the guided tour and to visit on a weekend. On the weekend, you can actually go into Courtroom 600, since judges aren’t working on the weekend. If you visit on a weekday, the courtroom may or may not be in use. If it is in use, you won’t be able to enter (although there is a small viewing window). As well, the English tour is only offered on Saturdays at 2:00 PM (check the website for up to date info).
I would definitely recommend the guided tour, as it’s a really good way to learn more about the history. The museum itself is quite compact and almost all of the writing is in German. If you can’t make the guided tour, there are audio guides available. You’ll need one unless you can read German!
The highlight of the tour is definitely going into Courtroom 600, especially after you’ve learned all about the trials from your guide. Without it, the museum doesn’t have a lot of artifacts to see. Our guide did let us know that they’re redoing the museum by 2025, so maybe more will be on offer then.
Even though the actual museum is lacking, I still think it’s a very worthwhile visit. To stand in the same spot where these historic trials took place is very moving. We learned a lot about the trials and I was most impressed by how quickly the trials took place. The war ended in September 1945 and the trials began in November, just two months later. Our guide explained how this was the first tribunal of its kind and it was hard to know how to try people because the crimes just did not exist (i.e. you can’t charge someone for murder during a war). It’s a fascinating history lesson and I highly recommend it!
Wander down fairytale lane
On the opposite side of the spectrum, you’ll definitely want to wander down Weissgerbergasse. Seeing these adorable, timber houses was one of my favourite things to do in Nuremberg. I’m a sucker for a cute house and a street that looks like it’s part of a fairytale. Seriously, these looked like gingerbread houses come to life!
Sadly, the street isn’t as long as I had hoped. I wanted the cute houses to go on forever! But it’s definitely worth a stroll. Try to go early in the day so you can photograph the picturesque street without too many other tourists in your shots.
Admire the churches
One of my favourite things about Europe is all of the beautiful churches. And they just seem so run of the mill! It’s like there’s a stunning church on every block and none of the locals even seem to notice. But they always blow me away.
The first church we checked out was St. Lorenz, as it was the closest to our hotel. And, in my opinion, it was the most impressive. I loved walking towards it on the pedestrian streets as it loomed in the distance. The ornate facade was beautiful and the inside was very pretty too. We even saw a wedding take place while we were there, which was cool.
Next up was Frauenkirche or Church of our Lady. This is another impressive church in a beautiful square in Nuremberg, Hauptmarkt. We didn’t go in, but I’m sure it was just as lovely on the inside. And right across from it was a stunning golden fountain, Schöner Brunnen.
Lastly, we popped into St. Sebald or Sebalduskirche. I really liked the look of this church on the inside and it had a very cool art piece on its door. We also happened to be in town during a harvest festival of sorts as all of the churches had huge offerings of food by the altar.
My rule in Europe? If you pass a church, take a moment to appreciate it. Even if you’re not religious, the building itself, both inside and out, is always impressive.
Visit the Nazi Rally Grounds
Okay, we’re back to the dark history. In Hitler’s time, Nuremberg was designated as one of five Führer cities. It was the site of the Nazi party’s annual rallies from 1923 to 1938. Over one million people attended the final and largest rally in 1938.
Today, the rally grounds still stand and, in my opinion, a visit is one of the most important things to do in Nuremberg. Start your visit at the Documentation Center. This building was first constructed as a gathering place for the Nazi party. In 2001, it was converted into a museum.
The Documentation Center is an extremely comprehensive look at not just Nazism in Nuremberg but all of the events that lead to Hitler’s rise, the war, bombings in Nuremberg and more. To be honest, it’s exhausting to try and look at every part of each exhibit or to even listen to each audio guide entry along the way. Give yourself lots of time to take in as much as you can.
During your time in the museum, you’ll have a chance to go out onto a platform and see the arena the Nazis were building. When we were visiting, there was also a very moving art piece by the German railway company on display.
Once you finish learning all about the history, it’s time to see it in person. From the Documentation Center, you can walk along the lake until you get to the grandstand at the Zeppelinfeld, where the actual rallies took place. The bizarre thing about this journey is that the lake is so peaceful and beautiful. It’s another example of the contrast I saw a lot of in Nuremberg (and in Munich). There are people out for a romantic stroll just blocks away from where Hitler used to give his speeches. Even weirder? There was a circus set up right behind the Documentation Center.
Once at the site of the rallies, it’s a lot to take in. I was surprised that not only can you see the giant platform where Hitler stood, but you can actually walk all over it. It felt very eerie to stand in the exact spot where Hitler addressed his crowds. It’s one of the most real moments of history I have ever experienced.
Colin and I were understandably somber during our visit. I took some photos, but none of us posing or anything like that. To us, this place was historic and very sad. The story of those Nazi rally grounds is an ugly one and it’s hard to think how a place like that should be treated. Some are in favour of taking down the structure while others want to preserve it. And then there were our fellow visitors. A few people were chatting on their phones or taking selfies on the platform. And there were even some locals who now use the platform steps as exercise!
Walk the Old Town
One of the nicest things to do in Nuremberg is just stroll through the Old Town. When you first emerge from the train station, you’ll pass through a teeny little village that looks like something out of the middle ages. This area is obviously touristy but it’s worth a quick walk and peep into the shops and restaurants.
Most of the Old Town is pedestrian friendly and it’s quite walkable. It extends to either side of the Pegnitz River, so you’ll also enjoy a picturesque walk along the water. Be sure to visit the Weinstadel area with a beautiful bridge over the river.
You can check out the churches I mentioned above and the large gold fountain, Schöner Brunnen. You can also visit Albrecht Dürer’s House, the house of a famous German artist that now holds his artwork and is one of the few structures in Nuremberg that wasn’t destroyed in WWII. We didn’t go in (as we’re not really artsy people) but we admired the house and the Tiergärtnertor area nearby.
Another place we didn’t make it to was the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg. I can’t remember if it was either closed for renovations, we had read bad reviews or we couldn’t justify the ticket price, but we did decide to skip it. It is a popular place to visit in Nuremberg so if you’ve been, let me know if it’s worth it!
Have some delicious meals
If you know me, you know that German food is not my favourite cuisine. I’m not really a fan of sausages, breaded meats, heavy carbs and no vegetables (the same reasons I don’t love Czech food). So when I say that you can have some great food in Nuremberg, I mean non-German food!
On our first night, we ate at Travolta, a really fun Italian restaurant. The place was really bumping and we were lucky to get a table. They even let Ellie come in and eat with us, and she wasn’t the only dog there. We had pizza and pasta and it was all delicious! Of course, not as good as the food in Italy, but a decent substitute.
But my favourite meal of ours in Nuremberg was at LeBar. You probably can’t tell from the name but LeBar is actually an Indian restaurant, or maybe an Indian fusion restaurant is a more apt description. This place has dark lighting, super cool decor, crazy giant drinks and is definitely not the place you think would serve Indian food. If this gives you any idea of the ambiance, they played “Pony” by Ginuwine three times during our 1.5 hour dinner (and you better believe I danced and sang along each time).
But awesome music aside, the food was amazing too! Not the cheapest eat in Nuremberg but the most delicious and fun by my standards!
Other notable eateries would be Bruderherz – Brauwerkstatt Restaurant Stadthotel, which was right next to our hotel and had a really good salad (so good I ordered one to eat and another to go!); Wonder Waffel, a cute dessert shop with fun waffle creations and an employee who was in love with Ellie; and Restaurant im Literaturhaus, which had a pretty great brunch spread, though the service was not my favourite.
Take a trip to Bamberg
Technically this isn’t something to do in Nuremberg, but it is something to do real close by! On one of our days in Nuremberg, we decided to take a half day trip to Bamberg, to get our fix of adorable German towns. I originally wanted us to go to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but it was going to involve changing trains two times. Bamberg, on the other hand, is actually accessible via Nuremberg’s local train.
So to get there, we took Nuremberg’s S Bahn (local transit) and the ride out to Bamberg took about an hour. You can get there faster, in 30 minutes, on one of the national railway trains but we decided to take the longer route and save some money. We bought one multi-person day pass for the S Bahn, costing us 20 euro total, instead of buying train tickets for 20 euro per person per way, which would have cost us 80 euro total!
From the train station, it’s a bit of trek to get to the cute part of Bamberg but once you get there, it’s well worth it. We spent our time checking out the cathedral on the hill and nearby courtyards, eating lunch at a cute cafe (that unfortunately overdid it with their space heaters), strolling around the town centre (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and visiting the iconic Altes Rathaus (Bamberg’s old town hall that juts out over the river).
Bamberg was a great place to spend half the day – it was super scenic and there were lots of dogs there too! I would definitely recommend it if you’re wondering what else to do in Nuremberg once you finish exploring the central part of the city.
Enjoy the largest Christmas Market
Of course, one of the most well known things to do in Nuremberg is visit the Nuremberg Christmas Market. Nuremberg actually holds the record for largest Christmas Market, so it’s certainly something to behold.
We visited in October, so there was no Christmas Market for us. But we are hoping to swing back again in December!
What is there to do in Nuremberg? Bonus: Munich day trip!
Here’s a bonus idea for what to do in Nuremberg, since it’s really not close enough to the city to count. But it’s super easy to visit Munich from Nuremberg. The train ride only takes one hour, so you can easily spend a day in Munich during your visit to Nuremberg. In fact, that’s how we managed to hit Oktoberfest! But more on that in a future blog post – stay tuned!
And those are my suggestions for what to do in Nuremberg. What do you think? Will you be adding Nuremberg to your must-visit list?