How To Spend A Weekend In Nuremberg

Fresh back from a weekend in Nuremberg and I don't think there are sufficient adjectives in my vocabulary to express how much this city captured my heart {but I'll give it a good try, anyway!}.

It might seem quite a random choice over the more popular German destinations of Berlin, Hamburg or Munich, but for the first time since getting married and having children I was going to be travelling alone. I fancied somewhere that ticked all my boxes: cultural, historical, beautiful and with great food and coffee - but with the added bonus of being safe and easily navigable. Nuremberg {or Nürnberg to the locals} offered all of the above but with an extra shot of unexpected cool.   

 Make sure you look up, as well as ahead, when strolling Nuremberg's beautiful streets!

Make sure you look up, as well as ahead, when strolling Nuremberg's beautiful streets!

One of my favourite things to do in a new city is to aimlessly wander the streets, without a map, getting lost in its soul. The elegant Altstadt (old town) of Nuremberg is a city within a city and you can easily spend a full day meandering its quaint narrow streets just observing the beauty all around you.

Pretty pastel buildings abound, in shades of mint, apricot, pink and lemon alongside the archetypal German timber-framed structures that spring to mind when you picture Bavaria.

Around every corner is a surprise - whether you turn left at the bottom of Königstraße and are struck by the juxtaposition of the red-bricked city walls and Königstor Tower with the ultra modern, curved glass facade of the Neues Museum - or, you are strolling along Maxplatz after having stood and observed the view from the Maxbrücke, where the English romantic artist JMW Turner sketched his interpretation of the Pegnitz River, and happen to look right. I had my sights set on a modern looking café with dangling pendant lights in the window to get my next caffeine fix {Bergbrand} and just as I was walking towards it, looked to my right and there was Weißgerbergasse in all its timber bedecked glory.

It literally took my breath away.  

 Gloriously coloured Schöner Brunnen - find the golden ring and let your wishes come true!

Gloriously coloured Schöner Brunnen - find the golden ring and let your wishes come true!

What To Do

The Altstadt is best to explore on foot.

Starting at the Hauptbahnhof, cross the road and check out the Tourist Information Centre before heading up the old town's main thoroughfare, Königstraße. This first stretch might feel like a British high street with a Teutonic twist, but trust me - as soon as you reach Lorenzer Platz you will be blown away by the view of the Kaiserburg on the horizon {this is even more spectacular at night with the Imperial Castle atop the hill standing proudly illuminated!}. 

To your right will be Lorenzkirche, an imposing Gothic church, and you will be amidst the hustle and bustle of a young, vibrant city with shoppers and students visiting the market stalls and food trucks. Continuing on to Museumsbrücke, again pause and just take in the view of the river, resplendent with ornate bridges, on both sides.

 View from Museumbrücke of the Pegnitz river

View from Museumbrücke of the Pegnitz river

As you wind gently downhill, you'll reach Hauptmarkt, site of Nuremberg's world famous Christkindlesmarkt. The beautiful Catholic Frauenkirche frames the eastern side of the square, with its ornate Männleinlaufen. This was the first Gothic church in Franconia, and every day at noon, the seven 'running men' on the mechanical clock pay homage to Emperor Karl IV accompanied by glockenspiel bells.

 Männleinlaufen - Frauenkirche at the Hauptmarkt

Männleinlaufen - Frauenkirche at the Hauptmarkt

In the opposite corner of the square lies the Schöner Brunnen, a colourfully gilded representation of the world-view of the Holy Roman Empire. Make sure you find the brass ring in the railings and give it three spins - it is supposed to bring good fortune!

 Schöner Brunnen in the Hauptmarkt

Schöner Brunnen in the Hauptmarkt

From the fountain, you can see the Sebalduskirche ahead on the left and the Rathaus (town hall) on your right. As you walk by, if you start to bear left and venture uphill, through Albrecht Dürer Platz, and on to Beim Tiergärtnertor you will be greeted with the residence of the greatest German Renaissance artist: Albrecht Dürer. The quaint, half-timbered house is now a museum, but I'd say it is just as remarkable from the outside as one of only a few examples of architecture to have survived the Allied destruction of Nuremberg in the Second World War!

Zum Dürerhaus
 The house of Albrecht Dürer {now a museum} near the Imperial Castle

The house of Albrecht Dürer {now a museum} near the Imperial Castle

The medieval Imperial Castle is a short climb from here, affording a magnificent panorama of the rooftops and skyline of modern Nuremberg and across to its little sister city, Fürth. The Imperial Castle Museum outlines the castle's history, from medieval weaponry to a collection of photographs illustrating the damage from the war. Plan to spend at least an hour here, both in the castle itself and the gardens, and make sure to check out the spectacular view from the Sinwell Tower.

Imperial Castle Nuremberg
Rooftops of Nuremberg
Kaiserburg gate Nuremberg
Sinwell Tower Kaiserburg Nuremberg
Nuremberg skyline

After the castle, it is fortunately all downhill - in the literal, rather than metaphorical sense. I'd truly recommend approaching Weißgerbergasse from the bottom of the cobbled lane to take in the beauty and get that all important Instagram shot!

 Weißgerbergasse

Weißgerbergasse

Windows of Weißgerbergasse
Icon Weißgerbergasse

From here, it is a lovely walk crossing the river and exploring the eclectic boutiques of Trödelmarkt. Admiring the leather goods, jewellery and artisan chocolates on offer you'd be hard pressed to imagine that this was once a trading area for junk!

Pegnitz River Nuremberg

As you cross the bridge leading to the south of the Altstadt again, follow the pedestrianised shopping streets until you reach the Weisser Turm. Although this tower - housing a U-bahn station - is beautiful in its own right, it was the astonishingly grotesque sculpture outside that really captured my imagination.

 Ehekarussell sculpture outside the Weisser Turm

Ehekarussell sculpture outside the Weisser Turm

The ugliness of the bronze Ehekarussell draws you in, intrigued to learn more. It depicts a pessimistic view of the sanctity of marriage, from the lustful first flush of young love to eventual death-do-us-part. Created in the 1980s by sculptor Jürgen Weber, I suspect this could be a locally divisive installation as it is seemingly at odds with Nuremberg's traditionally ornamental landmarks and buildings. I actually found it quite thought-provoking and came away with an appreciation for its jolie laide and a desire to seek out the poem that inspired it: "Bittersweet Married Life", by Hans Sachs (1541).

In all, this wandering journey has most likely taken a full day. Of course, Nuremberg has so much more to offer in terms of museums, galleries and parks and I've future posts planned on both that and the full day I spent exploring Nuremberg's Nazi heritage and legacy. After all, Nuremberg was notoriously labelled "the most German of German cities" and represents not only the rise of National Socialism in Germany in the 1930s, but the aftermath of the Second World War, too. 

 Entrance to the Palace of Justice, with its famed courtroom that was the site of the Nuremberg Trials after the Second World War

Entrance to the Palace of Justice, with its famed courtroom that was the site of the Nuremberg Trials after the Second World War

How To Get There // How To Get Around

I flew with Ryanair from Manchester, where a return flight can cost as little as £30. From the airport, the U2 driverless train delivers you to the Hauptbahnhof in precisely 12 minutes, for the grand sum of €2,50. I used the Nürnberg Card* to get around the city; for just €28 this gives you unlimited travel on transport in Nuremberg, Fürth and Stein for two days, plus free admission to all museums and the zoo. The transport infrastructure is excellent, with well-sited U-bahn stations, trams and S-bahn trains offering a frequent service; the metropolitan area of Nuremberg is your oyster!

U-Bahn Nuremberg

I really enjoyed my short break in Nuremberg and I certainly don't think it will be the last time that our paths cross!

Carly xo

Disclaimer: *My stay in Nuremberg was supported by the Nuremberg Convention & Tourist Office (tourismus.nuernberg.de). I received a Nürnberg Card, which facilitated my travel around the region and gave me free access to all museums and attractions. I also kindly received a meal voucher from the Tourist Office and my accommodation was courtesy of Five Reasons Hotel & Hostel in exchange for a mention on this post. All thoughts, words and photographs are my own.*


Enjoy this post? Check out my other German city guides: Hamburg, Berlin and a Berlin coffee guide!



 

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How to spend a weekend in Nuremberg, Germany