A Perfect Day in Nuremberg Old Town, Germany: Itinerary & Self-Guided Walking Tour

Are you spending a day in Nuremberg Old Town (Nürnberg Altstadt)?

Then you’ve come to the right place. I have visited this gorgeous German city, my firsthand experience can help you make the most of your time there.

Whether you are visiting on a day trip from Munich or Frankfurt or are staying overnight, have the best time ever with my tried and tested Nuremberg itinerary. I’ll walk you through the best things to to see and do, there’s a map to use as a self-guided walking tour and recommendations for where to stay and eat.

stone bridge in nuremberg old town

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What is Nuremberg Famous for?

Nuremberg is Bavaria’s second-biggest city and is home to magnificent medieval buildings, a thousand-year-old castle and Germany’s tiniest bratwurst. It is also the setting for one of the country’s biggest and best Christmas markets.

But this former stronghold of the Holy Roman Empire is perhaps best known for its dark Nazi past, as the city where Hitler liked to throw a party.

NUREMBERG CHRISTMAS MARKET

In 2023, Nuremberg Christmas Market will be open from 1st – 24th December.

How Many Days Do You Need in Nuremberg?

You can hit the highlights of the Old Town in one day. But ideally, you should plan at least two days in Nuremberg, especially if you are planning to visit the World War 2 and Nazi sites outside the Altstadt.

I stayed here for five nights, which allowed me to take day trips by train from Nuremberg to Bamberg and Rothenburg.

Planning Nuremberg Old Town Itinerary

It’s a breeze to explore the best of Old Town Nuremberg in one day. The main sights in town are conveniently located on and around Königstrasse, the main thoroughfare that connects the medieval Königstor gate with the castle.

If you are a day-tripper, Nuremberg train station is opposite the Königstor gate. Just follow the signs for Altstadt from the railway station.

Nuremberg is a very walkable city. Unless you are planning to visit the World War II sites (more about those later), navigating the city on foot is your best bet.

I recommend starting your day at the Königstor gate and working your way slowly north to the castle, taking in the Old Town’s highlights as you go.

With the exception of the WW2 sites, most of Nuremberg’s museums are closed on Monday

main street in nuremberg old town germany with large tree and church towers
Königstrasse, Nuremberg Old Town

Map of Nuremberg Old Town (Self-Guided Walking Tour)

If you like to map it out, here’s one that I prepared earlier. For an interactive map, simply click here or on the image itself.

NUREMBERG WALKING TOUR MAP
Best Places to Visit in Nuremberg Old Town. Map data @ Google 2022

For a more structured itinerary, you can use this map as a framework for a Nuremberg self-guided walking tour. Walking between all of the landmarks on this tour will take you about one hour without stops, a total distance of 4 km.

One Day in Nuremberg Old Town: Itinerary

MORNING

1. Enter Nuremberg Old Town through Königstor

Considering the pummelling Nuremberg received during the Second World War, it’s remarkable that 90 per cent of the three miles of medieval walls that enclosed the city survive. Königstor is one of the four main entrances to Nürnberg Altstadt and is guarded by a sandstone tower (Königstorturm)

medieval gate to old town of nuremberg germany
city wall of nuremberg with old tpwer

Before you start your day in Nuremberg, stop by the Tourist Information opposite Königstor gate to pick up a free map and for other information.

2. Shop for souvenirs in the Craftsmen’s Courtyard (Handwerkerhof)

On the other side of Königstor is a collection of half-timbered houses, built in 1971 to celebrate the 500th birthday of Albrecht Dürer, Nuremberg’s favourite son. Originally a holding area for carriages waiting to enter the city, Handwerkerhof now houses replicas of medieval shops selling pottery, leather goods and brassware.

narrow lane of medieval buildings and large round tower

It is kitsch, but the wares are of good quality and there are also a few cafes.

Exiting Handwerkerhof with your back to the train station, you will hit Königstrasse, Nuremberg Old Town’s main drag.

3. Decompress in Nuremberg’s Churches

There is a clutch of fine churches in Nuremberg Old Town, five of which I recommend that you take a look at. The first two of these are early in your self-guided walking tour of Nuremberg.

All of Nuremberg’s churches are free to visit, although a small donation is encouraged.

St. Clara (St. Klara)

modern sculpture of a sitting man outside a church in nuremberg germany

Enclosed in a 13th Century building, the interior of the Church of the Poor Clares is surprisingly minimalist and modern. It’s an intimate and peaceful space and its rear door leads to a small cloister.

St. Lawrence Church (Lorenzkirche)

By contrast, the Catholic-turned-Protestant church of St. Lawrence is enormous.

gothic exterior of st Lawrence church Nuremberg

Work started on this monumental Gothic church in 1250 and it was completed and enlarged in the 15th Century. It suffered heavy damage during WWII and was partly rebuilt in 1952.

St. Lawrence’s twin towers flanking the church’s elaborately decorated portal pierce the sky over the Altstadt. Inside, I was struck by its space, light and sheer beauty.

Lorenzkirche has two artistic treasures that you cannot miss.

Suspended over the altar is Veit Stoß’s Annunciation (1517). Stoß was a Nuremberg native and one of Central Europe’s best woodcarvers.

wooden sculpture of angel gabriel and mary
Annunciation, Veit Stoß (1517)

As the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will be giving birth to the Messiah, she drops her prayer book in surprise. Who wouldn’t?

To the left of the altar is Adam Kraft’s intricately carved tabernacle (1496). The theme is the Passion of the Christ and, with the exception of the wooden Jesus, everything is carved out of stone.

Take a look at the man bearing the tabernacle on his shoulders. This is a self-portrait of Adam Kraft, chisel in hand.

Above the likeness of the artist is St. Lawrence, holding the grill on which he was barbequed alive. This was his grisly punishment for giving treasures to the poor instead of a greedy Roman official.

Legend has it that his last words were “I’m done on this side. Turn me over”.

sculpture of man with beard
sculpture of saint lawrence with a griddling iron

4. Identify the virtues of the Tugendbrunnen

You can’t miss the castle-like building opposite the church. Dating from 1200, this is Nuremberg’s sole surviving tower house, built as a fortified home in the days before the city had a wall.

Continue downhill to the wonderful late Renaissance fountain. The Fountain of Virtue (Tugendbrunnen) depicts female allegories of the seven classic virtues: Faith, Hope, Love, Hope, Courage, Moderation, Patience and Justice.

elaborate sculpture of bronze fountain

Are you able to identify them?

In keeping with the humanist values of Renaissance art, with the exception of Faith’s cross, the fountain is free from religious symbolism.

5. Photograph the Holy Ghost Hospital (Heilig-Geist-Spital)

The next stop on our Nuremberg self-guided walking tour is one of the most photographed landmarks of the Altstadt.

medieval building with reflection in river

Spanning the Pegnitz River, the scenic Holy Ghost Hospital was donated to the city in the 14th Century by Nuremberg’s wealthiest resident. The deal was that in return for helping the city’s ill, disabled and elderly citizens, he would receive his reward in heaven.

This is a good place to break for a coffee. There are a few cafes in the covered arcade between this bridge, Museumsbrücke, and Fleischbrücke to the west.

6. Take a look at a fountain that’s not a fountain

When is a fountain not a fountain? When it has never been fed with water.

Such is the case with Nuremberg’s Narrenschiffbrunnen. The plan for this bronze sculpture to be completed as a fountain fell apart when the water supply system was not properly installed.

bronze sculpture of group of figures in a boat
sculpture of adam and eve expelled from paradise

Depicting characters from a 15th Century satire called The Ship of Fools by Sebastian Brant, Narrenschiffbrunnen uses a boat as a metaphor for an endangered world. Occupying this boat are Adam and Eve being expelled from Paradise, Cain and Abel and scenes from Brant’s poem.

7. Step inside the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche)

Just beyond Narrenschiffbrunnen is Hauptmarkt, Nuremberg’s main market square. Built by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV (he of the Charles Bridge in Prague), this became the centre of the new city formed by the union of two distinct walled towns in the 13th Century.

large square in Altstadt Nürnberg
Frauenkirche on Hauptmarkt, Nuremberg Old Town’s main square

The square’s main landmark is Frauenkirche, which was built on the site of a former synagogue.

Sadly, anti-Semitism didn’t begin with the Nazis. When these two towns merged, the quarter that was occupied by the Jewish population was valuable. Charles IV turned a blind eye to the forced eviction of the Jews, which resulted in the death of 562 people.

8. Make a wish at the Beautiful Fountain (Schöner Brunnen)

Although the fountain that we see today is a copy of one from the 14th Century, it lives up to its name. But Schöner Brunnen was more than just a decorative feature of Hauptmarkt.

painted and gilded spire on fountain
painted figure of a medieval man and child

Back in the day, the tanneries, slaughterhouse and the Holy Ghost Hospital dumped their waste into the river. Schöner Brunnen was erected to provide medieval Nürnbergers with clean drinking water.

It’s said that if you spin the gold ring on the fountain’s lattice three times, your wishes will be fulfilled.

Go on. Give it a go.

LUNCH STOP AT SCHWARZ BAKERY

Although there are plenty of grilled sausage vendors in Nuremberg Old Town, connoisseurs head to Schwarz Bakery, one block from Hauptmarkt.

This place has been around for the best part of one hundred years and will serve you the sausage of your dreams. The city is famous for its miniature bratwurst, called, like a city resident, a “Nürnberger.” You choose how many of these little sausages you want with your dark bread (three is a good number for a lunchtime snack).

AFTERNOON

9. Visit Nuremberg’s oldest parish church

exterior of st sebald church nuremberg with twin towers

Work started on St. Sebald in 1290 and was completed in 1490 with the erection of its twin towers. This is the most Gothic of Nuremberg’s churches.

Amongst its artistic treasures is stained glass by Albrecht Dürer and a sculpture by Adam Kraft.

intricately carved tabernacle inside church
statue of madonna and child inside gothic church

10. Take in the view from the Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg) and Burggarten

This was where the Holy Roman Emperors stayed when they were in town. Although it’s a massive complex, just a few buildings are open to the public.

arched gateway leading to castle tower
tower with flag of castle which is one of the best thnigs to see in one day in nuremberg

Whilst you have to pay to visit the castle (I didn’t), it’s free to wander around its grounds and take in the views over Nuremberg Old Town.

Don’t miss the castle garden (Burggarten). It’s a chilled spot and offers further fine views.

flowers in a large garden with wedding couple in background

11. Stop for a drink in Tiergärtnertorplatz

In the shadow of Tiergärtnertor, another of Nuremberg’s city gates, is the lovely Tiergärtnertorplatz. It’s a busy place to stop for a drink any time of day but really comes to life on summer evenings.

view of square with half-timbered houses
square in nuremberg with old city gate

Take a look at the sculpture of a giant rabbit near the top of the square. This is a modern take on The Hare, one of the most famous paintings by Albrecht Dürer (the artwork is in Vienna).

bronze sculpture of a hare

12. See where Albrecht Durer lived

Dürer, a contemporary of Michelangelo, lived in a house on Tiergärtnertorplatz for the last 20 years of his life. His house has been turned into a museum, but nothing inside is original. I skipped it for this reason.

half timbered house in nuremberg where albrecht durer once lived

13. Stroll along the prettiest street in Nuremberg Old Town

If you need further evidence of Nuremberg’s medieval prosperity, walk along Weissgerbergasse (“Tanners’ Lane”).

This narrow street is lined with the Altstadt’s finest collection of surviving half-timbered houses, which are several stories high. Today, these former merchants’ houses are home to restaurants and bars.

row of half timbered houses
statue at gable of half timbered house

14. See where the city executioner once lived

Between the 16th and 19th Centuries, every German town had its own executioner. As his job was considered to be dishonest, he was shunned by his fellow citizens and was forced to reside away from everyone else.

In Nuremberg, the executioner lived in the tower and covered walkway above Henkersteg, the so-called Hangman’s Bridge.

a nuremberg 4

The current bridge was reconstructed in 1954 and is one of the best photo spots in Nuremberg Old Town.

Spend a few minutes also taking in the view from Maxbrücke – the oldest stone bridge straddling the Pegnitz River – over to the Chain Bridge (Kettensteg). Built in 1824, this pedestrian chain bridge is the oldest of its kind in Europe.

old covered chain bridge with small tower over river with reflections

15. Marvel at the dome of St. Elisabeth Church

For me, this Catholic church is one of Nuremberg Old Town’s gems.

This Neoclassical church, which was once the chapel of the Hospital of the Order of Teutonic Knights, doesn’t look like much from the outside. But step inside to view its gravity-defying 50-meter dome.

interior church dome supported by pink marble columns

Opposite St. Elisabeth is another of Nuremberg Old Town’s churches, St. Jakob, also used by the Knights of the Teutonic Order.

EVENING

Where to eat in Nuremberg

If you are looking for somewhere to eat in Nuremberg, here are a few places that I tried and liked.

plate of schnitzel and potato

Goldenes Posthorn

Schnitzel washed down with local beer with a view of St Sebald is hard to beat. Goldenes Posthorn has existed since at least 1498 and Richard Wagner wrote part of his opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg here.

Address: Glöckleinsgasse 2, 90403 Nürnberg

Trödelstuben

Address: Flea Market 30, 90403 Nuremberg

I feasted on the Franconian speciality Schäufelein in this cosy tavern. Service was excellent.

Monki

Address: Königstraße 41, 90402 Nürnberg

If you want a break from sausage and schnitzel, try this friendly Japanese restaurant on Königstrasse. Good quality food at reasonable prices.

Eating out alone is one of the things that solo travellers don’t relish and it pains me to report that I had one of my worst experiences as a solo diner in Nuremberg.

Kokoro is a popular Japanese restaurant with an appealing terrace next to the Germanisches Nationalmuseum. I was outraged to be told that, as a table of one, I had to finish my meal within one hour.

When I challenged the hostess, by way of mitigation she explained that this only applied on weekends to allow “other diners the chance to eat here.” This type of discrimination is never acceptable.

If You Have 2 Days in Nuremberg (or more)

If you have more than one day in Nuremberg, or wish to squeeze more into your time there, here are a few suggestions for things to do.

16. Germanic National Museum (Germanisches Nationalmuseum)

If at all possible, try to visit this world-class museum dedicated to the cultural history of the German-speaking world.

Occupying an interconnected maze of old and new buildings, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum takes you on a chronological journey from early history to the 20th Century, via the Middle Ages and Renaissance Baroque Enlightenment.

The museum’s entry hall is dominated by Haupstadt (1993–94) by Raffael Rheinsberg. This is a display of street signs from East Germany, enhanced with politically motivated graffiti.

display of east german street signs

Other highlights include Germania by Phillip Veit, portraits of Martin Luther, The Nuremberg Madonna, the Behaim Globe and a few paintings by Dürer.

germania painting
Germania (1848), Phillip Veit
painting of an old man by durer
Michael Wolgemut (1516), Albrecht Dürer
VISITING GERMANISCHES NATIONALMUSEUM

Address: Kartäusergasse 1, 90402 Nürnberg

Opening hours: Check opening hours here.

Admission fee applies.

An excellent audio guide is available for a small extra fee (photo ID required). Bags need to be left in free lockers.

17. Historischer Kunstbunker WWII Art Bunker Tour

exterior of historic bunker in nuremberg

I really wanted to join one of these tours but had to sacrifice it to the altar of time.

The vast tunnel complex under Nuremberg Castle provided shelter for precious artworks during the bombing raids of WW2. The only way to visit these sandstone caverns is on a guided tour but it is an excellent way to learn more about an important part of Nuremberg’s history.

>>> CLICK HERE TO BOOK

18. Nuremberg City Museum

This museum was recommended by my hotel but I couldn’t fit it into my visit.

The City Museum is in Fembo House, Nuremberg’s only surviving large Late Renaissance merchant’s house and presents nearly a millennium of the city’s history.

More information including opening hours here.

19. Neues Museum

The city’s contemporary art museum occupies a glass building near the train station. Fine art and design from the 1950s until the present day are displayed across its two floors.

More information including opening hours here.

20. DB Railway Museum

This is one for you if you are a railway enthusiast. Located just outside the city walls, the DB Museum is now the world’s oldest railway museum.

The reviews are excellent.

More information including opening hours here.

21. Toy Museum (Speilzeugmuseum)

Finally, here’s somewhere to visit in Nuremberg for the young or young at heart. It’s a nostalgic journey that starts with traditional wooden toys and finishes with branded playthings.

More information including opening hours here.

Visiting Nuremberg WW2 Sites in 2023

At another time, I would have said that visiting the Nazi Documentation Centre, a museum that seeks to understand the rise of the Nazi movement, is essential. However, in 2023 the museum is undergoing extensive remodelling and the interim exhibition is a pale shadow of its former self.

Even though I did visit, I question if it was worth the journey from Nuremberg Old Town.

exterior of congress hall in nuremberg next to lake
Congress Hall, Nuremberg
set of steps next tp rectangular platform of zeppelin field nuremberg ww2 site
Zepplin Field at Nuremberg Rally Grounds

Although you can visit the famous Nuremberg Rally Grounds, again, work is underway to create a new visitor experience.

If your main reason for visiting Nuremberg is for its WW2 sites, I recommend delaying your visit until these works are complete. You can find updated information here.

Guided Tours of Old Town Nuremberg

If you want someone else to take care of the arrangements for you or want to benefit from the knowledge of a local guide, why not join a tour of Nuremberg? If you are a solo traveller, a day tour can be also an excellent way to meet other travellers.

Here are a few options to consider:

Nuremberg Old Town Guided Walking Tour | BOOK HERE

Hit the highlights of Nuremberg Old Town in 90 minutes with a local guide

Nuremberg Old Town – Private Guided Walking Tour | BOOK HERE

For a more personal experience splash more cash on a private walking tour

Nuremberg Sightseeing Train Tour | BOOK HERE

Take a ride on the hokey red choo-choo that trundles its way through the Altstadt to the accompaniment of an audio guide

How to Get to Nuremberg

station sign for nürnberg on platform of train station

There are fast and frequent rail connections to Nuremberg’s stately Hauptbahnhof from Munich (1 hour), Bamberg (30 mins) and Frankfurt (2h 20 mins) It took me less than four hours to travel by train from Cologne.

Check train times here.

Its mid-sized airport, located three miles north of the city centre, serves flights from Europe and North Africa. However, there will be a greater choice of flights to the larger Munich or Frankfurt airports.

Where to Stay in Nuremberg

Splurge – Hotel Drei Raben

The Drei Raben ranks amongst the best hotels in which I have stayed.

This stylish and friendly boutique hotel is centrally located on Königstrasse, and its complimentary evening wine tasting is a wonderful bonus. Ralf and Markus are on hand for chats and excellent local suggestions.  

bedroom in hotel drei raben in nuremberg
bathroom in room of hotel drei raben in nuremberg

>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK RATES & BOOK

Here are some other places to stay that may suit other tastes and budgets:

Mid-range – Melter Hotel & Apartments

Also located on Königstrasse, this 4-star property offers a choice of rooms and apartments, perfect if you are looking for self-catering accommodation in Nuremberg. The hotel also provides free access to a washing machine.

>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK RATES & BOOK

Mid-range – Art & Business Hotel

This family-run hotel located close to the Hauptbahnhof offers prized single rooms for solo travellers and reviews are good.

>>> CLICK HERE TO CHECK RATES & BOOK

>>> None of these places take your fancy? Discover other great places to stay in Nuremberg here.

Solo Travel in Nuremberg

Germany is one of the best places in Europe to travel alone.

It is a safe country for solo female travellers and Nuremberg is one of its safest cities. There are plenty of things for the solo traveller to do in Nuremberg, and as its main sights are within close proximity to each other it is very walkable.
   
As with any big city, one of the keys to keeping safe as a solo traveller is to use your common sense. Stay vigilant, stick to busy areas, keep your belongings close to you and use your hotel safe to store valuables.

Is Nuremberg Worth Visiting?

Featuring glorious medieval architecture, a meandering river crisscrossed with historic bridges and a clutch of excellent museums, Nuremberg is a superb addition to any Germany itinerary. The Altstadt is small and friendly with characterful restaurants serving generous portions of hearty Franconian food.

Its haunting Nazi past is another compelling reason to take a day trip to Nuremberg. However, as the World War II sites are undergoing extensive remodelling, 2023 is not the best time to visit the Nazi Documentation Centre.

Where to Next?

I hope that this guide helps you nail the best things to see in Nuremberg Old Town and that you have a fabulous day there. If you are looking for other beautiful Bavarian towns to visit, take a look at some of my other articles:

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at hello@theflashpacker.net or follow her on social media.

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