Looking for places to explore and exciting things to do in Nuremberg, Germany? The city tells many stories, which we discovered when we visited a few years ago as part of our Danube River Cruise.
Covid-19 put (most) international travels on hold this year, but the light at the end of the lockdown tunnel is now getting brighter. Hopefully, we will be able to explore places on our wish list soon. So why not start making plans now? Travel plans always give us something to look forward to.
If your travel destination list includes Southern Germany, read on as you might want to consider Nuremberg. A full day in this city will allow you to explore Nuremberg’s Old Town, delving into its complicated and thought-provoking past. This city in the German federal state of Bavaria and the second largest after Munich has evolved from being the site where Nazi rallies were held during World War II to becoming the toy-making capital of Europe. It lies about 170 kilometers (110 miles) north of Munich along the Pegnitz River and the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.
Options: Things to do in Nuremberg
There were several onshore excursions offered by our cruise, with some already included in the package. However, you can also book separately several optional ones. We considered and chose from the 3 below.
Nuremberg Through History
Tour excursion will take you to the Old Town and delve into the complicated past of this well-preserved medieval city. Thirteenth-century walls, with many gates and watchtowers still fully intact, surround the Old Town. The coach ride from the boat will also take you through the grounds on which Nazi rallies were staged. After the tour, there will be time to explore on your own before heading back to the ship.
Nuremberg and World War II
Most would remember Nuremberg as both the seat of Nazi propaganda and punishment for Nazi war criminals. In this tour, you immerse yourself in the city’s World War II history, taking you to places such as the Zeppelin Field, the former Nazi Party Rally Grounds where 100,000 voices saluted Adolf Hitler, and the Fuehrer’s Congress Hall scale of the Roman Colosseum.
Surviving the War: Art in Nuremberg
Nuremberg’s underground chambers house priceless centuries-old artworks during World War II. The famed Monuments Men—art historians, embedded in the US Army—braved Nuremberg’s Battle to prevent looting and theft of priceless pieces stored here. You will also have time after the tour to enjoy it before returning to your ship.
What we chose to do
We are history-buffs and wanted to learn more about the medieval roots of this city. Thus, we decided to choose option one (Nuremberg Through History), which was already part of our cruise package. Our excursion started right after breakfast. We met our local guide as soon as we disembarked and then boarded the coach that would take us to town.
The Nazi Party Rally Grounds
As we were heading to the Old Town, we passed by the grounds on which Nazi rallies were staged and had a glimpse of the Palace of Justice. The guide narrated some historical tidbits as we traveled along. We learned that the Nazi party rally grounds covered about 11 square kilometers and held party rallies between 1933 and 1938.
The former Nazi Party Rally Grounds today. Photo credit: Luftbild Nürnberg, Hajo Dietz
The Imperial Castle and Old Town
The coach tour offered us sights of the city’s different architecture types – from Renaissance to Baroque to modern art. We stopped and spent a few hours exploring the site of the Imperial Castle (otherwise known as the Kaiserburg Castle).
This historic castle served as a stronghold of the Holy Roman Empire where Roman Emperors stayed when visiting the area.
The impressive complex includes 45 buildings, although the public can access only a few (including the church, living quarters, well, and tower). The tower that once housed the stables and stockpiles of grain now serves as a hostel.
The castle also provided us a panoramic view of the city and nearby historical buildings. World War II destroyed most of the original structures. As such, the charming row showcases reconstructed buildings, except for the middle house that got saved.
Our group then strolled down the castle hill towards the center of the town. Along the way, we saw half-timbered houses and more historic buildings, including the former residence of the famous Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer.
We finally reached the main market square (Hauptmarkt) at the center of the town. The Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV built this square to unite two previously separate walled cities. The square boasts of:
- Schöner Brunnen or Beautiful Fountain, a principal source of clean drinking water in the past
- Church of our Lady (a Gothic architecture on the eastern side of the square)
- Market stands selling fruits, flowers, and souvenirs
The Hauptmarkt served as the end of our tour and our designated meeting point to board our bus to drive back to the riverboat. With an hour of free time, we explored the nearby streets and took more photos. About a block away, we found one of the good places to try Nürnberger, the city’s famous pinkie-sized bratwurst and sauerkraut – a must-try when you’re in Germany!
How to get there
You can easily reach Nuremberg by train from the two nearest airports – the smaller Nürnberg airport or the international Munich Airport. You can also consider several bus and train combination options and commercial shuttle service. Meanwhile, if you prefer driving through the scenic countryside, you can rent a car for the trip. If you opt for the latter, check out this useful resource.
Other places to explore in the region
If you plan to stay longer in the area, you can venture out to nearby cities in the region.
A full-day visit to this Bavarian capital near the foothills of the Alps will provide you a peek into its cultural and historical attractions. Some of the highlights you can explore are the Olympiapark (site of the 1972 Olympics), Königsplatz, public buildings of imperial architecture, the Old Town Hall, and the Viktualienmarkt, the city’s most famous market.
There are certainly a lot of things to do in Regensburg, Germany. Way back in 179 AD, the Romans founded this capital of Oberpfalz, one of the seven districts of Bavaria in southeast Germany, and called it Casta Regina, which translates to “Fortress by the River Regen.”
The city (hometown of Pope Benedict XVI) is also known for its well-preserved medieval core, having been relatively spared from bombings during World War II. You will be awed by its historical landmarks and stunning architecture, such as the 12th century Stone Bridge and the 13th century Regensburg Cathedral with its fine Gothic architecture.
A full day at Nuremberg
History, art, authentic German food, the local market finds – some of the exciting things to do in Nuremberg, Germany, all in one day. A great start to our Danube cruise!
A stop of a river cruise, a road trip, or a getaway vacation to this part of Europe, your options on how to spend and optimize your stay are unlimited. Start planning your trip to Nuremberg or other parts of Germany. Check out available resources through the search facility below.
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