How do you pick your travel destinations? Some people have bucket lists they’ve been compiling since their first part-time job pay cheque. Others have maps adorned with colour coded flags for places they’ve been and ones they’re yet to step foot in. There are even some bargain hunters out there who happily search ‘everywhere’ on Skyscanner and see where they can land for as little as possible. We’re a bit of all of the above.
But with so many amazing places to see and my indecisiveness, it can still be hard to choose so we put 300 European cities of a certain size into a spreadsheet, put on a random generator and told Excel to throw out some options. A couple of months ago, it threw out Nuremberg. We knew two things about Nuremberg; it was the site of the Nuremberg trials, and they have an amazing Christmas market. With Christmas already a distant memory, we wavered because we weren’t sure what else it had going for it, but some might say we’re gamblers so we took a chance on this city and found quite the hidden gem!
As usual, the first thing we do after touching down in the new place is get our bearings and sample the cuisine. I’d noted down a couple of options, we marked them on the map and set off to get our first taste of Franconian cuisine. Unbeknownst to me, one of the restaurants is in the Handwerkerhof (Craftmen’s Courtyard) which was closed from January to mid-March, we were about to check the map and move on but a local man, Mathias, stopped and asked if we needed some help. We got chatting and he very kindly took a detour from his journey to guide us to Bratwurstherzle, a traditional restaurant just off the tourist-friendly St Lorenz Square but still filled with locals.
There wasn’t much need to see the menu, we were here for the famous Nuremberg bratwurst. Much smaller than other bratwursts, these are usually less than 10cm long and served 6-12 at a time with side of horseradish, sauerkraut and potato salad. This was the most potent horseradish I’ve ever had and I couldn’t get enough of it; my sinuses were cleared for days. We also indulged in boiled pork tongue, a traditional Bavarian dish, slow cooked until the meat just fell apart- sounds questionable but as offal lovers we thought it was delicious.
Another popular restaurant serving traditional cuisine is Bratwursthausle, where they do a roaring trade in ‘drei im Weggla’, a snack of 3 sausages in a crusty bun with mustard. We had some more bratwurst with the usual suspects, and also tried a slow cooked pig’s trotter, a delightfully tender advertisement for why we should eat more offcuts.
If you are a museum-lover, this is the place for you because Nuremberg has a lot of them, big and small they cater for all interests ranging from German history to toys to even wheat beer glasses! We stuck with the traditional and headed for the Imperial Castle, an important site during the Holy Roman Empire, the historic rooms are filled with exhibits on the role of Nuremberg during this time. While you’re there make sure you head up the Sinwell Tower for amazing views of the city, and have a quick look at the Deep Well.
After lunch, go visit the house of Nuremberg’s most famous son, Albrecht Durer, one of the greatest Northern Renaissance painters and printmakers. Take a tour with Albrecht’s wife Agnes who tells you about their life together as well as his work.
Later on, we stopped for an afternoon pint at Hausbrauerei Altstadhof, the local brewery which only uses organic ingredients farmed locally, then took a tour of Nuremberg’s Historic Rock-Cut Cellars– the underground passage ways where locals have been ripening and storing beer for centuries.
After a long day of exploring, we rewarded ourselves with a hearty meal from Slow Food experts Steichele; it may look like any other inn from the outside but their food is well above the average. The seasonal menu uses quality ingredients, the dishes are filling but fresh and vibrant. We enjoyed the schaufele, a traditional dish of roast pork shoulder and the roast duck, both served with salad, dumplings and rich gravies I just wanted to swim in. All went down a treat with a strong, dark Asam Bock.
There’s no denying the city’s ties to Nazi German history, it was the site of many influential rallies during Hitler’s reign and the Nuremberg Trials where 23 of the Third Reich’s most powerful were tried for war crimes. We took a short train ride out of town and spent the morning at the Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds. In what was to be the Congress Hall is now an informative, very detailed, and at times disturbing exhibition about the rise and fall of Hitler and the Third Reich. Afterwards, take a wander outside to take in what’s left of the famed Zeppelin Field. It’s a sombre experience but worth the time and effort.
Head back into the city centre and spend your afternoon at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, a huge museum with a vast range of exhibits. I was particularly keen to see the Behaim Globe, the world’s oldest surviving globe but much to my disappointment it was getting some attention after being housed in another exhibition and wasn’t on display. Plenty of other things to see though, including masterpieces by Albrecht Durer.
As you’re wandering through the old town centre, make sure you stop by the St Lorenz Church, the Church of Our Lady especially at midday when the mechanical clock performs, the Beautiful Fountain, and St Sebald Chuch, the oldest in Nuremberg.
For dinner, we treated ourselves to Restaurant Fischer, you should too. A discrete restaurant you could easily miss if you weren’t looking for it, inside the atmosphere is refined but cosy, the service is attentive and friendly. On offer are three menus, the Classic or smaller Sea and Land; we opted for the latter and chose one of each. While I enjoyed the Sea dishes, particularly the king prawns on balsamic lentils, I think a certain someone won menu-wars here with Land. I had an extreme case of plate envy at every course but it was the highest when I saw, and then tasted, the quail on risotto with asparagus. The sweet courses did not disappoint, a generous creme brulee disappeared quickly as did my pina-colada inspired stewed pineapples with coconut ice cream. The whole operation is executed by one chef and two servers; German efficiency at its best- a perfect way to end the weekend!
So Make a Move
- Ryanair has direct flights from London Stansted, once you’ve arrived the Metro will get you to the city centre in under 30 minutes.
- Purchase a Nuremberg Card for only €25 which gives you free entry to all the museums and unlimited public transport for two consecutive days.
- Bratwurstherzle, Brunnengasse 11; approximately €40 for a meal for two.
- Bratwursthausle, Rathausplatz 1; approximately €40 for a meal for two.
- Restaurant Steichele, Knorstrasse 2-8; approximately €55 for a meal for two.
- Restaurant Fischer, Schottengasse 1; 4 courses for €62/pp.
- For more information, visit the Nuremberg Tourist Office.
Thank you to the Nuremberg Tourist Office for providing us with two Nuremberg Cards and our very own little Albrecht Durer to help us explore the city, but as always, all opinions are my own.