"A city that satisfies heart, mind and stomach!" Nürnberg by CatherineReichardt
Nürnberg Travel Guide: 885 reviews and 3,015 photos
There a a couple of cities in the world where I can see myself happily living - Melbourne and Ljubljana immediately spring to mind - and Nûrnberg is right up there with them!
Lovely, low key Franconia is one of the hidden gems of Germany and often overlooked by tourists in favour of the lovely neighbouring Bavaria - all the better for those of us looking to stray a little off the well beaten tourist track. And, quite simply, Nûrnberg offers it all, from stunning architecture and fascinating history to charming culture and scrumptious food, and all at an affordable price.
Like many German towns (it's hard to think of Nûrnberg as a city, although it is), Nûrnberg is a budget traveller's delight to visit because the town itself is the main attraction, and its specific tourist venues are merely wonderful 'cherries on the top'. Weather permitting, you could wander around the city centre for a day, admiring the beautiful architecture and soaking up the historic atmosphere, without spending a cent, and still have a wonderful time. Unlike its bigger sister, Munich, the city centre is small and compact, and the tourist attractions are closely spaced and easily walkable. Fortuitously Nûrnberg is well connected by road and rail to several other gorgeous towns in the vicinity - including Bamberg, which is often nominated as Germany's most beautiful town - so it makes an excellent centre from which to explore more of lovely, welcoming Franconia.
The first time we were in Nûrnberg was around Easter 1999 (fondly remembered as the trip on which we became engaged), we happened across a parade of fire engines, ranging from centuries-old two wheeled carts equipped with buckets and handpumps to state-of-the-art fire trucks. The atmosphere struck a perfect balance between being happily bustling and jauntily festive yet family-friendly - a happy talent that Germans seem to bring to so many of their festivals. Our return visit with our children was timed to coincide with the iconic Christkindlmarkt - reputedly the 'best' and most famous of the European Christmas markets (although heaven knows what criteria you'd use to assess this). Christkindlmarkt managed to live up to our high expectations - those obliging Germans even organised snow for us! - and as before, the defining characteristic was the amiable jollity of the event. Most unexpectedly, although Christkindlmarkt is a magnet for tourists, the majority of the people there when we visited (during the week in early December) were local people who had gathered in the main square to quaff gluhwein and scoff Nuernburger bratwurst, kartoffelpuffe and lebkuchen in the company of friends and family, which gave the event a charmingly intimate feel.
Indeed food - one of my consuming passions, if you'll excuse the pun - is a subject that you will be reading a lot about on this page. Franconian cuisine is honest, unpretentious and utterly delicious - a sort of hearty 'hug on a plate' that makes you feel immediately welcome and cherished. The tiny fingerlike Nϋrnberger bratwurst have my nomination for the hotly contested title of 'best sausage in the world' and I relish the frisson of illicit, greedy pleasure that goes with sausages by the half dozen!
Nobody would dispute that Nûrnberg has a dark 20th century history, and I admire the frankness and objectivity with which the city presents its Nazi past. After all, it was the venue for the Nazi party congresses of the 1930s (as documented in Leni Riefenstahl's propaganda epic 'Triumph of the Will') and the partially completed structures of what were intended to be the architectural showpieces of the Third Reich's glory are a thoughtprovoking reminder of a turbulent era. The lessons that Nûrnberg's recent past has to teach about the fine line between nationalism and oppression are universal, and the outstanding Documentation Centre does a fantastic job of documenting this harrowing period in a dispassionate yet sensitive manner.
- Pros:Beautiful, historic, atmospheric, welcoming, relatively affordable - and the food and beer are outstanding!
- Cons:Not served by a low cost air carrier to the UK at the time of writing
- In a nutshell:A strong contender for the 'must see' town in Germany!
One of the wonderful things about Christkindlmarkt (and many other German Christmas fairs) is that there is strict... more travel advice
When we stayed in Nuernberg last December, we were travelling 'en famille' (with parents, kids and grandparents in tow)... more travel advice
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