By train from Stuttgart, Nuremberg is just over two hours. Central station is a short walk from the walled city center. We stayed at a hotel in walking distance from the train station, just across from the entrance to the city entrance. It was a really easy walk with underground passages to cross to the other side into town and back.
The Nürnberger Christkindlesmarkt is one of the best in Germany. It was raining when we arrived, so with umbrellas in everyone’s hands the crowd seemed even more congested than we expected. There are more vendors set up on Saturday’s than on Sundays too through the old parts of the city. It was hard to navigate the market with all the people so we headed up the hill to the castle for some lunch and a tour, not without stopping for a quick beer tasting of the famous red cellar beer Nuremberg is known for at a market vendor table along the way. Red Castle Rot Brew was the best one, plus they make a chocolate liquor that is to die for.
The market had a mix of everything from food to crafts both local and international. There was an international section with different countries represented on the street from the church to the castle. There was even an Atlanta, USA booth selling Reese’s and skittles.
For lunch, the Nurnberger Alm was the best of the whole trip. Small, shared tables, good beer and fresh house made food.
Across the street from there is another good local German restaurant called Hutt’n that is much larger, though it doesn’t look like it from the outside. Good strong ale (hard to find in Germany on a menu) and local food.
The cathedrals in Nuremberg are amazing, most of them rebuilt after WWII with images inside depicting the timeline of the rebuild. We visited St. Lorenz, St. Sebald and The Frauenkirche or Pfarramt Unsere liebe Frau – which was at one time a synagogue, the oldest located in the main market square built in the 1300’s. There were Christmas concert services and choir rehearsals going on too.
The castle is just up the hill and has a tour and museum combination ticket, there is also a garden ticket but being winter, we figured we’ll save that for a warmer day. The ticket gets you into the castle and museum on a self guided tour. There are multiple floors of historic pieces or art, weapons and armour from the kings and knights as far back as the 1300’s.
I promptly took the opportunity to nap, while my other half read every detail. The view from the castle over the city is beautiful watching the sun set and all the Christmas lights come out.
Before going into the castle, however, we stopped into the gift shop at the Hausbrauerei Altstadthof where you can buy tickets to the underground cellar cave tours, Felsengaenge. These old brewery caves were built in the 1300’s underneath the city since drinking beer at the time was healthier than water, since beer is boiled in the process. The beer purity laws were established at this time as well called “Reinheitsgebot“ that is still in effect today in Germany stating only barley malt may be used for brewing. Later, tunnels from the brew caves were expanded with fire escape routes to lead outside the city for safety. These underground caves later became war bunkers for the people as well.
The tour ends with a tasting of two different beers brewed onsite and a short tour of their whiskey distillery. The tour is in German with audio guides for those that don’t understand, though there are a few set English tours available too but earlier in the day. The tour ends back at Hausbrauerei Altstadthof where we were able to snag a table by the very small bar area for more local German food for dinner.
We couldn’t leave without trying and buying the famous Nürnberger Lebkuchen or Elisenlebkuchen – gluten/flour free gingerbread made with almonds and sugar or chocolate coating.
We watched a woman make it fresh into a mold in front of us (click here for a recipe). It was much healthier tasting than it was sweet with loads of nuts and spices. There is a rice wafer on the bottom of each to hold the shape. DIfferent from anything we have had and not what we expected but delicious.
The famous Nuremberg grilled sausages available at stands and restaurants everywhere are small, so sold in multiples in order to fill a bun or entre. We went to the original historical “Bratwurstküche” (sausage kitchen) established in 1419 called Zum Gulden Stern. It made for a great end to our trip and we will go back again on our next visit.