Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Nuremberg - A City Guide

Indelibly associated with the Reichsparteitag - Nuremberg Rallies - and the trials held there after World War II, Nuremberg in 2013 is a city mindful of its sombre role in history but not defined by it. Earlier this year I travelled to Nuremberg as a guest of the city’s bi-annual Fashion Days festival and found a forward-looking city rich with some of Germany’s best museums, delicious food, colourful markets and lively nightlife, making it the perfect destination for a stylish alternative city break.

A (handsome, nearly-shirtless...) model at Fashion Days
A (handsome, nearly-shirtless...) model at Fashion Days
About Fashion Days: A three-day extravaganza taking place in spring and autumn, Fashion Days brings together Nuremberg’s top designer and high street stores as well as labels from further afield for a roster of runway shows, pop-up boutiques, networking and glamorous after-parties. 

Taking a different theme each time - March 2013’s event was cleverly and meticulously styled to pay homage to London’s fashion scene - Fashion Days makes the kind of shows usually only accessible to industry insiders available to all, brilliantly democratising and demystifying fashion without stripping away any of the elegance. 

I fell hard for the edgy street style and pimped tailoring shown by department store WÖHRL’s concept line U-eins and the beautifully-tailored avant-garde collection by CHANG13.

Where to stay: The slick, modern Novina Hotel in the nearby town of Herzogenaurach makes an ideal base for a weekend in Nuremberg. As the official team hotel of German premiership team FC Nuremberg, the Novina has a sports theme throughout, not to mention a well-equipped spa and gym where you may find yourself working out next to a Bavarian Beckham. 

Novina Hotel Herzogenaurach Herzo-Base photo by Hugh Wright
Novina Hotel Herzogenaurach Herzo-Base
The immaculate bedrooms have flatscreen TVs, Nespresso machines and free cabled WLAN internet access; wifi is charged at a reasonable €4,95 per 24 hours. Breakfast is included in the room-rate and is a splendid, ample buffet of regional, continental and cooked dishes.

Herzogenaurach is also home to the massive global headquarters of sportswear Titans adidas and Puma - founded by sibling rivals Adolf (Adi) and Rudolf Dasler respectively - and both companies have factory outlets offering incredible bargains on clothing and footwear. Nike also have an outlet store here - Nike Air sneakers start at about €25 - as does fashion retailer s.Oliver, making this a shoppers’ paradise.

The Dokumentationszentrum at the Nuremberg Rally site. Photo by Hugh Wright
The Dokumentationszentrum
History Lessons: The city of Nuremberg has struck a very intelligent balance with regards to how it marks its unfortunate place in history. 

The structurally-unsound grandstands around the Zeppelinfeld parade ground - including the balcony from which Hitler addressed the hundreds of thousands of Nazi party members massed below - can be freely explored at visitors’ own risk, the city lacking neither the volition nor the €70m required to restore them. The likelihood is that with time they will crumble and disappear - a fitting end one might say. 

Contextual information on the events that took place in the city and how they came about can be found in the admirably dispassionate Dokumentationszentrum, a jagged modern building carved into the former Nazi Congress Hall.

Culture Fix: As the country’s largest museum of cultural history, the Germanisches Nationalmuseum is Germany’s answer to London's V&A. Boasting a delightful, eclectic collection of applied arts, clothing, pottery, furniture and art, the Renaissance and Enlightenment galleries are particularly impressive. The museum is accessed via the incredible Straße der Menschenrechte - Way of Human Rights - lined with thirty pillars each engraved with one of the articles of the European Declaration of Human Rights in a different European language.

An exhibit at the Germanischen Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg. Photo by Hugh Wright
An exhibit at the Germanischen Nationalmuseum.
Time To Eat: Nuremberg is famous for its finger-sized Nürnberger rostbratwurst sausages and the city’s signature snack is drei im weckla, three bratwurst served in a crusty roll. Available on almost every street corner from kiosks for €1,50-€2,50, a drei makes for a tasty bite at any time of day. 
For something more substantial, head for the sensational Bratwurst Röslein just off the main marketplace at Rathausplatz 6. The world’s biggest bratwurst restaurant (so they say, and who am I to argue?) serves huge platters of bratwurst and other Bavarian specialities such as schäufele - roast cured pork shoulder - with dumplings and sauerkraut. Share a platter (prices start at around €15,00 per person) and you won’t need to eat again all day. Or indeed all weekend.

Finally, no visit to Nuremberg would be complete without a kaffee und kuchen stop at city-centre institution Cafe Beer at Breite Gasse 79. It's easy to see why this sprawling cafe-bakery, with its vast selection of mouth-watering cakes, pastries and chocolates, has been in business since 1879.
Bratwurst Roslein. Photo by Hugh Wright
The world’s biggest bratwurst restaurant, Bratwurst Roslein
Something Sweet: Nuremberg is known for its spicy, squishy lebkuchen - delicious gingerbread especially popular at Christmas but available all year round from the main Hauptmarkt and various stores including perhaps the city’s finest, Lebkuchen Schmidt. Plain, iced, chocolate-coated and shaped varieties are all sold here, in plain packaging or beautifully elaborate tins which make perfect gifts. Around Easter-time Schmidt also stock Osterbrot, a tasty traditional fruit-loaf that is Nuremberg’s version of panettone.

Nuremberg by Night: With a population of just over half a million, Nuremberg is a fairly quiet city by night but that’s not to mean there’s no nightlife. The city has a number of lively bars and clubs, the best of them being bijou boite 360 at Adlerstraße 36. This tiny club offers an ever-changing series of DJ nights and live acts; it’s worth booking a table to be sure of getting in. If you can’t, the much larger and more commercial Goija at Bahnhofstraße 11 is a safe bet, albeit one with a rather more pretentious crowd.

When to go: Other than for Fashion Days (of course!) Nuremberg is especially worth visiting at Christmas (for the spectacular Christmas market), at Easter, and in autumn for the Old Town Festival. Host to many cultural, sporting and trade events throughout the year, flights and hotels are often at a premium so it’s advisable to plan well ahead to ensure that you get the best rates for accommodation and travel.

Getting there: Nuremberg is well served by airlines from the UK. Direct flights are available with airberlin, City Jet and budget airline Ryanair; Lufthansa and Swiss also fly to Nuremberg via their hubs in Frankfurt and Zurich. I flew from London City Airport with Swiss via Zurich; two of my favourite airports and my favourite airline (they give you chocolate during landing, what’s not to love?) ensured an easy and very pleasant journey in little over two hours.
I travelled to Nuremberg as a guest of Fashion Days, who provided my travel and accommodation, but none of the businesses or locations mentioned in this guide have paid or otherwise provided any incentive for inclusion.
Posted by +Hugh Wright


  1. The people of Herzogenaurach would object to their town being called a suburb of Nuremberg. They are all rather patriotic in that sense. ;)
    A Schäufele is certainly a good hurdle for anyone who fancies a decent Sunday roast.
    I don't really have anything to add because it's been 17 years since I lived there (and I was a student with no money to go out to fancy restaurants) except that in summer, one of the other culinary specialties (other than Bratwürste and Schäufele) is battered and deep-fried carp, another rather rich dish as carp is quite fatty.

  2. Good point about Herzogenaurach - I've changed that now, thank you!

  3. Could not have read this at a better time Hugh- thank you! Am planning a driving trip through Germany down to Austria in a couple of weeks and was dithering on whether to stop in Frankfurt or Nuremburg. I think you've just sold me (the world's biggest Bratwurst restaurant being a big drawing card for The Hungry One) xx


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