5 Things: A Local’s Guide to Nuremberg, Germany

In “5 Things,” we ask some of our favorite insiders in cities all over the world to share insider travel tips on where to eat, shop, stay, and play in their neighborhoods (plus, what to pack to make the adventure complete). This week, we travel across the Atlantic to visit a beautiful part of Germany. Musician, mother, and avid traveler, Samantha Runkel shares her perspective on a city steeped in arts, culture, and history.

5 Things: Nuremberg, Germany
by Samantha Runkel

Six years ago when I first moved to Nuremberg from California, I wasn’t expecting to call a city with a 14th-century backdrop, teutonic Gothic cathedrals, and a heavy World-War history my new home. But I came here for love and, as they say, you do anything for love.

Since then, I’ve also fallen in love with Nuremberg, and I’m not alone. Our little city has shown up on the international radar for Europe’s most livable places and reader’s choice favorites, with one of the oldest Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas Markets) and largest pedestrian zones in Europe.

More laid-back than its cosmopolitan siblings—Berlin, Cologne, and Munich—it’s Nuremberg’s un-pretentiousness that makes an Ausländerin or foreigner, like me, feel at home. The Bavarian city is a blend of old and new-world, with heavily mustachioed men serving up the famous Drei im Weckla—Nuremberg’s famous bratwurst in a white bun—to polyglot expats, who are here to work at the Adidas headquarters. While taking in the city’s incredible history by foot, I also love experiencing some of the new shops and cafes opened by the locals I now call friends…

nuremberg travel guide


Even as an espresso-drinking vegetarian, I would be remiss to talk about Nuremberg and not mention the sausages and beer. You can’t throw a stone without hitting some sort of Bavarian festival, streetside booth, or Gasthaus serving Franconian food and Weissen (Franconia has the highest density of breweries in the world). My favorite downtown is Zum Gulden Stern, opened in 1419, and still in its original building. If you, like me, choose to forgo the traditional Shäuferla or Sauerbraten, you can always do Brotzeit—a selection of bread and cheeses, potato soup or salad, sauerkraut or Käsespätzle (southern Germany’s version of Mac n’ Cheese).

nuremberg travel guide

I always bring friends to Mischbar—the Buddha bowls and green drinks are a welcome respite to the traditional meals you may experience on your travels across Deutschland. It’s located right on the river, and is as close to a California vibe as Germany gets. My favorite cafes are the 3rd wave Bergbrand, situated at the bottom of Weissgerbergasse, and a perfect stop when doing the historical city walk. The Banksia in Johannes is a favorite neighborhood haunt of mine—a great place to get work done and chit-chat with internationals auf Englisch.

For parents, The Lunchbox cafe (opened by a fellow West Coaster) is a short drive from downtown, complete with a box full of toys in the middle of the room. It’s a genius concept for parents who want to enjoy one of Laurie’s delicious mint Heisseschokolade and debate about the SF Giants.

nuremberg travel guide


If you are lucky enough to be in Nuremberg during December, you will find yourself in one of the Glühwein huts sipping on mulled wine at 11 a.m., sampling the Lebkuchen (gingerbread was actually invented here in Nuremberg in the 14th century) and buying copious amounts of nutcrackers from Käthe Wohlfahrt. Franconia is the region in Bavaria that created traditions such as modern day Christmas tree and gift-giving, and you will be happy you indulged.

nuremberg travel guide

Located not far from the Hauptmarkt, Lysu is a fantastic new shop on Obere Wörthstrasse (a bespoke cobblestone street with a great Leica store, bonus), with gorgeous, organic, and ethically-sourced baby clothes and products. Outside the city walls is Feine Heimat, a beautifully-curated boutique with home goods and a cafe serving up homemade soups and pastries—a perfect place to experience local Nuremberg life that is not in downtown proper.

nuremberg travel guide


Le-Meridian Grand is the go-to hotel for the consummate Nuremberg experience. Located just across the street from the Hauptbahnhof, this Art-Nouveu domicile from 1885 perfectly blends those old and new worlds again, with a classic bar and restaurant and super service.

Airbnb is also an intuitive option for travelers. Stay in a Bauhausian apartment within the actual wall of the city; or for the more adventurous, try a Baumhaus (tree house) further out in Emskirchen. [Editor’s note: this rental captured my imagination.]

nuremberg travel guide


Germans are intrinsically tied to nature. 19th-century Romantics would describe the forest as the home of the German soul, and the system supports it. Urban planning doesn’t allow for sprawl: the country is a trailblazer with recycling and renewable energies, and it is natural to put your child in a Waldkindergarten, or forest school, where pre-schoolers spend all day outside in the woods (no matter the weather).

You don’t need to go further than one of the parks around the city to experience this yourself. We love to take our daughter to Stadtpark, a short bike ride from downtown. It’s a wonderful walking park with lakes, birds, and natural play-structures. As an American, prepare for a borderline heart attack watching your three-year-old dangle gleefully from a giant wooden zip-line. But Selbstandigkeit, the emphasis on independence and self-reliance, is strong here.

If you make it out of the city, our little secret is just 40 minutes north: world-class rock climbing, spelunking, and hiking in our little mountain range, Franconian Switzerland. It’s a great alternative to the Alps, which are a few hours south.


As the European saying goes, “There is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” I joke that when I first met my husband, he wouldn’t travel with me until bought some functional zip-off pants. And you know what? He was right. While zip-off pants are perhaps not de rigeur, you absolutely do need to pack layers, functional outerwear, and good walking shoes when traveling through Europe. Personally, I take a fanny pack everywhere—the hands-free aspect makes traveling with kids and taking photos that much easier.

Have you been to Nuremberg? What would you add? 

Samantha Runkel is a musician, mom and avid traveler who moved from California to Germany for love. Once touring the world through music, she now travels around the globe with her photographer husband and their 3-year-old daughter. She and her husband are expecting their second child in May. She writes about everything from driving across Namibia with an infant to what it’s like being married to one of the “most traveled” people in the world.

A big thank you to Samantha for this valuable guide to your gorgeous, European city. I love seeing all the different ways that Europeans accommodate and support families—with adventures indoor and out. Nuremberg sounds like it would be a great city to visit with children. Thank you to Molly Coyne for her help with this series.

P.S. All of our 5 Things Travel Guides. (And my love for the fanny pack!)

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