Nuremberg With Kids
Updated: Mar 9, 2020
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If you are planning a trip to Germany, you don't want to miss Nuremberg.This adorable city is 170 kilometers north of Munich and the 14th largest city in Germany. It is the quintessential German town. You will walk down cobblestoned tiny lanes with half timbered houses. There is so much for families to do in Nuremberg. The Altstadt (Old Town) is just small enough for tiny legs to explore but big enough to keep you busy for days. Nuremberg is not a huge city, so you won't feel overwelmed with tourists. Our family got a real taste of Germany and it's history in this storybook town. We marveled at the old and walked through some of Nuremberg's rich past. This is how we enjoyed Nuremberg...
What we did
Imperial Castle of Nuremberg
In the middle of every proper German town is a steeple and an old castle. Nurmeberg is no exception to the rule. As you walk up to the center of town, you will find the Imperial Castle. The Imperial Castle has been the center of German power since 1050. It is a series of buildings that make up the castle grounds and walls, including: Palas with double Chapel, Imperial Castle museum, Deep Well, and the Sinwell Tower.
The Imperial Castle is directly in the middle of Nuremberg so we just walked toward it from old town and started walking up the hill. This is not a long hill to walk up. Our lazy 3 year old did just fine walking up himself. Once you get to the inner courtyard, you will be rewarded with beautiful buildings to explore. My kids were super excited to climb up the Sinwell Tower. The hubs and I decided to do the museum first before it got too crowded....We have never been up a tower that it is too crowded. The museum was interactive and very interesting. There is an area where kids can build a castle with blocks, dress up as royalty, and view artifacts from the original castle. The Imperial castle has been destroyed several times and taken on new owners. Seeing the fortification of the castle was fascinating. My oldest loved seeing the destruction that occured during WWII in Nuremberg (more on that later). It took about 40 minutes to let the kids walk through the museum and explore.
Next, we climbed the Sinwell Tower. I don't know if it's the old feel of tower stairs, the challenge of climbing up, or the ants in their pants, but my kids LOVE a tower. There is always a tower in every European town and my kids will hunt it down and conquer it. Usually I would say their love of tower climbing is not motivated by the view from the top. My kids spend about 2 seconds looking around at the top of a tower before wanting to race each other back down the stairs. Sinwell Tower was the EXCEPTION to this rule. At the top, there is a map in front of each window that pertains to the scene below that window. The map shows what that view from each window used to look like right after WWII in Nuremberg. We were fascinated by the destruction and restoration of this beautiful city. The kids examined each map and compared it to the current view today. This also brought up more questions about WWII from all the kids. This is a very good chance for a history lesson. We spent a longer time at the top of this tower compared to most.
After exploring the castle's gorgeous church, we ventured out into the castle gardens and city wall. The wall is amazing with little mini gardens throughout. We loved looking over the wall to the newer parts of Nuremberg. Nurmeberg's city walls were created for defense and still stands with four out of five kilometers still remaining. Go up the little towers and walk along the walls. Do not let your family miss the opportunity to explore this medieval path. Let your kids explore every nook and garden. Kids will feel like they are part of a secret fortress and will want to run, skip and jump through these walls. Just take my word for it. There aren't a lot of intact walled cities in the world left, so this is truly a treat.
If you and your family decide to visit the Imperial Castle or the City Walls, know that most structures on the grounds are mostly stairs. There is only one lift in the main museum. If anyone in your family has mobility issues, know that it can be tricky getting around. You can always walk up to the castle and then look around the inner courtyard without even having to pay. If you have babies in strollers, you'll need to park them and use a baby carrier.
After walking down from the castle, go to Weissgerbergasse to see this preserved medieval street with picturesque timbered houses. Our family felt like we were walking back in time. This was one of the only streets not destroyed during WWII. Ask your kids if they notice anything different about these older houses. Let them draw them in their journals. This street is small but quite old, so take your time looking at the buildings.
Down from the castle and a couple of streets over from Weissgerbergasse is Nuremberg's Market Square. There are stalls set up with seasonal fruits and veggies. Stands selling local favorites and of course many beer stands. Most beer stands have tables and chairs set up outside of them so you can grab a snack and relax. There are variety of lunch trucks and stands set up in the square. We got a variety of food from vegan wraps, sushi, bretzels, and fruit to share. Hauptmarkt is the perfect place to get a feel of this bustling square and people watch.
Don't leave the market square without checking out the Schonen Brunnen (beautiful fountain). If you touch the gold ring, it'll bring you luck. It's actually gold from so many people touching it for luck. This is an iconic fountain in the shape of gothic church spire. My kids climbed up to touch the gold ring.
Also in market square is the Frauenkirche (church of our lady). It dates back to the 14th century. At noon there is a prosession of medieval figures as the bells chime. Kids will love watching the procession, and is there anything more beautiful than the sound of church bells in Europe? Go inside this gothic church and see where the Holy Roman Emperor would sit during ceremonies. The church is free and open to the public. This is right in Hauptmarket so we just planned to have a little lunch while we waited for the procession.
*During any kind of clock procession in Europe, always mind your pocketbooks.. This is usually when tourists get targeted. Nurmberg is very safe with low crime rates but it's always good to be aware of your surroundings.
One half block away from Frauenkirche is St. Sebald. You can see the tops of this church from the Hauptmarkt. The outside of the church is almost more mesmorizing than the inside. This church was build in 1273-75. The building evolved over time. It suffered considerable damage in WWII and had to be restored, depicting stained glass at it's best.
Henkersteg or Hangman's Bridge is a covered bridge connecting Trodelmarkt with a small island in Unschlittplatz. The bridge ysed to be where the executioner walked across during medieval times. He had to live on the island and wasn't allowed to socialize with civilized people so he remained on the island until he had to make an execution, thus the name "Hangman's Bridge". This was the bridge the hangman would cross to go make executions.
On a light note, this bridge is located to some cute shops and stores to wander around. All children are little fascinated with the dark medieval era, so your kids will love this story. Also, bridges are very fun for kids. It's actually a very charming little jaunt around this part of town.
I am a grown up person, but I love a toy museum. Seeing century old toys gives insight to the types of lives that people from the past lived . You can see what impotance they placed on different aspects of their lives based on the toys they gave their children. The toys of the past show us how different the kids of today are and also how we are still quite similar. I have been to many toy museum throughout Europe, but Nuremberg is the biggest and best. They have toys dating back multiple centuries. The doll houses....oh my goodness your kids will be fascinated by the old fashioned set up. They just don't make toys like they used to in the 18th century. The hubs and boys loved the old vehicles and train sets. Honestly though, everyone was most interested in the doll houses. There's also a retro floor with toys from the 80s and 90s. My 12 year old and I love taking pics of the creepy old, I mean beautiful dolls and sending them to my cousin to give her a scare. ... maybe I'm not a grown up person.
After your family has looked at all the intricate toys from the past (it will take awhile), go up to "kids on top" located on the top floor. This whole room is dedicated to interactive play. There are board games, castles to play in, dress up, arts and crafts, legos, and many more. We had to drag our kids out after an hour and a half.
Do not skip going to the outside play area at the museum. There is an outdoor train set going around a village, a rope climbing structure, a maze to go through, a ball maze to try out, and little vehicles to ride around. If you get hungry or thirsty there is a charming cafe outside right near the playground. The toy museum cost 12 euros for the entire family. Your family could spend the day in this museum. This is a great rainy day activity. If it's hot out, there is air conditioning inside (this is not always the case in Europe).
Documentation Center and Rallying Grounds.
The Documentation center is a museum on the site of the Nazi Party Rallying grounds. This was the congress hall of the Nazi Political Party. Behind the museum is the Rallying grounds that you walk through. The museum gives a chronological sequence of the events of WWII and depicts how the Nazis rose to power. The museum gives an audio headset to follow along with pictures on display. My older kids (10,12) are learning a lot about WWII so this museum was perfect for them. My six year old got a very censored overview beforehand about WWII and the "bad things" the Nazi party did. Throughout the museum I stayed with her and gave her a brief mom summary of what each picture was describing. My husband always walked ahead to make sure everything was appropriate (as far as visual images. It's much different to read and hear about it than to actually see images ). At the very end of the museum, there are images of dead bodies in the concentration camp. We made the kids walk out past this without seeing it. Do what you are comfortable with. I do recommend a grown up walking ahead to make sure whatever is on display is something your family is comfortable showing the kids.
During our visit, the 3 year old fell asleep in his baby carrier (3 is a baby). This worked out pefectly because he really wouldn't have been interested . The Documentaion Center is a somber museum, so a happy toddler running around and making noise might seem insensitive to the material. If you have a baby but want to see this museum, perhaps go at nap time or take them to a playground beforehand to get some of their bottomless energy out. It's actually not that big of a museum so you can be in and out in about an hour. Your other option is switching with your partner. There is a pretty park next to the documentation center. You can take turns walking around with your minis outside, while your spouse/older kids walks through the museum.
There is a walkway that hangs over the rally grounds from inside the museum. This is where Hitler made a lot of his famous speeches. I thought this was the most emotional part of the museum. After leaving the museum, you can walk around the building and walk into the actual forum. It will seem surreal standing in this forum that once held so much destruction and hate, while your innocent kids are skipping and jumping around the rocks and old benches. The Rally Grounds are not to be missed. You can skip the museum and just walk around the forum . You can enter through the arched doorway on the left side of the museum. If you don't want to tell the kids about it, you don't have to.
Parking is right out in front of the museum (this is so very rare in Europe). Everything is stroller friendly. Walking around the forum is paved, but once you actually enter into the rally grounds it is dirt and rocks. The museum is also stroller friendly. If you want a little bit of beauty after this dark part of history, there is a gorgeous park and lake right outside of the Documentation Center. You don't even have to repark your car. Pack a picnic and let the kids run around after this very serious history lesson.
Go to a Playground
Seek out any playground in Germany and you will be in for a treat. They are intricate and fun for all ages. Usually there is an adventrous climbing area, a water/sand area to build dams, and a zip line. My older kids have definitely started to outgrow playgrounds in the states. In Germany, the playgrounds (spielplatz) still provide some danger and challenes for older kids. Big kids don't love playgrounds in the states because they are boring and often not a challenge anymore. Germany playgrounds have something for small kids and big kids (adults included).
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Hotel Am Josephs Platz. This little hotel was reasonably priced, perfect for families, and had a delicious continental breakfast. This hotel is small and located in the center of old Nurmberg. The rooms feel like an old German Inn out of Heidi. Completer with wood furniture hand made by Grandfather. We had mutliple rooms in our suite to split up. We walked the kids around quite a bit the first day so by late afterooon, we had to take a little break in the room. My kids journaled and played while the hubs watched the World Cup. We felt like we were staying in a little German apartment. The kids and I loved looking out the window at the activity in the square down below.
The continental breakfast room is small and perfect. My girls thought it looked "very fancy". A sweet waitress took our drink orders and was overly accomodating. There were so many food options.....and it was all included in the price of the room. Honestly, I'd stay here just for the breakfast.
What We Ate
Nuremberg Brats are tiny sausages that Nuremberg is famous for. You will see them on every menu. You can buy them cheap in the street markets served in a roll and usually comes with a beer for about $3 euros. My kids loved these and I loved drinking their beer.
I live in Germany, so I am used to seeing a lot of Brats (usually called Wursts) on the menu. Nuremberg had the best bratwursts. My husband and I split a lot of samplers at restaurants.
Pommes and Potato salad
Pommes are fries in Germany and they are delicious. I have never had a bad fry in Germany. They are also served with most kids meals. The potato salad in Germany is probably my favorite food in Germany. I could write a whole blog post over my love for Germany's potato salad. It is not like anything in the states. It is vinegar based without mayo. I have had German potato salad in the states, but it isn't like the potato salad in Germany. It is so good. They serve it with everything. It's always the same. They even put it in salads (don't knock it until you try it). I'm going to stop writing about this while I can.
Bretzels are a giant soft pretzel. They are the cheapest and most delicious snack in Gemany. In America you might think of the stereotype that Germans are always eating pretzels...Guess what? They actually are. Living in Germany I can tell you everyone is always eating pretzels. Parents pack them for snack. Adults grab them as a snack. They make them into sandwiches. They are not like the soft pretzels that they serve at ball games in America. They are soft and delicious. You have to try them. Order a butter bretzel, which is a pretzel sliced down the middle with butter. It's unbeleiveably good. It may not be on the menu but it is super common in Germany, so just order it and they'll make it. When traveling I often get them for my two youngest for lunch.
Eis is ice cream or gelato in Germany. Most of the time it is gelato. For a kid's cone it won't cost you more than 1.50 euros. If it does, the place is a rip off. Compare that to America where going out for Ice Cream is like $15 or more for my family. When traveling this is an inexpensive crowd pleaser for snack (or sometimes dinner...mother of the year here).
Schnitzel is a breaded pork cutlet served with fries and a lemon. It is on every German restaurant's menu. It honestly is pretty bland to me but kids love it. It's the most similar thing to a giant chicken nugget so it definitely makes ordering for kids easy if you have picky eaters. If you see Weiner schnitzel on the menu, that means the meat is veal and not pork.
It's everywhere and cheap. As in cheaper than water or soda.
If your visiting Germany and need a break from German food (this will def happen), get Italian food. Germany is close to Italy so most Italian places are very good. They are authentic and tasty.
We found a burger spot near the Toy Museum called Kuhmuhne that was delicious with lovely cocktails. You can walk here after the Toy museum. They even gave the kids gummy hamburgers. At the time, the kids and I had never seen them before and thought they were adorable. The kids played with them for 20 minutes at the table. Now living in Germany, I find them everywhere.
* BIG WARNING: This is the only burger place you are to go to in Germany unless another American tells you of a spot. Unfortunately, hamburgers aren't great in Germany. We have been tricked many times by burger spots that sound delicious and look trendy and modern inside. They have never been good. There are some rare spots, but only go if it is highly recommended by Americans. Veggie burgers are actually much better in Germany than the states. Most restaurants have their own homemade version. This is always what I order and a safe order if you find yourself at a questionable burger restaurant.
In Germany, bakeries are still where everyone buys all their bread (and bretzels of course). They often have sandwiches, coffees and other staples. Your family can get a cheap breakfast or lunch at any bakery. Honestly, they are all good. This is Germany's bread and butter (pun intended). There is one on every corner because this is where the locals stop every day for their staples (bread, butter, milk, eggs), snacks, and to-go coffee. It goes without saying, everything at Germany bakeries is local. A third of the price of starbucks, authentic, and much healthier. Also, you are in Germany so don't go to Starbucks... I'm a bossy lady.
Things we didn't do that I wish we did
I say this about everywhere (except Paris...read the blog). It's a beautiful city with lots of day trips close by.
Got to Playmobil Funpark.
This was our first overnight trip after we moved to Germany. We ran out of time so we just assumed we'd come back for playmobile land. One year later and we have yet to go to Playmobil Funpark. Honestly, it is near nurmberg and so cool. It is like a combined amusement park and playground. It is definetely better for smaller kids. Summer is the best time to go because you want good weather to get the most out of the awesome play structures. If you have kids, make sure you go there. Playmobil is huge in Germany and part of their culture. They are big on imagination toys for kinder spiel (kid play), so Playmobil is the main toy that most small kids have. Not to mention that the things in Germany geared toward kinder are incredible.
Enjoy Nuremberg! The history and people are incredible. Have you been to Germany? Thanks for reading. Leave a comment