The Nuremberg Christmas markets were originally supposed to be one of the last stops our our two week Central Europe Christmas market itinerary. Because I spent so much time oscillating between Nuremberg or Rothenberg ob der Tauber, the hotels I was considering sold out of two rooms for two nights. We ended up doing one night in each town and, while it was fast, I’m glad that we were able to do both. The ambiance in the evening was really enjoyable. Rothenberg ob der Tauber during blue hour is straight up magical at any time of the year.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links for tours and products I love at no additional cost to you. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
Getting to Nuremberg
Our first Christmas market itinerary was completely by train, and we decided to do this trip entirely by car. This made it very easy to get from Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Nuremberg. The drive takes a little over an hour without traffic. It takes about 2 hours using public transportation. We stayed relatively close to the train station and found a secure parking garage nearby. This made it to drop our luggage off before parking our car. The walk was flat and easy with limited cobblestones to navigate.
Driving in Germany is very easy, and it really is more efficient to visit some smaller Christmas markets if you have a car. Having a car allowed us to enjoy an afternoon of wine tasting near Rothenburg ob der Tauber before heading off to the Nuremberg Christmas markets. Nuremberg is actually at the top of my list of cities I enjoy, but it never seems to get the time it deserves on our itineraries. This was particularly true on this trip, as we decided at the last minute to drive to Venice for Christmas instead of continuing on to Munich, which was the original itinerary.
Visiting the Nuremberg Christmas Market
The Nuremberg Christmas market is one of the oldest markets in Germany. It’s also one of the largest. It’s so renowned that it has sister cities markets throughout the world – and hosts products from those cities at its own sister cities Christmas market. In 2022, we visited one of the sister cities Christmas markets in Verona, and it was absolutely incredible.
While the market is very, very crowded in the evening, I loved that we had the Nuremberg Christmas markets to ourselves in the morning. Nuremberg remains a place that I want to return to and spend more time. It still has a lot of secrets to uncover and I love strolling through the old town. It’s bigger than Rothenburg ob der Tauber, so I would recommend at least 3 days in Nuremberg to see everything. My advice for Rothenburg also still stands though – book your hotel early. The hotels in the aldstadt fill up quickly!
NOTE: Most German Christmas Markets close on or before Christmas Eve. If your’e hoping to visit the Christmas markets in Nuremberg after Christmas, it will be too late.
Nuremberg Christmas Market Traditions
The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt opening ceremony is the first Friday before advent and it runs through Christmas Eve. The Nuremberg Tourism board has the official dates every year. I would love to be there for the Nuremberg Christmas market opening ceremony and experience the appearance of the christkind. The process of choosing the christkind reminds me of a pageant, and I’m fascinated by it. We attended the opening of the Strasbourg Christmas markets and the lighting of Le Grand Sapin in 2022, and the energy was electric.
One of the things I loved most about the Nuremberg Christmas market was the live music in front of the Church of Our Lady. You can check the schedule in front of the bandstand. One of my core memories of Nuremberg was listening to a brass band play Christmas carols. It feels like such a lovely unifying moment, even if you don’t speak the language.
If you need to plan your shopping strategy (or remind yourself where to find something), there is a Nuremberg Christmas market map with all the stalls available!
What to Eat at the Nuremberg Christmas Market
Honestly, you could make your meals out of the Christmas market goodies. Personally, I’ve never met a wurstlstand I didn’t enjoy. Thus, I love the Nuremberger sausages. It’s three finger-sized sausages on a fresh bun. There’s just something delicious about the taste. My mouth is watering just writing about it. Tom prefers to wash his down with a local German beer. Another favorite is the original pretzel, but suggest getting a fresh one early in the morning. If you’re looking for a sweet treat, I suggest the traditional gingerbread (it’s so different than what we have in the states) or the gebrannte mandeln (candied almonds). My fondest memories of Nuremberg are triggered by the smell of roasting chestnuts or candied almonds.
I highly recommend taking a Nuremberg food tour to try all the local specialties. Outside of the Christmas market season, you can also sometimes find a gingerbread baking class at a local bakery. Since gingerbread originated in Nuremberg, I think you can find the best gingerbread in Nuremberg.
What to Buy at the Nuremberg Christmas Market
There is a souvenir for everyone on your Christmas list at the Nuremberg Christmas market. One of my favorite souvenirs is hand-painted German Christmas ornaments. My mom purchased a cross necklace for my grandmother. There are wooden toys for kids, scarves and cold weather gear, journals, traditional crafts (the Prune men!) and more. My only regret is not purchasing these candles that had delicate cityscapes on them. I’ve been trying to figure out if I can order them online. How beautiful are these Nuremberg souvenirs?
Other Things to Do in Nuremberg at Christmas
Gingerbread Cooking Class / Food Tour of Nuremberg
The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is famous for gingerbread. Throughout the market stalls, you’ll see many different types and flavors of gingerbread. While you should enjoy some fresh gingerbread, why not take it a step further? This delicious food tour of Nuremberg is a great way to learn more about the longstanding traditional German foods! You’ll also be able to taste other Nuremberg specialties. (I love the food in Nuremberg.)
You can also take a gingerbread class. They book up quickly and in advance. It’s a small group class and the Nuremberg Christmas markets get a lot of visitors. I would check availability almost every day and booked the class as soon one opened up with space for three. Book your class early to ensure that you have a spot!
German Christmas Market Tour
If this is your first trip to Germany for the Christmas markets, I highly recommend taking a tour to learn more about the history and traditions of the Christmas market. Each city has their own story, and I love learning about different Christmas traditions across the world. I learned so much when we took a tour of the Prague Christmas markets, and Nuremberg is completely different than Prague.
This Nuremberg Christmas market tour is another tour that becomes difficult to book late in the season. What I love about tours of the Christmas markets is learning about the local traditions. Every Christmas market I’ve ever visited has it’s own local flavor. Whether that a mulled wine speciality, a different type of sausage, or a sweet treat, it’s fun to learn more about the local flavor. Further, I love learning about different Christmas traditions.
While there are a lot of similarities in the same region, there are a lot of local traditions, too. These tours are the best way to learn about that. This is one of the first Christmas markets in Germany and the Nuremberg Christmas market history is steeped in tradition. For example, did you know that the Nuremberg Christkind is chosen every two years by an application and election process? It’s kind of like a pageant but not! This tour is a great way to learn more and go beyond the surface.
Understand Nuremberg’s History
I struggled with whether or not to include this tour on this particular post, but ultimately, I think you should set aside the Christmas cheer for a moment and do this. One of the most transformative experiences of my study abroad semester was when I visited the former Nazi rally grounds and the Documentation Center. As you walk through the Nuremberg Old Town, you’ll notice that it’s unmistakably new, despite trying to preserve the original design. It’s important to understand why. This tour does a fantastic job of explaining the history of Nuremberg in World War II while allowing you to go beyond market square and see other parts of the city.
For years I grappled with the idea that an entire country could allow such atrocities to happen. When you see these places, hear the stories, and read the documents, you realize that the Holocaust didn’t happen over night. It was gradual. It was intentional without seeming to be so. When I look at some of the things going on in the world today, I see the same things that I saw in those documents. There are a lot of parallels. I think this is an important thing to do if we are to bear witness to the past.
When you are debating how long to stay in Nuremberg, I would ensure you can spend a day learning more about the not-so-distant past.
Where to Stay in Nuremberg
Nuremberg is quite a bit larger than Rothenburg ob der Tauber, so you’ll want to pay closer attention to where you book your hotel. Tom and I prefer to stay in the city center, so I knew I wanted to stay within the old town walls. I had looked at a couple of large chain hotels that were right outside the old town, but ultimately, convenience won out. (And, I’m so glad it did.)
Generally, I prefer to book independent hotels on Hotels.com because of their loyalty program. Stay 10 nights, get one free. No nonsense and very straightforward. No finagling with points. At times, I even receive promotions for bonus nights if I rate hotels that have not received a lot of traffic. It’s been a good program for hotels that don’t offer benefits or perks through Tablet Plus or booking with a travel agent.
Melter Hotel and Apartments
Located within a few blocks of market square, the Melter Hotel and Apartments is located within a pedestrian only zone of Nuremberg. It’s a short walk from the train station or you can park in a garage a couple blocks away. This hotel reminds me of a more modern and minimalist Residence Inn. We booked two of the comfort apartment rooms with kitchenettes (because that was available). Rooms were spacious and designed for efficiency. (This is a refreshing theme throughout Germany. We should take notes.) Kitchenettes included everything you could need for meals. (There’s also a grocery store less than a block away.) The beds are very comfortable. Our room overlooked an interior courtyard, so it was very quiet. The bathrooms are decently sized and included a stand up shower with great water pressure.
Staff is so friendly and accommodating. They mixed up my mom and my reservations and bent over backwards to fix it before we went upstairs. I didn’t think it was a big deal, but when we saw the rooms, we understood why. My mom’s room had a bed that could only be reached by one side, while our room was a more traditional layout. I was impressed at how thoughtful they were in ensuring that Tom and I didn’t have to crawl over each other to get out of bed and they didn’t leave it to us to figure out on our own. Very conscientious.
Travel Tips for Nuremberg
If you aren’t interested in driving to Nuremberg, it’s easy to get there by train from Munich. It’s a little over an hour, so you could do it as a day trip, but I don’t recommend that. Stay in Nuremberg! If you’re wondering whether to visit the Nuremberg or Munich Christmas market, I’m here to tell you that they are COMPLETELY different. There are obviously more Christmas markets in Munich because it’s a bigger city, but I love the ambiance of the Nuremberg Christmas markets, especially in the early morning and late in the evening.
The Nuremberg Christmas Market is a fun place to be in the evenings. Everything is much more romantic when the lights come on and you stroll through the cobblestoned lanes of the old town. Beyond the Christmas market, the pedestrian zone of the old town is beautiful with plenty of local shops and regional chains. You’ll find everything from Kathe Wohlfhart to Burgerista. I loved walking from our hotel to the Christmas market. The streets were lined with flower market stalls, cheese markets, and even a pop-up beer hall! The atmosphere can’t be beat!
If you’re looking to get to the Documentation Center or places outside the old town, the U-Bahn, S-Bahn and bus system works great. Both Google Maps and Moovit are the best apps for figuring out the best option for public transportation.