Nuremberg in Upper Bavaria is a fine choice of destination as a tourist, offering a sizeable old town strewn with medieval monuments, not least the dramatic Kaiserburg castle set on a rock dominating the city centre. Circled by an extensively intact (and refurbished) city ring wall and intersected by the picturesque river Pegnitz running straight through the middle, you will find the Altstadt divided into 2 parts – Lorenz on the south bank and Sebaldus on the North bank. With 3 islands within the perimeter of the city walls and well over a dozen bridges linking this together, there are many routes to wander and explore.
This is complimented by a varied range of drinking options, with several breweries located in the city limits, an emerging craft beer scene and well-reputed choices for cocktails. We have cobbled (old town, get it?) together our latest Day Out feature which takes you past some of the highlights, while giving a chance to enjoy the best pubs and bars the city centre has to offer.
We start on Lorenz side at 1. Weissbierhex, which opens at a convenient time for anyone who fancies some pre-lunch refreshment. Here you will find a typical cosy little kneipe the décor of which sums up Germany’s predilection to mix the quaint with the macabre. A beautifully put together little hutch, with genteel curtains, doilies and so on, strewn with witch-themed dolls and nik-naks, soundtracked by a mix of punk rock and schlager.
(Please be aware: approaching from the southwest, while beautiful, takes you past Frauentormauer, the old town’s red light district, directly opposite the city walls!)
Weissbierhex has friendly and sociable staff and a cast of regulars. Perhaps it’s the great value and fresh-as-a-daisy hefeweizen on sale from the lesser-known Kuchlbauer? Morning, afternoon or evening, there is no wrong-feeling time to be here, which says a lot about the venue. At once genteel and fun, I’m confident you’ll really enjoy it.
After that, it’s clearly time for lunch, so pop across 2. Bar Fusser, Nuremberg’s central Brauhaus and Bierhalle. After all, you’re going to be needing some food to line your stomach for the drinking to come.
Upon finding the entrance at the end of a long building, you may not be expecting much, though head through the door and down the stairs, and suddenly a grand Bierkeller opens up in front of you. Though not apparent from the outside, Bar Fusser stretches the length of the building.
Opening in 1994, Bar Fusser offers traditional Franconian cooking, including, as you would hope and expect, Nürnberger Rostbratwurste (chipolata sized delicious grilled sausages) served simply with wholemeal bread, sauerkraut and mustard.
Given the cavernous size, you’ll be extremely unlucky to fail to find a table, so plonk yourself down, and start with either one of their blonde or dark beers, both of which are pitched for refreshment, and do the job ably.
Bar Fusser combines some very traditional bierkeller aesthetics, cooking and service with some more unusual quirky decoration, as hung from the ceiling are a range of English style pub awnings. The yellow paint and light combines well with the wooden décor and the venue becomes atmospheric the more people are there.
Although there are some mixed reviews, you won’t find another venue within the city walls that offers the same Ratskeller/Bierhalle type environment. There are other, better restaurants, for sure – it may not have the best meat but it has has the rest beat for décor, a more stereotypical atmosphere you may desire as a visitor, not to mention the fact it brews its own beer: very tasty beer at that. This is Upper Bavaria after all, I could hardly miss a place like this out.
Next up, 3. Kater Murr is a total change of speed from the trad bierhalle you’ve just been in, and perhaps that’s for the best when a post-lunch lounge is required. We’re close by, so it won’t take long to find – just be careful you approach from the right direction and don’t rush about, as it isn’t well signposted.
Step inside to find a light-hued, studenty hangout with books and magazines to read and a long row of bench seating around the windows. Opening at 3pm, this is a low-key hangout spot, but a popular one, slow-burning into the evening as the lights take over and a brooding artsy atmosphere develops.
Kater Murr offers a range of lesser known local and regional beers, some for very reasonable prices, but the bar is well equipped and staff have actually heard of the type of drinks younger people order, unlike the beer halls. I dare say you could even order a coffee here – (Editor passes out through shock).
It’s all a bit left-leaning, friendly and a touch Bohemian which is something that often gets missed in Germany inbetween the arch-traditional, the extreme alternative scenes and the ultramodern.
Now, hopefully you’ve enjoyed a little downtime post meal, and are psyched to explore, head back onto Königstraße and walk north to St Lorenz church, the namesake of the southern old town. It’s a Gothic masterpiece and impressive in scale and design. Take a look in if you fancy, if you just want to keep on trucking, then keep going down the hill towards the river with the Kaiserburg staring at you from the hill in the distance.
Once at the river, take the footpath hugging the river to your West and enjoy the beautiful riverside walk. If you want to get into it a bit more, zig-zag the bridges, but make sure you hop off at Karlsbrücke or the wonderful wooden Henkersteg (Hangman’s Bridge).
Our next stop 4. Bierwerk is a favourite of ours, and you can find our full write up by following this link here. The bar combines the best of traditional Franconian brewing with the German craft scene. You can find amazingly fresh and delicious beers almost without branding, mixing in with more heavily-marketed craft stuff. Most beer fans will be in heaven here!
And it’s a nice pub too – unfortunately way over-subscribed in the evenings, we recommend heading over around opening time. (While in the neighbourhood Take a look at the nearby bar Kloster as well, if you have time to kill – it’s a nice bar with a vaguely occult-themed design – full size coffin, anyone?)
Unconventional pub-games are another string to Bierwerk’s bow, with hammerschlagen (a very popular old game where you take it in turns to drive a nail into a log with the thin end of a hammer) and another where you have to get a hook into a bull’s nose ring. It’s a fun place to be providing you’re lucky enough to grab a seat, and undoubtedly one of the places-to-go for locals in the old town.
From here we cross over to Sebaldus side, the northern Altstadt. Our options for travel are all beautiful, but walking across Kettensteg brings you close to the city walls and the weir with fabulous view on both sides, allowing you to then walk up Weissgerbergasse, one of the more impressively complete half-timbered medieval streets in the city (which, by the way, are more common on the North side than the South) We are walking towards the Kaiserburg castle now, so head up Albrecht Durer Strasse, rewarded at the top with a magnificent view at Tiergartnerplatz, with the Tiergartner tower, an array of impressive half-timbered buildings and the dominating spectacle of the castle above. You are now in the historical centre of Nuremberg, take it all in!
5. Wirthaus Hutt’n, is mainly a restaurant styled in a rustic fashion, achieving somewhat of a Swiss chalet or Slovenian Gostilna feel – Alpine, anyway. However, the good news if you’re sticking to drinks is they have a Schänke, the taproom area to your right where you can unburden yourself of the prospect of shovelling down another half-kilo of pork products, and order some of the best beer in the city.
That’s no slight boast either considering the options all around you. No beer I’ve ordered here has ever been anything less than absurdly fresh, not to mention all being reasonable value. They select some of the highlights of the Franconian beer scene – rotbier, landbier, rauchbeer, schwarzbier and weissbier, among others. Sublime.
As the evening approaches, you may choose now as the time to fortify your stomach, but even if you don’t rest assured of a pleasant atmosphere in Hutt’n’s surprisingly locals-dominated taproom. It’s the kind of place I imagine picturing for motivation if I had been trekking in the desert.
6. Hausbrauerei Altstadthof does the whole ‘city brewery’ thing quite differently to most German cities, which is interesting in itself given Nuremberg is a stereotype of a traditional German city and because this particular operation are based within spitting distance of the castle (though it’ll be the people at the castle spitting on you rather than vice versa).
You won’t find an enormous bierhalle selling stock German cuisine across mile-long communal tables, but instead a modestly sized taproom with a central bar and stools around it. There’s limited bench seating to the left and right as well. Altstadhof hasn’t been open long, but the choice of fixtures and furniture are well chosen and will gain character over time.
For whatever reason, it rarely gets overly busy or overly quiet in here, which is just as well for them, I suppose.
The beer options are relatively interesting too – had a Rote-weissbier before? Can’t say I’ve even seen a craft brewery trying that one. Not to mention Rots, Schwarzes, Bocks, all readily available in Nuremberg but difficult to find in other regions of the country, let along outside it. All are available on tap.
Other than the beers almost constantly taking a long time to pour (adjust the flow rate perhaps?), there’s very little to dislike about this place. A good pub atmosphere and a nice place to strike up a conversation – it’s clear there’s a bigger mission than purely running a pub – they sell all kind of spin-off products – mustard, whiskey, brandy, but we’ll let them off. I’ve spent many a good hour in this place.
We’re well into the evening now, and time to let our hair down a little bit (those who have any, at least) so move on to 7. Mr Kennedy. Run by an American guy, Luke, from Maine, who trained as a brewer at Weihenstephaner and has his own signature beer “Luke’s Stout”, a local beer you drink here and find around in a couple of other pubs. As you may expect, the drinks options in here aren’t confined to varieties of German lager. However, you’ll find a well-chosen selection on tap and bottles, while the space itself is quite atmospheric too.
Ignore some of the gimmicks (sacks of malt, among other quite kitsch furnishings) which are so-far-so-craft-beer, and you’ll agree the space itself is well-designed and achieves the cosy hideout I believe they were going for. Opening only from 8pm onwards, this is in-line with many late bars in Germany, and on a Friday and Saturday at least, Mr Kennedy’s is very popular and this is one reliable option for a very late drink in this neck of the woods.
However, to round things off, I recommend checking out 8. Bar USG6, (aka. Nachtwächter) a lively little night bar with two floors. Record store by day and mini-club at night, you’ll find decent prices, and young crowd friendly enough to not worry about anyone increasing the mean average. The bar combines the very old with the very new in quite a stark fashion – difficult to explain without being there.
What better to round off a good Day Out in Nuremberg than some late night fun in one of the most historic cellars!
Other recommended options nearby:
Bela Lugosi (Central – Rock/metal bar)
Zur Burgtranke (Central/ Down to earth pub)
Grosse Freiheit (Gostenhof District/ Down to earth pub bar with interesting decor)
Schanzenbrau Schankwirtschaft (Gostenhof/ Respected local brew pub)
Palais Schaumburg (Gostenhof/ Stylish but understated bar/cafe/restaurant)
Tante Berry (North/ The closest thing central Nuremberg has to a Jazz Bar)
Arsch & Freidrich (Sudstadt/ Alternative hangout spot)
Landbierparadies (Sudstadt/ The venue for local Franconian beers)