Saturday, 20 December 2014

Nürnberg, Germany

The city of Nürnberg (or Nuremberg) lies in the northern part of the German state of Bavaria.  With around 500,000 inhabitants, Nürnberg is Bavaria's second-largest city (the largest is Munich).

You may well associate Nürnberg with the Second World War.  It was in this city that the Nazi regime held mass rallies, developing (but never completing) the rally grounds and congress hall.  After the war, trials of Nazi war criminals were held in Nürnberg.  This period is but one (very dark) chapter in the history of a city which has existed for nearly 1,000 years.

Nürnberg's public transport system is provided by Verkehrs-Aktiengesellschaft Nürnberg (VAG), a company wholly owned by the City of Nürnberg.

As in many other German cities, trams have a very visible presence in Nürnberg.  A network of five tram lines radiates out from the city centre.


Line 7 (above) has ceased operation since the image was taken in 2011.  Its route is now covered mainly by line 8.

In and around the centre of Nürnberg, the tram system has a mix of on-street and segregated track.

These images (right and below) were taken near the Documentation Centre, a permanent exhibition about the Nazi regime, to the south of the city.

The tram network complements an U-Bahn (metro) system which opened in 1972.  The U-Bahn network has developed since, currently comprising three lines.  Driverless trains operate on lines U2 and U3.

The U-Bahn provides the public transport link between Nürnberg city centre and the airport.
As in a number of continental cities I have visited, many of Nürnberg's buses stay in the suburbs where they act as feeders to the tram and U-Bahn systems.

This image, taken near the Documentation Centre, is of one of many services which connect with the tram network rather than running into the city centre.
Nevertheless, a small number of bus services do reach the centre of Nürnberg, serving corridors which are some distance from tram and U-Bahn services.

Two routes terminate outside the main railway station, Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof.

Articulated buses with three sets of doors are used on these services.
Three routes operate into the historic heart of the city.  Standard single-deck buses are used on these routes.

Some are conventional diesel-powered vehicles.

Others are gas-powered, with fuel tanks mounted on the roof.

Route 36 links a number of places of interest.  It is an integral part of the Nürnberg transport system, but is promoted to tourists as a sightseeing route.

As well as conventional diesel and gas-powered buses, I also found a hybrid vehicle operating on route 36.

Although many of the buses I saw were carrying the red and white livery of VAG, I did notice a few in commercial advertising colours.

Fares on Nurnberg's public transport system are set by the regional transport association, Verkehrsverbund Großraum Nürnberg GmbH (VGN).  Fares are based on a zonal system, with a single tariff covering journeys within the zones covering Nürnberg and into Fürth.  At the time of writing, a single journey within these zones costs €2.50 and allows unlimited interchange between bus, tram, U-Bahn and rail services for up to 90 minutes.  A day ticket for this area costs €5.30, although at weekends one ticket covers both Saturday and Sunday; family tickets are available.  For travel into zones beyond Nürnberg and Fürth, tickets are available at higher prices.  Guests at many of Nürnberg's hotels can buy a two-day ticket covering any two consecutive days, for travel in Nürnberg and Fürth, for €6.75 per person.
The public transport system is complemented by a cycle hire scheme.  These are known as NorisBike, in recognition of the sponsorship they receive.  The NorisBike website is in German only.



For longer-distance and international travel, Nürnberg is served by coaches as well as by the railway system.

Coaches use a terminal a short distance from the main railway station.

Nürnberg is a city with railway history.  The first railway in what is now Germany opened in 1835, running from Nürnberg to the nearby town of Fürth.  Today, the city is home to the DB Museum, Germany's national railway museum.




The museum, which is generally open daily except Mondays, shares a building with the museum of communication (website in German).

The railway museum also has an open-air section.  You can even operate some of the signals.

Nürnberg also has a tramway museum a short distance from the city centre, although this is only open for one weekend each month.

A sightseeing tour is operated by Nürnberg Stadtrundfahrt using a double-deck bus with a retractable roof.

The tour runs all year, generally from Wednesdays to Sundays, although between Christmas and the end of March it only operates at weekends.

Somewhat surprisingly for a service aimed at visitors, the website is only in German, although information in English (and a number of other languages) is available on the Nürnberg tourism website

Many of the streets of Nürnberg's old town are narrow and not suited to full-size buses.  A road train provides a tour of the old town from March to December.

Information in English and other languages is provided on the Nürnberg tourism website.


In the weeks before Christmas, Nürnberg hosts a large Christmas market which attracts a considerable number of tourists.  In addition to the regular sightseeing tours, a couple of seasonal tours were being operated when I visited in December 2014.

Preserved trams from the museum were operating special "Glühwein" tours starting from outside Nürnberg Hauptbahnhof.

Mulled wine (or a non-alcoholic alternative) and lebkuchen, a seasonal German sweet biscuit, are served during the tour and are included in the ticket price.

Horse-drawn carriages from the museum of communication were providing short tours around the city centre.


December 2014 wasn't my first visit to Nürnberg.  I had spent a couple of days there in September 2011.  It may have been too early for the Christmas market and its associated attractions, but I did find something else in Nürnberg's market place.

Since being retired from front-line service, London's Routemaster buses have been scattered far and wide.  This one was being used as a hospitality unit by a local brewery.