The world’s highest church tower, the Guinness Book of Records’ most crooked hotel, the oldest sculpture of animals and humans (40,000 years old), Germany’s best-maintained fortress, and, until 2009, the shortest urban railway network. Ulm is a city of superlatives and showcases Germany’s beauty. Such as the narrow lanes in the Fischerviertel and the countless small bridges that lead through the neighbourhood. There’s a gorgeous timbered house hidden around every corner, I felt like I was in a fairytale. But Ulm has a different side, too. Just across from the historic part of town you’ll stumble across the gallery of modern art Weishaupt and the impressive Ulm cathedral. The best bit? Everything’s just a few meters away, and it’s easy to explore the whole town on foot.
Things not to miss – Ulm’s top landmarks and sights
ULM TRAVEL TIPS: ULMER MÜNSTER – ULM CATHEDRAL
I love the superlative! The highest, the fastest, the biggest, no matter what, I’m game. An absolute must-see and a bit of an adventure – Ulm cathedral.
It’s Ulm’s most famous landmark, and it’s obvious why – at 161,53m it’s the highest church tower in the world. If you’re keen to climb to the top, beware, you’ll get a bit sweaty. No wonder with 768 steps. At its highest point it’s really narrow, only 50cm wide, which gets a bit tight when two people have to squeeze past each other. Avoid the tower if you’re afraid of heights and tight places. But I’m not trying to scare you – when I went a six-year old girl was clambering up the stairs in front of me. The view from 143m is stunning and worth the climb. Best to go at lunchtime, when the bells ring at noon. You can feel the vibrations in your chest. The tower on the first level – in the centre – has a small hole through which you can see the bells swinging!
After this spot of exercise reward yourself with a Dinnete – a savoury flat pastry with toppings, similar to the Flammkuchen from Alsace – straight out of the oven. Every Wednesday and Saturday there’s a market on the square outside the cathedral. I noticed that the queue in front of the Dinnete stand is the longest, so it’s safe to say the food is delicious.
ULM TRAVEL TIPS: THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SQUARES AND ALLEYS
I’m really lucky, fate seems to always guide me the nicest spots. Same in Ulm. Even though I had no clue where I was going, I automatically ended up on the prettiest streets and dreamiest lanes.
ULM TRAVEL TIPS: THE PRETTIEST LANES
- Herrenkellergasse (Café Gustav is well worth a visit.)
- Platzgasse (Has a great stamp shop.
My favourite part of Ulm is the Fischerviertel. Walking around here has a wonderful holiday vibe.
Where ones the town’s tradesmen lived, today tourists wander the narrow lanes and visit the neighbourhood’s numerous galleries, restaurants and boutiques. Every so often you’ll cross a small bridge, walk across the river bustling by below and spot the next beautiful timbered house. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the Fischerviertel is also home to the world’s most crooked hotel. And just like my love for superlatives had taken me by the hand and led me there – I found it. In general, the Fischerviertel seems to have loads of squint buildings, because the Metzerturm also has a bit of a lean to it – at an angle of 3.3° it’s pretty to close the leaning tower of Pisa at 3.9°.
Ulm Reisetipps: boat tour with the Ulmer Spatz
After a 2-year hiatus, the Danube river boat “Ulmer Spatz” now commutes between the pier at Metzgerturm to Friedrichsau and back. This project truly stole my heart, not just because I love boats but because the Ulmer Spatz is an amazing concept. The crew includes people with disabilities. The charity “Lebenshilfe” helped fund the restoration of the old steamboat, which is finally back in action. The historic boat even used to set sail on Schluchsee lake! Its voyage in Ulm leads along the city walls past the Rosengarten and it’s perfect for a rainy day, as it’s fully covered.
The view is great, but the Captain’s storytelling skills are the real highlight. His tales include one about the squint Metzgerturm! Once upon a time an animal was slaughtered and brought into Ulm through the city gates. The visiting butchers used sawdust and water to mix in with the meat in order to sell more sausages. When the residents of Ulm discovered what had happened, they weren’t impressed. They had a go at the butchers and locked them in the tower. Just like you’d imagine, these butchers were all bulky, strong men. So when the executioner came to bring them to the town square the butchers all hid in the one corner, thus causing the tower to lean.
A roundtrip with „Ulmer Spatz“ last approximately 60 minutes. You can embark and disembark at Friedrichsau and Metzgerturm. Departure times (May – October) Tuesday – Friday from 12:30 pm every 90 minutes (last trip at 5pm), Saturday and Sunday from 11 am every 90 minutes (last trip at 5pm)
ULM TRAVEL TIPS: NIGHT WATCHMEN TOUR THROUGH ULM (APPROX. 90 MIN)
„Hear ye, hear ye…“, this was the cry of the night watchmen hundreds of years ago as they walked through the town. Ulm runs its very own watchmen guided tour of the city, during which you can help keep a lookout in the Gerber- and Fischerviertel. I have to admit this tour had been on my to do list for quite a while! Ulm’s narrow lanes are ideal for a walk through forgotten ages and tales of days gone by. It was a wonderful tour, I laughed a lot and I learned even more. Did you know that night watchmen were considered honourless, so you would never shake their hand, like executioners or gravediggers? That’s where the German tradition of saying goodbye to a large round of people by knocking on the table comes from. Or did you know where the German word “Torschusspanik” (a kind of last-minute panic) comes from? Back in the day the city gates were locked at 10pm, so anyone wanting to enter later than that had to pay a penalty. A small highlight of the tour was seeing the house where Albert Einstein was born and where his grandmother lived. Gives you a completely different perspective of the city, and you’ll certainly look forward to a warm cosy hotel bed as opposed to walking the perimeters of the city with a lantern all night!
Apparently there’s also a guided tour with Christine, the Swabian cleaning lady. If you happen to end up on this tour please please please do tell me what it was like!
ULM TRAVEL TIPS: THE BEST CAFÉS AND RESTAURANTS
I love exploring new cafés and restaurants. I usually spend hours hunting down vegan restaurants, researching menus, only to change my mind and try a place I’ve spontaneously stumbled across, just like Fräulein Berger. When I peered through the front window I knew I’d end up staying.
The venue is lovingly decorated, like something out of the 1960s. The team loves regional products and even offers vegan specialties. The lunch set menu featured Indian lentils, which I ordered, together with an iced ginger lemonade, which was delicious.
Fräulein Berger is located at Herrenkellergasse 89073.
Just opposite from Fräulein Berger you’ll spot the bakery Bäckerei Zaiser. This is the only bakery that still sells Ulm’s famous sugar bread, an absolute must. It’s a yeast dough seasoned with Mediterranean spices. Ingredients include Malaga wine, rose water, star anise and fennel, and the bread goes really well with red wine!
ULM TRAVEL TIPS: MORE RESTAURANTS AND CAFÉS IN ULM:
- Café Liquid: Has a relaxing summer terrace, typically Swabian dishes and tasty Italian ice cream. Gorgeous interior design featuring glass and wood. ––– Münsterplatz 90 Ulm
- Fisch-Manufaktur LeFrank: LeFrank: If you like fish then this is the place for you! LeFrank loves freshness, quality and environmental sustainability. In addition to local specialties, like Swabian trout, seabream from the Med and line caught halibut from the North Atlantic, this place also stocks more exotic fish like organic Salmon from Scottish and Irish farms or the popular wild salmon from the Gulf of Alaska. Great for fish newbies and fish lovers alike. ––– Head straight to the restaurant at Dreiköniggasse 7 call ahead to make a reservation at +49 731 60272191.
- Café Brettle: Looking for a top notch breakfast? Look no further. Great for a nice cup of coffee or snack, as well as tasty cakes and scrumptious soups and Maultaschen. On Sunday nights a big group comes together to have dinner and watch Tatort, the German crime series.––– Rabengasse 10
- Manufaktur-Café ANIMO!: Delicious coffee served in a stylish venue that hosts rotating art exhibitions. Offers a set lunch menu featuring fresh ingredients from 11:45 am to 2:30 pm. Yummy! ––– Syrlinstr. 17
- Restaurant „Zur Forelle“: What can’t a neighbourhood for fishermen and trout lack? Fish, obviously. The gorgeous sunny terraces with water features are perfect at any time of day. Serves truly local food – 90% of the menu is from the region. ––– Fischergasse 25
- Ulmer Pfannkuchenhaus: Ulm’s first pancake house. Serves everything from the traditional sweet pancake with butter and icing sugar to the super pancake which comes with pork filet, ham, tomatoes and beans – everything you could possibly want. Be careful, portions are huge!––– Fischergasse 12
- Bootshaus Ulm: This houseboat is docked just a few metres from the lovely Danube river. Perfect sun deck for food, snacks and wine.––– Gaenslaende 10
ULM TRAVEL TIPS: VEGAN RESTAURANTS IN ULM – RECOMMENDATIONS From eat this
- Damn Burger: If you love vegan burgers then make sure you come here. Yummy handmade spelt rolls, regional toppings and sauces free from preservatives, colourings and flavour enhancers. So tasty it’ll make carnivores love vegan-vegetarian burgers. ––– Karpfengasse 4
- Dean and David: This salad company is making a name for itself among health conscious customers. Fresh smoothies, crunchy salads and spicy curries. This is how you do healthy modern fast food!––– Hafengassen
- fruchtrausch die Smoothie Bar: As implied by its name, this place offers an intoxicatingly fruity rush. Whatever you fancy, you name it, they’ve got it – from creamy to fruity smoothies: they’re all delicious.––– Hafengasse 1
- Gemüsemafia: Best falafel in town. Also sells dangerously good burritos and yummy salads.––– Judenhof 1
- Asia Van: This isn’t your bog standard vegan restaurant, but it serves tasty traditional Asian cuisine.––– Hoheschulgasse 1
- Café Edeltraudt: Serves constantly changing lunch menus and great coffee and cake.––– Gemeindeplatz 10
- Fräulein Berger: I can highly Fräulein Berger. Great 1960s interior, great breakfast and yummy vegan treats.––– Herrenkellergasse 14
- Anondo: This is a Bengali restaurant, which has a wide range of vegan dishes on its menu. Simply ask for vegan recommendations, lean back and enjoy.––– Syrlinstraße 22
ULM TRAVEL TIPS: THE BEST MUSEUMS
- Kunsthalle Weißhaupt: Perfect for fans for modern and contemporary art. From Mark Rothko and Willem de Koonig to Warhol and Lichtenstein, there are plenty of famous artists to explore. Not just for a rainy day. ––– Hans-und-Sophie-Scholl-Platz 1, Telephone: 0731 161-4360
- Museum der Brotkultur: Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about bread. How is it made and how has technology evolved? At its core this museum is all about the social and personal importance of bread. ––– Salzstadelgasse 10
- Edwin Scharff Museum: This art and children’s museum manages to captivate young and old audiences alike with its interactive exhibits. There are permanent displays on Scharff and Geitlinger, but there are regular special collections, too.––– Petrusplatz 4
ULM TRAVEL TIPS – HOTEL RECOMMENDATION
If you truly want to experience Ulm you have to stay in Fischerviertel. I checked into „Schmales Haus“ (narrow house), which certainly lives up to its name, just like the leaning hotel nearby. I think the whole building’s less than six metres wide. Crazy. But really cosy. My room had a view over the canals and timbered houses. It rained one afternoon so I just sat in my room and watched the world go by. I hadn’t done that in a while. It was lovely seeing the look of surprise on people’s faces when they crossed the bridge and spotted the narrow hotel. It has a very homey vibe which spreads through your whole body within seconds of arriving. And it’s got the best breakfast view.
Ulm travel tips from locals
ULM TRAVEL TIPS – NIGHTLIFEUlm Reisetipps – das Nachtleben
- Die „Stiege Ulm“ Bar: This place brings together art and bar. Every year an international artist puts together an installation that highlights the bar’s character and the venue itself. During the summer a number of readings, concerts and cultural events take place. Pop by for a drink and enjoy the view of the Danube.––– Adlerbastei 2/1 89073 Ulm
- BellaVista: Beautiful classy rooftop bar. Stunning view over Ulm’s old town, the cathedral and the square. Perfect for sunsets!––– Münsterplatz 35
- CafeBar W: This pretty bar in the centre of town is a great meeting place and a prime people watching spot.––– Wengengasse 5 89073 Ulm
- Rosebottel Café & Bar: Rosebottel Bar has some incredibly unusual drinks – unique in Ulm. Don’t miss out! You’ll surely love the charming retro interior.––– Zeitblomstraße 21
- Stitzbar: Ideal for sipping on a tasty cocktail and unwinding after a long day…––– Herdbruckerstr. 28
Another insider tip for shopping – Rothbrust. This place sells beautiful crockery from France, classy tableware and scented soaps.
ULM TRAVEL TIPS – day trips:
FRIEDRICHSAU – THE WONDERFUL PARK “STADTPARK”
The luscious green city park Friedrichsau is incredibly popular, not just for locals. It’s located just a bit outside of Ulm. Visitors love coming here to picnic and ride boats.
BLAUTOPF NEAR ULM
Okay, you’ve seen most of the city and still have some time left to go explore the surrounding area? How about visiting Blautopf, the second most abounding karstic spring in Germany? It’s about a 30-minute car drive from Ulm to Blautopf, where the Blau River has its source. This body of water shimmers in a gorgeously intense blue or turquoise depending on the sun. Grab a coffee and an ice cream and settle down by the water, just opposite the church. If you’ve still got time go and explore Blaubeuren, a small town nearby.
Copyright: Ulm/Neu-Ulm Touristik GmbH – Museum Ulm
Söflingen monastry is located approximately 3km outside of Ulm’s city centre. It is one of the oldest and most significant monasteries under the Poor Clares in Germany. The Poor Clares are an order of nuns. Today, the monastery is used as a parish church.
ULM TRAVEL TIPS – ULMCARD
If you plan to spend a few days in Ulm then think about getting an UlmCard. This entitles you to free transport on busses and trams in both parts of town, free entrance to eight museums, a free guided tour of town, free entrance to the cathedral, and many more. If you’re not a fan of public transport then you can hire bikes at a reduced price and explore the city on your own.
You can get it at the tourist information (Stadthaus) at Münsterplatz 50 or at the DB-Service-Point in Ulm’s Central Station. You can also ask in your hotel, maybe they have some for sale too.
This post was written in cooperation with Ulm/Neu-Ulm Touristik and Urlaubsland Baden-Württemberg.