My Love Affair With These INCREDIBLE Things To Do In Ulm!

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My love affair with Ulm was not love at first sight. Far from it.

As I walked from the station to my hotel, I thought so what? and why do people rave about Ulm? There are places far prettier.

As someone who LOVES picturesque old towns, I started my time in Ulm by being a snob. It looked too modern, boring and bland. This is not why I come to Germany, I thought.

Then I turned a corner and the massive and magnificent Ulm Minster, with the tallest steeple in the world, was staring at me.

The magnificent Ulm Minster rising above the shopping streetsPin
The magnificent Ulm Minster rising above the shopping streets

A moment later, I was in the lively Münsterplatz, a produce market surrounding me, and I was starting to fall in love.

Nestled on the banks of the Danube, Ulm is a quaint German city that quietly boasts a wealth of cultural and historical treasures. It’s a place where the echoes of the past meet modern-day charm, offering a spectrum of experiences from architectural marvels to idyllic green spaces.

At least that’s what I had read. I wasn’t convinced in my first ten minutes in the city, but over the next few hours, I was going to have a new love in my life.

In this article, we’ll be stepping into this picturesque city, exploring its top attractions and uncovering why each one is a must-visit. As we take a virtual tour, I’ll share insights into the rich tapestry that makes Ulm a compelling destination for travelers – and why you might fall in love too.

As someone who delights in guiding others through the layers of history and culture that a city has to offer, I did end up finding Ulm’s blend of old-world allure and contemporary zest particularly captivating.

I also love the randomness of Ulm attractions. It’s home to Guiness World Record holding crookedest house, one of the narrowest houses, the tallest cathedral steeple and Einstein was born here.

The city’s standout landmarks tell stories of a vibrant history, with each site on our list contributing a unique thread to the city’s narrative. From the towering spires of the Ulm Minster to the cheeky spirit reflected in the Albert Einstein Fountain, there’s something in Ulm for every curious mind.

Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply in search of a peaceful German retreat, I invite you to continue reading to discover the treasures that await in Ulm.

And don’t judge Ulm in the first ten-minutes like I nearly did. There is so much to love about this city.

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A Brief History of Ulm

Ulm, nestled on the banks of the Danube River in the federal German state of Baden-Württemberg, boasts a rich tapestry of history that stretches back centuries. Founded around 850 AD, Ulm blossomed in the medieval era as an important center of trade and craft due to its strategic location at the crossroads of Europe.

The city’s growth was significantly bolstered by its membership in the Hanseatic League, a medieval confederation of merchant guilds and their market towns. This affiliation fostered the economic prosperity that became a hallmark of Ulm’s progress, drawing artisans, builders, and traders to the city.

Perhaps the most iconic symbol of Ulm’s storied past is the Ulm Minster, a Gothic masterpiece that began construction in the 14th century. With the world’s tallest church steeple standing at 161.5 meters (530 ft), the Minster reflects Ulm’s medieval wealth and the residents’ faith and ambition.

However, it wasn’t until 1890 that the Minster was completed, enduring through the changing tides of history, including the Reformation and the shifts in political power that swept across Europe.

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Ulm

In the 16th century, Ulm experienced an intellectual transformation as well, becoming a hub of the German Renaissance. It was during this period that the mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler was a schoolboy here, and Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger, the “Tailor of Ulm,” attempted his pioneering but ill-fated flight over the Danube in 1811.

Moving into the modern era, the 19th century marked a period of decline for Ulm as the city’s economic significance waned, partly due to the shifting patterns of trade and industrialization. This trend reversed with the arrival of the railway and the late-19th-century revival.

The destruction unleashed during World War II did not spare Ulm, with devastating air raids leveling much of the city. The post-war period focused on rebuilding, and Ulm became known for its modern urban planning and architecture; the Ulm School of Design, founded in 1953, emerged as a leading institution, influencing design principles internationally.

Today, Ulm stands as a vibrant city showcasing an intriguing blend of historical heritage and contemporary ingenuity, drawing visitors to explore its past, marvel at the Minster, and experience the dynamic spirit that has defined it for over a millennium.

Top 13 Incredible Things To Do In Ulm

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Just about all these attractions in Ulm are within the Old Town Area. Glacis Park is just outside. Legoland and Blautopf are the only attractions which require transport to get to.

I recommend you walk your way around the first ten and really soak up everything Ulm offers.

1. Visit Ulm Minster (Ulmer Münster)

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Ulm Minster

Being just outside my hotel door, the Ulm Minster was the first place I visited. I couldn’t help it. Its huge steeple was calling me.

It is an architectural wonder and an essential landmark not just for its religious significance, but as a historical and cultural beacon. Begun in 1377 in a flourishing medieval city and only completed in 1890, the Minster has stood as a witness to the ebb and flow of Ulm’s fortunes over the centuries.

Its steeple, the tallest in the world at 161.5 meters, is a feat of medieval engineering and ambition that still impresses today. You can marvel at the spire’s delicate filigree of stonework, explore the spacious nave with its intricate stained glass windows, or reflect in the quiet of its chapels.

Inside Ulm MinsterPin
Inside Ulm Minster

The inside is quite stunning and worth a wander. You can also buy tickets for regular organ concerts which I imagine would be amazing.

The climb up those 768 steps to the viewing platform challenges the body (and mind if you hate heights like me!) but rewards with panoramic views that span as far as the Alps, allowing you to survey the city as the medieval bishops might have done. It also helps you appreciate what went into building this magnificent steeple. You can’t go all the way to the top but can go 102 meters up.

I skipped the tower initially as the area was so busy on the weekend. I went back on the Monday morning and had it all to myself which only added to the experience.

Amazing views from the top of Ulm MinsterPin
Amazing views from the top of Ulm Minster

I found the stairs hard work though – not physically – they were nice and even, but mentally. I’m not a big fan of heights and the staircases between the ground and the “aufstieg”. which is the first level where you can look at views 70 meters up, had no railings. It took me awhile to walk back down with nothing good to hold onto and was quite a battle for my mind to keep going!

It’s not just the church itself which is amazing here though. Ulm Minster is surrounded by Münsterplatz which I thoroughly enjoyed. It felt like the beating heart of the city with action always taking place.

On my arrival, this was a produce market. The next day, there was nothing as structured as this but so many activities. Kids were drawing with chalk on the ground and playing games with wooden blocks. There were food vans and tables and chairs.

Later in the day, there were random chairs where people were having a drink or just watching the church and taking it all in. I loved it.

2. Admire the Ulm City Hall (Rathaus) and Marktplatz

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Ulm Rathaus

Next up, and very close by, I wandered to Ulm Rathaus which dates back to the 14th century. It’s not only the political center of Ulm; it is a vibrant centerpiece of art and history in the city’s public life. Its frescoed facades, vibrant with scenes from Ulm’s illustrious past, and an intricate astronomical clock are emblems of Renaissance artistry.

It’s incredibly picturesque and you’ll want to wander around all four sides to see all the different pictures.

The Marktplatz that extends before it is also full of life, restaurants and bars, echoing the trade that once made this city a prominent economic center. Check out the Fischkastenbrunnen which used to be where fishmongers dumped their catch.

The historical significance and the continuation of age-old traditions solidify the Rathaus and Marktplatz as central to the Ulm experience, offering both aesthetic delight and a link to living history.

My initial hesitations about Ulm being beautiful and worth visiting were starting to disappear.

3. Stroll through the Fishermen’s Quarter (Fischerviertel)

Fishermen's Quarter (Fischerviertel)  UlmPin
Fishermen’s Quarter (Fischerviertel)

When I really fell in love with Ulm was next up where I walked through the crazy charming Fishermen’s Quarter, or ‘Fischerviertel’. This is Ulm’s enchanting old world heart, presenting an authentic slice of medieval life. As the name suggests, this area was traditionally home to the city’s fishing and tanning trades, and many of the original 16th-century buildings remain intact.

The district’s romantic ambiance is accentuated by the picturesque channels of the Blau River flowing through.

Fishermen's Quarter (Fischerviertel)  UlmPin
Fishermen’s Quarter

Take your time here. The area isn’t huge, but it is hugely charming. You’ll love the charm of cobblestone paths and quaint corners, an inviting atmosphere for artisan shops, cafes, and galleries that have found their niche amid the historic framework.

4. Check out the World’s Most Crooked House

IMG_8705World's most crooked house! UlmPin
World’s most crooked house!

Another place I visited while wandering through the Fisherman’s Quarter was the Schiefes Haus Hotel. This is a tilted timber-frame building, seeming to defy gravity and time. This is the crookedest house in the world according to the Guinness World Records.

You can actually stay here if you dare. It’s super picturesque and perfect for a photo.

5. Discover the Ulm City Walls (Ulmer Stadtmauer)

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Ulm City Walls

While nowhere was as beautiful to me as the Fisherman’s Quarter, the city walls on the edge of this area only addes to its appeal.

At the time of their construction, the Ulm City Walls played a pivotal role in safeguarding the city’s residents during periods of conflict and strife, exemplifying the city’s strategic military importance over the centuries.

Today, these fortifications stand partially intact, whispering stories of bygone sieges and peace-time parleys. Napoleon reduced the height in the 19th century deciding that the fortifications weren’t helpful for him. You can roam sections of this once-imposing defensive line, rediscovering hidden pathways and gaining views of modern Ulm framed by historic battlements.

The juxtaposition of ancient stones against the backdrop of a city that has grown far beyond its medieval borders offers a unique perspective on Ulm’s growth and development. Plus, there are even eating and drinking opportunities on this wall which are really a stunning way to soak in more of this great city.

6. Visit the Ulm Synagogue

Ulm SynagoguePin
Ulm Synagogue

Around this area, this is far more to discover. Like the Ulm Synagogue, with its contemporary architecture. It stands as a profound symbol of reconciliation and remembrance.

The original synagogue, destroyed during the November Pogroms in 1938, was replaced by this modern structure in 2012, which was carefully designed to provide a safe and welcoming space for Ulm’s Jewish community.

With its distinctive façade and significant cultural and educational role, the new Ulm Synagogue is not only a place of worship but a powerful reminder of the importance of cultural diversity and history.

Visitors are offered the chance to engage in intercultural dialogue, attend services, and participate in remembrance activities, making it an important site for those who wish to honor the past while fostering hope for a more inclusive future.

7. Experience the Kunsthalle Weishaupt (Weishaupt Art Gallery)

Kunsthalle Weishaupt UlmPin
Kunsthalle Weishaupt

A visit to the Kunsthalle Weishaupt is an immersion into the realm of contemporary art. Opened in 2007, this private museum complements the ancient charm of Ulm with a trove of modern and post-modern artworks.

The collection, put together by the Weishaupt family, is a dynamic array that includes pieces by renowned artists such as Andy Warhol and Max Bill. The sleek design of the museum building itself, with its clear lines and modernist aesthetic, acts as a canvas to the striking artworks it houses which focus on modern and pop art.

For art enthusiasts and curious visitors alike, the Kunsthalle Weishaupt provides context to Ulm’s artistic evolution.

8. Uncover the Bread Culture Museum (Museum Brot und Kunst)

Museum of Bread and Art (Museum Brot und Kunst) UlmPin
Museum of Bread and Art (Museum Brot und Kunst)

The Bread Culture Museum, also known as the Museum of Bread and Art (Museum Brot und Kunst), dives into the essential role of bread throughout history and culture.

This unique institution was founded in the 1960s and hoists the status of bread from a mere staple to a cultural artifact, revealing its significance in various social, religious, and economic contexts. Through an array of artifacts, ranging from baking implements to artworks inspired by bread, the museum educates and entices visitors.

The narrative it weaves of Ulm’s association with bread—dating back to the city’s rich trade history in medieval times—demonstrates Ulm’s historical prominence in everyday cultural practices, making it a profound venue for those intrigued by the anthropology of food.

Read more about the importance of bread in Germany here.

9. Visit the Albert Einstein Fountain

Albert Einstein Fountain UlmPin
Albert Einstein Fountain

The Albert Einstein Fountain is an understated yet significant monument dedicated to Ulm’s most famed son, Albert Einstein, born in the city in 1879 (although he left at one year old).

This modern fountain does not only commemorate the physicist’s birthplace but serves as a beacon of inspiration, representing the theory of relativity through a snaking space-time continuum that encircles the fountain.

It certainly made me chuckle with its weird expression! It is a bit removed from the other places to visit on this list. I recommend that you walk here using the most minor streets you can. I followed the most direct way initially on Google Maps which was a boring walk. It was much more enjoyable once I walked off the main road.

10. Explore the Ulm Museum (Ulmer Museum)

Ulm Museum (Ulmer Museum)Pin
Ulm Museum (Ulmer Museum) – currently being renovated

The Ulm Museum or ‘Ulmer Museum’ serves as an essential institution capturing Ulm’s rich tapestry of history and art.

Renowned for its collection that spans from prehistory to modern times, the museum is especially celebrated for housing the Lion Man – an awe-inspiring Paleolithic statue carved from mammoth ivory, believed to be over 30,000 years old and representing mankind’s earliest known artistic endeavors.

Alongside such ancient treasures, visitors can peruse an impressive array of medieval artifacts, a testament to Ulm’s historical prominence, and works of contemporary art reflecting the city’s evolution. The museum represents a journey through time, encapsulating the narrative of human creativity and the perseverance of cultural legacy.

At least, that’s what I’m told. At the time of my visit, this museum is closed for major renovations and the Lion Man is currently on display at the Kunsthalle Weishaupt. Hopefully, it’s open for your visit.

11. Relax at the Glacis Park

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Glacis Park

Glacis Park, once the city’s fortifications, now serves as a verdant refuge amidst Ulm’s urban landscape. The transformation from military grounds to a public park is a narrative of peace and communal space, mirroring the city’s transition from a wartime stronghold to a beacon of cultural openness and natural beauty.

You can unwind on lush lawns, wander through themed gardens, and stumble upon historical markers that hint at the park’s former life. Families will love the playground. Adults may prefer the beer garden.

12. Be Amazed at Blautopf

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Blautopf

A trip to Ulm is incomplete without witnessing the enchanting beauty of Blautopf, a natural spring located in the town of Blaubeuren, just a short journey from Ulm. It’s only about ten minutes by train and then another 20 minutes walking. It makes for a great half-day trip, and it is another reason why I fell in love with Ulm.

This wonder of Mother Nature is famed for its stunningly vivid blue water, which creates a mystic atmosphere reminiscent of fairy-tale settings. The intense aquamarine hue of the spring, resulting from its limestone-rich waters and impressive depth, makes it a photographer’s and nature enthusiast’s dream.

I highly recommend that you don’t just visit Blautopf but enjoy the great walks here from Blaubeuren station. I wrote all about them here.

Whether you’re there to capture the perfect photograph or simply to marvel at the clarity of the spring, the Blautopf is a sight that’s sure to leave a lasting impression on your visit to the Ulm region.

Click here to read our full guide to Blautopf (and what it looks like in warmer months).

13. Have Fun at Legoland Germany

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Legoland Deutschland

Legoland Germany, located just over 30 kilometers from Ulm, is an adventure park that brings the creativity and excitement of LEGO to life. Opened in 2002, it’s a destination that invites visitors to step into worlds made entirely from the iconic bricks, featuring thrill rides, interactive exhibits, and meticulously detailed miniscapes.

The park caters to a wide age range, making it a family favorite. It is best for kids under 12 though – my kids absolutely love it.

The impressive models of cities, landscapes, and famous landmarks captivate both young and old, while workshops and building stations ignite imaginations.

Legoland Germany captures the playful spirit that is part of Ulm’s wider appeal, providing an enjoyable contrast to the city’s more historical attractions.

Where To Stay In Ulm

Ulm has a great range of accommodation options for good prices. They especially have some great smaller hotels which have been renovated beautifully to give some quality options.

This is the hotel I stayed at which I highly recommend.

Motel One Ulm

My standard queen room at Motel One UlmPin
My standard queen room at Motel One Ulm

The first thing that attracted to me to Motel One Ulm (other than the prices) was the location. It’s a ten-minute walk from the station but right on Münsterplatz. I didn’t realise how good this was until I got there and made my way up to their rooftop terrace and Cloud One Bar. OMG check out this view!

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The great views from their Cloud One Bar

This made me regret that I went for the cheapest room type and didn’t pay more for a view. Imagine this being out your window! Next time.

My standard queen room was compact but quality and very comfortable. I didn’t hear a peep from outside the room either.

At the entry to my room was a very thin hanging space along with a luggage stand. There was a long skinny hallway to the main part of my room with the bathroom door coming off this hallway.

The bathroom had a basin area, toilet and bigger shower that was very good. It had amazing water pressure and great temperature control.

In the main bedroom area, there was smart TV on the wall and the small desk with shelf in front of me. To the right, the room opened up with my queen sized bed and two bedside tables. One had the mini safe in it. There was a door looking into the interior courtyard which, while not as good as a view of the huge cathedral, was a nice view. The curtains were great, and I had the best sleep of my trip.

There was also climate control in the room. The only thing I felt was missing was a mini-fridge and a little more space to put my luggage – it was stuck in the skinny hallway which was awkward. Then the room would have been perfect for me.

The hotel has a lounge bar on the bottom level and the Cloud One Bar on the top. Breakfast is available and served in Cloud One. You can order beverages in either bar as well as toasted sandwiches and a couple of snacks.

Even if you don’t stay here, come and enjoy evening drinks at Cloud One. Simply step in the hotel and take the elevator to level 5.

Click here for the latest prices.

How To Get To Ulm

Getting to Ulm from other parts of Germany is straightforward and convenient.

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Ulm Station

If you’re setting off by train, Ulm is well-connected to the Deutsche Bahn network, a hub for many rail lines. From major cities like Munich or Frankfurt, you can find direct trains to Ulm Hauptbahnhof – the main train station. The city is nestled almost equidistant from Munich and Stuttgart, making train journeys a scenic, comfortable option. It took only an hour to come here from Stuttgart.

Click here to check out Deutsche Bahn schedules and prices.

Driving to Ulm lets you enjoy the scenic routes of the German countryside at your own pace. The city is accessible via the A8 motorway that crosses southern Germany, providing a smooth drive from Stuttgart in the west or Munich in the east. You’ll find that the way is well-signposted, guiding you directly into the heart of Ulm with ease.

Click here to check out car hire options and prices.

Final Words

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Ulm

I was initially unimpressed with Ulm, but this quickly changed. I really loved the mix of attractions and charms of Ulm. I think part of what makes it so memorable (and beautiful) is how unremarkable some parts are and how historic and beautiful other parts are. I guess that’s actually Germany in a nutshell? Just at a micro-level 🙂

Ulm does offer something for every traveler. Whether you find yourself gazing up at the towering spire of the Ulm Minster or enjoying a leisurely stroll along the serene banks of the Danube stepping between Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, the experiences in this charming German city are bound to create lasting memories.

Read our our guide to nearby Esslingen here, Stuttgart here, Nördlingen here and Augsburg here. Find more guides to Southern Germany here.

Sharon Gourlay in the Rhina Valley

By Sharon Gourlay

Sharon first fell in love with Germany back in 2000 on her first visit. She loves the long history, the picturesque Old Towns, the castles, the food, everything really! Since then, she has visited many times and loves writing about Germany here so you can enjoy it too. In fact, Sharon loves German culture so much that she sent her kids to a German primary school in Australia. She especially loves Berlin and towns with charming Old Towns like Celle and Quedlinburg. Sharon also has a Certificate III in International Travel Sales and understands the nitty gritty of travel planning. Through this site, she'll help you have the perfect trip to Germany whether it's your first or tenth time!

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