Can’t-miss German day trips A-Z: Ulm

As far as day trips go, Ulm packs a serious punch. It’s a large city, with plenty to do. Located on the banks of the Danube River, it offers history, art and culture. It also offers a great mix of random coolness – such as being the birthplace of Albert Einstein and having the tallest church in the world —that make for great memories.

Ulm: 6 things to do

There is no shortage of fun to be had in Ulm. Here are six things to think about as you plan your trip.

  1. Stroll the banks of the Danube River. There’s a reason the Danube is so famous. It connects 10 countries (most in the world), starts in Germany, and is Europe’s second-longest river. Trade has been happening on the banks of this river since anyone can remember. Plus, Ulm has some lovely stretches of waterfront.
  2. Walk the city walls. On a related note, you can walk city walls that were closely related to medieval river commerce. Check out the Metzgerturm (Butcher’s Tower) and try not to think about the fact that there were far more walls before Napoleon showed up in 1800.
  3. Find Einstein. Albert Einstein was born in Ulm. Even though he left and eventually became an American citizen (and one of the greatest scientists in history, of course), Ulm has one small memorial and one kinda crazy fountain that celebrates the connection.
  4. Walk the city center. Ulm’s city center is a fantastic blend of medieval and modern. Check out the Fisherman’s Quarter or Rathaus for some of the latter, and the Stadthaus for some of the former.
  5. Get arty. Ulm has two excellent art museums. The Kunsthalle Weishaupt, offers modern art in a brilliant space. The Museum Ulm has a diverse set of collections, but specializes in the medieval.
  6. Visit the zoo and aquarium. A small but mighty zoo and Danube-specific aquarium are fun for families and/or nature-lovers. Be sure to check COVID-related opening hours on the website before you go.

The one thing you have to see: The Ulmer Münster

First of all, it is beautiful that the tallest church in the world (for comparison: at 530 feet, it is almost exactly half the height of the Eiffel Tower) is called the Ulmer Münster. Even though “münster” means “minster” (which is a specific type of church), the whole things looks wonderfully monstrous (in a good way) from the outside.

Simply put, you have to go see this church. It is one thing to read the words “tallest church in the world,” and a whole other thing to actually stand before it. It’s almost impossible to process the size. Stepping inside is well worth your time. The church’s interior is appropriately grand, humbling and powerful.

In non-COVID times, the climb to the top of the Ulmer Münster tower is a must-do. After more than 750 steps and 450 feet, visitors can see the Alps, far to the south, on a clear day.


Getting there

By car, Ulm is three hours southeast of Kaiserslautern, one hour east of Stuttgart, and three hours southeast of Wiesbaden. Please check the Deutsche Bahn website for train information.

For U.S. government employees, including service members, remember to always follow command regulations, which may be different than host nation policies when it comes to travel.