Where to Stay in Ulm

SD › Best Places to Stay in Ulm
Updated: February 18, 2023
By Santorini Dave

Our Favorite Ulm Hotels

• 5-Star Hotel: LAGO
• Boutique Hotel: Ulmer Münster
• Cheap Hotel: Neuthor
• Family Hotel: LEGOLAND Holiday Village
• Near Train Station: me and all

Best place to stay in Ulm.

The Best Area to Stay in Ulm

Though its minster is truly magnificent (it boasts the highest spire in the world), there’s a lot more to Ulm (aka “Münsterstadt”, literally: “Minster City”) than its famous church. Lying on the banks of the Danube in Baden-Württemberg (on the Bavarian border), the city has a long history as part of the German region known as Swabia, and the Holy Roman Empire. Though Ulm’s medieval old town was flattened in World War II, and much of the city was rebuilt in a somewhat bland 1950s and 1960s style, the church and some gorgeous historic buildings remain, including the Fishermen’s Quarter of picture-book timber-frame houses perched over narrow streams. Ulm is also the home of the remarkable “Lion Man”, an enigmatic 40,000-year old figurine, and was the birthplace of Albert Einstein in 1879, though his former home was destroyed by World War II bombing. (Although there are plenty of Einstein-themed souvenirs to be had, and a couple of small monuments to see, there’s no museum to commemorate the great scientist, who only spent the first 15 months of his life here.)

When it comes to accommodation, Ulm offers a reasonable choice of boutique, midrange, and cheap hotels; with a smattering of excellent B&Bs and a few hostels. The obvious place to stay is the city center, “Ulm-Mitte”, which is close to all the main sights, though there are a few options beyond here in the surrounding neighborhoods of West and East Ulm. Across from the old town, on the other side of the river, lies the twin city of Neu-Ulm in the state of Bavaria, smaller than Ulm but with a handful of attractions and some cheap places to stay. With more time you can visit the historic abbey at Wiblingen or make forays up the beautiful Blau River Valley to small towns like Blaubeuren and Blaustein. Both are easy daytrips by train from Ulm, but hotels here offer a more rural, atmospheric experience if you’d like a break from the city.

It’s relatively easy to explore Ulm city center on foot, but to reach the outer neighborhoods you’ll want to use the city’s excellent public transport system. Stadtwerke Ulm/Neu-Ulm operates an efficient network of trams and buses. Renting a car to go further afield is also a good idea but note that the city centers of Ulm and Neu-Ulm are designated “low emission zones” – to drive here you’ll need to purchase a green environmental sticker (called Umweltplakette or Feinstaubplakette in German). You can order them online (for around €14), but if you rent a car in Germany, your rental company should be able to supply one.

Ulm Travel Tips

  • The nearest airports to Ulm are at Memmingen (37 miles/60km), which is a hub for budget carriers like Ryanair and Wizz Air, and Stuttgart (53 miles/85km), which links to more destinations in Europe. Most visitors arrive in Ulm by train or car.
  • The main tourist information center in Ulm is at Münsterplatz 50, right in the town center. If you get stuck, they can help you find accommodation: call +49 731 161 2811.
  • If you intend to do a lot of sightseeing in Ulm, it’s worth investing in the 1-or 2-day UlmCard (€17–22), which includes entry to the minster tower, admission to 8 museums, a city tour (German language only), free public transport, a Danube cruise, and other discounts.
  • Bike rental (April–Oct) is available at the tourist information office for €12/day. Though you don’t need bikes to get around the small city center, cycling the riverside Donauradweg (Danube cycle path) is a great way to spend a day.
  • Ulm’s festivals are fun, mostly local affairs and are worth attending. Ulm is most known in Germany for its Schwörmontag or “Oath Day” festival held on the second to last Monday in July. The captivating Lichtserenade (“Light Serenade”) takes place on the previous Saturday, when candlelit lanterns are floated down the Danube. On the day itself, the “Nabada” is a carnivalesque parade of boats along the Danube to the Friedrichsaupark where there’s a huge party. The Ulm Wine Festival kicks off early for Germany and is held throughout August. Held every 2 years, the Donaufest celebrates the art, music, and cultures of the Danube (next one due 2024).
  • Though you’ll find some English speakers at hotels and tourist sites in Ulm, most folks working in shops and restaurants will not speak much or any English. Before you go, try to learn a few words and numbers in German.

The Best Places to Stay in Ulm

Best Places in Ulm for…

  • Best Place to Stay for Sightseeing: Ulm-Mitte
    If you’ve come to Ulm to see the minster, the “Lion Man”, and what remains of its pretty old town and Fishermen’s Quarter, it makes sense to stay in the city center, Ulm-Mitte. This is also where the best restaurants, bars, and shops are located, and offers the biggest choice when it comes to accommodation. You’ll have easy access to local transport, too, meaning swift connections to outer districts like Blaubeuren and Wiblingen. Hotels like me and all are convenient for the station (meaning you can walk there with luggage) and the main shops, though hotels near the minster (like Ulmer Münster and RiKu), and in the Fishermen’s Quarter (like Schiefes Haus and Schmales Haus) offer a lot more atmosphere.
  • Most Romantic Destination: Blaubeuren
    The small town of Blaubeuren, at the western end of the Blau River Valley (just 17 minutes by train by central Ulm), is a gorgeous spot, with lots of things to see, hiking trails to castle ruins in the surrounding hills, and atmospheric hotels such as Hotel Forellenfischer and Hotel Ochsen. The Blautopf, the spring-fed pool that is the source of the Blau, is an especially romantic spot for a stroll or a coffee, while the local museum, the Urgeschichtliches Museum Blaubeuren, houses the ancient “Venus of Hohle Fells”. Top places to eat include ATELIER Steakhouse & Brasserie, Adler at Karlstrasse 8, and Blautopfhaus Schönhofer overlooking the Blautopf itself. Back in Ulm, staying in the Fishermen’s Quarter (at Schiefes Haus and Schmales Haus) can be incredibly romantic, especially in the early mornings or after the tourists leave at night. The hotels themselves occupy beautiful medieval houses, while the area is laced by the narrow streams of the Blau River, with tiny lanes and bridges, timber-frame houses, and cozy cafés to enjoy.
  • Best Place for Food and Restaurants: Ulm-Mitte
    The city center is packed with places to eat and drink, many offering great views, like Café Stadthaus (of Ulm Münster), and Josi just on the other side of the river. In terms of overall quality, we like Barfüsser Hausbrauerei Ulm, a traditional beer hall and restaurant (part of a regional chain), the Wirtshaus zur Brezel for Swabian/Bavarian food, and Zunfthaus der Schiffleute, another Swabian restaurant in a half-timbered 15th-century guildhouse. Zur Forelle is traditional restaurant in a historic Fishermen’s Quarter house. Ulm offers more than just German and Swabian food, though; you’ll find the usual range of international options scattered around the center, from Italian and Turkish, to Chinese and Thai. Ulm isn’t known for nightlife, but there’s a cluster of bars east of the minster and south of the train station; Blaupause and Mudita Bar are our favorites, though the rooftop lounge at me and all hotel offers fabulous views.
  • Best Place for Shopping: Ulm-Mitte/Weststadt
    For most visitors, there are more than enough shopping opportunities in the city center, beginning with the pedestrianized Bahnhofstrasse/Hirschstrasse, which runs east from the train station to the minster. You’ll find all the usual names here, including the GALERIA department store, Hugendubel bookstore and the new Sedelhöfe mall. The surrounding streets, basically the whole eastern half of what was the old town, is a buzzing shopping district. Visit Manga-Mafia for Japanese comic culture, Stoffe Creativ for fabrics, Wolfram S for men’s fashion, and Secontique for vintage clothes. For a bit more choice, head out to Weststadt, where the Blautal Center is a huge indoor mall featuring over 100 shops and restaurants. Along Blaubeurer Strasse is where you’ll also find big box stores like MediaMarkt, KiK Ulm, and Ikea. Over in Neu-Ulm, the Glacis-Galerie shopping center is conveniently located next to the train station, with around 100 more stores to explore.

The 5 Best Places in and around Ulm for Tourists

1 Ulm-Mitte (city center)

The city center of Ulm is where most visitors want to be based – this is where almost everything of interest is located, from the biggest sights to the best restaurants, bars, and shops. The highlight is Ulm Minster, a spectacular medieval church with the highest spire the world, some 530ft (162 meters) tall. The interior is home to several noted artworks, including the Schmerzensmann (“Man of Sorrows”) sculpture by Hans Multscher in 1429, but for many it’s the climb up 768 steps to the tower viewing deck that is the main draw – the views across the Ulm rooftops is jaw-dropping. The church square, Münsterplatz, is otherwise dominated by the incongruous modern white Stadthaus, designed by Richard Meier and completed in 1993 – there’s a good café here. Look out also for the small memorial to Hans and Sophie Scholl, two members of the Weisse Rose (“White Rose”), an anti-Nazi resistance group, who spent their youth in Ulm and were eventually executed by the Nazi regime in 1943.

To the south lies Marktplatz, the square that was once the epicenter of Ulm, where the beautiful and fresco-covered Rathaus (Town Hall) dates back to 1370. Inside is a replica of the flying machine invented by the legendary “Tailor of Ulm”, Albrecht Berblinger, who famously failed to fly his hand glider over the Danube in 1811. Opposite the Rathaus is the Stadtbibliothek, the eye-catching Ulm public library, designed by Gottfried Böhm as a glass pyramid and erected in 2004. Nearby is the equally stylish Kunsthalle Weishaupt, housing a vast collection of modern and Pop Art paintings.

The highlight of Museum Ulm is the Löwenmensch figurine, a small but mysterious image of a “Lion Man” created around 40,000 years ago – it’s the oldest human/animal shaped sculpture in the world. The rest of the museum is packed with absorbing historical displays, plus an important collection of late Gothic sculptures.

Another highlight of Ulm is wandering the narrow medieval streets of the Fishermen’s Quarter (Fischerviertel) on the River Blau. It’s a small but extremely atmospheric neighborhood of timber-frame houses such as the Schiefes Haus (“crooked house”), now an excellent hotel, and the Alte Münz (Old Mint). Nearby is the Schwörhaus (Oath House), where Ulm residents gather on the annual Schwörmontag holiday to hear their mayor read a pledge to the city first made in 1397, and the impressive modern Synagogue. The Fishermen’s Quarter is separated from the Danube by the Stadtmauer, the medieval walls, which you can stroll along to the Metzgerturm, the “Leaning Tower of Ulm”. You can carry on walking along the Danube all the way to the Friedrichsau Park from here, passing the modern Berblinger Tower, dedicated to the hapless Tailor of Ulm.

You might also want to visit the Museum of Bread & Art, dedicated to “bread culture”: the history of grain, baking, and milling, enhanced by a diverse art collection; and the Danube Swabian Museum, which tells the story of the Danube Swabians. Einstein fans can visit the memorial at the site where his birthhouse once stood at Bahnhofstrasse 41 (comprising 24 granite slabs, symbolizing units of time), and the quirkier statue and fountain (Einstein Brunnen) outside the old Zeughaus (arsenal) on the other side of the city center, created by sculptor Jürgen Gortz in 1984.

• You have roughly two choices when it comes to hotels in the city center: stay in the more modern and convenient, but less atmospheric area near the train station (Ulm Hauptbahnhof) – like me and all hotel; or opt for the more romantic hotels in the restored old town and Fishermen’s Quarter, notably Schiefes Haus and Schmales Haus.

2. Neu-Ulm

The smaller Bavarian twin of Ulm lies across the Danube, a pleasant but mostly workaday modern town with a modest spread of attractions – you’ll get the best views and shots of Ulm from this side of the river, where a path runs along the bank. Highlights include the Edwin Scharff Museum, dedicated to the paintings, drawings, and sculptures of Edwin Scharff, the lauded artist born here in 1887. It’s also worth a peek at St. John the Baptist Church, rebuilt in a striking Neo-Romanesque style in the 1920s. Leafy Glacis Park is home to the handsome Wasserturm (Water Tower), a photogenic icon of the city built in 1898 and now a popular location for weddings.

• There’s not much advantage to staying in Neu-Ulm, though it does have the region’s best hostel (Brickstone Hostel) and a couple of cool boutiques that tend to be cheaper than equivalent hotels in Ulm itself.

3. Wiblingen

The small Ulm suburb of Wiblingen, around 4 miles (6km) south of the city center, would be easy to ignore if not for Wiblingen Monastery, a massive Benedictine abbey founded in 1093. Most of it is now used by Ulm University, but visitors can tour the most ornate parts of the interior, which include the rococo library hall with its sensational ceiling frescoes and the lavishly decorated Basilica of St Martin. The on-site Monastery Museum chronicles the history of the site and the artwork inside.

• Take bus #23, 3 or 9 from the main train station to the Pranger stop in Wiblingen.

4. Blaustein

With more time it’s worth exploring the 14-mile (22km)-long Blau River Valley to the west of Ulm (the river enters the Danube at the Fishermen’s Quarter). It’s easy to travel up and down the valley by train, but if you intend to spend more time in the countryside here (or go further up the Danube Valley), a car will be more convenient.

The first place worth visiting is Blaustein, a small town in the valley around 4 miles (6km) west of central Ulm. This was the home of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, Commander of the Afrika Korps in World War II – he was forced to commit suicide in 1944 after being implicated in the plot to assassinate Hitler. Today the manor house in which he briefly lived, the Art Nouveau Villa Lindenhof, serves as a museum about Rommel and other former inhabitants of the area, including the original villa owner, Jewish industrialist Max R. Wieland (given his controversial legacy, Rommel is no longer the main focus). Rommel is buried in the nearby Friedhof Herrlingen cemetery and there’s a small plaque on the road where he died (at Helfensteinweg 26). You can also wander up to the 11th century ruins of Klingenstein Castle, and visit the replica Stone Age village of Steinzeitdorf Ehrenstein.

• For Steinzeitdorf Ehrenstein, take the train to Blaustein station (6 minutes from Ulm); for Villa Lindenhof, go to Herrlingen station (9 minutes from Ulm).

  • The Best Hotel in Blaustein
    Klingenstein • Hotel phone: +49 730 443 6990
  • Best Cheap/Midrange Hotel
    Hotel Engel • Hotel phone: +49 730 4434 3305

5. Blaubeuren

Some 11 miles (18km) west of central Ulm, the Blau River rises at the pretty old town of Blaubeuren. It’s another easy trip by train from Ulm, but there are some lovely hotels here if you’re interested in staying overnight.

Highlights include the half-timbered Blaubeuren Abbey, founded 1085, and the nearby Blautopf, a gorgeous blue spring-fed pool that acts as the source of the Blau. It’s a beautiful spot for a walk, with the picturesque Hammerschmiede, an 18th-century mill and smithy (and now café), right by the water. History buffs will want to visit the Urgeschichtliches Museum Blaubeuren, the local museum whose biggest claim to fame is the “Venus of Hohle Fels”, a 40,000-year old mammoth ivory figurine which is the earliest known depiction of a human being (the female figure was discovered in 2008). The museum is an enlightening introduction to the numerous Paleolithic sites in the surrounding Swabian Alb region, including six caves on the UNESCO World Heritage list, with other exhibits including some of the oldest flutes ever found. The other popular attraction in Blaubeuren is the Ruckenkreuz, a concrete cross erected in 1926 high above the town, commemorating the casualties of World War I. With more time there are lots of castle ruins to explore, dotted in the hills around Blaubeuren; Günzelburg, Rusenschloss, Gleissenburg, Sirgenstein, and severalothers.

• Blaubeuren is located on the Ulm–Sigmaringen railway – trains from Ulm take around 17 minutes.

• The tourist office is in the center at Kirchplatz 10, a short walk from the train station.

Other Ulm Neighborhoods

We’ve covered our favorite neighborhoods to visit and stay in more detail above, but with more time these districts are also worth checking out:

  • Weststadt: The west side of Ulm is primarily residential, but history buffs may want to check out Fort Oberer Kuhberg, one of a ring of massive fortifications built to protect the city in the 19th century. The Festungsmuseum (fortress museum) offers historic context, while the KZ-Gedenkstätte Oberer Kuhberg commemorates the fort’s use as a Nazi detention camp. Some of the city’s biggest shopping malls, like Blautal-Center, are also in Weststadt. Places to stay include Hotel Löwen, and closer to the shopping centers, Economy-Hotel, Hotel Blaubeurer Tor, and Leonardo Royal Hotel.
  • Eselsberg/Universität: The northern side of Ulm is dominated by the university (Universität Ulm), which operates a lovely and rarely visited botanical garden (Botanischer Garten der Universität Ulm). There’s also a mellow beer garden here, Biergarten am Botanicum, and the poignant “Memorial to Deserters”, commemorating those who deserted the German army on principle during World War II. There’s not much point in staying up here, but if you choose to, the best hotels are iQ-Hotel and Hotel Engel.
  • Oststadt: The east side of Ulm is best known for the sprawling Friedrichsaupark, peppered with gardens, ponds, cafes and memorials. Tiergarten Ulm, the low-key city zoo, is also here. LAGO Hotel, one of the city’s top hotels is located along the Danube, while the Safranberg Hotel and the cheaper Best Western Plus Atrium Hotel are also very good. This area is well worth considering if you are on a road-trip and have a car to park – you can easily zip into the center on public transport.
  • LEGOLAND Deutschland: Some 23 miles (37km) east of Ulm, kid-favorite Legoland Germany offers all the usual theme-park attractions as well as extensive Lego-brick reconstructions of famous German sights. You can stay on site in the fun themed rooms inside the excellent LEGOLAND Holiday Village, or nearby at the cheaper Pension Gästeparadies or EuroHotel Günzburg.

About Santorini Dave

Santorini Dave Author Bio. Santorini Dave was started in 2011 by a guy who loved Greece, travel, and great hotels. We're now a small team of writers and researchers on a mission to deliver the most helpful travel content on the internet. We specialize in Santorini, Mykonos, Athens, and Greece and recommend the best hotels, best neighborhoods, and best family hotels in top destinations around the world. We also make hotel maps and travel videos. I can be contacted at dave@santorinidave.com.