City Hopping Along the Danube
© TMBW, Foto: Joachim Negwer
BW Story - Hirsch & Greif
City Life at the Picturesque Danube in Baden-Württemberg
The people here have a special relationship with the Danube. They grow up with the river, and find peace, refreshment, inspiration, and fun along its banks. Introducing three Danube towns.
By the time the Golem Café opens, it is time for lunch. It is not unusual to see a small crowd waiting on the narrow pavement in front of the café in Tuttlingen. The Golem Café is a real crowd puller, and rightly so! The menu includes pizza, pasta and risotto. They also offer home-made ice teas, all served with wonderful views over the Danube, which flows slowly past the café, passes under a bridge and disappears around a bend just a few metres further on. The guests quickly spread out across the large area. Some have made themselves comfortable on the deckchairs near the riverbank. A group of young people are chilling on the loungers near the bar, where the music is loudest. And a couple sitting on a large wooden seating platform, studying the menu. Everyone can find their own favourite spot.
The Second-Longest River in Europe Starts out Small
The Danube originates in Baden-Württemberg from the Brigach and Breg Rivers. They meet in Donaueschingen and begin a 2,857-kilometre journey to the Romanian port of Sulina at the Black Sea. On its route, the Danube flows through wonderful regions such as the rocky Upper Danube Valley (Oberes Donautal), passing through 10 countries – more than any other river on Earth – and beautiful capital cities like Vienna and Budapest.
Tuttlingen’s Charming City Centre
It is just a few minutes’ walk from the café to the market square in this little town. It is worth taking a little stroll around the charming town of Tuttlingen, which is steeped in history. The first thing that catches your eye on the market square is the unusual pyramid fountain. There are lots of cafés, which are busy in summer month, and in the distance, you can hear the bells of the town church ringing. In a corner opposite the fountain, an elderly man holds a pair of tweezers up to the light, something he has been doing for 36 years now. The two-metre statue ‘The instrument maker’ is a monument to the medical technology industry, which has a long tradition in the high-tech hub of Tuttlingen.
The remains of the Honberg Fortress tower high above Tuttlingen. This once stately hilltop castle was destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War and only partially rebuilt in the 19th century. Visitors can climb up the battlement tower and enjoy the wonderful views over the town and the Danube Valley. If you plan to visit the ruins in the summer, be sure to check the dates of the ‘Honberg Summer’. This two-week festival takes place on the grounds of the fortress and attracts crowds from all over Germany.
Would you like to explore the wild and wonderful countryside of the Danube? Then we can recommend the ‘DonauWellen’. And by that, we do not mean the delicious cakes of the same name, but six premium hiking trails, three of which run along the river. The concept of the hiking trails is closely related to the dessert that gives them their name. For example, the highlights are labelled as chocolate icing and the calorie consumption of the hike is given in pieces of cake cake. After completing the relatively challenging Donaufelsen-Tour Trail route near Fridingen, you will have burned the calories of four Donauwelle cakes.
The Medieval Town of Ehingen
Ehingen lies 127 kilometres downstream. The Danube does not flow through the town here, but runs in a wide arc around its outskirts. Nevertheless, there is still plenty of water in the town centre, as the Schmiech River, a little stream that rises a few kilometres north of Ehingen, gurgles through the heart of the town before flowing into the Danube. Although the Schmiech River is tiny by comparison to the Danube, it draws in crowds in the warmer months, especially in the Stadtgarten Park, where you can get right up close to it. There, next to the shallow Lake Groggensee, the Schmiech River flows through an artificial bend. It is the perfect spot for a little refreshment, a picnic or to relax – even as a traveller: Some of the hosts in Ehingen offer generously filled picnic baskets that you can enjoy in your favourite spot, perhaps in the Stadtgarten Park right next to the Schmiech River.
Chasing the Beer
If you still want to see the Danube, you can take the 14‑kilometre Bierwanderweg (beer hiking trail) past the town’s five breweries, some of which have been brewing for hundreds of years. The hiking trail starts at the Theodul Fountain in the market square, which is decorated with figures, and leads to the Wolfertturm Tower in the Wolfert Park. The climb up the 30-metre tower is rewarded with wonderful views over the town and, on a clear day, with good eyesight, even as far as the Alps.
If you are paddling on the Danube between Immendingen and Möhringen during the summer months, you may find yourself on dry land. For about 155 days a year, when the water level is low, the Danube leaves its usual course and disappears, flowing through underground canals into the Aachtopf, the source of the Aach River, before reaching Lake Constance and heading to the North Sea as the Rhine. If the water level of the Danube is high, some of the water still flows into the Aachtopf, while the rest simply spills over the cracks and gaps and flows on towards the Black Sea.
Ulm: The City at the River
If you want to see Ulm in all its glory, you should head for the banks of the Danube, where you can find the Uferbar Café right next to the Edwin-Scharff-Haus, a culture and convention centre. The forest-green kiosk is serving delicious summer drinks, wine, beer and coffee specialities. With a refreshment in hand, you can take a seat at a free table or on a sun lounger and enjoy the view, although it is more a show than a view, and it is really something to behold. On hot days, there are numerous dinghies and kayaks on the Danube, while joggers and cyclists make their way along the riverside promenade on the other riverbank. Ulm Minster, the tallest church in the world, towers above the rooftops and you can see the top of the extraordinary glass pyramid that is home to the city library.
The Fishermen’s Quarter
Next, it is time for a stroll through the medieval town, for example to the pretty Fishermen’s Quarter on the banks of the Blau River. Fishermen, tanners and boatmen lived and worked in these somewhat crooked half-timbered houses until the 19th century. Today, many unique shops, restaurants and bars have moved into the area, giving it a lovely ambience.
Along the City Wall to the Berblinger Turm
The next highlights are not far away, as the city wall is also one of the city’s main attractions. It starts at the Fishermen’s Quarter and stretches across the Herdbrücke Bridge to the observation tower. The wall was built in 1480, when it was at water level. Today, the Danube is a few metres lower and has made space for a pretty strip of green and a cycle and footpath. Climbing the Berblinger Turm (Berblinger Tower) takes bravery and a good head for heights: 71 steps lead up to the viewing platform at the top of the red-and-white iron tower, which doesn’t go straight up, but at a 10 degree angle. It was built in honour of tailor and inventor Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger, also known as ‘the Tailor of Ulm’. In 1811, he attempted to fly in a homemade hang-glider by jumping off a 20-metre platform on the city wall, and ended up in the cold waters of the Danube. The 20-metre-high platform offers wonderful views over the city and the Danube as it rushes by., But this river is fascinating from every perspective. From up here, you could gaze at it forever.