The synthesis of vertically aligned functional graphitic carbon nanosheets (CNS) is challenging. Herein, we demonstrate a general approach for the fabrication of vertically aligned CNS and metal carbide@CNS composites via a facile salt templating induced self-assembly. The resulting vertically aligned CNS and metal carbide@CNS structures possess ultrathin walls, good electrical conductivity, strong adhesion, excellent structural robustness, and small particle size. In electrochemical energy conversion and storage such unique features are favorable for providing efficient mass transport as well as a large and accessible electroactive surface. The materials were tested as electrodes in a lithium ion battery and in electrochemical water splitting. The vertically aligned nanosheets exhibit remarkable lithium ion storage properties and, concurrently, excellent properties as electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution.