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The bombs of the Second World War have not left much of the once picturesque port city, but Kiel is still worth a visit: The capital of Schleswig-Holstein is the cultural center of the region and comes with many varied museums. In addition, the most populous city in the state invites you to store with several shopping centers and streets. But above all, the maritime flair and the 16-kilometer-long fjord lined by green hills give Kiel a certain uniqueness. The quays and the 3.5-kilometer-long and thus Northern Europe's longest waterfront promenade, the Kiellinie, invite visitors to stroll and marvel: For this is where the large ferries that take their passengers to Oslo, Gothenburg and other Scandinavian ports arrive and depart.

Travel Guide Kiel

Historic Buildings – The Town Hall Tower and St. Nicholas Church

Due to the bombardments during the Second World War, only a few historic buildings remain in Kiel’s city center and the surrounding area today. Worth seeing are especially the town hall with its tower and the Nikolaikirche.
The town hall tower, a 106-meter high bell tower, is the city’s landmark, built on the model of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. Every hour on the hour, a carillon sounds, which in turn resembles that of London’s Big Ben.

The highlight of the tower, which was inaugurated in 1911, is an observation platform at a height of 67 meters, which can be easily reached by elevator. A special elevator ride also awaits inside: a paternoster takes visitors and employees to the upper floors.

The Nikolai Church is the oldest preserved building in the city and was built – depending on the source – in the 13th or 14th century. The three-nave Gothic hall church made of brick is the main church of Kiel. During the 2nd World War, the church was almost completely destroyed, but was subsequently rebuilt. Partially – as with the neo-Gothic façade, which was added in the 19th century – the old style was retained. Inside, there is a bronze baptismal font from the 14th century, fresco remains and a six-meter-high triumphal cross from the 15th century, and a Baroque pulpit built at the beginning of the 18th century.

Exhibitions: Museums, aquarium and botanical garden

Kiel has a very diverse range of exhibitions. Many museums belong to the museum association “museen am meer”, are centrally located to the city center and can be visited free of charge or at low prices.

Art fans are in their element at the Kunsthalle zu Kiel. With 2,000 square meters of exhibition space, the Kunsthalle is the largest museum in Kiel and a must for every art lover. 1,200 paintings, 300 sculptures and other works such as objects, photos and videos show art from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Animal lovers get in the aquarium GEOMAR through 15 tanks the domestic underwater world but can also admire colorful corals and exotic fish. The seals are a highlight. Less lively animals can be marveled at in the Zoological Museum: here visitors can take a look at whale skeletons, deep-sea organisms and taxidermied birds.

Nature lovers will find 14,000 plant species from around the world in the 8-hectare botanical garden. The flora of moorland, heath and dune landscapes can be discovered as well as that of the Mediterranean and mountains. The flora of the desert and tropics also awaits in the greenhouse complex. The botanical garden is the fifth of its kind, but one of its predecessors has also been preserved as the Old Botanical Garden. Here, on no less than 2.5 hectares, redwoods, ginkgo trees, bald cypresses and numerous other plant species await visitors.

The maritime museum is located in the former fish market hall. Here, visitors gain insights into the everyday life of the port of Kiel, the maritime history of the city and the sport of sailing. This is illustrated with exhibits such as historical photos, ship models, navigation instruments and other nautical instruments, figureheads and an echo sounder. Three museum ships are moored at the museum bridge: a sea rescue cruiser, fireboat and a buoy lighter.

Shipping and maritime flair

If you want to experience maritime flair not only in the museum, Kiel is the place to be. In addition to the ferry docks, which are located not far from the city center, the German Navy’s sail training ship, the Gorch Fock 2021 has returned to its berth on the Kiel Fjord after long repairs.
There is more than just a sailing ship to marvel at every year in June. That’s when the
Kieler Woche, the largest sailing event and summer festival in northern Europe, takes place. While 400 regattas, in which sailors from 50 nations participate, take place on the water, concerts, theater, food stands and an international market attract more than 3 million visitors on land. The highlight of Kiel Week is the Windjammer Parade, in which numerous large sailing ships, known as windjammers, take part.

You can get another glimpse of seafaring at the Holtenau lock. There, in the north of the city, the Kiel Canal flows into the Baltic Sea. The 99-kilometer-long canal, which runs all the way to Brunsbüttel, is navigated by 47,000 cargo ships and pleasure craft every year, making it the busiest artificial waterway in the world. From the viewing platform at the lock, you have a good view of the big ships.

Sun, beach and fjord

If you want to make a beach vacation out of your stay in Kiel, you will find the Schilksee lido and Falckensteiner Strand in the north of Kiel. This is the city’s house beach, is natural and comes with fine sand and a shallow shore, which makes it extremely child-friendly.
A little further north is the village of Strande, which has a beautiful beach, a promenade and a small harbor.

Outside Kiel

In the very north of the Kiel Fjord, about 20 kilometers from Kiel, stands the black and white striped Bülk lighthouse at the western entrance. The tower can be climbed and offers a beautiful view of the Baltic Sea, the fjord and the coast.
On the other side of the fjord, on the eastern shore, is the town of Laboe, with 5,000 inhabitants and a naval memorial visible from afar (about 20 km from Kiel). The 72-meter-high tower was built from 1927 to 1936 and was intended to commemorate the fallen sailors of the imperial navy in the First World War. Today, the memorial is a globally recognized place of remembrance for all those who died at sea of all nations.
An observation deck located nearly 85 meters above the ground can be reached via 341 or by elevator and provides a breathtaking view. Inside, the memorial commemorates, among other things, the German navy ships that sank in the world wars and provides information about the history of maritime shipping and the naval wars.

Visitors can gain an insight into the natural and cultural history of Schleswig-Holstein at the Freilicht Museum Molfsee (about 8 km from Kiel). Mills, farm buildings, workshops and other buildings from great-grandmother times are exhibited on the grounds. Old breeds of domestic and farm animals live in the meadows and fields.

Where is Kiel?

Kiel is a German city in the northeast of the federal state of Schleswig-Holstein, around 0 km north of the state capital Kiel. There are about 247.000 inhabitants living in Kiel.

Ferries and ferry port in Kiel

Weather in Kiel

Der Wetterbericht für Kiel am 24.03.2023: Während des Vormittags recht wechselhaft. Zwischendurch ist mit Regen zu rechnen. Am Nachmittag wechselnde Bewölkung. 10 bis 11 Grad und starker Wind aus West. tagsüber wird durchschnittlich eine Temperatur von 5 °C erreicht, nachts kühlen die Temperaturen auf bis zu -1 °C ab.

Wetter am 25.03.2023: regnerisch, Auflockerungen möglich
Wetter am 26.03.2023: wolkig
Wetter am 27.03.2023: wechselhaft, Schneeregenschauer möglich
Wetter am 28.03.2023: wechselhaft, leichte Schauer möglich
Wetter am 29.03.2023: bedeckt mit Gewittern
Wetter am 30.03.2023: gewittrige Schauer möglich

Tickets und Touren

Cities and places near Kiel