Kiel is the capital city of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein and has a population of roughly 240,000. It is located at the Baltic Sea at the end of the “Kieler Forde”.
Understand : Kiel is a maritime city and has been for a long time, it remains one of Germany main passenger ports (besides Travemunde and Rostock) and as the Baltic endpoint of the Kiel Canal plays an important role in shipping. The beginning of the end of German monarchism happened here when in 1918 the admirals wanted the fleet to sail out for one last glorious but militarily pointless battle and the sailors told their superiors where they could shove that idea, ultimately culminating in revolution and the formation of Soviets.
During the Second World War, Kiel was severely bombed, because of its submarine-producing shipyard. Both civil and military ships are being built in Kiel nowadays and the tall cranes dominate the eastern shore of the Forde (fjord).
The bombing destroyed almost all historic buildings in Kiel even the older looking buildings were built after WW2. So, if you come to the “Kieler Schloss” (Kieler Castle) don’t be disappointed. There isn’t much left of the original building. During the rebuilding after WW2, mostly modern architecture was used.
Access : Coordinates: 54.333333, 10.133333 / By boat : Kiel serves as the German ferry terminus for the ferries to Oslo, Norway with Color Line and Gothenburg, Sweden with Stena Line. It is also the endpoint of the Kiel Canal, which connects the North Sea to the Baltic Sea (allowing ships not to round Denmark).
By train : 1 Kiel Hauptbahnhof (located directly adjacent to the main bus terminal and across the road from the central shopping district). Kiel is connected to the DB rail system, with regular RE, IC, ICE and EC services to Hamburg and beyond. Transfers can be made in Flensburg or Lubeck to Danish Rail.
A number of bus lines run services to – or through – Kiel. A weekly bus leaves Kiel and travels via Poland and the Baltic states to Tallinn, Estonia. A comfortable bus operates daily from Germany’s capital, Berlin, to Kiel via Lubeck and vice versa (6 hours). Further bus operators serve domestic routes.
By plane : 2 Kiel Airport (KEL IATA), in “Holtenau” (north-west). Planes of the size of a BAe 146 can take off and land. Charter flights leave for other Scandinavian destinations. There used to be flights from Frankfurt, but there are now no regular services.
3 Hamburg Fuhlsbuttel (HAM), Flughafenstr. 1, 22335 Hamburg (southwest). The nearest major airport is Hamburg, about 100 km away (one hour by car). The airport has a railway connection to Hamburg’s Hauptbahnhof, from where there are multiple trains a day to Kiel. There is a shuttle bus service to and from the Airport (Kielius). Buy both tickets (from/to the airport) at the same time for a discount, and be sure to hold on to your voucher. Students get a discount (ISIC required)
- Type VII-C U-boat (at the shore in Laboe (part of Kiel on the east-side of the fjord). the only surviving from World War 2
- Marine-Ehrenmal (Navy Memorial), Strandstrasse 92. with a high tower
Kiel Canal (Nord-Ostsee Kanal). the world’s busiest canal. It is possible to walk or cycle for almost the entire length (99km) directly along the canal from Kiel to Brunsbuttel (estuary of the Elbe, on the North Sea Coast), staying overnight in the town of Rendsburg.
- Gorch Fock. Kiel is the home of the German Baltic fleet, and it is common to see all types of German warships and submarines in the “Forde”, including the training sailing vessel Gorch Fock
- Eight museums of Kiel have created a common initiative called Museen am Meer, or “museums by the sea”, where a common website brings together all details you need about their collections, opening times, admission prices etc. along with a route planner. For young travellers (17 years and younger), there is an app, “MuseumsCard 2018”, that offers information as well as free admission to many museums in Kiel and the rest of Schleswig-Holstein.
- Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities). Face to face with antiquity: collection of Greek vases as well as casts of important Roman and Greek sculptures unique to Schleswig-Holstein.
- Aquarium GEOMAR. From Baltic Sea herring to tropical seahorse: local and exotic sea creatures presented in aquariums that simulate their natural habitats, outdoor seal pool and public feeding of the seals.
- Kunsthalle zu Kiel (Museum of Fine Arts). Art from the Durer era through to the present day: permanent collection spanning all artistic genres, including works by Repin, Nolde and Richter, as well as special exhibitions on specific topics and artists.
- Medizin- & Pharmaziehistorische Sammlung (Museum of Medical & Pharmaceutical History). Insight into the history of medicine and pharmaceuticals: exhibition of historic instruments, collection of pathology specimens, interior of an old pharmacy and a doctor’s office.
- Schifffahrtsmuseum (City and Maritime Museum), Wall 65. In the former fish auction hall, built in 1910: permanent exhibition on Kiel’s maritime history, pier with historic ships.
- Stadtgalerie Kiel (Kiel Municipal Gallery of Contemporary Arts). New contemporary art: exhibitions of regional and international contemporary art, art from the Baltic Sea region, permanent exhibition of the works of the Expressionist artist Heinrich Ehmsen.
- Stadtmuseum Warleberger Hof (City and Maritime Museum). Traces of Kiel history: permanent exhibition on the early history of the city and exhibitions on social and cultural history.
- Zoologisches Museu (Zoological Museum Kiel). Experience marine and evolutionary research at first hand: exciting display on the subject of marine science and research, Germany’s most extensive exhibition of whale species, presentation of the origins of zoology in Kiel
Activities : There are two free monthly magazines listing activities and events. Paper copies of both Station and Ultimo can be found in most cafes. Online information is available via Kiel Magazin and Fordeflusterer.
Kieler Woche : The main tourist attraction is the Kieler Woche (“Kiel Week”) at the end of June. Apart from being world’s largest sailing event the Kieler Woche is one of Germany’s largest festivals.
Go next : Lubeck / Neumunster / Plon / Rendsburg / Schleswig