Explore all the maritime heritage of the Baltic Sea when you stop off in Kiel. This intriguing modern city is the capital of Germany’s Schleswig-Holstein region, with a contemporary city centre marked by its indoor shopping malls and pedestrian bridges. While many of its historic buildings were destroyed during bombing raids in WWII, Kiel still offers a glimpse of its former glory particularly in the harbour area. From the Maritime Museum to fully restored Kieler Castle, there’s plenty of history on show along with an attractive waterfront promenade and bustling seafood restaurants.
There’s plenty to keep you busy during a stay in Kiel, particularly if you’re a war or sailing buff! Start off by exploring Kiel’s busy harbour, the heart and soul of this seaside town. You’ll be able to watch the ocean liners as they cruise in and out of the busy port, take a stroll along a lengthy promenade, or enjoy the annual Kiel Regatta. The Kiel Canal connects the North Sea to the Baltic, and it’s lined with restaurants, bike paths and lookout points. Once the home base for Germany’s fleet of submarines, Kiel still houses an authentic WWII submarine as well as a Navy Memorial.
Getting around Kiel is a breeze, with the cruise terminals located within easy reach of the town’s centre. The port itself is a prime attraction, so you may wish to have a wander to explore this busy area. To get into the town centre, you can take a cab for approximately five euros. Several cruise lines offer shuttle services into the Central Station as well, or you can opt for public transport. Head out of the cruise terminal and you’ll see the bus stop outdoors, with bus lines 41 and 42 both travelling towards the Central Station.
Parking is similarly right in front of the cruise terminal, so it’s a very simple process to get parked and onto your boat. You can reserve your space in advance for the best prices. There are a few different terminals to choose from, including Sartorikai, Schwedenkai, Norwegenkai or Ostseekai. Each offers a selection of parking decks as well in order of distance from one another. For example, if you park in the Ostseekai-North car park you’ll be right in front of the Ostseekai terminal, but only a five-minute wander from the Sartorikai terminal. It’s worth looking at the map!
If you’re interested in the city’s maritime history, be sure to visit the Kiel Maritime Museum. It’s housed in a former fish auction hall, filled with ephemera ranging from naval-themed paintings to nautical instruments and 3D photos. Another top museum is the Kunsthalle Zu Kiel, which boasts an impressive selection of artworks from the 19th-century up to present day.
Kiel springs to life during its annual regatta, called Kiel Week, when over 2,000 ships cruise into the harbour along with three million visitors! Expect plenty of parades, singing, dancing and feasting during this busy summer festival.
Fancy a bit of shopping? Kiel’s city centre is filled with interior shopping malls, where you’ll find typical German souvenirs, handcrafted wood carvings, international fashion labels and cafes to relax in. The city’s Christmas markets offer a particularly cosy ambience, all twinkly lights and cosy hot drinks. They show off a Scandinavian influence that falls in line with the northern placement of Kiel.
Are you an animal lover? There are a number of zoos and parks in and around Kiel, like the Gettorf Tierpark and Wildpark Eekholt. See farm animals and get up close with regional wildlife from around northern Europe in these popular open-air attractions.