Cruising to Kiel, Germany


Kiel tourist information.

Kiel, GermanyKiel, city, capital (1945) of Schleswig-Holstein Land (state), northern Germany. Kiel is a port on both sides of the Kiel Fjord, an inlet of the western Baltic Sea, and lies at the eastern end of the Kiel Canal. The name Kyle (meaning “fjord,” or “spring,” possibly derived from the Anglo-Saxon kille: “a safe place for ships”) was used for the settlement as early as the 10th century. The city was founded in 1242, and it adopted the Laws of Lübeck, an agreement for the common defense of trade. It entered the Hanseatic League in 1284 and acquired additional trading privileges in the 14th century. In 1773 Kiel became part of Denmark, which ceded Norway to Sweden by the Treaty of Kiel in 1814. The city passed to Prussia in 1866 along with the rest of Schleswig-Holstein and became the capital of that province in 1917. After 1871 it also became an important naval base; it was the site of the German naval mutiny (1918).

Gateway to the Baltic

During the Second World War, Kiel was severely bombed, because of its submarine-producing shipyard. Both civil and ships are being built in Kiel nowadays and the tall cranes dominate the eastern shore of the Förde (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.

Kiel has a long shipbuilding and naval tradition but today it is characterised by its vibrant student scene, laid-back lifestyle and urban flair. You can sense this atmosphere from the city’s beautiful setting on the Kiel Fjord, its modern and spacious city centre and Dänische Strasse, a street of late-19th century buildings full of maritime charm in the heart of Kiel.

Kiel has a relatively good public transport system based on buses and ferries, both operated by VRK. The taxi service is good, but expensive. Kiel is very flat, and bicycles can be hired at various places. It is quite an easy day to ride from Kiel to Laboe, catch a ferry to Strande, and cycle back to Kiel.

An art gallery and botanical gardens, the oldest in Germany, are near the old university grounds. The city features shipping and ethnography museums, and the Institute of Marine Biology contains an aquarium. The main tourist attraction is the Kieler Woche (Kiel Week) at the end of June, an international regatta and cultural festival.

Also famous is in Laboe (part of Kiel on the east-side of the fjord) the only surviving Type VII-C U-boat from World War 2 at the shore and the “Marine-Ehrenmal” (Navy Memorial) with a high tower. Kiel is famous for the Nord-Ostsee Kanal (Kiel Canal), 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 Brunsbüttel (estuary of the Elbe, on the North Sea Coast), staying overnight in the town of Rendsburg.