Kiel travel guide

Kiel Tourism | Kiel Guide

You're Going to Love Kiel

Sitting at the edge of the Kieler Förde is Kiel, the capital city of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. It's home to the annual Kieler Woche festival, which turns the city into a hotbed of travelers, food lovers, and festival-goers. At other times of the year, you can enjoy an authentic German city with plenty of natural vistas, canals, and parks, as well as a thriving nightlife.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Kiel

1. Bike along the Nord-Ostsee Kanal

The route along the canal, nearly 61 miles long, can we walked or biked. You can explore smaller towns like Rendsburg along the way.

2. Experience the Kieler Woche

Even though it's the largest sailing festival in the world, the Kieler Woche draws millions from around the world, and the entire town turns into an international craft and food fair.

3. Take Advantage of the "museen am meer" Tradition

In a celebration of arts and sciences, eight of Kiel's museums come together to create special joint exhibits.

4. Enjoy German Gastronomy

Located right on the corner of the Metzstrasse and Wörthstrasse is Garips Imbiss, where you can enjoy German/Turkish Döner kebabs right by the water. Or dig in at the potato-themed Kartoffel-Keller.

5. Check Out Some Great Live Music

What could be better than live music acts to serenade your pleasant evenings? Check out the Schaubude or the Nachtcafe for some great live, lesser-known acts.

What to do in Kiel

1. Kiel Rathaus: Great Views and Catchy Tunes

Undoubtedly the city's crown jewel, Kiel's Rathaus (town hall) is crowned by the 106 meter tall Rathausturm, which provides some of the best views by far of Kiel. Built between 1907 and 1911 in the graceful Jugendstil style, the tower has a viewing deck around two thirds of the way up. Aside from the views, the other great attraction at the Rathaus is the quirky clock, which signals the time via a glockenspiel melody, so try to be there on the hour to be serenaded before your ride up the tower.

2. Laboe Naval Memorial: A Must-Sea Naval Attraction

Situated about 15 miles up the coast from Kiel itself, Laboe is an attractive port with one major attraction: it's impressive and solemn naval memorial. This brick built tower cuts a dash with its curved construction, and was built after World War I to commemorate German naval deaths, but was reconsecrated in the 1950s to remember those on all sides who died in both World Wars. Aside from the memorial, Laboe also includes U-995, an actual U-Boat, which visitors can board for a window into World War II's submarine warfare.

3. Opernhaus Kiel: A Sublime Performance Space

Kiel's premier arts venue, the Opernhaus stages opera, concerts, theater and ballet and is located right next to the Rathaus. Built in 1902 in a classical Renaissance style, the theater is even more impressive inside than out, particularly when the crowd goes quiet, the conductor raises his baton, and the orchestra readies themselves to begin the show. Every season features major operas from the genre's greats, so check the schedule in advance and be sure to book seats to coincide with your visit.

4. Kirche Sankt Bonifatius: A Beautiful Medieval Survivor

Kiel's cathedral is also the oldest building in the city, and miraculously survived the intense bombing during World War II. Most of the structure dates back to at least the 15th century, and inside you'll find some genuine treasures, with sumptuous sculptures, a huge pipe organ and - outside the main doors - Ernst Barlach's "Spirit Fighter", which was denounced by the Nazis as degenerate, but hidden by locals and restored to its rightful place after the war was over.

5. Open Air Museum: Fresh Air, Food, and Festivals

Not far south of Kiel in the suburb of Molfsee, you'll come across this superb open air museum. Spread over 140 acres, the Open Air Museum sets out to preserve the heritage of Schleswig-Holstein, with period farm buildings, flower meadows, fish ponds, craft workshops, and even a funfair to enjoy. It's a fascinating catalog of German culture, but aside from the historical interest on offer, there's a fantastic smokehouse and beer hall on site, which makes it a wonderful place to relax. And, during the summer the museum becomes a lovely music venue when the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival opens its doors, giving you the chance to combine education, food and classical melodies.

1. Kiel Rathaus: Great Views and Catchy Tunes

Undoubtedly the city's crown jewel, Kiel's Rathaus (town hall) is crowned by the 106 meter tall Rathausturm, which provides some of the best views by far of Kiel. Built between 1907 and 1911 in the graceful Jugendstil style, the tower has a viewing deck around two thirds of the way up. Aside from the views, the other great attraction at the Rathaus is the quirky clock, which signals the time via a glockenspiel melody, so try to be there on the hour to be serenaded before your ride up the tower.

2. Laboe Naval Memorial: A Must-Sea Naval Attraction

Situated about 15 miles up the coast from Kiel itself, Laboe is an attractive port with one major attraction: it's impressive and solemn naval memorial. This brick built tower cuts a dash with its curved construction, and was built after World War I to commemorate German naval deaths, but was reconsecrated in the 1950s to remember those on all sides who died in both World Wars. Aside from the memorial, Laboe also includes U-995, an actual U-Boat, which visitors can board for a window into World War II's submarine warfare.

3. Opernhaus Kiel: A Sublime Performance Space

Kiel's premier arts venue, the Opernhaus stages opera, concerts, theater and ballet and is located right next to the Rathaus. Built in 1902 in a classical Renaissance style, the theater is even more impressive inside than out, particularly when the crowd goes quiet, the conductor raises his baton, and the orchestra readies themselves to begin the show. Every season features major operas from the genre's greats, so check the schedule in advance and be sure to book seats to coincide with your visit.

4. Kirche Sankt Bonifatius: A Beautiful Medieval Survivor

Kiel's cathedral is also the oldest building in the city, and miraculously survived the intense bombing during World War II. Most of the structure dates back to at least the 15th century, and inside you'll find some genuine treasures, with sumptuous sculptures, a huge pipe organ and - outside the main doors - Ernst Barlach's "Spirit Fighter", which was denounced by the Nazis as degenerate, but hidden by locals and restored to its rightful place after the war was over.

5. Open Air Museum: Fresh Air, Food, and Festivals

Not far south of Kiel in the suburb of Molfsee, you'll come across this superb open air museum. Spread over 140 acres, the Open Air Museum sets out to preserve the heritage of Schleswig-Holstein, with period farm buildings, flower meadows, fish ponds, craft workshops, and even a funfair to enjoy. It's a fascinating catalog of German culture, but aside from the historical interest on offer, there's a fantastic smokehouse and beer hall on site, which makes it a wonderful place to relax. And, during the summer the museum becomes a lovely music venue when the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival opens its doors, giving you the chance to combine education, food and classical melodies.

Where to Eat in Kiel

If traditional German food is what you're craving then head to Ratskeller Kiel for delicacies like schnitzel and bratkartoffel - along with incredible, locally brewed beer. Two can dine comfortably for EUR40.

When to visit Kiel

Kiel in January
Estimated hotel price
$97
1 night at 3-star hotel
Kiel in January
Estimated hotel price
$97
1 night at 3-star hotel

Those who love warmer temperatures should arrive in the summer, especially from the months of June to September. Winter in Kiel is pretty but temperatures drop to 32.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Kiel

Plane

Travelers visiting Kiel arrive at the Kiel Airport (KEL) in Holtenau, but this is for smaller planes and usually reserved for domestic flights as well as charters from Scandinavian countries. If you're an international traveler, the closest airport is either in Hamburg or Lübeck, and visitors can catch either a train or bus to Kiel (the train journey from Lübeck is 1.5 hours).

Train

Trains coming in to Kiel arrive at the Hauptbahnhof. The city is connected to the German rail system as well as the Danish rail system. Fares can be anywhere between EUR15-25 but do depend on whether you're taking a direct train and the city of origin.

Car

Germany is well connected by a great highway system. Use the A42, for example, to drive in from Berlin to Kiel.

Bus

There are several bus services that come to Kiel from other German cities like Berlin and even from neighboring countries like Poland. Fares vary by city of origin but a trip from Berlin to Kiel is EUR41.

Airports near Kiel

Airlines serving Kiel

United Airlines
Good (2,840 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (2,153 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (4,385 reviews)
KLM
Good (350 reviews)
Air France
Good (399 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,417 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,051 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,325 reviews)
SWISS
Good (454 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,208 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (964 reviews)
Iberia
Good (916 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (1,419 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (278 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (312 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (320 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (539 reviews)
Brussels Airlines
Good (100 reviews)
Finnair
Good (696 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (776 reviews)
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Where to stay in Kiel

Alstadt - located right by the water is Alstadt, the "Old City", where historical buildings meet modern shopping stores.

Popular Neighborhoods in Kiel

Vorstadt - right beside Alstadt is Vorstadt, home to the town hall, opera house, museums, and the beautiful Sophienhof mall.

Gaarden-Ost - right across the Kieler Förde is this mostly residential neighborhood, with its own local shops and eateries as well as public spaces like Werftpark and Sommerbad Katzheide, an outdoor swimming pool.

Where to stay in popular areas of Kiel

Most booked hotels in Kiel

Steigenberger Conti-Hansa
Good (7.9, Good reviews)
$128+
Maritim Hotel Bellevue Kiel
Good (7.6, Good reviews)
$131+
Hotel Am Kieler Schloss Kiel By Premiere Classe
Good (7, Good reviews)
$85+
Novum Akademiehotel Kiel
Good (6.9, Good reviews)
$71+
Hotel Kiel by Golden Tulip
Good (6.8, Good reviews)
$91+
Hotel Astor Kiel By Campanile
Good (6.3, Good reviews)
$82+

How to Get Around Kiel

Public Transportation

The public transit system in Kiel is run by KVG and a single, one-way ticket costs EUR2.50. You can also buy a monthly pass for a longer stay for EUR56.

Taxi

Taxis are easy to come by in Kiel. The starting flat rate is EUR3.50 and it's EUR1.24 per mile thereafter.

Car

Europcar, Sixt, and Enterprise have multiple locations where you can rent a car. Fares vary by company but a standard fare starts at EUR15 a day for a 4-door, compact car.

The Cost of Living in Kiel

Shopping Streets

Check out the pedestrian zone Holstenstraße for a collection of local stores or the Sophienhof and Citti-Park malls.

Groceries and Other

A quart of milk costs EUR3.30 and a dozen eggs costs EUR1.80.

Cheap meal
$16.68
A pair of jeans
$122.82
Single public transport ticket
$4.40
Cappuccino
$4.57