The city of Kiel is the capital of the northern German state Schleswig-Holstein. Situated on the Baltic Sea, Kiel is within reach of bustling Hamburg and picturesque Lubeck. Kiel offers a charming, maritime aspect to visitors with the sea creeping right into the heart of town.
The Kiel Canal begins in the city, stretching over 90 kilometres from the Baltic to Northern Sea. The passage is one of the busiest in Europe and also one of the more scenic. When stopping at Kiel, soak up the relaxed, student vibe, enjoy its sandy beaches and learn about its maritime history, which marks the city at every turn. Every year in June, sailing boats take over Kiel for a regatta, the largest sailing event in the world.
You can also venture from Kiel to Hamburg and soak up Hamburg’s unique blend of history and cosmopolitan culture. Or you could take in the wonders of Lubeck; its historic Old Town is a UNESCO world heritage site that is truly amazing to explore. Wander through winding lanes, admiring the city’s romantic medieval architecture and unique skyline.
The busy port of Kiel is a regular feature on the itinerary of cruise ships, meaning it is well-prepared for cruise passengers, with great facilities and welcoming locals.
Kiel is located 90 kilometres north of Hamburg and 60 kilometres northwest of Lubeck. The city has four cruise terminals, three of which are located right in the centre, near the train station. The Ostuferhafen terminal is about a 15-minute drive from the Kiel Hauptbahnhof.
Kiel has well-equipped modern cruise terminals with good facilities for passengers, including luggage services. The ports are linked easily to the centre of Kiel, as they are either situated within walking distance or commutable by taxi or bus, where there are plenty of restaurants, cafés and shops.
How to Get Around
The centre of Kiel is very walkable and all the key locations are within an easy distance. Taxis are generally reliable, but can be expensive so it may be a good idea to agree on a fare from the start of the journey.
The proximity of the ports to the central train station makes transport to other nearby cities easy. The German public transport system is efficient, reliable and inexpensive. Trains leave frequently from Kiel to Lubeck and to Hamburg. Both journeys take around 80 minutes. Cruise ships will often have their own shore excursions to these cities, by train or by chartered coach.
- Currency – The official currency of Germany is the euro (€). There are ATMs in the city and cash is preferred in eateries and stores, if possible.
- Time Zone – Kiel operates on Central European Time (CET), which is 1 hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Germany switches to Daylight Saving Time (DST) at the end of March, turning the clocks forward 1 hour. Daylight savings ends during October.
- Weather – Kiel has a relatively cool climate. In summer, days can be sunny and warm with an average daily maximum between 20 – 21 degrees Celsius. Winters can be cold, especially the months of January and February when the average low is -2 degrees Celsius.
- Schleswig-Holstein – The countryside near Kiel is well worth exploring, with its impressive castles, a scenic coastline and lakes galore. Many cruise lines organise shore excursions to explore the region, but a self-guided tour is also possible. Take a train from Kiel to Eutin; the journey takes about 45 minutes. Eutin is a picturesque place to wander through, and is home to Eutin Castle and its gardens.
- City and Maritime Museum – Kiel’s City and Maritime Museum is extensive and diverse, with a focus on maritime history. The museum is housed in two historic buildings, on the edge of the Kiel Fjord, and tells the story of the city’s important maritime history. Three historic ships are also moored at the museum’s own pier. In the summer months the museum is open daily from 10am – 6pm and in the winter months from 10am – 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday.
- Lubeck Old Town – Visiting the UNESCO world heritage site of Old Town Lubeck is a memorable experience. The city’s medieval centre was the first Northern European Old Town to receive the UNESCO award. There are more than 1,000 listed buildings to marvel at, as well as alleys dating back to the Middle Ages, a stunning cathedral and scenic harbour views. Trains travel regularly between Kiel to Lubeck, though be sure to check what time your ship leaves Kiel so that you allow plenty of time to get back.