Attractions in Kiel for the ship enthusiast and the rest of the family
With less than 100 kilometers to Denmark, you'll find Kiel close to ferries in Rødby-Puttgarden. If you have children in the car, Kiel is a great choice for a weekend trip to Northern Germany without making the little ones too impatient.
What to see in Kiel? There are things to see in Kiel's city center, but there are also attractions near Kiel that you can easily get to on your self-drive holiday.
Dive into our suggestions for things to do in Kiel for the whole family.
What is Kiel known for? As well as being the capital of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, the sea is the red - or rather blue - thread that runs through the city. Kiel is located on the Baltic Sea and makes much of its maritime heritage, making it an ideal destination for those interested in port life and shipping.
In fact, there's a two-kilometer long blue "thread" painted on the pavement that you can follow around the city. It takes you past the sights that are a must-see in Kiel - and there are many of them.
Here are 9 experiences you should consider heading for on a 1-day trip to Kiel or as part of a mini-break in Germany.
Blow me down, a lot of ships!
If you're passionate about maritime life, you've come to the right place. Kiel calls itself "the sailing city" – so as you can probably guess, there are ample opportunities to take another trip on the water if you didn't get enough on the Scandlines ferry over.
The Kieler Canal, known as the highway of giant ships, is the busiest of its kind in the world. So, if you prefer watching cruise ships and ferries rather than being on them, just find a spot along the 100-kilometer-long canal and enjoy the sight of these floating attractions.
To get the full experience, visit the city in June during the Kieler Woche; a huge sailing sports event that also attracts other activities like markets and concerts.
Zoologisches Museum Kiel
natural history in abundance
Do words like evolution and biodiversity light up everything inside your brain? Then the Zoological Museum in Kiel is your Disneyland.
Here, you can enjoy exhibitions on everything from sharp teeth to the butterfly's camouflage tricks – and a large section focused on marine life: 12 whale skeletons and many more spectacular creatures from the depths of the sea are ready to impress. You can even touch the horn of a real "unicorn". The permanent exhibition 'Future of the Sea' shows in tangible ways what research on fisheries and climate change tells us.
Ready for the wildest part? Kiel's zoological museum houses over 400,000 items!
So, if you want to learn about nature's strange and wonderful creatures, you won't find a better classroom than this.
Hegewischstraße 3, 24105 Kiel
The sights of the sea gathered under one roof
If you can't get enough of sea creatures and also like to see them swishing their tails, then the next obvious stop is a visit to the Aquarium Geomar.
The giant aquarium, beautifully situated by the fjord, lets you meet all of Ariel's friends in real life – even those she didn't know existed. Both Nordic and tropical swimmers play tag in lifelike environments, and you'll be surprised at how many species you didn't know.
Experience the large herring school zooming past, and watch the seals shout excitedly when they are fed. And definitely bring the kids! They will undoubtedly also be excited to dash around and shout excitedly about all the beautiful fish.
Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel
A truly u-nique museum
What's it like to be aboard a submarine? Few of us will likely ever experience it. But you can find out if you make your way to – or rather down into – U-Boot U-995.
That's the name of a German submarine that sailed around the North Sea during World War II; the last of its kind in existence. After the war, the submarine fell into Norwegian hands, but a few decades later, it was given back to Germany, where it now functions as a museum.
Get a glimpse of what it felt like to patrol in the darkness under the conditions of that time. And hurry back up if you're claustrophobic.
Next to U-995 stands a tall, noteworthy tower. It's a memorial for sailors who died at sea. The memorial and the submarine are a short drive outside of Kiel, but are definitely worth a visit for those interested in history.
Strandstraße 92, 24235 Laboe
Dänische Straße (The Danish Street)
How Kiel used to look
Much of the Kiel you see today has been rebuilt after large areas of the city were destroyed during World War II.
But you can still find parts of the original cityscape, especially on the cozy Dänische Straße, which has existed for several hundred years. The well-preserved street got its name because the road once led to where Germany ended and Denmark began.
Shop for some delicious food and fashion in the small stores, be lucky enough to catch a musical experience in the summer, or strike up a conversation with the locals out for their Sunday stroll. However, we can't guarantee that they speak Danish.
Dänische Straße, 24103 Kiel
If nature and history gets boring
Can shops count as attractions? When you have Kiel's wild selection, then yes!
If your credit card is itching in your pocket, calling to you, then just head out to either Holstenstraße or the long, long Holtenauer Straße. Here you will find shop after shop after shop after shop after shop after shop after shop after shop after… You get the idea.
If you need a roof over your shopping bags, you can pop into the shopping centers Holstentörn, Quer Passage, Sophienhof, or Citti-Park.
No matter where you prefer to snatch items off the shelves, be aware that many shops are closed in Germany on Sundays. So, you might want to schedule your power shopping for Saturday, and tend to your sore feet the day after.
Holtenauer Straße, 24105 Kiel
St. Nicholas Church
St. Nicholas Church's high, pointed roof is not to be overlooked with its elegant reddish color that lights up the landscape.
The church's origin in the 13th century makes it the oldest church in Kiel. Its Gothic exterior and magnificent interior make it perhaps also the most beautiful.
Even if you're not a fan of religion or history, you'll easily exclaim "God!" when you see the lavish altarpiece and contemplate the intricately carved baptismal font.
If you're ready for a beautiful experience, St. Nikolai Church is ready to deliver.
Alter Markt, 24103 Kiel
It doesn't get more maritime than this
Do we have more on the to-do list for those who are crazy about ships? Of course. A proud port city can naturally also boast a maritime museum.
The museum is located in the former auction hall for the city's fishermen, and the changing exhibitions give you a picture of Kiel's heyday among the splashing waves.
Highlights include photos, objects, and a series of well-preserved boats from back when dad was a sailor.
Wall 65, 24103 Kiel
Computermuseum der Fachhochschule Kiel
Digital dinosaurs up close
More into surfing the net than the sea?
Check out the unique computer museum and learn how the revolutionary invention got its start.
The museum's extensive collection takes you on an entertaining journey from the roots of information technology in the 1960s, where a computer filled an entire room, to more recent times where it can fit in our pocket.
There are guided tours every Saturday, but it's also fun to walk around on your own and closely examine the many gadgets and gizmos, which are unconventional attractions for both young and old.
Eichenbergskamp 8, 24149 Kiel