Cities & Culture

Kiel: seaside city and gateway to the Baltic

Kiel: Schwedenquay with Ostseequay and St. Nikolai Church ©DZT (Francesco Carovillano)

Kiel has a long shipbuilding and naval tradition but is characterised today by its vibrant student scene, laid-back lifestyle and urban flair. You can sense this in its modern city centre as much as you can on Dänische Strasse, a street of 19th-century buildings full of maritime charm.

Water is the dominant element of this city, where the sea has forged a path right into its centre. You can feel, see and breathe the magical maritime atmosphere wherever you go: along the elongated Kiel Fjord, around the port or amidst the iconic container cranes of the shipyards, which are among the largest in Europe. The Gorch Fock, a well-travelled training ship and a star attraction at international sailing events, is as much part of the cityscape as the huge ferries docked at the Skandinavienkai quay. The impressive Kiel Week regatta, the annual international sailing festival, firmly cements the city's status as the maritime centre of the north.

Around the long-established Dänische Strasse shopping street and the Holstenstrasse pedestrian precinct, Kiel city centre flaunts its vibrant flair. Did you know that Kiel is a major host city for the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, one of the world's biggest classical music festivals? Kiel Castle, Kiel Fjords, the opera house and even the Howaldt shipyards are transformed into fabulous stages here. Even the city's museums are of international standing. Kiel Canal is the world's busiest man-made waterway and connects the city to the North Sea. The canalside path for pedestrians and cyclists is ideal for days out and for visiting restaurants that offer stunning views of the many ships that pass through the canal on their way into the big wide world.

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