Kiel — capital of Schleswig-Holstein and home to the biggest sailing event in the world

View of art nouveau buildings in Kiel city centre

Kiel is the capital of the northern German state Schleswig-Holstein and has around 240,000 inhabitants. Founded in the 13th century as “Holstenstadt tom Kyle”, the city’s name was changed to Kiel in 1900. Due to its location close to the Baltic Sea, it is an important maritime centre as well as transport hub, probably best known for the annual Kiel Week, the biggest sailing event in the world.

Things to see and do

Beach on the Kieler Förde

The fjord-like Kieler Förde, a 17 km long inlet shaped by glacial movement, is stretched from the city centre to the Bay of Kiel. Its narrowest point, the so-called Friedrichsorter Enge, is only 1km wide. Walking in a stiff breeze alongside the inlet, tourists can experience a wide variety of activities, ranging from watching all kinds of yachts to enjoying beautiful beaches for vacations.

Sailing boats during Kiel Week

Kiel Week is the world’s largest sailing event that welcomes around 5,000 sailors, 2,000 ships and three million visitors and takes place annually during the last full week in June. Its diverse events provide the whole family with opportunities to gather exciting and interesting experiences at the largest summer festival in northern Europe.

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Maritime Museum

Kiel’s history and culture are shaped by its proximity to the Baltic Sea. In addition to being the location of a major shipyard, the city’s maritime museum provides information about Kiel’s historical connections throughout the maritime world. Due to the museum’s location in a hall where fish auctions have taken place in the past, it conveys a realistic atmosphere.

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Giant water lilies in Kiel Botanical Garden

The Old Botanical Garden’s history in Kiel can be traced back to the late 19th century when Adolf Engler was starting to transform the English landscape garden into a botanical one. It is located north of the city centre, close to Kiel Fjord. Apart from the dawn redwood, which belongs to the oldest of its species on the European continent, the Old Botanical Garden offers a silent atmosphere for a walk enjoying a wide diversity of plants.

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Molfsee open Air Museum

The Open Air Museum hosts a heritage raiolway, more than 60 houses, windmills and workshops, an old pharmacy surrounded by a herb garden and a bakery from 1850, where sourdough bread is still produced to the original recipe.

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THW Kiel handball team celebrating

The handball club Turnverein Hassee-Winterbeck (THW Kiel) holds its matches in the Sparkassen Arena, which provides space for up to 13,500 supporters. Founded in 1904, THW Kiel has become the most successful handball club in Germany: The club won the triple in 2012, including not only the German championship and cup but also the EHF Champions League. Even more fascinating is THW Kiel’s record of progressing through an entire championship season without having lost a single point.

British-German Town Twinnings

Town twinnings between British and German cities play an important role in promoting cultural exchange. Kiel has been twinned with Coventry in the West Midlands since 1967.

German City Profiles

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German City Profiles

Looking to visit somewhere new on your next trip to Germany? Check out our city and regional profiles. Whether you prefer tucking into Currywurst in Berlin, or dancing in a carnival parade in Düsseldorf, you’re bound to find something for you.

German Embassy London

Written by

Discover Germany’s cities, regions, culture and more.

German City Profiles

Looking to visit somewhere new on your next trip to Germany? Check out our city and regional profiles. Whether you prefer tucking into Currywurst in Berlin, or dancing in a carnival parade in Düsseldorf, you’re bound to find something for you.

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