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Everything you always wanted to know about Kieler Woche
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Kieler Woche FAQ

by Mark Zanzig and Oliver Staack
Released July 12, 2012

Kiel Week -or "Kieler Woche" as the locals call it- is one of the most important sailing events of the world. Thousands of sailing enthusiasts come to Kiel every summer to compete in races or just for the fun of it. But it is not just about sailing. Today, the sailing fest has expanded into a beautiful cultural event that covers a lot of tastes: be it free open air concerts from rock to classic, balloon riding or international cuisine - you can spend an exciting time in Kiel, even if you do not care about sailing at all.

But for visitors from overseas, planning the trip can be difficult: There are not many hotels, so you should book early. But what if you do not get a hotel room? Where are the "hot spots" during the week, and how do you get there? How much does it cost? Questions, questions, nothing but questions.

So we decided to compile the ultimate guide for you to help planning your trip. We both grew up in Kiel, so we have a long-standing experience with this fantastic event, which we want to share with you. Forget about all the marketing speak - we want to provide you a hand-on guide to the sailing fest. And yes, we strongly believe that Kiel Week is worth a visit and that you will enjoy your stay in our hometown.

As always, your feedback is highly appreciated. Do you like our website and FAQ? Is it useful for you? Would you recommend it to friends? Are you missing something? Where can we do better? Just let us know.


Kiel Week 1894
Kieler Woche 1894 in a drawing by Fritz Stoltenberg
Source: Die Gartenlaube Nr. 32/1894


1. What, exactly, is the Kieler Woche?

Kieler Woche has been a sailing event since 1882, and it is one of the major sailing fests for sailors from around the world every year. Its importance is almost on-par with the Olympic Games and other first-class events, and many visitors come only for the competitions of the worlds best teams.

However, over the years the fest has been extended to a cultural get-together, not just for the people of Kiel and the region, but also for visitors from overseas. When you visit Kieler Woche, you will experience free concerts, often from top-notch artists and bands. (For example, in 2012 you could experience Bob Geldof live on stage as well as Kim Wilde and the Leningrad Cowboys.) You will find food from every corner of the world but also Oktoberfest-like beer tents, sometimes even operated by Munich breweries. There is a lot to see and do at Kieler Woche!


Kieler Förde
Sailing on the Kieler Förde on a sunny summer day / Photo: Zanzig

Kieler Woche 2012
Sailors leave Schilksee harbour for their races / Photo: O. Staack

Kieler Woche 2012
Sailors work on their boats in Schilksee Harbour / Photo: O. Staack

Kieler Woche Tall Ship Parade
Tall Ship Parade on Kieler Förde / Photo: Oliver Staack


2. Where does Kieler Woche happen?

Since Kieler Woche consists of both sailing competitions as well as cultural events, there is really no single spot where the fest actually happens. In fact, it happens across the entire city. However, here are the absolute hot-spots during the week:


  • Kieler Aussenförde (Races)
  • Schilksee (Sailing teams)
  • Kieler Innenförde (Tall ships parade, fireworks)
  • Hörn (Historic boat harbour)

  • Spiellinie (Free Concerts)
  • City Center (Free Concerts, International Food Market, Fireworks)
  • Krusenkoppel (Huge childrens playground)
  • Nordmarksportfeld (Balloon Parade & more)


3. When does Kieler Woche happen?

The Kieler Woche will take place in the last full week in June, ending on the last Sunday of the month.

The next dates are:

  • 2013: June 22 - June 30
  • 2014: June 21 - June 29
  • 2015: June 20 - June 28
  • 2016: June 18 - June 26


4. When should I attend the fest?

That largely depends on your interests. If you are into sailing and mostly interested in the races, you can basically come any time of the week. You will want to check with the official web site to see when your preferred races are going to take place.

If you are interested in the cultural event, we recommend to attend the fest during the weekends, i.e. the opening weekend or the second weekend. There will be more people in the city, more activities, more buzz. While there are many activities also on weekdays, the people usually need to go to work the next day, so it is not as busy and exciting as on weekends.


5. Do they charge an entry fee to the festival?

No. Many events are free of charge (concerts, and even short races in Schilksee), but to get closer to the sailing action, you will need to get on a boat, and they will charge you for that. Depending on the operator, you get either simple (just the ride on the boat) or sophisticated arrangements, i.e. with full lunch.


6. How much money should I set aside for my trip to the Kieler Woche?

This is difficult to predict as it largely depends on your interests. To experience Kieler Woche at its best, however, you will have to consider the following items:

  • All-day travel pass of KVG for entire network and the boats = about 10 Euro
  • Some "Bratwurst und Pommes" (sausage & french fries) = about 4 Euro
  • Two drinks (beer, coke, lemonade) = about 6 Euro
  • Access fee for race watching boat tour, including lunch = from 50 Euro
  • Good dinner, including a glass of wine = from 15 Euro
So, you can easily spend 70-100 Euros per day, depending on your preferences.


7. Where should I sleep? When should I book a room?

Kiel is a small city. It is rather "sleepy" during the 51 weeks of the year without Kiel Week. So there are not many hotels, maybe 40 to 50 altogether. These hotels will be fully booked during Kieler Woche, and they will be booked early. Many people do book their room for next year right after the fest has ended.

Therefor, we strongly recommend to book your hotel room as early as possible. Don't be surprised to see higher prices than usual, and to be asked to pay in advance. The hotels will sell their rooms anyway and know what they can demand (and they do). After all, Kieler Woche is the most important event for them every year.

To make it easier for you, we have put together a number of hotels for you, depending on your interests.

If you want to stay close to Schilksee and the Kieler Förde

If you want to stay in a hotel at the city center If you want to stay in an excellent hotel If you want to stay in an affordable house If you want to stay outside of Kiel


8. All the hotels seem to be already fully booked. What would be good alternatives?

Well, well. You might extend your search to the surrounding towns and villages - but do not expect too many hotels and guest houses. You will probably require a car if you stay there, and driving home -after a beautiful night at the fest- might be a real turn-off.

There are also a number of private appartments in and around Kiel. (Needless to say, these also fill up really fast, so the early bird catches the worm.)

Good luck!


9. How do I get from Hamburg Airport to Kiel?

When you want arrive by airplane, you will probably book a flight to Hamburg and then continue your trip by bus or car.

  • Bus
    There is a very good connection between Hamburg Airport and Kiel central station. It is called Kielius. Round-trip fare Hamburg-Kiel-Hamburg is 32 Euro per person (summer 2012).

  • Rental Car
    Pick up your rental car directly at the airport and drive yourself to Kiel. This might be useful when you are not staying in the city center, but in the surroundings (i.e. without useful public transport).

  • Taxi
    When you are three or four people it might be worthwhile to consider ordering a taxi from Kiel. Typically they are on time to pick you up (when you reserved it in advance). If you order it from Hamburg, you may have to wait an hour or so, but you will save real money compared to using a Hamburg taxi. The fare for a round-trip is 152 Euro for 4 passengers, i.e. 38 Euro per person.


10. We will come with a motor home. Where can we stay?

You can forget about parking/staying anywhere in the immediate surroundings of the hotspots of Kieler Woche (i.e. Schilksee, Düsternbrook, City Center). It is just too crowded.

Sites for motor homes

  • Wohnmobil Stellplatz Förde- und Kanalblick
    This is an awesome site: It is located directly at the entrance of the Kiel Canal, providing excellent views on the passing ships. It may not be a luxury site (and it does not have a beach!), but you are located in Kiel at the water.

  • Wohnmobil Stellplatz Schilksee
    There is an official site for motor homes at Schilkseer Str. 2 (close to Schilksee), but they do not have a web site. It may not be beautifully located, but it is close to the Olympic Center in Schilksee where all the action is.

  • Bülk/Strande (inofficial site)
    When you drive to Strande and look for the road to Bülk Lighthouse, you will pass a small, nice beach. This place is usually occupied by windsurfers, but the parking lots can be used for parking your motor home during Kieler Woche as well. Just make sure that you pay the official parking fee, and nobody is going to say anything.

  • Landwehr (inofficial site)
    It's the big parking lot at the ferry station in Landwehr. You can use it for overnight parking, and it's even free! As it is located directly at the Kiel Canal, you may watch big ships passing every now and then.

Camp Sites in Kiel
  • Camping Kiel Falckenstein
    The only official camp site in Kiel. It is just steps away from the long Falckenstein beach, and quite close to Schilksee, so this site is one of the best options. The drawback: They do not accept any reservations for Kieler Woche. :-( But they claim (on their homepage) that for the last 20 years they have always managed to find a space for those who came. Ah, there IS hope! :-)

Camp Sites outside Kiel (West) - all beautiful and just steps away from the beach Camp Sites outside Kiel (East) - enjoy high standards directly at the seaside Another Camp Site outside Kiel (South-West)
  • Naturcampingplatz Wrohe am Westensee
    This one is unusual as it sits not at the Baltic Sea but at the shores of the beautiful Westensee Lake. It is a "nature" site, so expect lots of bushes and trees.


Strande Harbour
Strande Yacht Harbour / Photo: Oliver Staack

Schilksee Yacht Harbour
Schilksee Olympic Harbour / Photo: Mark Zanzig

Laboe Yacht Harbour
Old Laboe Harbour / Photo: Mark Zanzig


11. I am coming by boat. Which harbours are available?

Difficult. During summer, the space in the harbours in and around Kiel is limited even without Kieler Woche. During Kieler Woche it is packed. All the information on the harbours can be found at the official site of the harbours in Kiel. You can call them at +49-(0)431-57 95 96 0, and their fax is +49-(0)431-57 95 96 97. As always - the early bird catches the worm. :-)

In addition to the harbours mentioned on the web site above, you will want to consider the following marinas:

  • Strande
  • Mönkeberg
  • Laboe
  • Wendtorf
  • Eckernförde


12. How should I get to the festival? Should I use a car or public transport?

Kieler Woche is really busy. You will not get a parking lot, at least not close to the hot spots. Thus we strongly recommend to use public transport (buses and ships operated by KVG) to get to the fest and back home. You can purchase travel passes that are valid all day in the entire network, so you can travel anytime anywhere. The pass costs about 10 Euro for a single person, but they also offer group tickets for up to five people. By the way, taking the ferry from the city center to Schilksee, Laboe and Strande is the perfect way to spend a day in Kiel. You will enjoy Kiel from its best side - from the waterside!


13. How long should I stay in Kiel?

The city of Kiel has a lot to offer, so we suggest to stay at least four days:

  • 1 day at the races
  • 1 day at the cultural events
  • 1 day in the surroundings (trips to Eckernförde or Plön/Holsteinische Schweiz)
  • 1 day at the beach (if the weather permits)
You should definitely consider a trip from Saturday-Tuesday or Thursday-Sunday to include one of the weekends. It is really nice to see the entire city being so busy with lots of visitors roaming through the city center and enjoying the events of Kieler Woche.


Steam Ship Alexandra
Enjoy watching the races on a historic steamship / Photo: Zanzig


14. How can I book a race viewing tour?

The best place to book your race viewing tour is the official tourist information office.

  • Tourist-Information Kiel
    Andreas-Gayk-Straße 31 (next to the Post Office)
    Phone: +49 (0) 431 - 679 100 (daily from 8 am to 10 pm)
    Fax: +49 431 679 10 99
    E-Mail: info@kiel-sailing-city.de
Online booking for boat day-trips starts in October every year. Since space on the boats is limited, we recommend to book as soon as you know your travel dates. Please visit the official pages from the tourist office.


15. Where are the best viewpoints for photographers during the tall ship parade?

Needless to say - the best place to experience the Tall Ship Parade is on the water, right in the middle of the action. :-) However, if you can not get there, you can see the parade from a number of stunning viewpoints.

In general, you will want to come as close as possible to the big ships. So, you should focus on:

  1. Falckenstein Lighthouse and beach
  2. Holtenau Lighthouse
  3. Wik
  4. Düsternbrook
  5. U-Boot-Ehrenmal Möltenort in Heikendorf
  6. Mönkeberg
  7. Laboe Beach
For your convenience, we have prepared a tiny map and some more information.


Visitors of Kieler Woche wear umbrellas
You better prepare for cold and rainy weather / Photo: O. Staack


16. How is the weather in Kiel during Kiel Week?

Be prepared for everything (maybe except snow). While most of the advertising will suggest that it is warm and sunny during Kieler Woche (with highs ranging from 19 C to 24 C), reality is often very different. We have had really cold weeks with daily high temperatures as low as 10 C, and with lots of rain. While this weather never lasts more than a few days, it really might happen to you while you are in Kiel. So we strongly suggest to bring warm clothes (pullovers, jackets), umbrellas, and sturdy shoes. We would not go as far as to recommend rain coats, because Kieler Woche in rain coats is a somewhat pointless. But warm clothes and umbrellas are a must. As they say: "There is no bad weather, there's just unsuitable clothes." ;-)


17. I am looking to try some great local foods. Any tips?

Kiel has a long tradition of sea food, so we recommend to try some fish. Most restaurants (including those of the better hotels) will actually serve good fish, however you may want to try these restaurants that are known to be way above average. Reservation is recommended unless noted.

  1. September, Alte Lübecker Chaussee 27, Phone (0431) 68 06 10
  2. Parkrestaurant @ Kieler Kaufmann, Niemannsweg 102, Phone (0431) 88 11 0
  3. Zum Hirschen @ Lüneburghaus, Dänische Straße 22, Phone (0431) 982 6000
  4. Fischers Fritz @ Hotel Birke, Martenshofweg 2-8, Phone (0431) 5331 435
  5. Kieler Yacht Club, Hindenburgufer 70, Phone (0431) 88 13 442
  6. Fischküche Laboe, Hafenplatz, Laboe (no reservation required)
If you are using a mobile phone, please remember to always include the prefix when dialing.


18. I do not speak any German. Will this be a problem?

No, this should not be a big problem. Many people do speak English (even if a bit broken), so you certainly will get along quite well.


Schleusen Nord-Ostsee-Kanal in Kiel-Holtenau
Kiel Canal at Holtenau / Photo: Oliver Staack

Beer Tent during Kieler Woche
Original Bavarian Beer Tent / Photo: Oliver Staack

Laboe Submarine Monument
The Submarine Monument in Laboe / Photo: Mark Zanzig


19. What are the must-do's and must-see's?

  • Schilksee - It's the perfect place to experience sailing. The sailing teams prepare for the races, and you can almost feel the energy. Schilksee also has a long beach, restaurants and cafes. So you can easily spend a whole day here.

  • Kiel Canal - One of the three canals in the world connecting seas. (The other two are the Panamacanal in Panama, and the Suez Canal in Egypt). The best place to have a look at Kiel Canal are the high bridges in Holtenau. From here you have a perfect view across Kiel and the canal entry in Holtenau. With a bit of luck you may see a big ship passing the Canal right below you.

  • Hindenburgufer and Forstbaumschule - The Forstbaumschule is a big, beautiful park that invites for long, peaceful walks. You can extend your walk to enjoy the Hindenburgufer with splendid views on the military ships and across the Kieler Förde. When you are done walking, you might visit the "Forstbaumschule" restaurant and beer garden. The beer garden looks and operates like a "real" Bavarian beer garden. If you have no time to visit Bavaria, the "Forstbaumschule" might give you an idea of what it's like.

  • Krusenkoppel - If you have kids, this is the place to go. Here you will have plenty of activities like working with wood, painting, or fun sports.

  • Kiellinie - Between the Schleswig-Holstein parliament ("Landeshaus") and the city center is the Kiellinie. Here you will find the music tent where you can enjoy free concerts of medium and big acts.

  • Ferry Harbour and Bootshafen - You should at least have been here once. To see the huge ferries come and go is certainly impressive. You can sit on the stairs of the Bootshafen and enjoy a coffee break or just watch the people passing by. During Kieler Woche there are interesting shows on the water.

  • Hörn - This is where the Kieler Förde ends, right next to the central station. During the Kieler Woche, this is a harbour for historical ships, and this is quite attractive to see.

  • Rathausplatz - The place in front of the big city hall is home to the "International Market" during the Kieler Woche. And while this may sound a bit far fetched and pompous - it's true: You can taste traditional food and drinks from many countries around the world here. Yummy!

  • Nordmarksportfeld - Here you will have the balloon parade, which is quite a sight. In the evenings they have a show where the burners illuminate the balloons in the rhythm of the music. Cooool!

  • Laboe - Kiel has been tied to the marine for ages, and many soldiers died in the 1st and 2nd world wars. In Laboe you have a monument remembering the sailors who died on submarines. Inside the monument, you can walk to the top and enjoy the view across the baltic sea. After that, you can climb into a real submarine, experiencing the small space all by yourself. Once you have done that, why not have a break at the long and clean beach?

  • Freilichtmuseum Molfsee - This open-air museum will show you how the people of Schleswig-Holstein lived in former times. Stunning.

  • Original Bavarian Oktoberfest Tent - This is a bonus for visitors from overseas: A genuine beer tent from Oktoberfest, complete with waitresses in Dirndls, an oom-pah band, and beer from Bavaria. As exciting as this may be for you, you should always keep in mind that this tent is as weird for the people of Kiel (and Northern Germany in general) as it is for you! (For example, outside of Bavaria only very few women wear a Dirndl.)


20. What are the must-sees around Kiel?

  • Eckernförde - A tiny city with a beautiful town center, an active harbour, and a long, sandy beach. You can take long walks along the promenade and enjoy fresh Fish Rolls at the harbour.

  • Schwedeneck - A village north-west of Kiel, at the Baltic Sea. The village itself is not very interesting, but both the long beach and the walk along the high cliffs are spectacular. Be prepared to see the village drowning in tourists on hot summer days.

  • Plön - As the regional center for the area east of Kiel, Plön offers stunning opportunities for travelers. The five big lakes gave the area its name: "Holsteinische Schweiz" (best to be translated as "Switzerland of Holstein"). You can take long cruises on the lakes, departing from Plön. We think that the city is definitely worth a sidetrip.

  • Stein/Kalifornien - Yes, it's true: You can get to California within less than an hour from Kiel. Well, it's not that California, but still one of the most popular beaches in the North-East of Kiel. It's long and clean, inviting for a day in the sun or long walks.


21. My question is not listed. How can I get an answer?

Well, well, you can always send us a mail with your question. We try to answer each serious question, but please do not hold your breath waiting for a reply. After all, we've got some photos to shoot... :-)

* * *

Map of Kiel and surroundings

Kieler Woche Map


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