I have one afternoon and the next morning after flying to Hamburg airport before going to Kiel the next day. Can anyone recommend other cities to stay in and things to see in the area? I've been to Hamburg once, and I'm wondering if there are interesting things to do in Lübeck, Hanover, other nearby cities or perhaps Kiel itself.
My suggestion is not to stay in Hannover, which is another 2 hours from Hamburg. If you prefer not staying in Hamburg, then I suggest Lüneburg, or if you a larger city, then Kiel, the capital of Schleswig-Holstein. Although Kiel was plastered in the war, one of the first cities to be raided by the British, I like Kiel, scenic and interesting
I would suggest "The Atlantic Hotel" which can be seen as you take the main exit of the train station, a bit pricey. This far north in Germany I stay in three places, Hamburg , Kiel and Lüneburg, one of my favourite smaller places in Germany.
If you choose Kiel, I would recommend the harbour tour. It takes you to Laboe, the extent of the tour. If you're interested in German naval history, that monument and museum is there, the Marine Ehrenmal, The Tourist Office in Kiel is just down from Kiel Hbf where you can arrange a day cruise through the Kiel Canal.
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When I flipped the pages of tourist guidebooks in Hamburg, there were a few mentions of Plön.
Lübeck is convenient enough. A lot of cultural attractions, such as the Hansa museum, home of Thomas Mann and Willy Brandt.
I would definitely go to Lübeck.
The capital of the Hanseatic League, Lubeck dates back to 1143 and is packed with interesting attractions. Only 40-train-minutes from Hamburg, Lubeck was spared the destruction many other German cities suffered during WW2, and had about 70% of its historic buildings remaining after the war. The rest were painstakingly rebuilt and that makes Lubeck a living museum and quite a remarkable one at that.
Along with Kiel, and Rostock, the British starting in the spring of 1942 raided Lübeck by air not by targeting military targets, rail yards, communication centers, etc, but the Zentrum and Altstadt. Their purpose to break civilian morale by rendering them homeless. Lübeck was among the very first cities along the Baltic and North Sea to be hit.