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  • Writer's pictureMarion Mueller

Escape to Sylt - an attractive island from casual to fancy

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

Find below your ultimative Sylt online-guide.....

Here is the up-dated version of my Sylt Island Blog from September 2019. In the epic Corona year of 2020 I re-visited this stunning island and once again fell in love with it. I did a check on all my old favorites, but I also discovered and added new places. Sylt did again its magic on me, although it was a different experience this time. As traveling abroad is restricted, the island got overwhelmed by tourists. Places where we have been on our own last autumn were packed. Ridicolus long queues in front of Cafes and in many of our favorite restaurants no seats - next slots were only available after 2 month in some cases!!!! On one side this increase in tourism is welcomed. The local economy has to make up for the two month of complete lockdown, but locals and espcially the natural environment got to their limit now. Hopefully next year people have more options to travel and I can enjoy a more relaxed island again. In any case Sylt became my ultimate energy place to reset and recharge.


Intro

Most of my Blog posts focus on destinations abroad. It´s time to explore my own home countryGermany. Living in Munich means to be surrounded by a stunning nature and an almost Italian lifestyle. However Germany has many interesting other places to explore – especially the North has an unique charm. If it´s not Munich, my second choice for living would be definitely Hamburg.

Below trip was even further up north – to the island of Sylt. Sylt is first of all a very popular summer destination for mainly German tourists and has a reputation of a celebrity island. Often famous people can be spotted in one of the top notch bars and restaurants. The price level of Sylt in general is on a higher scale. However if you skip the fancy places, you can spend an affordable holiday away from the main jet-stream. If you are a camping lover you will also find some idyllic spots around the island.

For a further feel into the island vibes, check out the Sylt Webcam:


Facts & Figures

Location

As mentioned Sylt is an island, located in the so-called Frisian archipelago, which is part of the North Sea. Sylt is the biggest island of the archipelago with a very distinctive shape.

On one side of the island you have the “Wattenmeer” (Wadden Sea) mud flats, while on the other side you can walk on endless white beaches. Take a dip into the cold water of the North Sea (sometimes actually freezing cold – but well as a Dubai girl everything below 28 degrees is considered cold for me!😁).


How to reach

By car with the Sylt Shuttle – Sylt is connected with a dyke (Hindenburgdamm) to the mainland of Germany. Coming with your own car, you can load it on the shuttle train that runs frequently between Niebüll (mainland) and Westerland (capital of Sylt). In the main season and on weekends expect waiting times (in 2020 actually up to several hours). Also a confirmed reservation doesn´t always grant you prompt access. You can choose between the privately owned Blauer Autozug (single deck).....

....or the government runned DB train (upper and lower deck).

By plane – Sylt has a cute airport. I love to land and just walk over to the tiny terminal building. Arrival and departure halls are “en miniature” and without major facilities. Only on the first floor of the departure hall you can find an Italian restaurant. Various German and international airlines are operating direct flights to Sylt in the summer season (check out for example Lufthansa, Condor, Eurowings or EasyJet).

By train – there are many train connections from various German cities to Sylt. The Regional Train (Regionalzug) from Hamburg runs on a frequent schedule as well. New! is the night train Alpen-Sylt Nachtexpress, which is a direct night connection with sleep-in cabins between Salzburg in Austria to Sylt. For more information check on: https://www.nachtexpress.de/

By ferry on Sylt Fähre– from the Danish city of Havneby (on the half-island Romo) a car ferry is available to reach the northern part of the island. Disembarkation is in List. Online pre-booking is recommended:

How to get around

Sylt is only 38 km long and 13 km wide (usually the width is only a few km in most places).


A convenient public bus system connects every part of the island. However in good weather the best way to get around is by bicycle. There are many bike rentals in all major villages and on windy days (which happen very often), I would highly recommend to rent an E-Bike (not only for the elderly 😊).


Car rental companies are also available on the island. Apart from the common ones as Budget or Avis, I can recommend to rent your car through Sylt Travel www.sylt-travel.de – we were very satisfied with their service and condition of the car. You can get the car direct at the airport.

When to travel

Sylt is a year round destination, but during winter month the climate is rough and chances are high to experience some heavy storms. However that would be a good time to get comfy in your cosy local accommodation, to try out the many Spa facilities of the island and to eat and drink around in the excellent Cafes and restaurants (however not all are open in the low season). Biggest advantage of that period is that you will avoid big crowds (except the time of Christmas and New Year).

During summer you can take part in all the amazing outdoor activities on land and water. Sunbath and enjoy all the community events like outdoor markets, festivals, sport events and concerts. During this time you will never be alone! If you like to dine in one of the famous restaurants make your reservation weeks in advance. So goodbye spontaneity!


My preferred travel time is the shoulder season during spring or late summer/autumn.

Before you go

Here are some interesting websites to scroll through:

Where to stay

Bigger hotels you find in the main city of the island – Westerland. However some of them are ugly block buildings without any charm. In some other places like for example List they have recently built some new luxury Hotel & Spa properties like the A-Rosa Hotel (www.a-rosa-hotels.de) – more of them will follow in the future.

My recommendation for Sylt would be to stay in one of the many apartments (Ferienwohnung) inside the traditional Frisian thatched houses. Many of these options you can find on the common internet platforms like www.booking.com, www.ferienhausmiete.de - also the above mentioned Sylt Travel Agency has accommodation options on offer. Further you can find many local rental agencies like for example www.sylt-ferienwohnungen-urlaub.de, www.kluge-sylt.de or www.travanto.de - some apartments can be rented direct from the owners as well check for example www.purenordic-sylt.de

Haus Stedum

On the 2019 trip I booked our apartment online @booking.com – luckily we chose a real nice place. The apartment location was in the village of Rantum (quite central in the middle of the island) inside the Haus Stedum (there are various flats in that building complex, all belonging to different private owners). Search with – FeWo-WattblickStedum on booking.com or rent from above mentioned Kluge Apartment Service.

The apartment is on the first floor and consists of a spacious living room (with TV, radio, streaming services), fully equipped open kitchen, bathroom, small storage room and an open sleeping room on the gallery.

Best is the view from the dining table onto the open Wadden Sea. With the provided binocular you can observe the vast bird life of the mud flats.

In the garden a sunbed is assigned to your apartment number. Sunbeds on Sylt by the way are different – they are called “Strandkörbe” and are big beach chair structures completely closed on one side – this is due to the usually strong winds on the island.

Haus Bianca

I can also recommend another cute apartment place in Rantum: Haus Bianca (www.bianca-sylt.de). Here you rent directly from the super friendly owner family. All apartments are decorated with a lot of dedication and you can feel the cosy homey atmosphere in the minute you walk in.

Sylt Cottage

In 2020 we stayed at another nice place - Sylt Cottage in Morsum. Morsum is less touristic, so you can spend a countryside vacation among Locals.

The Sylt Cottage itself is a cozy apartement in a modern building with direct views on the Wattenmeer from your private terrace. The apartement has a tasteful interior with a well- equipped kitchenette. However the cooking place is tiny, so not the right place to prepare larger meals.

Sleeping room and bath room are located in the basement. Storage facilities plus hangers are generous - so ladies you can bring all your favorite cloth along! Bath room however is super small - especially the shower is quite tricky to enter even with a "normal" size.

In general this apartement is very well maintained, clean and in a quiet surrounding. Internet connection was very good as well. If you are interested to book you can do that via my recommended site www.oltmann-ferienwohnungen.de or www.sylt-luxus.de (the apartment is listed under Feskerdam 28).


What to do on the island

#1 Explore the island capital of Westerland

Westerland is the biggest, but not the prettiest town of the island, centrally located in the geographical middle. Some ugly looking high rise buildings are popping in the eye. So why to go there?

Mainly to do some shopping in the pedestrian area, walk along the beach promenade or listen to some open-air concerts during summer.

Rent your beach chair at the city beach or enjoy a sundowner at Sunset Beach (www.sunsetbeach.de) – if you like to go active surfboards and SUP´s are also available.

Sylt is not a nightlife hot-spot, but for all the night owls among you Westerland is the main place to find some bars like for example the Irish Pub (Paulstraße 11), Cohibar (www.cohibar.eu), Wunderbar (www.sylt-wunderbar.de) – don´t go there if you hate German Schlager music!!, Kleiner Bruder (www.kleinerbruder.net) or Pablito (www.pablito-sylt.de). For some fancy bars move over to Kampen, where you have the top-notch GoGärtchen (www.gogaertchen.com), Rotes Kliff (www.club-rotes-kliff.de) or the Pony Club (www.pony-kampen.de).

Whatelse in Westerland? A nice public swimming pool with some cool slides or the sauna area for adults (www.sylterwelle.de). Next door a newly developed Spa & Beauty Center to book yourself into various massages or other kind of treatments (www.syltnesscenter.de). I would recommend to do an advanced online booking – because we couldn’t get a single free spot during our week on Sylt. A nice family activity would be the visit to the Sylt Aquarium (www.syltaquarium.de).

Westerland also sees yearly some high class sport events taking place on its shores like the Kitesurf Wold Cup (www.kitesurfworldcup.de) or the Windsurf World Cup (www.windsurfworldcup.de).

#2 Stroll through the village of Rantum

Rantum is one of many typical small villages mainly consisting of the picturesque thatched roof houses popping out of the dunes. Start your walk with a nice breakfast at the local bakery shop, which offers a delicious variety of local rolls and breads (www.backstuuv-rantum.de). Afterwards take the pedestrian road towards the seaside, passing the local church. On a sunny day rent a beach chair or just continue your walk through the dunes.

#3 Walk around the Morsum Kliff

The cliff is located in the eastern part of the island, stretching over 2000 metres. The whole area is a fascinating nature reserve. Follow the signs for the “Panoramaweg”, which leads first on a wooden track to the top of Morsum Kliff. Amazing views over the Wadden Sea will open. Follow now the path through the adjacent sand dunes down to get a different perspective of the cliff.

#4 Experience the Wadden See – Wattenmeer

The mud flats – Wattenmeer is a UNESCO World Natural Heritage, part of the bigger Nationalpark Schleswig-Holsteinisches Wattenmeer. Within this unique bioserve you can find a large number of mussels, crabs, worms and various other kind of creepy crawlies. During spring and autumn millions of migratory birds are resting here.

Walking on the muddy sands of the Wattenmeer depends on the tide – only during low tide walks are possible. The changing time between low and high tide is dangerous as water rises extremly quick.

Therefore it is best to experience the Wattenmeer on a guided walk. These walks can be booked in the various tourist offices throughout the island. It´s fun to walk bare foot through this muddy ground (foot massage included) – if that is not your fun thing to do, better bring rubber boots along as normal shoes will be soaked in the wet ground.


For a very special Watt experience guided by local experts, I would highly recommend to book a private tour on www.sylt-wattwanderungen.de - where either Werner Mansen or Jan Krüger will take you on their very own Watt walk. It´s fun with many interesting stories, Watt inhabitants and curiosities along the way. It´s worth to spend that extra cash.

#5 Go on a photo tour in Keitum

Keitum is an extremely picturesque village, also known as Captain´s Village – it used to be the home town for retired captains. Nowadays popular as the “Green Heart of the Island” – most of the old captain houses are surrounded by idyllic gardens, old trees and a stone wall – the so-called Friesenwall. It´s perfect for an afternoon walk through the romantic and peaceful streets. Afterwards have a tea or coffee in one of the lovely places around (see food section for tips).

Don´t miss a visit to the Altfriesische Haus - located in one of the old Captain Houses with original interior and the Sylt Museum (www.soelring-museen.de)

#6 Make a nature walk through the Braderuper Heide

The area between Kampen and Braderup is a nature reserve protecting some unique heathland, which is called “Heide” in German. Follow some sandy trails inland through the Heide landscape or along the shore of the Wattenmeer. During low tide an old ship wreck can be spotted - these remains belong to the Swedish sailing boat "Mariann". Brought to Sylt in 1961 and later used as a private party boat that burnt down mysteriously in the 80ies. Cycling is not allowed within the nature reserve.

The “Heidekraut” is also the favoured food for sheepherds. These fluffy creatures look so cute you just wanna go and hug them – but they taste good as well 😊 I know that wasn´t a nice one now……

#7 Walk around the most southern point of the island – Hörnum

This village is the most southern point of the island with a small pedestrian area, a distinctive lighthouse, some restaurants and hobbit-like dune houses. From the small harbour various boat trips depart to neighbouring islands like Föhr or Helgoland. Popular are also seal spotting boat cruises or a cruise to one of the so-called Halligen - tiny islands with just one or two houses and no protective dyke around.

If you walk along the beach around the most southern point, seals can be sometimes spotted on the sandbanks. Also the hard efforts that the islanders are doing to protect the shores can be seen. An increasing number of heavy storms are causing massive beach erosion and land loss. The last big spring tide was in 2015, but in every winter season land is lost. Therefore the shape of the island, especially in that southern part, is continuously changing.


#8 Or/and walk around the most northern point of the island

If you have done the walk around the most southern point, don´t miss the most northern one as well. The characteristic is completely different as the whole area up north is a nature reserve and uninhabited (except some few buildings). Due to its distinctive shape this part of the island is called the “Elbow” – it is not only the most northern part of the island, but also of whole Germany. From here it is only 4 km to the shores of Denmark, visible on clear days.

The privately owned “Elbow” is 330 meter wide and 1200 meter long – by car a fee has to be paid to enter. I love to walk on the beach around the Elbow. Often seals can be spotted plus lots of birds and small creepy crawlies on the Wattenmeer side. Swimming is not allowed due to the strong currents.

#9 list List on your list to visit 😊

After the walk around the most norther point drive into the village of List. In the harbour area you can find some good restaurants, souvenir and clothing shops. In List I have some of my favourite culinary hotspots (see in food section).

List is also the place where the ferry from Denmark arrives/departs. On rainy days visit the Sylt Nature Museum – Naturgewalten (www.naturgewalten-sylt.de).


#10 Climb the highest dune of the island

The highest spot on the otherwise flat island is the Uwe Düne. I would recommend a nice walk to reach there, which starts in Wenningstedt at the sea promenade. From there follow a nice trail partly on a wooden boardwalk and through the dunes.

After a 45-minute walk you will reach the Uwe Düne, which you conquer step by step. A fantastic view is awaiting you – on clear days over the whole island.

For the return, walk directly on the beach enjoying the sand between your toes. You will also get a good view onto the Red Cliff from beneath.

Coming back to Wenningstedt have some culinary delights along the beach promenade (see food section for recommendations).

#11 Go fancy in Kampen

Kampen is known as the jet-set village of the island. The most fancy bars and restaurants are all located around here as well as the most expansive private estates. Therefore a stroll through the village is a nice afternoon walk to daydream a bit.


Alternatively do a beach walk from the parking area next to the Sturmhaube restaurant (currently under renovation) until the legendary Buhne16 beach bar. Formerly famous for wild beach parties and nude sunbathing in the times of Gunter Sachs and Brigitte Bardot. Until today it´s a cool beach spot with lots of yearly activities (www.buhne16.de)

#12 Push the pedals on a bicycle tour

The whole island can be explored on bike with many options and routings. Well maintained, flat cycling routes – to push the pedals is a real pleasure. Depending in which village you rent your bike you can choose your routing accordingly.

On our tour we took the bike from Leksus in Westerland (www.leksus-fahrradverleih.de). Another recommended rental company would be m+m Fahrradverleih (www.mm-sylt.de).


We cycled to Rantum and onto the Rantum Dyke. At the Rantum Basin (Rantum Becken), you find yourself in a beautiful nature paradise inclusive of some friendly sheep.

Continuing up east to the Morsum Cliff, then to Keitum passing a Mini-Stonehenge – the Sylt Haarhog.

In Keitum we crossed over to the other side of the island, following the cycling path from Wenningstedt back to Westerland. You can do this tour in around 2-3 hours, but Sylt is an island to slow down. So take your time, do stops on the way and make it a day tour with some culinary stops en route. Plus meet the islanders....

#13 Sunbath and jump (naked) into the North Sea

An endless white beach stretches at the west coast, ideal for long walks or just a relaxed day in the sun. Your accommodation will hand you out a so-called guest card (Gästekarte), which entitles you to use any of these beaches. In many areas you can rent the comfortable covered sun chairs – so even on a windy day you will be well protected in them.

Famous are also the various FKK Beaches – means nude beaches. Might sound strange for some of you, but believe me once you have tried them out you won´t like to go to any other beach with a swim wear anymore 😁 It feels so good to enjoy the full glory of the sun in your beach chair bubble (without any white stripes on your body). Afterwards take a dip in the chilling North Sea as God has made you. Fantastic!!!! A famous FKK beach for example is Buhne 16 or Samoa FKK beach.


Another unique thing to try are the beach saunas (Strandsauna) with fantastic views from the dunes – and for the brave-hearted among you, make the run naked across the beach for the cool-down dip in the sea. Try Strandsauna Rantum, Strandsauna Samoa or Strandsauna Listland (check on www.sylt.de)


#14 Jump on a surfboard to get splashed

Sylt usually has a stiff sea breeze and is therefore a hotspot for wind and kitesurfers. You can either admire the Pro´s on some of the high ranked international surf competitions or get your hands on a surforboard yourself. Whether you are a beginner or just want to improve your skills, you will get a top notch guidance in one of the surf schools around. The first of its kind on the island and a still very popular one is Syltsurfing (www.syltsurfing.de).

#15 Do some bird watching at Vogelkoje

The Vogelkoje is a bird sanctuary. Once you have paid the entrance charge for the nature park you feel like walking through a jungle. In a small museum house you can learn all about the fauna and flora of this area. A wooden trail brings you out onto the dam from where you can observe the bird life of the Wadden Sea. We didn´t see much birds during our visit, but the tranquil atmosphere of the sanctuary was anyway worth the visit.