The North Sea Coast of Schleswig-Holstein includes some of Germany's most popular beach destinations.
The North Sea Coast region includes the districts of Dithmarschen and Nordfriesland.
- 1 Albersdorf
- 2 Brunsbüttel
- 3 Büsum — famous for its crabs, which you can buy, cooked, right off the boat
- 4 Friedrichstadt
- 5 Heide
- 6 Husum — a tourist resort and gateway to the North Frisian Islands, with many cultural features
- 7 Sankt Peter-Ording — one of Germany's prime beach and windsurfing destinations
- 8 Schlüttsiel
- 9 Tönning — its attractive beach has soft silt deposits that are said to have a healing effect on skin diseases
- 10 Westerdeichstrich
- 11 Westerland
- North Frisian Islands — Beaches, lighthouses and seafood.
- Dithmarschen — a flat area of mostly reclaimed land, with spectacular skies and lots of holiday apartments known (in singular) as Ferienwohnung or Fewo. It is a place where many Germans vacation and is a great place for a slice of Germany as the Germans live it. What's interesting in terms of history is that Dithmarschen does not have a historical aristocracy, being a land of, usually well-to-do farmers. Today Ditmarschen is Germany's leading producer of cabbage.
- Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park — a UNESCO World Heritage site along the region's coast and including the North Frisian Islands
Schleswig-Holstein's "face to the Atlantic" is made up of an archipelago - the North Frisian Islands - and the coastline, both famous for their sand beaches and beach resorts. The flat terrain and the shallow sea together with the tides that are almost a hallmark for the coast around the North Sea means that the border between sea and land is blurred. Therefore, you can experience landscapes such as mud flats and salt marshes and other wetland and the region is also known for its diverse birdlife.
The whole coastline and the islands are part of the world heritage listed Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park, which is one of the components in the Wadden Sea world heritage site continuing into Denmark in the north and Lower Saxony and the Netherlands in the south.
Unsurprisingly, this is also a good place to enjoy seafood. Büsum is famous for brown shrimp that you can buy cooked off the boat, and on Germany's former "lobster capital" Heligoland, lobster is served as a local speciality.
Humans have been in a constant battle with the sea in the area since we have written records - Tacitus' "Germania" mentions "Frisii" who may or may not have been survivors of a recent storm flood, but is murky on geographic details. Besides agriculture, fishing and trade a major business was the salt-trade. However, as people back then did not have an economic means to extract the salt from the ocean, they instead burned the peat underneath their feat to extract the salt from the ash.
Predictably this led to a lowering of the land and the relatively low dikes of the era were by far no match for the storm floods, leading to the permanent loss of a lot of land and making formerly mainland areas islands. One of the most famous stories is that of Rungholt a lost city that was flooded in a particularly severe storm and of which myths and poems still tell a story of human hubris being punished by an uncaring and brutal nature. However, humans were not always the losers in the fight against the sea in this area and there are several regions called Koog (plural: Kooge) which is land won by land reclamation, the same thing would be called "Polder" in the Netherlands.
While coast protection is still an important part of the coastal economy and the island of Sylt gets huge amounts of sand added to its southern tip every few years to combat erosion, the focus has changed from fighting nature to protecting the unique environment between sea, mudflats and land and preserving it for future generations. One important aspect in the modern approach to coast protection are the natural sand dunes and given that the plants growing on them are very hardy when it comes to withstanding storm and saltwater but cannot withstand being stepped on, you should keep out of the dunes.
Westerland on Sylt has an airport with mostly domestic flights and the occasional flight from Switzerland or Austria. The closest major airport is in Hamburg.
The main line in this region is the "Marschbahn" from Hamburg to Westerland which is electrified as far north as Itzehoe. There are a few lines branching off from this one, but sadly a lot of railways in this part of Germany were dismantled in the second half of the 20th century.
The Autobahn A23 leads from Hamburg and the rest of Germany to the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein. Coming from the east of the state, there are highways to Heide and Husum. From the Danish (Jutlandic) west coast, Danish highway 11 turns into Bundesstraße 5 at the border, and if entering Germany at Flensburg, you can take B199 to Leck or B200 to Husum.
Seafood is obviously a big part of the historic cuisine of this region and to this day Krabben (Crangon crangon) are a part of local cuisine and sold right off the boat in fishing harbors. While you can buy them without their shell, it is more common that you have to unshell them yourself, a somewhat tricky process known as "pulen".
The peninsula of Eiderstedt which juts out between St. Peter Ording and Tönning is one of Europe's biggest cabbage growing areas and locals like to boast "We grow a head of cabbage for every head of German population". There is even a "Kohlosseum" (a pun between "Kohl" - "cabbage" "coliseum" and "museum") dedicated to the plant.
A local drink is the "Pharisäer" ("pharisee") allegedly named by a pastor opposed to the drink. It is a coffee with a shot of high proof spirit (usually rum) topped off with a big glob of whipped cream (allegedly so the smell of the booze would be masked). The analogous drink with cacao substituted for coffee is locally known as "Tote Tante" ("dead aunt").
Another spirit that is locally drunk is "Köm", a grain spirit flavoured with anise and/or caraway.