Sylt (North Frisian: Söl, Danish: Sild) belongs to the North Frisian Islands and is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Germany. It is a narrow island with a 40-km white beach and dunes on the western (sea) side and opens to mudflats on the eastern side. The island, and especially the city of Kampen, were traditionally known as a meeting place for Germany's high society, and many rich Germans maintain holidays homes on the island. Accordingly, Sylt is the most expensive island in Germany, so plan your budget accordingly. That being said, the expensive things are mostly lavish holiday apartments and champagne at the high prized bars and restaurants, so you can mitigate the impact somewhat by avoiding those.
Geologically, Sylt originated as a terminal moraine of the Saale glaciation; it was connected to the mainland until a devastating flood in 1362. In the 1920s a rail only causeway was built once again linking Sylt to the mainland.
After Germany lost its harbour with direct Sylt connections due to World War I, some other mode of transportation to the island had to be found and with neither air nor car travel commonplace, a railway only causeway was the logical consequence. The Hindenburgdamm (named for the rather infamous conservative/reactionary Reichspräsident that made Hitler chancellor in 1933) has connected the island to the mainland ever since and remains railway only, although some trains do transport cars. There are several connections by train from Hamburg, via Itzehoe. During the summer season, regular Intercity trains offer direct connections to most of Germany.
- 1 Westerland train station. The terminus of all island-bound trains, famously with a Frisian/German bilingual station sign.
- 2 Morsum station. The first stop on the island. Skipped by the IC.
- 3 Keitum station. The second stop on the island for regional trains. Skipped by the IC.
- 4 Sylt - Westerland Airport (GWT IATA). This airport offers flights to and from domestic and Swiss destinations. Operations are mostly seasonal.
- Sylt Ferry, ☏ . This company runs a year-round ferry from Havneby on the island of Rømø (in Denmark) to 5 A mooring in List on the northern part of Sylt. It may be cheaper and/or more convenient than taking the train, especially if your final destination is on the northern part of the island €48.30 for a car €8.10 for a single adult; discounts for round trips and frequent travel.
Similar to most other North Frisian islands, Sylt allows cars and there are several options of getting your car on the island, though driving it yourself isn't one of them. As mentioned above you can take the car ferry from Rømø. The other two options both use the causeway.
- Sylt Shuttle, ☏ , fax: . The Sylt Shuttle is a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, the national railway, and has been operating on this route for decades. Since the liberalization of the railway market, others have tried to enter the market and DB has thus tried some arguably underhanded tactics to keep competition from gaining the upper hand. €54 for a car one way. Discounts for round trips and travel in the middle of the week..
- Autozug Sylt, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This company is a venture of American RDC and as such the newer entrant to the market. They have less brand name recognition, but they use the same terminal on both sides of the trip as DB and their travel times are roughly the same. Depending on how important money is for you and which departure time works best for you, you can certainly choose either operator. €40 for a car one way. They also have pre-booked tickets from €19 but they are only valid on the train booked and should you get caught in traffic they won't reimburse a cent..
- 1 Westerland. The main city, with the railway station, all amenities and a beach promenade.
- 2 List. A harbor at the north-eastern end of the island with ferries to Denmark.
- 3 Kampen. It has bars, restaurants, galleries, and holiday mansions. The beach at Kampen is bordered by a 30-m-tall red cliff. Here you'll also find the 50-m-tall Uwe Düne, the island's highest point.
- 4 Hörnum. A city at the southern tip of the island, with ferries to Amrum and Föhr.
Bus is the easiest although bikes are also popular. An all-island three-day bus ticket costs about €28. You can also take a bicycle on the bus. Because many visitors arrive by car across the causeway and of the rather limited space on the island, there can be surprising amounts of traffic in the high season.
- 1 Denghoog, Wenningstedt-Braderup. Neolithic passage grave dating from around 3200 BC. This is the biggest and most impressive of the island's megaliths; for a fee you can enter the grave which is covered by 3 massive stones, the largest of which weighs 20 tons.
- 2 Rotes Kliff (Red cliffs) (between Wenningstedt and Kampen). 30-metre high line of sea cliffs
- 3 Uwe Düne. A dune that marks the highest point of the island; stairs lead to the top, with a wonderful view.
- 4 Wandering Dunes of List. The last wandering dune of Germany, which marches east about 7 metres per year.
- 5 Sylter Heimatmuseum, Am Kliff 19, Keitum.
- 6 Altfriesisches Haus, Am Kliff 13, Keitum.
- 7 The Seal Willy (Often seen in the Hörnum Harbour).
Classically Sylt is a beach destination and this still remains the main draw of the island. While the landscape of the German coast is beautiful even for those who don't want to swim or bathe, the temperature of the water rarely exceeds 20 °C even in the summer and that it can get rather windy. Sunburn is, however, a common concern especially when it is windy and appears to be cold, as the sun's UV rays are unperturbed by wind or temperature.
Several segments of the beach are officially declared as FKK (German for "nudist"), but these designations carry little weight; nude and non-nude bathers are tolerated everywhere.
A typically German thing to do at the beach is renting a Strandkorb (a wooden roofed beach chair) and just sitting in it and relaxing.
Along the beach, concrete groynes were built into the sea in an effort to halt sand erosion. These groynes are not visible at high tide and present a danger to unaware bathers. They are marked with cross signs along the beach.
Adults must pay a fee to access the beach (€4 per day from Mai to October, €2 from November to April); it's €3.30 or €1.65 if you pay in advance at your hotel or pension.
You may want to hike along the beach, along the paths in the dunes and heath behind the beach (it is forbidden to stray from the paths though), and near the mudflats on the western side of the island. Several dozen megalithic graves dating back to the neolithic (c. 3000 BC) can be found on the island.
Almost every restaurant on the island serves seafood, with the fish burger being considered something of a takeaway speciality. The island is definitely not cheap with the prices somewhat inflated by the wealthy German tourists who seem to make up 95% of the tourist traffic.
- Dorint Söl'ring Hof, Rantum.
- Sylter Eismanufaktur, List. Ice cream manufacturer
- Kupferkanne, Kampen (in a former Wehrmacht bunker, near a nature preserve). Coffee and cakes
- Raantem Hüs, Rantum.
- 1 Jürgen Gosch Kneipe, Friedrichstraße 15B, ☏ .
- 2 [formerly dead link] Alte Friesenstube, Gaadt 4, ☏ .
- 3 Restaurant Sturmhaube, Riperstig 1, ☏ .
- 4 Kupferkanne, Stapelhooger Wai 7, ☏ .
- 5 Vogelkoje, Lister Str. 100,.
- 6 Kaamp Meren, Kaamp-Hüs, Hauptstraße 12, 25999 Kampen, ☏ . Tu – Su 12:00 – 23:00 closed on Mondays.
- Gogärtchen, Strönwai 12.
- Pony Club, Strönwai 6.
- Rauchfang, Strönwai 5.
- Rotes Kliff, Braderuper Weg 3.
- Samoa Seepferdchen, Hörnumerstraße 70.
- Bistro26, Friedrichstraße 26