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Island Sylt, Germany — Travel Guide

Photo flight over the North Frisian Wadden Sea, view from SSW (200 °), 1 km altitude and 4 km distance to Sylt [photo: Ralf Roletschek / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Photo flight over the North Frisian Wadden Sea, view from SSW (200 °), 1 km altitude and 4 km distance to Sylt [photo: Ralf Roletschek / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Sylt, Germany, in a nutshell

Sylt is more than an island: 40 km of finest sandy beaches. Rough surf on the west coast, the calm Wadden Sea with its tidal flats to the east. Unspoilt dunes and green dykes. Flowering heathland and majestic cliffs. Daydreams and nightlife. Bustling activity and peaceful seclusion. Twelve places, all of them different and each holding its own individual charme.

SYLT Facts & Figures

  • is the largest German island in the North Sea, occupying an area of about 38 square miles.
  • extends 22.2 miles from north to south and between 383 yards and 7.8 miles from west to east.
  • measures 66 miles in circumference.
  • lies between 5 and 12 miles off the mainland.
  • is on the same latitude as the English city of Newcastle and the southernmost tip of Alaska.
  • became an island about 8,000 years ago, when it was severed from the mainland.
  • is 33% dunes, the remaining surface consisting of marshland and “geest”.
  • is directly connected to the mainland via the Hindenburgdamm, a rail causeway opened on 1 June 1927.
  • counts two unique shifting sand dunes, which migrate eastward up to 4.4 yards every year.
  • has 12 churches, 8 of them Protestant, 3 Catholic and 1 New Apostolic.
  • is home to about 21,500 inhabitants.
  • has eleven villages and one town.
  • can accommodate 50,000 visitors at a time.
  • attracts more than 800,000 holidaymakers every year.
  • has 12,000 second homes.
  • averages less than 1% windless days a year. The wind blows mainly from the west.
  • finds its highest natural elevation in the Uwe Dune in Kampen, which rises 57 yards above sea level.
  • has more than 11,000 strandkörbe waiting on its beaches during the season.
  • offers living space to up to 2 million organisms per square metre of Wadden Sea.
  • has its own dialect, called “Söl’ring”. It is spoken by 4% of the population and is a variant of Frisian.

Sunbather’s paradise

Sylt is well known for its 40 km (~25 mi) of sand beaches but also for its clothing-optional attitude. Although special areas for people in their birthday suits exist it became quite common that people take off the last layers at the not-so-dedicated clothing-optional beach stretches as well. Like in most other German regions people got used to naked facts and mostly nobody really cares any more. Check out what other people do and you should be good to go.

Map

Sylt Hotels and other Accommodation

Sylt is a top tourism destination in Germany for domestic and international travelers. There is ample accommodation available which ranges quaint B&B (often called ‘Pension’ in German) to luxurious hotels and of course Airbnb.

Sylt stretches only approx. 30 km (22 mi) from north to south and a car is needed but you’ll discover the island often by walking. Please read through our introduction of the villages of Sylt (see below) to find out where you would like to stay and then go from there to find an accommodation.

The villages of Sylt, Germany

Sylt is more than an island: 40 km of finest sandy beaches. Rough surf on the west coast, the calm Wadden Sea with its tidal flats to the east. Unspoilt dunes and green dykes. Flowering heathland and majestic cliffs. Daydreams and nightlife. Bustling activity and peaceful seclusion. Twelve places, all of them different and each holding its own individual charme.

LIST – Up in the north

When standing on the northernmost tip of the island, you can lay claim to the privilege of being ahead of 80 million Germans and dubbing yourself “the northernmost person in Germany”. However, List has a lot more to offer besides this superlative: wide beaches, an unspoilt dune landscape, a varied programme of events as well as a bustling harbour in an otherwise dreamy village. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the weather station and the new Erlebniszentrum Naturgewalten.

KAMPEN – Sylt’s most elegant location

Small but sophisticated. Exclusive and cosmopolitan at the same time. Chic and charming. Nature reveals itself here in all its beauty: Beaches of fine sand and wide tidal shallows, the red cliff and blooming heathland. Right in the middle: The Uwe dune, at 52 meters the highest elevation on the island. A modern health resort, the legendary “Whisky Street” with its fascinating clubs and the attractive golf course – these are just some of the many facets of this impressive village.

WENNINGSTEDT-BRADERUP – The ideal destination for families

The twin parish of Wenningstedt-Braderup is immensely popular with families. And there’s good reason for this, as families are well catered there: Whether mini-golf or trampoline bouncing, painting courses or pony riding – the youngest guests are never short of things to do. The greater part of Wenningstedt is situated directly on the west coast and offers a wide sandy beach set against the backdrop of majestic cliffs. At the heart of the village is the idyllic village pond with a Frisian chapel to its feet. The Denghoog is situated close to the pond. This impressive megalithic tomb is around 5000 years old and open to the public.

WESTERLAND – The island’s pulse

Westerland, the lively side of the island. All holiday makers find themselves here at some point – usually when arriving by train, or later if they come shopping or looking to experience some of the nightlife on offer. With just under 10,000 inhabitants, Westerland is the island’s only town. The pedestrian precinct forms the centre of the town with its numerous shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants. Westerland thrives on variety: While smart apartments lend the health resort an urban flair, idyllic Frisian houses cluster around the old village church in the traditional heart of the town. Westerland will guarantee a holiday rich in variety to suit all tastes: Whether bathing or surfing, tennis or cycling, theatres or music on the shore, wellness or shopping – here every guest is catered for.

FRIESENDÖRFER – The rural charm of the island

Five locations, one name: Tinnum, Keitum, Munkmarsch, Archsum and Morsum share the honour of being the green heart of the island. Here nature shows itself in all its magnificence. Broad expanses of fields and lush meadows stretch beyond green dikes, the Morsum cliff towers majestically above the tidal shallows, while the heath quivers gently in the breeze. Extensive cycle and footpaths offer scope for an active holiday. It’s easy to forget your cares on Sylt’s eastern shores. Old Frisian holiday homes with their traditional thatched roofs lend the villages their character, custom and traditions are at home here.

RANTUM – Sylt’s narrow waistline

In Rantum you’re very close to the sea. Only several hundred meters separate the roaring west coast from the quiet tidal shallows in the east. And between the seas: A wide expanse of nature with unspoilt dunes, nestling against the thatched houses which are so typical of the island. To the north of Rantum lies a nature reserve for birds that is home to some of the most diverse species in Northern Germany: Ornithologists from the whole of Germany travel here to watch more than 50 different species of birds coming to the Rantum basin to breed or stop over. However a visit is worthwhile not only for bird watchers: The embankment which surrounds the Rantum basin offers an extensive walk which allows you to cross the tidal shallows with almost dry feet.

HÖRNUM – Sylt’s sunny south

Hörnum – Sun, sea and more: While the youngest members of the family dig or make sand castles in the “largest sand pit in the world”, parents can relax on one of the basket chairs and enjoy the sun or have a dip in the sea for a refreshing cool. Each to their own tastes. Hörnum harbour is full of comfortable tour boats which invite you to step aboard for various sightseeing tours – discover Sylt’s neighbouring islands Amrum and Föhr and the tiny low-lying Hallig islands. Cruise past the seal banks or discover what marine delicacies are dragged from the depths of the sea by trawl nets.

Typical Sylt

Thatched roofs are to Sylt what sand is to a beach The thatched roofs adorning the houses lend a unique appearance to the villages of Sylt. Several of them date back to the 18th century, an era of prosperity that inspired a frenzy of building activity on the island. While stone and lime had to be shipped from Holland, the supporting beams for the masonry could often be found close to the doorstep: If a ship ran aground the carpenters of Sylt made good work of their unexpected windfall. Houses were generally built in the prevailing wind direction East-West, so that storms raging from the sea were only confronted with a relatively small face. Humans and animals usually lived under the same roof, animal sheds and barns formed an integral part of the house. The roofs were covered with reed stalks which at that time grew copiously on the island. Today, of course, most of the island’s reed beds are conservation areas, which means that thatch has to be imported from Austria, Hungary or Turkey. Thatched roofs not only look attractive, but also do away with the need for an air conditioner. In the winter they store the heat in the house, while in summer they help keep the air cool. The sturdy thatching can withstand the rigors of nature for at least 30 years.

Dunes – the Sylt ‘Alps’

What the Alps are to the Bavarians, the dunes are to the Frisians. The most recent dune formations on Sylt are around 3000 years old, while the oldest date back 8000 years. These fissured hills of sand were formed by strong winds blowing sand from the sea and piling it up into raised land along the coast. The highest dune on Sylt, and with it the highest elevation on the island, is the Uwe dune near Kampen, which rises 52 meters above sea level. A prominent feature are the two impressive “wandering” dunes in List, which are over 30 meters in height and which move about five meters a year through the effects of the wind. “This remarkable natural phenomenon” made a profound impression on the author Thomas Mann: “You only need to imagine there are four times as many dunes to believe that you are in the Sahara.”

The lighthouses of Sylt

Navigational aids for passing ships and coastal landmarks – Lighthouses are not only functional but also fulfil a symbolic role. The oldest lighthouse on the island was built in 1855 in Kampen. Ever since then the 40 meter lighthouse has been beaming its light up to 40 kilometres out to sea. In 1978 the last lighthouse keeper left and it is now electronically remote-controlled from the mainland – just like the other lighthouses and beacons in List, Kampen and Hörnum. At first, the lighting apparatus in the Kampen lighthouse was operated with petroleum, which at that time was such a novelty that it had even merited a place at the Paris World Exhibition a few years previously. The Hörnum lighthouse has been keeping ships on course since 1907. Curious feature: From 1914 to 1933 Germany’s smallest school could be found in one of the lighthouse’s rooms: Only two to five children were taught here. The Hörnum lighthouse is also the only one which can be visited. Even weddings are possible in the lofty heights of the building.

Walking among the tidal shallows (Wattenmeer)

A walk among the tidal shallows is a real must for all visitors to Sylt. The guided tours, organised almost all year round by the administrative office of the health resort and nature conservation associations, provide an insight into a fascinating ecosystem. The tidal shallows may indeed look like a lifeless grey mass of silt at first sight. But despite this, the variety of living organisms is astonishing: One square metre is occupied by up to two million organisms – hardly any other ecosphere on the planet exhibits such a rich variety of life. Along with the mountains of the Alps, the tidal shallows represent the last extensive natural landscape in central Europe. In 1985 the entire tidal shallows of Schleswig-Holstein – extending over an impressive 2850 square kilometres – were declared a national park, in other words they were awarded the highest protection status. We advise against exploring the tidal shallows on your own: The narrow channels which run through the tidal channels become treacherous currents when the water rises and have prevented many innocent souls from making it to the safety of the shore.

A place in the sun

Around 12,000 basket chairs dot Sylt’s beaches in summer. These form an ideal sanctuary for sun worshippers. So much so that many holidaymakers do not wish to do without these comfortable means of repose: Basket chairs have long become popular “Sylt souvenirs”, which the island’s local companies – including two basket chair manufacturers in Rantum and Morsum – have even delivered to New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. It is estimated that a total of 2000 to 3000 basket chairs leave the island each year, to find a new home on a balcony in Bavaria or a terrace in Thuringia. Carpenters, upholsterers, painters and basket makers work in close partnership when making the Sylt basket chairs. The quality pays off: The baskets can withstand wind and weather for around 20 years. In addition to the classic two-seaters, single and three-seaters are also enjoying growing popularity.

Sylt local costumes

Tradition in all its splendour: There is never a shortage of interested onlookers whenever the groups from the Sylt Association perform local dances in traditional dress. What may appear an exotic curiosity in today’s modern age was once custom on the island: The first drawing of a Sylt local costume dates back to the year 1597. The local costumes experienced their heyday in the 18th century: The overall prosperity which seafaring brought to the natives of Sylt was also reflected in their dress: The men wore velvet and silk, while the women wore dresses sown with golden coins for their wedding. But this highpoint was soon followed by its decline. The “bathing director” of Sylt recorded in 1904 that “the national costume has almost completely sunk into oblivion and has only sporadically survived in the odd headscarf wrapped around its owner “. And in 1933 the doctor in Kampen Knud Ahlborn observed with regret: “It would be extremely desirable for the local dress to appear again instead of the plain mass-produced clothes typical of any German town or city.”

Tradition & Culture

Living tradition

Tradition is considered important on Sylt and still plays a part in the life of the islanders today. One of the most beautiful customs upheld by local groups is the performance of old dances in traditional costume, an event that never fails to draw an audience. What may seem somewhat exotic in our modern times used to be as ordinary as jeans and a T-shirt. The traditional costumes had their heyday in the 18th century, when the general wealth brought in by seafaring was also mirrored by people’s dress: men were clad in silk and velvet, and women wore gowns with gold coins sewn onto them for their weddings. The past comes to life everywhere in the east of the island. For example in museums at Keitum which document the life of the inhabitants of Sylt in previous ages. Or in the two churches of Keitum and Morsum, built 800 years ago. Or at Tinnumburg, a pre- Christian rampart, and the megalithic tombs dating back several thousand years. Tradition lives on: In the museum weaving mill and in the local costumes at dances, or in the riding course and the Frisian theatre.

Friesland and tea – a connection with tradition.

Tea is something of a notional drink on Sylt, especially in the cool months of autumn and winter. Well prepared and served in the finest tea service, it can be enjoyed in both the morning or evening, the local tea shops spoiling their customers for choice with more than 300 varieties. While tea is believed to have been known in China as early as the third millennium before Christ, it only became widespread in Europe in the 17th century. The inhabitants of Sylt were introduced to tea in a most unusual way: It is recorded that ships ran aground on the island in 1735 and that numerous chests and barrels of the ship’s cargo were carried overboard in the process. When the locals rummaged through the flotsam and jetsam, they discovered several chests containing tea leaves originating from China and Japan. The ransackers mistakenly thought these were their local curly kale and attempted to make a tasty meal of the leaves. This attempt was doomed to failure and left a bitter after-taste in the mouth. It was not until later that returning seafarers initiated their compatriots into the art of how to make tea correctly.

If you visit the tea seminar in the Sylt tea factory in Westerland or the Sylt tea office in Keitum, you will learn everything you need to know about the humble drink of tea. It is certainly not a “dry” subject – especially as those attending get to drink copious amounts of the subject matter.

‘Must-see’ attractions, Sights of Sylt

Sights of Sylt

The island of Sylt isn’t too shy to show off its attractions, and there’s plenty to discover here in the way of scenery and sights. Here are a number of things a visitor shouldn’t miss.

Alte Landvogtei – Old Governor’s Residence

Located at the heart of Tinnum, this 1649 building is one of the oldest structures on the island. For many years it was the seat of the governors of the royal province of Sylt. King Frederick VI of Denmark stayed here in 1825.

Altfriesisches Haus – Old Frisian House

This museum in Keitum is maintained by the Sylt Society. Built in the mid-18th century, the old style of interior decor has been restored, giving visitors a vivid impression of the meagre existence people used to live.
Address: Am Kliff 13, Keitum, 25980 Sylt

Denghoog

A tomb near the village pond in Wenningstedt. The burial chamber is about 5,000 years old and was built out of huge erratic boulders. The biggest of them weighs about 20 tons. These days, Denghoog is looked after by the Sylt Society and the tomb can be entered by visitors.

Ellenbogen – Elbow

The northernmost tip of the Island of Sylt featuring expansive unspoilt dunes. This is as far north as you can go: stand at Ellenbogen and you’ll truly be the northernmost person in Germany. A ideal place for lonesome beach walks.

Friedhof der Heimatlosen – Cemetery of the Homeless in Westerland

Memorial in Westerland. Beneath simple wooden crosses lie the bodies of 53 unknown people. They were washed up on the beaches between 1855 and 1907 and laid to rest here. Previously, corpses found on the beach had been buried in the dunes without further ado.

Heimatmuseum – Sylt Museum in Keitum

The museum is located in Keitum and is managed by the Sylt Society. The large number of exhibits ranging from local costumes to items from the age of seafaring provides a comprehensive view of the island’s history. The museum also hosts regularly changing special exhibitions.
Am Kliff 19a, Keitum, 25980 Sylt-Ost

Cliffs

The cliffs are among the most beautiful forms of scenery on Sylt. These relics of the Ice Age up to 20 metres high are situated in Morsum (Colourful Cliff), Kampen (Red Cliff), Wenningstedt (White Cliff) and Keitum (Green Cliff). Depending on day light the cliffs look different in a unique manner.

Rantum-Becken

In 1936 and 1937, the German army built a dam 5km/3 miles long between Tinnum and Rantum right across the Wattenmeer tidal flats with the aim of building a marine airport. In 1962, the area was declared a conservation area and rapidly developed into a popular breeding ground for many species of birds. Guided tours explain the local flora and fauna of the Rantum basin to holidaymakers.

Sankt Severin – St. Severus

St. Severus’s Church in Keitum was built about 800 years ago in the Romanesque style. The late-Gothic tower was subsequently built to one side. The solid construction sometimes served as a fortified church, with the tower being used as a prison. The oldest relic is the 11th-century baptismal font.

Casino

Play a round of poker like James Bond in Germany’s northernmost casino which was built in 1949 and is located on Rathausplatz in Westerland near the town hall. As well as the roulette and blackjack tables, visitors may also like to try their luck on the various gambling machines.

Sylt-Quelle – Sylt Spring

Sylt Spring has been bubbling in Rantum ever since 1993. The outstandingly pure water, which has an especially high level of iodine, stems from a well field between 30 and 650 metres beneath the dunes. It’s pumped through underground pipes to the bottling plant near the port. On sale throughout the country, the water can also be sampled by visitors to the specially built glass spring building.

Tinnumburg

Circular ramparts surrounded by the Tinnum meadows built around the birth of Christ. Tinnumburg has a diameter of 120 metres and the ramparts are 8 metres tall. Although its exact purpose is uncertain, it may have been used as a centre of worship and a hiding place.

Uwe-Düne – Uwe Dune in Kampen

The dune is named after Uwe Jens Lornsen, a former freedom figher. With an altitude of 52 metres, this is the highest elevation on the island. To reach the top of the dune you have to climb up 109 steps. It’s worth making the effort. The platform provides walkers with a wonderful view of Sylt and up to Danmark.

Also in Kampen: the Lighthouse of Kampen, see map for location.

Vogelkojen – Bird Traps

In the 18th and 19th centuries, the three bird traps in Kampen, Westerland and Rantum provided a welcome addition to the menu for the people of Sylt. Every year tens of thousands of wild ducks were lured here and then killed, some of them being exported to the mainland. Although this activity came to an end at the beginning of the 20th century, the bird traps have been preserved and can still be visited.

Wanderdünen – Drifting Dunes

Like a glacier of high mountains the drifting dunes are rising up ahead of List are up to one kilometre long and 35 metres high. Fanned by the constant wind, the sand moves about 3–5 metres every year.

Whiskystrasse – Whiskey Road

The jocular name given to Strönwai in Kampen, a road which is lined with numerous bars and clubs. In summer, this is the place to admire the raciest cars, the smartest managers and the most stunning women…

Museums

Altfriesisches Haus – Old Frisian House

This museum in Keitum is maintained by the Sylt Society. Built in the mid-18th century, the old style of interior decor has been restored, giving visitors a vivid impression of the meagre existence people used to live.
Address: Am Kliff 13, Keitum, 25980 Sylt

Heimatmuseum – Sylt Museum in Keitum

The museum is located in Keitum and is managed by the Sylt Society. The large number of exhibits ranging from local costumes to items from the age of seafaring provides a comprehensive view of the island’s history. The museum also hosts regularly changing special exhibitions.
Am Kliff 19a, Keitum, 25980 Sylt-Ost

Activities on the Island of Sylt, Germany

Welcome to Sylt, where there are many ways to spend an activity holiday: about 30 miles of hiking paths, a 120-mile network of cycle paths and a Nordic walking park with 26 trails invite you to explore the island’s varied scenery. Sylt is an ideal destination for all kinds of outdoor sports from cycling and horse riding to surfing and golf. A summer swim in the North Sea invigorates the body. Nowhere but here, in the immediate vicinity of the sea, does the bracing climate – i.e. wind, sunlight and temperature – have such a strong effect. The pure air and the iodine contained in it are no less beneficial to your health, particularly for patients suffering from respiratory diseases. “Sylt air is like champagne”, people say for a reason.

Funsport on Sylt

There’s no doubt about it: The North Sea around Sylt is an ideal playground for all water sports enthusiasts as well as those who want to try their hand at it. The fact that both raw beginners and experienced professionals can be seen pitting themselves against the sea creates a uniquely appealing atmosphere. On the western coast, where the sea reveals its wild untamed side, expert sailors and surfers are confronted with a real challenge. On the opposite eastern shore, however: calm tidal shallows, ideal for beginners. Several surfing and sailing schools offer courses for beginners and advanced students alike. In general, novices only need a few days before they can sample their first taste of success on the surf board. Whoever wants to compete with the seagulls, can do this during the summer months: Although paragliding was once more at home in the mountain regions, this airborne sport can now be found on the coast of Sylt. Whoever wants to go even higher: Tandem jumps with a parachute make for a unique experience throughout the summer months.

Golf overlooking the sea

The magnificent landscape of Sylt and the elegance of golf are a perfect match for each other! It’s no surprise then that you’ll find four golf courses on Sylt, each with its own unique charm. Tee off against the backdrop of a lighthouse overlooking the tidal shallows, the well-kept course lined with numerous obstacles and covering extensive grounds, interspersed with areas of heath and arnica and several thousand square meters of water: Golf on Sylt –an experience !

Diversity

Whether a guided walk over the tidal shallows or a cycle trip, an ornithological guided tour or an excursion to the cliffs – interested visitors can receive a host of fascinating facts and insights from our trained guides. For example, a visit to the blossoming heathland where rare plants such as gentian and arnica flourish in all their beauty. Or a trip to see the unique structure of the Morsum cliff, formed ten million years ago. Or how about a horse and carriage trip through idyllic Keitum?

Sylt for walkers

A torch-lit walk or an expedition across the beach or mud flats: These are just some of the countless ways in which you can discover Sylt on foot. The possibilities are endless; whether across the fields in the east of Sylt, the stunningly beautiful Braderup heath, the “wandering” dunes of List or the magnificent western shore with its breathtaking breakers.

The tidal shallows may indeed look like a lifeless grey mass of silt at first sight. But despite this, the variety of living organisms is astonishing. One square meter is occupied by many thousands of mussels, snails and worms. Along with the mountains of the Alps, the tidal shallows represent the last extensive natural landscape in central Europe. This unique ecosystem should only be explored with a trained and experienced guide.

To the north of Rantum lies a nature reserve for birds that is home to some of the most diverse species in Northern Germany. An ornithological guided tour will provide you with fascinating information on the more than 50 different species of bird which breed or stop over in the Rantum basin. However a visit is worthwhile not only for bird watchers.

The embankment which surrounds the Rantum-Becken offers an extensive walk which allows you to cross the tidal shallows with almost dry feet.

Cycling tours – nature in all its beauty!

Experience the unspoilt nature of Sylt by bicycle. Discover the island’s most beautiful locations with our experienced local guides. No matter whether the tour goes through picturesque Keitum with its wonderful Frisian houses and secluded streets or whether it heads northwards through the dunes along the route of the former island railway to List, – you’re sure to experience nature in all its unspoilt charm.

Horse riding on Sylt

Trained and experienced riders will accompany you on stunning excursions across the mud flats, along the beach or over the Braderup heath.

Annual major events

JANUARY

The best cure for a New Year’s Eve hangover is to take part in the popular Neujahrsbaden (New Year’s Day Swim) on January-1 in Wenningstedt. Whether you are a local or a visitor, whether in your bathing or your birthday suit, this icy pleasure has never failed to breathe some life back into a tired reveler after a hard night’s celebrating. Many viewers come to convince themselves of the cold North Sea’s healing powers – not without a glass of hot punch, though.

The culinary firmament above Sylt shines brighter than ever. Michelin stars twinkle in the sky, guiding the way to the Sylt Gourmet Festival. This event will be scheduled around mid/end of January, an five top Sylt gastronomes invite you to explore their culinary world of finest delicacies.

FEBRUARY

According to old Frisian custom, 21 February is the day of the Biikebrennen celebrations. For miles around, the evening sky glows by the light of bonfires in all of Sylt’s villages to drive out the winter. While the biiken (Frisian for ‘piles of wood’) burn slowly down, people feast on the traditional Biike dish – kale with sausage and fried potatoes – which is served in almost every Sylt restaurant and home that evening.

MARCH

The Syltlauf (Sylt run/race) mid of March attracts distance runners from far and wide. More than 1,300 runners set off from Hörnum to List this year. The distance from Sylt’s southernmost tip up to the island’s northern end is exactly 33 thousand and 333 metres.

Around Easter Time / approx. +- APRIL

A day before Easter locals and guests gather around the traditional Easter eve bonfire in Hörnum.

One day later on Easter Sunday, Kampen’s Strönwai, also known as the “Whiskeymeile” (Whiskey Street) hosts the traditional Ostereierlauf (Easter egg-and-spoon race). While the little ones balance their fragile freight on a tablespoon, Kampen’s restaurateurs slip into their famous bunny costumes.

Later on, everyone gathers round the Easter bonfire lit on the beach at Buhne 16 next to Kampen. The four Privathotels (private hotels) Landhaus Stricker, Benen-Diken-Hof, Fährhaus Sylt and Hotel Rungholt invite players to the ‘Private Golf Open’. The golf tournament takes place at three different courses.

MAY

Musik am Meer: Between May and October there’s music in the North Sea air. Under the motto ‘Musik am Meer’ (music by the seaside), Westerland’s Musikmuschel resounds with the songs of the Romada Singers. In July and August, Camerata Budapest adds classical music to the daily programme.

Pure energy promises the Beach Polo World Cup in Hörnum. Ca. end of May international polo teams fight for win and glory.

The SYLT ART FESTIVAL (which took place for the first time in 2007) will take place in Keitum in early May. The festival is going to be an impressive composition of classical music and jazz, fine arts and culinary delights.

JUNE

Mid June not only a fresh sea breeze blows at the promenade in Westerland but also a breeze of garlic, rosemary, and other herbs. During the Annual Sylter Lammtage (lamb days) the promenade turns into a culinary paradise. Germany’s best Kite Surfers demonstrate spectacular maneuvers while the German Kite Surf Trophy around mid of June.

When the so-called ‘Galgen’ (gallows) are put up in the east of Sylt between June and August, it is not because some criminal’s last hour has struck. The only thing swinging from these gallows is a tiny brass ring, which it is the Ringreiter’s task to snatch at a gallop by means of a lancet. This Sylt tradition reminiscent of medieval tournaments is kept up by eight clubs.

Till end of August, the InselCircus in Wenningstedt invites Sylt’s youngest visitors into its tent village – not only as spectators but also as real circus artists! In the MitmachCircus, children and young people of all ages can prove that there is a little clown, a great magician or a trapeze artist hidden inside every one of them. And for one weekend in August, when young circus artists from all over the world compete at the SOLyCIRCO Festival for the Sylt Artistes’ Award, the island becomes a Monte Carlo of the North.

JULY

For July until September, Kampen’s literature festival, the Literatur- und Klassiksommer, has invited high-profile writers to delight their audience with readings and interviews in Kaamp Hüs. The festival exists since ca. 1997. now .

The Meerkabarett returns to the island with first-class entertainment and top performers. The extraordinary cultural festival is held in the Sylt-Quelle in Rantum from July to August.

“Treasure Island” is hosted by Hörnum from July to August. The famous novel will be performed as a exciting and at the same time humorous musical about pirates, a hidden treasure and a secret map. Children and youths can participate in musical workshops.

Vintage wines and an atmospheric ambience: over a couple of days mid of July, Westerland’s promenade hosts the Winzerfest (wine festival) with tasting stands from various wine-growing areas. Special highlight: the “Seefeuerwerk”, a big fireworks by the seaside.

Ship ahoy in Hörnum around mid of July. The Sylter Catamaran Club arranges its regatta with a thrilling competition on the water.

Also in July, Westerland’s Brandenburger Strand is the venue of the German Windsurfing Cup , in which the nation’s best windsurfers compete for valuable points for the title of German champion. The spectators have lots of diversions to look forward to even beyond the surf.

On the last Saturday in July, the Dorfteichfest (village-festival-by-the-pond) in Wenningstedt promises fun and games and tasty food.

In the mild summer nights of July and August, Sylt’s hot beach parties beckon you to dance the night away barefoot in the sand and flirt with the stars until sunrise. The Beach Club Westerland is one of the best-known beach parties.

Toward the end of July, the polo world meets in Keitum for the German Polo Masters.

AUGUST

Early August, the Harbour Festival in Hörnum offers a wealth of activities on land and at sea. This year it celebrates the 20th anniversary.

Early August, friends of classical music should take a seat in front of Westerland’s Musikmuschel, where Arien am Meer (arias by the seaside), an event with international soloists singing lively operetta tunes, promises a feast for the ears.

Early August, the Gospel Night at Westerland’s Musikmuschel provides ‘heavenly’ pleasures with beautiful gospels and spirituals.

A blaze of colours salutes the eye around mid of August, when the catamaran regatta Super Sail Sylt fills the sea of Westerland with sails flapping in the wind. Culinary delights and a fringe programme round off the event.

SEPTEMBER

On a wave. Kampen’s beach Buhne 16 hosts the Longboard Festival Sylt in September. The world’s best windsurfers meet in Westerland around end of September for the World Cup Sylt . They compete for world ranking points in the disciplines of wave, slalom 42 and freestyle.

The ‘Wimbledon of windsurfers’ is one of the most important windsurfing events in the world and attracts more than 170,000 spectators every year. From Brandenburger Strand you can watch the breathtaking manoeuvres of the one hundred top athletes at close quarters. When the contest is over, it’s time to celebrate in the big marquee on the promenade.

OCTOBER

Time for the Annual Beach Chair Auction in List. Discarded beach chairs will be sold by public sale and “go on pension”.

NOVEMBER

At the end of November, the cosy Christmas market season begins on the island. As usual, it is rung in by the Archsumer Weihnachtsstübchen, followed by the markets in Morsum, Keitum and Kampen.

DECEMBER

Starting mid of December an outdoor skating rink in the centre of Westerland attracts ice skaters young and old. There’s something for everyone, with events such as ‘Disco on Ice’ and ice hockey tournaments.

On 26 December, the Westerland Christmas Swim, a tradition since 1985, invites intrepid swimmers to plunge into the icy waters of the North Sea – in fancy dress, swimsuit or in the altogether. Their courage is rewarded with a certificate and a glass of hot punch. And as the several thousand viewers feel chilly just watching, you might think it best to join them for a drink.

Those who want to get some exercise before partying can take part in the Silvesterlauf (New Year’s Eve run) in Westerland. Crazy costumes are not strictly required, but they show what the run is all about: lots of fun!

The open-air New Year’s Eve Party on Westerland’s beach promenade has become a cult event. And on the beaches outside the villages, the occasional New Year rocket does burn up above the sea. Between 28 and 31 December, Sylt celebrates the longest party on the island, the Kliffmeile in Wenningstedt. On New Year’s Eve, there’s a party at Kappellplatz with a big fireworks display on the beach.

Sylt, Germany, Visitor Info & Getting Around

Population

Ca. 13 k (est. 2019); ca. 21,500 (est. 2009)

Getting here

By car: After you board the train in Niebüll, a 40-minute ride over the Hindenburgdamm causeway will take you across the tidal flats to Westerland.
DB AutoZug SyltShuttle: https://www.syltshuttle.de/

By train: There are several direct connections from Hamburg as well as inter-city connections from other big cities every day:
Deutsche Bahn: https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml
Search for the destination Westerland.

By ferry: Alternatively, you can travel by sea: a modern ferry carries both passengers and vehicles from Rømø, Sylt’s Danish neighbouring island, to List. The mini-cruise across the North Sea takes about 40 minutes. Rømø-Sylt Linie GmbH & Co. KG, Web: https://www.syltfaehre.de/en/

By airplane: The fastest way to get to Germany’s most famous holiday island is by air. There are scheduled flights from various German cities.
Lufthansa: https://www.lufthansa.com/
Search for the destination Westerland.

Public Transportation

SVG (Sylter Verkehrsgesellschaft): Public Bus transportation for Sylt.
Web: https://www.svg-busreisen.de/

Bicycle: Renting a bicycle is a must-do for Sylt. You can easily explore the island and you’ll find rental stations in many locations. Ask your host or hotel staff where the nearest rental station is. Some B&B’s will be providing bicycles as well.
Language hint: bicycle rental is ‘Fahrrad Verleih’ in German.

Tourism Office (in German: ‘Fremdenverkehrsamt’)

Sylt Marketing GmbH (Tourism Office), Stephanstraße 6, D-25980 Westerland

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