Germany's 16 States: Schleswig-Holstein
If you think of Schleswig-Holstein, you have to think of Sylt, Germany's northernmost holiday island. If you're a beach-lover, the state actually offers two seas: the North Sea and the Baltic.
Beach and party holidaying on Sylt
It is hip and beautiful - and in the summer pretty much booked-out. The island of Sylt in the North Sea is one of Germans' most favored island destinations. During the day, visitors, including some celebrities, flock to the popular Westerland beach, and in the evenings they enjoy the island's many clubs and bars.
Walking on water
Sylt is surrounded by the Wadden Sea, a landscape rich in plant and animal species, which in 2009 was declared a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. Only the islands stick out above the water line when the tide is in, but when it flows out there is a mud plain reaching all the way to the horizon. Wading through the Wadden Sea visitors can enjoy watching the many crabs, mussels, snails and worms.
Wicker beach chairs and white sands
Schleswig-Holstein also enjoys a numerous beaches on the Baltic Sea. On Fehmarn island there are an impressive 20 beaches waiting for visitors to relax or find adventure along the steep coastlines. With some 2,200 hours of sun annually, the island is one of Germany's sunniest regions.
Cultural capital of the north
Maritime flair also defines Schleswig-Holstein's Hanseatic city of Lübeck with its old town center surrounded by water. With some 1,800 listed buildings and historic alleys it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city's landmark, the Holsten Gate is a must see. The late Gothic building dates back to the 15th century and is part of Lübeck's remaining city fortifications.
During the annual "Kieler Woche" sailing event the state capital, Kiel, climbs to the top of the tourist attraction list. Some 3 million guests watch the spectacle, which involves competitions and concerts. A highlight of the festival is the tall ship's parade, in which some 100 traditional sailing vessels participate.
Even away from the coast, there's no way to escape the water. The so-called "Holstein Switzerland" region includes over 200 lakes, most of which are surrounded by hills and forests. Glaciers once shaped this diverse landscape, which today is a habitat for rare animal species like the white-tailed eagle. The oxygen-rich water in the lakes is full of fish, making it a paradise for anglers.
Rest and recuperation
What looks like a river is actually a narrow inlet of the Baltic Sea, winding its way inland over some 43 kilometers (27 miles). The Baltic Sea fjord, known to the locals as Schlei, offers relaxation for those seeking quiet and peace, and ideal conditions for walking, cycling and sailing. The Schlei was formed during the last Ice Age, some 115, 000 years ago.
Goods have been exchanged and traded on the banks of the Schlei for centuries. Particularly in Haithabu, a flourishing Viking commercial center from the 9th to the 11th century and one of the first cities in northern Europe. It was home to some 2,000 people from a variety of cultures including Saxons and Friesans. The Viking museum Haithabu helps visitors travel back to those days.
Wild, Wild West (of the North)
In Bad Segeberg the journey back in time takes you to America's Wild West. Since 1952, the annual Karl May Festival brings his adventure novels about the Wild West to life on an open-air stage at the scenic Kalkberg. The German author, famous for his novels of cowboys and Indians, never actually ever traveled to the United States.
Even by German standards, the people of Flensburg are said to be taciturn and reserved. Not surprising given the rough climate they have to deal with, which dries your throat and leaves you aching for a drink. Little surprise that the region is home to a brewery ready to quench beer-drinkers' thirst. The "plop" made when a bottle is opened has become inseparable from the brewer's identity.
Schleswig-Holstein calls itself the land between the seas. While the North Sea coast is only thinly settled, the state's three biggest cities, Flensburg, Kiel and Lübeck, lie on the Baltic Sea coast. A green, flat state, rich in protected nature reserves, extends between the North and Baltic Seas.
This North Sea island offers luxury and Frisian coziness, wild breaking waves and the gentle Wadden Sea – Sylt is a place to relax. It had already become a seaside resort by the mid-19th century, Nowadays it welcomes about 850,000 visitors annually.
There's a whiff of Sylt on the Baltic Sea in Timmendorfer Strand, one of the most fashionable seaside resorts on the Baltic. Its three piers are very distinctive. At 150 meters, the Seeschlösschenbrücke is the longest and, with the Japanese tea house at its end, the most unusual.
Lübeck in Advent
Lübeck's main landmark is the Holsten Gate. You can even eat a version of it at any time of year, but the run-up to Christmas presents a perfect opportunity. Lukas Stege, who hosts DW's travel show Check-in, went on a sweet journey of discovery in the Hanseatic city during Advent.
Kiel, the state capital
Cruise ships can berth right in the middle of Kiel, and increasing numbers of tourists are using that mode of transport to visit this venerable seafaring city. Its closeness to the sea is constantly evident on land as well.
Your trip to Germany
Are you looking for recommendations for your visit to Germany? We've got them: Tips for Germany - state by state.