Scharbeutz is a seaside resort in Schleswig-Holstein, north Germany, on the shores of the Baltic Sea – usually known as the “Ostsee” (“Eastern Sea”) in German. Although a fairly small town, with a population of not much more than 10,000, Scharbeutz is very popular with both local and international tourists. The town’s unique style has been described as like a French Riviera boulevard, but with a touch of north German style. You’ll also discover that Scharbeutz’s collection of pleasant places to eat and its excellent range of accommodation makes it an ideal choice for a relaxing seaside break.
- By air: The closest international airport to Scharbeutz is Hamburg, around 50 miles to the southwest. Rather closer is the much smaller Lübeck Airport.
- By road: Scharbeutz is easy to drive to, thanks to its position on the A1 autobahn. This fast, modern road runs south to Hamburg, Dortmund and Cologne.
- By rail: You can reach Scharbeutz by taking a train from Hamburg to Lübeck, then changing to a local service. The entire journey will take you about 80 minutes.
- By sea: Nearby Travemünde offers ferry services from Finland and Sweden, while there are also services from the south coast of Denmark to Puttgarden, a 40-mile drive from Scharbeutz itself.
Scharbeutz measures only a couple of miles from end to end, so it’s easy to do without a car during your stay in the resort. Many people choose to walk, since that offers plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and take in the sea views. Alternatively, cycle hire is available at a couple of places close to the beach. Look for the word “Fahrradverleih” on signs, as this means “bike rental”. The town is on the Baltic Coast Cycle Route, so infrastructure for cyclists is good. The main bus stop is on Hamburger Ring, very close to the beach.
When to go
Scharbeutz has a highly seasonal tourist trade, as would be expected from its seaside location. The vast majority of visitors arrive in the summer, when the weather is at its best: in July and August, afternoon temperatures tend to be around 21 or 22 Celsius, and the average month has well over 200 hours of sunshine. Many attractions and even hotels close by operate a restricted service outside the main holiday season. Like most places on the Baltic coast, Scharbeutz is often cold in winter – although the moderating influence of the sea means that conditions are not usually as extreme as in some places further inland. A temporary ice rink is set up on the dunes each winter.
Local sights and activities
By far the biggest draw here is Lübeck Bay itself. As part of the Baltic Sea, it’s not the warmest place to paddle or swim, but the views across the water are lovely when the sun’s shining. The beach itself is reminiscent of many famous tourist resorts, with soft, fine sand that seems to stretch for miles. There’s a casual, lively atmosphere and you’ll quickly feel very relaxed among the beach cafés and boutiques. The pier is a must-see; a simple wooden boardwalk stretches a considerable distance into the sea, allowing you to get a unique perspective on the local area.
If you’re travelling with a family, try the Kurpark nearby, where you’ll find a fun pirate-themed play area. Meanwhile, adults can investigate the Museum of Regional History, or get wet and wild at one of the surfing schools that operates on selected dates in the summer. Scharbeutz has a strong cultural scene for such a small place, and you’ll frequently find live music in the town. After all that, you can go snorkelling – or, if that sounds too much like hard work, relax in the thermal baths!
Since Scharbeutz is mainly a family-oriented holiday resort, it is fairly quiet and peaceful at night compared with larger cities. However, there are a number of bars which stay open late, especially at the height of summer. The largest beach club anywhere on the Baltic Sea is the Beachlounge close to the pier, which is associated with the nearby Café Wichtig. The Beachlounge enjoys a wonderful location with shaded tables right on the edge of the sand. Look out for the regular salsa events! Another option is the Cult 124 bar in Strandalle, which stays open until 2 am every night – even Sunday! This establishment also boasts a sports bar with large screens showing Sky TV.
It may be a small town, but Scharbeutz still packs a punch when it comes to the range and quality of its hotel provision! If you’re looking for the last word in luxury here, consider the Belveder Gran Hotel on Strandallee. This is a truly luxurious place with superb facilities including an on-site spa and top-quality restaurant. Expect to pay around 230 € a night. In the mid-range bracket, a good option is the Hotel Maris, a family-owned place which is also situated on Strandallee. It’s right next to the beach and has easy access to Scharbeutz’s restaurants. A night here will set you back about 140 €. A little way along the same street is the Wennhof, a solid budget option (around 80 € a night) which has simple, comfortable rooms and is five minutes’ walk from the railway station.
Scharbeutz makes an excellent spot to sample some of the very tasty regional foods of the Schleswig-Holstein region. A common characteristic of local cuisine is to mix sweet and savoury or sour flavours in the same dish.
- Birnen, Bohnen und Speck – the signature dish of this part of Germany, this is a bacon stew to which beans, pears and sometimes potatoes are added. It’s most commonly eaten in late summer, when fresh pears are available.
- Mehlbüdel – this is a kind of dumpling, often served with pork dishes. Unusually for a savoury dish, it’s frequently seasoned with sugar as well as butter.
- Mussel stew – Baltic shellfish are among the tastiest in the world, so it’s unsurprising that they’re often part of meals here. Mussels are generally more popular than oysters.
- Pan-fried plaice – best eaten in spring, this tender and succulent flatfish is usually served with another meat, sometimes bacon and sometimes shrimp from the North Sea.
- Red fruit puddings – these are extremely popular in the region, and are made using sharper fruits such as redcurrants. Try them with vanilla sauce drizzled on top.
- Lütt un Lütt – a classic alcoholic drink, this is a combination of beer with a liqueur, often Korn. It sounds strange, but it tastes amazing!
Scharbeutz is more about having fun at the beach or enjoying a good meal than retail therapy, but there are still some places to shop here. In Haffkrug, just to the north of Scharbeutz, you can find the Sky Markt, a very new shopping centre containing several well-known stores. Of more interest to most tourists, though, will be the boutiques in Scharbeutz itself. Here, you can pick up the latest fashion and accessories and enjoy friendly, personal service. There’s also the Kaufhaus Martin Stoltz department store, situated on Hamburger Ring and open until 8 pm every day except Sunday.
If you feel like taking a day trip from Scharbeutz, an obvious choice is Lübeck, just 15 miles to the south along the A1. This historic city is full of intriguing sights and attractions, ranging from its beautiful architecture to the city’s vibrant arts scene. A slightly longer trip (around 50 miles) is to the city of Hamburg, often dubbed “Germany’s Gateway to the World” but packed with interesting sights of its own, such as the world’s largest model railway! For something more rural drive the 25 miles northwest to the Großer Plöner See, the biggest lake in Schleswig-Holstein and a popular centre for watersports.