Home Islands and Coast Sylt – The Largest Island in North Frisia

Sylt – The Largest Island in North Frisia

Sylt
© pkazmierczak / Fotolia

The beach draws jet-setters and backpackers to Sylt. Nearly 40 kilometres of sandy white shores stretch along the island’s western and northern coastlines. In peak season, swimmers, surfers, and sunbathers flock to the beach, and the iconic Strandkorb beach chairs line up in the sand. But Sylt’s charms go beyond endless beaches.

First-time and long-time visitors are dazzled by the magic of Sylt. Thatched-roof cottages rest in harmony amid seas of tall grass that bend with the wind. Carpets of wild roses with delicate pink blooms roll out over the landscape. In the crystal clear North Sea air, sunsets create explosions of colour in the sky and on the water. When you fall in love with Sylt, you fall in love forever.

Sylt Beach
© pkazmierczak / Fotolia
Sylt Beach Houses
© pia-pictures / Fotolia

How to Get There

Sylt is accessible by train, boat, or plane. You can take your vehicle, but you can’t just hop in your car and drive to the island.

  • Train – If you want to travel by land to Sylt, the final leg of your trip will be by rail. The only land connection to the island is the Hindenburgdamm, an 11km causeway that carries train traffic from mainland Germany. You can take your car and up to three passengers at a cost of approximately 85€ for the round trip from Niebull to Westerland.
  • Boat – Sylt Ferry service operates year round connecting Havneby on Romo Island with List in northern Sylt. You can drive onto the ferry and take your car to Sylt, or you can travel as a walk-on passenger. Costs run about 48€ per car and 8€ per adult passenger with discounts for round trips.
  • Plane – International flights connect with domestic airlines for the trip to the island. Lufthansa schedules regular flights to Sylt from Munich, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Airberlin flies out of Berlin and Dusseldorf. Watch for seasonal variations in flight schedules.

When to Go

Most visitors arrive for the summer high season. Beach use starts to pick up in May, reaches a peak in July and August, and drops off in October as winter approaches. In high summer, average daily temperatures rarely go above 25-27° C. Island events revolve around the holiday season.

Hornum Village with lighthouse
Hornum Village with lighthouse © pkazmierczak / Fotolia

Some visitors prefer the solitude and unspoiled nature of the island in the off-season. They are irresistibly drawn to the raw beauty of the churning seas, bracing winds, and near-deserted beaches. Dress warmly and bring your wellies if you’re planning an off-season visit.

Getting Around on Sylt

If you bring your car, you can pack your kite-surfing gear and travel the full length of the island with ease. But you don’t need a car to get around on Sylt. Depending on where you go and where you stay, walking may be a comfortable option.

Bike rental is another common transportation choice. Sylt’s paved bike paths wind through the dunes along the beaches, and across the heath for a close-up view of the island’s jewels. Public transport buses are also available to take you on excursions around the island.

Special Events

When the island shakes off winter and starts warming up, Sylt’s events schedule goes into top gear. As well as regular entertainment and open-air music events on the promenade, the island events calendar includes:

  • German Polo Masters
  • Windsurf World Cup
  • Kitesurf World Cup
  • Wine Festival

The annual Gourmet Festival’s Gourmet Safari deserves special mention. Safari participants are chauffeured from venue to venue to sample wines and culinary masterpieces from Germany’s finest vintners and chefs.

Sylt’s Essential Sights – Must-See Attractions

It’s not just about soaking up rays at the beach or compensating for the wind on one of the island’s golf courses. Sylt has many other highlights including the following:

  • Wadden Sea – Don’t leave the island without taking a tour of this UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. See a variety of migratory birds and discover the crabs, mussels, starfish, and prawns revealed by the receding tides.
  • Sylt Aquarium – Walk through an acrylic tunnel for a 360° view of the fish and plants indigenous to the North Sea, or check out the colourful, exotic fish in the 500,000-litre Coral World display.
  • Denghoog – Get a glimpse of ancient history by entering this 5000-year-old burial chamber constructed with Ice Age boulders.
Wadden Sea
© Thorsten Schier / Fotolia

For historical architecture buffs, Tinnum castle, St. Severin church, and the Old Frisian House are must-sees.

Where to Stay

Long known as a celebrity getaway, Sylt has its share of luxury resorts. But it also welcomes campers, backpackers, and families, and it offers accommodations for every budget.

  • Severin’s Resort & Spa is one option for the comfort and pampering of a luxury vacation. Located in Keitum at the heart of the island, this 5-star hotel features impeccable service, spacious suites, culinary excellence, and relaxing spa facilities.
  • From April to October, campers can stay in caravans or tents at one of Sylt’s several campsites. Whether you bring your own or rent a caravan, make reservations to secure your spot in the busy summer months. To protect the island’s nature reserves, wild camping is not permitted.
  • Near the island’s southern tip, Hornum Youth Hostel provides bed and breakfast for rates of about 26€ per night.

Food

Dining on Sylt is a foodie’s dream. Eateries range from beach-bar bistros to Michelin-starred restaurants. Sylt’s natural beauty delivers the ambience, and fresh island seafood takes top billing on the menu. North Sea sole and Sylt Royal oysters are among the island’s finest gastronomic offerings. A sampling of island fare can be found at:

  • Samoa Seepferdchen – Situated at Sylt’s narrowest point in the Rantum dunes, Samoa Seepferdchen is poised to provide idyllic views of both the Wadden Sea and the North Sea. The heated outdoor eating area makes a perfect viewpoint. You can spend an evening enjoying an unforgettable meal of pan-fried North Sea sole while you watch the sunset paint the sky.
  • Buhne 16 Beach Bistro – Beachfront outdoor tables and fresh-caught fish are highlights of this legendary Kampen eatery. You don’t even have to leave the beach to enjoy a meal and a few drinks with friends. While you eat, you may even catch a few longboard surfers riding the waves.
  • Jorg Muller – Sample Sylter oysters at this Michelin-rated restaurant. It’s impossible to resist the signature Royal oysters with shallot compote and champagne sauce.
Herring Bun
Herring “Bismarckbrötchen” © HandmadePictures / Fotolia
Sylt Oysters
Sylt Oysters © ExQuisine / Fotolia

Shopping

Sylt offers the same retail choices as rival shops on the mainland. Galleries, boutiques, and cafes line the streets alongside exclusive designers such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton, and Bulgari. The pedestrian area by Freidrichstrasse is the main shopping zone in Westerland, and the Stronwai is Kampen’s answer for retail therapy.

Although this beautiful island has a residential population of 20,000 Sylters, nearly half of the real estate is taken up with untouched nature reserve. From its modern urban resorts to its remote thatched cottages, Sylt blends old and new without diminishing the island’s charms.