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Located close to the Danish border in the North Sea is the chicest island you’ve never heard of before. Sylt is home to some of German’s richest and most distinguished citizens and a much-beloved vacation destination. While it’s an easy day trip from Hamburg, it’s even better to have a weekend on Sylt! Between the traditional thatched homes, quaint villages dotting the island, delicious seafood, and gorgeous scenic views, Sylt is a vacation paradise in the north of Germany!
Sylt, affectionately called the Hamptons of Germany by me (or Martha’s Vineyard by Vogue), is a resort island for the wealthy citizens of Northern Germany, especially the Hamburg region. Designer stores line the main streets and people flock to the island in hopes of a celebrity sighting. While most of the homes are vacation homes, Sylt is the most expensive place in Germany to buy a house. The average house goes for around $4,000 USD per square foot (35,000 Euros per square meter)
Full-time inhabitants of the island only number around 20,000 residents – with an additional almost 1 million visitors a year (mainly German or Danish).
- Looking to visit other German islands? Check out this day trip to Helgoland or things to do on Rügen, two islands only a few hours away from Hamburg!
Table of Contents
- Geography of Sylt
- History of Sylt
- A Weekend on Sylt
- Towns to Visit on Sylt
- Outdoor Activities on Sylt
- How to Get to Sylt
- How to Get Around Sylt
- Where to Stay on Sylt
- What and Where to Eat on Sylt
- What to Pack for Sylt
- Final Hints and Tips for a Weekend on Sylt
Geography of Sylt
Sylt didn’t appear as an island until the early 1100s and has only been around in its current shape for 400 years. Unfortunately, the island is highly endangered and loses around 1 meter (40 inches) of shoreline a year. At one point, the island was actually split into two (only in 1962) and the area is still in danger of being cut off permanently.
As of now, the only effective way to combat land loss is through the dredging and depositing of sand. It costs about 10 million Euros a year but should help the island combat land loss for at least the next three decades. This is the biggest threat to the continued survival of the island.
- Fun Fact: Sylt is on the same latitude as southern Alaska. I don’t think most people realize how far north Germany is compared to the United States!
The island of Sylt is part of a larger grouping of islands called the North Frisian Islands. Not only are these islands located in the Wadden Sea, but they all have a shared history and language (North Frisian language). Sylt has its own dialect of the North Frisian language called Söl’ring. This dialect is also influenced by the Danish, Dutch, and English languages. The Wadden Sea (German: Wattenmeer) is a body of water that is characterized by tidal flats and wetlands. Additionally, it has a unique biological makeup and is an important location for the breeding and migrating of birds. In 2009, the Wadden Sea was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Due to the rapidly changing tides, it’s not suggested that you go hiking or walking through the Wadden Sea without a guide. If you’re looking to learn more about the Wadden Sea and its ecological system, definitely contact Watt & Meer for a group or private tour!
Sylt roughly encompasses 38mi2 (98km2) with a unique shape of being extremely long and narrow. From the north to the south of the island is 23.6 miles (38 kilometers). Additionally, the pristine beach on the west and north coast runs for almost 25 miles (40 kilometers).
- Fun Fact: The island backdrop for the movie “The Ghost Writer” was filmed on Sylt and the neighboring Danish island of Rømø. This was a stand-in for Martha’s Vineyard as the director, Roman Polanski, was not allowed in the United States.
History of Sylt
As mentioned above, the island only appeared in the early 1100s. However, based on settlements found on the island, it’s assumed that Sylt used to be part of mainland Denmark. Like much of Northern Germany, the island switched control between several countries and duchies including Duke of Schleswig and the Kingdom of Denmark.
Due to the whaling, fishing, and oyster industry on the island, Sylt became a very wealthy island in the 1600s and 1700s. Eventually, the rich captains found a home on Sylt, further increasing the island’s wealth.
Sylt was relatively untouched during World War I and World War II. During World War I, the island became an outpost for the German military and the airship sheds were bombed by the British. During World War II, concrete bunkers were built below the dunes. However, besides its proximity to Denmark and being in the North Sea, Sylt really had no military significance during the two World Wars.
It’s interesting to note that Sylt is a secret paradise for celebrities and well-known Germans. At the turn of the 20th century, the island was particularly touted for its health benefits, saltwater, and exquisite air. Famous individuals that frequented the island include Marlene Dietrich, Emil Nolde, Thomas Mann, and Axel Springer.
A Weekend on Sylt
It’s impossible to have a weekend on Sylt and see everything the island has to offer. I’ve been there about half a dozen times and still discover new places every single time I visit. If you have only one day on the island, just know that you can’t and won’t see everything – it’s impossible!
For a day trip to Sylt, I’d recommend renting bikes in Westerland, riding down to Rantum, over to Keitum, going through Munkmarsch, up to Kampen, and back to Westerland. To be honest, that even seems a bit ambitious if you’re more of a leisure biker. If you run out of time, I would bypass Kampen and spend a bit longer in Keitum.
For a weekend trip on Sylt, I’d recommend dividing the island in half – do everything north of Westerland one day and everything south of Westerland the next day! It’s the easiest way to see as much as possible without backtracking too much.
Towns to Visit on Sylt
To be honest, there are too many adorable places for just a weekend on Sylt and I’m just highlighting the main places and locations. It takes multiple trips to Sylt to see and experience the entire island. However, these are just my favorite places from the biggest towns.
Westerland is the main city of Sylt but was built in an ugly 1960s/1970s style. To be honest, it isn’t the prettiest town but is the center of the island of life (both figuratively and geographically). If you want a central location and/or good transportation options, it makes the most sense to stay in Westerland. Plus, it’s one of the main towns for nightlife on the island. The main streets in Westerland are Friedrichstraße and Strandstraße.
To Eat in Westerland
- Breakfast – Cafe Wien Konditorei: Strandstraße 13, 25980 Westerland
- Late Breakfast – Künstler Café: Boysenstraße 9, 25980 Westerland
- Crepes/Snack – Crêperie Am Meer: Friedrichstraße 333A, 25980 Westerland
- Snack – Beach Box: Käpt’n-Christiansen-Straße 40, 25980 Westerland
- Snack – Friends Bistro: Kurpromenade, 25980 Westerland
- Lunch/Dinner – Beach House: Käpt’n-Christians-Straße 41a, 25980 Westerland
- Dinner – Die Seenot: Lornsenstraße 31, 25980 Westerland
- Dinner – Alte Friesenstube: Gaadt 4, 25980 Westerland
- Bar – American Bistro: Paulstraße 3, 25980 Westerland
- Bar – Wunderbar Sylt: Paulstraße 6, 25980 Westerland
- Cocktails – Hotel Miramar: Friedrichstraße 43, 25980 Westerland
- Cocktails – Barbushka Cocktailcafé Sylt: Friedrichstraße 14, 25980 Westerland
To Do & To See in Westerland
- Walk along the beach promenade – Strandpromenade Westerland: Strandstraße, 25980 Westerland
- Sylt Aquarium: Gaadt 33, 25980 Westerland
To Shop in Westerland
- Local Clothing – Adenauer & Co Strandhaus Sylt: Friedrichstraße 11, 25980 Westerland
- Clothing/Souvenirs – Wegst Sylt: Friedrichstraße 33, 25980 Westerland
- Local Tea – Sylter Tea Company: Friedrichstraße 2, 25980 Westerland
- Local Clothing – Inselkind: Stephanstraße 8, 25980 Westerland
- Kids store – michel & ida: Norderstraße 42, 25980 Westerland
Just north of Westerland is the town of Wenningstedt. I prefer to stay in this town when visiting Sylt because it is a bit quieter yet super close to Westerland – a win-win. The town is mostly filled with apartment rentals and relaxing hotels. While there isn’t as much to see in Wenningstedt, it is a great, central location for exploring the rest of the island!
To Eat in Wenningstedt
- Lunch/Dinner – Pottkieker: Seestraße 29, 25996 Wenningstedt-Braderup
- Lunch/Dinner – iismeer: Strandstraße 25, 25996 Wenningstedt-Braderup
- Lunch/Dinner – Twisters Sylt: Dünenstraße 13-15, 25996 Wenningstedt
- Snack – Gosch am Kliff: Dünenstraße 17 a, 25996 Wenningstedt-Braderup
To Do & To See in Wenningstedt
- Walk along the beach boardwalk – Dünenweg Wenningstedt
- Explore the southern end of the Red Cliff (German: Rotes Kliff) – Red Cliff
- Play a round of golf on a gorgeous course – Golf-Club Sylt e.V.
Connected to the town of Wenningstedt, Braderup is more to the east of the island (while Wenningstedt is to the west of the island). This is a small town surrounded by lots of nature and biking paths. It is considered one of the “youngest” settlements on Sylt as it wasn’t officially mentioned until 1540.
To Eat in Braderup
- Cafe/Coffee and Cake – Cafe Curve: M.-T.-Buchholz-Stich 9, 25996 Wenningstedt-Braderup
- Seafood – Gosch: Üp de Hiir 45, 25996 Wenningstedt-Braderup
To Do & To See in Braderup
- Nature Preserve with a hiking area and view of the Wadden Sea – Braderuper Heide
- Explore the white cliffs on this side of the island, just south of Braderuper Heide – Weißes Kliff
- Strawberry Picking – Erdbeerparadies Braderup: Terp Wai 17, 25996 Wenningstedt-Braderup
This super luxurious town is lined with designer shops and the center of the island’s who’s who. Located north of Westerland and Wenningstedt, Kampen has water on both sides and provides some of the most gorgeous views of the entire island! It’s a great mix of outdoor activities and bustling town life.
To Eat in Kampen
- Breakfast – Kupferkanne: Stapelhooger Wai 7, 25999 Kampen (adorable restaurant – it feels like a hobbit village)
- Lunch/Dinner – Odin Deli: Strönwai 10, 25999 Kampen
- Lunch/Dinner – Dorfkrug: Braderuper Weg 3, 25999 Kampen
- Lunch/Dinner – Strandbistro Buhne 16: Listlandstraße 133b, 25999 Kampen
- Dinner – Rauchfang: Strönwai 5, 25999 Kampen
- Dinner/Bar – Gogärtchen: Strönwai 12, 25999 Kampen
- Cocktails – PONY Kampen: Strönwai 6, 25999 Kampen
- Whiskey Mile (party central of Kampen): all along Strönwai
To Do & To See in Kampen
- Climb the high point on Sylt – Uwe Düne
- Check out the two lighthouses – Leuchtturm Langer Christian (also know as Leuchtturm Kampen) and Quermarkenfeuer
- Explore the Red Cliff (German: Rotes Kliff), especially during sunset with its reddish tint – Red Cliff
To Shop in Kampen
- Check out all the designer stores lining the streets!
- Local wine and other delicacies – Odin Vinothek: Hauptstraße 15, 25999 Kampen
List is the further north town on Sylt. It’s on the east side of the island and has an absolutely adorable harbor. Additionally, you can catch the ferry here between Sylt and the Danish island of Rømø.
To Eat in List
- Lunch/Snack/Diner – Gosch Alte Bootshalle: Am Hafen 200, 25992 List (a seafood lover’s paradise)
- Lunch/Snack – Sylter Suppen: Dünenstraße 1, 25992 List (super affordable!)
- Lunch/Dinner – Sylter Royal: Hafenstraße 10 – 12, 25992 List
- Lunch/Dinner – Wonnemeyer: Ellenbogen 3, 25992 List
- Cafe/Dinner – Voigts Alte Backstube: Süderhörn 2, 25992 List (they’re known for their delicious pancakes)
- Dessert – Sylter Eismanufaktur: Dünenstraße 3, 25992 List
To Do & To See in List
- Walk along the pier and harbor – Lister Hafen: Am Hafen, 25992 List
To Shop in List
- Local Sylt products including salt, beer, and pasta – Sylter Genussmacherei: Hafenstraße 2, 25992 List
- Local accessories – Dünenstrauss: Dünenstraße 1b, 25992 List auf Sylt
- Explore the nature surrounding the island of Sylt – Erlebniszentrum Naturgewalten: Hafenstraße 37, 25992 List
This isn’t a separate town but is usually considered part of List. However, it’s almost completely unoccupied as it’s the most northerner location on the island (and actually in all of Germany!). I recommend visiting these dunes and lighthouses during sunset – the light is fantastic! There is a fee to enter this area (a few Euros) as this is a protected nature area.
To Do & To See in Ellenbogen
- Explore the dunes and beaches – just make sure to watch where you are walking and don’t walk on any unmarked path (as it can disrupt and ruin the dunes)
- Photograph the two lighthouses – Leuchtturm List-West and Leuchtturm List-Ost
Munkmarsch is one of my favorite towns to visit on Sylt due to its harbor. The harbor used to be one of the main connections between mainland Germany and Sylt. It was well-known for its fishing activities as well as its shipyard. With a local population of 100 people, its main industry is now tourism and it is home to the Sylter Segel-Club (English: Sylt Sailing Club).
To Eat in Munkmarsch
- Breakfast/Dinner – Mara Sand: Bi Heef 1, 25980 Munkmarsch
- Lunch/Snack/Bar – Hafenkneipe: Heefwai 2, 25980 Munkmarsch
- Lunch – Zur Mühle: Lochterbarig 24, 25980 Munkmarsch
- Lunch/Dinner – Käpt’n Selmer Stube: Bi Heef 1, 25980 Munkmarsch (this restaurant used to have 2 Michelin stars)
- Dinner/Wine Bar – Vinothek: Bi Heef 1, 25980 Munkmarsch
To Do & To See in Munkmarsch
- Explore the harbor and docks – this was an old fishing village
- Walk around the grounds and eat at the old Fährhaus, which used to be the first point of contact when arriving on Sylt by boat – Fährhaus Sylt (now a 5-star hotel): Bi Heef 1, 25980 Munkmarsch
- Walk over the Lying Bridge (connecting Keitum and Munkmarsch), a bridge that parents told kids would break if the kids lied and walked over it – Lying Bridge
Another favorite town of mine, Keitum is known for its traditional thatched roof houses and the old captain houses. It’s a very traditional-looking village that is gorgeous. Regardless of how much time I have on Sylt, I always make a point to stop in Keitum and enjoy a cup of tea.
To Eat in Keitum
- Breakfast/Cafe – Nielsens Kaffeegarten: Am Kliff 5, 25980 Keitum
- Tea House/Cafe – Kleine Teestube: Westerhörn 2, 25980 Keitum (my favorite tea house with the most delicious waffles)
- Lunch/Early Dinner – Brot & Bier: Gurtstig 1, 25980 Keitum
- Lunch/Dinner – Kleine Küchenkate: Hoyerstig 2, 25980 Keitum
- Lunch/Dinner – Amici Restaurant: Christian-Peter-Hansen-Allee 1, 25980 Keitum
- Wine Bar – Reblaus Wine & Dine: Am Tipkenhoog 2, 25980 Keitum
To Do & To See in Keitum
- Explore the history of the island – Sylt Museum: Am Kliff 19, 25980 Keitum
- Walking through the old captain’s houses – all dotted throughout the village with thatched roofs
- Check out St. Severin Church, one of the most well-known churches on the island. It dates back to 1216: Pröstwai 20, 25980 Keitum
- Step into an old Frisian house – Altfriesisches Haus seit 1640: Am Kliff 13, 25980 Keitum
To Shop in Keitum
- Local truffles, pasta, spices and other delicacies – Sylter Trüffelmanufaktur: Am Tipkenhoog 3, 25980 Keitum
- Pick up some local cheese and make your own picnic – Das friesische Käselädchen: Siidik 6, 25980 Keitum
- Local products – Sylter Landschlachterei: Bäderstraße 2, 25980 Keitum
- Local Sylt teas – Kontorhaus Keitum: Siidik 15, 25980 Keitum
Located on the far east side of the island, Morsum is quite a rural area of the island dotted with outdoor activities, camping grounds, hotels, and guest houses. This is the first town you see upon arrival on the island of Sylt. The town is located completely on the Wadden Sea side of the island.
To Eat in Morsum
- Breakfast – Backerei Jürgen Ingwersen: Terpstig 76, 25980 Morsum (get the traditional Sylt cake – Friesentorte)
- Dinner/Wine Bar – Fränkische Weinstube: Terpstig 87, 25980 Morsum
To Do & To See in Morsum
- Explore one of the most important geological monuments in Germany – Morsum Kliff (it looks like the moon’s surface!)
- Take a religious visit to St. Martin’s Church, one of the oldest buildings on the island: Haawerlön 1, 25980 Morsum
- Practice your golf swing – Golfclub Morsum auf Sylt: Uasterhörn 37, 25980 Morsum
To Shop in Morsum
- Local soaps – Sylter Seifenmanufaktur: Bi Miiren 13, 25980 Morsum
- Local farm shop – Hansenhof: Terpstig 65, 25980 Morsum
A stop in Rantum is essential for fueling up on my favorite coffee and buying some local candy for an afternoon pick-me-up. With a cute harbor on the Wadden Sea and a bike path that connects Rantum to Keitum, it’s definitely a town on Sylt you shouldn’t miss!
To Eat in Rantum
- Coffee – Kaffeerösterei Sylt: Hafenstraße 9, 25980 Rantum
- Breakfast – Backstuuv Rantum: Strandweg 5, 25980 Rantum
- Snack – Hafenkiosk 24: Hafenstraße 24, 25980 Rantum
- Lunch/Dinner – DerPate Pizzeria: Hörnumer Straße 5, 25980 Rantum
- Lunch/Dinner – Samoa Seepferdchen: Hörnumer Str. 70, 25980 Rantum
- Lunch/Dinner – Restaurant Sansibar: Hörnumer Straße 80, 25980 Rantum (this is an island legend and super popular)
To Do & To See in Rantum
- Explore the nature and wildlife on the bike and walking path between Rantum and Keitum – Rantumbecken (English: Rantum Basin)
- Walking around the harbor on the Wadden Sea – Rantum Harbor: Hafenstraße, 25980 Keitum
- Take a walk along one of the many local beaches
To Shop in Rantum
- Pick up some local whiskey – Sylter Trading: Hafenstraße 14, 25980 Rantum
- Buy some local candy to satisfy your sweet tooth – Sylter Bonscherei: Hafenstraße 4, 25980 Rantum
At the southern-most tip of Sylt is the adorable town of Hörnum. With rolling hills dotted with thatched-roof houses, this town is a bit of a secluded paradise. Due to its southern proximity, you’re able to rent boats to go visit the neighboring islands of Föhr, Amrum, and the other nearby Frisian islands.
To Eat in Hörnum
- Cafe – Lund Sylt: Rantumer Str. 1-3, 25997 Hörnum
- Snack – Hafenliebe Crêpes & Meer: Hafenstraße 4, 25997 Hörnum
- Snack – Sylter Muscheln Bistro: Am Kai, 25997 Hörnum
- Snack/Lunch – Straend Sylt: Am Campingplatz 3, 25997 Hörnum
- Lunch/Dinner – Südkap: Ostpromenade 1, 25997 Hörnum
- Lunch/Dinner – Möller’s Anker: Blankes Tälchen 8, 25997 Hörnum
- Lunch/Dinner – Strandrestaurant Kap-Horn: Süderende 24, 25997 Hörnum
To Do & To See in Hörnum
- Visit the local lighthouse – Leuchtturm Hörnum. Book ahead of time to be able to go to the top.
- Go golfing on the local golf course – Golfclub Budersand Sylt: Fernsicht 1, 25997 Hörnum
- Explore Sylt’s own “Middle Earth” with small, traditional houses on the dunes – Kersig Siedlung
- Take in all the tetrapod stones on the beach – Tetrapoden Hörnum
- Walk along the beaches and dunes of the southern-most part of the island – Hörnum Odde
- Explore the local harbor area – Hörnum Hafen: Hafenstraße, 25997 Hörnum
To Shop in Hörnum
- Surf Shop – Home of Salty Elements: Rantumer Straße 11, 25997 Hörnum
Outdoor Activities on Sylt
One of the main reasons for having a weekend on Sylt is its plethora of outdoor activities – from biking to swimming to hiking to surfing, there’s something for everyone! While the weather on the North Sea can be a bit unpredictable, the summer months are usually quite warm and filled with fantastic weather!
With four top-notch golf resorts, Sylt is a golf-lovers paradise! Between the fantastic golf courses and the even better views of the North Sea and nearby islands, Sylt is a great location to take a relaxing golf vacation.
- Golf-Club Sylt e.V.: Norderweg 5, 25996 Wenningstedt
- Marine-Golf-Club Sylt e.G.: Flughafen 69, 25980 Tinnum
- Golf Club Budersand Sylt e.V.: Fernsicht 1, 25997 Hörnum
- Golfclub Morsum auf Sylt: Uasterhörn 37, 25980 Morsum
Considering Sylt is an island, there are fabulous beaches all around the island. I prefer the beaches on the west side of the island as they lead out toward the North Sea, not the Wadden Sea. The beaches get particularly crowded during the summer months – so make sure to get to them early.
Unlike other parts of the world, a lot of the beaches on Sylt cost a few Euros to enter. This helps to maintain clean beaches and any other upkeep measures – especially important for Sylt and preserving it as an island! For around 10 Euros a day, you can rent a Strandkorb, one of the covered wicker beach chairs that you see dotting all the beaches.
My favorite beach is the one running along Rantum on the western side of the island. This sliver of beach is gorgeous and quite spread out.
Whether you’re kitesurfing, windsurfing, or regular surfing, there are ample opportunities for you on Sylt. If you’re just a beginner and learning, there are a multitude of places around the island that offer lessons and instruction. For the more seasoned surfers, there are local meet-ups on the various beaches.
If you’re a beginner, it’s highly recommended that you start learning on the eastern side of the island, the Wadden Sea, while more seasoned surfers enjoy the rough waters of the North Sea on the western side of the island.
Another advantage of the rough waters of the North Sea is the sailing opportunities. Whether you’re entering a local regatta, sailing for fun, or just learning to sail, there are lessons available for beginners and seasoned pros.
If you plan on visiting Sylt with your sailboat, you can moor it at four different harbors on the island – List, Munkmarsch, Hörnum, or Rantum. Make sure to book a spot in advance, especially during the summer months!
Even if you decide to have Sylt as your base, there are several islands nearby that are easily accessible and can quickly be reached by sailboat including Amrum, Föhr, and several Danish islands.
Hiking on Sylt is extremely popular as there is a range of trails and locations. Whether you want to hike along the water, the Wadden Sea, or inland, there’s a route for everyone! Not feeling like hiking? Rent a bike and go along these paths as well.
How to Get to Sylt
Unlike many of the other islands in Northern Germany, Sylt is easily accessible by car, train, plane, and boat. I’ve been to the island a few times and have either driven or taken the train. However, depending on where you’re located, there might be multiple options for you. This website does a great job of providing all transportation options.
There is no (car) bridge to the island so you can’t drive directly to the island of Sylt. However, you can take your car over to Sylt either on a ferry or a train.
- Car Ferry: The car ferry goes from the Danish island of Rømø to List on Sylt about 12 times a day. It is split between 2 ferries – the SyltExpress and the RömöExpress. They’re both owned by the same company, FRS Syltfähre. The main difference is the capacity – one holds 80 cars and the other holds 127 cars.
- In the high season, the two ferries run almost every hour starting at 5:15 and going until 18:30. The ferry ride takes approximately 40 minutes and costs a flat rate of 77 Euros for a round-trip journey the same day. A round-trip journey on different days costs 87 Euros. It’s important to book your tickets in advance as the route can be in high demand! You can purchase your tickets from FRS Syltfähre here.
- Train Shuttle: Two train shuttles that will take your car from mainland Germany to Sylt. You’re able to load your car onto the train in Niebüll, a town close to the causeway over. Two companies running quite similar services – Deutsche Bahn Sylt Shuttle (the red train) and AUTOZUG Sylt by RDC Deutschland (the blue train). DB Sylt Shuttle runs approximately 19 times a day each way during high season and the AUTOZUG Sylt runs approximately 13 times a day each way during high season.
- There are only slight differences between the two train shuttle companies. Price-wise, they’re almost identical – DB Sylt Shuttle costs 56 Euros one way and 99.90 Euros for a round-trip ticket. AUTOZUG Sylt costs 60 Euros one way and 100 Euros for a round-trip ticket. If you’re taking a large RV, you’ll have to take AUTOZUG Sylt and if you plan on bringing a motorcycle, you’ll have to take DB Sylt Shuttle. You can find more information about DB Sylt Shuttle here and more information about AUTOZUG Sylt here.
The easiest and cheapest way to reach the Sylt is via a high-speed train or regional train (depending on your location). A train will also provide you with more flexibility and, in my opinion, are the most relaxing option for a weekend on Sylt!
- High-Speed Trains: The long-distance, high-speed trains (IC) run from Dresden (with stops in Berlin and Hamburg), Stuttgart (with stops in Frankfurt, Cologne, Bremen, and Hamburg), Frankfurt (with stops in Cologne, Bremen, and Hamburg), and Karlsruhe (with stops in Frankfurt, Hannover, and Hamburg). It’s important to know that each route has additional stops – I just listed the biggest stops along each route. The IC trains only stop at Westerland, the main town on Sylt.
- When it comes to the high-speed trains, some of the routes only run on certain days of the week and/or certain times of the year. Make sure to double-check on the Deutsche Bahn website as routes and times are always changing! While IC trains aren’t as frequent as regional trains, they do provide extra comforts including seat reservations (I recommend making one – it’s only a few Euros more and saves so much hassle!) and food options (Bordbistro). Tickets for IC trains start around 22 Euros (2nd class) and 32 Euros (1st class). However, everything is on a sliding scale and the cheapest tickets sell out extremely quickly! You can purchase tickets on the Deutsche Bahn website here.
- Regional Trains: There is a regional train between Hamburg-Altona station (not the main train station!) and Sylt (including multiple cities/towns on Sylt). Non-stop trains start at 6:30 and go until 21:40 – about 20 times a day). Some of the regional trains make more stops than others so the travel time varies from 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours and 15 minutes.
- Unlike the IC trains, regional trains run every day of the week. However, there might be a more slimmed-down travel schedule depending on the time/day of the year. Additionally, you can’t reserve a seat ahead of time on regional trains and there are no food options. During the summer months and school holidays, the regional trains are PACKED so make sure to get to the train station ahead of time to secure a seat. The cheapest option for traveling to Sylt from Hamburg is the Schleswig-Holstein ticket.
- Schleswig-Holstein ticket: The Schleswig-Holstein ticket is a day ticket that’s good for up to 5 people on all regional trains in Schleswig-Holstein! On Mondays through Fridays, it’s valid from 9:00 to 3:00 the following day. On the weekends and public holidays, it’s valid from midnight to 3:00 the following day. The base price of the ticket is 28 Euros and 3 additional Euros per person (up to 5 people for a total price of 40 Euros). This ticket allows you to take unlimited trips via regional trains in Schleswig-Holstein during that time period – especially perfect for a day trip to/from Hamburg! If you’re traveling with kids, the first 3 kids up to the age of 14 aren’t included in the 5 people. Additionally, if you’re traveling with a larger dog, they count as a person.
- Train Hint: When bringing a bike on a train, make sure you also buy the bike ticket – this is around 8 Euros and necessary!
Due to the wealth and tourism aspect of the island, Sylt has quite a few plane connections. This option, while the fastest, is the most limited. Most flights only run a few days a week and only during the high season.
- Direct Flights: There are currently directly flights from Hamburg (Sylt Air), Düsseldorf (Eurowings and Condor), Frankfurt (Lufthansa), Berlin (EasyJet), Kassel (Rhein-Neckar Air), Stuttgart (Eurowings), Mannheim (Rhein-Neckar Air), Munich (Lufthansa), Paderborn (Green Airlines), and Zürich (Green Airlines and Swiss Airlines)
- Indirect Flights: You can indirectly reach Sylt from several European destinations (especially Switzerland and Austria) as well as other German cities. Most of these connecting routes are run by Lufthansa or Eurowings.
Due to Sylt’s proximity to other islands, there are quite a few ferry connections – whether for a day trip or a long weekend on Sylt.
- From List: As mentioned above, you can take the car ferry (you can also take it if you don’t have a car!) from Havneby on the island of Rømø to List
- From Hörnum: You can take a ferry from several other islands to Hörnum. There are connections to Nordstrand, Amrum, and Hallig Hooge
How to Get Around Sylt
Sylt is an extremely well-connected island. If you’re not bringing your car or bike over to the island, there are multiple options for rentals or utilizing public transportation for a weekend on Sylt.
- Car or Bike Rentals: There are so many companies on the island renting out cars and bikes. If you do plan on getting a rental, especially during high season, make sure to book ahead of time (even bikes!). There are multiple bike rental shops located right across the street from the main train station in Westerland. I tried to rent an e-bike on a Saturday after arriving and was properly informed by multiple shops that they were all booked out. I don’t find one shop better than any other – just find the most convenient car or bike rental location for you!
- Public Transportation: The island has an extensive bus system that makes it easy to get all across the island! If you plan on getting multiple buses a day, it makes sense to buy a day pass (10 Euros) or a 2-day pass for a weekend on Sylt (18.60 Euros).
- Taxis: In a pinch, taxis are the quickest option of getting from point A to point B if you don’t have your own mode of transportation. They’re quite prevalent and easy to catch, especially in Westerland.
Where to Stay on Sylt
Sylt has an abundance of luxurious hotel and rental accommodations. It’s hard to narrow it down to just a few properties because there are so many great places on the island. When picking a place to stay, it’s all about the location! If you want to be in the middle of the action, stay in Westerland. If you want to be *near* the action, but not directly in it, stay in Wenningstedt. If you’re looking for a more traditional town on the island, stay in Kampen or Keitum. And if you’re wanting a relaxing vacation, definitely consider List or Hörnum.
That being said, you really can’t go wrong with most accommodations on Sylt. Just be prepared to spend quite a bit of money because staying on Sylt doesn’t come cheap! As with any accommodation on the island, book far in advance as everything sells out so quickly.
Severin’s Resort and Spa is the cream of the crop! This 5-star hotel located in Keitum exudes sophistication. With a prime location right on the water and a top-notch spa and wellness center, Severin’s Resort and Spa is the ultimate location for a relaxing and romantic vacation.
Budersand Hotel – Golf & Spa, located in the southern town of Hörnum, is a delightful escape from the hustle and bustle of other parts of the island. Not only is it directly on the water, but it also offers a spa and access to an 18-hole golf course. The hotel itself is very modern looking with premier facilities.
Sör’ling Hof, located in Rantum, is a 5-star hotel especially known for its relaxing atmosphere and fine dining. In particular, its in-house restaurant is one of the best on the island and has been awarded as a 2-star Michelin restaurant.
Relais & Châteaux Landhaus Stricker is a five-star hotel with a 1-star Michelin restaurant and another restaurant highly commended in the Michelin Guide. Located in the small town of Tinnum, it also has a fabulous wine cellar.
Fährhaus Sylt is another 5-star hotel with an extensive history and multiple (delicious!) dining options. In the port town of Munkmarsch, it’s in a relaxing location and away from the bustle of Westerland. This used to be one of the most frequented hotels on the island before the train connection to the mainland was constructed.
Villa 54° Nord is an affordable hotel located in the heart of Westerland. If you’re looking for a reasonably-priced hotel but something still close to the action, definitely stay here. It was the first hotel I ever stay at on Sylt and still recommend it to friends!
Hotel Hof Galerie is a bucket list hotel for me! Located in Morsum and away from the bustle of other towns, it looks like an oasis. I’ve tried to stay here several times in the past and it’s always been completely booked out. I’m envious of all the serene photos on social media posted from this hotel.
Hotel Wiesbaden is a great, affordable option located in the town of Wenningstedt. This is an especially great hotel for families and those traveling on a budget. From personal experience, the hotel management is absolutely fabulous and very accommodating.
Other great hotel options include:
- Alte Strandvogtei Hotel garni: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Dorint Strandresort & Spa: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Hotel Haus Hanseat: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Hotel Parkresidenz Christian VIII: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Boutique Hotel Villa Monika: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Hotel Stadt Hamburg: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Aarnhoog: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Hotel Village: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
Besides a plethora of top-notch hotels and accommodations, Sylt also has an extensive listing of rental properties and vacation homes. Multiple websites cater to house and apartment rentals just on Sylt.
- Oltmann & Bengsch: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Sylter Appartement Service: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Sylt Sotheby’s Realty: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Sylt Travel: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Kluge Urlaubs-Service Sylt: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Ferienhausmiete.de: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Booking.com and Vrbo.com also has great options
Even though Sylt is a very upscale island, there are also youth hostels located in various towns:
- DJH Youth Hostel Westerland “Dikjen Deel”: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- DJH Hostel Hörnum: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
- Jugendgästehaus “Pidder-Lüng”: check rates, reviews, and availability here.
What and Where to Eat on Sylt
Sylt is a food-lovers paradise and the island is even home to a few Michelin-star restaurants. The local cuisine involved lots of seafood, particularly oysters which are harvested off the coast of the island.
In the above section on towns to visit on Sylt, I organized the island’s best restaurants by location and type of food served (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and cafe). This should make it easier for you to pick the best place to eat for a weekend on Sylt – Guten Appetit!
What to Pack for Sylt
The biggest piece of advice I have for packing for Sylt is to bring layers! The island can be quite warm but if you’re in the shade or there’s a strong breeze, it can feel quite chilly. I’m constantly taking off layers and putting layers back on depending on the time of day and my location on the island.
I consider the entire aesthetic of the island to be preppy chic – bring your striped sweaters, Hunter boots, Barbour jackets, and designer handbags. Anything and everything goes on this island!
- Camera: As an extremely photogenic island, my camera was with me the entire time. You not only want to photograph the amazing natural scenery of the island but also want to make sure you have a good enough camera to photograph all the sunsets, dunes, and the occasional wildlife.
- Chunky Sweater: As the weather is unpredictable on the island, you want to make sure you’re wearing layers – specifically a sweater that you can easily throw on and take off. If you’re wanting to stick with a nautical theme to match the island vibe, I especially love these two sweaters: option 1 and option 2. There are also cute sweaters and cashmere options from J.Crew’s newest line: option 1, option 2, option 3, and option 4.
- Rain Jacket: It’s not unusual at all to have intermittent rain showers in Northern Germany. Makes sure you’re covered (no pun intended) and stay dry with a bright and cheerful rain jacket! This is also a great option if you’re wanting it to be a bit more nautical.
- Trench Coat: You can never go wrong with a chic trench! This style is flattering and easy to throw over most outfits.
- Bathing Suit: If you end up visiting Sylt during the summer months, a bathing suit is a must-bring item! The best beaches can be found in Rantum and it’s well worth taking a dip in the sea. I especially love J.Crew bathing suits as they’re flattering and work for all shapes and sizes.
- Weekender Tote: Pack for your weekend away in this durable, high-end weekender tote. You can also get it monogrammed with your initials!
- Aqua Shoes: It’s essential to have aqua shoes for walking through the Wadden Sea, exploring the beaches, and walking along the dunes!
- Wellies: I swear by my Joules wellies to keep my feet warm and dry. With the sometimes unpredictable weather on Sylt combined with the Wadden Sea, wellies are a must for exploring the island.
- Beach Towel: If you plan on going swimming, you’re also going to need a towel to dry off quickly! These small, packable microfiber towels are perfect for throwing in a backpack or tote bag and carrying around with you. Plus, they’re formulated to help your dry off quickly!
- Sturdy Shoe: I’m not a huge fan of sneakers but definitely recommend a sturdy shoe for walking or biking around the island. My personal favorite shoes for walking a bit more are anything by Sperry, especially their boat shoes (I own quite a few pairs), or classic Keds. Both are a bit chicer than normal sneakers while providing ample support to your feet.
- Small Backpack: If you’re not wanting to lug around a purse all day, I suggest getting a small backpack (with a zipper – no straps!). I have a similar backpack and love how it still looks “cool” while holding my wallet, camera, and anything else I might need for a day trip!
Final Hints and Tips for a Weekend on Sylt
A weekend on Sylt is not a time to skimp on expenses! Indulge and take advantage of everything the island has to offer! Stay in a luxurious accommodation, eat fantastic meals, go on a shopping spree, and enjoy everything the island has to offer!
Make sure not to just stay in Westerland and the surrounding area. Sylt has so much to offer in other small towns and Westerland doesn’t do the island justice. I highly recommend either bringing your own car over or immediately renting one once you arrive on the island. This makes it so much easier to get around and explore every hidden corner of Sylt. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can a regular bike or an e-bike.
My final piece of advice is to book your accommodation as far in advance as possible. Some places book out over a year in advance, especially during the school holidays or over a long week! Germans are planners and have their vacation schedules organized years in advance.