A lot of retired people and families with young kids sitting in beach baskets on long white, sandy beaches. This is the typical picture one has from Sylt, the island in Norther Germany shaped like a hammer. The easiest and cheapest way to get there from Hamburg is by train.
Buy a Schleswig-Holstein ticket, which covers the northern region. The more people you are, the cheaper it will be (e.g. 28€ for 1 person, €31 for 2 persons, €34 for 3 persons, €37 for 4 persons and €40 for 5 persons). So bring your friends, pack a picnic, and start your journey early to make the most of your day.
The 3h from Hamburg to Westerland on Sylt will go by fast by either napping another round or admiring the nice scenery of the North. Make sure to be awake for the last 15m when you are crossing the North Sea to the island Sylt.
How to get around the island
Once arrived, walk outside the train station, over the plaza with the caricatured “hobbits” to the next bike shop. You will find bikes for various prices: E-bikes, cruisers, mountain bikes or simple 3-gear bikes for 5€. These are fine unless you are planning a serious bike ride over 50km.
Westerland is the place you can explore the first. However, it’s a very ritzy and touristy place with lots of resorts and apartments. Unless the Windsurf World Cup takes place, there is not too much to do there.
Take the bike path up north over the rolling hills and dunes. Shortly after Westerland you will see light towers and beach restaurants in the middle of the dunes where you can enjoy a drink or take a short stroll at the beach.
The way up north is slightly more uphill and harder than the way coming back south. The path can be very misty and foggy, but who knows when it will clear up and you can see the beautiful hills and dunes and take in the serenity.
The path from Westerland to List covers around 17km one-way. List is the most-northern town of Germany and ferries go from here to the Danish island Rømø. List is a small harbour town with some fish restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. Take a short stroll and enjoy the breakers. You can also visit the adventure center “Force of the Elements” and learn more about the history of the island, the water, dunes, etc. If you plan to go even further north to the “Lister Ellenbogen“, grab some snacks to have later at the beach. The Ellenbogen is a long peninsula from which you can see the neighbor island Rømø if the weather is good. You will find sheep between dunes and grass, kite- and windsurfers and two light houses.
After your picnic, head back down south towards Westerland and stop on the way to enjoy empty beaches in the North of Sylt and check out the red cliff near the town Kampen. Back in Westland you can rent a stand-up paddle board for a few hours or go kitesurfing. The shallow water on Sylt’s west coast is perfect for kitesurfing.
If you find time to visit one other sight, get on the train and just go one stop to Morsum and walk to the Morsum cliff, which is over 20 meters tall.
After this active cycling day you deserved a rest on the train back to Hamburg!
As you see, Sylt doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you do it as a day trip and don’t stay overnight.
What did you do on Sylt?