German Sights


Germany's 'True North'

The state of Schleswig-Holstein in northwest Germany extends from the River Elbe through to Denmark.

Being bordered by the Baltic Sea on the east coast and the North Sea on the west has led to a strong maritime history.

Schleswig-Holstein only became part of Germany in 1864. For centuries, the King of Denmark held the dual title of Danish Duke of Schleswig and German Duke of Holstein.

The North Frisian town of Husum
The North Frisian town of Husum

The region has been deeply influenced by both Danish and German cultures.

You'll see evidence of these different cultural legacies throughout Schleswig-Holstein, particularly in cities such as Flensburg and Schleswig.

The more you experience the cultural diversity of Schleswig-Holstein, the more you'll appreciate the Scandinavian touches alongside the traditional German influences.

Must-Visit Cities and Towns

Kiel: Maritime Charm

View over Kiel harbour
View over Kiel harbour

Kiel is the capital of Schleswig-Holstein. The bustling port city on the Baltic Sea has a long history and a lively atmosphere. Home to shipbuilding companies and the Kiel Canal, Kiel is a major hub for maritime trade and transport.

Kiel Week is a highlight in the city's event calendar. This annual regatta features thousands of participating boats and numerous festivities, creating an unforgettable experience for sailors and visitors alike.

Lübeck: UNESCO World Heritage Site

An aerial view over Lübeck
An aerial view over Lübeck

Lübeck, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a beautiful Hanseatic city steeped in medieval charm.

It was once a member of the Hanseatic League, a powerful commercial alliance in the Middle Ages.

Those who enjoy history and architecture will enjoy its stunning Gothic buildings and well-preserved city centre.

Walk through the narrow cobblestone streets and marvel at key landmarks, such as the 12th-century Holstentor gate and St. Mary's Church, which boasts one of the world's highest brickwork vaults.

Flensburg: Picturesque Harbour

Picturesque harbour at Flensburg
Picturesque harbour at Flensburg

Flensburg is another must-visit city in Schleswig-Holstein. Located on the Flensburg Fjord, it boasts a bustling harbour and attractive streets lined with 16th-century merchants' houses.

Flensburg has a fascinating history rooted in rum production, which flourished during the golden age of the Danish West Indies.

As you explore the city, you'll come across museums and distilleries that showcase Flensburg's rich rum heritage. Be sure to sample some of the local spirits while you're here for a taste of this maritime town's unique history.

Friedrichstadt: Dutch Influence

Historic houses at Friedrichstadt
Historic houses at Friedrichstadt

Situated on the banks of the rivers Treene and Eider, Friedrichstadt is a charming little town with a distinct Dutch influence.

Duke Frederick III of Holstein-Gottorp founded the town in the 17th century, inviting Dutch religious refugees to settle in this peaceful haven. With its idyllic canals, red brick houses and gabled facades, you'll feel like you've stepped back in time as you stroll through this lovely town.

Friedrichstadt's picturesque setting and tranquil atmosphere make it a delightful destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Enjoy a leisurely boat trip along the tranquil canals or simply take in the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Outdoor Adventures in Schleswig-Holstein

North Sea Islands (Sylt, Föhr, Amrum)

Walkway above the cliffs at Sylt
Walkway above the cliffs at Sylt

When exploring Schleswig-Holstein, don't miss the picturesque North Sea islands for breathtaking beaches, amazing wildlife and exciting watersports.

Located off the west coast in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Wadden Sea, the islands of Sylt, Föhr and Amrum offer a unique blend of natural beauty and outdoor activities.

On Sylt you can walk along endless sandy beaches or try exhilarating sports such as kite surfing and windsurfing. Föhr is renowned for its remarkable birdlife - keep your binoculars handy to spot the many species, especially in the stunning North Frisian landscape. Amrum attracts visitors with its impressive sand dunes, perfect for dune hikes and bird watching.

Baltic Sea Coast

The lighthouse at Travemünde
A new lighthouse at Travemünde

Heading to the Baltic Sea Coast, you'll be captivated by dramatic cliff lines, picturesque beach resorts, and numerous coastal hiking trails.

If you are looking for a dip in the Baltic Sea, consider stops at the Schilksee Strandbad near Kiel, the Sehlendorfer Strand near Fehmarn island, or the resort town of Travemünde near Lübeck.

Hiking enthusiasts should explore the numerous coastal trails along the stunning coastline, offering unmatched views of the sea and surrounding nature. The E9, for example, is a long distance hiking trail heading west along the Baltic coast into Poland.

Holstein Switzerland Nature Park

Plön castle in Holstein Switzerland
Plön castle in Holstein Switzerland

Last but not least, take a trip through the Holstein Switzerland Nature Park. This lovely area between Kiel and Lübeck boasts rolling hills, glaciated landscapes, and picturesque lakes.

(The attractive scenery has nothing to do with Switzerland, however. In the early days of tourism Switzerland was seen as a desirable upmarket destination, so some German locations added Switzerland to imply that they were a premium region to explore.)

Cultural Highlights and Events

Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival

The Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival attracts musicians from all over the world. As well as traditional classical music, this annual event features contemporary compositions and jazz performances.

The festival takes place throughout the summer at various locations in Schleswig-Holstein, showcasing the region's beautiful historic churches, castles and countryside.


Kieler Woche (Kiel Week)

Sailing enthusiasts will have a fantastic time exploring the famous Kieler Woche.

The Kieler Woche (Kiel Week) usually takes place annually in the last full week of June. It attracts around three million visitors and competitors from 70 countries each year. There is plenty to enjoy outside the competitive events even if you are not a sailor. The spirit of Kieler Woche is a unique experience in Schleswig-Holstein.


Regional Cuisine of Schleswig-Holstein

Fish Specialities

You'll find that Schleswig-Holstein's cuisine is strongly influenced by its proximity to both the North and Baltic Seas. The historic importance of fishing in the region has resulted in an abundance of seafood dishes.

Pannfisch is a popular meal in this part of Germany. White fish, usually cod or haddock, are dipped in flour and egg and then fried. They are served with fried potato and onions and a mustard sauce.

Another popular fishy snack is a Fischbrötchen, a simple fish roll made with either herring, mackerel or salmon and served with a variety of garnishes.


Labskaus is another traditional dish from Schleswig-Holstein.

The unlikely ingredients in this hearty dish are corned beef, potatoes, onions and beetroot. These are all cooked together and then served with herring, pickles and a fried egg on top.

Labskaus was created as a practical meal for sailors on long voyages but over time it has become an integral part of Schleswig-Holstein's culinary heritage.

Pharisaer Coffee

To accompany your traditional Schleswig-Holstein meal, you can enjoy a unique local beverage called Pharisaer Coffee. This strong and aromatic coffee with a twist is made by adding dark rum and sugar to freshly brewed coffee, then topping it with a dollop of whipped cream to keep the alcohol from evaporating.

Practical Tips for Visiting Schleswig-Holstein


Schleswig-Holstein has a maritime climate, meaning that you can expect mild summers and relatively cool winters.

The summer temperatures (June to August) typically range between 15°C and 25°C.

Winters can be chilly, with temperatures often dropping to around freezing or slightly below.

Make sure to pack layers and waterproof clothing to cater for any unexpected weather changes.

Public Transport

Getting around in Schleswig-Holstein is generally quite easy with an efficient public transport system.

Every state or region in Germany has its own reduced rate daily rail ticket. The Schleswig-Holstein-Ticket covers rail transport on regional trains for a day for up to five people.

See our Schleswig-Holstein travel page for more details about getting to the state.

Check accommodation availability in Schleswig-Holstein

Map of Schleswig-Holstein