What You Need To Know
Sylt is an island in northern Germany, part of Nordfriesland district, Schleswig-Holstein, and well known for the distinctive shape of its shoreline. It belongs to the North Frisian Islands and is the largest island in North Frisia. The northernmost island of Germany, it is known for its tourist resorts, notably Westerland, Kampen and Wenningstedt-Braderup, as well as for its 40-kilometre-long (25-mile) sandy beach. It is frequently covered by the media in connection with its exposed situation in the North Sea and its ongoing loss of land during storm tides. Since 1927, Sylt has been connected to the mainland by the Hindenburgdamm causeway. In latter years, it has been a resort for the German jet set and tourists in search of occasional celebrity sighting.
Sylt is the most expensive island in Germany, so plan your budget accordingly. That being said, the expensive things are mostly lavish holiday apartments and champagne at the high prized bars and restaurants, so you can mitigate the impact somewhat by avoiding those.
Geologically, Sylt originated as a terminal moraine of the Saale glaciation; it was connected to the mainland until a devastating flood in 1362.
Area: 99.14 km²
The currency used in Germany is Euro
On Sylt, a marine climate influenced by the Gulf stream is predominant. With an average of 2 °C, winter months are slightly milder than on the mainland, summer months though, with a median of 17 °C, are somewhat cooler, despite a longer sunshine period. The annual average sunshine period on Sylt is 4.4 hours per day. It is due to the low relief of the shoreline that Sylt had a total of 1,899 hours of sunshine in 2005, 180 hours above the German average. Clouds cannot accumulate as quickly and are generally scattered by the constant westerly or northwesterly winds.
The annual mean temperature is 8.5 °C. The annually averaged wind speed measures 6.7 m/s, predominantly from western directions. The annual rainfall amounts to about 650 millimetres. Since 1937 weather data are collected at Deutscher Wetterdienst’s northernmost station on a dune near List, which has meanwhile become automated. A number of commercial meteorological services like Meteomedia AG operate stations in List too.
Sylt features an oceanic climate that is influenced by the Gulf Stream. On average, the winter season is slightly warmer than in mainland Nordfriesland. The summer season, however, is cooler despite of longer sunshine periods. The yearly average sunshine period is greater than 4.4 hours per day with some years exceeding the average sunshine for all of Germany. Also precipitation is lower than on the mainland. This is due to the low relief of Sylt’s shoreline where clouds are not able to accumulate and rain off.
Sylt is divided into two administrative bodies: the Amt Landschaft Sylt with its seat in Keitum administrates all municipalities on the island, save for the independent town of Westerland. As of December 2007, Sylt had 21,190 inhabitants, 9,072 of whom living in Westerland. These numbers do not include owners of summer residences.
A referendum held in May 2008 resulted in a merger of the Sylt-Ost municipality with the town of Westerland due 1 January 2009. Various interest groups hope to merge every island municipality into one governing body.
Sylt is a part of the Frisian Islands. It has its own local dialect, Söl’ring, which is the indigenous speech of Sylt. Söl’ring is a dialect of insular North Frisian, with elements of Danish, Dutch and English. Today, only a small fraction of the population still speak Söl’ring. A law to promote the language (Friesisch-Gesetz) was passed in 2004. The northernmost part of the island, Listland, was traditionally Danish-speaking.
As in many areas in Schleswig-Holstein on New Year’s Eve, groups of children go masked from house to house, reciting poems. This is known as “Rummelpottlaufen”, and as a reward, children receive sweets and/or money.
Sylt also features many Frisian-style houses with thatched roofs.
The vowel sound in the name of the island is represented in standard written German as “y” for unknown reasons, whereas the expected spelling of the name would be “Sült”.
Bus is the easiest although bikes are also popular. An all-island three-day bus ticket costs about 28 Euros. You can also take a bicycle on the bus. Due to many visitors arriving by car across the causeway and the rather limited space on the island, there can be surprising amounts of traffic in the high season.