Nature, Activity, Recreation: Romanticism in Germany – North and East Frisian islands


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If you are travelling by air, fly to Hamburg or Bremen airport before continuing your journey by rail or car. Once you reach the coast, you can take the ferry or fly to the islands on one of the small local carriers.
There are also excellent links by rail and car to the far north of Germany. Sylt itself is linked to the mainland via the Hindenburg causeway.

North and East Frisian islands – the rise and fall of the tides and romantic lighthouses

Five North Frisian and seven East Frisian islands are strung together like pearls along Germany’s North Sea coast. Sand dunes, salt marshes and sandy beaches lined with wicker beach chairs are the picturesque hallmarks of the Frisian islands, along with mills and sheep pastureland.
The Frisian people themselves are famously amusing. In the heart of this idyllic setting, between the healthy sea air and the quaint Frisian villages with their thatched cottages, are some of Germany’s most popular holiday destinations.

The idyllic island of Sylt
Sylt is Germany’s most northerly island and the largest of the North Frisian islands. With its charming villages, coastal mudflats, red cliffs, flowering heathland and 40 kilometres of the finest sandy beaches, it’s a great place to relax or enjoy a long walk. The popular island enchants visitors with its crashing waves on the western side and tranquil coastal mudflats on the eastern side. With twelve little villages, it has all the ingredients for a holiday full of variety.

Small island, lots of space – Amrum
Amrum is known for its open countryside and carefree living. In the west, the North Sea waves crash onto the “Kniepsand” sandbank which covers an area of more than 10 km² to create Europe’s widest sandy beach. You won’t be able to resist walking through the magnificent sand dunes, some of which are up to 32 metres high. In the middle of the island, the bright dunes give way to areas of dark forest and heathland and, wherever you go, you’ll come across pretty little Frisian villages full of friendly islanders.
Unusually for the north, the island is densely wooded. The Fishermen’s Church of St. Clement’s with its decorative ecclesiastical art and graves is well worth seeing.

“Dreams floating on the sea” – the North Frisian Hallig islands
The North Frisian Hallig islands are the only ones of their kind anywhere in the world. Often referred to as “dreams floating on the sea”, these undyked islands in the Wadden Sea differ from normal islands in that when storms bring high water they are completely submerged. Only the man-made mounds on which the houses are perched remain above the water. You can reach the Hallig islands on foot on a guided tour of the mudflats.

Experience the mudflats – The East Frisian islands
The seven East Frisian islands (Borkum, Juist, Norderney, Baltrum, Langeoog, Spiekeroog and Wangerooge) are strung out like pearls just five to ten kilometres off the North Sea coast in Lower Saxony. A popular holiday destination for holidaymakers and locals alike, they are renowned for their beautiful beaches and inland dune landscapes from varying eras. On the south side, the marshland gives way to the coastal mudflats. The islands were created by the deposition of sediments by the tides, currents and wind. Some of the East Frisian islands are also car-free. Visit the East Frisian islands of Juist and Borkum, for example, both of which are part of the Lower Saxony Wattenmeer national park and renowned for their idyllic sandy beaches and characteristic lighthouses. In addition to magnificent dune landscapes, the islands also feature a wealth of vegetation. The main attractions on Juist include “Memmertfeuer” lighthouse, the only one of its kind that shines its light on the island rather than out to sea, the water tower and the historical spa centre known as the “white palace on the sea”.

A fiery tradition
One of the popular traditions on the North Frisian islands is the Biikebrennen festival. Originally a sacrificial fire to honour the god of war Wodan, after the introduction of Christianity this giant bonfire was lit to say farewell to seafarers. Bonfires are still lit all along the coast on 21 February.

Protecting nature
Northern Germany is well known for its wealth of flora and fauna and its fascinating landscape. Covering 278,000 hectares, the Lower Saxony Wattenmeer National Park, which also includes the East Frisian islands, coastal mudflats and marshes, was founded in 1986 to protect these natural treasures.

Seafood delights
Regional specialities include a wide range of fish dishes and, in particular, shrimps. Another typical dish is kale – stuffed kale or curly kale with sweet potato and pork. The traditional wine soup is still served on special occasions.
The Frisian national drink – the Pharisäer – was invented on Nordstrand in the 19th century so that the locals could drink alcohol in the presence of their local parish priest. A clever host came up with the idea of stirring some rum into the coffee and covering it up with a dollop of whipped cream. When the priest saw how merry the guests had become, he exclaimed angrily “You Pharisees!”.


Tradition and history

  • “Red Haubarg”
  • Churches on Eiderstedt peninsula
  • Dr. Carl Haeberlin Frisian Museum in Wyk/Föhr
  • Öomrang House on Amrum
  • Königspesel Museum/Hallig
  • Hooge Heligoland
  • Klaasohm festival (festive tradition)
  • Juist traditional costume

Hospitality and gastronomy

  • “Tote Tante” (hot chocolate with rum or amaretto)
  • Salt meadow lamb
  • Swattsuer (blood sausage)
  • Egg nog
  • Tea
  • Brent Goose festival on the Hallig islands

Romanticism and charm

  • Historical carriage rides
  • Lüttje Teehus (café)
  • Weddings at typical North German attractions (lighthouse, windmill, Hallig island)
  • Nolde Museum in Seebüll
  • Pump room by the sea on Borkum

Countryside and scenery