This Little-Known Island Is Germany's Most Luxurious Escape For A Fun Beach Vacation

Between the bustle of Berlin and the centuries-old charm of Cologne, it's clear that Germany packs a punch when it comes to all things culture, history, and adventure. Brimming with fairytale-like historic destinations, beer-themed festivals, and enchanting nature views dotted with lakes and forests, the country's diverse landscapes and heritage are more than enough to win you over time and time again.

However, outside of its most-visited cities and the obvious tourist traps that still draw some hefty crowds, Germany also has tons of relatively unexplored destinations that will make for some pretty memorable moments during your visit. One of these hidden gems is the not-so-unassuming island of Sylt.

The largest North Frisian island off Germany's northern coast, Sylt is equal parts sophisticated and serene — with a touch of luxury to spice things up. Known for its sandy beaches, coastal walking trails, and mouthwatering cuisine, the island is a top choice when it comes to shaking off your routine and settling into a lifestyle that feels a little more comfortable.

Exploring the best of Sylt

Accessible by train, plane, car, and ferry, Sylt is located just 140 miles north of Hamburg. Rightfully dubbed the "Hamptons of Hamburg," the luxurious island is filled with things to do, places to see, and foods to try. For starters, there are the beaches — all 25 miles of them. Some of the most popular sandy destinations include Hörnum, a family-friendly spot under the watch of the island's lighthouse; Fun-Beach Brandenburg, which, as the name suggests, is a go-to for beachside activities, sports, and attractions; the remote List Beach, known for being secluded and relaxing; and Buhne 16, which boasts direct access through Sylt's famous Red Cliff.

Then, you've got the island's outdoor trails. Whether you decide to tackle the demanding Megamarsch Sylt loop, a 62-mile trek that takes you all around the island and takes roughly 19 hours to complete, opt for the more relaxed Rantumbecken loop, a 6-mile walk that's popular with birders, campers, and other hikers, or try the Keitum to Kampen route (6 miles), the island promises to deliver on all things scenic.

Last, but definitely not least, you've got the island's lively villages. From the always-buzzing Westerland — located smack in the middle of the island — to the upscale Kampen, the secluded List — Germany's northernmost destination — and the easy-going Keitum, there's no shortage of experiences just waiting to be discovered.

Tips for visiting Sylt

In terms of getting around, the easiest way to see and enjoy the best of Sylt is to hire a car or an electric bike and take to the road. Alternatively, the island also has a well-functioning public transportation system, with roughly 30 buses that run along five different lines — all of which stop through Westerland — that'll take you pretty much everywhere you're hoping to go.

As for choosing the right accommodation, you'll be glad to know that Sylt is also well-equipped to welcome travelers of all budgets and tastes. From holiday apartments available for rent to luxury guest houses, hotels, and holiday homes that feel straight out of a fairytale, you'll be spoiled for choice. Per Tripadvisor, some of the most popular options currently include the Relais & Châteaux Hotel Landhaus Stricker (4.5-star rating), Severin's Resort & Spa (5-star rating), and the chic Hotel Stadt Hamburg (4.5-star rating).

And because no adventure to Sylt would be complete without a healthy serving of some local fare, foodies will be happy to know that the island is filled with mouthwatering local restaurants that can't be missed. Topping the list are the island's Michelin-starred restaurants (yes, plural) — Söl'ring Hof, Bodendorf's, and Kai3 — as well as more laid-back joints, such as Butcherei Sylt, perfect for meat lovers; Gosch, a nationwide chain that specializes in seafood; the Sylter Royal Austernbar, perfect for a taste of some local oysters; and Sylter Eismanufaktur, a charming ice cream parlor.