Welcome to the land between the seas. Schleswig-Holstein nestles up against North and Baltic Sea and stretches and stretches on all sides towards the horizon, and because it would like to go a little further out, it does not end at its coasts: Schleswig-Holstein includes unique Halligen and world-famous islands. Its coasts, the land in between with its many lakes make it the ideal vacation destination - for anyone who wants to switch off for a few days or weeks and take a breath, a deep breath.
Head north, and then keep going straight: Schleswig-Holstein is perfect for anyone who loves long walks on the beach, wants to become a beach volleyball world champion, or just likes to dig their toes in the sand. Of course, you can swim, sail, paddle or just throw a Frisbee everywhere. Kiting is also possible. And surfing. There is hardly a more beautiful place to build sandcastles than the beaches of Schleswig-Holstein. And you can't miss the lighthouses anyway. The fact that the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn is one of the sunniest regions in the republic has long been known. And the island to the south Lübeck bay is considered the bathtub of the big city of Hamburg - many Hanseatic citizens like to come here on weekends to relax in one of the beautiful bathing resorts.
But of course the country has more to offer than beach and sand. Schleswig-Holstein is the home of marzipan (Lübeck), the traffic offender file (Flensburg) and Frisian ore (which the Danes supposedly invented - which can't be true, of course, because otherwise it would be called Danish ore). In the seal station Friedrichskoog vacationers can experience the small howlers, on Heligoland walk across Germany's only high seas island and in Haithabu get an idea of the era when the land was ruled by legendary Norsemen. Together with the Danewerk border wall, the old Viking settlement has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2018. Lübeck's old town also belongs to it. The Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea was designated a World Heritage Site more than ten years ago: The North Sea coastal area between the mouth of the Elbe and the Danish border is the last great wilderness in Europe and one of the world's most important resting areas for migratory birds.
With its 15,800 square kilometers, Schleswig-Holstein is the second smallest German state after Saarland. Just under three million people live between North and Baltic Sea at home. The state capital - and largest city in the state - is Kiel, with almost 250,000 inhabitants; Lübeck, Flensburg and Neumünster are the next largest cities. Schleswig-Holstein is a flat country (and therefore ideal for cycling). In the far west, directly on the North Sea, lies the marshland, east of which is the Geest. Adjacent to these is the Schleswig-Holstein hill country, which is actually only slightly hilly - the highest "peak" is the Bungsberg in Holstein Switzerland at 167 meters. Here it is called the Bungsberg massif.
Only a few kilometers away from the Bungsberg lie the shores of the Baltic Sea, with beautiful beaches. They sometimes have exotic names like California or Brazil and are very popular with surfers. The traditional seaside resorts are more classic, especially Travemünde with its old seaside resort architecture in the Vorderreihe, which politically belongs to Lübeck and also has a large ferry port. The place Timmendorfer beach next door is known as the most fashionable location on the coast, although the small fishing port on site is still quite rustic.
Seven islands belong to Schleswig-Holstein. Heligoland is the most famous, Sylt the most fashionable and Fehmarn the largest. The latter gets 2,100 hours of sunshine a year and offers very good conditions for water sports enthusiasts almost throughout. The other islands - Amrum, Föhr, Nordstrand and Pellworm - also all have their own individual character. The ten Halligen in the Wadden Sea are unique in the world. Unlike islands, Halligen are flooded at high tide; only the farmsteads on their small hills, the Warften, still rise out of the water. Gröde, Hooge, Langeneß, Nordstrandischmoor and Oland are inhabited all year round and look forward to vacationers who want to spend a few days on the "swimming dreams" (Theodor Storm).
Sea air is known to make people hungry, and this is probably the reason why portions in Schleswig-Holstein restaurants, inns and the ubiquitous farm cafés always seem to be somewhat more generous than elsewhere. In any case, the food here is plentiful and delicious, and of course fish and seafood in all possible variations belong on the menu: Büsum shrimp scrambled eggs, Kiel sprats, maties with jacket potatoes or cod in mustard sauce - anyone who likes seafood will be happy here. But so will those who prefer meat. Small and larger farms supply Holsteiner Katenschinken, fillet of Galloway beef, sausages and sausages and quite excellent hams. A speciality is Göösküül söötsuur, which sounds like a fancy Turkish pastry, but is a sweet and sour goose leg. Holstein sauerfleisch or pears, beans and bacon are also classics. Potatoes are served with it - they are always part of the cuisine in Schleswig-Holstein.
People like to drink beer and after dinner a schnapps, both together are called Lütt un Lütt. For a little over ten years, there has even been wine from Schleswig-Holstein. In the meantime, the vines grow on 30 hectares, which corresponds to an area of 43 soccer fields. That's quite a lot, and at the same time very little: In the other German states, the winegrowing areas are between 450 and 26,000 hectares.
Don't get confused! Plattdeutsch and Low German are two terms for the same language, and that in turn consists of many, many dialects that can vary from region to region (and sometimes even from place to place). Some things you understand immediately as a visitor (a "Katt" is a cat and an "Is" is an ice cream), others more intuitively (a cell phone is a "Sabbelknoten", a "leifiges Kind" is a lively one and a Kröger is a landlord). And then there are phrases for which tourists need translation help.
A few examples:
"haar leiper kunnt" - it could have been worse
"sai lücht ohne rot tau warrn" - she lies without blushing
"fleutjepiepen!" - That was probably nothing!
"n Hoorbüdel hebben" - to be offended
"Nokieksel" - lexicon or reference work, from nokieken, to look up. There is a very comprehensive dictionary for Plattdüütsch here.
Cover photo: Dune landscape at the Baltic Sea © Frederick Doerschem - shutterstock.com
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