It doesn’t always have to be Sylt: 10 alternatives to a luxury island

According to US magazine Time, Sylt is one of the 50 most beautiful places in the world. The reason for the enthusiasm of the Americans are the great beaches, the fine restaurants and the beautiful bicycle routes. As a Hamburger you think to yourself: “Yes, but!” Other places on the North Sea and Baltic Sea also have beautiful beaches! And Sylt really doesn’t have cycle paths and fine restaurants to itself. If you don’t want to stand between Porsche and Co. with your run-of-the-mill small car and only want to see Schicki and Micki from afar, we have ten beautiful alternatives for expensive pleasure on Sylt – with a starry sky, a memorial stone for Jimi Hendrix and one veritable nude scandal.

Cycling and stargazing on Pellworm

The Nordermühle of Pellworm IMAGO/imagebroker

Nordermühle on Pellworm
The Nordermühle of Pellworm

Welcome to the often overlooked (because there is no beach) little sister of Sylt, Amrum and Föhr: In two and a half hours you cycled around the green North Frisian island (of course faster with e-bikes), 28 kilometers, always on the outside of the dike directly along the sea . You pedal past the dyke sheep and the picturesque Nordermühle and can see the Halligen over long distances. Incidentally, the west side of Pellworm is the best place to enjoy the sunset. The view of the night sky from Pellworm is something very special: because while Sylt has many star restaurants, you can see the real Milky Way on Pellworm! The sparsely populated island in the middle of the Wadden Sea National Park has such low light pollution that it was officially recognized as a star island by the International Dark Sky Association in 2021.

Go out for a chic meal on the Flensburg Fjord

The “Meierei Dirk Luther” restaurant in the 5-star superior hotel “Alter Meierhof” in Glücksburg (yes, luxury can also be found beyond Kampen!) has been consistently awarded two stars by the Michelin Guide since 2008. You sit in a fine ambience, enjoy the modern French cuisine from chef de cuisine Dirk Luther – known as the humorous TV chef from the Schleswig-Holstein magazine – and look across the Flensburg Fjord to Denmark. Particularly exclusive: the tables are made from 100-year-old Baltic Sea jetties!

Hotel Alter Meierhof on the Flensburg Fjord private/fre

Hotel Alter Meierhof on the Flensburg Fjord
The Hotel Alter Meierhof is located on the Flensburg Fjord

Play millionaire in Timmendorfer Strand

“Full the rich bitch area,” said a teenage girl appreciatively in the summer, looking at one of the beach clubs on Timmendorfer Strand. Yes, Sylt has no exclusive claim to magnum bottles of bubbly for several thousand euros and cocky guests, the Bay of Lübeck can also be posh: in Timmendorfer Strand. If you want to bask in the glamor a bit, go to the “Café Engelseck”, which has been known as “Café Important” for decades and for good reason. For a few years, Til Schweiger ran his “Barefoot Hotel” in the Kurpark (which is now called “Cozy Hotel” and has nothing to do with Schweiger anymore), and Udo Lindenberg stands as a sculpture on the dunes. Schorsch Kamerun, founder of the punk band The Golden Lemons, was one of the village punks of Timmendorfer Strand in the early 80s and author Heinz Strunk (“Meat is my vegetables”) dedicates his latest novel to the unglamorous part of Timmendorfer Strand: “Ein Sommer in Niendorf ”. Jürgen Hunke, millionaire and ex-HSV president, delights his adopted country with a distinct obsession with Asia, which manifests itself in a Buddha garden on the promenade and the tea pavilion on the pier, which he paid for.

Jürgen Hunke’s signature: The Hamburg millionaire gives his adopted home of Timmendorfer Strand an Asian flair imago

Mikado Garden in Timmendorfer Strand
Jürgen Hunke’s signature: The Hamburg millionaire gives his adopted home of Timmendorfer Strand an Asian flair.

California Dreaming on the Bay of Lübeck

Well, on Sylt it looks a bit like the Hamptons, the summer resort of rich New Yorkers, which is why Roman Polanski also transformed List into Martha’s Vineyard for his Hollywood film “The Ghostwriter”. But: The Bay of Lübeck has California! And Brazil! The two tranquil towns are located on the Baltic Sea beach in the district of Plön and date back to 1745, at least that’s what the town’s sailor’s yarn says: In that year, a ship called “Califonia” is said to have run aground. A fisherman nailed a plank to his crochet with the words ‘California’ written on it – and his brother, not wanting to be inferior, named his croft down the narrow beach ‘Brazil’. California is now a small seaside resort whose town sign is often stolen. Brazil has barely 20 inhabitants and consists of only a few holiday homes and a popular campsite.

Soak up the sun on Fehmarn

While vacationers on Sylt keep emphasizing how great it is that the weather changes three times a day and that you can go for a walk on the beach even in rain and storms, the guests on Fehmarn leisurely turn their beach chairs a bit more into the sun. Together with Usedom, the island is one of the sunniest places in Germany. There is still enough wind: Fehmarn is considered the cradle of kitesurfing in Germany and is one of the most beautiful surfing areas on the German Baltic Sea. And if Sylt has “Die Ärzte”, Fehmarn has a memorial stone at the site of Jimi Hendrix’s last open-air concert. Fehmarn doesn’t have to duck behind Sylt when it comes to the “location for popular TV thriller” either: if “Nord Nord murder” is investigated on the North Sea, the fictional little town of Schwanitz from “Nord bei Nordwest” is partly on Fehmarn. The boat of the investigating veterinarian Hauke ​​Jacobs is in the port of Orth. Traveling to Fehmarn by train is currently somewhat uncomfortable: from Neustadt you have to change to buses. Reason: The old Fehmarn Sound Bridge is closed to rail traffic, a new crossing for trains will only be ready in several years.

Jimi Hendrix memorial stone on Flügger Strand on Fehmarn dpa | Markus Scholz

Jimi Hendrix memorial stone
The Jimi Hendrix memorial stone on Flügger Strand on Fehmarn

Top campsite and famous villa in Kuehlungsborn

Once a year, the camping portal awards the most popular campsites in Europe – and the Campingpark Kühlungsborn (Rostock district) with its fantastic pitches on the beach always comes out on top. One of the best-known properties on the Baltic Sea coast is also located in the middle of the seaside resort: The “Villa Baltic”, a magnificent villa with sea views, which was built in 1910/12 for the judiciary Wilhelm Hausmann, later became a home for Jewish vacationers, temporarily for the Goebbels Foundation belonged to, was a GDR convalescent home and gradually became a “lost place” after reunification. The current owners want to turn it into a hotel, but this is taking longer because the residents of Kuehlungsborn want to keep the villa’s garden as a public park.

Morbid charm: the “Villa Baltic” in Kuehlungsborn / Florian Quandt

Villa Baltic
Morbid charm: the “Villa Baltic” in Kuehlungsborn

Ahrenshoop and “the old sow”

Sylt has Thomas Mann, who wrote in the guest book in 1927 after his vacation in the “House Kliffende” in Kampen: “I lived deeply on this shattering sea.” Very stately. But Ahrenshoop, the artists’ village on the Darß peninsula, has Anna Seghers, who caused a nudist scandal in 1951 in a much more entertaining way than the great writer. At that time, the writer was sunbathing naked on the beach, which made the president of the “Culture Association for the Democratic Renewal of Germany” exclaim indignantly: “Aren’t you ashamed, you old pig?” formally with “Love Anna…” when the grande dame of GDR literature interrupted him: “For you still the old sow.” When it comes to picturesque thatched roof houses, Ahrenshoop can also easily keep up with Keitum.

Dream under thatch: The Kunstkaten in the Baltic Sea resort of Ahrenshoop dpa picture radio

The Kunstkaten in the Baltic Sea resort of Ahrenshoop
Dream under thatch: the art cottage in the Baltic Sea resort of Ahrenshoop on the Darf

Yes, Sylt has five lighthouses and yes, they are really pretty and very Instagrammable. But you can only visit the Hörnumer from the inside and only after registering in good time. The lighthouse at Darßer Ort in the Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park, on the other hand, is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the season and whoever has managed the 126 steps can see the Baltic Sea, the Caribbean-white Darßer west beach (which, by the way, is repeatedly voted one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe will!) and look at the unspoilt Darßwald from a height of 29 meters. The spectacular panorama is a nice reward for the journey: you can only get there on foot, by bike or in a horse-drawn carriage. Next to the lighthouse is the Natureum, a branch of the German Maritime Museum in Stralsund.

The Darsser Ort lighthouse in the Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park dpa central image | Bernd Wustneck

Lighthouse Darsser Ort
The Darsser Ort lighthouse in the Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft National Park

International cycling on Usedom

Okay, on Sylt you can cycle through the dunes for a very long time, from Hörnum to List, but you always stay on Sylt. On Usedom you cycle on a spectacularly well-developed cycle path through the imperial baths (“Ahlbeck, Heringsdorf, Bansin, the bathtub of Berlin”), white villas on the right, the beach on the left – and at some point there are two metal steles that indicate the border with Poland. The cyclists stand in line for a souvenir photo and then we continue. If you want, pedal to Swinemünde.

Beautifully wide and with a sea view: the coastal cycle path on Usedom leads to Swinoujscie private/fre

Cycle path on Usedom
Beautifully wide and with a sea view: the coastal cycle path on Usedom leads to Swinoujscie.

Ueckermünde: Dream Haff beautiful

Deep in the east, on the Szczecin Lagoon, lies the “Haffbad Ueckermünde”, once praised as a “cheap bathing resort for working people looking for relaxation”. In three years, 2026, the seaside resort will celebrate its 200th anniversary. The mighty willow that provides shade on the beach is probably only a little younger. Advantage: While the surf of Westerland is still freezing cold, the shallow lagoon, which is shielded from the Baltic Sea by Usedom, has already warmed up to bathtub temperature.

Mighty willow at the Haffbad Ueckermünde private/fre

Haffbad Ueckermuende
Mighty willow at the Haffbad Ueckermünde

The town of Ueckermünde (the lighthouse at the mouth of the Uecker is just eleven meters high) has been able to call itself a state-approved resort since 2001. If you want to be really secluded and contemplative, you can rent a place in the Riether Winkel on the Szczecin Lagoon, where listed, abandoned houses in a small village – location: somewhere in the middle of nowhere – have been renovated in proper style and converted into charming holiday homes.

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