Kieler Woche © TA.SH© TA.SH

Must See

There are a lot of attractions in Schleswig-Holstein which are unique.

Watch the amazing dream liners and ocean-going giants next to you at the Kiel Canal. Visit the Kiel Week and enjoy the world’s biggest sailing event and also the biggest summer festival in Northern Europe.  Discover one of the last major, comparatively undisturbed natural landscapes in Central Europe, the Wadden Sea and feel the mudflat between your toes. Experience two languages and two cultures in the far north of Germany in Flensburg with its small and colourful fishermen’s houses, old markets and squares. You won´t be bored in this varied land between the seas.

Schleswig-Hol­stein's high­lights


The Wadden Sea Natural World Heritage Site extends along the entire North Sea coast. Schleswig-Holstein’s section of the Wadden Sea reaches from the mouth of the River Elbe up to the Danish border by the island of Sylt. This North Sea coastline, some 450 kilometres in length, is the largest cohesive tidal flats landscape in the world and, similar to the high Alps, one of the last major, comparatively undisturbed natural landscapes in Central Europe. This is why Schleswig-Holstein designated the Wadden area a national park in 1985, providing it with the highest degree of protection possible for a region. And in June 2009 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, giving it equal status to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Grand Canyon in the USA. The Wadden Sea Natural World Heritage Site consists of tidal mudflats, natural channels, dunes and salt marshes which together create a fantastic and absolutely unique natural spectacle.

Twice a day the tide recedes, flowing out through the channels and leaving the mudflats exposed until the sea covers them again. The Wadden region is home to an incredibly rich flora and fauna. No less than 250 species of animals and plants can be found only here in the Wadden Sea and nowhere else in the world. Thanks to the immensely rich food supply, the water that quickly warms up in spring and the absence of large predatory fish in the areas subject to the tides, the Wadden Sea is the ideal nursery for all species of North Sea fish and an important “filling station” for migratory birds. The islands of Amrum and Sylt form the boundary to a calving and nursing area for harbour porpoises. Some 6,000 porpoises reside in these waters. Such large groups are to be found nowhere else and, on windless days when the tide is going out, it’s not uncommon for whole families of them to dive and surface again in clear sight just off the shore.

The Wadden Sea is an impressive and matchless natural spectacle where the local plants and animals show unique adaptability. It is the place where the sky and the earth share the same stage!

 © die Lübecker Museen / Michael Hayden© die Lübecker Museen / Michael Hayden

Lübeck, the queen of the Hanseatic towns, was founded in 1143 as the “Occidental city on the Baltic coast” and almost 900 years later, in 1987, was designated by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Even today much of the city possesses a medieval ambience and many cultural-historical sights, recalling its great past as a free imperial and Hanseatic city. With its superb red-brick Gothic buildings, imposing churches, winding alleys, the historic old-town island and of course the world-famous Holsten Gate, a visit to Lübeck is an unforgettable experience for fans of culture, history and the maritime lifestyle!

The Holsten Gate is Lübeck’s trademark and probably the most famous city gate in Germany. The German Association of Cities chose it as a symbol – and marzipan manufacturers and other Lübeck enterprises as a trademark. The Holsten Gate was built by Hinrich Helmstede, master builder of the Lübeck city council, between 1464 and 1478. It housed 30 cannons, which however never fired a shot, and originally the gate could be closed by two gate wings. Nowadays Lübeck’s famous landmark also serves as a museum. In the exhibition entitled “The Power of Trade”, the history of Lübeck as a thriving Hanseatic city is presented in seven themed rooms.


Flensburg lies in the far north of Germany. In fact, you can’t get much further north and stay in the country. No other town in Schleswig-Holstein has such Scandinavian charm: small and colourful fishermen’s houses, old markets and squares, sun-yellow captain’s and merchant’s courtyards, venerable schooners, old steamers. Here you will experience two languages, two cultures, but a shared history. For 400 years Flensburg belonged to the Danish crown. That has left plenty of traces and created an exciting diversity of cultures that continues today – for the town, the country and the fjord.

Flensburg is the number one shopping town between Hamburg and Copenhagen. If you go on a shopping trip here you’ll benefit from the unique cultural mix, can fill your shopping bags with German and Danish trend articles, stroll through glazed arcades, admire cosmopolitan window displays and discover romantic courtyards. Look forward to quirky tattoo parlours and a wealth of small specialty, art, design and antique shops which liven up the town and fire the imagination of visitors.

In the Christmas season the citizens of Flensburg transform their city into a sea of lights. The aromas of cinnamon, hot punch and fried sausage waft seductively through the air, and in little Christmas stalls traders present craft works of both German and Danish design – from north to south and from market to market, all through the city. The Kapitänsweg or Captain’s Trail is another feature that leads you right through the city. It starts at the Harbour Museum, the landing jetty for old sailing ships, and leads past the Maritime Museum. As you walk along the alleys you will sense the ambience of bygone centuries: barrels full of rum, tarred rigging, salty air. The port city was home to a brisk trade that extended all over the world.

Today Flensburg is Schleswig-Holstein’s third largest city and its most successful manufacturing location. It’s not just driver penalty points and the revolutionary eroticism of sex-shop founder Beate Uhse that come from Flensburg: it’s also where the largest silverware manufacturer in the world, Robbe & Berking, manufactures its fine table silver and where the Flensburg shipyard builds the famous RoRo ships. Flensburg is home to the famous "beer with a pop!“ (referring to the sound of the swing top bottles), fine rum from the Caribbean, top-quality paper, and plenty more...

Kieler Woche © TA.SH© TA.SH

Kiel Week, or ‘Kieler Woche’ in German, the world’s biggest sail event and also the biggest summer festival in Northern Europe, is visited every year by some 3 million guests from all over the world. Each year at the end of June, world champions and Olympic victors demonstrate their top-level sailing skills at Kiel Week. But it’s not only about high-level sport: the event also presents sailing in all its fascinating aspects. During the nine-day event the centre of Kiel and the area around Kiel Fjord are transformed into a huge public festival. Live bands play on various stages and international top acts provide music and entertainment for all tastes and the children’s ‘Kiellinie’ event puts the focus on fun for younger visitors. The spectacular firework displayed on the final evening is a closing highlight.

Travemünde Week, or ‘Travemünder Woche’ in German, takes place in Lübeck Bay and once again earns its status as a top sailing event in Germany with competitions for 2,000 active yachtsmen from 20 nations. Travemünde Week is a week of high-quality sailing competitions on the water, a great festival on land, and much more besides... The world’s most attractive regatta takes place each year at the end of July and this international sailing festival is a unique experience for ‘landlubbers’ too. Watch the sporting events directly from the beach or go on a regatta-accompanying cruise. Experience the beach parties and enjoy the rich diversity of music, cabaret and international culinary specialties.


Beaches that stretch for kilometers, unique dune landscapes, skimming sand yachts and houses built on stilts – this is what many people associate with St. Peter-Ording, the biggest settlement of the Eiderstedt peninsula on the North Sea coast. These images are the result of numerous portrayals in German TV series and films. The amazing natural scenery has inspired countless artists, writers and of course holidaymakers. Spend some time on the incredible beach, twelve kilometers long and two kilometers wide, and discover how words like ‘expanse’ and ‘space’ take on a completely new meaning. There is plenty of room here for the active and sporty, quiet walkers and nature fans without anyone treading on someone else’s toes. It’s not only amateur sportspeople who indulge in kite surfing, wind surfing, sand yachting and beach volleyball here – it’s also where the world sporting elites meet for their world championships.

The traditional stilt houses can be seen from far away, standing high above the water, braving every storm and tide. They can be found in every section of the beach and provide protection from the waves for restaurants and lounges, as well as the DLRG, the German Life Saving Association. The first stilt house was constructed in St. Peter-Ording in 1911 – although this first example was far from stable. Today 15 stilt houses stand on the beach, on sturdy tree piles that are anchored some 5 metres deep in the ground and have cross-braces to provide protection from ice floes as well. The stilt houses have become the emblem of St. Peter-Ording and are a favorite with both young and old.

 © Kur- und Tourismusservice Pellworm© Kur- und Tourismusservice Pellworm

All of North Frisia is on fire, so to speak, when the biike fires burn along the coast and on the larger and smaller islands. Every year the spirits of winter are chased off with the burning beacons and hot punch on 21 February, followed up by a hearty kale meal in cosy restaurants.

‘Biikebrennen’ is one of the oldest North Frisian customs. The biike (Sylt Frisian dialect for “beacon”) goes back to heathen times: it is said that the sacrificial fires were lit to placate the god Wodan as long as 2000 years ago. In later times, the biike fires were on the larger islands and the smaller Hallig islands to bid farewell to departing whalers. The women who remained behind kindled the fires along the beach to provide their seafaring men with a supporting beacon for as long as possible.

Nowadays the fires are accompanied by various customs in the individual towns and villages. Sometimes straw dummies are burned, for instance, or the celebrations are extended to 22 February in places such as Sylt.

 © NordArt im Kunstwerk Carlshütte© NordArt im Kunstwerk Carlshütte

Superb castles and manor houses, barns and stables, as well as the finest churches and industrial buildings – every year in summer they all join the list of atmospheric venues for music performances. Ever since its inception in 1986, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival (SHMF) has been an internationally outstanding cultural event.

From 1996 to 2013, the artistic concept of the SHMF was to select a feature country for each year and highlight its music and culture. This took the festival around the globe; from Finland to Japan, from the USA to Russia. With the new director, Dr. Christian Kuhnt, the festival was blazing new trails in 2014 by highlighting a specific composer for each year. The SHMF seeks to build bridges between music and people, to joyfully connect artists with the festival and to give audiences access to great musicians.


Gottorf Castle, situated on an island in the Schlei inlet of the Baltic Sea, is home to Schleswig-Holstein’s two state museums: the State Museum of Art and Cultural History with works from the High Middle Ages to contemporary art, and the State Archaeological Museum, the archive for 120,000 years of history in the state and a showcase for current research. The foundation also includes six further museums, including the popular Hedeby Viking Museum.

Take a tour around Gottorf Castle and experience a thousand years of Schleswig-Holstein’s cultural history. The route takes you from the originally preserved “Gothic Hall” with mediaeval sacred art to the Classical Modern works of the Horn Collection as well as contemporary art.

The Gottorf Castle State Archaeological Museum is an archive for 120,000 years of history in the state and a showcase for current research.

To the north of the castle lies Northern Europe’s earliest terraced garden. This also contains the “modern Globe House” with the Gottorf Globe, a walk-in planetarium. The Gottorf Globe, which is over three metres in height and can be entered by visitors, is the world’s very first planetarium and thus of outstanding scientific importance. It’s a magnificent piece of work, painted in a colourful manner according to the style and knowledge of the historical age! You enter the huge globe by means of a small stair and a door with a coat of arms. When visitors sit on the bench the historical globe revolves around them, presenting them with the painted map of star constellations. It’s a wonderful experience!

 © McArthurGlen© McArthurGlen

Right by the A7 motorway and just 40 minutes from Hamburg and 30 minutes from Kiel, situated in beautiful Schleswig-Holstein, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Neumünster presents a unique shopping experience. In a wide range of designer stores you will find everything the fashion-loving heart could desire – from a captivating selection of designer fashion, shoes and jewellery to elegant homeware and trendy sports articles. And the best thing about it: all year round, all the designer items are available for prices 30 to 70 per cent cheaper than the recommended retail prices. Designer Outlet Neumünster gives you a relaxed shopping atmosphere with modern design combined with regional architecture. It’s the ideal place for fashion lovers to discover the latest fashion trends together with exclusive designer labels.

 © Gerald Hänel / GARP© Gerald Hänel / GARP

The Kiel Canal links the North Sea with the Baltic Sea between the towns of Brunsbüttel and Kiel, saving ships the longer route around the north tip of Denmark. The world’s busiest artificial waterway was opened in 1895 and was originally called the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Canal, but in 1948 it was renamed the ‘North Sea-Baltic Sea Canal’ in German and is known as the Kiel Canal in English.

Every day some 110 ships sail along the 98.7 kilometer canal. If you would like to experience the waterway from a mariner’s perspective you can explore the canal and its idyllic backwaters on board an excursion ship or the paddle steamer Freya. Between May and October dream liners and ocean-going giants pass through the Kiel Canal. At such moments spectators find grandstand places along the banks of the canal where they can watch the liners glide past them like floating palaces.

Travelling from Brunsbüttel on the North Sea coast to Kiel on the Baltic Sea coast, the ships sail through Schleswig-Holstein past blooming meadows and charming little towns. At the ship welcoming station right next to the Rendsburg High Bridge, all the ships are announced and greeted with their flag and national anthem.

If you take a trip into the fine countryside of the canal’s hinterland you can make interesting and exciting discoveries in the realms of technology and engineering, cultural history, nature and fisheries. A special tip for cyclists: try out the NOK Route. Cosy restaurants and cafés with a view of the canal offer visitors refreshments and rest, while comfortable hotels and holiday homes let you spend longer in the canal region. Moreover, there is a wealth of further attractions such as farms, pony stables, hostels where you sleep in hay, swimming baths, animal parks and nature parks to increase your holiday and leisure fun.

 © Oliver Franke© Oliver Franke

Schleswig-Holstein is always worth a visit. But especially in December it is unique: During Christmas time many cities in Schleswig-Holstein set up charming Christmas markets. From the North Sea to the Baltic Sea, come and join us in December.

One of our well-known specialties is mulled wine or punch. You should also try roasted almonds or delicious baked apples. Experience old customs or find yourself shopping traditional leather goods, knit goods and enjoy activities you can do here with your kids. We are pleased to present you four of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Schleswig-Holstein.

In Flensburg you can discover the Christmas market from Südermarkt to Nordermarkt. It is influenced by its Scandinavian neighbor Denmark. A real highlight is the “Rote Straße” (‘Red Street’ in English) with all the lights and beautiful Christmas stalls.

You might as well visit the Christmas market in Kiel, the capital of Schleswig-Holstein. Enjoy the relaxed and maritime atmosphere on one of the various Christmas markets in Kiel. It is well-known for an international flair because the partner cities Tallinn, Gdynia and Kaliningrad present products, food and drinks from their home countries. Another highlight is the ice skating ring which is installed in front of the Cruise Terminal Ostseekai and organized by the Stadtwerke ice festival. Your children will be delighted.

In the Hanseatic city Lübeck you find many Christmas and craft markets. One of the Christmas markets is located in the historic part of the city. The traditional market is set in Lübeck's wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site. Still no idea for Christmas presents? Take a look at the Christmas stalls on Markt and Breite Straße. Here you'll definitely find unique presents for your family and friends.

Another charming place to go is the Christmas market in Husum (only in German). The city at the North Sea is beautifully decorated and there are many events for everyone of every age.

Now you just have to decide which one you would like to visit first.

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