Every year, the US magazine “Time” chooses the 50 best travel destinations in the world. A popular German island is also among the winners this year. We present the “World’s Greatest Places 2023”.
Which places should you definitely visit once? Not an easy question at all, with seven continents and 195 countries in the world. For new travel inspiration, the US American “Time” magazine compiles a list of the “World’s Greatest Places” every year.
For this year’s ranking, employees and correspondents of the cult magazine have nominated places “that offer new and exciting experiences”. The result is a list of 50 destinations from all over the world that are worth a visit in 2023 – from individual cities and regions to entire islands and countries.
From a German perspective, there is one placement: Sylt is among the top 50 – the only destination in this country. let’s find out why.
Sylt Key facts at a glance
- Sylt is the northernmost German island, the fourth largest island in Germany & the largest North Frisian island
- Sylt has about 15,000 inhabitants – most live in Westerland
- On the east side of the island is the Watt, which belongs to the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park
- The greeting on the island is a nice “Moin!” at any time of the day.
- On Sylt, Frisian is the second official language alongside German
- 50% of Schleswig-Holstein’s heathland is on Sylt
- The beach on the west coast alone is 40 km long
The weather on Sylt
The island has a typical maritime climate, which is influenced by the Gulf Stream. This means that in winter the temperature rarely drops below zero degrees, but the weather in summer is slightly cooler than on the neighboring mainland at around 17 degrees on average.
How to get to the island
From Sylt there is no connection to the mainland with a tunnel or a bridge. The island can be reached by car with the Sylt shuttle. This is a Deutsche Bahn car transport train. The trains run between Niebüll and Westerland via the Hindenburgdamm. The parking spaces on the trains can also be reserved.
An alternative is to take the Sylt ferry, which runs from Havneby on the Danish island of Rømø to List. Sylt also has its own airport.
Things to do on the Sylt Island, Germany
Almost 18,000 people live on Sylt, almost half of them in Westerland. The other eleven places are called List, Kampen, Braderup, Wenningstedt, Munkmarsch, Tinnum, Keitum, Morsum, Archsum, Hörnum and Rantum.
Rantum is located at the thinnest part of the island – only about 550 meters separate the North Sea from the Wadden Sea. Bathing in the North Sea is particularly popular with families in Wenningstedt-Braderup, and holidaymakers in Keitum like to stroll along the traditional Frisian houses.
Archsum is the smallest town on the island today, but has been inhabited since the Stone Age. There is a lot to discover for professional and hobby archaeologists.
The Braderup Heath around Braderup with the White Cliff is a nature reserve. Sheep are among themselves in this natural paradise on the Wadden Sea.
Excursion boats operate from Hörnum, with which you can explore the fascinating world of the North Frisian Islands and Halligen. Incidentally, the port of Sylt’s southernmost place was once a whaling base.
Kampen has the highest mountain on the island with the Uwe Dune and Germany’s northernmost shopping mile with the Strönwai. Formerly agricultural, Kampen has long since developed into one of the most exclusive holiday resorts on the North Sea.
Keitum used to be the capital of the island. With its traditional Frisian houses, the place still offers real Sylt flair for connoisseurs.
Germany’s only oyster farm is operated in List. Surfers and kiters can let off steam in the Königshafen, while the Ellenbogen and the Lister dunes offer unique nature experiences.
In Morsum the Sylt dialect Sölring is still spoken today. The Morsum cliff not only offers a beautiful backdrop, but is also a highlight for geologists thanks to numerous fossils.
Travelers to Sylt arrive earlier by ferry in Munkmarsch, The port still offers a great maritime atmosphere.
In Rantum it is only a few hundred meters from the west beach to the Wadden Sea in the east. In the west you will find stretches of beach with such evocative names as Samoa or Zanzibar, on the mudflats with the Rantum basin a fascinating bird sanctuary.
Tinnum has a real attraction for young and old with the Tinnumer Zoo. The 2000-year-old Tinnumburg allows an exciting look into the past.
The famous red cliff starts directly at Wenningstedt. The North Sea resort with the pretty village pond is very popular with families.
Westerland has a six-kilometer beach promenade. Other attractions of the island’s capital include the aquarium and a large spa.
On to the pirate trip
The spectacle is repeated almost every day: young, dangerous-looking pirates are ganging up in the port of List. They wear red headscarves and red and white striped shirts. Waving their sabers, they storm the venerable excursion boat “Gret Palucca”, capture the captain and set sail with the conquered ship. The ride is suitable for children between the ages of four and fourteen. She and her adult “chief pirate” are the main characters.
Parents are allowed to ride – but at their own risk: sometimes they are tied up or assigned to scrub the deck. The pirate ship leaves at 4:15 p.m. almost every day in summer. The cruise lasts around two hours and costs 23 euros per child and just under 30 euros for adults. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
Waves, wind and climate
How far do shifting dunes move? How does storm force ten feel on the skin? In the adventure center natural forces in List on Sylt, everything revolves around waves, wind and climate. The strikingly asymmetrical bright blue building with the orange tower cannot be overlooked.
If you like, you can also savor the forces of the North Sea in a storm room, generate waves and wind in a wave channel, simulate high and low tide and use a flood model to observe what happens to Sylt when the sea level rises.
Coffee on Sylt
Pink flowers all around, the view sweeps over the Wadden Sea. Between swaying maritime pines, the mild scent of coffee drifts over lovingly set terrace tables. The “Kupferkanne” café on the outskirts of Kampen and in the middle of nature has been an institution on Sylt since it was created by the artist Günther Rieck from an old anti-aircraft gun position more than 50 years ago. The sheet cakes are excellent and huge, as is the coffee. No wonder: the in-house roastery produces the different blends.
Carriage ride through Keitum
Keitum is indisputably the most beautiful village on the island of Sylt. This is ensured by ancient thatched houses, blue and red front doors and well-tended flower gardens. The easiest way to get an overview is to climb into a horse-drawn carriage. A new tour starts every hour. Every Wednesday and Sunday at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., a wagon ride through Keitum starts at the town entrance.
Cheese on Sylt
The “Frisian cheese shop” (Siidik 6, Sylt-Ost) is idyllically situated in the meadows south of Keitum. They can explains which of their cheeses are made from goats, sheep and cows and which farm in North Friesland it comes from. They know them all.
Most chees is organic, especially the famous goat’s cream cheese. To round things off, the Sylterin also packs olives, pickled tomatoes and hearty organic bread on the plate.
Find Nemo on Sylt
Westerland has one of the most spectacular aquariums in Germany. The visitor experiences the Wadden Sea, the Atlantic and the South Seas there. More than 2,000 fish cavort in the 25 seawater pools. In the underwater tunnel, colorful tropical fish glide over the heads of the visitors. Two shark tunnels provide adrenaline rushes. The highlight is a 500,000 liter coral world.
The exciting world of the seas is joined by an outdoor area with a fun sports course, miniature golf course and adventure playground. Admission for young people and adults costs 17 euros. Children (four to 15 years) pay 10 euros.
Break in Zanzibar
For more than 40 years, Zanzibar has been a tremendously successful curiosity. The large shack in the dunes between Rantum and Hörnum offers exquisite gourmet cuisine in the ambience of a ski hut.
How is that possible? One marvels at the armada of chefs, admires the fast and casual service, looks in awe at the booming wine trade, which the host Herbert Seckler has also housed in the cellar of the hut.
Apparently, the Swabian knows better than anyone not to let the mass onslaught lead to mass processing. Whether millionaire celebrity or just for the first time on Sylt: Everyone is treated and served in the same friendly way. And at least at noon you can usually get a seat somehow.
Beach walk in the evening light
Hörnum-Odde is the name of the southern tip of Sylt. Well, actually it’s more of a sand semicircle. Walking barefoot all around there takes just over an hour and makes the full power of the sea clear. Because before the eyes of the beach walker, the seas meet, surf and current forces have the strongest effect. With luck you can see seals at low tide.
If you don’t like hiking alone, you can join a tour from the “Wadden Sea Protection Station” and learn, for example, that the hike used to take twice as long – that’s how much the Blanke Hans, a name for the raging North Sea, gnaws at the sandy beach.
Sylt is among the top 50 World’s Greatest Places 2023
Last year, Germany was not on Time’s best places list. This year, a popular holiday island made it into the top 50. The magazine chose the island of Sylt as one of the “World’s Best Places 2023”.
What German travelers have long appreciated has also arrived in the USA: the North Sea island is known as a “picturesque travel destination for luxurious short breaks”, above all with its long beaches, full of the characteristic blue and white striped wicker beach chairs.
Based on the US celebrity hotspot, Sylt is also described as the “Hamptons of Hamburg“. The region at the east end of Long Island, about 130 kilometers from New York City, is considered a Mecca for the super-rich who have weekend or summer residences there. Hamptons real estate prices are among the highest in the world. Well-known owners include Mariah Carey, Steven Spielberg, Tiger Woods, Jennifer Lopez and Calvin Klein.
However, Time magazine also points out that the island’s villages are easy to explore on foot or by electric bike. In addition, the island does a lot in terms of nature conservation to preserve the Wadden Sea.
It is praised that the sheltered stretch of coast at Ellenbogen near the Danish border charges a small fee, which is used to fund beach erosion measures.
New resorts like the Lanserhof Sylt would blend harmoniously into the landscape and hide new medical technologies under low thatched roofs. Here, too, it is clear that the magazine perceives Sylt primarily as a luxury destination, as the hotel is one of the most expensive in Germany.
The prices for a double room start at just under 800 euros, plus there are obligatory costs for the cure of at least 2900 euros per week. This is also much cheaper on the island – read a few of our tips.
Finally, US magazine commends that “guests are encouraged to shake the sand off their shoes before they leave.” Incidentally, the “Time” does not mention one thing: Building sand castles is also forbidden on Sylt, so as not to loosen the soil again and again. Because then the sand would be washed away faster.