Stargazing on Sylt

September 14, 2011 by

Things To Do

The traditional thatched-roof houses of Kampen on Sylt
- photo courtesy of Noop1958 via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to see Germany’s A-list at play, head for the North Sea island of Sylt. In summer you can rub shoulders with a spectrum of luminaries ranging from the internationally famous to faces only the keenest German daytime TV viewer will recognize.

They come to see and be seen, certainly, but also to experience untouched landscapes and the briny tang of North Sea breezes without sacrificing comfort. In the exclusive village of Kampen you’ll see luxury car dealerships and boutiques under traditional thatched roofs. The combination of rugged, sandy expanses and upscale facilities here can make it seem like the Swiss Family Robinson took half of Zurich along with them on their travels.

There are museums and historic churches, but Sylt is really all about the coastline. Look at a map of the island and you’ll see there’s barely a hinterland to speak of. The leeward coasts near the northern and southern tips of the island offer gentle bathing suitable for children, while the wilder sea coast stretches for 22 miles and includes a clothes-optional beach. Even on this popular island you can find a relatively quiet spot to recline in a distinctive “strandkorb”, a beach chair of robust construction with a moveable canopy allowing protection from wind and/or sun.

Sylt is joined to the mainland by a thin causeway and there’s also a dinky airport, just the right size for your private jet. But it’s not all Prada, Porsches, and valet parking: come armed with a tent and a modest fee and you can enjoy spectacular scenery in one of seven dedicated campsites. And looking up on a clear night might be all the star-spotting you need: with little light or air pollution, Sylt’s nocturnal sky is a dazzling cosmic display.

- James Conway

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