Sylt is an island in northern Germany, part of Nordfriesland district, Schleswig-Holstein, and well known for the distinctive shape of its shoreline. It belongs to the North Frisian Islands and is the largest island in North Frisia. The northernmost island of Germany, it is known for its tourist resorts, notably Westerland, Kampen and Wenningstedt-Braderup, as well as for its 40-kilometre-long sandy beach. It is frequently covered by the media in connection with its exposed situation in the North Sea and its ongoing loss of land during storm tides. Since 1927, Sylt has been connected to the mainland by the Hindenburgdamm causeway. In latter years, it has been a resort for the German jet set and tourists in search of occasional celebrity sighting.
With 99.14 square kilometres, Sylt is the fourth-largest German island and the largest German island in the North Sea. Sylt is located from 9 to 16 kilometres off the mainland, to which it is connected by the Hindenburgdamm. Southeast of Sylt are the islands of Föhr and Amrum, to the north lies the Danish island of Rømø. The island of Sylt extends for 38 kilometres in a north-south direction. At its northern point at Königshafen, it is only 320 metres wide. Its greatest width, from the town of Westerland in the west to the eastern Nössespitze near Morsum, measures 12.6 kilometres. On the western and northwestern shore, there is a 40-kilometre-long sandy beach. To the east of Sylt, is the Wadden Sea, which belongs to the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea National Park and mostly falls dry during low tide.
The island's shape has constantly shifted over time, a process which is still ongoing today. The northern and southern spits of Sylt are exclusively made up of infertile sand deposits, while the central part with the municipalities of Westerland, Wenningstedt-Braderup and Sylt-Ost consists of a geestland core, which becomes apparent in the form of the Red Cliff of Wenningstedt. The geestland facing the Wadden Sea gradually turns into fertile marshland around Sylt-Ost. Today sources show that Sylt has only been an island since the Grote Mandrenke flood of 1362. The so-called Uwe-Düne (Uwe Dune) is the island's highest elevation with 52.5 metres above sea level.
On Sylt, a marine climate influenced by the Gulf stream is predominant. With an average of 2 °C, winter months are slightly milder than on the mainland, summer months though, with a median of 17 °C, are somewhat cooler, despite a longer sunshine period. The annual average sunshine period on Sylt is 4.4 hours per day. It is due to the low relief of the shoreline that Sylt had a total of 1,899 hours of sunshine, 180 hours above the German average. Clouds cannot accumulate as quickly and are generally scattered by the constant westerly or northwesterly winds.
The annual mean temperature is 8.5 °C. The annually averaged wind speed measures 6.7 m/s, predominantly from western directions. The annual rainfall amounts to about 650 millimetres.
Sylt features an oceanic climate that is influenced by the Gulf Stream. On average, the winter season is slightly warmer than in mainland Nordfriesland. The summer season, however, is cooler despite of longer sunshine periods. The yearly average sunshine period is greater than 4.4 hours per day with some years exceeding the average sunshine for all of Germany. Also precipitation is lower than on the mainland. This is due to the low relief of Sylt's shoreline where clouds are not able to accumulate and rain off.
The small airport (IATA: GWT) on the island offers flights to and from mostly domestic destinations. Operations are mostly seasonal.
After Germany lost its harbour with direct Sylt connections due to World War I, some other mode of transportation to the island had to be found and with neither air nor car travel commonplace a railway only dam was the logical consequence. The Hindenburgdamm (named for the rather infamous conservative/reactionary Reichspräsident that made Hitler chancellor in 1933) has connected the island to the mainland ever since and remains railway only, although some trains do transport cars. There are several connections by train from Hamburg, via Itzehoe. During the summer season, regular Intercity trains offer direct connections to most of Germany.
Similar to most other North Frisian islands, Sylt allows cars and there are several options of getting your car on the island, though driving it yourself isn't one of them. As mentioned above you can take the car ferry from Rømø. The other two options both utilize the causeway:
Sylt Ferry, ☎ +49 461 864-601, runs a year-round ferry from Havneby on the island of Rømø to List on the northern part of Sylt. It may be cheaper and/or more convenient than taking the train, especially if your final destination is on the northern part of the island €48.30 for a car €8.10 for a single adult; discounts for round trips and frequent travel.
Bus is the easiest although bikes are also popular. On the bus a family ticket for 3 days all over the island is about €40.
Almost every restaurant on the island is seafood, with the fish burger being considered something of a takeaway speciality. The island is definitely not cheap with the prices somewhat inflated by the wealthy German tourists who seem to make up 95% of the tourist traffic.
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