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How a German island in the North Sea became a magnet for the rich and famous

Sylt is the largest of Germany’s North Frisian islands, which are located in the North Sea off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein.
Sylt is the largest of Germany’s North Frisian islands, which are located in the North Sea off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein. Copyright David Becker
Copyright David Becker
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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The island began to gain fame in the 1960s when it reinvented itself as a party hotspot.

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There are plenty of vacation spots around the world that are known as destinations favoured by the rich - the Amalfi Coast, the Maldives, Dubai.

But an island in the chilly North Sea doesn’t usually make the list.

Despite not being on most travel bucket lists, the German island of Sylt has long been a favourite holiday spot for wealthy travellers and VIPs.

Here’s how its natural beauty and gourmet dining scene have lured an affluent crowd.

How Sylt became a holiday spot for celebrities

Sylt is the largest of Germany’s North Frisian islands, which are located in the North Sea off the coast of Schleswig-Holstein.

The island began to gain fame in the 1960s when it reinvented itself as a party hotspot. After wealthy German playboy Gunter Sachs visited, celebrities from around the world flocked to the new glitzy destination.

VIPs, including Sach’s then-wife French actress Brigitte Bardot, came for the wild nightlife and extravagant lifestyle - and Germany’s first nude beach.

The island became a symbol of opulence and affluence but also an escape where celebrities could go out in public without being hassled.

Why is Sylt island famous?

The German island of Sylt continues to draw tourists in the know to its beach resorts, five-star hotels and fine dining restaurants.

Sylt has 40 kilometres of beaches for bracing seaside walks and iconic sand dunes known as ‘kniepsand’.
Sylt has 40 kilometres of beaches for bracing seaside walks and iconic sand dunes known as ‘kniepsand’.Michael Kleinjohann

One of its most famous luxury hotels is Budersand Hotel overlooking the sea. It has a spa, golf course and restaurant with a Michelin star.

There is also a two-Michelin-star restaurant on the island. Diners at Söl’ring Hof can try a six, seven or eight course tasting menu, the latter of which costs €309.

How to spend a weekend on Sylt

Beyond the lavish hotels and restaurants, Sylt enchants visitors with its windswept beauty and wild landscapes.

It has 40 kilometres of beaches for bracing seaside walks and iconic sand dunes known as ‘kniepsand’.

Surrounding the island is the UNESCO-designated Wadden Sea. At low tide, visitors can take guided mudflat hikes to observe the tidal flats’ rich biodiversity and unique ecosystem.

How to get to Sylt

Although Sylt is an island, it is easily accessible by both car and train.

The island is linked to the mainland with a causeway which visitors can drive along. Alternatively, you arrive into the town of Westerland by train.

Sylt also has its own airport with flight connections to cities in Germany and Europe.

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