To the English-speaking world, any place which boasts of a vacation island called “Sylt” will automatically conjure pictures of massive floods leaving in their wake vast expanses of mud. So don’t be surprised to learn that one of North Frisia’s other major attractions is central Europe’s largest national park, the Wattenmeer National Park. In this park you’ll find a section of the longest stretch of mudflats on Earth.
Why would such an area merit consideration for your next vacation? Because the Wattenmeer of North Frisia (German: Nordfriesland) is one of the few places in the world still possessing an unspoiled marine environment of marshes, beaches, and dunes.
The tidal ebb and flow along the mudflats create an perfect habitat for more than three thousand species of animals, including crabs, snails, mud worms, and starfish. These animals make the Wattenmeer an ideal feeding place for the hundreds of thousands of migratory birds which nest in the area’s salt marshes each autumn, so this is one of the best bird-sighting places in all of Europe.
Nordfriesland, in other words, offers a wide choice of vacation pastimes, including sports, beach combing, bird watching, boating, and tours of the mudflats.
If you’re still not convinced, consider this: The North Frisian Island of Sylt, which is home to the country’s northernmost point, is also its most popular island vacation spot. The largest of the North Frisian Islands, Sylt has a western beachfront running about 40 km (25 mi) from north to south, attracting large crowds of sun worshipers between late June and mid-September.
Sylt, however, is much more than its beaches, with twelve quaint resort villages, colorful cliffs, dating back to the Ice Age, blooming moors, a seabird sanctuary, and a marvelous network of cycling paths. When the tide rolls out, hire a guide and trek across the mud flats to another of the North Frisian Islands!
One such trek (Wattewandern) leads to the Island of Föhr, where the vacationing Hans Christian Andersen drew inspiration from fairytale villages. Stay to enjoy the storytelling hour, between 6 and 7 PM.
Amrum, the smallest of Nordfriesland’s Islands, has the natural wonders of its larger neighbors offered in a much more laid-back way. Amrum packs the 10 sq km (6 sq mi) Kneipsand, Europe’s widest sand beach, into its skimpy dimensions, and its enormous sand dunes eventually yield to deep dark forests and mysterious heaths in the island’s interior.
Unique among the islands of the world are the Hallig Islands of North Frisia. Lacking dykes and completely at the mercy of the North Sea, they vanish into its depths with each passing storm. Amazingly, they are inhabited, with houses built atop man-made earthen mounds!
Nordfriesland’s Eiderstedt peninsula has as much to offer beach lovers as its islands, with the seaside resort of Sankt Peter Ording proudly boasting of the “world’s biggest sandpit,” its 12 by 2km ( about 14 by 3 mi) beach. The beach is divided into the Bad (spa), the Böhl, and the Ording areas. Enjoy horseback riding in the countryside outside the city. Treat yourself to some outstanding seafood at the Böhl’s Die Seekiste restaurant, where you’ll dine on stilts!
North of Sankt Peter-Ording is the coastal town of Husum, where the blossoming of some four million (!) crocuses in the town Schlosspark each spring will give you a once-in-a-lifetime vacation memory. Be sure to bring your camera with lots of memory of its own!