20km (12 miles) W of the Danish border, 193km (120 miles) NW of Hamburg
The long, narrow island of Sylt (pronounced Zoolt) and its capital, Westerland, form the northernmost point of Germany. Sylt lies in the North Sea off the coasts of Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein, the largest island of the Frisian archipelago, which stretches from Denmark to the Netherlands. The "Watt" is the name given to the coast facing the mainland.
People come to breathe the iodine-rich air and enjoy the rain-soaked North Sea climate that Germans call Reizklima. Sylt is the most exclusive resort in Germany, and its hotel prices reflect that status. Sylt also has a sizable gay and lesbian population and is often called "The Fire Island of Europe." In the 1960s, Sylt became famous for "the rich and the naked," when the entire island was reportedly an ongoing bacchanalian frenzy. It's quieted down since then. Temperatures in midsummer are usually in the low 70s (low to mid-20s Celsius), but rain can come at any minute, and winds on the beach are a constant, giving rise to the Sylt "mink," or yellow oilskin, which chic visitors wear to protect themselves from the elements.
The spa here has facilities for the treatment of everything from heart disease to skin irritations. The basic therapy is sunshine, pure air, and seawater, but in recent years, mud baths have also become a method of treatment. Some of the more remote sections of the dunes have been turned into nudist beaches for purists in the art of sunshine therapy. In addition to bathing, there are facilities in and around Westerland for horseback riding, surfing, golf, and tennis, as well as theater and concerts.