I seem to be discovering a new side to Germany every week at the moment and loving it! Last month, I headed to Norderney to eat and sleep and sauna; this time the guys from Airbnb invited me on a trip to get to know the island of Sylt through locals’ eyes. We discovered a bunch of places that – along with the seaside air – immediately made my mind go wild and plan a gals’ getaway for autumn. Who’s in ladies? Here are some the spots that I thought might interest you to pack your bags and head north.

You might remember my trip to the Austrian mountains in February which was, hands down, one of my favorite trips ever and that was largely down to the different hosts’ enthusiasm and their willingness to share their gems with us. So this time, a group of lovely journos and bloggers and I were headed north; Sylt is a 6-hour train ride from Berlin but the real winners are people living in Hamburg. The direct train to Westerland (also listen to this song here!) just two hours. Easypeasy, especially if 2.5 days have to be enough to give you all these holiday feels!

There are a total of 380 listings on Sylt. Some of them are professional hosts and live off their holiday homes, others live in their houses and rent out one room… you know the deal. More and more people have discovered Airbnb as a viable business model but we’ve also met people who don’t necessarily depend on the money but just love getting to know a new part of the country or the world through their guests’ eyes.

Where to go, what to see

Sylt has quite the reputation of being the island of the posh to the extent that locals are being forced to move elsewhere because rents have become unaffordable if you’re not a millionaire (literally). I’ve initially been rather skeptical in terms of finding Traveletty places that would leave enough space for spontaneity, real stories and unexplored gems. Sylt rings similar bells to London’s Kensington and Chelsea if you know what I mean. However, these gems are there, you just gotta find them and staying with people who may not have lived on Sylt for all their life but have made the island their home in recent years is a great starting point. You will encounter the odd posh couple of family and maybe your eyes will roll a bit but trust me, sometimes it’s good to leave your comfort zone/hipster bubble and get a feel for a different lifestyle. So, without any further ado…

Sylter Royal oysters

I have never had oysters in my life and wasn’t particularly fond of idea. Lifestyle of the rich and the famous, you know. Sylter Royal is a proper Sylt institution and one that deserves its world-class reputation. We got an introduction into opening oysters and what it means to have a job that completely depends on nature, the sea and the right weather to pick them from the mud flats. Sylter Royal also have a restaurant, meaning you don’t have to get involved in the messy parts.

Hopping over to Föhr with Sylt Air

Another first time has been getting on a small plane for a round trip which made us Ahh and Ohh a lot. I was very close to throwing up after the trip to Föhr but the great North winds did their job and cured me as soon as I got out… Not quite as comfy as your average airline but oh so exciting. I was already a pro on our way back and the seasoned Air Sylt pilot made an exception and let me be his co-pilot. Thank you Sir!

Meeting Mausi Herold 

One of my favorite encounters, if not the favorite, has been meeting Mausi Herold, an art dealer, interior stylist and jewelry designer (“Heroldian Jewellery”) based on Sylt. Mausi – whose real name is Katharina Marie – has an incredibly unique style, bursts with enthusiasm and made us fall head over heels in love with her story. She studied art history in London and has been styling auction houses and the shop windows of really, really renowned department stores. You can also visit her gallery in the town of Keitum which she opened in 2014. Her father also runs a gallery there, you can see style and taste clearly run in that family’s DNA…

Speaking of taste, here are two other places that are also worth a check out: Cafe Kupferkanne for one of Sylt’s best breakfasts, Sylter Eismanufaktur whose bright interior, beautiful scoops of ice cream and their cones are oh so Instagrammable.

Restaurant Dorfkrug

The legendary restaurant Dorfkrug not only spoiled all my taste buds with the delightful piece of meat below, they also have the prettiest bathroom wallpaper I have ever, I repeat, ever, seen. If you like people-watching, make sure to sit outside at the bar. What felt like all of Sylt’s extravaganza popped by the place, even just for a drink. The menu is a bit pricier but definitely the right choice if you want to splurge a bit after a day in the dunes.

Cycling & spa

Sylt has an abundance of beautiful beaches and scenic bike routes along the beach to explore. There’s nothing like spending the day out and about and coming home to an actual home, rather than an impersonal hotel room. We shared quite a big house with large bedrooms and several bathrooms that gave us plenty of room for a decent manicure, some face masks and a hot bath. Trust me, even in summer you’ll be grateful for a bit of bubble action. Speaking of bubbles, we also had champagne in the garden on numerous occasions and I loved sitting in that typical Strandkorb with my fresh orange juice and coffee and start the day at my own pace.

Welcome to ma crib

We went around and saw a couple of homes that you can rent on Airbnb but here’s a small selection of my favorites. This old farm is run by Janine who is also the owner of an incredibly fluffy cat. Her interior style is something between Scandinavian and boohoo, a combination that will immediately make you feel at home. Her friend Maike lives next door, they’ve joined the hosting club at roughly the same time and make for shining example of girl power and friendship.

I know you’ve been waiting for this, we’re talking islands after all. So yes, there’s a ship you can sleep on, Labor Sanitas on the neighbouring island of Föhr. The couple live by and on the sea because it’s the only thing they’ve ever wanted. Another little treasure trove of a room on Föhr is offered by Hella who has an incredibly cute garden and quite the laid-back way of living. If you stay at hers, make sure to ask her for a little tour around the neighbourhood and to see the storks…

So, it’s safe to say that this laughter-packed weekend not only got rid of the doubts I had about posh tourists taking over Sylt (and Föhr), I also vowed to stay in Germany a bit more often when on holiday. It’s so important and valuable to have a real connection to the tourism industry and it’s a shame when businesses die down because everyone decides to fly over to Barcelona because it’s cheaper and sunnier there. Support your local peeps! And thank you Airbnb for teaching me that and everything else too.

All photographs taken by Caroline Schmitt

Disclaimer: We were invited on this trip by Airbnb, however all views are our own.

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