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The red cliffs of the island of Heligoland in the North Sea

The Wattenmeer is one of the last remaining extensive natural landscapes in central Europe, stretching from Holland to Denmark. The Schleswig-Holstein Wattenmeer National Park is central Europe's largest national park. The coastal mudflats, a strip of land between the high and low water marks which is covered with seawater at high tide and accessible when the tide recedes, are one of the most fascinating natural habitats in the world. One cubic metre of their mud contains more biomass than the same amount of soil in a tropical rain forest.

What many people think of as a river, is in fact a coastal inlet, what the Scandinavians call a fjord. The Schlei is a long inlet lined with pretty little villages and cottages, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places for sailing in north Germany.

The Kiel Canal may be the busiest shipping canal in the world, but it feels tranquil and can only be seen directly from its banks. As you approach, you see huge ships appearing from between the trees and sails gliding through fields, and finally the ferries, which take you across for nothing.

Heligoland is a red sandstone rock in the middle of the North Sea, 70 kilometres off the mainland. Visitors are attracted to it by its rare flora and fauna, fresh lobster, souvenirs and duty-free shopping.

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Map of Germany

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Highlights in brief

  • Kiel
    State capital, harbour, navy monument, Schilksee district
  • Glücksburg
    Moated castle, rosarium
  • Schleswig
    Palace, St Peter's Cathedral, Haithabu Viking museum
  • Rendsburg
    Canal, elevated bridge with transporter
  • Oldenburg
    Stronghold of the Wagrians
  • Plön
  • Mölln
    Associated with the prankster Till Eulenspiegel
  • Büsum
    North Sea spa resort, shrimp fishing, port
  • Lübeck
    Holsten Gate, marzipan
  • Heligoland
    Offshore island