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Large ferry at the quay in the harbour
Schleswig-Holstein's towns are dominated by sea-faring, past and present. Visitors will encounter vessels of all sizes, enchanting buildings dating back to the Hanseatic era and traditional festivals involving water sports. Towns such as Flensburg, Kiel and Lübeck offer many cultural attractions and good shopping as well as beautifully preserved buildings.

The state capital of Kiel offers a myriad of maritime activities such as strolling by the marinas, walking on vast beaches or watching the ocean-going liners in the Kiel Canal, as well as shopping in the town centre. Kiel Week regatta is the world's leading sailing event and northern Europe's biggest summer festival.

Flensburg is in the far north of Germany on the border with Denmark. It is a relaxed, hilly town where every street provides a different, amazing view of sailing boats on the narrow inlet. Flensburg, with its historical old quarter and buildings with lovely façades also has plenty of cultural attractions and great shops.

Friedrichstadt, founded in 1621 by Duke Friedrich III and Dutch migrants, is known for its canals and picturesque townscape. Almost all the buildings in its historical old quarter have stepped-gable frontages like those in Amsterdam. A pleasure boat tour of this fascinating town leaves a lasting impression.

Every step you take in Lübeck, the former "Queen of the Hanseatic League", reminds you of its great past as a Free Imperial and Hanseatic Town. Surrounded by water, the old town is an impressively intact example of medieval redbrick Gothic architecture. With its proud Patrician town houses and brick Gothic churches, Lübeck is a listed UNESCO world heritage site. Excursion to the chic seaside resort of Travemünde, the Lauenburg Lakes and into Holstein's Switzerland are highly recommended.

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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