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Introducing Schleswig-Holstein

Sandy beaches, jaunty red-and-white striped lighthouses, deep fjords carved by glaciers, sandpipers and seals have made this sweeping peninsula between the North and Baltic Seas Germany’s most elite summer retreat.

Much of the peninsula’s interior is comprised of seemingly never-ending expanses of flat, green farmland interrupted only by wind farms and grazing black-and-white-splotched cows. But its coastline – and especially the North Frisian Islands off Schleswig-Holstein’s western coast – remain the country’s answer to the Côte d’Azur.

Of course, the fickle northern European climate makes for a funny sort of answer, as cold winds and dark clouds periodically drive the hardiest holidaymakers from their Strandkörbe (sheltered straw ‘beach basket’ seats).

Schleswig-Holstein belonged to neighbouring Denmark until 1864 and you’ll find Scandinavian overtones throughout the region, particularly in Flensburg and Schleswig, home to a superbly recreated Viking settlement, as well as the state’s finest art museum.

Even if it's only as a day trip from Hamburg, don't miss Lübeck, the magnificently preserved medieval headquarters of the Hanseatic League.