The most beautiful cities of Schleswig-Holstein - Discover Germany (2024)


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Noble princely castles, monumental brick buildings and tranquil half-timbered towns with sea or lake views - a city break in Germany's northernmost state is a charming alternative to the usual North Sea island vacation. We present 10 cities in Schleswig-Holstein that are particularly worth a visit.

Table of contents
1. Glücksburg
2. Friedrichstadt
3. Lübeck
4. Lauenburg
5. Ratzeburg
6. Mölln
7. Flensburg
8. Husum
9. Schleswig
10. Neumünster


Germany's northernmost city is located east of Flensburg on the Flensburg Fjord on the Angeln peninsula. Glücksburg has a good 6000 inhabitants.


The town of 2600 inhabitants is located between the rivers Eider and Treene in the district of Nordfriesland. Dutch brick Renaissance buildings and canals characterize the townscape.


With about 217,000 inhabitants, Lübeck is the second largest city in Schleswig-Holstein. It is located on the lower Trave River on the Bay of Lübeck. The former Hanseatic city is also called "City of the Seven Towers" and "Gateway to the North".


The southernmost city in Schleswig-Holstein is located about 40 km southeast of Hamburg on the Elbe River. The city of 11,400 inhabitants has an old town worth seeing.


The town of 14,500 inhabitants in the Lauenburg Lakes Nature Park near the border with Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is an island town. Only three dams connect its location on Lake Ratzeburg with the mainland.


The small town in southeastern Schleswig-Holstein has a good 19,000 inhabitants. It is also known as Eulenspiegelstadt.


Flensburg is the third largest city in Schleswig-Holstein with a good 90,000 inhabitants. It is located at the end of the Flensburg Fjord on the northern border of the Angeln peninsula. Flensburg has a historic old town with numerous well-preserved sights.


The town, also known literarily as the "gray town by the sea," has a good 23,000 inhabitants. Husum stretches on both sides of the Husumer Mühlenau and its estuary into the Wadden Sea.


The former capital of the duchy of the same name is also known as the state's judicial capital, as it is home to the state constitutional court as well as three other higher courts and the attorney general's office. The city of 25,000 inhabitants is located on the Schlei Bay.


The city of 80,000 inhabitants is located about 30 km south of Kiel in the center of Schleswig-Holstein. The self-proclaimed horse and fair trade city was long a center of the German cloth and leather industry.



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Impressive landmark of the city - the Renaissance moated castle in Glücksburg © Sina Ettmer -

In Glücksburg, magnificent views of the Flensburg Fjord open up again and again © Pixelheld -

Whether idyllic natural or well-kept spa beach, bathing fun is guaranteed in Glücksburg © Sina Ettmer -

Absolute highlight of the northernmost city Germany is the Renaissance moated castle of Glücksburg. The former seat of government of Danish kings is one of the most important castles in Northern Europe and is also an impressive sight thanks to the well-designed castle pond. Otherwise Glücksburg a quiet and stress-free town with beautiful beaches, the Fördeland-Therme adventure pool and an excellent surfing and sailing area right on the doorstep. In addition, one of the largest forest areas in Schleswig-Holstein extends around Glücksburg. Numerous hiking trails, a forest museum in the Glücksburg forest and the coastal hiking trail Fördesteig allow for varied active vacations. Tip: the 50-minute trip with the excursion boat "MS Viking" across the fjord to Flensburg.



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Trademark of the city - the bright gabled houses in Friedrichstadt © Wolfgang Jargstorff -

Almost like Amsterdam - Friedrichstadt is crossed by several canals © majonit -

Thanks to its stepped gable houses and small canals, Friedrichstadt is also called "Little Amsterdam" or "Dutch Town" © Wolfgang Jargstorff -

Canals, bridges and gleaming white stepped gable houses - At first glance, the small town at the confluence of the Eider and Treene rivers looks like a Schleswig-Holstein "Little Amsterdam. Founded in 1621 as a trading center and place of refuge for Dutch emigrants persecuted for religious reasons, the "Dutchman's Town" has developed into an extremely worthwhile climatic health resort. As you stroll through the checkered streets of the planned town, you will pass numerous magnificent Dutch brick Renaissance buildings and churches of five different denominations. Among the many loving details in Friedrichstadt The house marks - mostly colorful reliefs of animals, coats of arms or professions above the entrance doors, which reveal something about the builder or former inhabitants of the respective house - are also part of the landscape. Well-developed bicycle paths lead into the charming surrounding countryside. A trip on a stand-up paddle board through the canals of Friedrichstadt will give you some thrills and wobbly legs, but is guaranteed to provide unique perspectives.



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The rooms of the Holsten Gate are home to the Lübeck City History Museum © JFL Photography -

Numerous brick Gothic buildings bear witness to the former power of the former Hanseatic city © eyetronic -

The town hall has been repeatedly rebuilt and expanded since the 12th century © Mattoff -

Almost a little warped appears the landmark of the Hanseatic city from a distance. Once the mighty Holsten Gate adorned the 50-Mark bill, today it is a beautiful museum at the entrance to the old town. In the historic old town you can stroll through narrow corridors and magnificent courtyards. There you have the opportunity to admire historic buildings such as the old town hall with its opulent facade or St. Marien, the third largest church in the republic. Trendy clothing stores, pretty goldsmith displays and cozy cafes invite you to store and linger. In addition Lübeck world famous for its marzipan. The most important producer is Niederegger, with a large store and small marzipan museum right next to the town hall. Lübeck's old town with its characteristic seven church towers was the first old town to be declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as a whole.



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Welcome to Lauenburg - Elbe town with charming old town © Arndt Büthe -

Numerous small alleys and stairs connect the old town of Lauenburg with the upper town.© 60px -

Lauenburg is located in the border triangle of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein © venemama -

Historic half-timbered houses, old cobblestones and great views over the Elbe await you in the southernmost city of Schleswig-Holstein. Numerous houses renovated with great attention to detail make the old town of Lauenburg is the largest ensemble of monuments in the state. Above the city, the remains of the old castle and the princely garden recall the work of the Ascanian dukes in the Middle Ages. Also worth seeing is the Maria Magdalenen Church from the 13th century. The Elbe Navigation Museum is dedicated to all the people who spent their lives on and with the Elbe. Tours on modern passenger ships or historic steamboats on the surrounding waterways such as the Elbe, the Elbe-Lübeck Canal or the Elbe-Seiten Canal provide charming insights and views of the surrounding riverside landscape.



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Ratzeburg - the former residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Lauenburg has become a popular destination for water sports © NEWS&ART -

Ratzeburg Cathedral is the oldest of its kind in all of northern Germany © Dennis -

Northern German beauty - dawn at Ratzeburger lake © yourpictures85 -

Surrounded by four lakes lies the old cathedral city on an island in the Lauenburg Lakes Nature Park, which can only be reached via dams. The town's most important sight is the cathedral, the oldest of its kind in northern Germany. Built in the first quarter of the 13th century, the church is still one of Ratzeburg's defining buildings. Its art treasures include the oldest choir stalls in northern Germany, a magnificent Renaissance pulpit and Ernst Barlach's bronze figure of the beggar on crutches in the courtyard of the adjacent monastery. By the way, you have a particularly beautiful view of the cathedral from the water. You can easily circumnavigate the island city by excursion boat, pedal boat, electric boat or rowing boat. You should not miss a visit to a restaurant in the island town - numerous restaurants serve fine fish dishes with a view of the lake.



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Since the 13th century, St. Nicolai's Church has towered over Mölln © spuno -

View of the Eulenspiegel town of Mölln © pixelABC -

In Mölln you can expect a well-preserved old town with numerous sights © foto-select -

Jester, buffoon and critical zeitgeist - Throughout his life, the legendary figure Till Eulenspiegel held up a mirror to society. He is said to have died in 1350 in the Heilig-Geist-Hospital in Mölln. And the town keeps his memory alive. Ideal starting point for a walk through Mölln is the market square. Situated in the middle of the historic old town, you'll find the most important sights here in close proximity to each other: the Gothic town hall, St. Nicolai's Church, the Eulenspiegel fountain and memorial stone, and the museum. But also otherwise a walk through the alleys of the city in the southeast of Schleswig-Holstein is worthwhile. Well-preserved half-timbered houses, lovingly designed museums and a 40,000 m² spa park in the center await you. And then, of course, there's Till Eulenspiegel - the jester's face is emblazoned on storefronts, and he's available in baked goods and marzipan versions. He can be seen on puzzles and key chains, decorates picture books and smiles at you from the gables of some houses.



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The most beautiful cities of Schleswig-Holstein - Discover Germany (20)
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Don't miss - Flensburg harbor with its many sailing ships and motor yachts © FotokistenKay -

Once part of the red light district, now a pretty gem - the Oluf Samson walkway in Flensburg © Britta Kromand -

Popular destination - Flensburg harbor © Sina Ettmer -

Imposing sailing ships, noble yachts and the historic saloon steamer Alexandra - the maritime atmosphere in the old harbor Flensburg's is unparalleled. In the local museum shipyard, you can see freight sailers and working boats from the 18th and 19th centuries. Picturesque merchants' courtyards and facades worth seeing from the Renaissance, Baroque and Classicist periods line the longest and most beautiful shopping mile in Schleswig-Holstein. Sugar and rum were once among the most important trade goods of the Flensburg merchants. If you want to follow in the footsteps of Flensburg's rum tradition, you can do so, for example, on a 90-minute guided tour of the Rum house Johannsen including a tasting and a look at production. During the summer months, Flensburg also hosts numerous maritime event highlights.



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The castle outside Husum is the only preserved castle building on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein © hanseat -

There is no way around the port of Husum © JFL Photography -

The tower of St. Mary's Church in Husum is reminiscent of a nautical beacon © Maren Winter -

Theodor Storm city, attractive shopping destination, numerous leisure activities and a rich cultural and event program - HusumHusum, also called the "gray town by the sea" after a poem by Theodor Storm, is one of the most popular destinations on the North Sea coast. It is particularly attractive to get to know the beautiful town on the waterfront along the Husum Culture Trail. Starting at the Old Town Hall on the market square, you can visit the most important highlights of Husum, from St. Mary's Church, one of the most important works of classicism in the state, to Theodor Storm's birthplace and the "Tine", the bronze statue of a young Hallig Frisian woman. Alternatively, you can also go swimming, mudflat hiking, cycling or take boat trips - the central location in Husum Bay, including the direct vicinity of the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site, makes it possible.



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Schleswig - beautiful town on the Schlei © ErnstPieber -

View of Schleswig Cathedral - but there are also some beautiful smaller churches, like here in the foreground the church on Schleswig Holm © Rokfeler -

The Holm is a former fishing district in Schleswig, located directly on the Schlei © U. Gernhoefer -

Already at the entrance to the town you have the opportunity to visit Gottorf Castle, the first cultural jewel of the former Viking town. Schleswig to visit. It houses two of Schleswig-Holstein's state museums. The extensive grounds of the surrounding baroque garden are also home to the reconstructed Gottorf Globe, considered the first planetarium in history and one of the great wonders of the 17th century. The immediate location on the Schlei invites you to stroll directly on the water - be it in the Königswiesen city park or along the Schleipromenade, where you can often see sailing ships or excursion steamers during the summer months. Cultural history at your fingertips at the Viking Museum Haithabu. In the meantime, seven faithfully reconstructed Viking houses have been erected on the old settlement site opposite the present-day city of Schleswig, providing exciting insights into the living conditions of their inhabitants around 1000 years ago. A real highlight is the longship "Haithabu 1", one of the longest Viking ships in the world.



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The Neumünster mill pond was artificially created in the Middle Ages by the monks of the Augustinian Canons' Monastery © reindesign-sn -

The Vicelin Church is considered the most important classicist church building in Schleswig-Holstein © reindesign-sn -

Striking - the two oriel towers at the entrance to Neumünster's neo-Gothic town hall © Achim Banck -

In Neumünster there is a lot going on. Great shopping opportunities and cultural monuments worth seeing make the city, located between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea in the center of Schleswig-Holstein, an ideal destination. Numerous owner-operated stores and small boutiques in the city center, the Holsten-Galerie and the large Designer Outlet are just as much a part of the cityscape as an adventure pool, the zoo and a sculpture park. International horse events take place in the Holstenhallen. Among the most beautiful buildings are the neo-Gothic town hall from 1900, the classicist Vicelin Church and the Caspar von Saldern House, the oldest architectural monument in Neumünster. Neumünster's importance as a former industrial city is reflected in the new exhibition opened in 2007. Cloth and Technology Textile Museum Invoice.

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Cover photo: Husum harbor on a wintry evening © snapshotfreddy -

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The most beautiful cities of Schleswig-Holstein - Discover Germany (2024)


What is special about Schleswig-Holstein? ›

Today, Schleswig-Holstein's economy is known for its agriculture, such as its Holstein cows. Its position on the Atlantic Ocean makes it a major trade point and shipbuilding site; it is also the location of the Kiel Canal. Its offshore oil wells and wind farms produce significant amounts of energy.

What was the Schleswig-Holstein controversy? ›

A controversy in the 19th century raged round the ancient indissoluble union of the two duchies, and the inferences to be drawn from it; the Danish National Liberals claimed Schleswig as an integral part of the Danish kingdom; Germans claimed, besides Holstein, being a member state of the German Confederation, also ...

What does Holstein mean in German? ›

Holstein Surname Meaning

This gets its name from holsten the dative plural originally used after a preposition of holst from Middle Low German holt-sate 'dweller in the woods' (from Middle Low German holt 'wood' + sate sete 'tenant').

Is Schleswig-Holstein German or Danish? ›

Schleswig-Holstein, Land (state) located in northwestern Germany. Schleswig-Holstein extends from the lower course of the Elbe River and the state of Hamburg northward to Denmark and thus occupies the southern third of the Jutland Peninsula.

What food is Schleswig-Holstein known for? ›

One of the most known dishes of Schleswig-Holstein is Birnen, Bohnen und Speck. Other very popular dishes include: Grünkohl with Kochwurst and Schweinebacke (a cured cut from a pig's head), sometimes with Pinkel. Saure Rolle (a kind of sour sausage)

What language is spoken in Schleswig-Holstein? ›

While the official language of Schleswig-Holstein is German, Low German (Plattdeutsch), Danish and North Frisian are recognised as minority languages. Low German and Missingsch (a Low German dialect with heavy High German influences) are probably the most widely spoken dialects in the state.

How did Denmark lose Schleswig-Holstein? ›

The preliminaries of a peace treaty were signed on 1 August 1864: the King of Denmark renounced all his rights in the duchies in favour of the Emperor of Austria and the King of Prussia. In the Treaty of Vienna, 30 October 1864, Denmark ceded Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg to Prussia and Austria.

Did Prussia get Schleswig and Holstein? ›

By the Peace of Vienna (October 1864), Christian IX ceded Schleswig and Holstein to Austria and Prussia. In 1866, after Prussia had beaten Austria in the Seven Weeks' War, both Schleswig and Holstein became part of Prussia.

What political party is Schleswig-Holstein? ›

The 2022 Schleswig-Holstein state election was held on 8 May 2022 to elect the 20th Landtag of Schleswig-Holstein. The outgoing government was a coalition of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), The Greens, and the Free Democratic Party (FDP), led by Minister-President Daniel Günther.

What does Schleswig mean in German? ›

It takes its name from the Schlei (Slien), an inlet of the Baltic Sea at the end of which it sits, and vik or vig which means "bay" in Old Norse and Danish. Schleswig or Slesvig therefore means "bay of the Schlei". Schleswig. Slesvig (Danish) Town.

How many Danish people are in Schleswig-Holstein? ›

The border between Schleswig-Holstein (Germany) and Denmark can hardly be noticed: many people speak both German and Danish. In the northernmost German region there are approximately 50,000 persons who belong to the Danish minority, and who are German citizens.

What does pig mean in Germany? ›

an offensive word for an unpleasant, greedy, or dirty person. das Schwein. You pig!

What is unique about Schleswig-Holstein? ›

Schleswig-Holstein's position between two seas – the North Sea and the Baltic Sea – is unique in Germany and characterizes its people and their lifestyle. The land between the seas, as it's called, has preserved large stretches of its unspoiled nature – not least through consistent protection.

What are the surnames in Schleswig-Holstein? ›

With rather German influence: Bahnsen, Dierksen, Lueders, Ivers, Tamm, Timm, Vollert, to name a few. Derived from biblical names: Peters, Jansen, Hansen, Jepsen, Jappen, Jakobsen, Andresen, Andersen, Matzen, Thiessen, Greggers, Michelsen, Brix, Lau, Mau, Marx, Asmussen, Lassen, Nissen, Nielsen.

What is the largest city in Schleswig-Holstein? ›

Kiel (/kiːl/; German: [kiːl]) is the capital and most populous city in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, with a population of 246,243 (2021).

What was the point of the Schleswig war? ›

Like the First Schleswig War (1848–1852), it was fought for control of the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein and Lauenburg. Succession disputes concerning the duchies arose when the Danish king died without an heir acceptable to the German Confederation.

What is the Schleswig-Holstein crisis? ›

The First Schleswig War (German: Schleswig-Holsteinischer Krieg), also known as the Schleswig-Holstein Uprising (German: Schleswig-Holsteinische Erhebung) and the Three Years' War (Danish: Treårskrigen), was a military conflict in southern Denmark and northern Germany rooted in the Schleswig-Holstein Question: who ...

What country did Germany fight to gain Schleswig and Holstein? ›

The Peace of Prague (August 23, 1866) ceded the duchies to Prussia, and after Prussia's formation of the German Empire in 1871, the Schleswig-Holstein question was narrowed to a contest between Denmark and Germany over North Schleswig.

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