Sylt, Germany

Living in Sylt

Iyna Bort Caruso

The German island of Sylt has been compared to the Massachusetts resort island of Martha’s Vineyard more than once. In fact, Sylt even doubled as Martha’s Vineyard in the 2010 political thriller film, “The Ghost Writer.”

The summer colony has a distinct island vibe with Michelin-starred restaurants and alluring sandy beaches that draw Germany’s elite. Biking, surfing and celebrity watching are seasonal sports.

Sylt is part of the North Frisian barrier islands off the North Sea, which are divided between Germany and Denmark. It is a three-hour train ride from Hamburg where the nearest international airport is located. Sylt is also connected to the mainland by a causeway, accessible by train with car transport. A small airport on the island provides air service to cities like Berlin, Frankfurt and Zurich, and ferry service is available to the nearby Danish island of Rømø.

In this magical spot of tidal flats, sand dunes and wave-loving beaches are residential properties that are in limited supply, resulting in a consistently strong rental market.

Westerland is the island’s biggest town and a favorite of surfers. The Wattenmeer, or Wadden Sea, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kampen is the chic town of vacation homes and some of the island’s best dining spots while Keitum is known for its thatched-roof homes--a rarity in Germany. Some are former captain’s houses that date back to the 18th century.

At the very top of the island is List, a town of shifting sand dunes, fresh oysters and a club scene known as the “Whiskey Mile.” Its position gives it the distinction of being the northernmost point in Germany. From the harbor, List offers views across to Denmark.