1 Hamburg

Both a rollicking port city and a boom-town media capital with thriving art and gourmet scenes, Germany’s liberal second metropolis has a restless energy that makes it arguably the nation’s most life-affirming city.

2 Hamburg nightlife

From world-class opera to throbbing club-nights in portside shacks, from showstopper musicals to grungy gigs in a war bunker, sophisticated style-bars to dancing at dawn in the Sunday Fischmarkt. Revel in the contradictions.

3 Lübeck

The medieval queen of the Hanseatic League is as ravishing as ever – a small-town symphony that’s as cultured as it is charming. And all with a decent beach on its doorstep.

4 Schleswig

The former Viking stronghold of northern Europe has mellowed into an idyllic small town on a fjord with a blockbuster museum to boot.

5 Sylt

Never mind the weather, this North Sea watersports wonderland is also the most glamorous beach resort in the country, especially in Kampen village.

6 North Sea island-hopping

Regular ferries let you skip from Sylt to its low-key sister-islands south, rustic Föhr and powder-sands paradise, Amrum.

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