Happy New Year! What can we see in Northern Germany in January? Does anyone have suggestions about where to stay in Gottingen, Hamburg, Kiel, Lubeck, Schleswig, Flensburg, or Rostock? We like Gasthofs. Is it worth going to the coast of Germany during the winter, or should we go straight to Denmark? What is Sylt like in the winter?
I've been up there in September. The weather was cool with intermitent rain.
Hamburg sites are essentially the canal boats that tour the harbor. Places where Martin Luther preached. St. Pauli which used to be the red-light district but is now a fashionable spot. I enjoyed the Rathaus tour most. It's one of the best Rathaus's I've been in. They also have portraits of all the Burgermeisters and some of them are really funny.
Kiel will be cold but the architecture there is distinct. It's a navy town, German U-Boats, and the night life is good.
Schlesswig is great. It sits on a beautiful Fjord only about 30km from the Danish border (the border was only decided about the time of our civil war). The first part of the cathedral was built in about 600 AD. There is a summer palace of a Danish King that is now a museum. Schlesswig also has a self-service laundry (they are rare in Germany) so you can plan on doing some of your heavier laundry there.
Northern Germany's architecture and culture are visibly distinct from the South (particularly Bavaria). The dialect of German spoken is different. People in the North have long, thin features - while in Bavaria they have Charlie Brown shaped heads. Bavaria has laid back gemutlichheit, while Northern Germany is serious and businesslike.
Some like one part better, I just found it fascinating and was glad I had the opportunity to visit and make friends in both areas.
I can't recommend places to stay. We stayed in a combination of relatives, friends, chain hotels and pensions. The chain hotels were because they were expedient (although affordable and reasonably nice). The pensions were when we lacked relatives or friends to stay with and had time to call around.
Northern Germany in winter ist just GREAT! Compare it to Cape Cod, Martha's Vinyard etc. Most romantic, calm yet pretty windy. It gets dark around 5pm and then people would gather in the Gasthofs or tea places for their very special Northern German (Friesland) tea time (coffee is not that popular up there)... A must-see to me. Hamburg, a city that's got more bridges and more water ways than Venice, Italy, also deserves at least 3-4 days. Do visit the Minaturwunderland (google it). Lübeck is a gem and so is the entire Baltic sea coast between Lübeck and Kiel. Rostock itself is worth a half day's trip but the coast betweem Lübeck and Rostock is great as well. The Danish coast is just flat and relaxing... but flat.
And yes, do spend a night on Sylt island! Unforgettable.