The bundesland (state) of Schleswig-Holstein, located 61 mi/99 km northwest of Hamburg on the isthmus connecting Germany to Denmark, has coastlines on both the North and the Baltic seas, with some of the most rural stretches of land in the country.
Expansive, sandy beaches and flat pastureland characterize the North Sea side, and wide, short beaches and rolling hills define the Baltic coast. Castles, forests, dikes and quaint towns abound. Unfortunately for tourists, the extensive sandy beaches are fenced off along most of the coasts, and people are charged for access to the water (which is cold, to boot).
The provincial capital is Kiel, a shipbuilding port whose main attractions include the 13th-century St. Nicholas Church, two botanical gardens and one of the oldest pedestrian shopping districts in Germany, located on Holstenstrasse.
Flensburg is an attractive port near the border with Denmark.
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