The tidy town of Schleswig, an easy day trip from Weissenhaus, has a quaint old quarter of colorful small houses fronted with flowers, an imposing brick cathedral and one of the most impressive palaces in northern Germany.
On an island just outside Schleswig’s center, Schloss Gottorf comprises an immense complex of museums, as well as a large formal baroque garden half a mile to the north. Former stable buildings contain 20th-century art and special exhibitions, but we focused our limited time on the extensive main palace, highlights of which include luminous paintings by Lucas Cranach the Elder and Joos van Cleve, Gobelin and Aubusson tapestries, lavish furnishings such as a 17th-century wood chest carved by Johann Henning and — my favorite — the entire interior of a cozy wine tavern from Lübeck. Several rooms, notably Blue Hall, Deer Hall and the Palace Chapel, retain their elaborate original décor. I also recommend taking time to visit the Nydamhalle, an outbuilding containing an immense Viking longboat discovered nearby.