Is Luxembourg worth visiting? The answer for me was a resounding YES. But clearly you have some doubts or you wouldn’t be reading this. I’d like to inspire you to visit Luxembourg so keep reading and I’ll give you five worthwhile reasons why you should consider traveling there.
Why is Luxembourg Worth Visiting?
“So where are you visiting on this trip?”, the flight attendant asked me as we were preparing to land in Paris. When I mentioned Luxembourg, he was surprised. “Not many people go there”, he said. This is exactly the point.
I’m all about the alternative itineraries. This sometimes means doing weird things in popular places (like the penis museum in Reykjavik) but it also means going to places that are geared up for tourism but are not super popular (like downtown Las Vegas or Puerto Madryn Argentina).
I chose to visit Luxembourg for a couple of reasons. For starters, I’m one of those travelers who is dedicated to exploring new places and then bragging about how many countries I’ve visited (forty three countries and territories, thanks for asking). Since we were already going to Paris, it seemed an easy win to bag Luxembourg. But, aside from my itchy feet, I was also curious to see the countryside, go hiking, hit up a castle and explore historic Luxembourg City.
What I found delighted me and if you are asking yourself “is Luxembourg worth visiting?”, then I’d like to give you a few concrete reasons to do it.
Luxembourg is a Mini-European Microcosm
Luxembourg offers the trifecta of picture perfect Europe: hiking, history and fairy tales. So, if you are interested in any of those things, you should consider traveling there.
Luxembourg’s history can be traced back to Roman times but over the centuries, geopolitical forces and royal shenanigans put them into a sequential arm wrestle with the Habsburgs, Burgandy, the Netherlands and Germany. All of these occupiers left their mark on Luxembourg, nevertheless the country has retained it’s own culture and language. These factors are why visiting Luxembourg isn’t just a rehash of Germany or Belgium, rather it’s worth visiting as it’s own unique destination. What follows are five reasons why.
1. Luxembourg’s Medieval Old Town is Worth It
Luxembourg’s UNESCO designated old town began life as a 10th century fort and castle perched on the cliff overlooking the confluence of the Alzette and Petrusse rivers. Further fortifications were added in the 12th, 15th and 18th centuries. The city has retained it’s historical character with many of its fortifications and historic buildings remaining intact.
If you like history, you should definitely see the following sites in downtown Luxembourg:
- The Luxembourg City Museum has an excellent set of interactive exhibits that take you from medieval times through modern day.
- A self-guided tour of the Bock Casements allows you to explore the interior of the fortification wall and it’s gun emplacements. It also provides killer city views.
- Get an overview of the city’s historic setting on a guided walking tour hosted by the city of Luxembourg.
Check out Trip Advisor’s top recommendations for Luxembourg.
2. Luxembourg’s Trail Network is Unbelievable
Luxembourg has over 5,000km (3,100 miles) of trails which, according to their tourism bureau, makes it one of the densest pedestrian networks in Europe. The Mullerthal Trail is one of the most popular with 112km of hiking on three routes that go through pastureland, forests and rocky valleys.
They have international trails that connect Luxembourg with Belgium and Germany. You can also explore a series of rails-to-trails which allow you to base yourself in one location and do a series of 1-way hikes, using the bus and rail system to transport yourself back to your homebase. My husband and I did just that, taking a one-way hike on the Ourdall route from Vianden to Stolzembourg.
3. Luxembourg Has Fairy Tale Castles
Luxembourg has a quite a few castles that loom over those hiking trails. Five of them are in good shape and open to the public and there are a number of noteworthy ruins. In fact, you can combine your hiking with castles on the Valley of the Seven Castles trail in western Luxembourg. This 37km trail passes by the Mersch, Shoenfels, Hollenfels, Ansembourg, Septfontaines and Koerich castle ruins.
For my visit, I concentrated on Vianden, which was founded in the 11th century and was in regular use through the 17th century. It fell into disrepair after 1820 but has since been faithfully restored. Visiting it will make you feel like Cinderella and will give you a mini-history lesson on the royalty and history of Luxembourg.
4. Getting Around Luxembourg is Easy
Luxembourg is also worth visiting because it’s so easy to get around. The whole country is only 999 square miles (2,500km) and travel times between Luxembourg city and anywhere else are very short. Here are some sample travel times to the more popular tourist spots:
- To Vianden: 45 minutes driving, 1.5 hours on bus/train
- To Echternach/Mullerthal: 33 minutes driving, 51 minutes on train
- To Beaufort Castle: 40 minutes driving, 2 hours bus/train
Even though the public transportation takes longer, it’s very cheap to get around Luxembourg using trains and buses. A ticket valid for two hours is only €2 and a full day pass is only €4. For €2, you can take a metro ride in Paris but you certainly can’t explore the countryside for that.
5. Getting to Luxembourg is Easy
If you are already planning to visit Brussels, Paris or Frankfurt, it’s easy enough to hop a train to Luxembourg. The TGV train from Paris can cost as low as €25 and only takes two hours. If you don’t mind getting up early, you could even do Luxembourg as a day trip. Arriving by train from Belgium takes three hours and €20 and the TGV from Frankfurt takes two hours and ~€60. The Luxembourg City train station is in the city center and from there, it’s a twenty minute walk into the old town.
There are also sixteen air carriers flying into Luxembourg airport from sixty nine European cities, including low cost carriers such as Ryan Air and EasyJet.
Keep an eye on airfare to and within Europe using Skyscanner alerts.
My Luxembourg visit was worth far more than just a pin in my map. I came to appreciate how they value their open space and their proud history. It might be small, but there is a lot to see in compact little Luxembourg.
So you tell me… is Luxembourg worth visiting? I hope you think so and that you will carve out time in your next itinerary to spend at least a day or two there.
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