Luxembourg first began blinking on my radar when I was contacted by Eric. Before that, the country never really stood out to me as a destination that should be high up on my bucket list of places to visit.
As a fellow hiking enthusiast, Luxembourger Eric and I accidentally stumbled across each other after discovering that we would both be starting our attempted Appalachian Trail thru-hikes around the same time.
Post-trail, we remained in contact and Eric very kindly invited me over to do some exploring and hiking around his gorgeous, underrated little country. Here’s everything we got up to in a week, and if you ever get the opportunity to visit, I suggest you explore some of these activities too:
Stroll around the beautiful capital
Like the rest of the country, Luxembourg City is beautifully compact, making it exceedingly walkable and easily explored within just a day or two.
Though small, the city is complex in the sense that it is spread across numerous levels, straddling hillsides which drop down into two gorges cut through by the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers.
I instantly fell in love with the cobbled streets and the pastel-coloured town houses.
Due to it’s highly strategic positioning, Luxembourg City was once one of Europe’s most successful fortified sites. Today, the remains of the fortifications are still very much visible throughout the city and are part of UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Discover the many castles and châteaux
Luxembourg is dotted with picturesque castles jutting proudly out of steep hillsides overlooking the quaint towns that reside in their shadows.
The charming little town of Vianden is one of the countries major tourist attractions, thanks to the magnificent medieval castle, which perches high above its cobblestone streets.
We took the Vianden chairlift, which leisurely carries you from the town, over the river and up past the castle, giving you a breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside.
Standing majestically some 150 metres above the village of Bourscheid and the River Sauer, Bourscheid Castle is another medieval structure worth a visit.
Bourglinster Castle has a rich history stretching right back to the 11th century. Having been partially destroyed and restored numerous times over the years, it is now home to one of Luxembourg’s best restaurants.
Nip over to neighbouring countries
Luxembourg just so happens to be snugly nestled between France, Germany and Belgium, giving you the perfect excuse to dip into a whole new country if you have the time for a little side trip.
We visited Trier, one of Germany’s oldest cities, the birthplace of Karl Marx and under 10 miles from the Luxembourg border.
Nicknamed ‘Rome of the north’, this medieval mecca boasts a number of well-preserved Roman monuments, eight of which are classed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
We also visited Château de Malbrouck in France, a castle built on a rocky outcrop overlooking the lush, green French countryside in the 1400’s.
Take a hike on the Müllerthal Trail
The Müllerthal Trail comprises of three routes (Route 1, 2 and 3), which can be hiked separately or connected to create a 112km long stretch. Having done very little in the form of exercise since ending our Appalachian Trail hikes, Eric and I were both feeling considerably keen to toss on our backpacks, stretch our legs and become reacquainted with nature.
With a two day, 20 mile section hike planned, we got a taste of what has been coined Luxembourg’s Little Switzerland; ambling amongst pine trees, between towering rock formations, along babbling brooks, beside vast, neat rows or corn, past crumbling castles, old farmhouses nestled in deep valleys and through quaint little villages.
We lapped up the historical sights at Beaufort, Berdorf and Echternach.
I ate handfuls of wild blackberries, flirted with the German border and discovered that my Appalachian ‘trail legs’ were still strong and eager to carry me forwards once more.
After a week of wandering, Luxembourg is now firmly one of my favourite countries. I loved the city for its unique structure, historical buildings and for how green it was (over one third of the capital is classed as a green space). Its size and compact nature means that you only really need a few days to take it all in, making it the perfect place for a short city break.
If, however, you are lucky enough to have ample time and access to transport, I would thoroughly recommend going further afield; exploring the more rural areas, going on the odd hike and visiting the old towns, villages and castles scattered across this underrated little slice of Europe.
Big thank you to Eric for being an amazing host, tour guide and for helping me to translate the list of ingredients on everything I ate, ensuring that they were vegan!