Small but mighty Luxembourg has only half a million people but one of the world’s most developed economy – several key organizations for the European Union are run out of Luxembourg City. It shares borders with Germany, France, and Belgium and is ruled by a Grand Duke, making it the world’s last Grand Duchy. Luxembourg has three official languages (Luxembourgish, French, and German), and the culture is a wonderful mix of Germanic Europe and the romance cultures. It’s a wealthy country with an even wealthier medieval history. The heart of the country has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and each region holds a ton of surprises for its visitors.
Lets explore the best places to visit in Luxembourg:
This cosy little town near the German border is the oldest in all of Luxembourg. It’s the perfect base camp for exploring the region because of the laid-back “lazy afternoon ramble” atmosphere of the place. Plan to say here if you’re interested in hiking in Mullertal or Cycling along the River Sure. For the last 500 years, pilgrims come every Whit Tuesday for the dancing procession in honour of the town’s founder, St. Willibrord. If you’re coming in May and June, enjoy the International Music Festival, and take a look at the Prehistory Museum, The Basilica, and recently discovered Roman villa at any time of year.
Also on the German border is Vianden, a quaint and hilly town on the River Our. The two most striking features of the town are its old-world charm and Vianden Castle which stands high above the river. Built between the 11th and 14th centuries, the castle was a prominent home for Luxembourg royalty for hundreds of years before falling into ruin for almost as long. Restoration has been ongoing since the 1970’s and it’s once again returning to its former glory and now offers some of the most photogenic vistas in the entire country. Above the castle is a fantastic restaurant, accessible only by chair lift, which has the best views of Vianden and the surrounding mountains. Be sure to visit the Victor Hugo museum located in the house he once lived it.
Diekirch takes its name from the nation’s most popular beer and is well-loved by tourists for the colourful local flavour that’s found here. Located in the north and sitting on the Rive Sure, the mountains that surround Diekirch make incredible vistas at each turn. Check out the pedestrian zone for shopping, cafes, and public concerts and head to the old quarter to see St. Laurentius Church and other old-world homes. Three great museums to check out are the National Museum of Historical Vehicles, the beer museum, and the National Museum of Military History with an exhibit that thoroughly covers the Battle of the Bulge. It’s also a good place for those that want a little nature in their holiday. You can bicycle, hike, kayak, or fish while you’re here.
A small town that’s high in charm, Beaufort is most often visited because of its castle which lies across the valley from the town proper. Originally built as a Roman camp, the castle expanded over the years but has never recovered from the WWII Battle of the Ardennes. Tourists can explore the many levels and interiors of the castle, though there is no décor. Afterwards enjoy an afternoon of cycling or hiking with several lovely trails to choose from.
5. City of Luxembourg
The country’s capital is also a UNESO World Heritage site and major financial centre for much of Europe. You’ll want to spend as much time as possible in the old town and see the Grand Ducal Palace, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Place d’Armes, Adolphe Bridge, and the underground defences popularly known as the casemates. But it’s not just historical beauty here; Luxembourg City is a thoroughly modern and cosmopolitan place that’s done an incredible job of merging history with modern progress. As an example, check out the fortress of Luxembourg that has been transformed many times over the centuries and now highlights the best of European culture.
6. The Moselle Valley
Covering 42km that stretch from Wasserbillig to Schengen, the Moselle Valley and the river that runs through it are lined with small villages, vineyards, and wine cooperatives. Schengen, famous due to the EU agreement that allows easy cross-border travel, has been attracting wine lovers for generations. Each village in the valley has a distinct charm and is home to fine dining restaurants and a relaxing vibe that will make you wish you lived there. Villages of note include Remerschen, Remich, Greiveldange, Ehen, and Machtum. Known as d’Musel by the locals the valley has unbelievable fruit plantations to explore, themed hikes (like the wine route), water sports and small cruises, and a bit of medieval history as well.
This region of Luxembourg is known as Little Switzerland because of the hilly green landscape. What you’ll notice first is the unique rock formations. They’re hard to describe but unforgettable once you’ve seen them. Echternach is the main city within the region but there are all kinds of reasons to branch out. World renown for a fantastic cuisine based on honey, liqueurs, and cheese, the restaurants in Mullerthal serve incredibly refined dishes – particularly in the valley of the Lower Sure. For experienced hikers, the Mullerthal Trail covers 112km of fields, forests, and rock formations. For those less experienced but no less enthusiastic, there are plenty of easier hikes that will take you to some awe-inspiring vistas.
8. The Ardennes
For a truly exceptional nature experience, head straight to the Ardennes. With both winding valleys and scenic highlands, tons of hiking and cycling trails, you’ll be able to explore the many forests and villages throughout the nature parks. Not surprisingly, some of the best maintained medieval ruins in all of Luxemburg can be found here. You’ll find everything from medieval revivals, traditional markets, and outdoor performances and concerts to transport you back to another time. Within the Ardennes, you’ll find two nature parks, Naturpark Öewersauer and Our – both distinct destinations in their own right. If you’re feeling adventurous, try some Nordic walking along the Sûre or the Alzette.
9. The Nature Park Our
Created in 2005 within the Ardennes region, Nature Park Our is worthy of its own mention as a top tourist choice. Shaped by the snaking Our River, the park covers 309 square kilometres and alternates between deep valleys and high plateaus. The mission of the nature park creators is to focus on socio-cultural and economic developments while maintaining natural resources and respecting cultural heritage. You won’t want to miss the photo exhibits in Clervaux Castle, the mining museum in Stolzembourg, or the Festival “Jardins à suivre.” Tourists are able to buy the regions agricultural produce direct from the farmers, which help both the local economy and the environment.
Right in the centre of Luxembourg, Larochette is ideally located to be your home base for your entire trip through the Grand Duchy. It sits picturesquely between two rivers and the villages slate-roofed homes stand out dramatically beneath the cliff top ruins of a medieval castle called Maison de Crehange. If you do make it your home base, be sure to check out the surprising cafes and fine-dining restaurants. You’ll love coming back to Larochette after a day of exploring the different regions and attractions nearby.
As you’re headed to Larochette, Bourglinster and the 18th century castle there, is a great place to stop for a meal or an espresso. The castle sits inside the remains of an older 12th century fortress. You’ll find exhibitions there and occasionally performances. In each of the side wings are two fine dining restaurants, La Distillerie and Brasserie Côté Cour, both with incredible ambiance and décor that matches the castles as well as fantastic food.
12. The Land of the Red Rocks
This region gets its name from the red ore that drove the success of the Luxembourg industrial era. Known to locals as Terres Rouges, the area now combines new technology with ancient techniques to serve the current industrial needs of the country. Three trendy and fun cities make up the core of Terres Rouges: Differdange, Esch-sur-Alzette, and Dudelange. You’ll find plenty of culture in each city that ranges from rock festivals, street theatre, and other concerts. You can visit Rockhal to learn how Luxembourgers gave a new face to this area and so changed the country. If you’re travelling with family, be sure to visit Parc Merveilleux in Bettembourg. Your kids will enjoy the monkeys, crocodiles, parrots, and more that the park showcases.
Also located in the Land of the Red Rocks, but worthy of its own mention, is the old mining town of Rumelange. The main attraction here is the National Mine Museum – which is considered by many to be one of the top tourist attractions on earth. The museum allows guided walks through the old mine tunnels and you can enter by riding in an old mining train. The town itself is located in the forest of the Kayl Valley with a ton of great trails to enjoy by foot or bike.
14. The Nature Park of the Upper Sûre
Known as Luxembourg’s “water area” because of the 380 ha lake, Naturpark Upper Sûre is the model of sustainable tourism. The park was awarded the EDEN prize in 2010 for commitment to integrating tourism, culture, social and economic development with environmental protection. If you’re looking to relax, this largely untouched land is the perfect place. You can join in a themed itinerary or go at your own pace as you like. Most of the leisure activities are designed to highlight the region’s history, culture, and natural aspects.
15. Western Luxembourg
If you’re driving during your Luxembourg holiday and considering what routes to take, you must absolutely include the Eisch Valley of Western Luxembourg. With the town of Arlon at one end and Ettelbrück at the other, you’ll have the most peaceful drive of your life as you wind your way through lush forest. You’ll pass by a number of castles – some which are majestic ruins and others that are more mansion-esque châteaux. You’ll want to stop in Ansemborg to view the castle there from the striking formal gardens. And if you like a good moat, then you’ll love the medieval castle at Hollenfels.