Unassuming Luxembourg is one of the few true hidden gems in Western Europe. Jam-packed with jaw-dropping hikes, delicious wine, enchanting castles and postcard villages. Add to that gregarious locals and a truly multicultural vibe and you have reasons a plenty to consider visiting!
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a small, utterly captivating, landlocked country nestled in the heart of Europe. Despite it being located right next to my home country Belgium, somehow it took me 35 years to visit. I admit, I was under the false impression that it contained nothing but banks.
Yet after road-tripping through the country for 4 days, I can unequivocally say that Luxembourg is worth visiting! This small country contains a wealth of experiences be it castle hunting, hiking or traipsing through the UNESCO old town of its capital Luxembourg City. It will not disappoint!
Read on to learn exactly why you should consider traveling to Luxembourg, what there is to do and which delicious local vegetarian specialties you have to try once you get there.
Things to do in Luxembourg: Quick Planning Guide
TOP PICKS FOR ACCOMMODATIONS
USEFUL READING: Browse through all my Luxembourg Guides
TOURISM OFFICE: 30 Pl. Guillaume II, 1648 Ville-Haute Luxembourg
GETTING AROUND: Public transportation is the whole country is free! Simply hop on and off the various buses/trains/trams to take you around. Check maps & routes online.
LUXEMBOURG CARD: Planning on visiting multiple Luxembourg attractions and museums? Check out the Luxembourg Card for plenty of discounts.
10 Reasons why Luxembourg is worth visiting
1. The plethora of castles
The history of castles in Luxembourg is intertwined with the country’s tumultuous past and strategic position in Europe. During the medieval era, castles served as fortified strongholds and symbols of power for the ruling nobility. Luxembourg’s strategic location made it a coveted territory, resulting in the construction of numerous castles across the landscape.
The first thing we did after picking up our rental car was to head directly from Luxembourg City to the northern part of the country to explore two of the most majestic castles in Luxembourg. The country has over 70 castles, here are a few of my favorites.
Vianden Castle, dating back to the 9th century, stands as a testament to Luxembourg’s medieval heritage. It witnessed the rise and fall of various ruling families, including the Counts of Vianden and the House of Nassau. Over the centuries, Vianden Castle transformed from a formidable fortress to a grand residence, with architectural elements from Romanesque to Gothic.
This is the best-preserved castle in all of Luxembourg. It was extensively restored after it was gifted to the State by the Duke of Luxembourg. We bought our tickets online. Pay €2 extra for an audio guide (it is very much worth it) and roam around the castle.
Spend the night: Many people visit Vianden Castle as a day trip from Luxembourg City. We opted to spend the night in the very cosy guesthouse Auberge Aal Veinen to also be able to explore the village of Vianden itself.
PRACTICAL | Included in the Luxembourg Card
Bourscheid Castle is another one of the many awe-inspiring medieval castles in Luxembourg. Dating back to the 10th century this castle was a formidable stronghold which has guarded trade routes and territories. Heavily expanded in the 14th and 15th century and left to crumble until it was snatched up by the Luxembourg State in 1972 and opened to the public.
As we had just spent 2 hours visiting every corner of Vianden Castle, we opted not to go inside as Bourscheid Castle is less well-preserved. We did however find two beautiful lookout points to photograph the castle from at sunset. Gringlay Viewpoint (requires a bit of a walk) and a spot marked as “Viewpoint Chateau Bouscheid” right off the main road.
PRACTICAL | Requires a car to reach
This little stone manor was built by the son of a stonemason in 1973. It is, as far as we could tell, currently abandoned and therefore not open for the public to visit. The park surrounding the beautiful manor is however open.
Getting here will require having your own transportation as it is clearly off the beaten path in Luxembourg. If you type in Tuurelback in the GPS, it will lead you to a clearing where you can park the car. From here a 5-minute walk down a dirt path, along a large pond, will get you straight to this beautiful castle.
A large sign indicates one cannot enter the castle or step on the small wooden bridge. Be a respectful traveler and do not trespass on private property.
2. The extraordinary hiking in Mullerthal
PREPARE YOUR HIKE | Run through the Mullerthal Trail official website
LOCAL TOURISM OFFICE | 3, Beim Maartbesch, L-6552 Berdorf
WHAT TO WEAR | Requires proper hiking footwear
The Mullerthal trail is, without a doubt, one of the main reasons to visit Luxembourg for me. Known as “Little Switzerland,” this hiking trail offers a picturesque journey through dense forests, rolling hills, and fascinating rock formations. The trail showcases the region’s unique geological formations, including sandstone cliffs, moss-covered boulders, and serene waterfalls, creating a truly magical ambiance.
Spanning over 112 kilometers, the Mullerthal Trail consists of several interconnected loops, allowing hikers to choose their desired route and explore at their own pace. Like Picos de Europa in Asturias, Mullerthal is a great destination for both beginners and advanced hikers.
The most popular hikes are three Officiate Routes (30+km), four smaller Extra Tours (9-22 km), and a smattering of Circular Routes (5 -14 km).
We opted to take the short 5km B2 trail, which was simply spectacular. It took us through the gargantuan canyon of Ruetsbech, up an iron ladder nestled inside a cave to Adlerhorst and alongside a section of rock façades frequented often by climbers.
TOURS | The Nature & Castle Tour leaving from Luxembourg City combines Mullerthal and Vianden Castle. Ideal if you are looking for a hassle-free way to explore both.
3. The illusive Luxembourgish culture
Initially, we set off towards Luxembourg with the idea of finally getting a feel for Luxembourgish culture. I was curious as to what makes this little country tick and how it differs from neighboring Belgium, France and Germany.
With a staggering 47% of the inhabitants heralding from other countries, getting a taste of local culture might start to feel like a wild goose chase. Yet, this multicultural melting pot is one of the cornerstones of Luxembourg. Locals usually speak 4 languages fluently (Luxembourgish, French, English and German) and switch between them effortlessly.
When you do happen to meet the rare local greet them with “Moien, wéi geet et??” which translates into “Hi, how are you doing”. Follow this with either a sturdy handshake or 4 kisses, depending on how well you know the person in front of you.
4. The UNESCO-classified Old Town of Luxembourg City
TOUR | 2.5 Hour Electric Bike Tour through Luxembourg City
Luxembourg City is the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Founded in 963, it was strategically situated on a rocky promontory, making it an ideal location for a fortress. Throughout the centuries, the city witnessed numerous conflicts and sieges. Its fortifications played a crucial role in its defense, earning it the nickname “Gibraltar of the North.”
These days, Luxembourg City transformed into a vibrant cultural and economic hub, with its historic center designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It took me a few days to wrap my head around the eclectic mix of historical and modern architecture, which is truly unparalleled anywhere in Europe.
My top 5 things to do in Luxembourg City
- Grab sunrise at the Pfaffenthal lift (especially at sunrise). The sun rises behind the Kirchberg area, the warm rays cast a beautiful golden glow inside the elevator shaft.
- Stroll around the picturesque Grund area, which feels like a tiny medieval town inside the bustling city
- Catch the sunset at the Chemin de la Corniche or grab a drink in one of the many bars dotted around this area.
- MUDAM: Head out to the Museum of Modern Art (get tickets online). Right behind the MUDAM a beautiful viewpoint opens up over the historical center. Walk back to the center via the Grund.
- Get lost in old town. The cobblestone streets, lined with beautiful buildings is cozy, inviting and oh-so picture-perfect. Highlights include Place d’Armes, Place Guillaume II, Place Clairefontaine, Place de la Constitution, Grand Ducal Palace, Corniche, Cathedral Notre-Dame, Adolphe Bridge
Tip: Not sure where to start? Try embarking on the Wenzel Walk which takes you through the historical old town of Luxembourg City.
5. They make some tasty cider
I am not sure why, but Cider was firmly relegated to the English and French in my head. Little did I know that Luxembourg has its very own cider region, and this liquid gold tastes mighty fine.
The region of eastern Luxembourg, more precisely Born, has a tradition of fermenting fruits dating back to Roman times. Thanks to abundant fruit trees that grown in the area, many locals would brew small batches of cider for local consumption.
In an effort to combat huge food waste – many of the apples and pears were left to rot after ripening – and to revive the age-old tradition of cider making Ramborn Cider Company was born. Today they work with over 100 local farmers, purchasing their fruit at fair prices. The only pre-requisite is that the fruit comes from a traditional orchard and is endemic to the region.
The small distillery is open for visits, tastings and has an on-site shop to purchase their delicious prize-winning cider. My personal favorite was the Cascade Hopped Cider.
PRACTICAL | Book your tasting at Ramborn Cider Company via their official website.
6. Luxembourg is as safe as it gets
Luxembourg, with its impressively low crime rate, is considered one of the safest countries in the world for travelers. Recent statistics reveal that the crime rate in Luxembourg is significantly lower than in neighboring countries, both for violent & petty crimes.
It surprised me that Luxembourg is considered even safer than my very own home country Belgium. Which I thought was about as safe as it gets. We walked around Luxembourg City – the most densely populated city in the country – very early in the morning and felt utterly safe!
When traveling, always be mindful of your valuables. Despite being a super-safe country, pickpocketing can always occur in crowded tourist hotspots.
7. It is super easy to get around
Public Transportation in Luxembourg
Since March 2020, public transport is free throughout entire Luxembourg. We mainly used the public transportation system in and around Luxembourg City. The buses, trains and trams were sparkling clean (mainly of them electric), on time, and running every few minutes.
Stops were announced in multiple languages on the overhead speakers, as well as indicated on a small electronic screen inside the carriage. Even me, who has a knack for getting lost, had zero problems using public transportation!
Driving in Luxembourg
As we were exploring smaller villages in northern Luxembourg, we chose to rent a car for three days. I am not the world’s best driver, living in Brussels I rarely need to drive. So I was a little nervous getting behind the wheel.
Turns out, Luxembourg is probably one of the nicest countries I have ever driven in. Drivers respect the rules, give right of way and are wonderfully patient. There is no incessant honking of horns like in Sicily, no speed devils driving precariously close to you and, the cherry on top of the sundae, the roads are super well maintained.
We saw a lot of electric cars in Luxembourg. If you are looking to rent a car, you should be able to get an electric vehicle for a small surcharge (which is not the case in most countries).
8. It has a tiny but mighty wine-growing region
Straddling the border between Luxembourg and Germany lies the Mossel Valley. With a winemaking history dating back over a thousand years, Luxembourg has cultivated a strong viticultural tradition in the region. The steep slopes along the Moselle River provide an ideal terroir for grape cultivation, and the vineyards in the Moselle Valley produce some of the country’s finest wines.
Luxembourg’s wine production is known for its white wines, particularly the Riesling, Auxerrois, and Pinot Blanc varietals. These wines showcase the region’s unique microclimate and the expertise of local winemakers. Visitors to the Moselle Valley can embark on wine tours, exploring picturesque vineyards, and sampling exquisite wines at charming wineries.
Notable wines to try include the Crémant, Luxembourg’s sparkling wine, known for its elegance and fine bubbles. Additionally, the Rivaner, a light and fruity white wine, and the Gewürztraminer, a rich and aromatic white wine, are must-tries for wine enthusiasts.
9. The large variety of adventure and outdoor activities in Luxembourg
I briefly touched upon the beautiful hiking in the Mullerthal region, but that is not all that Luxembourg has to offer!
Cycling enthusiasts can explore the country’s well-maintained network of cycling paths. With over 600 cycling paths and 700 kilometers of mountain bike trails, there is a route for just about everyone. Check the official tourism website for a selection of trails on offer.
Water lovers can head to Upper Sûre Lake, where they can partake in various water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding, and windsurfing. The Moselle River is perfect for leisurely boat cruises, allowing visitors to soak in the picturesque vineyard-dotted landscapes.
Last but not least, the country offers some spectacular rock climbing. When we hiked in Mullerthal we came across a smattering of climbers of varying ages and – so it seemed to us – technical skills. After a bit of research online it would seem that the hard sandstone of the region is perfect for rock climbing.
10. It’s not affected by over-tourism
Visiting Luxembourg is an excellent way to combat over-tourism, which has become a significant issue in popular European destinations. Its relatively smaller size and lower number of visitors translate into great service, affordable entrance fees, and uncrowded attractions (aside from perhaps Vianden Castle).
We happened to visit Luxembourg when The Netherlands had their school holidays. While there were a large number of people in the aforementioned Vianden Castle, the rest of the country was still blissfully tranquil which really enhanced the overall experience. No cues, no overcrowded public transport and no need to book tickets months in advance for museums and the main Luxemburg attractions.
Visiting Luxembourg helps support the diversification of tourism across Europe, promoting more responsible and sustainable travel choices.
Additional reasons to visit Luxembourg
Things in Luxembourg just work: Roads are well maintained, public transport is clean and on time, hikes are extraordinarily well-indicated, and cities are both well-lit and very safe. Even the information on the tourism website is well-structured and user-friendly (trust me, this is far from the norm).
Couple this with the fact Luxembourg is very well connected to its neighboring countries by a network of trains, makes traveling to and around Luxembourg incredibly effortless.
Where to stay in Luxembourg
LUXEMBOURG CITY: Hostellerie du Grünewald ($$$)
We stayed in this beautiful 4-star boutique hotel on our road trip. Located on the outskirts of the city with ample free parking available. The breakfast was amazing (!), beds plush and the surroundings blissfully peaceful!
VIANDEN: Auberge Aal Veinen ($$)
Located at the foot on the Vianden Castle. We stayed in this super quaint B&B and were met with wonderful hospitality. The on-site parking, delicious dinner and spacious bed were a nice added benefit.
CASTLE HOTEL: Chateau d’Urspelt Castle Hotel ($$$)
If you are looking for a truly unique place to stay in Luxembourg, look no further. This beautiful castle hotel is replete with a wellness area, sumptuous pool and luscious garden.
What to eat & drink in Luxembourg: Local specialties
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Traditional Luxembourgish dishes are heavily reliant on meat. This however does not mean you will go hungry as a vegetarian traveling in Luxembourg. On the contrary, all of the restaurants we visited had at least a few vegetarian options on the menu, they were however decidedly not Luxembourgish.
GROMPEREKICKELCHER: This is one of the few traditional foods that is vegetarian-friendly and super delicious. Fried potato pancake, served with a side of apple compote.
BAKED GOODS & BREAD: I have to say the quality of bread and baked goods was very, very high! On our first day we tried a delicious pretzel covered in almond flakes and a typical custard-stuffed pastry called “huit”.
WINE: Order a glass of local white wine: Riesling, Auxerrois, and Pinot Blanc varietals
CIDER: If you are going to try cider anywhere, it might as well be right here in Luxembourg. The locally brewed Ramborn cider is widely available is most bars.
Where to eat and drink in Luxembourg
DO NOT MISS – La Distillerie
A one-star Michelin restaurant that was voted “the best vegetable restaurant in the world”. Ingredients for all dishes are collected in the forest surrounding the restaurant, which happens to be a very picturesque castle.
We were lucky enough to be able to go out with head chef René Mathieu to collect various vegetables. Never in a million years did I expect to find so many edible plants readily available. When our meals were served, the chef would showcase the various ingredients used for each dish. Both the foraging and the meal itself were a veritable delight for the senses!
FUEL UP BEFORE/AFTER YOUR HIKE – Aal Eechternoach
After our hike in Mullerthal, we had a nice vegan poké bowl in this quaint restaurant. Plenty of vegetarian and vegan options are available. The menu is rather international.
The city has tons of vegetarian and vegan-friendly places to grab a bite. We popped into Beet for a light dinner. Bazaar offers Lebanese and Mediterranean food and looked super cozy (it was fully booked when we went). Pâtisserie Oberweis is perfect if you want to try some local pastries or grab a quick sandwich on the go.
So, is Luxembourg actually worth visiting?
The answer to that question is unequivocally yes. We spent four days driving around the country and still had the idea we only got to see but a mere glimpse of what was on offer.
I highly recommend spending at least 5 days in the country. One to two days to visit Luxembourg City, one day to explore the various castles, at least one day hiking in Mullerthal which leaves the last day for wine tasting in the Mossel Valley.
MORE TRAVEL RESOURCES FOR VISITING LUXEMBOURG & SURROUNDINGS
LUXEMBOURG: Visiting Vianden Castle in Luxembourg
GERMANY: 15 Unmissable things to do in the Harz Mountains
GERMANY: 7-Day road trip through northern Germany
BELGIUM: 16 Castle hotels in Belgium
BELGIUM: Best areas to stay in Brussels
BELGIUM: Comprehensive one-day in Brussels itinerary
BELGIUM: Things to do in Namur
BELGIUM: Easy train trips from Brussels