Perched atop a cliff in the valley of the Our River, standing guard over the little eponymous villages lies the impressive Vianden Castle. It is hard to imagine this turreted beauty was once completely dismantled for coin. Read on for the history, practical details for your visit, and the very best viewpoints.
On a warm weekend in late Spring, we decided to embark on a road trip through Luxembourg. Our very first stop was the impressive Vianden Castle, which is – rightfully so – the most visited tourist attraction in Luxembourg.
I have visited my fair share of castles across Europe, and can confidently say that this is probably one of the best restored and most immersive castles around. We spent two hours traipsing through the various rooms, learning about the history through an eloquent audioguide and photographing the many, many beautiful nooks and crannies.
Where is Vianden Castle located?
The castle is located in the northern part of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in a region known as Éislek, right in the middle of the lush Luxembourg Ardennes, at the heart of the medieval hamlet known as Vianden. Practically speaking it is a 50-minute drive or a 1h16 train/bus ride from the capital, Luxembourg City.
Visitors usually end up spending a few hours visiting the castle and then set off to tick off the next item on their Luxembourg bucket list. Time permitting, I highly recommend spending one night in Vianden and exploring both the tiny medieval town alongside the castle as well as the various hikes surrounding the castle.
Where to stay: We ended up staying in the very cozy Auberge Aal Veinen which had on-site parking and was located at the foot of the castle.
Brief history of the castle at Vianden
Vianden Castle reminds me a little of a Lego castle. Various blocks, or in this case, reception halls and vaulted ceilings added in at different stages throughout history. The original fortress perched on the cliff dates back to the 10th century to offer protection from Viking raids.
Between the 10th and 14th century, the castle was expanded and modified extensively by various successive rulers, including the counts of Vianden and the House of Nassau (yep, the royal family of the Netherlands), who came about it by ways of inheritance.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, Vianden Castle was transformed into a luxurious residence, featuring Gothic-style architecture and lavish furnishings. The castle remained in the hands of the House of Nassau until 1820 when it was sold to a local businessman, who proceeded to sell the complete inventory including the roof, doors, and windows.
The fully restored castle you see today is relatively recent. Renovation works were held from 1966 right up until 1990, the design was based upon several old paintings. Today the Castle is owned by the State and used extensively for official State visits. Private individuals can rent portions of the castle for events if they wish (though I am sure this might cost a pretty penny).
What to expect when visiting the Luxembourg Castle
Visits start and end in the large castle courtyard. After paying their entrance fee, visitors walk past an information center with toilets and a place to purchase food & drinks. There is one additional set of public toilets, inside the castle itself.
Upon entering the castle, you will embark on a self-guided tour. This can be done in the form of an audioguide (Cost price: €2, to be paid at the entrance) or simply by following the numbered path in the castle itself.
RECOMMENDATION | We opted not to take the audioguide, which in hindsight was a pity. While there are plenty of informative signs (in English/French/German) to show visitors the history of the castle in broad strokes, history buffs will want to invest in the audio guide. One guide is enough for the entire family as it can be put on speakerphone (which many people ended up doing creating a bit of a cacophony).
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Which rooms can you explore on your visit?
There is a lot to see: The castle contains three floors, with a varying set of rooms. My favorite was the upper chapel (spectacular), the Byzantine hall, and the well-stocked kitchens.
GROUND FLOOR: Arms Hall, Knights’ Study, Lower Chapel, Kitchens, Archaeological Crypt, Grand Kitchen, Dining Room, Well, Knights’ Hall.
1st FLOOR: Inner Courtyard, Chemin de Ronde, Upper Chapel, Byzantine Hall, Banquet Room, Bedroom, Counts’ Hall (or Vic Abens Room), Nassau Tower (or Genealogy Room). Public toilets can be found on this floor.
2nd FLOOR: Jemmy Koltz Room, Charles Arendt Room. In these rooms, you will find various models of Castle Vianden as well as historical photographs and detailed information about the restoration of the castle itself.
CELLAR: As you make your way back down and towards the exit, there is one last part of the castle still to visit. The cellar nowadays looks like a banquet hall with a medieval touch but a decidedly modern tap for beer. I believe this room can be rented out.
It can get very busy: Let’s start with the obvious, Luxembourg Castle or Vianden Castle is anything but a “hidden gem”. As many as 180.000 visitors pop in yearly, peaking during the town’s Middle Ages Festival (held yearly in the second week of August) when 3000 people shuffle around inside the castle.
As we traipsed through the various rooms, what struck me was how it almost felt like someone was still living there. The furniture, although not the original pieces (as mentioned above, they were all sold off) does a wonderful job of recreating the daily life of bygone eras.
PRACTICAL NOTE | The castle contains several stairs and is therefore not accessible for visitors with limited mobility.
How to get to Vianden from Luxembourg
Visit Vianden Castle by public transportation (recommended)
If you are only spending a few days in Luxembourg and not planning on seeing much beyond Luxembourg City and the Vianden Castle then definitely make use of the free (!) public transportation to get around. Total travel time is a little over one hour. It is the perfect day trip from Luxembourg.
STEP ONE: Train from Gare de Luxembourg to Gare de Troisvierges – Get off at Gare de Ettelbruck
STEP TWO: Bus 570 from Garde de Ettelbruck to Obereisenback – Get off at Gare de Vianden
Take the car
As we were doing a road trip we ended up renting a car and drove to Vianden from Luxembourg city. In general driving in Luxembourg is a very pleasant experience, the roads are well-maintained and the drivers are respectful.
PARKING ONE | Parking is available at the foot of the castle (Parking Château de Vianden in Google). Monday to Saturday this parking lot allows you to stand here for a maximum of 5 hours and requires you to pay a parking ticket (€1h per hour for the first three hours €0,5 for the 4th and 5th hour). Tickets can be paid in cash or with a (credit) card.
PARKING TWO | If parking one is full, there is the option to park the car alongside the winding Rue de Diekirch. We also saw a parking meter here, so this is also a paid parking.
PARKING THREE | The village of Vianden has a tiny parking, right off the Grand Rue. It was permanently full when we visited (both late at night, early morning and late afternoon). I would therefore not count on parking here.
TOURS | There is of course always the option to take a guided day tour from Luxembourg City which includes transport, a visit to the c,astle, and a tour of Vianden village with the house of Victor Hugo.
Best viewpoints of the Vianden Castle
As a photographer, I always love looking up viewpoints to capture the various monuments I am visiting. Here are a few spots that will allow you to capture the castle in its entirety.
TOP OF THE CABLE CAR: At the very top of the cable car, you will be greeted with uninterrupted views over Vianden Castle, the village, and the valley. From the Castle parking simply follow the signs for “cable car” and hike up 10 minutes.
RUE DE DIEKIRCH: The main road leading into the town of Vianden offers spectacular viewpoints along the route. Parking du Mémporial de la libération de Vianden is a good spot to park the car and take a snap. Alternatively, leave the car there and walk further down toward the village to get more unimpeded views.
RUE DU SANATORIUM: As we strolled through Vianden town, we walked up a little via this road. If you have a good zoom lens, this road offers a nice view of the back of the castle. The footpath stops at a certain point, so you will only be able to walk up a short distance.
Practical tips for visiting Vianden Castle Luxembourg
Viande Castle opening hours & tickets
OPENING HOURS | November to February 10.00 am – 04.00 pm; March & December 10.00 am – 05.00 pm; April to September 10.00 am to 06.00 pm
TICKETS | €10 (adults), 5€ (students), or €2.5 (children from 6 to 12 years old). Vianden Castle is included in the Luxembourg Card
DISCOUNTED TICKETS | Purchase your tickets online via GetYourGuide and pay €8
How long do I need to visit the entire castle?
We spent a good 2 hours walking through the various rooms in the castle. Granted, I might have taken 400 pictures which slowed us down ever so slightly. Count on spending at least 90 minutes from the time you enter the castle to the time you are back at the parking.
Where to store your bags in the castle
Coming in with a load of heavy bags? Small lockers are available to store your luggage. Find them right behind the ticket booth. They require a €2 coin, which you get back when you pick up your luggage.
Are there food and drink facilities in the castle?
A small cantine selling a select few items of food and drinks is located inside the visitors center right by the entrance. Here you will also find a small exhibition area as well as clean toilets to use. €2.5 will buy you a beverage while snacks start around €3.
Take the cable cars up to Vianden Castle
The cable cars are a super fun way to get up to the very top of the hill overlooking Vianden Castle (440 meters high). These are the only chairlifts in the entire Duchy of Luxembourg! If you are parked on the official Vianden Castle Parking consider taking the chairlift down to Vianden itself, after you have visited the castle. A e15-minute-min walk will bring you back from the bottom of the chairlift to the parking itself.
STARTING POINT | Either at the bottom (4, Rue du Sanatorium) or at the top
COST | €6.5 (one way); €9 (return)
OPERATING HOURS | Limited operating hours. Check official website
Where to stay in Vianden Luxembourg
Most people will not bother spending the night in Vianden. Personally, I really enjoyed being able to wake up early in Vianden itself, explore the medieval village, and scout out the various viewpoints of the castle without being surrounded by an endless stream of tourists.
Auberge Aal Veinen: We opted to stay in this small, locally run B&B. It came with on-site parking, amiable staff, and a delicious breakfast, and was set in a beautifully renovated 17th-century house. What more could a girl ask for!
Hotel Heintz: A quaint family-run hotel with a lovely garden and on-site wine bar. Located smack in the middle of the village, within walking distance from the castle entrance.
Auberge de L’Our: The top-rated accommodation in Vianden. Set along the banks of the ORiverver with panoramic views of the castle.
Additional things to do in Vianden
The tiny village of Vianden managed to capture the heart of none other than Victor Hugo who spent time here after he was exiled in the late 19th century. We spent a morning strolling through the tiny cobblestoned streets and it was not hard to see why Mr Hugo decided to stay.
There are a few things to do in Vianden itself. A visit to the Musée littéraire Victor Hugo is a must as is taking a comfortable stroll along the Ourdal Promenade (total route is 8.5 km).
If we had a bit more time then I would have liked to take one of the many hikes that go into the hills surrounding the castle. The tourism office has a few of the hikes marked online. We saw a map at the entrance of the castle with a host of hiking paths ranging from 3 to 25 km. The paths seemed to be very well indicated (as was the case everywhere in Luxembourg).
Is the castle in Vianden worth visiting?
The castle is definitely worth a visit! It has been wonderfully restored to provide an interactive glimpse into the lives of the elite of bygone eras. The ease of access, both via public transportation and car, as well as the well-indicated self-guided tour, make visiting the castle a piece of cake!
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