You really should visit Luxembourg.
Ask anybody if they ever want to visit Luxembourg and you will likely get a blank stare. This is one of those tiny countries that for one reason or another never catches anybody’s attention. It could be that it is hardly mentioned in the media, other than for business related to the European Union. And since you never hear about it much, it never really tickles your curiosity.
Yet, once you actually see pictures of it, you realize it may really be worth going.
Start doing a bit of research and you will learn that Luxembourg has some incredible hiking trails. But there is much more to it, and if you decide to visit Luxembourg you are bound to find out. You will visit, hike through the thickest and greenest forest you can imagine, bikee some smooth hills, explore castles, and gorge down on delicious food.
I spent 4 days roaming around Luxembourg City and the Mullerthal region, and concluded that this may well be the most underrated adventure destination in Europe. But the good news is that even though it is adventure galore, there are plenty of comforts so that at the end of an adrenaline filled day, it is possible to fully relax.
In this post, I highlight all the reasons that should make you want to visit Luxembourg and share some tips to make the most of it.
Why You Need To Visit Luxembourg
All it takes to find a hiking trail in Luxembourg is looking across the street. Most trails can be accessed via a short walk from one of the lovely villages. Others have access points directly from the main road.
If you drive around the Mullerthal you will see that there are what look like well hidden stairs carved in rock all along the road, and once you hike and find yourself right on the street after going down those stairs, you will understand what their purpose is.
But there’s more to it. Hiking trails in Luxembourg are among the leading quality trails of Europe. So is the Mullerthail Trail, which runs for 112 km, going around one of the thickest, greenest and most untouched forests in Europe, through incredible rock formations (whose names are impossible to pronounce) and reaching hidden gems such as the many abandoned mills (muller, from which the region takes the name, actually means mill) and the photogenic (and now iconic) Schiessentumpel bridge and waterfalls, in Mëllerdall am Bësch.
The trails are easy to follow (well signaled!) but I don’t recommend ever hiking alone – find out why in this post.
There are many incredible castles and if you visit Luxembourg you can discover them all. The Mullerthal Trail goes all the way to Beaufort Castle!
This is not just one, but two castles built right next to each other. The first one was built between the 11th and the 17th century and it is now mostly (beautifully kept) ruins: narrow and steep stairs lead to what used to be dining room, and even torture chambers.
The second one was built from the 17th century and it was inhabited until 2012. The interiors are perfectly kept, with beautiful decorations and furniture.
Naturepark Mëllerdall, in the Mullerthal region, has some incredible rock formations that create natural labyrinths. You will have a lot of fun trying to find your way out the intricate and narrow passageways. Children certainly love these natural playgrounds.
One of the reasons to visit Luxembourg is the many biking trails. They go so deep into the forest that any traffic noise is obstructed. Now, call that peaceful! You will enjoy some relaxed biking and even more, the mountain biking trails. It is a great way to get close to nature, much like hiking, but with the added bonus that it is much faster and so you get to see more places.
When you visit Luxembourg, make sure to visit Guttland region. I won’t hide the fact that it is a challenging ride: there are a few tough uphills where you will have to get off your bike and push. But it is mostly because the bike saddles can be very uncomfortable so your bottom will hurt. The sights though are incredible: thick forest, hidden mills, a river and nobody else around.
The country is spotless
If you are accustomed to traveling to developing countries, where people and authorities alike hardly show any interest in environmental protection (think places like Panama that have massive garbage collection and disposal issues, or India, where throwing trash in the streets and rivers is a common practice), you will be pleased to rest your eyes on the pristine land of Luxembourg.
If you visit Luxembourg, you need to accustom yourself rather quickly to the recycling practices.
You will find Luxembourg City to be a real gem. Make sure to go on the Wenzel circular walk and visit the Old Quarters; sip a hot coffee to warm up during a rainy day; soak in the friendly atmosphere.
Make sure to also visit Echternach, the oldest city in the country. This small city has a pretty city centre, and it is the kind of place where people go on a stroll whenever the sun is out (and not only) and enjoy each other’s company.
Driving around the Mullerthal region, you will also see some beautiful and colorful villages.
The lovely locals
If you visit Luxembourg you will quickly see how friendly the locals are. It takes a while to fully grasp its culture, but in your time there you will be under the impression that the locals are incredibly laid-back and that they enjoy life. It will make your experience there all the better.
The many languages
The funniest conversation you may have with Luxembourgish people is about which language they speak at home, or to their children. People truly “stress” (well, sort of!) about which language they should teach their kids at home. I guess coming from Italy it goes without saying that we speak Italian at home, or one of our 12 minority languages. I actually speak Sardinian to my mother, as I am from Sardinia.
There are 3 official languages in Luxembourg: Luxembourgish, German and French. Locals easily switch from one to the other. Not only that: the majority of the population speaks fluent English and, due to the large Portuguese population, also Portuguese. This means that chances are that, whichever language you may speak, the locals also speak it. Communication is really easy and makes traveling a lot more enjoyable.
There is a great restaurant scene
There’s nothing better than having a good meal at the end of a long day of hiking and biking. Scattered around the country there are some fabulous restaurants that offer all sorts of delicious dishes, from the most local ones, to fusion and international recipes. I guess it reflects the fact that Luxembourg is truly multicultural.
Local wine is crisp and refreshing
If you love a good glass of wine you will be happy to know that you can enjoy sparkling white wine, and was even happier to find out that Luxembourg has its very own one, called Cremant.
It’s actually not that expensive
The first thing to do when you visit Luxembourg is getting the Luxembourg Card. This costs no more than €28 for 3 days, during which it is possible to use any train and bus on the national public transport network and visit one or all of the 72 attractions it provides access to. There are even guided tours that can be booked via the Luxembourg Card.
There are plenty of accommodation options
Budget and adventure travelers and backpackers will find that there are plenty of accommodation options to suit their taste and need in Luxembourg. Luxembourg City Youth Hostel is perfectly equipped with comfortable and spotless dorms. Yet, the best places to stay are camping sites such as the Camping Officiel Echternach, where it is possible to pitch a tent, place a caravan, and even to sleep in a pod.
From the outside, pods look like huge wine barrels. Inside, they are tiny yet perfectly organized rooms that sleep up to 4 persons. They have electricity, central heating and they feel very cozy.
Packing tips for Luxembourg
I went to Luxembourg in May and the purpose of my visit was to hike around – so I packed accordingly. Unfortunately, it rained most of the time when I visited, but this didn’t put me off and I still explored a lot. Besides, I was dressed appropriately and so did not get wet or cold.
Having said so, if you plan to go hiking in Luxembourg you really have to wear layers. Wear hiking pants, preferably convertible, to detach the lower leg in case it gets hot. A good technical t-shirt is key to make sure that no matter how much one sweats, the back doesn’t get cold. A light sweater and a rain jacket on top will complete the outfit, and needless to say a pair of good hiking boots.
To see more of what goes in my backpack, read my post “My ultimate packing list.”
Are you planning to visit Luxembourg?
Legal Disclaimer: This article is written in partnership with the tourism board of Luxembourg, of whom I was a guest. All the views and opinions expressed are my own and based on my personal experience. The views expressed are honest and factual without any bias.
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