When we first moved to Belgium last September, we had dreamed of many weekends abroad, exploring the continent and taking advantage of Brussels' central location. Of course COVID had other plans and as such, I haven't left Belgium since we moved here.
A long weekend was coming up and I was desperately researching places I could safely and easily travel to without too many COVID complications and hurdles involved. Luxembourg was the answer - no COVID test required for European residents arriving by land (not by air), and no quarantine required. Perfect! I booked three nights in an AirBnB in the heart of Luxembourg City and set about planning.
Having visited Luxembourg City in 2017 on a layover trip, I decided to focus this weekend on getting out of the city and seeing as much of the little towns, castles and beautiful nature in the surrounds. I'd say mission accomplished - you'll see as you scroll through this blog post how much I packed into the two days!
The best part of it all? Public transport in Luxembourg is reliable, regular, wide-ranging and - best of all - completely FREE! Yes, you read that right. Luxembourg is proud to be the first country in the world to have their entire public transport system free of charge, a move to encourage residents and tourists to opt for greener ways of getting around.
So aside from paying for my AirBnB and my international train from Brussels to Luxembourg City, the rest of my trip was completely free! Bear in mind I also packed my own food from home to cook in the AirBnB's kitchen - that may be a cost you want to consider.
So now I've convinced you that Luxembourg is the ideal weekend destination, where should you go? I've written out everything I did during my time here, all accessible by free bus and all a delight to explore!
To summarize how I divided my time, I spent my first day in the east, exploring Larochette, Bourscheid, Vianden and then hiking part of the Mullerthal Trail from Berdorf to Echternach. I spent my second day in the west, making my way through the Valley of Seven Castles including Septfontaines, Hollenfels, Ansembourg and Mersch, before an afternoon spent in Luxembourg City. Read all about the details here:
Bus from Luxembourg City via Kirchberg & Junglinster ~ 1 hour
Larochette is a little town in the heart of Luxembourg. Situated on the banks of the White Ernz River and surrounded on all sides by dense forest and walls of rock with castle ruins sitting high above it all, Larochette is as quaint as they come.
2. Bourscheid Castle
Bus from Larochette via Ettelbruck ~ 1 hour 15 mins
Bourscheid itself is a quiet place, but the castle here jutting out on a promontory is epic. You can spot it from the road as your bus makes its way into town and it's truly a masterpiece on the skyline. You'll need to walk a bit from the bus stop, but the path is pleasant and partly through a forest.
Bus from Bourscheid via Ettelbruck ~ 1 hour 30 mins
Vianden was the furthest spot from Luxembourg City that I visited and I am so glad I made the trip out there - it was by far my favourite town I visited the whole weekend! I think it might top the list for cutest places in Luxembourg; the views from the bridge over the river and up to the majestic Vianden Castle are unbeatable. There's a fantastic view point to see the castle as well - the biggest in Luxembourg (pictured at the top of this post).
4. Mullerthal Trail
Bus from Vianden to Berdorf via Bleesbréck ~ 1 hour
The famous Mullerthal Trail stretches 112 km across the country and can be done in small day chunks and is easily accessible by bus from around the country. The trail is home to rock formations, caves, canyons and beautiful fresh nature to explore.
5. Valley of the Seven Castles
Bus from Luxembourg City ~ 1 hour
I spent my second day in Luxembourg exploring the Valley of the Seven Castles. There is a hiking trail that connects all these castles, alternatively, buses run between them as well. I didn't find the castles in this region to be as impressive as the ones I saw on day one, but if you're in the region, then it's nice to get to see so many castles at once.
I visited the castles in Septfontaines, Hellenfols, Ansembourg (new castle) and Mersch. The other three castles making up the Valley are in Koerich, Ansembourg (old castle) and Schoenfels.
6. Luxembourg City
Of course, while my focus was the countryside, it wouldn't be a trip to Luxembourg without spending time in the city with it's iconic views and cliffside architectural beauty. The best way to get around is just to walk - the city is compact enough and there's plenty to see.