While I was in Luxembourg last week I went on a day trip out of Luxembourg City. Tourists to the country can get a Luxembourg Card, and for 1, 2 or 3 days they can use the card to get free entry to all museums in the country, and free bus and train journeys around the country. I bought a 3 day card, for 28euros, and made good use of it. I had read about a town called Vianden, which is about 1hr from Luxembourg City by train and then bus, and has amongst its other attractions a castle with nice views. The guide book gave easy and simple instructions on how to get there – get the train to Ettelbruck, and then get the bus, which departs from immediately across the road from the train station, to Vianden. So, armed with my Luxembourg card, that is exactly what I did! And it was as easy as the guide book said.
Vianden is lovely. I fell in love with this small town while I was still on the bus. It has a small river winding its way through the town, with steep hills either side, and the houses are old and quaint, the streets are cobbled and quiet. It’s probably busy at the height of summer, but at the beginning of October it was nice and peaceful.
The first place I went to was of course the castle. It was up a reasonably steep hill, but with views and nice houses to look at it was an enjoyable walk, and didn’t take too long. At this time of year, the castle didn’t have too many visitors, but it was busier than some places I went to. Entry was free with my card, and armed with an audio guide costing 2euros, I was ready for a wander round. I’ll not bore you with too many details, but the gist of it is – the castle was originally built between the 11th and 14th centuries and was lived in by the influential counts of Vianden, who had close links with the royal families of France and Germany. By the 1800’s it was no longer occupied and fell into a state of disrepair. The castle has been restored, and it looks beautiful. Following the audio guide, you go from room to room, and see chapels, kitchens, a bedroom, halls, banqueting rooms, a dining room, and at least one terrace with glorious views down the valley and across the hills. The sun was shining that day, my cold seemed to go away for 24hrs and it was a lovely place to spend a couple of hours.
From there I walked back into the town centre, feeling somewhat hungry. I did think about sitting in a couple of cafes and restaurants as I walked down the hill, but I was feeling indecisive, and also some of them were shut. I’m glad I was indecisive though, as I ended up eating a lovely pizza sitting outside at a restaurant by the river, with a view of the castle. Definitely the best place to eat – and probably the busiest place I saw in town all day.
After lunch, I headed to the chair lifts, which were free with my Luxembourg card. They are exactly like ski chair lifts, and take you up the hill to admire the outstanding views of the town and valley and castle below. Except for a pub, there is nothing else to do up there, but the view was gorgeous!
After I’d come back down I went to the town’s history museum to learn more about the town. This was a slightly odd museum, and not the easiest to look round. The notices/info boards around the museum are all in German, and although you can get a book in English which tells you what the boards say, but I found I was so busy reading the book I wasn’t looking at the boards and kept missing any pictures/illustrations. And the English book didn’t cover every floor – the top floor had no English translation available so I have no idea what that was all about. That said, the history geek in me enjoyed it, and I was able to learn something.
By the time I’d finished there it was late afternoon. I went for a walk along the river, away from the castle and commercial part of town, past some houses, and into a vaguely park-like area. At one point I saw some men fishing, and I walked past a group of geese. It was lovely and peaceful along there, and I just sat for a while watching the water and looking up at the distant castle.
That was my day out. I caught the bus and train back into Luxembourg City about 6pm, feeling very pleased with my day out. I wish I had been well enough for another day out, as I’m sure there are more equally lovely small towns in the country, but it was not to be. Maybe next time…