“He found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn, about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien,
I went to Luxembourg in October 2015 for a quiet weekend by myself and found that 48 hours was the ideal amount of time to spend here. I arrived just as the leaves were turning a golden brown and I instantly fell in love with this beautiful country.
As always, I left on a Friday night after work and my flights from London Gatwick were an absolute bargain at under £40 return. Unfortunately, my accommodation wasn’t as cheap (Luxembourg is an expensive country) and as hostels are hard to come by in Luxembourg I ended up staying in a hotel just outside the city. Ibis Styles cost me £116 for two nights in a double room which is far more than I’d ever normally pay, but it was comfortable and clean so I can’t complain too much! It was conveniently located just two minutes away from the main train and bus station, 5 minutes from the supermarket and a brisk fifteen minute walk from the main town.
When I was in the planning stages of my trip I didn’t really comprehend just how difficult it would be to reach places out of the city. In hindsight, it would have been good to have access to a car whilst here, as most of the places I wanted to see required getting a train to Ettelbruck and getting a bus on from there. The buses were not regular (although they always seemed to run on time) and there just wasn’t enough time to visit all the places I wanted to see outside of the city. However, I made a list of the top places I wanted to see and made sure I optimised my time.
My first stop was to the Tourist Office to get myself the Luxembourg Card. Normally I avoid cards like this at all costs, but this one seemed like a pretty sweet deal. The price for two days with the card was €20 and covered all public transport costs as well as entry into 74 sites in Luxembourg. Whilst I was in the centre of Luxembourg City I decided to explore a bit. I first went to the Grand Ducal Palace which is absolutely beautiful. Due to the time of year I was visiting I wasn’t able to get a guided tour but I admired it from the outside and took some nice pictures for my Instagram page.
I’d Googled Luxembourg a lot before I arrived and I had seen a lot of absolutely stunning pictures of Grund and there was no way I was coming to Luxembourg City and not exploring this quarter. I walked around here for a few hours and managed to take some beautiful pictures. To me, Grund felt like the heart of the city. It was everything I’d expected it to be and more. If you’re going Luxembourg you seriously need to explore Grund. The walk is pleasant, with great views of the city. However the hill back up to town is pretty steep so if you don’t fancy the walk there is a public lift you can get.
Last stop on my tour of Luxembourg City was the Bock Casemates. Entry into the Casemates was free with the Luxembourg card (bonus!) and again, I’d read good things about them so I had to check them out. I’m not going to recommend this to anyone with claustrophobia – in fact, I’d even go as far as to say you need to steer well clear if confined spaces make you nervous! The Casemates are a series of underground tunnels built into the rock face (stretching 17km long). They have many openings which offer spectacular views and the history behind them is just fascinating. You don’t even need to spend a long time here, it’s just fun to explore them at your own leisure.
Now I can talk about my absolute favourite part of my weekend – Vianden Castle. It took just over an hour to get here from Luxembourg City (45 minutes on the train and then 30 minutes on a bus from Ettelbruck) and it was completely worth the journey.
Whenever I go to a new country I always look for castles and palaces. They are my favourite places to visit; I honestly never get bored of them. When I first arrived in Vianden I stepped off the bus and looked up at the castle high on the hillside and thought to myself how glad I was that I’d read there was a chairlift. But… no such luck, I’m afraid! Due to the fact I’d gone in the Autumn, the chairlift was shut and I had to climb the steep hill to the castle. As it turns out, I’m so glad I got to walk up there as the winding streets were absolutely beautiful and the walk was so refreshing.
Entry was again free (I really was making the most of the Luxembourg Card!) so this was a brilliantly cheap day out. When you arrive you’re given a leaflet so you’re able to complete a self- tour of the castle, which meant I could stroll at my own pace and take some photographs of the fantastic scenery.
The weather couldn’t have been better on the day of my visit. The sky was blue and the air was crisp and, as you can see from the photos of the belltower above, the castle looked beautiful against the scenic backdrop. My favourite part of the castle was a corridor with open windows where you can look out over the town below. The view here was honestly breath-taking.
If I ever end up near Luxembourg again I’d love to check out the area known as “Little Switzerland”. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to squeeze that in to my weekend, but I’d never say never to going back…