A visit to Luxembourg would not be complete without visiting a castle or two. Since my husband and I were staying in Luxembourg City, we decided to take a day trip to one of the nearby castles. We chose Vianden Castle, based on its proximity, lengthy history and natural beauty. We weren’t disappointed.
There are a few options on how to get from Luxembourg to Vianden. You can take the bus from Luxembourg to Vianden, but you need to make a few transfers along the way. We opted instead to take the train to Ettelbruck, then hopped the 570 bus straight to Vianden, Breck. The total travel time was around an hour and a half.
The town of Vianden is both quiet and picturesque, the perfect setting for a castle.
Vianden’s history stretches back for centuries. It’s original names was Viennensis, when the Gallo-Romans built a castellum (a small fort or tower) on the spot where the current castle now sits. So don’t be surprised by how old some of the buildings here look. The Church of Saint Nicholas, for example, goes all the way back to the 13th Century:
Vianden also has a claim to fame due to ties with the famous poet, Victor Hugo. He visited Vianden three times before settling here briefly after being expelled from Belgium. Some of his works and belongings can be seen here at the Victor Hugo House Literary Museum.
Anytime we arrive in a new town or city, my husband and I like to walk around and get our bearings a bit. So we went for a stroll along a few of the narrow, winding streets. Sidewalks on the side streets are more of a suggestion than a rule, especially in front of doorways or stairways. Thankfully there wasn’t a lot of traffic!
We loved some of the building facades. The rough, crumbly exterior of the Musee des Artistes in particular caught my fancy:
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there were also buildings which looked freshly painted and flawless:
Before we headed up to the castle, my husband and I decided to grab some lunch at a local restaurant. We had a bit of trouble agreeing on what we wanted, but eventually we stopped at a small, quaint cafe called the Buddha Cafe. By the name, I expected the menu to be Indian fare, but in fact, it was Portuguese. This leads me to one really interesting fact about Luxembourg that we didn’t know until we visited: it’s estimated that about 16% of the people in Luxembourg are of Portuguese descent! So if you love bacalhau or pasteis de natas, you should be quite at home here.
We ended up ordering grilled cheese sandwiches and one of the local beers from a brewery called Diekirch. It quickly became one of our favourite beers from Luxembourg. It’s a nice, wheaty, easy-drinking beer. “Die Kirch” is German for “the church,” and, interestingly, when I first sniffed Diekirch, it reminded me very much of the smell of an old church filled with incense and candle wax. Weird, right? But surprisingly tasty.
Once we were full, we headed off to the castle. Prior to arriving in Vianden, we had read several reviews recommending an alternate route for getting to the castle. A chairlift! Yes, this petite town of only 1800 people has a chairlift to and from the castle. What a wonderful way to travel. It even takes you across the river. And as you can see, it wasn’t busy at all when we went. We had the chairlift all to ourselves!
I mean, how pretty and serene is this? And we’re not even at the castle yet.
Oh, unless you have a fear of heights. This steep section might make you a bit nervous. Maybe don’t look behind you:
You get amazing vantage points of the town though, including the castle looming over it:
Once we reached the top, we started walking through the forest to get to the castle…to be continued in Part 2!
You can now download this article at GPSMYCITY here: A Day Trip to Vianden – Part 1, Exploring the Town