Europe

Luxembourg; castles, rock formations and an intriguing capital

Luxumbourg. Belgium’s tiniest neighbor and the country you pass through on your way to Germany or Austria. That’s what I knew of this country until a couple of months ago.

And what a shame that lack of knowledge was! Covid-19 once again made me look for travel options closer to home and made me discover what riches this tiny country has to offer.

It’s pretty hard for me to have days off work during the summer holidays, so a long trip abroad wasn’t possible anytime soon. But boy was I in need of some traveling! Thank god there are always the weekends! And with some proper planning, one can do a lot within a weekend!

So at 6am our car was already exiting our street; direction Luxembourg.

Little after 9 am, our first sight of the trip came within view; Le Lac de la Haute Sûre. A 380ha big lake which provides the area of drinking water, but is also the perfect spot for some leasure activities. I was mostly interested in the view on the lake rather than spending some time close to the shore or in the water.

And thankfully for me, the view I wanted was readily available within a ten minute walk from the parking lot at Plage Burfelt. A wooden viewing platfrom has been erected, offering an amazing view over the lake. Bingo!

Following the water, we continued to our next point of interest; Château de Bourscheid. This castle was built around the 10th century and enlarged in the 14th and 15th century, making it Luxembourg’s largest castle. You can visit this castle, but the inside didn’t really speak to me. I was happy to wander around the open areas and marvel at the lush green nature surrounding the castle.

From Bourscheid our itinerary led us more south, to the town of Larochette. This little town is completely surrounded by lush woods and on one side you cannot fail to notice the majestic castle. One of the buildings has been restored while the other was left in ruins. Makes for a pretty odd and unique sight.

We hiked up to the castle to get a closer view of the foundations upon which it stands before climbing up again on the other side of town to get a beautiful view over the town of Larochette and the castle.

My favorite view was the one from the gazebo on the west side of town. We enjoyed some store-bought ice cream with our view and all was well in the world.

Our last stop of the day was Vianden. A beautiful town next to the river Our. This place was a bit more touristic than our previous stops, but the view on the castle and the Gothic Trinitarian Church is pretty amazing.

After checking in to our hotel, Hotel Victor Hugo, we hurried up to the castle in the hopes of still being able to visit before closing time. And we were lucky! Thirty minutes left! Enough time for this fast-paced traveler to make her way through the castle. The inside isn’t much to write home about, but it was still worth the 10 euro entry fee. Plus, it was nice to actually go inside a castle after already seeing so many that day.

In the courtyard and in the main dining hall there were also stalls with souvenirs, nougat and other curiosities. A bit touristic, but fun nonetheless.

When we exited the castle, we didn’t go back down to town immediately, but instead headed around the castle to the viewing point over town. Big recommendation! But there are a lot of amazing views on this town and castle.

For dinner, we sat down at restaurant ‘Beim Hunn‘. Another mayor recommendation! The food was delicious, super friendly staff and they were even so honest to run after us because we had apparently paid too much. A+ people!

The hotel Victor Hugo was rather pricy (108 euros for one night for two) for what we got, but with its location right along the water, it was to be expected. We also paid an extra 10 euros per person for breakfast in the morning which in my opinion had it been included in the price of the room would have made the entire deal worth its money. Now it was a little overpriced. But at least it was plenty and delicious.

But energy levels restored, it was time to start the part of our trip where I had been looking forward to the most; the Müllerthal trail.

The Müllerthal trail crosses the Müllerthal region and promises ‘surprisingly rocky’ views. The trail is 112 kilometers long and consists of three routes and four extra routes. Unfortunately we couldn’t squeeze all those kilometers in one day so we had to compromise.

We drove to the town of Berdorf and first hit some viewpoint along the trail by car. The first one was called Perekop. This rock giant along the road was pretty impressive and definitely worth the stop. Via a narrow crack within the rock you can climb to a viewing point on top of the rock. A-ma-zing!

But the second viewpoint blew me away even more; Hohllay cave. The picture of this cave was my entire reason for adding Luxembourg to my travel bucketlist. And while pictures can often make a location seem prettier than it actually is, this time that wasn’t the case. I was in awe!

Hohllay cave is so unique because it isn’t a natural cave. It was man-made by the Romans and their mining activity. You can see the traces of that activity all over the cave. We were lucky there weren’t many other people hanging around, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves which of course makes it even more magical.

But then it was time to get active. We drove through Berdorf, closer to the viewpoint of Predigtstuhl. From there we would hit the trail. We would go all the way to Mullerthal and then return on the other side of river. Good for 11 kilometers. That doesn’t seem much but the promise of ‘surprisingly rocky’ was very much true. The entire way to Mullerthal was simply amazing. One crazy rock formation after the other, as you can see in the picture above. I was completely in my element. Such beauty and such a thrilling trail!

When we arrived in Müllerthal, it was only about a kilometer further to the Schiessentümpel waterfall. An opportunity we couldn’t pass upon. The trail to the fall was also pretty nice, but unfortunately, once at the waterfall itself, the madness began. The place was swamped with people. Not much my scene, especially not during covid-19. So we quickly got our pic and returned back to Müllerthal.

Once past the town, the hike changed completely. Instead of the rock formations on the other side of the river, we were now met by large, lush fields and a mostly flat trail. Something completely different, which made for a nice change. Of course more of the jagged rocks wouldn’t have been welcome as well, but this way we had a bit of everything. Not complaining! Especially not with the sun shining down on us!

We arrived back at Predigtstuhl little before 4pm. Way too soon to be heading home already. So we added another stop; Luxembourg city. It wasn’t the initial plan, but I felt like we couldn’t say we had visited Luxembourg without at least a glance at its capital.

And what a good idea that was! Such an intriguing place! The old city was founded in 963 and is now an UNESCO world heritage site. The fortress, the casemates, the cathedral and just the many beautiful houses in the city. I didn’t know where to look first. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t expected such amazing sights in this city, but I was literally moved by the views. And absolutely gutted we didn’t have more time to discover more of it.

So it was with a longing for more that we crossed the border back to Belgium. Luxembourg sure surprised me, both with its nature and its urban character. A shame I didn’t go sooner, but a certainty that I’ll go back one day!

♡ Ellen

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