Luxembourg is presumably one of the most underrated countries in Europe and certainly one of the smallest, diverse and historic, making it perfect for a road trip!
You can read all about the buzzing capital in my previous blog, with its Unesco sites and many Instagrammable hotspots.
However, many underestimate the country’s diversity and natural beauty.
Therefore I would certainly recommend to also explore more of Luxembourg country, either by car, or public transport.
Regardless its moderate size of 2,586 km2 Luxembourg has an wide range of unique spots, easy to reach from the capital. From beautiful nature areas, extensive hiking trails, innovative cultural sites to a multitude of castles!
It is even said that the country has more than 130 castles. Realistically this will be about 100, as some are more like manors. But this certainly makes it perfect for castlelovers like me.
How to get to Luxembourg
With a central location in Europe, just 380 km from the Netherlands, I chose to travel there by car, as I always love a good road trip!
But it’s also easy to reach by train from countries throughout Europe. And quite affordable as well, because public transport is free throughout Luxembourg!
It only took our group 4 hours to drive to Luxembourg city from The Hague and as most of the sites we visited are located near each other, we were able to reach all of them in just a 20-40 minutes’ drive.
And what better way to show you the diversity of this beautiful country by sharing my favourite spots and top tips of our 4 day road trip, through many of my own (drone) shots.
Top tips for castlelovers
As this tiny European country has such a rich and varied past of royalty, tradition, war and peace, with powerful neighbours on 3 sides, it needed defensive castles since the early 10th century.
Nowadays many of them are open to the public as designated National Monuments.
We were able to visit 2 during our trip, of which my favourite was:
One of the most popular and biggest castles of Luxembourg with architectural details from the Romanesque and Gothic period. Vianden castle has been owned by the state since 1977, which restored it to its former glory.
Originally built between the 11th and 14th century, it's now one of Europe’s leading historical monuments.
Well worth a visit with its lively Medieval displays and interactive visitor centre.
Vianden castle is easy to reach, with many parking spaces near the castle and in Vianden town itself. With its cobble-stoned streets, cute shops and restaurants this Medieval town is also very picturesque and worth exploring. As well as the natural surroundings with beautiful walking trails, lined by the river Our!
For the best view upon the castle I preferred the view by drone or from the observation platform, just outside the town:
This castle ruin from the 11th century is also in the top 10 of most beautiful castles of Luxembourg, located just 18 km from Vianden.
It actually consists of 2 castles, with a Renaissance castle built behind the Medieval castle ruin in the 17th century. The ruin was renovated in 1932 after which it was opened to the public, and has been classified a historical monument since 1988.
This can be visited for a small fee, however the Renaissance castle only through guided tour, booked in advance.
Located amidst nature in the valley of Haupeschbach, with plenty of parking spaces nearby. These castles are also easy to combine with the hiking trails in the lush Mullerthal region.
Top tips for naturelovers
Also known as Luxembourg’s Little Switzerland, because of the resemblance with the stunning hills and landscapes of Switzerland. This region is characterized by sandstone rock formations typical for the region. A Natur- & Geopark, part of the international network of the UNESCO Global Geoparks since 2022.
Here you will find the 112 km long Mullerthal Trail, consisting of 3 big trails and 4 shorter valley trails, certified as: ‘Leading Quality Trails - Best of Europe’!
These footpaths form a network of stunning hikes from the villages Berdorf, Echternach and Mullerthal. Leading past stunning rock formations, scenic panoramas and a range of unique natural sites that should not be missed.
Although we didn't have enough time to do the longer hikes, 2 of my favourite sites we did visit were:
Berdorf Hohllay & amphitheatre
But I will certainly have to come back for more!
Another unique nature area, located In the south of Luxembourg, about 50 km from Mullerthal near Esch-sur-Alzette.
This upcoming area with unique landscapes, industrial wastelands, buzzing university and cutting-edge research centres, has several interesting sites to visit. With stunning nature reserves such as Ellergronn, it's also classified as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 2020. Offering many beautiful trails ideal for hiking or mountain biking.
The area was named Minett after the iron ore, as it used to be an iron extraction zone with big importance for the European steel industry. The Minett Trail can be followed over 90 km, passing through several former open-pit mines, reclaimed by nature over the past 40 years, after they closed.
The trail consists of 10 sections, each 7-15 km, passing through forests with red earth and scenic views. We parked our car at the Ellergronn visitors center and hiked around the Gaalgebierg towards the 'little Grand Canyon' at the Lalléngerbierg. Rewarded with an impressive view from above, as you can see here:
Top tips for culturelovers
Belval – Esch 2022
For culture lovers there's also much to see and do in this area. Esch-sur-Alzette is Luxembourg’s second largest city and was able to create unique cultural and tourist sites combined with its industrial past.
The region is part of the European Capital of Culture 2022, which means that a varied cultural program with more than 2,000 events will be hosted here this year.
Old blast furnaces and steel colossi in Belval have been restored and transformed into a scientific and technological centre, matching its university hub.
The blast furnaces of Belval, located right next to the new university, are a true cultural highlight.
Do a tour here to learn more about the industrial past, guided by former steel workers. Visit exhibitions and climb up to 40 meters in the blast furnaces for an amazing view over the area.
Here you will also find several terraces, a big range of restaurants. And with rock festivals, art exhibitions and impressive nature areas just around the corner, this ‘Land of the Red Rocks’ is a true region of contrasts!
Top restaurant tips for foodies
Of course there are many restaurants to choose from in Luxembourg, ranging from Michelin star, to traditional eateries and hip foodie hotspots. The 2 that we sampled in this region, which I can highly recommend, are:
Address: 1, Ellergronn, L-4114 Esch-sur-Alzette
This traditional brasserie with atmospheric outdoor terrace is located in the middle of the Ellergronn nature area. Perfect to combine with a hike in the Minett area.
You can easily park here and have a delicious traditional Luxembourgish lunch or dinner, with local beers and a big range of local wines from the Moselle region.
Address: 24A rue du Moulin - L-3857 Schifflange
Located more towards Belval, this trendy restaurant with 2 outdoor terraces and big parking area, offers traditional French and Luxembourgish cuisine.
But they also have delicious burgers and different seafood to choose from.
Must visit regional hotel Chateau de Clemency
If you like castle hotels, something personal, small-scale and unique, then this is thé place to stay! This authentic castle from 1634 is a must in my book and the perfect location to explore Luxembourg from.
Tucked away in the picturesque village of Clemency, this regal manor house has been lovingly transformed into a hotel with only 4 suites, one even more unique than the other!
Each room has its own theme, decorated with contemporary furniture combined with unique antique pieces, hand-picked by the owner, all over the world.
The suites are spacious and impressively designed, with all the amenities and comfort you might need. And besides that, the hotel also offers several shared spaces and outdoor terraces, where you can come together with other guests and the lovely hosts Mayke and Pascal.
There are plenty of private parking spaces here, a lovely bakery/mini-mart just across the street and from Chateau de Clemency it’s just a 20-55 minutes’ drive to most sites of this blog.
For more info and the best rates check the site of the Chateau de Clemency.
For more Luxembourg travel tips and tours you can also go to VisitLuxembourg.com.
And do check my Luxembourg city guide for your visit to Luxembourg’s capital, which should not be missed either.
I can't wait to come back and explore even more of this surprisingly beautiful country, which I highly underestimated!
With its extensive nature areas, multitude of hiking trails, abundance of castles and many other unique historic and cultural sites, I would recommend visiting Luxembourg for at least 3-5 days. Or for an even longer road trip, if you prefer slow travel.
It’s also the perfect stop-over on your way to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France or other southern Europe destinations and should be stunning in autumn as well with fall colors!