Why Luxembourg is adventure seekers’ paradise
I had never really thought of visiting Luxembourg. It is one of those tiny countries that for one reason or another never caught my attention. It could be that it is hardly mentioned in the media, other than for business related to the European Union. And since I had not heard much about it, it didn’t tickle my curiosity.
Then my cousin went on a weekend trip when she was living in Belgium. She came back with beautiful pictures of green hills and fairytale castles, and that caught my attention.
I started doing a bit of research about it, just to see if it may be worth going. That’s how I learned that Luxembourg has some incredible hiking trails. And being the hiking junkie that I am, it didn’t take me long to decide that it was finally time to go and explore this small country. What I discovered though is that there’s much more to Luxembourg than one may think.
I spent 4 days roaming around Luxembourg City and the Mullerthal region, and concluded that this may well be the most underrated adventure destination in Europe. But the good news is that even though it is adventure galore, there are plenty of comforts so that at the end of an adrenaline filled day, it is possible to fully relax.
I visited lovely cities, hiked through the thickest and greenest forest I have ever seen, biked some smooth hills, explored castles, and gorged down on delicious food. My time there definitely wasn’t enough time to unveil all that Luxembourg has to offer, and I left wishing to go again soon.
Here’s why I think Luxembourg is adventure seekers paradise.
Why Luxembourg is adventure seekers paradise
Hiking trails are literally everywhere; they are easily accessible…
All it takes to find a hiking trail in Luxembourg is looking across the street. Most trails can be accessed via a short walk from one of the lovely villages. Others have access points directly from the main road. I noticed when I drove around the Mullerthal that there were what looked like well hidden stairs carved in rock all along the road, and once I actually went on a hike and found myself right on the street after going down those stairs, I understood what their purpose was.
But there’s more to it. Hiking trails in Luxembourg are among the leading quality trails of Europe. So is the Mullerthail Trail, which runs for 112 km, going around one of the thickest, greenest and most untouched forests in Europe, through incredible rock formations (whose names are impossible to pronounce) and reaching hidden gems such as the many abandoned mills (muller, from which the region takes the name, actually means mill) and the photogenic (and now iconic) Schiessentumpel bridge and waterfalls, in Mëllerdall am Bësch.
… and they even lead to castles
All little girls dream of being princesses at some point. I was no different. And I even used to wish for my own castle. I am not a little girl anymore and I don’t dream of having my own castle. Visiting one, though, is a special treat. So imagine my excitement when I found out that the Mullerthal Trail goes all the way to Beaufort Castle!
This is not just one, but two castles built right next to each other. The first one was built between the 11th and the 17th century and it is now mostly (beautifully kept) ruins: narrow and steep stairs lead to what used to be dining room, and even torture chambers.
The second one was built from the 17th century and it was inhabited until 2012. The interiors are perfectly kept, with beautiful decorations and furniture.
The gorges create the best natural playgrounds
Naturepark Mëllerdall, in the Mullerthal region, has some incredible rock formations that create natural labyrinths. I had a lot of fun trying to find my way out the intricate and narrow passageways. I can only imagine what it would be like for children, then!
Biking trails go right thorough the forest…
… to the point that any traffic noise is obstructed. Now, call that peaceful! Far from being an expert rider, I still enjoy biking and even mountain biking. I feel it is a great way to get close to nature, much like hiking, but with the added bonus that it is much faster and so I get to see more places.
When I visited Luxembourg, I biked through the Guttland region. I won’t hide the fact that it was challenging: there were a few tough uphills where I had to get off my bike and push. But it was mostly because the bike saddles can be very uncomfortable so my bottom was truly sore. The sights though were incredible: thick forest, hidden mills, a river and nobody else around.
The country is spotless…
I am accustomed to traveling to developing countries, where people and authorities alike hardly show any interest in environmental protection. Places like Panama have garbage collection and disposal issues. And let me not even get started with India, where whatever throwing trash in the street is a common practice.
I have always done my share to protect the environment and I am used to recycling everything, and I was pleased to see that this is a common practice in Luxembourg: the country is truly clean!
… and the cities are pretty
The fact that I love adventure and nature doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy visiting a city. I found Luxembourg City to be a real gem. I went on the Wenzel circular walk and visited the Old Quarters; I sipped a hot coffee to warm up during a rainy day; I soaked in the friendly atmosphere.
I also visited Echternach, the oldest city in the country. This small city has a pretty city centre, and it is the kind of place where people go on a stroll whenever the sun is out (and not only) and enjoy each other’s company.
Driving around the Mullerthal region, I also saw some beautiful and colorful villages.
Locals are laid-back…
I haven’t spent long enough in Luxembourg to fully grasp its culture, but in my time there I was under the impression that the locals are incredibly laid-back and that they enjoy life. I found them to be friendly, welcoming and kind. It made my experience there all the better.
…. except when they have to decide what language to speak
The funniest conversation I had with Luxembourgish people was about which language they speak at home, or to their children. People truly “stress” (well, sort of!) about which language they should teach their kids at home. I guess coming from Italy it goes without saying that we speak Italian at home, or one of our 12 minority languages. I actually speak Sardinian to my mother, as I am from Sardinia.
There are 3 official languages in Luxembourg: Luxembourgish, German and French. Locals easily switch from one to the other. Not only that: the majority of the population speaks fluent English and, due to the large Portuguese population, also Portuguese. This means that chances are that, whichever language one may speak, the locals also speak it. Communication is really easy and makes traveling a lot more enjoyable.
There is a great restaurant scene
There’s nothing better than having a good meal at the end of a long day of hiking and biking. Scattered around the country there are some fabulous restaurants that offer all sorts of delicious dishes, from the most local ones, to fusion and international recipes. I guess it reflects the fact that Luxembourg is truly multicultural.
Local wine is crisp and refreshing
I love a good glass of wine every now and then. After all, I am from Italy! I enjoy sparkling white wine, and was happy to find out that Luxembourg has its very own, called Cremant. Needless to say, I obliged.
It’s actually not that expensive…
… especially with the Luxembourg Card. This costs no more than €28 for 3 days, during which it is possible to use any train and bus on the national public transport network and visit one or all of the 72 attractions it provides access to. There are even guided tours that can be booked via the Luxembourg Card.
… and there are fabulous budget accommodation options.
Budget and adventure travelers and backpackers will find that there are plenty of accommodation options to suit their taste and need in Luxembourg. Luxembourg City Youth Hostel is perfectly equipped with comfortable and spotless dorms. Yet, the best places to stay are camping sites such as the Camping Officiel Echternach, where it is possible to pitch a tent, place a caravan, and even to sleep in a pod.
From the outside, pods look like huge wine barrels. Inside, they are tiny yet perfectly organized rooms that sleep up to 4 persons. They have electricity, central heating and they feel very cozy. I actually enjoyed falling asleep to the sound of rain!
Packing tips for Luxembourg
I went to Luxembourg in May and the purpose of my visit was to hike around – so I packed accordingly. Unfortunately, it rained most of the time when I visited, but this didn’t put me off and I still explored a lot. Besides, I was dressed appropriately and so did not get wet or cold.
Having said so, I recommend anyone who intend to go hiking in Luxembourg to dress in layers. Wear hiking pants, preferably convertible, to detach the lower leg in case it gets hot. A good technical t-shirt is key to make sure that no matter how much one sweats, the back doesn’t get cold. A light sweater and a rain jacket on top will complete the outfit, and needless to say a pair of good hiking boots.
To see more of what goes in my backpack, read my post “My ultimate packing list.”
Have you ever visited Luxembourg? What did you like the most about it?
Legal Disclaimer: This article is written in partnership with the tourism board of Luxembourg, of whom I was a guest. All the views and opinions expressed are my own and based on my personal experience. The views expressed are honest and factual without any bias.