The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a compact country in the center of Europe and you can see a lot in one day. It's easy to base yourself in Luxembourg City and take a variety of day trips. Who wants to change hotels each night and haul your luggage with you on the road? I certainly don't. Read on for my recommends of three of the best day trips from Luxembourg City Luxembourg that you should take. Whether you are spending just 4 days in Luxembourg City like we did or planning an extended stay, these fun excursions are the recipe for a perfect day in and around Luxembourg.
Getting Around Luxembourg
Did you know that public transportation in Luxembourg costs just 4 EUR a day and for that price you can travel anywhere in the country? Even better, Luxembourg is phasing out train and bus fares across the country starting in early 2020 to become the first country to make public transportation entirely free within its borders. Free public transportation is another reason to take some days trips from Luxembourg City to explore the rest of the country.
1. Luxembourg City to RemichPart of the Moselle Valley wine region is based in Luxembourg (with the other part in Germany just across the Mosel River). Take the bus to Remich for a wine-filled Luxembourg day trip. The bus ride from Luxembourg City to Remich takes about an hour each way.
|from left: (a) Bacchus statue in Remich (b) wine tasting at Bastian Mathis (c)(d) Caves St. Martin|
Bastian MathisBastian Mathis winery opens its doors on weekdays from 8:00 - 12:00 and from 14:00 - 17:30 although this is not well advertised. Bastian Mathis is about a 15 minute uphill walk from the banks of the Moselle River and the bus stop in Remich. You could also transfer to a local bus to get closer but the service is not as frequent and the views are lovely so we decided to walk. Taste crisp white Luxembourgish wines and sparkling Luxembourg Crémant. There is no charge for wine tasting although we bought a few bottles to take home with us. While visiting Bastian Mathis, make sure to look out onto the terrace: the views over the Moselle Valley are stunning.
Bacchus FountainOn your Remich day trip, make sure to take some time to walk along the Moselle River. I absolutely loved the Bacchus fountain. You'll find Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and theatre sitting jauntily on a wine barrel with a bottle of wine in hand. The statue in the fountain slowly turns as you watch, mesmerized.
Lunch at Pavilion DesomPavilion Desom is a hidden gem for an upscale lunch in Remich and is just a 10 minute walk outside the town center, along the Moselle River. Dishes include hearty Luxembourgish food (similar to French cuisine). Dishes like vol-au-vent and entrecote will fill you right up. Save room for dessert. Pavilion Desom serves an amazing warm chocolate fondant. Imbibe some crémant and Luxembourgish Riesling while also imbibing views of the Moselle River across the street.
Caves St. MartinCaves St. Martin are the perfect way to end your wine tasting day trip from Luxembourg City. The caves are over 100 years old. Learn about the history of crémant, Luxembourgish sparkling wine, on a 40 minute cellar tour (free if you have a Luxembourg card). A crémant tasting is included with the tour of the caves. It's possible to upgrade from the basic wine tasting to options with more pours for an additional fee. A tour and tasting of 3 different crémants is advertised for 9.50 EUR at the time of writing. If you use the Luxembourg Card to tour Caves St. Martin for free, you can just pay the difference and upgrade to the extended tasting.
2. Luxembourg City to Vianden CastleVianden and Vianden Castle make for another fantastic day trip from Luxembourg City Luxembourg. It takes a little over two hours by bus and train to reach Vianden town making this a more ambitious day trip than the one to Remich. Vianden Castle is one of the top attractions in Luxembourg so it's definitely worth the effort to get there.
Vianden TownI think Vianden town is one of the most beautiful places in Luxembourg. When you arrive in Vianden keep an eye out for a bust of Victor Hugo (author best known for writing Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). Apparently Victor Hugo spent some time here in the 19th century when Vianden Castle had fallen into disrepair. Vianden is nestled along the Our River. Look up to see the magical Vianden Castle which has now been restored to its former glory.
|from left: (a) view of Vianden Castle (b) Vianden town and fortifications (c) Victor Hugo bust (d) Vianden chairlift.|
Vianden ChairliftVianden features a chairlift. The lower terminus is located on the banks of the Our River opposite Vianden Castle. The chairlift is a fun way reach Vianden Castle and the ride features some lovely views. From the upper terminus of the chairlift, it's about a 15 minute downhill walk over rocky, forested terrain to Vianden Castle. Make sure to wear appropriate footwear.
Touring Vianden CastleVianden Castle is one of the most popular attractions in Luxembourg and when we visited the queue was the longest we'd seen anywhere on our trip. It took about 15 minutes to buy our tickets and enter Vianden Castle. Once inside, take a self-guided tour of Vianden Castle covering over 1000 years of history. Tragically, Vianden Castle was dismantled by William of Orange and was only reconstructed in the 1970s.
|Vianden Castle inside and out|
Coffee and Sweets in ViandenBuses from Vianden to Diekirch run about once an hour so if you have time to kill, stop for a caffeine break on your return from Vianden Castle to the bus stop. We discovered a baseball-sized treat made of marshmallows and covered in chocolate and nuts that seemed to be popular in the region. Vianden is a little town with a variety of simple bakeries and cafes between Vianden Castle and the bus stop along the river.
Diekirch DetourBreak up the return trip from Vianden to Luxembourg City with a stop in Diekirch. Relax on the main square and have a Luxembourgish beer. Seek out Diekirch's famous poseable donkey sculpture hiding near a cafe on a pedestrianized street. You can give the donkeys' ears or tail a twist. Spend some time exploring the National Museum of Military History (MNHM). The National Museum of Military History focuses heavily on the World War II era and features WWII artifacts and unexploded ordnance (now defused) found around Luxembourg.
Diekirch Luxembourg. From left: (a) National Museum of Military History (b) poseable donkey fountain (c) buskers on the square
3. Luxembourg City to Trier GermanyAnother day trip from Luxembourg City that you should consider is not even in Luxembourg at all. Trier, a well-preserved Medieval German city, is less than an hour away from Luxembourg City.
Getting from Luxembourg City to Trier GermanyThere is direct train service connecting Luxembourg City and Trier. While the other Luxembourg day trips that we've discussed are covered under the 4 EUR per day (and soon to be free) public transportation in Luxembourg, you'll need to pay for international train tickets to get to Trier. Our round trip day ticket from Luxembourg Gare Centrale to Trier train station cost 9.60 EUR.
Porta NigraWe spent an efficient 4 hours in Trier on the same day as our plane was scheduled to depart from Luxembourg City back to Dublin. Upon arrival in Trier, we made a beeline for UNESCO World Heritage listed Porta Nigra. The "Black Gate" is an impressive Roman-era entrance to the city and leads into Old Town Trier. For 4 EUR, you can climb the three story gate and learn about the Roman history of Trier while enjoying views over the Medieval city.
|Porta Nigra in Trier Germany|
Wine on Trier HauptmarktNext up? Enjoy a sunny glass of local wine on Trier Hauptmarkt (Market Square) served from a kiosk featuring a different wine producer each week. At 2 EUR a glass, the wine kiosk is a major bargain; definitely not a bad spot to spend the afternoon with a glass of wine.
St. GangolfPeek into 15th century St. Gangolf in Trier. St. Gangolf is a Roman Catholic church and the second oldest church in Trier. Done up in Gothic style, St. Gangolf is impressive both inside and out.
|Trier churches. From left: (a)(b)(c) St. Gangolf (d) Dom Trier|
Dom TrierWe also visited Dom Trier (Trier Saint Peter's Cathedral). I have to say, I was super impressed by the organ and artwork at Dom Trier. Unfortunately, we couldn't visit neighboring Liebfrauenkirche because it was Sunday and there was a service on.
Walk from Constantine Basilica to KaiserthermenAs you can see, Trier is a city of churches. We walked past Constantine Basilica (also closed because of a service) and the sumptuous Electoral Palace through the Palace Garden to the Kaiserthermen. Kaiserthermen are Roman era baths that were never completed at the height of Trier's power within the Holy Roman Empire.
|from left: (a) Electoral Palace (b)(c)(d) Kaiserthermen|
Karl Marx Birth House
|Karl Marx birth house in Trier|
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Do you love spending time in small European countries like Luxembourg? Why not consider:
Cake and Coffee at MohrTime for a bite to eat. Try the peach cake and coffee at Mohr in Trier. Sit outside at a table and people watch along the pedestrianized street.
from left: (a) peach cake (b) Trierer bratwurst (c) elegant house in Trier (d) Medieval buildings on Trier Hauptmarkt
Trierer Bratwurst on the SquareThere are a number of kiosks selling sausage and French fries near Trier Hauptmarkt. Try the Trierer bratwurst and enjoy it on the square while admiring the medieval architecture.
And that's it! We were back on the train from Trier to Luxembourg with just enough time to spare to get to the airport for our return flight to Dublin.