Feature photo the stunning Vianden Castle, in Northern Luxembourg
Castle-lovers, brace yourselves! I found the perfect destination for you. A place where you can find 16 castles in an area that is only 35 miles from east to west, and 51 from north to south. What am I talking about? Bavaria, maybe? The Loire Valley, perhaps? No. I’m talking about Luxembourg, a tiny, landlocked European country, bordering France, Germany and Belgium. Luxembourg has been of strategic military interest from Roman times, until the mid Nineteenth century, when the country declared its neutrality.
The result is a fairytale lover’s paradise – anywhere you look, there’s a castle. Some have been restored, and stand pretty overlooking villages, with turrets and battlements. Others are in ruins, but still evoke the atmosphere of the grandiose past of this tiny country.
We’ve chosen our five favorite Luxembourg castles for you – all conveniently located in the northern part of the country, can be easily visited in one day if you’re driving, or joining a tour organized by the Luxembourg Tourism Board.
The whitewashed castle of Clervaux dominates the village of the same name from up high, with its strong circular towers and strong walls. The houses of the village surround the castle in a semicircle, as if they were looking for protection, while behind the castle, the mountains of the Ardennes loom high.
The castle was bombed severely during the Battle of the Ardennes at the end of WW2, and it has since been restored. Clervaux is the ideal place to begin your exploration, as the rooms house an exhibition of models of all Luxembourg castles.
The castle of Bourscheid is just 15 minutes drive from Clervaux, and it’s set on a high rocky escarpment, inaccessible on the north-western side. The castle is mostly in ruins, but you can get a feel of how life was in the 15th and 16th century. Some of the original pavement still bears the signs of cart wheels, you can enter the cellar and the old chapel, then look down from the castle walls and climb the highest tower, feeling like a guard protecting the fortress from invaders.
This is Luxembourg’s fairytale castle number one. Coming from the village, you see a forested hill high above, and then high stone walls, with spires and stone turrets jutting from the top. The castle looks mighty and impregnable, as if a powerful lord still loved there.
If you visit between late July and early August, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stepped into a time machine. It’s the time of Vianden’s yearly Medieval Festival and the castle is filled with jugglers and dancers, drummers and falconers. Children can try their hand at archery or blowing gigantic soap bubbles, and if you get hungry, there are plenty of stalls selling Medieval-inspired candy.
This is one of Luxembourg’s oldest castles – the first testimonies date back from the 8th century BC, but it was probably built in Roman times and then enlarged over the centuries. Not much is left of its former glory, nowadays, but its panoramic location on a hill overlooking the village and the river Sûre are reason enough to climb to the top. Not to mention, you’re likely to be alone, so you can walk around the castle walls and square tower in total peace.
This castle is located in the center of Wiltz, the largest town in northern Luxembourg – and the only one with a population over 4000! It was the home of one of Luxembourg’s most powerful lords, the Wiltz, whose lineage ended in the 19th century.
The castle is built in Renaissance style, painted white, and surrounded by the Ardennes hills. The inside of the castle nowadays houses the National Beer Museum, the Tannery Museum as well as a couple of rooms dedicated to the Battle of the Ardennes. Wiltz Castle is also the location of the Wiltz festival, featuring open-air music and theater performances in the castle gardens.
Luxembourg castles are such a highlight of this destination for the fairy tale enthusiast. If castles is your thing (as much as it is ours), this is a must do for your European bucket list adventure!
For more information on visiting Luxembourg, check out the Luxembourg visitors site here where you can meet all your trip planning needs. You can find a wealth of information on all their castle tours here as well.
When to go to Luxemborg
Pretty much anytime in the year is a great time to visit this little but amazing country! The climate is continental, with cold winters, mild in the spring and fall and hot in summer – this summer there was a heatwave with temperatures climbing to 100°. There’s a wonderful Christmas market in Luxemborg City, reason enough to brave the winter cold!
How to get to Luxembourg
Flagship carrier Luxair connects Luxembourg City airport with several destinations around Europe that can be reached the US and beyond. Being in a convenient location at the centre of Europe, Luxembourg can also be accessed by rail from France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
How to get around Luxembourg
The country has an efficient bus and railway system, connecting the capital with all corners of the country. We recommend buying the Luxembourg Card, including all transport around the country and free entrance at 70 museums and attractions. It’s a great deal at €28 for three days!
Where to stay
There are loads of hotels around the country, from cute village B&Bs to luxury hotels! For a short stay we recommend choosing Luxembourg City as a base – Park Inn by Radisson is a great option, both for its excellent service and convenient location near Luxembourg’s train station.
Where to eat
Our guide said that Luxemborg food has ‘French quality, German portions’. Make sure you pack an appetite! A great places to sample traditional fare in the capital is Beim Siggy, a panoramic restaurant with views over the city. Some good places for lunch are the Chocolate House and Konrad Café, both in the centre of Luxembourg City.