Airport Rating N/A
Reception of locals *****
During my short visit to central Europe, Vianden was probably the most beautiful place that I came across, eclipsing even the beauty of Luxembourg City's old town. I only spent an afternoon in the town (there's not too much to do) but it was definitely an afternoon well spent.
From Luxembourg City to Vianden via Trier
During my stay in Luxembourg City I was faced with a choice; I had a spare day and I could either visit Trier or Vianden. Almost everyone that I spoke to in my hostel told me to visit Trier as there was more to see and do. I decided to go with the consensus and caught the train to Trier and you can read about my trip here.
However, I managed to get back to Luxembourg City significantly sooner than I expected, in fact I still had half of the day left. I went to the train station and asked the assistant how long it would take me to get to Vianden, I was surprised when the answer was an hour, Google maps (which was often wrong during my time in central Europe) told me there was no route via public transport.
As I've mentioned previously, the country isn't that well connected when it comes to trains, so I was told I would head 30 minutes north on a train and then switch to a bus. The total cost of the trip would be an incredibly cheap €4. In fact, you can get a day ticket where you can travel anywhere in the country for that price.
The train was another double decker train. These types of train are fairly common on the continent, but due to the age of the British railway system, they haven't quite made their way to the UK and given the size of some of the old tunnels, probably never will.
I left the train at the town of Ettelbruck, and it must have been near the end of the school day as the area was packed with school kids. It wasn't obviously apparent which way I had to go to get the correct bus. The bus station was right next to the train station, but there were a significant amount of bus stops. I finally found one that had a map painted on the side and filled in the gaps to figure out which stop I had to wait at, and the wait wasn't too long at all.
From there it was a straight 30 minute journey. I actually ended up getting off one stop early, however it was still only a short 15 minute walk into the town proper.
On top of the world (or at least Vianden)
And what a walk it was. The narrow roads were practically empty, the houses, pubs and restaurants that lined the streets weren't much busier either, The sun at this point was beating hot despite it being autumn, but the view at the bottom of the hill standing on a bridge over the River Our to the castle at the top was incredible.
I then took a short walk down a side street to follow the signs to the chairlift. The entrance is very well hidden and I walked past it a couple of times in each direction before I finally found it.
The cost of a ticket to the top was very reasonable, but I was literally the only person there, even though it was the middle of a very sunny afternoon. As the chairlift crossed over one of the main roads in the town, I all of a sudden remembered I don't do so well with heights. As the chairlift climbed over a forest I turned around to see the incredible view of Vianden below me. I didn't turn around for long - the back of the chairlift was very low and it felt like I could easily go tumbling over.
After what felt like an eternity, I finally made it to the top. It was my third day of barely eating enough food due to constantly being on the move, so I decided to have a calorie rich desert to give me a shot of energy. I sat overlooking one of the most incredible views I have seen. From this height you could see just how small the town of 1,800 people is. The friendly waitress took a handful of pictures for me and then told me the quickest way to the castle was down a tree lined hill.
I hadn't worn the correct footwear for the forest route down the hill, it wasn't the first time I'd found myself in this situation. But this was infinitely easier than that climb to Machu Picchu. Although surrounded by trees, there was a very visible path made of broken stones that was straight forward enough to navigate. I was, once again, on my own as I made the roughly 10 minute descent. In fact, I could probably count on my fingers the amount of people I saw that whole afternoon across town.
As I neared the castle, I could see its beautiful shape in between the trees. I was born in a town with a very old castle, but whilst the one back in the Midlands has been in ruins since the English Civil War, Vianden Castle has been extensively renovated.
The castle dates back to the 10th century, and for the next 600 years played an important role in the locality. In fact, it wasn't until the mid 1800s that the castle fell into ruin after King William I sold it to a local merchant who began selling contents from within the castle and then eventually parts of the castle itself (tiles, walls etc.)
The Castle began its rebuilding in the late 1970s and as I walked over a bridge to enter the visitors reception, it looked very new, a little too new, almost Disney-like. Inside, the route is laid out in an easy to follow format that takes in all the rooms as well as the exterior. The view overlooking the town of Vianden from certain rooms was amazing, and I could only wonder the sense of power its owners must have felt throughout the centuries.
There was definitely a lot to see inside the castle. My favourites were a collection of old weapons; from swords and daggers to matchlocks and pistols. Some of these weapons were very similar to traditional Sikh weapons, and the matchlocks, an old favourite of the Nihang Singh's was particularly fascinating to see up close. Then there was the armour that knights wore, as well as rooms laid out in the way they would have in the early part of the last millennium. Oddly, these rooms reminded me of the museum in Fraunces Tavern in New York.
After completing the route, I took the winding path down to Vianden town, going past some ridiculously beautiful restaurants and bars. As I walked back to the bus station, I couldn't believe just how quiet the town was. Barely any tourists, not even that many locals but it is easily one of the most beautiful places I have visited in Europe.
I was the only person waiting for the bus back toward Ettelbruk, the bus that would take me back to the train station. It honestly felt like no buses would ever drive down the quiet road, but I only had to wait 10 minutes before the bus came in and I was on my way back to Luxembourg City.
Honestly, this is one place worth visiting, and if you have a significant other, go with them. Its castle and narrow roads are romantic, it's definitely not the kind of place to go on holiday with a bunch of friends, but it was definitely the highlight of my short trip to Luxembourg. And if you're also faced with the Vianden or Trier choice....go with Vianden!
British Sikh, born in the Midlands, based in London, travelling the world seeing new cultures.