When we saw the pictures we knew out of all the possible destinations we wanted to visit in Luxembourg, this was a high priority. It looked gorgeous. Little did we know how deceptive the town of Vianden would be.
Located in the north-eastern district of Diekirch in Luxembourg close to the German border, it holds the most beautiful location in the Our valley and is home to a spectacular castle straight out of a fairytale. Others might recognise the name as the last place in Luxembourg to be liberated from the Germans in World War II.
It is one of Luxembourg's hot spots for tourism, not only because of the castle, but its lush hilly walking trails and historic streets that beg to be explored.
Hot To Get To Vianden?
With trains running fairly infrequently from our isolated camping region and us running late as usual, we decided to skip the walk through the village of Kautenbach and take a shortcut via the train tracks.
One train passed us but it was easily avoidable and we just jumped to the side of the tracks, and the rest was a pleasant walk.
We caught the train to Ettelbruck station and then bus 570 to Vianden. The bus driver was not much help. When I asked her if we reached the correct stop, she simply nodded and let us out. It was not. We waited 20 minutes for the next bus to take us to the correct stop (the next one), “Vianden Gare”.
When we finally got out we took a pleasant stroll through the small village. Old stone buildings, cobbled main streets, bright blooming flowers, it was adorable.
Several bikers whizzed past us on their Harleys filling the peaceful little town with the deep primordial roar of their beasts. That was just the beginning. It did not stop the entire day.
It turned out Vianden is a favourite weekend road trip destination for motorbikes and the steady flow of them caused the sweet little town to lose all innocence and old world charm. We also happened to be visiting on Saturday, so our timing was unfortunate.
The town itself is very beautiful and our favourite way of viewing it was from above (where happened to be no motorbikes).
During the summer months a chairlift operates from the banks of the river in the lower part of town taking you high above the castle with magnificent views over the glorious landscape. Tickets were FREE with our Luxembourg Card.
There is not much to do once you get to the top. You could pack a picnic and make use of one of the picnic tables overlooking the town or go for a hike or grab a bite to eat in the cafe.
We enjoyed the views then rode the chair lift back down. The kids loved it.
The Unhelpful Tourist Train
Vianden operates a cute little train that takes you on a tour around the town. Unfortunately the train only runs with a of minimum 6 adults (the sign is not in English, but we have it on good word that is what it said).
We waited for a while, but there was no one else wanting to take the train. Then finally we desperately found 2 more tourists, which made 4 adults in total. I offered to pay the driver the extra 2 adults so he had the 6 tickets, but he bluntly refused and rudely walked away into a nearby restaurant for another beer.
There was nothing to it, but to make the climb to the castle on foot. It was a difficult climb for little legs. About half an hour, all up hill on a road with minimal sidewalks, dodging motorbikes and car traffic.
Finally we breathed a sigh of relief reaching the top of the hill where Vianden Castle sat commandingly over the picturesque town. Constructed between the 11th and 14th centuries, it is one of the largest and most beautiful feudal residences of the Romanesque and Gothic periods in Europe.
The Viaden court held a rather influential position within Europe boasting connections to French royally and the German imperial court.
Much of the original castle construction is still preserved today and the chapel from 12th century is still standing as well.
The castle was sold piece by piece during the 1800’s until it was transferred to the State ownership in 1977 and restored to its former glory.
You can follow an audio guide or simply work your way around the different rooms of the castle. My favourite was the outdoor balconies with the vibrant landscape views.
At the end of the route a team of characters were situated dressed up in medieval costumes showing off armour and offering archery lessons in return for tips. I managed to get my first arrow straight on the target. Not the bullseye, but on the target. Impressive, eh?
Lunch At The Cinema
There were hunger pains as we walked our way down from the castle. We stopped at one restaurant, Ancien Cinema, to read the kids menu on the chalkboard and Josh noticed it had a play area advertised as well.
It turned out to be a large classic cinema-themed restaurant. Towards the rear of the eating area was a large screen with dimmed lighting playing Tom and Jerry cartoons. In boxes around the room were puzzles and other toys the kids could play with.
Josh and I happily relaxed with a leisurely lunch and took advantage of the free Wi-Fi. Joy! After an hour we had to pull ourselves away knowing the bus was on its way to take us home again.
Should you go?
The town is beautiful, no doubt about it. It features a small bridge over the river, the chairlift ride, mesmerising views, and an outstanding castle.
The invading hoards of blaring motorbikes completely destroyed the feel of this little town - hurtling it from quaint historic village into the 21st century creating an insurmountable contrast. The lack of friendly service from the tourism industry representatives (tourist train and information centre) was also a negative for us.
Only afterwards did we find out that motorbikes tend to flock to the town on weekends. So if you visit between Monday and Friday and skip the green tourist train, I’m sure you will have a lovely experience in Vianden. Or better yet, visit when you are doing your own Harley tour through Europe. Vroom vroom!