Sunday, May 15, 2016

To Germany and Back Again: Hiking in Vianden

Sonndeg, 15 Mee.

Ever since coming to Luxembourg in September of last year, hiking has become one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend. I first went hiking in Vianden way back in November, when we took friends visiting from Belgium to hike and see one of the country's most famous castles. Because of the cold, we only did a section of the trail and I've been dying to go back ever since.

Before Madeleine heads back to the USA on Tuesday, we decided to squeeze in a visit to Vianden to revisit the trail and check out one of the Grand Duchy's most scenic spots!

Our hike began, as all good hikes do, by taking the bus. Or, more accurately, two trains and a bus. (A practical side note for anyone wanting to recreate this adventure: to get to Vianden from Esch-sur-Alzette, you have to take a train to Luxembourg City, another 30-minute train to Ettelbruck, and then hop on a bus before finally disembarking at the stop next to the Vianden Tourist Office. It's not a particularly easy trip via public transit, but it's definitely worth it.)

Once we arrived in Vianden, we decided to prolong the actual 'hiking' portion of our hike even longer and hop on the télésiège. This chairlift, which carries tourists over the Our River and up the side of the hill, is one of the area's most popular tourist activities. However, as it's closed during the winter months, I've never had the chance to go! At barely over 2€ one way for students, it was a (high, bumpy, terrifying) bargain.

From the top of the chair lift, it was a quick walk to rejoin the hiking trail. About fifteen minutes into the hike, we came to a clearing overlooking the Our River and the town of Bivels. (Remember this view from our hike in November? It's hardly recognizable now that everything is green!)

The woman in the tourist office in Vianden had shown us a detailed map of the route and pointed out the ruins of Burg Falkenstein, a medieval castle nestled high above the Our River, just across the German border. "Don't go up there. It's very steep and not worth the hike," she told us.

Intrepid, confident explorers that we are, we naturally decided not to heed this warning. Instead of following the flat, smooth trail to the town of Stolzembourg, we crossed a pedestrian bridge into Germany and headed up up up to the ruins of Falkenstein Castle. Though it was hardly two kilometers from the bridge to the ruins, this was definitely the most challenging part of the hike.


Unfortunately, after all our huffing and puffing, we arrived to find that Burg Falkenstein, though in ruins, is still a privately-owned castle. Entrance was, according to a small sign outside the barbed wire-topped fence, strictly verboten.

Although sad not to be able to explore the castle ruins, we continued following signs to Waldhof-Falkenstein, a picnic spot promising great views of the castle and Our River Valley, and hiked up up up until we emerged from the woods to THIS AMAZING VIEW.

At some point along the way, a wrong turn -- I'm still not sure where -- led us away from Waldhof-Falkenstein and through a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Keppeshausen. Rather than return to the wooded trail, we opted to walk along the sunny road, darting into flower-filled fields to say hi to avoid passing tractors and say hi to the occasional cow.

Within thirty minutes, we were back in Luxembourg!


Interested in exploring the surroundings of Vianden? I can't recommend hiking in this area enough -- the quiet trails and stunning views are some of the best I have found in Luxembourg!

If you'd like some more information about the area, check out this brief article from the Luxemburger Wort about the newly-opened Ourdall Promenade, which we followed for part of our adventure; the photos give a great look at the neatly-manicured paths that make up the majority of the trail. You can find more photos of this trail as well as a comprehensive map on the Stolzembourg town website. However, keep in mind that we deviated from the official 8.5 kilometer trail by crossing the river at Bivels and hiking up past Burg Falkenstein to Waldhof-Falkenstein. Although we ultimately wound up back at the trail's endpoint in Stolzembourg (where the bus comes frequently to take you back through Vianden to Ettelbruck), we definitely took the long way 'round.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad you were able to return here in the springtime. What stunning vistas! Love the cows too!