Vianden

One of Luxembourg's main tourist attractions, Vianden is a delightful historic town with a stunningly restored medieval castle, spectacularly situated on a rock high above town. Think charming cobblestoned streets with typically pastel-coloured Luxembourg mansions and a gorgeous Our valley backdrop. Vianden is a traveller's favourite and although high season will bring in some crowds, it's a most pleasant little town with a restaurant at every corner and all the fairytale atmosphere you could ask for. Coming here, you'll follow in the footsteps of countless celebrities, famously going back to Victor Hugo, who repeatedly spent time here.

Understand

History

Vianden's Grand-Rue, the main street.

Vianden's history goes far back, with a Gallo-Roma castellum preceding the current castle. The earliest documented mentions of the town, then called Viennensis, date from the end of the 7th century. Building of the castle began in the 11th century and Vianden soon became the seat of the counts of Vianden, but the city gained its charter only in 1308. The town flourished in the Middle Ages, when it was known for its craftsmen, and later on for its leather works. The last leather tannery closed in the 1950's.

The power of the counts of Vianden was at its peak in the 13th century, and so was the grandeur of their castle. A Renaissance-style structure was added to the castle in the 17th century, but over time the state of the fort diminished with the stature of its lords. As Luxembourg fell under Dutch rule, the town became of little consequence, with earthquakes and a fire further damaging its castle. Things worsened when William I of the Netherlands, uninterested in Vianden and its castle, eventually sold the premises to a local merchant, who in turn sold off its interior piecemeal, leaving the place in ruins. There were several largely unfruitful attempts at restoration, but it was only in the late 1970's that serious repairs took place and the castle was returned to its former glory. For anyone who's interested in the town's history, a visit to the castle is a must-do, as it provides a wealth of information on the matter.

Vianden today

The St Nicholas Chapel, just across the street from the bridge, originates in the 13th century but was rebuilt in 1724 after a fire.

The revival of the castle immediately turned Vianden into a major tourist destination in the region. With its winding roads and rolling hills, the area around town is particularly popular among motorcyclists, who are welcomed by local establishments for the business they bring. On sunny summer afternoons the town can get a bit crowded and noisy because of the many motorbikes and visitors, but early risers will find a peaceful village even in high season.

Get in

Picture-perfect

There are countless fine images of Vianden's castle, but if you're looking to take your own perfect snapshot, consider stopping half-way down the road into town. Find the point where a few parking places have been created on the left side, when driving down the hill.

By car or motorcycle

Most people come here by car or motorcycle. It's a 50 minute drive from Luxembourg city via the N17, with a scenic final approach. Most parking in the village is paid and has a time limit of 3 hours. Your best parking options are near the castle, or immediately left before you enter the village. Some hotels offer basement private parking for motorcycles.

By bus

To get here by public transport, e.g. from Luxembourg (city), take a train to Ettelbruck, and then catch the 570 bus at the bus station adjoining the train station. It runs twice per hour on weekdays, but less frequently on weekends, and also stops in Diekirch. The bus trip takes about 35 minutes, or 20min from Diekirch. Vianden is the second to last stop on the route – ask the driver if unsure. From Luxembourg city, the entire trip takes about an hour and costs just €4 for a return ticket including the bus.

There are also two buses to and from Clervaux in the morning, and another two in the afternoon (line 663, takes about half an hour). In season, a bus from the German city of Bitburg runs to Vianden as well.

By plane

The nearest major airport is Luxembourg Findel Airport. Alternatively, try Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, which is about 120 km from Vianden.

Get around

The town itself is small and just walking down the Rue Grande (which does have some vehicular traffic) is a must do. The castle is situated on a rock some 300 m above the town centre. You can drive a good part up the hill and park there, go up by foot, or walk down from the télésiège stop.

The télésiège leads from the river side to a restaurant stop even higher than the castle, providing some lovely views over town. From there, it's a 15min downhill walk through the forest to the castle; the path is fairly rough and steep, so a reasonable level of fitness and appropriate footwear are required. The télésiège provides return tickets, but if you want to see the castle in one go, you will need to walk the path back up. In that case, buying a single ticket up and strolling down the hill from the castle to town is at least as convenient.

Alternatively, in summer, there's a little tourist train that runs through town and up to the castle, offering a convenient way to reach the castle for elderly or less mobile visitors, or another fun activity for kids. Its ticket office is near the bridge over the Our.

See

Vianden Castle
The quiet courtyard of the Trinitarian cloister.

Do

Buy

Vianden is a village and for any major shopping you'll need to head out to larger towns in the region, e.g. Diekirch. However, there is a pharmacy and a few small shops to supply travellers' basics like local delicacies, candy, drinks and souvenirs. The castle also has a small gift shop offering the usual tourist souvenirs with images of Vianden castle and Luxembourg as a whole. Remarkably, there's a model car shop in town. ATM's can be found on the main street.

Eat

Terraces along the river Our make for perfect coffee break spots

Virtually every non-residence building in Vianden, mostly along the Grand-Rue, is some kind of hotel or restaurant, and places to eat are all around. Prices and cuisines vary wildly; you can find everything from €5-7/meal snack bars (hamburgers, chicken patties, fries, etc.) to restaurants serving traditional French and/or German cuisine (€30+). You can also find pizza, pasta, Chinese food, and all manner of desserts.

Some of the best places to eat belong to hotels, with pretty much all catering to guests who are not staying in the hotel as well as those who are.

Note that restaurants tend to close early or even entirely in winter. If you find yourself all out of options, try the snack bar near the tourist office.

Drink

Most restaurants have nice outdoor terraces and you'll be welcome for a drink virtually everywhere. This isn't really a town for late nights out or clubbing, but several places double as a pub, staying open after dinner time. Hotel establishments in particular offer after dinner opportunities as they have to be open for guests anyway.

Sleep

Stadhous (Town Hall) and fountain

There's an abundance of hotels around. They're not particularly expensive for European standards, but if you're travelling on a budget, the Youth Hostel dorms are the cheapest option in town. Alternatively, consider bringing your tent and going camping. The hotels are all in the mid range.

Connect

Many hotels offer free Wi-Fi for guests, but the connections are not always stable and sometimes slow. Mobile 3G works fairly well.

Go next

As the country is so small, any Luxembourg destination can serve as your next stop, as they are never more than 2 hours away.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, September 17, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.