The trails and tribulations of Luxembourg

There aren’t too many countries you can walk across. Luxembourg is one of them – and it’s also one of the most pleasant. It’s like a beautiful fairytale!

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. He has been a journalist for more than 20 years and has travelled the world full time since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.

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Walking across Luxembourg

The truck rushes past and the gust almost throws me off balance. It was a bit too close, that one.

Highways are designed for vehicles at speed, not hikers on feet. The two fit uncomfortably on the same stretch of road and I’m anxious to get away from the heavy traffic.

Thankfully Luxembourg is generally kind to those who like to walk and there are plenty of options to avoid the highway. It’s lucky because for six days, this was my home… the road, I mean.

The mission was to walk the entire length of the country, with a few deviations to see some of the more interesting parts.

My friend Meredith had joined me for the trip and we calculated it would be about 140 kilometres from top to bottom. Achievable, we thought, especially if we pared back what we were prepared to carry on our backs.

How to walk across Luxembourg

We had picked out some interesting places to stop each evening although, if I’m to be completely honest, we’d picked ones that meant we didn’t have to walk too far on any given day.

Each of the towns was going to give us a sense of Luxembourg… not that we knew what to expect.

How to walk across Luxembourg

You know what they say, though, the journey is about more than the destination.

Over the six days we trekked through the country we saw some beautiful landscapes. We met some interesting people. And we got a real sense of what this country was like – its splendour, its hospitality and its quirks.

Luxembourg isn’t a big country – it’s the seventh smallest in Europe and would only take a couple of hours to drive across. And that’s where the idea to walk the whole thing came from.

It seemed like a good way to see a bit of the local culture… with a fun challenge thrown in.

How to walk across Luxembourg

In the end, it was much easier than expected.

Luxembourg has a well-established system of walking trails and bike paths all throughout it. The walking trails aren’t particularly direct and are intended more for some scenic bushwalking that for a trip across the whole country, so we only occasionally used them.

The bike paths turned out to be much more convenient because they often followed the roads but kept us safe from the cars.

How to walk across Luxembourg
How to walk across Luxembourg

It was when neither existed and we had to trudge along the side of a highway (sometimes in quite wet and muddy undergrowth) that there was some discomfort. Having to walk single file to keep a safe distance from the speeding trucks also meant we couldn’t chat very easily.

One of the most surprising things we discovered was how little there was along the way.

Luxembourg has a population of about 500,000 people and about 100,000 of them live in the capital city. The rest are spread out across the whole country in small towns and rural properties.

It means you don’t get much of a concentration of development or commerce along the roads we were walking. There were a lot of farms, forests, rivers and other mixes of green and blue.

How to walk across Luxembourg

But there was very rarely somewhere to stop for a coffee or even buy a bottle of water. It was something that proved to be quite an issue over the week – we just couldn’t find shops or convenience stores to get refreshments.

Sometimes it would take hours of walking just to get to a town with an open café where we could buy something to drink.

How to walk across Luxembourg

It sometimes felt a bit like walking through a fairytale.

The trees on dappled paths would clear to reveal a medieval castle on a hill, Romanesque churches would sit on small and tidy squares, and sometimes well-kept gardens would introduce grand Renaissance houses which could pass for the residences of fictional royalty.

How to walk across Luxembourg
How to walk across Luxembourg

There is so much of this country you can see during the slow methodical walk across the country. And it’s left me with a whole range of stories from Luxembourg – the magical land of the world’s last remaining grand duchy.

43 thoughts on “The trails and tribulations of Luxembourg”

  1. Looks like you’ve identified a niche market. Perhaps a local partnership to a small grocer that would stock staple items in one of those areas?

    In some parts of Europe there are little cabins that are often stocked w/bottled water. Although I believe the idea there is each person should bring an item to leave behind – then it’s never completely empty of dry or canned goods.

    Reply
    • My gosh – you would make so much money opening up a string of convenience stores in Luxembourg! There is absolutely nowhere to buy stuff most of the time. I don’t know how the locals do it (presumably they’re not always walking across the country, though). A couple of people told me they drive to Germany and stock up there because everything is cheaper.

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  2. Wow Michael, you’ve just done everything, haven’t you? I imagine not too many can say they have walked the length of a country.. an achievement, even if its only 140km across. I’d be interested in hearing more about the logistics of this walk.. I imagine you camped out a bit, if it was so hard to get a bottle of water.

    Reply
    • Well, stay tuned and I’ll be writing a little bit more about the logistics. But the short answer is that is has an incredible system of youth hostels all across the (relatively small) country. So there was no need to camp at all – we always got nice comfortable beds in very cool accommodation.

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    • This is my third country I’ve walked across now (the others being San Marino and Liechtenstein). It’s actually a really fun way to see things. Perhaps I’ll try to do a couple every year… and make them slightly bigger each time! 🙂

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  3. Well, if you’re going to walk across a country, Luxembourg isn’t a bad one too start off with! I’ve only ever visited the capital, but the drive there didn’t make me think there was much else to see – that castle though looks really cool!

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  4. Very cool. I quite like that little country. And I think you got the added ‘benefit’ of experiencing it like people have for centuries: hours and hours of walking without any shops along the road. Walking in a fairytale sums it up nicely.

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    • I can imagine it would be the kind of country that would interest you. It’s so quaint and SO European. But because it’s small and quite wealthy there’s a very happy mood to the whole place, I found.

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  5. Looks like an interesting experience, strange enough Luxembourg has never really captured my attention, I mainly see it as a business state with little to visit, sure I’m wrong..

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    • The business side of Luxembourg is contained in a very small part of the city. Large parts of Luxembourg City are quite beautiful – with some stunning views from bridges out over the valleys. And then the rest of the country is a very green and quaint land. There’s definitely a lot more there to see!

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  6. Luxembourg is one of my favorite cities, perfect for a day or two – pretty laid back, quality beer and baked goods, a pretty sweet fortress, and I must say its natural beauty is beyond words.

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  7. I’ve not walked across Luxembourg but have done some day hikes in the country. I hiked along GR5 /E2 on the banks of the Moselle for one birthday and watched the grapes being harvested and wakeboarders on the river. A day that will stay in my memory.
    Spending a lot of time in Belgium, Luxembourg has some fascinating, historic and scenic treats.

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  8. Hey Michael,

    I’m going to Luxembourg for a couple of days in late June, staying with family. I have one free day and an interrail pass. Any suggestions of how to get the most out of that day?
    Hope you’re well:-)
    Katrine

    Reply
    • Oh, I think you should head up and see Vianden Castle. It’s one of the highlights of Luxembourg. If you’ve got a bit of spare time there are some nice half-day walks around there too!

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  9. Hi Michael,
    Since James Martin quoted your trek across Luxembourg @about.com which I read last December, I have been inspired to do this in July of 2014! I am a recently retired American living in Germany, and I’ve always enjoyed long walks also for the health benefits.
    Interestingly, I linked up with a Walk for Human Rights organizer from my home state of Texas, and she got me in contact with the Frankfurt, Germany, Youth for Human Rights organization. I’ve met with them, and they are providing me with Logo shirts, etc. [The URL to this International organization is noted above]
    I am also an active Amateur (Ham) Radio operator and will apply for a special event call sign for Luxembourg for the month of July.
    So, for my health, for a great cause, and for fun talking with the world, I am hoping for a great 1st Walk for Human Rights across Luxembourg!
    Thanks again for the great idea!
    Best regards,
    Glenn
    Ham Callsigns: DL8FG (in Germany) and WB5FDJ (in USA)

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for getting in touch. I didn’t know James Martin had quoted my piece, so that’s great news.
      And I’m so pleased you’re going to be doing the walk yourself in a few months. It’s really quite easy terrain with plenty of accommodation options, some nice tracks, and beautiful scenery. The only issue I had was that it can be a long way between shops so I would recommend always carrying some drinks and food.
      Let me know if you have any questions and I can’t wait to hear how it all goes!!

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  10. Hi Michael,

    Firstly great Article. It actually inspired me to do a walk across Luxembourg. However, I have had a lot of trouble trying to figure out where to start from and the best way to walk across my first ever countrz. I would be really helpful if you could tell me where you started from and the name of the towns that you stopped at along the way.

    Thanks a billion

    Reply
    • Hi Tom,
      Thanks for the question! I started in the very north at a border town called Knauf and finished just south of Dudelange.
      Along the way, I stayed at Clervaux, then Vianden, then Echternach, then Junglinster, then Luxemburg City.
      I guess there are other ways to do it but I thought that route would go past some interesting places and there were some good hostels to stay at along the way.
      Good luck with your trip!!

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  11. Tom,

    I did my first walk in the northern part of Luxembourg. We did a 4-day program this past July starting in Kautenbach, where there is ample parking space and even train connections. See the link below: http://ardennes-hotels.lu/index.php?lgn=3&cont=1

    The hotel owners at the hotels in each village were very friendly and helpful. I would believe that they would mail you the walking trail maps for just the postage fees.

    We had a great time. Our route was: Kautenbach – Bourscheìd – Eschdorf – Esch-sur-Sûre – Kautenbach. We also made a side trip via train to the Ardennes province capitol Wiltz, well worth seeing.

    If you have any questions or need the current hotel contacts, just let me know.

    Best regards, Glenn Rossi

    Reply
  12. Hey , I am planing to walk Luxembourg for charity this year , just wondered if you have any tips? It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl. Please contact me with any information to help

    Holly batley 16

    Reply
    • Hey Holly – that’s a really exciting challenge for you. Good luck with it!
      It’s actually a great country for this kind of thing and you shouldn’t have too much trouble. I went down the east side of the country, rather than straight down, because it was a bit more interesting and there were good places to stay. Some parts, I had to walk along the highway but there were some good walking tracks and bike tracks for a lot of it.
      My biggest recommendation would be to plan your route based on accommodation. So look for about 5 or 6 nice towns to stay in with hostels (there’s a good network) or hotels about 20 km apart. That should give you your route.
      The only other thing to say is that there aren’t many shops along the way so take plenty of drinks and snacks with you at the start of the day.
      Have fun!

      Reply
  13. Hii, hopefully this reaches you! My friends and I are planning on doing the same cross-Luxembourg hike and I just came across this post. Your experience sounds super interesting! I was wondering whether you had any tips or you remember of any specific route you would advise to take to shorten the hike.
    Thank you!

    Reply

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