Everything to See & Do in Vianden
Although the picturesque village of Vianden is one of the main tourist attractions in the country, Luxembourg itself is often overlooked by travelers. And that makes Vianden a special place. It’s a tourist attraction that’s also a hidden gem. It’s hands-down one of the prettiest villages in Luxembourg. It has everything – cobblestone streets, ornate houses, a fairytale castle, and a direct connection to one of the most famous authors in history. If you have the chance to spend time in Vianden but choose to skip it, you’re really missing out!
How to Get to Vianden
To get to Vianden, you basically have two options: bus or car. If you want to go by bus, you can hop on in Ettelbrück, Luxembourg (Ettelbrück is accessible by train from a number of cities, including Luxembourg City). If you’re coming from within Germany, you can catch a bus to Vianden out of Bitburg (Bitburg is also easily accessible by train from various other towns and cities in Germany).
If you have a car and want to drive to Vianden yourself, there are several parking lots around the village. However, be forewarned that the parking places are sometimes hard to snag and can be unnervingly narrow. I’ll let you in on a little-known secret, though. Most people make the mistake of driving up to the castle and parking at the top of the hill. That parking lot is crazy full all the time. Instead, park at the bottom of the hill, behind Hotel Petry. There are way fewer parking places here (it’s a small lot), but there is also way less competition for spots here. You can’t really see the parking lot from the road unless you’re looking for it, so most people end up driving right past it. You can also park along the river.
Where to Explore in Vianden
Vianden is much smaller than you might think, so the whole village is easily walkable. The best place to explore is definitely along Grand Rue. My suggestion is to start from Hotel Petry on Rue de la Gare. You can either walk along the road and follow it over the bridge, or you can take a stroll along the Our River first and go under the bridge before coming back up to the main road. Rue de la Gare turns into Grand Rue once it crosses the river, and this street will take you all the way up to the castle.
The hill is a bit steep, but the buildings are so pretty that it makes the effort worth it. Plus, you’ll pass by the cutest shops and cafes you’ve ever seen. The street here is cobblestone, and most of the windows have flowers in them – add to that the fact that you can see the castle looming over the village, and you will feel like you’re walking around in a fairytale.
Where to Eat in Vianden
Vianden has a number of restaurants to choose from. My favorite place in town – and my top recommendation – is the pizzeria in Hotel Petry.
It’s separate from the main restaurant, which means it’s quiet and cozy. We especially like to go there on those cold, dreary days because it’s so nice to enjoy a delicious pizza and be warmed by the fire of the wood burning stove at the same time. There is a separate door to the pizzeria, so you can access it directly from the road. The Hotel Petry is located on Rue de la Gare, just around the corner from the bridge.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more formal, maybe a little fancier, you might want to try Auberge Al Veinen. Their specialty is meat, so if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you might have trouble here, but meat lovers will be in Heaven. (My tip: get the Kräuterbutter!) Most dishes consist of a meat (like steak or filet mignon) with salad and either french fries or a baked potato. They also have a great wine selection. If you go in the colder months, you can sit inside the restaurant where they have really put a lot of attention into the details. Or in the summer, you can sit outside on the patio and people-watch. Auberge Al Veinen is right on Grand Rue, about two-thirds of the way up the hill.
One place that you definitely shouldn’t miss while in Vianden is Ancien Cinema Cafe Club. I can’t speak to the quality of their food because I’ve never eaten there, but I can absolutely shout from the rooftops how AMAZING their tea and coffee is. It’s so good. I hate to compare it to something as cliche as Starbucks, but it’s a pretty fair comparison of sorts. And what I mean by that is that they serve really unique flavorings of coffee and tea. For example, they have teas like Elephant Vanilla Chai (which is my favorite), Lady in Pink Bio (black tea), Kukicha Bio (green tea), Rose tea, and Honey & Lime tea. No joke, their tea section of the menu has 50 different choices. And if you’re in the mood for coffee, you can choose from things like Hazelnut Cafe Latte, Cinnamon Cappucino, White Cafe Mocha, or even Honey Vodka Cafe Creme. And if the drinks aren’t enough, the decor will push you over the top, especially if you’re a movie buff or just interested in vintage cinema.
What to See in Vianden
Vianden is great in that there’s really something for everyone. If you don’t start your visit off with a walk along the Our River, definitely take some time to do that. It’s a short stretch but a pretty one. They have flowers adorning both sides of the river, and you’re down kind of low when you walk along the water, so you’re always looking up at the houses, hills, and castles.
Beautiful regardless of the weather.
It would also be worth your time to spend a few minutes looking at all of the details on the bridge. Here you’ll find two statues: one of Victor Hugo (the famous author who penned classic works like Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame) and one of Saint John of Nepomuk. Fun Fact: Saint John of Nepomuk is the patron saint of bridges, and that’s because legend has it that he was the confessor of the Queen of Bohemia (today’s Czech Republic). He refused to tell the King the secrets she confessed to him, so he had John tortured and thrown into the river, where he drowned – although, the real reason for his murder was most likely political.
Speaking of Victor Hugo, the Victor Hugo House is a must-see for any of my fellow book nerds. This is where Victor Hugo lived in 1871 during his exile from France. He was very fond of Vianden and had visited the village on more than one occasion. The house, which is now a museum, offers a glimpse into his life, with a number of manuscripts and personal items.
Over the years, he spoke very glowingly about Vianden – once even saying, “Vianden, embedded in a splendid landscape, will be visited one day by tourists from the whole of Europe, attracted both by its sinister but magnificent ruin and by its cheerful and happy people.” To stand in his house and look through the very same window he gazed at the castle through is quite an experience.
And then, of course, we have the main appeal of Vianden: Vianden Castle.
This castle is one of the most beautiful castles in the Eifel. It was built between the 11th and 14th centuries, with changes made in the 13th century in the Gothic style and again in the 17th century in the Renaissance style.
The castle passed through the hands of several Luxembourg counts before landing in the possession of King William I (of the Netherlands). He sold it to a much lower-ranking politician in the early 1800s, who sold the castle off piece by piece until it was in ruins. However, the people were so angry that the King ended up buying the castle back and started the process of rebuilding and repairing it. Several wars prolonged that process, which was only fully completed in 1990.
Today, you can tour the castle for as little as 8€ per person. It’s self-guided, so you can take your time and spend as long as you want on the castle grounds. You do have the option of paying for an audio tour (which is available in English), though.
Throughout the year, the castle hosts various events and festivals. Here’s a clip of one of the performers at the Medieval Festival.
If you really have a lot of time to spend in Vianden, you can also visit the City Museum to learn more about the village’s history, take a panoramic ride on the Chair Lift, step into the Church of the Trinitarians (which dates back to the 1200s), climb the high rope course of Indian Forest, wander through the ruins of the city wall, or stick around until the sun goes down and take a haunted walking tour.
Like I said – something for everyone!
If you’ve never been to Vianden, I hope I’ve convinced you to go! And if you’ve already been, I hope I’ve given you ideas for new things to do on your next visit!
Alright, guys. Who’s been to Vianden and what was your favorite part?