Change Edition

Off the beaten track

Off the beaten track

by Sarita Rao 6 min. 21.06.2020 From our online archive
Roman ruins, Mount St John, caves or a former mining village - a few of Luxembourg's lesser-known treasures
Hohllay Caves in Berdorf
Hohllay Caves in Berdorf
Photo credit: Visit Luxembourg

If you're looking for something a bit different from the usual tourists spots, here are some lesser-known sights that we think are worth a visit. 

Roman ruins

Echternach's Roman Villa
Echternach's Roman Villa

Luxembourg is filled with Roman ruins, dotted around the forests.

While Echternach's Roman Villa restored in the 1970s gives you a real feel for what life was like for wealthy Romans, with its under-floor heating and swimming pools, did you know that beneath Dalheim village lie the ruins of a Roman settlement, with public baths and a theatre?

The village of Vichten still retains a copy of the mosaic from 240AD which now resides in the Museum of Art and History (re-open since 9 June 2020), and there are Roman ruins in Helmsange, Mamer, Mersch, Steinsel and between Nospelt and Goeblange.

Many of the sites are free with open access. Here's a list of them

A bit of nature

While everyone else is snapping the Schiessentümpel Waterfall in Mullerthal, you should head to Berdorf and the Hohllay Caves.

A site of mining since medieval times, the Hollow Cave or Breechkaul Cave was created by the carving out of circular mill stones. It's eerie, particularly the pillars left as supports, and it's also a natural amphitheatre.

Aqua Tower, Berdorf
Aqua Tower, Berdorf

Also in Berdorf the Aqua Tower does tours that tell you where your drinking water comes from in an exciting and interactive museum set 55m high at the top of a water tower. It's open daily (except some Mondays) from 10.00 to 18.00. 

Another hidden gem is the Nature Park Our (far less crowded than the one on the banks of the Sûre).

North of Oesling, located in the heart of the Luxembourg Ardennes, it is home to the marshes of the high plateau. There are countless walking trails, two cycle routes and six mountain-bike paths.

You can pick up more information and book activities online at their new website, as the visitor centre which has a lovely interactive exhibition that gives an overview of the natural, economic, historical and cultural heritage of the region, including the "see" and "sound" islands, is still currently closed

Located between Schengen and Remich, the Haff Reimech Nature Reserve is the place to find out more about the flora and fauna of Luxembourg.

Within the reserve, the Biodiversum, set on an artificial island includes an underwater world exhibit, and aims to teach visitors about sustainability and caring for the environment (it re-opened on 9 June). A leaflet giving cycle and walking routes through the reserve can be downloaded from here. Watch out though, on hot days the lake beaches nearby get full, as do the parking spots.

For insight into rural life, try out the Rural Museum in Peppange which details pastoral life in the past centuries on an old farm that dates back to 1849. Fully restored agricultural machines and an imitation medieval forge are complimented with a playground and brasserie. It re-opened on 7 June on weekdays from 14.00 to 17.00 and at weekends from 14.00 to 18.00.

Industrial history

Minett Park, Fond-de-Gras Photo: Lucien Wolff
Minett Park, Fond-de-Gras Photo: Lucien Wolff

Fond-de-Gras and Minett Park was once an important centre for industry in Luxembourg. You can still reach it by steam locomotive, and visit the open air museum, The Village of Lasauvage, which houses an old grocery store.

During June, the Station Buffet will be open at weekends from 14.00 to 19.00 and the museums including the Paul Wurth Hall and Victor Binck Grocery will be open 14.00 to 18.00. The train "Minièresbunn"and Train 1900 will run on Sundays, public holidays and on Thursday 16, 23 and 30 July and 6 and 13 August. You can find more information on Covid-19 restrictions and train operating times here

A recent addition are the "draisines" – four seat rail bikes, which run along the railway linking Fond-de-Gras and Bois-de-Rodange in a 30 minute round trip, costing €10 per rail bike (accommodates four people).  These are not currently available to rent. 

The Godchaux circuit takes you on a walk to discover the industrial development of land around Luxembourg City.

The circuit bears the name of the family at the origins of the textile industry in Hamm and the Alzette valley, and you'll step back in time as you walk past the old glove factory and sheet metal works, workers housing and the wash house. You can download a guided leaflet of the circuit here.

No industrial history of the Grand Duchy would be complete without a visit to the blast furnaces of Belval.

Climb the 180 steps of furnace A to the former charging platform and you will be rewarded with breathtaking views on the surrounding countryside. Information panels tell the story of how the blast furnace worked to produce pig iron.

The museum re-opened in May, Wednesdays to Fridays 10.00 to 19.00, Saturdays 10.00 to 18.00 and Sundays 14.00 to 18.00 with a maximum of 10 people per visit. 

Castle ruins

LT Expat Hub has a specific article on castles you can visit, but these two are "off the beaten track" and not official tourists sites.

Mount St John and its historical castle ruins in Dudelange will be far less busy than Beaufort and Bourscheid castles. A spiritual site and pilgrimage stop, the ruins of the castle also hide Gallo-Roman structures beneath their medieval fortifications.

Brandenbourg Castle Photo: Wiki Commons
Brandenbourg Castle Photo: Wiki Commons

Legend has it that the Virgin of Mount St John was transformed into a snake, and awaits her saviour every seven years – so check the date before you set out. The town's museum houses some of the artefacts found at the site.

Another freely accessible ruin, Brandenbourg Castle, sits on a promontory in the valley of the River Blees. Possibly built in the 10th century, and used as a filming location for the 2004 Hollywood film George and the Dragon, you can wander through the recently restored ruins between 9.00 and 17.00 daily.

Get the Luxembourg Times delivered to your inbox twice a day. Sign up for your free newsletters here.