Day trips by train
Who needs a car and the hassle of finding a parking spot when you can take the train to some wonderful destinations in the Greater Region and beyond? Discover northern Luxembourg, the Belgian Ardennes or the historical Roman towns of Germany and the buzzing cities of Alsace-Lorraine. Here's our guide with approximate travel times for a day trip by train.
All times are listed from Luxembourg Central Station, and please check that trains rather than replacement bus services are running on the line from Luxembourg to Metz.
Line 10 will take you to Clervaux in just under an hour. There you can visit the Family of Man photography exhibition and the museums of the Ardennes Counter-offensive and Models of castles and palaces. Unwind in the lovely Princess Maria Teresa square with an ice cream or hike up to the Abbey of Saint Maurice on a 6.8km circular walk.
You can be in Wasserbillig in less than 38 minutes on Line 30. You might have thought this was the place to fill up on cheap petrol before entering Germany, but this town has a lot more to offer. The aquarium is small but full of information, and there’s a play park opposite. The town also lies at the confluence of the rivers Moselle and Sauer, and you can take the solar ferry to the German town of Oberbillig. The ferry ride costs €0,80 for those aged 10 years or more and €1,50 for a bicycle.
Fancy some fun with the kids involving lemurs, meerkats, red pandas and porcupines. Bettembourg is just 10 minutes away from the city on line 90, and from the station it’s a 20 minute walk (or you can take a free shuttle bus) to Parc Merveilleux which is open every year from the end of March to mid October, and offers adventure playgrounds, rides and a barefoot path, as well as an array of animals. Tickets must be reserved online for a specific day. Each year in early July, the town hosts a Night of Wonders, with street theatre, dance, circus, music and puppetry.
In the heart of the Ardennes, Libramont is home to the Celtic Museum and is just an hour by train (Please note that it is currently closed for renovation but will reopen in autumn). A small museum, set over three floors displaying crockery, jewellery and articles of everyday life from the 5th to 2nd Century BC, discovered at Celtic tombs throughout the Belgian Ardennes region. The museum has games and activities for children, including a special audio guide featuring Eira, a 10-year-old Celtic girl.
Another great Ardennes destination by train (1.5 hours), Vielsalm is home to La Maison du Pays de Salm, an interactive museum focusing on the folklore and the legend of the witches of Vielsalm. You can also try out the Witches Walk (4.5km) to discover more about the region’s unusual history. You can find out more here.
If you get up early, you can catch the train to Coo and be there in less than 2 hours. Sports lovers will find the ring-shaped Coo lake brimming with water and adventure activities, and parents can treat the kids to a day at theme park Plopsa Coo.
Luxembourgers don’t think twice about shopping in Trier, just 50 minutes away by train. If you prefer sightseeing, you won’t be disappointed. The Roman ruins, including Porta Nigra, the amphitheatre and imperial Roman baths plus a visit to the beautiful St Peter's Cathedral, can be combined with the toy museum or City museum. There are plenty of lovely cafes and restaurants if you need a break. You can find out more here.
If you like a slower pace, why not head to Cochem (1 hour 45 minutes, change at Trier) dominated by the 1000 year old Reichsburg. Take the chairlift to Pinnerkreuz lookout point. If that feels a bit too slow-paced, spice up the action with a visit to the nearby Freizeitpark Klotten which combines an animal park including birds of prey, with thrill and family rides and a puppet theatre. It’s open from March to early November.
If you're an early riser, take the two hour journey to Volkingen (change at Trier) to the fascinating World Cultural Heritage Site at the former ironworks. There's a viewing platform at the blast furnace, a multi-media site to take you on a journey through time at the ironworks, and a picnic area at the old granulating site. You can take a tour via a coal track and across 7,000m of signposted walkways, visit the science centre or take in an art exhibition.
Sadly the more rural parts of Alsace and Lorraine are not as well connected to Luxembourg as the cities. Spend a Saturday in Metz (40-50 minutes by train) and take in the Pompidou Centre, the city’s famous gothic cathedral and the archaeology and art museum complex. There are also plenty of squares and streets filled with restaurants without outdoor dining. Families can find more information on things to do in Metz here.
In less than 2 hours you can alight in the gold-leafed city of Nancy. Start at Place Stanislas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its gilded wrought-iron gates and rococo fountains, then take in the fine art museum, aquarium and natural history museum, or just relax in the Parc de la Pépinière, feed the deer and donkeys or try your hand at mini golf. You can find out more here.
If you are missing the action of a capital city, remember Paris is just 2 hours and 10 minutes away from Luxembourg (direct trains or change in Metz but this will take longer). There, you can take a walk down the Champs Elysées, gaze upon the Mona Lisa or take in all of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
If you are prepared to get up early and rely on connections in Brussels or Metz, you can reach Amsterdam, Antwerp, Lille and even Nice from Luxembourg, but expect it to take the best part of half or a whole day as these destinations are not always connected by high speed trains. Perhaps a weekend break by train?