The four corners of Luxembourg
It’s hard to be sure what is precisely east, west, south and north in Luxembourg and what are the four corners, so we’ve picked a few places that you might not have visited in the past year, which are definitely at the extremities of Luxembourg’s borders. Pétange in the west, Born and Wasserbillig in the east, Schengen in the south, and Weiswampach and Troisvierges in the north.
All have something special from the Celtic ruins and steam train of Pétange, to the European Museum documenting the Schengen Agreement, the lakes of Weiswampach, and the aquarium at Wasserbillig, or the castle at Born. All have plenty of walking trails and cycling routes, which we hope will give you further inspiration to explore Inside Lux.
You can read our Inside Lux series on Clervaux, Vianden, Wiltz, Remich, Diekirch, Echternach, and Redange/Beckerich in the LT Expat Hub Travel section.
Situated at the west of the Red Rock region, Pétange was occupied in Celtic times, however its heyday came in the late 19th century with the rise of the iron and steel industry. The first railway in Pétange opened in 1873, and the line ran to Esch-sur-Alzette.
Pétange was also the first commune to be liberated by Allied soldiers in September 1944. More recently the town was in the headlines when it was hit by a multiple vortex tornado that tore off roofs and whipped up cars, reaching speeds of more than 200km per hour and damaging some 300 homes.
Titelberg Celtic ruins
On a prominent plateau some 3km south west of Pétange, you’ll find the Celtic ruins of an oppidum, or fortified iron age settlement. The largest of the Treveri settlements, it was located close to the roads connecting to Reims and the upper Moselle, and in addition to iron ore deposits was situated next to fertile land.
There is evidence to suggest the site was home to sporadic settlements from as early as 2000 BC, but foundation stones at the site date from the 1st century BC, which together with 9m high earthen ramparts, probably formed a wall to this hill fort, the seat of the Treveri chiefs. A political and economic hub, it probably traded with other Gallic centres, and Celtic tombs in Nospelt, Clemency and Goeblange contain a range of artefacts including wine flagons, oil lanterns and knives. In addition to housing the chiefs, there was also a general residential area. A huge number of Celtic coins were found at the site together with bronze clasps probably used for holding garments together.
After Roman conquest, earlier Celtic houses were replaced by Roman buildings with stone foundations. Titelberg was known for its metal working, including the minting of coins. A Roman fanum or square shaped temple was also built on the site.
Information panels provide more detail on the excavations which can be accessed via a narrow path from the Fond de Gras (up a steep slope just after the workers houses) or a path from the parking lot.
Train 1900 & Fond de Gras
Departing from Pétange (behind the CFL station at rue de Niederkorn) you can hop aboard a steam train to Fond de Gras, 8km and 25 minutes away.
At Fond de Gras you can visit grocery Victor Bink (originally opened in 1919 in Differdange), which sold products to mine workers. The Paul Wurth Hall, a powerplant first located in Hollerich, was also dismantled and rebuilt at Fond de Gras. It houses a steam engine with two cylinders. You can also hop aboard the mining train (Minièresbunn) which runs to Lasauvage on a narrow gauge line.
The steam train 1900 starts up again in May and runs until October. You can find more details of Minett Park and Fond de Gras here.
Walking, hiking and cycling
Created in 1991 around a former pit mine, the Prënzebierg nature reserve has several trails including one which is 7km long and passes through wetlands and the ponds of the former pit, where you can discover 20 species of orchid and a large number of butterflies. The shorter, geological path, provides 9 panels with information on a 2.5km pathway that passes the rock faces in the area. You can find a map and details of the trails here.
An 8.6km circular walk (rated easy) starts at Pétange town hall and crosses the railway tracks before climbing into the forest and passing the Laangwiss ponds. A 16km station to station walk starts in Pétange and follows the river to join the national cycling route PC12 to Clemency and then continues through fields and at the edge of the forest to Kleinbettingen. Except for a short section of the trail by the river (which can be bypassed), the trail is accessible to prams and cycles.
The Poet’s trail was created in 2011 as part of the International Year of the Forest in collaboration with the National Literature Centre in Mersch. It is designed to reveal the beauty of the landscape with 12 stations featuring literary texts from Luxembourgish authors, all relating to the forest. There are three starting points near to Pétange.
For a longer hike, try the 29km National Hiking trail “Path of the Mineworkers” which illustrates how this once industrial landscape has been taken over by nature. It passes next to charming streams and green valleys, with surprising views of old mining towns and the region’s historical railroad heritage.
Cycle path 12 is perfect for families and runs 57km from Pétange to Colmar-Berg, mostly following the old Attert railway line on the border between Belgium and Luxembourg, then switches to follow the tracks of the famous Charly narrow-gauge railway line, through the valley of the seven castles, and then into a 700m-long tunnel to arrive in Useldange, before following the Attert River to Colmar-Berg. You can download a map of the route here.
The 54km Three Cantons cycle path follows PC6 from Pétange to Schengen. Which brings us neatly to our next corner – Schengen.
On the banks of the Moselle, this village jostles the border between Luxembourg, Germany and France. It was here, in June 1985, that representatives from these countries plus Belgium and the Netherlands signed the Schengen Agreement, allowing for freedom of movement in the EEC. Today the Schengen area covers 27 European countries including Iceland, Switzerland, Norway and Lichtenstein. It abolished many intra-European border controls and allows freedom of movement of people and goods between the countries of the signatories.
European Museum Schengen
If you want to see the caps worn by the now defunct border control guards before the agreement, they’re housed in this museum. Sections of the Berlin wall can also be found outside. The museum is free and open daily from 10.00 to 17.00.
The tourist centre, a building that “floats” on the River Moselle, was created by architect Valentiny, and a foundation (an architectural icon in its own right) dedicated to his work in the Grand Duchy and across the world, is located in Schengen municipality in Remerschen. You can read more details about the architect and the sculptures, sketches and models at the Valentiny Foundation, here. The tourist office rents bicycles and e-bikes.
Nearby you’ll also find the Biodiversum in the wetlands and the Mediterranean gardens of Schwebsange. A private collectors garden, it was donated to the Help Nature Foundation (now natur & ëmwelt) in 2009 and covers some 15 hectares with numerous subtropical and tropical species that thrive in the mild Moselle climate. When it's open, you can gaze upon peonies, fuchsias, roses and irises.
Sadly the gardens are currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, but you can visit the Biodiversum which hosts a range of activities and has a number of lovely nature trails.
Walking and cycling
The Schengen without borders hiking trail has starting points in Germany, France and at the Luxembourg tourist office. The 7.7km trail starts at the museum and runs through the Strombierg nature reserve, home to deer tongue ferns, with magnificent views over the Moselle valley and the winemaking village of Contz-les-Bains across the French border. The reserve is located on a former plaster mining site and also has an educational nature path, which starts under the bridge in Schengen.
For a gentler stroll you can take the 1 hour path from the museum to discover the various monuments that commemorate the Schengen Agreement. You can download a PDF here.
If you prefer the national hiking trails then you have a choice of two. The Moselle path traverses 55km from Schengen to Wasserbillig through some of the regions most beautiful scenery, vineyards and riverside views. It starts at the bridge in Schengen with signs featuring a yellow rectangle on a blue background. There’s a shorter 24km trail from Schengen to Hellange. You can find printable PDFs for both trails here.
In October, Schengen is home to Hunnefeier, marking the end of the grape harvest with stalls, music, local cuisine and the first wine of the season – Fiederwäissen. You can find out more about local Luxembourgish wines, including those from Schengen, here.
Born and Wasserbillig
Born castle, about 8km north of Wasserbillig constitutes the third corner (in my book) and dates back to 1286 when it was home to the Lords of Born. Today’s castle was built in the 18th century on the site of the original, and is privately owned. The circular walk Born is an easy 8.5km stroll and crosses the valley of Girsterbaach near the Burermillen (mill) following the Basse Sûre path to the Burerbesch forest. The walk starts near the castle.
Born is also home to local cider producer Ramborn, which makes the beverage using 100 varieties of apples. You can visit their shop to buy a few bottles or to take a tour (they advise that you email or phone in advance to book this).
Wasserbillig was also a Roman settlement known as Biliacum, where it served as a harbour for goods being transported by river. The wonderful Wasserbillig aquarium has fish from around the world, both freshwater and tropical, housed in 15 different tanks. You can see discus fish, neon tetra, piranhas and Luxembourg’s biggest predatory fish – the pike. It’s open daily from Easter to October (and at weekends and Fridays the rest of the year) between 10.00 to 18.00, and tickets cost €3 for adults and €1,50 for children.
Walking and cycling
The Salzmännchegaart is a barefoot path that reveals the landscape's subterranean rocks, including sandstone, dolomite and clay marl, giving you a good understanding of the underlying geology of the region. It’s located behind the elementary school in Born.
A local hiking trail just shy of 9km starts behind the school and sports complex. It ascends to Wangertsbierg and the Sûre valley passing by orchards with dry stone walls, through forests and on to dry grassland above Moersdorf, with good views of the surrounding area. Orchard Path Diewelskopp is 8.5km in length and as its title suggests, leads you through orchards and the protected nature area of Diewelskopp. The path starts at the cultural centre in Born.
A 6.4km circular walk starts at the church in Wasserbillig and goes uphill to Bocksberg and partially follows the Basse Sûre path before returning to town via Mertert (this walk is currently blocked at one section). A longer 10km Cultural Walk, takes in the history of Wasserbillig, starting at the community hall and passing 17 stations with snippets of natural and cultural history in the region. You can follow a smaller 3.3km loop which will pass the town hall, station, church and several beautiful buildings in the town.
Roman gravestones and monuments were found all along the Sûre valley not far from Born. The Prince Henri railway line ran from Echternach to Wasserbillig passing through Born from 1874 until the 1960s. It’s now a cycle route. You can hire a bicycle at Camping Born which has a station of Rent-a-bike Mellerdall.
The Three Rivers cycle path PC3 follows the route of the rivers Moselle, Sûre and Our at the border of Luxembourg and Germany. You can actually start this route at Schengen and cycle all the way to Wasserbillig and Born, and on to Vianden (a total of 89km). The section from Wasserbillig to Born follows the river and you can find maps of each stage and details of the terrain here.
The waterway between Born and Wasserbillig is part of the Naturata 2000 nature park, as the unique riverside wetlands attract a number of butterflies and birds like the kingfisher and the great crested grebe. You can canoe from the campsite in Born and travel the 9km downriver to Wasserbillig. A full itinerary of the water route of the River Sûre, together with places to stop along the way, can be found here.
Weiswampach and Troisvierges
Up in the most northerly part of Luxembourg, the Ardennes town of Weiswampach lies partly on a rocky plateau and is filled with forests, fields and orchards. It’s name comes from a stream in the village, and it appears in records dating back to Carolingian times. It became a municipality in its own right after the French Revolution.
Weiswampach has two artificial lakes. You can fish at the lower lake without a licence and in summer, swim in the upper lake, rent a pedal boat or windsurf. In winter the on-site leisure centre rents toboggans and you can try out cross-country skiing too. Toboggans rent for €3 for half a day and the best slopes are to be found near the school and sports buildings.
There are several circular walks signposted from the Hostellerie du Nord, the town hall or from the lakeside leisure centre, ranging in length from 4-10km. You’ll find a list of all the walking routes A to F, and details of a 13km trail from Weiswampach to Lieler and another trail to Leithum, that’s a shorter 9km, here.
Mountain bikers can enjoy a 25km circuit which departs from the leisure centre and goes around the lake into the forest. It passes a fish farming area near Goedange before entering Géidengerbesch, then on to Cornleysmillen and Binsfeld.
At the latter village you can visit the Country Museum Binsfeld which presents the region’s history through scenes of rural life from a bygone era. There are 50 themes and thousands of objects and photographs, all lovingly set across several rooms that allow you to view a country kitchen, see an old loom and what the bedroom and dining area of an old rural cottage might have looked like. The museum is open from Easter until early November every day from 14.00 to 18.00.
Troisvierges is home to the highest hills in Luxembourg (Kneiff and Buurgplaatz). It adopted this French name in the 17th century referring to the three virtues (faith, hope and charity). It’s also known for being the place where hostilities on the western front started in World War One, when German soldiers violated Luxembourgish neutrality in August 2014.
There is Franciscan church in the town built in 1658, on the site of an older one mentioned in 1489. In Baroque style, it houses one of the oldest organs in Luxembourg and paintings in the style of Rubens, plus statues of the three virtues that give their name to the town.
In the east of the village you’ll find the Garden of Europe which includes a garden entitled “dance of the elves” plus an arboretum of European trees. There are 17 hiking trails in the area, pitched at all levels of fitness. Circular route A starts at Troisvierges station and follows the cycle path to a small stream, then branches left to a path through a spruce forest before ascending into meadows. It takes 1.5 hours to walk.
Route B takes you to the highest point in Luxembourg, Buurgplaatz, via a spruce forest and then via the villages of Wilwerdange and Drinklange.
Circuit E takes you to Binsfeld, and route K to Basbellain, via Cornelysmillen and an old sandstone wayside cross built at the time of the 30 years war in the 17th century. A church in the village is dedicated to St Michael and St Remigius of Reims and is classified as a national monument. It was built in 1870 in neo-gothic style by the architect Antoine Hartman. You can find details and maps of all the circuits here.
There are also two blue circular walks that start in Troisvierges, and you can hike station to station finishing in Clervaux, 11.8km away. The hike crosses a pond at Luckeschbaach and passes the village of Holler and the forest of Dreischer.
For something a bit different try the path “Discovering Bats” near the former railway tunnel of Huldange (not accessible as it disturbs the bats). The trail has audio stations and picnic tables. You can find all these trails plus details of the international circuits such as the Escapardennes European trail, here.
The Vennbahn international cycle path (which follows the old railway line) kicks off at Troisvierges. It’s 125km long and finishes in Aachen, but you can cycle the section in Luxembourg that takes in the High Fen Nature Park. A 24.5km panorama cycle path takes you through the Nature Park Our, past pretty villages, the church in Troisvierges, the museum at Binsfeld and the Buurgplatz. You can find a full list of bike tours and cycle paths that can be accessed from the town here.