Backpacking in Luxembourg on a Gap Year

Countries  »  Luxembourg

Luxembourg is a country easy to miss, its diminutive size belying its varied delights, from beautiful natural spots and sleepy villages to elegant medieval castles and trendy wine bars. It might never be a major spot on a gap year in Europe, but a day or two backpacking in Luxembourg is guaranteed to enrich any such trip.

Forget Luxembourg’s reputation as a tax haven for banks – when you’re three courses (and three bottles of wine) deep into the best meal of your life or hiking through lushly wooded, rolling countryside, none of that will matter. Luxembourg is all about luxury, so make the most of it.

Cities in Luxembourg

There’s really only one city in Luxembourg, and it shares its name with the country. Luxembourg City is a bit different to other European capitals – its population is only around 77,000, and the medieval old town it feels almost haphazardly stacked and draped around the gorges of the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers.

While this can make the city difficult to navigate, it also makes it fun to put the map away and just explore, finding strange turns, tunnels, and alcoves at your own pace. You’ll frequently feel like you’ve wandered into a fairytale.

If you need a rest you’ll find countless restaurants offering top class cuisine, as well as several great museums, many dedicated to the devastation Luxembourg suffered during the Second World War. If you spend a couple of days here while backpacking in Luxembourg you’ll find plenty to do.

Countryside in Luxembourg

Of course, you should try to find the time to get out of the city and enjoy Luxembourg’s exemplary European countryside. Most of the country is rural, with dense forest and national parks to the north, the Moselle river valley to the south, and scenic rocky gorges to the east. Make sure you bring a sturdy pair of walking boots.

There are a few striking sights in Luxembourg’s countryside you shouldn’t miss (spoiler: they’re pretty much all castles): Vianden Castle is a huge fortified medieval castle rising from the trees in the north of the country; nearby Bourscheid Castle is equally spectacular and dates back to Roman times; the ruins of Larochette Castle stand sombre guard over the town below.

Luxembourg may not have the famous landmarks of many of its European neighbours, but this just lends to the country’s joyous sense of discovery. Pay a visit and see what you find.