We arrived in Vianden on a cold autumn morning. There was a constant rain and fog clung to the hills surrounding the little town, partially obscuring the grand Vianden Castle that loomed above. Rainy weather isn’t often ideal when traveling, but we thought this moody weather was perfect for exploring old castles. Luxembourg has quite a few castles, but Vianden is perhaps its most famous. A visit to this historic spot will give you some insight into Luxembourg’s history along with some great views over the surrounding city and countryside. We’ll cover the details needed for a visit below.
About Vianden Castle
Vianden Castle was built on the foundations of an old Roman structure that once stood here before. It is estimated that the original fortification structure was built sometime between the 3rd and 7th centuries. The fort provided protection against Germanic tribes invading the area. It was abandoned in the mid-400s AD.
Studies haven’t revealed much about the fort during the Middle Ages. But various artifacts, such as pottery that dated around 700 AD, indicate that the fort (or portions of it) were in use to some extent during that time.
Construction on Vianden Castle began around 1000 AD. Portions of the old fort were used in the fortification of the new castle. Living quarters, a chapel, a kitchen, and more were added and rebuilt over the years. There’s evidence of the noble family residing here beginning around 1100 AD. Many construction projects continued over the centuries, evident in the various architectural elements found in the castle.
The end of the 13th century marked somewhat of a downfall of Vianden Castle when the castle lost its political importance. Then, the last descendant of the Vianden line died in the early 1400s and the castle was sold off and taken over by other families. The noble residences were turned into workshops and agricultural buildings. Many parts of the castle would later be torn down and the materials sold off.
Vianden Castle became state property in 1977. Major works went into restoring it to preserve this piece of history and open it to visitors for the years to come.
Getting to Vianden Castle
The town of Vianden sits in northern Luxembourg just near the German border. If driving your own vehicle, there are paid parking lots not too far from Vianden Castle off the road that runs below it. We have read that these paid spots only take coins. You may also be able to find some free street spots in the area.
If taking public transport, take the train to Ettelbruck from Luxembourg city. Then, take either bus 180 or 181 to Vianden. To see the various routes and timetables, click here. Public transport in Luxembourg is free!
Once in Vianden, there are a couple ways to get up to the castle. Firstly, there’s a chairlift that is covered in the Luxembourg Card or costs 9€ roundtrip per adult payable by cash. From where the chairlift drops you on top of the hill, there is a short hike down to the castle. The chairlift is only open from March/April to October/November, depending on the weather. Learn more here.
There is also a trail system with pretty paths leading to the castle. Learn more about the routes here. The chairlift was closed for the season and, while we love to hike, we didn’t feel like walking through the woods in the heavy rain, so we walked the road (Grand-Rue to Mnt du Château) up to the castle entrance.
Tickets cost €10 per adult payable by cash or card. Visitors can buy tickets upon arrival or online from the sidebar. You may also find tickets from third-party sites, like Get Your Guide.
For a guided tour, the cost is €85 plus an €8 entrance fee per adult. There are also audio guides available in 10 languages to purchase upon arrival for €2. To request a guided tour, reach out to the Vianden Castle staff via email before your visit.
Ticket prices vary for students, children, groups, and during the Medieval Festival that takes place at the end of July to the beginning of August. For other ticket prices and contact info for a guided tour, click here.
If you have a LuxembourgCard, the pass covers your entrance to Vianden Castle.
Vianden Castle is open as follows:
- Daily in January, February, November, and December from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Daily in March and October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Daily April through September from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- The castle is closed on January 1st and December 25th
Hours are subject to change with events, weather, and other factors, so check the website before your visit.
Exploring Vianden Castle
Upon arriving at Vianden Castle, we presented our pre-purchased tickets, picked up an audio guide and began exploring the castle. Around the courtyard near where the ticketing center is, there are restrooms, an information center, gift shop, and café.
We started at the information center which covers the overall history of the castle. We then entered the main part of Vianden Castle, passing through the chapel, cellar, living spaces, kitchen, grand halls, and more. The numerous rooms contain exhibits covering various topics, from castle defenses and archaeology to tapestries and the daily life of those who once lived here. We followed the numbered map given to us, listening to the audio guide as we made our way through the three levels of the building.
Furthermore, as you walk through the castle, you’ll pass through various areas where you’ll get great views over Vianden and the surrounding hills.
We think it would be possible to see the castle in around an hour and a half, but if you listen to the audio guide and take your time in the exhibits, you should expect to spend two to three hours there.
We spent our morning enjoying the castle before heading back town to Vianden for lunch.