10 Things To Do in Echternach, Luxembourg’s Oldest Town
After leaving Madrid and putting end to a 3-year expat experience, I finally spent some quality time in my home town Echternach, Luxembourg. Usually, I just went home for Christmas or family reunions! After 3 years abroad, I realized that Luxembourg is full of things to be visited and enjoyed!
Suddenly I saw my own country with the glasses of a visitor. Do you think there is nothing to do in a town with 5000 inhabitants? Let me show you why the oldest town of Luxembourg, Echternach, is a true hidden gem with plenty of things to do and why you should absolutely include it to your visit of the only Grand-Duchy of the World!
The region Mullerthal – Luxembourg’s Little Switzerland around Echternach is a paradise for experienced and less experienced hikers! The region recently got the label “Nature Park“. With its 112 km of top-quality hiking trails, the Mullerthal Hiking Trail will make you discover unique rock formations like in a fairy tale.
From time to time, the ruins of a medieval castle become the setting for your next daydream. My preferred castles are the ones in Beaufort, Larochette, and Vianden (even French writer Victor Hugo felt in love with it!)
If you haven’t got the necessary hiking equipment, the information center in Heringermillen will rent you hiking boots, sticks and even backpacks to carry kids!
If you’re travelling on a budget and you’re “surprised” about Luxembourgish hotel rates, I recommend you the recently opened Trail Inn in Berdorf. It persuades with very good price-quality relationship. Upon request, many hotels are also pleased to prepare a lunch box for your next hike.
There is no reason why your hiking boots should remain longer unused!
2. Dancing Procession
At first, Echternach’s most important tourist attraction may seem quaint: the only Dancing Procession in the World! They call it “praying with your feet”, but for many, it’s rather a large gettogether of families, friends and different cultures. Who’d say that “religious” stuff can’t be fun?
Declared UNESCO World Heritage in 2010, this centuries-old tradition (it can be tracked back until 1497!) is all about jumping together through the streets of Echternach on Whit Tuesday. Rows are composed by 5 people each, all dressed in white shirt, dark blue trousers and connected by a white handkerchief.
There are about 40 dancing groups jumping altogether to the same polka melody. Everybody is invited to participate! At first, this might sound weird, but it’s actually great fun!!
Yet the best part of Whit Tuesday starts once the procession is over. During the entire afternoon until late at night, locals mingle with tourists in the bars of Echternach to enjoy Luxembourg’s wine & beer culture. If you plan to come to Echternach, make sure to visit during Pentecost and be part of this large gathering.
I can’t wait for next year’s edition!
Echternach’s lake is a paradise for amateur athletes: here you can practice running, skating or biking in a unique natural setting. The Youth Hostel, right next to the lakeshore, comes with a climbing wall, trampolines, and beach volleyball court.
You can easily spend an entire day at Echternach’s green lung! Despite its large leisure options Echternach’s lake still remains an oasis of peace and tranquility!
It has a lot of picturesque and hidden corners for all those who want to spend some ‘me’ time amidst nature. With some luck, you’ll see rare fish or bird species in their natural habitat. Recently there have been spotted a lot of turtles too!
But once a year the lake’s characteristic silence is interrupted: e-Lake Festival in August attracts every year around 20.000 visitors. Each edition has a huge line up: Seeed, Samy Deluxe, Itchy Poopzkid… all have been here!
And best of all: the entrance to the festival is FREE!
4. Enjoy Portuguese Culture
The Portuguese culture has a long tradition in Luxembourg. Portuguese immigration started in the 1960’s and nowadays the Portuguese community represents 16.2% of the Grand-Duchy’s population. As many Luxembourgish towns, Echternach has Portuguese shops, Portuguese bars, and Portuguese traditions are firmly integrated in the local event calendar.
The Portuguese bars don’t only prepare delicious authentic food, but they also make the strongest coffee in town!
In Echternach every year a Portuguese festival is celebrated in June and other Portuguese associations from Luxembourg and Germany are invited to perform their traditional dances.
It lasts for 2 days: Saturday a pop band from Portugal is playing until late at night and on Sunday a Folklore parade goes through the streets of Echternach followed by dance performances all afternoon long.
The festival is very colorful and the traditional food, like grilled sardines or “caldo verde“, is just delicious!
I simply love the way the Portuguese community enriches daily life in Luxembourg both socially and culturally. A little Mediterranean influence is always appreciated… especially in cold northern Europe! 🙂
5. Welcome to Abbey Town
View this post on Instagram
You are always a student, never a master. Keep moving forward.🌛 That's what I feel when I visit the building that used to my school.🏛🌏 The former abbey of #Echternach is probably the prettiest school in Luxembourg…if not in the world! 🙈😅 ⭐ Sorry, I may be biased, but after attending 7 years on a daily basis, this place just becomes part of who you are. 😂♥️ . Are you going back to the places that influenced your childhood? ❄ . #snowingfeelings #getoutsidemore #blogger_lu #europecity #mochileras #travelwithaninsider #wonderfulwildwomen #folkscenery #takemoreadventures #roamtocreate #wondermore #nomadstories #architecturedose #speechlessplaces #sheadventures #awakethesoul #girlaroundworld #wekeepmoments #suitcasetravels #cntraveler #iamatraveler #ourlonelyplanet #travel_drops #travelstoke #girlswithgypsysouls #voyaged #girlsdreamtravel #visitluxembourg #igersluxembourg
The former abbey is the crown jewel of Echternach. It is very well maintained and it’s one of Luxembourg’s most important pilgrimage centers. It has all a medieval abbey needs: an impressive basilica, the shrine of St.Willibrord, the only saint buried on Luxembourgish territory, a picturesque patio, and even a scriptorium.
In the middle ages, Echternach’s scriptorium was considered as one of the most important in Europe! You’ll remain speechless in front of the beautiful manuscripts and facsimiles exposed at Abbey’s museum!
I love Echternach’s viewpoints set amidst lush nature! The viewpoints are places of serenity and peace where you can let your thoughts run free. All of them can be included in your hiking trails. At the viewpoint “Liborius chapel“, on the German side, you get the most complete panorama view of the town.
Here you’ll appreciate the marvelous old abbey complex in all its beauty. “Thoull”, a viewpoint near the lake, is set in a cornfield and offers the best view on the towers of the basilica framed by treetops.
I also recommend viewpoint on the way to the “Wolfsschlucht“. Just ask at the local tourist office where each viewpoint is located!
7. Park & Pavilion
Echternach’s hidden gems are its Rococo Pavilion and the surrounding park, the former Abbey gardens. It is set next to the border river “Sauer“. Formerly the Pavilion was a “summer house” and hosts nowadays a rather neglected exposition about rural Luxembourgish architecture.
There are plans to convert this precious building into an event location and I can’t wait to see the final results!
Even if it’s just a ride around the lake or a short transit to Germany, the bike is the best way of getting around in Echternach. The entire town is flat and is well connected to the capital Luxembourg City or other pretty Luxembourgish towns like Diekrich or Grevenmacher.
Apart from the cycling trail to the capital, most of the bike tracks go along the Sauer or Moselle river. On your way, you’ll see, with some chance, herons, otters, gooses… on your way.
If you want to rent a bike, I recommend the bike rental network “Rent A Bike Mellerdall” where you can pick up and drop your bike at different rental stations throughout the region. If your bike needs a small reparation, I recommend TriSport Echternach (now in Junglinster).
The “Orangerie” is a hidden jewel that is often overseen by tourists when visiting Echternach. It may not be the most animated sight of the town, but maybe one of its most picturesque!
Its garden is the perfect setting for daydreaming. Set in the abbey-garden, the “Orangerie” was the former guesthouse of Echternach Abbey.
The entrance gate and the fountains are a testimony of artistic refinement. The space that is now occupied by a vivid green lawn, was covered by exotic fruit trees in the past.
10. Have a Wine at the Market place
Luxembourgish people love their wine and sparkling wine! You can’t leave the Grand Duchy without having tried at least one of its many wine types! The best place for wine tasting is at one of the many terraces of the Market Square where you’ll enjoy local delicacies surrounded by centuries-old buildings.
The most important is the “Denzelt“, the former Justice Palace and the Cross of Justice, a symbol of the former power of the abbey.
The Market Place (“Moartplaatz“) is also the best place to meet the locals from Echternach. Whereas Nightlife is rather quiet during the week, the bars can get crowded during weekends. Especially in summer or after a sold-out concert in the convention center Trifolion!
Hotels in Echternach
B&B Roudenhaff (countryside, on a traditional farm close to Echternach Lake but not in Echternach town. Ideal for absolute relaxation and hikers.)
Youth Hostel Echternach (located at Echternach Lake, 20 min walking from city center)
Hotel Eden Au Lac **** (located at Echternach Lake with beautiful Panorama views)
Bel-Air Wellness & Sport **** (outside the town center, located close to hiking trails, great for wellness)
You are planning to visit Echternach? Just send me a message, if in town, I’ll be happy to show you around!
For more information about tourism in Echternach, I recommend Echternach’s offical Tourist Information Page (English).