10 Things To Do in Echternach, Luxembourg’s Oldest Town

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basilica, echternach, luxembourg, hiking, mullerthal, trekking, old, town, dancing procession, willibrord

 

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 habitants? 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!

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Basilica Towers – Las torres de la basílica

 

1. Hiking

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Welcome to the Hiking Paradise! – Bienvenidos al paraíso de senderismo!
 

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, information center in Heringermillen will rent you hiking boots, sticks and even backpacks to carry kids!

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Hiking Paradise 15 min away from city center! – Un paraíso de senderismo a 15 min del centro

 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!

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These views are included in your hike! – Estas vistas están incluidas en vuestra ruta!
 

2. Dancing Procession

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Final Destination of the Procession: the shrine inside the basilica – El destino de la procesión: el santuario en el interior de la basílica
 

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!!

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Dancing on the market square – La procesión en la plaza del mercado

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!

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After Procession Mood (Don’t forget your white shirt!) – Ambiente después de la procesión (No te olvides de tu camisa blanca!)
 

3. Lake

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Hidden Gems at Echternach’s Lake – Rincones escondidos en el lago de Echternach
 

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 lake shore, comes with a climbing wall, trampolines and beach volleyball court. You can easily spent 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!

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Peace & Serenity – Paz & Serenidad

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

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Folklore Parade – Desfile folclórico
 

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.

Traditional Portuguese Sardines - La típicas sardinas de Portugal (Image from/Foto de www.lequotidien.lu)

 
Traditional Portuguese Sardines – La típicas sardinas de Portugal (Image from/Foto de www.lequotidien.lu)

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

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 the Abbey’s museum!

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Luxembourg’s prettiest Secondary School! – La escuela secundaria más bella de Luxemburgo
Today the abbey is the most beautiful secondary school building of the country (…I’m sorry, but I’m biased!) Enjoy a moment of silence in the rather gloomy basilica and have a look at the Dancing Procession Documentation Center. It will provide you all the facts about Echternach’s most famous tradition… especially appreciated if you can’t assist the Dancing Procession!

6. Viewpoints

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View from “Thoull” street – Vista desde la calle “Thoull”
 

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 marvellous 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!

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“Thoull” Viewpoint – Mirador “Thoull”
All of the viewpoints are about 25 minutes away from Echternach’s city center. If you’re not eager to combine the viewpoints with a hiking tour, I can only recommend them as perfect meeting points to enjoy a glass of Luxembourgish wine with friends! 🙂
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Viewpoint “Liborius Chapel” – Vista desde el mirador “Capilla Liborius”
 

7. Park & Pavilion

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Municipal Park and its Jewel: the Pavilion – El parque municipal y su joya: la pérgola
 

Echternach’s hidden gems are its Rococo Pavilion and the surrounding park, the former Abbey gardens. It is set next to the border riverSauer“. 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!

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The abbey-gardens are the perfect recreation place! – Los jardines de la abadía son el lugar de desconexión
The Pavilion is surrounded by the municipal park, a masterpiece of gardening! Each time you visit, you can be sure that there’s a different flower setting. The park also hosts to many calm leisure options like Minigolf or game of petanque. I love to enjoy this recreation place by having long chats with my friends… sometimes with a glass of Luxembourg wine, of course! 🙂

8. Biking

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Riding my Bike next to border river “Sauer” – Con mi bici al lado del río fronterizo “Sauer”
 

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 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 thourghout the region. If your bike needs a small reparation, I recommend TriSport Echternach.

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Happy Girl in Echternach! – Una chica feliz en Echternach!
Recently the Luxembourg Tourist Office has launched a biking guide with routes of different lengths and difficulties. There is a route for everybody! If you want to combine your biking trip with an overnight stay, I recommend BedandBike.lu. There is no better way to benefit that one third of Luxembourg is green!

9. Orangerie

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Orangerie & Gardens – La “orangerie” y sus jardines
 

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 vivid green lawn, was covered by exotic fruit trees in the past.

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Maybe Echternach’s most photogenic sight? – Tal vez el lugar más fotogénico de Echternach?
The building’s name also comes from exotic fruit: formerly orange trees were stored in its ground floor. A real luxury product at that time! Today it is part of the town’s secondary school  and is a great photo motive!

10. Have a Wine at the Market place

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Market Square: where Echternach’s heart beats! – La plaza del mercado: el centro neurálgico de Echternach
 

 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, symbol of the former power of the abbey.

Market Square during Christmas - La Plaza del Mercado durante Navidades

 
Market Square during Christmas – La Plaza del Mercado durante Navidades
 

 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 convention centre Trifolion!


Hotels in Echternach

Budget
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)

Mid-Range
Hotel de La Sure*** (in the historic city center)
Hostellerie de la Basilique****  (on the historic Market Place)

Luxury Experience
Hotel Eden Au Lac **** (located at Echternach Lake with beautiful Panorama views)
Bel-Air Wellness & Sport **** (outside 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! 

¿Piensas visitar Echternach? ¡Mándame un mensaje, si estoy, me encantaría enseñarte mi ciudad!

También me quiero disculpar que la mayoría de los enlaces de este post son en inglés o francés… simplemente todavía no tienen versión española!

 
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This blog post can also be downloaded on GPSmyCity as an offline city map and self-guided walking tour. Click here, to download this post as an app.


For more information about tourism in Echternach, I recommend Echternach’s offical Tourist Information Page (English). 


 

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