I was surprised as you may be to learn that there’s a long-distance trail in relatively small country of Luxembourg. I was pleasantly surprised to discover first-hand that it’s 112km of dramatic scenery and excellent infrastructure, and which is very easy to reach.
Free public transport
Luxembourg is the only country in the world which has free public transport. I was walking section 2 of the Mullerthal Trail and to get to the beginning I needed to take a tram in Luxembourg City to the Théâtre stop, then a 110 bus to Echternach on the German border. From Echternach the trail begins, and rises steeply into the woods.
So far, so free. Later this year Malta is also planning to introduce free public transport and you’ll also be able to travel for free in Tallinn and Dunkirk (where bus passenger numbers have spiked).
As a tourist it was a wonderful relief to not have to worry about prices, methods of payment or reservations. Simply turning up and stepping onto buses, trams and trains was a liberating experience.
What the average Luxembourgian taxpayer feels about free public transport I know not, but hopefully they appreciate the freedom too – it’s hard to know for sure because of the pandemic impact, but early signs were positive.
The terrific Mullerthal Trail
Having climbed from Echternach into the hills I found myself on a trail that passed through old forests, and then into a deep gorge. This was the Gorges du Loup, or Wolf’s Gorge. On either side steps had been built, or hewn from the rock, so that hikers can get a view over frosted forests from the top of the gorge.
Little bridges spanned gaps between the rocks, this was a sign of the excellent infrastructure I was to find all along the trail. The route gently curved around an escarpment, delving in and out of gorges and taking awestruck hikers past waterfalls.
As the day progressed I caught occasional glimpses of the surrounding countryside and was pleased to see my slope-climbing efforts had paid off. The total altitude gain along this 21km section is 700 metres; this isn’t a gentle stroll.
At one point the Mullerthal Trail ducks through a series of gaps cut from the rock. Looking up I noticed the shape of concentric circles – this is where millstones were chiseled out from the sandstone during the Middle Ages. Beyond these old mines is the town of Berdorf, a not particularly notable location and so I pressed on and followed the signs down into yet another gorge
Caves and bridges
Bridges had been constructed through this next gorge, so that hikers can easily pass through them. Once again I was blown away by the effort put into providing easy passage for those hiking through this challenging terrain. Emerging from this gorge I was treated to another stupendous view over fields and forests.
There was plenty to amaze me below ground too. Caves could be found all along the trail, many accessible without any special equipment apart from a torch. These aren’t the grandest caves you’ll ever see, but it’s fun nonetheless to plunge so deep into the ground.
You’ll find plenty of opportunities to go spelunking along the trail, and at one point it even passes through a long cave (don’t worry, claustrophobes, there’s another way around).
My one, fairly big disappointment on this trail was that there’s nowhere to grab a bite to eat from. I naively expected the village of Mullerthal to at lest have a cafe or two, however there was nothing but a tourist information office selling cold drinks from a fridge. So don’t make the same mistake that I did, be sure bring your own food and drink.
Back to the city
I was surprisingly tired by the end of the walk (possible because I hadn’t had anything to eat), but was still appreciating every detail I saw. Big cliffs, serene pine forests, pitch-black caves, and the Mullerthal Trail winding through them all.
It’s possible to complete the circle and return to Echternach, but I chose to leave the trail at Hersberg. Even on a Sunday there were regular buses back to Luxembourg City. I sunk heavily into the free seat and enjoyed the passing scenery, reflecting on what was an amazing, easily-accessible day hike.
Luxembourg City is the best place to find accommodation, particularly as it’s so easy to reach the rest of the country from here
Fly direct to Luxembourg City from dozens of cities worldwide
I travelled to Luxembourg by train from London, which was a simple and good value journey via Paris