Luxembourg may be one of the smallest countries in Europe, but that doesn’t mean it is short of things to do. If you are looking to explore the country beyond the capital, Luxembourg City, why not head down south for a day in the Moselle river valley?
Known as La Moselle Luxembourgeouise to local French speakers, and the Mosel River in its German spelling, this stretch of waterway, which forms most of the border between Luxembourg and Germany, is home to villages and vineyards. One of the best ways to see the region is to take a river cruise and watch the green, rolling landscape pass by.
Moselle river cruises are run by Navitours, and most depart from the small town of Remich, some 30 minutes by car south of Luxembourg city and in the heart of the Moselle region. Driving conditions are fast and easy; the Grand Duchy also has a comprehensive bus network, costing just €4 for a whole day’s travel (from March 2020, public transport within Luxembourg will be free of charge). Bus route 160 departs from the Centre F D Roosevelt bus stop in the city centre, and takes you directly to Remich bus station.
Remich itself is a small but attractive town with a number of hotels and restaurants, focussed mainly around the river bank.
Navitours, with their ticket office in a distinctive building on the waterfront, offer a number of boat trips up and down the Moselle valley. Try one of the sightseeing cruises which last around 1 hour (€10 for adults in May 2019), or perhaps opt for a 3-hour round trip (€17 in May 2019) which takes you either up or downriver. On the day I visited it was raining heavily, so I chose this option, heading south into France and passing through two enormous locks which added a sense of occasion to the trip.
Boats are large and relatively luxurious, with a bar and dining options. There is a large upper deck for views of the river; since it was raining, I sat in the well-appointed dining area downstairs, which has picture windows to enjoy the landscape as it glides by.
Many of the river Moselle cruise routes will take you either to or through the small town of Schengen, Luxembourg. Located the far southern border of the country, the Schengen region gained notoriety as the spot where a historic treaty was signed in 1985 leading to today’s free movement between many states of the European Union.
There are a number of low-key attractions in Schengen, all centred around the treaty and the European Union. Discover the memorial to the treaty signing, located on the riverbank at the exact spot where it was signed on board a cruise boat which is still in operation on the river today. Walking south down the river from here, you will pass two sections of the Berlin Wall which were gifted to Schengen by the city of Berlin. Further on is an eye-catching monument to the Schengen Agreement, as well as plaques in the pavement bearing the names of the signatory member states. A tourist office, resembling a boat moored just offshore, contains a wide assortment of EU-related souvenirs.
Just across the road from the memorial is the European Museum Schengen, with displays relating to the European Union and the Schengen Agreement, including an assortment of customs officer caps from the member states as well as passports from every country in the EU. Entry is free; next door is a small cafe (I can testify that the coffee is good!).
Getting to Schengen
Some Navitours cruises allow you to stop in Schengen and take a later boat back to Remich. Note that not all of them do; my 3-hour cruise stopped at the town but it was not possible to disembark.
To get there by land, take the short 10-minute drive south along the N10, or catch the 185 bus using the same all-day ticket you used to travel from Luxembourg City to Remich. To return to the city at the end of the day, retrace your steps on the 185 to Remich and then the 160 to the city centre.
For bus timetables and route planning, check out the Mobiliteit website.
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