I am definitely returning to this place during the summer.
We had a little luck with the rain on our second day in Luxembourg, and instead of seeing more of Vianden (there wasn't much more to see that we hadn't seen already), we decided to take a day trip to Echternach, the oldest town in Luxembourg. Good thing we did. This place is gorgeous.
To get to Echternach from Vianden, you have to take a bus (if you don't have a car). Your best bet is to go to the tourist information office to get the bus routes and schedules. It's a little tricky; you have to take a bus from Vianden going towards Diekirsch/Ettelbruck, get off at the roundabout at Bleesbrück (that's the tricky part... just ask the bus driver to tell you when to get off), cross the street and take the bus going towards Echternach. We didn't have too many problems getting there, and trust me, it's worth it.
The next time I come to Luxembourg I will make Echternach my base-camp. There is a very highly rated Hostelling International Youth Hostel there (like in Vianden), but there were no availabilities for the dates we wanted. Bummer. There are also plenty of campsites, perfect for the warmer months.
Like I said before, this place is gorgeous. It's a small but vibrant town on the border of Luxembourg and Germany. Just cross the river (like we did), and BAM!! you're in Germany.
There are a lot of adventure-seeking outdoorsy things to do here: hiking, camping, canoeing... etc. Unfortunately, we didn't get to do any of these things since it was so cold, but I put it on my list of things to do when I come back. Since we only had a day, we strolled around the town and visited some of the must-see things in the city via foot.
The end of the bus line drops you off at the Echternach bus station, which is right in the center of town. From there we began our walk through the city, passing the postcard-filled shops and English-menu restaurants and cafés and making our way to the town square.
It was pretty quiet in the morning, as the clouds were still hiding the sun, and the ground was still wet and cold. But by lunch the benches were almost dry, and we enjoyed our lunch in the sun with the rest of the town.
We stumbled upon a small sculpture exhibition in the town square where I almost spent 750 Euros on a really amazing art piece (still wish I did, but luckily I have the artists e-mail address). If you know me and how much I love contrasting colors/textures/materials, you would understand why I almost bought the piece.
Luckily we got out of there before I could do any damage.
We walked around the gardens of the Abbey of Echternach, founded in 698 by St. Willibrord, who is buried in the Basilica nearby. This to me was the most beautiful part of our day trip. It is set along the river with tree-lined pathways and manicured gardens that would make you think you were in a painting. If you want to experience how beautiful this place can be, come in the fall. I have never seen so many different colors of changing leaves. The pictures don't even do it justice.
We made our way to the Basilica of Echternach, and weaved our way in and out of the little streets until it was time to go back.
It was a quick side trip, but definitely worth the effort. A must-see on all accounts.