Luxembourg, a tiny country tucked away in the centre of Europe, is not frequently on the Euro-travellers’ bucket lists when compared with its neighbouring countries of Germany, Belgium and France. Simply put, when I spoke to friends before visiting there, I was greeted with looks of mild curiosity mixed with slight confusion. “Why?” they asked, and “I hear it’s quite a boring place.” was a response I had heard on a number of occasions. Having spent a weekend there, I can only say how wrong they were, and how grateful I am for not being put off by these lukewarm reactions. In the case of Luxembourg City, capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, size isn’t everything — small really is beautiful.
The city of the Grand Duchy is beautiful (yes, I’ll say it again). I shouldn’t have expected any less — it’s part of the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage for a reason. The city is very clean and the November air is cool but fresh.
We flew to Luxembourg from London with British Airways. Considering Luxembourg-Findel International Airport‘s close proximity to the city centre (a mere 6 km), we decided to take the taxi, which was a big mistake (as it costed us a hefty €35, making it one of the most expensive places I have visited in my travels — well, I should know better, it is one of the wealthiest countries in the world after all). You don’t have to make the same mistake as us though. Instead, take the bus service (9, 16 or 29) to the city centre for €2 one-way. The bus ride is cheap and only takes ~20 minutes. Don’t worry about not being familiar with the city; you can use mobiliteit.lu to plan your way around — their mobile app is free and does a great job. There is free WiFi at the airport (and in fact WiFi is pretty easy to find all over the city, with almost every cafe, bar, restaurant offering it and there is open source free access in numerous locations throughout the city).
Where to Stay
Stay at Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal for its 5-star luxury. It’s ideally located near the centre of Luxembourg and is affordable at weekends. Alternatively, stay next-door at Novotel Luxembourg Centre, which is nice (and more reasonably priced) hotel with comfortable and spacious rooms.
What to Do
Once you get into the city centre, you can pretty much walk everywhere. It’s not big, but it’s very scenic — a fortified medieval old town perched on sheer cliffs — so it really is worth the walk. First stop is the the tourist office, located on the charming main square, Place Guillaume II. The helpful and friendly staff there will help you with anything you could possibly want to know about Luxembourg. They offer regular organised city tours with a small fee. Alternatively, just pick up a walking map, which is all you need for a DIY walking tour “City Promenade”, and was what we did. If you are very organised, you can also download this map prior to your trip. This will help you cover the most beautiful tourist attractions of the Luxembourg city-centre, old town, fortifications and station district. The river walk really is beautiful and peaceful. I would suggest checking out the Casemates, the 18th century fortifications carved into the cliffs, during daylight (for the views) as well as at night (where there are coloured lights shining out of the underground defence works).
Once you have finished exploring the spots covered in the”City Promenade”, if the weather is nice, it’s also worth heading over to the European quarter, on the Kirchberg Plateau, to have a different view of Luxembourg by exploring its contemporary side. Fantastic architectures are definitely worth checking out and be prepared to be amazed by the unique artistic concept of the Musée d’art moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM).
Where to Eat
La Table Du Pain (37 Avenue de la Liberté, 1931 Luxembourg) is a good choice to help you start your day well. It’s simple, honest and fresh. Continental breakfast costs EUR 9.40 per person, and Table du Pain (incl. a standard continental breakfast, plus ham and cheese) at EUR 11.50 per person.
Alternatively, head to the Chocolate House (20, rue du Marché-aux-Herbes, 1728 Luxemburg – see below for more info).
No matter how long or short you are planning on staying in the city of Luxembourg, do no miss Chocolate House. It is located in the heart of the city, right opposite the Grand Ducal Palace. As its name implies, it is a cosy café specialising in chocolate, and it is hands down the best place for desserts in town. Come here for a nice continental breakfast, or whenever you want to rest your feet in the afternoon, relax with a chocospoon (which is a must). This is really a little chocolate heaven outside Belgium! If you are familiar with the Belgian hot chocolate culture, then you would be familiar with the concept. For those of you who have not experienced this before, a chocospoon = a block of chocolate on a stick + a cup of hot milk. Dip the stick into the milk, stir until you get the chocolate consistency you desire, enjoy (Mmmm…)! For the die-hard dessert lovers, have a slice of cake to go with it!
Lunch / Dinner
We were recommended a couple of places to try, and were not disappointed with either options. Choose Beim Siggy (2 Montee de Clausen, Luxembourg City 1343) for some local flavour. Why come here? Firstly, it is centrally located – you would definitely come across en route of the walking tour “City Promenade”. Secondly, it has a wonderful terrace with a great view (alas, we went on a late November evening so this wasn’t an option for us, but we will definitely go back and relax on the terrace if we visit Luxembourg again). Thirdly, their menu consists of many a good selection of reasonably priced dishes. Give it a try.
We met up with a couple of friends for dinner on another evening – they have been living in Luxembourg for a few years now so are fairly local to the city. They took us to Il Fragolino (56 Montée de la Petrusse, 2327 Luxembourg). It is a lovely Italian restaurant with great ambience – a rather romantic setting. The staff are friendly, welcoming and very attentive. They served up delicious freshly made pizza and pasta, and a good wine selection. All in all, a perfect place to catch up with some old friends who we have not seen for years. I was very impressed.
For quite a small city, Luxembourg certainty is not short of drinking establishments. We have been to a few during our weekend there, and one place stood out for me – Dipso – the Wine Republic (4 rue de la Loge, 1945 Luxemburg). It is a delightful little wine bar run by very friendly people who know their wine. If wine is your thing, then don’t miss out on this fantastic spot. Cheers!
“Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted, some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.” — Paulo Coelho