Luxembourg is a small, landlocked country in Europe with a capital city by the same name. Despite being one of the smallest countries in the world Luxembourg (LUX) has a lot to offer: from border to border in a fairly short drive you can see varied topography, stunning forestry, breathtaking vineyards, old castles, small villages, and wide farm fields.
Interesting fact: The country is a monarchy and has been a grand duchy since 1815. Currently lead by Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg and according to the Royal Central “Luxembourg is the only Grand Duchy with the House of Nassau reigning since 1890”.
Luxembourg city, despite its naturally small size, is a showcase of the vast history and influences of the neighboring countries. It is a multicultural city filled with UNESCO World Heritage monuments, museums, beautiful neighborhoods that often feel like their own cities, and a wealth of cultural activities to explore.
Somewhere during the pandemic low this year my sister relocated to LUX for work. Knowing how challenging a move is – let alone a move to a completely different country – I came for a couple of weeks to help her settle. During this time we both worked, looked for apartments, and tried to explore the city while we were allowed to do so – masked, socially distant, and armed with hand sanitizer.
Language: As a country landlocked by France, Germany, and Belgium Luxembourg is a place of many languages. Luxembourgish, French, and German are official languages, but many people, at least in the city also speak English.
When to visit: July and August are the warmest months and therefore the highest tourist peak season. I visited in October and aside from the rain the weather was quite lovely and turning leaves create a poetic fall atmosphere.
Exploring the city
The entire city can be seen on foot over a couple of days (longer if you like to wander through museum and heritage centers) or easily accessed by free public transit (there’s even a shopping route bus!).
Despite spending 2 weeks in the city I was not able to see everything I wanted, having to work from my temporary home, but the geographical smallness of the city (and country) does create a lot of opportunities to explore. While doing some research in preparation for the trip I’ve created a Google map with things I was interested in seeing which turned into a perfect walking tour of this lovely city. You can access the map here or follow the guide below.
Begin from Boulevard Royal with a view of the Adolphe Bridge, a double-decked arch bridge that serves as a one-way route for road traffic across the Pétrusse. The view from the bridge is quite wonderful and if you take the under passageway the view will be framed with brick arches (quick video here).
Upon crossing you will walk through the Gare quarter, separated from the city center by ancient fortifications (visible from the bridge). Gare is the home to LUX railway station, The Hôtel de Paris, and a range of other larger buildings.
Note: The majority of museums and heritage centers are free to enter if not always then some days of the week.
Pop into the Sacred Heart Parish (Paroisse du Sacré-Cœur) and then proceed to Cite Judiciaire a Luxembourg from which you will get a stunning view on Grund quarter – I was so amazed by this view I must’ve taken 100 photos, but here’s a quick video (and nighttime video here).
From here you can either walk around the Grund towards Chemin and observe the neighborhood from above or proceed into the quarter through the Grund Gate. This is a very special neighborhood located in the valley below the city center on the banks of a river. It is a UNESCO cultural and architectural heritage where many people live. Here you can find restaurants, pubs, museums, and outdoor art galleries one of which is in the tunnel that leads to the Ascenseur Saint-Esprit elevator which takes you to the Cite Judiciaire level.
Find your way up from the other side of the quarter through Salle Robert Krieps old prison structure that is now a cultural center. This complex also has an observation staircase from which you can see Casemates du Bock – a subterranean defense system made up of many kilometers of tunnels which some days you can even walk through.
Return to the city centre where you will find the Wiltz Castle, Place Guillaume II, Musée National d’Histoire et d’Art, and the shopping village (Ville Haute).
On a separate day, if you only have a couple of hours, take the free futuristic streetcar to Coque Sports Center (D’Coque). This spaceship-looking structure is the national sports and cultural center surrounded by a lovely park, playground, and a fun maze garden (well, I thought it was fun).
Mudam Luxembourg Museum, this a new structure within an old structure, or rather surrounded by the remains of it. A lovely, medium-size museum that features a range of guest contemporary exhibitions and a permanent collection.
On the way to the Mudam you will also pass the opera center with the large Luxembourg sign.
Eats & drinks: A few of my favourite spots
Rôtisserie Ardennaise: fine dining French cuisine, beautiful restaurant, and great food.
Octans -A Spirited Bar: cool little bar with a patio, seems like a very happening place 🙂
Café des Capucins: found it walking around, lovely patio, hip lounge vibe inside, the food was surprisingly tasty
Miyako Sàrl: to satisfy a sushi craving, not easy to find here
The Tube: fun bar, great cocktails, cozy decor
Luxembourg is a small country and within 30 minutes or under you can get to a wide variety of activities from visiting castles, to the wine route along the Moselle river and multi-day hiking trails. Here are 3 of those day trips itineraries and ideas.