Little Luxembourg

This little country is the world’s last remaining Grand Duchy, one of the richest places in Europe and home to rolling hills and valleys, thick forest, cute towns, old castles, vineyards, striking sandstone rock formations and basically an allover picturesque landscape.

The national capital (locally simply known as Luxembourg, like the country, but usually called Luxembourg City to avoid confusion) is split into two main areas; the UNESCO-listed old town center with elegant squares, imposing churches, shops, casemates and winding streets and the more modern area home to Luxembourg’s famous international finance businesses, shopping malls and entertainment complexes.

Definitely worth the visit if you’re in the area, the Ardennes actually look better here than anywhere else and that makes it another picture-perfect landscape waiting to be discovered by hikers and other outdoor-lovers.

Top things to see and do in Luxembourg:

  • Luxembourg City History Museum

    A nice history museum with probably the coolest elevator in the world!

  • Chateau de Vianden

    Take the cute little chairlift from Vianden up to this castle with great views. Nice walking around too. Don’t go with a tour but ask for a map of the premises and just stroll around on your own.

  • Mullerthal Trail

    With 112 km worth of hiking through forest, canyons and bizarre rock formations.

  • Upper Sure National Park

    This beautiful national park houses the country’s largest drinking water reservoir, has endless outdoor-sports opportunities and it just very nice to spend some time.

  • Chateau de Bourglinster

    This 18th-century castle sits within the shattered ruins of a bigger 12th-century fortress. The main building hosts exhibitions and the courtyard is used for performances but the side wings are home to two super classy restaurants.

Accommodation

Many accommodation options are a bit dated and seem overpriced, but prices drop substantially at weekends. Accommodation can be a lot cheaper around the train station, which is considered a ‘bad neighborhood’ by Luxembourg standards. You can find sleeping options from the family hotel to the fantastic boutique hotel set in a historic chateau. This little country has their own chain of you-hostels spread around where you can get a bed for between 20-30EUR depending on the size of the dorm-room, and single rooms starting at 35EUR, all including breakfast. Camping is a good option too if you plan on doing some outdoorsy activities and most campsites have mobile homes for rent too if you don’t like sleeping on the ground.

Food

With more Michelin-starred restaurants per head than anywhere else on the planet, traditional Luxembourg cooking combines huge portions like in Germany with a French flair and finesse. The preparation of local freshwater fish is great, as are the pastries and cakes. Most aspects of restaurants and bars are similar to the rest of northern Europe. Expect to spend minimum 20EUR for dinner.

Transport

Trains are good here like in all neighboring countries. They are not cheap but have a regular schedule and get you wherever you need to go. In the cities there are buses and trams available but the nicest option is to rent a bike from one of the automated rental bicycle stands that are free for shorter periods of time.

Activities

The Vianden and Bourscheid castles are among some of Europe’s best-preserved medieval fortifications and worthy of a visit. The Luxembourg American Cemetery Memorial and the many other war museums and memorials are a humbling lesson in the history of WWII. The capital and its fairy-tale Unesco-listed historic center on a dramatic cliff top are a must-see. If you have more time to spend in this little country, wander into the rolling hills with strings of villages beneath other medieval castles.

Language

Luxembourgish is the national language but French is the administrative language and German is also widely used and enjoys official status. Everything from road signs, to menus and information in stores is in French. Confusing right? About a third of Luxembourg’s population is made up of foreigners so people working in shops and bars usually come from France or Belgium. English is widely understood by such personnel as bus drivers but not all people in shops.

Money

Luxembourg has the euro as its sole currency since 2002 like most countries in the EU, before which it was Luxembourg Franc. Their Euro coins have three different designs, though they all contain the portrait of Grand Duke Henri. The currency-exchange offices at the main rail station in Luxembourg City offers fair rates for cash and traveler’s checks, as do banks and offices of Travelex. ATMs are widespread but charge a fee every time you use a card at another bank’s ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions (up to $5 or more). Credit cards are not as commonly accepted as they are in other countires. Many restaurants and stores, and some hotels, don’t accept them at all, and others add a 5% charge. They are accepted by gas stations, and for travel by plane, train, and even some taxis. The smaller the business, the less likely it is to accept credit cards.

Visa

Luxembourg is a member of the Schengen Agreement, or to be really correct, this agreement was signed here. There are no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented this treaty. So a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. But be careful: not all EU members have signed it and not all Schengen members are part of the European Union so it can be quite confusing. But for travel, any non-EU foreigner can travel for up to 90 days without any problems.

Overall Conclusion

This little country is forgotten by most European travelers, though it shouldn’t be. It’s loaded with history and its placement in a mountain group makes for some amazing views. Consistently ranked among the world’s top-three nations in both wealth and wine consumption, life in little Luxembourg seems good. All in all, Luxembourg has plenty of surprises.

One thought on “Little Luxembourg

  1. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, it’s hard to find decent travel info on this country 🙂
    A great read. I will definitely be back.

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