Nestled snugly in between France, Germany and Belgium is Luxembourg – one of Europe’s smallest countries. Independent since 1815, Luxembourg has a population of roughly more than 500,000 people – 160,000 of which commute in from the neighbouring countries for work. On my visit to this picturesque little country, I found Luxembourgians to be friendly and welcoming people. Most impressive was that many of them are almost fluent in four languages: Luxembourgish, German, French and English. After a thoroughly enjoyable sojourn in the country, here’s everything you need to see and do to get the most out of this underrated gem.
What to see
Luxembourg City centre and the old town are both standout highlights. Place Guillaume II is the main square, which comes to life on Saturdays when it’s market day. A short walk away is the Grand Ducal Palace, a beautiful building which is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. On this same street you’ll find amazing little coffee shops and cafes, which make for the perfect respite.
The Casemates is an absolute must, as it’s the longest underground tunnel system in the world. Count Siegfried built a fortified castle in this area in 963, which was to become the cradle of the city – the rocky cliffs towering over River Alzette offering natural protection. This tour offers stunning views of the city, as does the Wenzel walking tour which leads to the Grund area in the Alzette Valley. Breathtaking, in a word.
Culture vultures have plenty of art and history museums to feed off, as well as the incredibly impressive Philharmonie, one of Europe’s main concert halls.
Where to stay
Hotel Melia is a fantastic piece of architecture, befitting of its location (close to the European Court and the European Investment Bank) and among Luxembourg’s modern art-styled exteriors. This four-star hotel is just a 15 minute walk away from the historic centre and the Place d’Armes. It’s clean and spacious, and boasts a good fitness centre and a winning breakfast that provides…well, everything you’d want!
Meanwhile, Hotel de L’Ecluse is situated right in the heart of Luxembourg’s wine region, a scenic escape from the city centre just a 20 minute drive away. The rooms are modern and well styled, with an idyllic balcony at the back which overlook the local vineyards. Peaceful and bucolic.
Where to eat
Ca(fe)sino at Casino-Forum of Contemporary Art is the go-to place for lunch. Their selection of wine is superb and the food is wonderfully presented. The ingredients are fresh and taste divine. Try the seafood, in particular the hake. It’s magnificent.
Restaurant Am Tiirmschen is a cosy affair with homecooked style cuisine. The portions are hearty and comforting, which lend nicely at the end of the evening as it’ll lull you into the most blissful of sleeps.
Dining on-board the MS ‘Princess Marie-Astrid’ is very popular with the locals, so it’s a worthwhile visit, whether you’re with family, friends or a partner. Order a platter to share and you won’t be disappointed. The food is excellent and live entertainment will keep you in good spirits, particularly as the boat is located in the Moselle region, Luxembourg’s hotspot for locally grown wines and cremants.
Where to drink
Scott’s Pub has a great atmosphere and an impressive choice of beers. Its location on the river makes it the best choice if the sun’s out. Cafe des Artistes has big personality in its decor and in its ambience. It is loved by the locals, who gather round the piano for a raucous night of sing-song.
For a quieter night of drinking and conversation, make your way to Vins Vins or Dipso, two wine bars that set the mood for romance and/or a more chilled vibe.
Then of course there’s the Moselle region, which is must for any visitor to Luxembourg – particularly if you like your wine. Not many people are aware that Luxembourg produces its own wine and cremant (a sparkling wine), but the country has the space and the right climate. And the wines are seriously good! Get yourself a guided tour of a local winery and you won’t be disappointed, especially around the beautifully quaint village of Ehnen.