A view of Luxembourg City

Visiting Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Luxembourg is one of those places that I always wanted to visit but I never really got around to it for various reasons. I thought about visiting on a day trip from Brussels but the train journey there and back didn’t make much sense. There were no direct flights from Dublin for a number of years until Luxair reintroduced the route having cancelled it during the last recession. More recently, Ryanair began flights to Luxembourg and with prices suddenly quite cheap, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to book a Luxembourg City city break!

A view of Luxembourg City
The view of Grund and the Pfaffenthal Lift from the Parc Des Trois Glands.

A Little Bit About Luxembourg City

Luxembourg is the second smallest country in the EU (after Malta) and is bordered by Belgium, France and Germany. It’s the only country in the world to have a Grand Duke as its head of state and is one of the wealthiest per capita countries in the world. 37% of its approximately 600,000 population are from outside the country. Luxembourg was one of the founding six members of the European Coal and Steel Community which was the precursor the European Union.

The currency is the Euro and the main language is Luxembourgish. Most people speak French, German or English too.

Luxembourg City is the biggest city and capital of Luxembourg. It is regarded as one of the de facto capitals of the EU and is home to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Secretariat of the European Parliament and lots more. It has the highest GDP per capita of any city in the world according to the IMF and is also the safest according to Mercer.

Getting to Luxembourg City

Luxembourg City is served by the nearby Luxembourg Airport. Luxair tends to be a little on the expensive side in my opinion so if you’re after cheap and cheerful, Ryanair have a few routes from the airport. There’s buses into the city and they’re currently expanding the tram system to reach the airport. Public transport within Luxembourg is free so the tram is definitely a good option. We weren’t in the mood to wait (for the bus, not for the tram line to be built) so got a taxi which was just over €40 for four of us with luggage. Trains are also quite handy for getting to Luxembourg and there’s direct routes to Paris, Brussels and other cities in neighbouring countries.

Where to Stay in Luxembourg City

We stayed at Le Chatelet, a quaint little hotel about a 5 minute walk from the train station, imaginatively called Luxembourg Railway Station. We actually chose it because it had a room for four which was hard enough to find elsewhere. The hotel was in a quiet enough suburb of Luxembourg City next to the Pétrusse Valley Park but close enough to shops and places to eat. The street where the train station is has lots of shops and restaurants and leads to the Passerelle which takes you into the old walled part of the city. It was a very cosy room and the staff were all lovely.

What to Do In Luxembourg City

We were lucky enough to be in Luxembourg City when the entire city was covered in snow and although it was cold for the duration of our visit, we had checked the weather in advance and had packed accordingly. The city looked amazing in the snow, especially looking from the higher parts down onto the lower parts.

A view from the Adolphe Bridge
The nighttime view from the Adolphe Bridge.

One of those lower parts is called Grund, a lovely spot for a night time stroll. It’s known as the fairytale district and it’s not hard to see why. Apart from the picturesque views along the river, it’s also got a few pubs and restaurants and would be perfect if you were after a nice, romantic meal. We weren’t. The National Museum of Natural History is here too but we decided against a visit.

A view of Grund in Luxembourg City
Grund is a really nice part of the city with lots of pubs and restaurants in a very picturesque setting.

One thing I’d definitely recommend to do is take the Pfaffenthal Lift. It’s an observation deck with a lift down to Grund in the lower part of the city and it really does offer a stunning view over the valley. We took the lift down and then walked across to the other side which took us into the Parc des Trois Glands (Three Acorns Park). It was all very Narnia because of the snow.

Steps at Parc Des Trois Glands
The steps leading through the Parc De Trois Glands towards the Kirchberg district.

Walking through the Parc des Trois Glands takes you to the Kirchberg quarter which is home to many European institutions including The European Court of Justice, parts of the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. Kirchberg has a lot of hotels but I’d recommend not staying in this part of town if you’re planning on visiting the tourist sites. It’s all a little bit high rise and corporate which is not what Luxembourg City is about. Fine for European business or visiting the European Convention Center, but not for rambling around the sights.

Fort Thungen is located in the Parc des Trois Glands and is home to the Musée Dräi Eechelen (Three Acorns Museum). The museum tells the history of the city and country of Luxembourg from the Burgundian conquest in 1443 to the construction of the Adolphe Bridge in 1903. We didn’t really have time for a visit beyond taking a few pics and wanting to use the loo, which, according to the receptionist, is strictly forbidden unless you’re paying to visit. Word of advice at this juncture – don’t eat yellow snow. The Mudam Luxembourg Museum of Modern Art and Philharmonie Luxembourg concert hall are nearby if that type of thing takes your fancy.

Fort Thungen
Fort Thungen was converted into a museum. It’s located in the Parc Des Trois Glands.

We were hoping to see the Casemates Du Bock, the 18th century tunnels used as shelters during World War II but they close in the Winter for maintenance. It’s a shame because I’d read that it’s one of the highlights of a visit to Luxembourg City. I didn’t read that it was closed though so we found out the hard way. The area nearby is really nice thought and the views are amazing. Make sure to bring a good walking shoe!

Casemates Du Bock
The Casemates Du Bock was closed for Winter maintenance so we didn’t get to see inside.

Within Ville Haute, the historic walled city, there’s lots of shops ranging from high street names like H&M and Zara to more exclusive brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci. There’s great restaurants too, especially around Place D’Armes which is the central square.

Cercle Cite in the centre of Luxembourg City
The Cercle Cité is the focal point on the Place D’Armes.

Most of the buildings in this area are really nice, especially the Grand Ducal Palace. There’s guided tours in the Summer but not Winter. They probably don’t want you trudging all that dirty snow in on their lovely clean carpets. It’s got two armed guards outside so the Grand Duke must be a big deal. It’s lovely from the outside so if you do go and see the inside, let me know and send pics. Try to steal a lamp or a salt shaker or something.

The Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg
The Grand Ducal Palace is home to the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. His name is Henri!

The Musée national d’histoire et d’art Luxembourg is just around the corner and is actually a great way to spend a few hours. It’s free in and it’s split across six floors. Start at the bottom and work your way up (as the nun said to the bishop). The museum retraces the history of Luxembourg, from prehistory to the Middle Ages. Fort Thungen then takes over the rest of the story.

The Verdict on Luxembourg City

Overall, I really loved Luxembourg City. I’m a big fan of small countries and Luxembourg is right up there with my favourites. The walled city is great to stroll around and browse. The food was lovely, although a little on the expensive side. If you’re on a budget though, there’s plenty of fast food options too. There wasn’t a whole load to do but I was okay with that. I enjoyed just walking around and taking it in.

As a city break destination, it probably wouldn’t be the type of place you’d go for a stag or hen party but if you want to check out somewhere you’ve not been before that’s laid back and friendly on the eye, it’s perfect.

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