The only Grand Duchy in the world, Luxembourg is a country so small that even its name covers twice as much space on a map as its territory. For travellers, fortunately that means you can see a lot of the country in a small amount of time. As an added bonus, most residents speak at least three languages, and at least a third of them are foreigners themselves, so chances are you won’t have any trouble being understood. Luxembourg has all the charm of ancient Camelot but with cosmopolitan appeal.
Why You Should Go
What’s Cool: Hiking, biking across the country on car-free roads, exploring Luxembourg Ville’s Old City, taking a chairlift up to the castle in Vianden, chocolate and wine, most residents can speak three languages, cheap petrol and beer.
What’s Not: The rain, the inflated prices of cafés on Place D’Armes, expensive car rentals, getting fat on all the delicious food and infrequent or non-existent public transport on Sundays.
When to Go
Although the temperate climate makes Luxembourg enjoyable at any time of year, if you are looking to enjoy the sites without the crowds, the best time to visit is in the late spring or fall. The short winter days nor the summer crowds will have arrived and the weather is pleasantly warm from May to September. In the winter, days are short with dusk falling at around 16:00 and frequent snow. Be sure to pack your rain gear, as it will probably rain at some point during any visit.
Getting There & Away
Findel International Airport is only six kilometres from the capital and is served by taxis and a public bus. Luxair makes frequent flights within Europe however larger airlines also fly into Luxembourg from the USA and other international locations. Luxembourg is connected to most other major European cities by rail. Eurorail passes are valid in the country, although the country is not really large enough that you’ll use it often.
Major highways connect Luxembourg to Belgium, France and Germany. Both the bus network and the quality of the roads make travel within the country easy. Gas is relatively cheap but renting a car is strangely expensive and you should be aware that taxi prices go up by 25 per cent on Sundays.
In the summer it is possible to cruise through the Moselle Valley on the MV Princesse Marie-Astrid. Several tour operators offer European cruises that pass through Luxembourg.
Health & Safety
Health facilities in Luxembourg are at least the same quality as most EU countries and you shouldn’t have any problems finding a doctor who speaks most major languages.
The crime rate in Luxembourg is considered to be very low; however, tourists are always at a higher risk for being targeted than local residents. In fact, a 2003 survey found Luxembourg to be the safest place in the world.
Food & Hospitality
Luxembourg is not a city for dieters. With more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any other country in the world, not to mention an impressive selection of chocolate and pastry in a large number of excellent cafés, you are going to want to indulge.
It’s worth keeping an eye out for the entertainment listings in the English-language publications or at the tourist office on Place d’Armes. Luxembourg City hosts an impressive number of arts events from theater and dance to art exhibits.
It is possible to visit all of the major regions in Luxembourg in one week.
Two days in Luxembourg City.
Two days in the Ardenne region exploring the castles at Vianden and the Château de Bourscheid and hiking.
Two days in Müllerthal and the Moselle Valley.
One day in the Red Rocks region at Esch-sur-Alzette.
Two days cruising on the canals of the Moselle Valley.
Luxembourg-Ville: the old quarter of the capital is full of historic sites including the Grand Ducal Palace and other mansions, museums and monuments. Explore what’s left of the original castle and the underground Casements of Luxembourg, which were used as bomb shelters in WWII.
Château de Bourscheid: this beautiful 1,000-year-old castle has some of the best views over the surrounding farms and the Sûre River
Vianden: the castle in Vianden is best reached by Luxembourg’s only chairlift and is a good place to peer down on the picturesque town and the nearby wild boar sanctuary from 1,476 feet up.
Red Rocks: shop or enjoy the modern architecture of Luxembourg’s second-largest city, Esch-sur-Alzette, or go hiking out of town and enjoy the striking scenery provided by the red, iron-rich soil.
Müllerthal: the national parks and forests of this region make it an excellent place for hiking, or for kicking back and enjoying a glass of wine with the view that has the region nicknamed ‘Little Switzerland.’
Ardennes: the beauty of the many lakes and forests in this region is just one of the reasons why it attracts so many outdoor enthusiasts. The breweries may be another.
Wine tasting: follow the Wine road through the picturesque Moselle Valley. Be sure to bring a designated driver, as you’ll want to sample plenty of those fruity whites along the way.
Hiking: explore dense forests, crumbling castles, clear creeks and strange rock formations along one of the many trails through the Müllerthal region or on any one of the 171 official hiking trails in Luxembourg.
Water sports: not only does the Staudamm reservoir in the Ardennes provide Luxembourg’s drinking water, it is also part of a beautiful national park and the best place for sailing and windsurfing in the country. Kayaking, canoeing and waterskiing are also possible on many rivers.
Fishing: if you manage to snag a trout at the end of your line, your hotel chef will probably be happy to cook it up for you. Make sure you have a license and are fishing in a designated area before you get started though.
Cycling: there are 30 designated cycling routes across the country. In fact, you can travel from south to north without ever sharing the road with a car.
Spas: Mondorf le Domain Thermal is one of Luxembourg’s most popular and expansive spas with Turkish baths, saunas, thermal mineral springs and a large number of fitness classes.
Tour de Luxembourg: join the crowd of thousands as rally drivers blast through the streets on the Luxembourg stage of the World Rally Championship.
Festivals & Events
Despite its tiny size, Luxembourg manages to pack in a number of lively festivities, which normally go hand-in-hand with drinking plenty of wine.
February/March: during Carnival residents prepare for the austerities of Lent with a month of parades, performances and fun.
March: on Burgsonndeg (Bonfire Day) you can participate in traditional customs that celebrate the end of winter.
April/May: catch a glimpse of the royal family on parade during the Catholic festival of Octave.
August toNovember: if you like wine, or just getting drunk, don’t miss out on the Wine Festival in the Moselle Valley. Not that most people need the added enticement, but there is also food, dance, music and other festive activities in addition to, well, drinking.
September: you’ll want to be in the capital for the Luxembourg City Fete so as not to miss the profusion of floats, performances, music, dancing and food.