Luxembourg has a greatness that seems to go largely unappreciated. Did you know that this is the second richest nation in all the world?Qatar is wealthier, by the way. Having a status as one of the world’s safest countries, it stands to reason that the national motto is mir wëllebleiwewatmirsinn, which translates to ‘remain what we are’.
Luxembourg. An interesting name. The name is derived from a Saxon fortress. The Count of the Ardennes, Sigefroid, founded it as a County in 963AD and went on to build a fort on what was and still is a remarkably strategic position.
Being that the fortress proved really impregnable, its reputation soon earned it the name of the Gibraltar of the North. The ancient Saxon name going back to the day was Lucilinburhuc which means little fortress.
Well, the little fortress grew up to become a major fortress. But the name stands strong.
When in Luxembourg, what to visit becomes the question to consider.
Places of Interest in the Old Quarter
d’Stad is what the locals call Luxembourg City’s historic Old Quarter. What better place among the attractions in Luxembourg to start than this exceptionally well-preserved old city center? In 1994, the Old Quarter was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The impact of the original fortress has left an indelible mark on Luxembourg’s Old Quarter, despite the fact that it was dismantled way back in the years between 1867 and 1883.
What remains today are the interesting alleyways, quaint cobbled streets running along the forefront of delightful old homes and buildings, and the well-positioned and landscaped parks and gardens.
And then there are the bridges! Since two rivers traverse Luxembourg City, you would expect a few bridges. So what to do in Luxembourg must include crossing, photographing, or simply taking in the marvels that are the bridges over the Rivers Alzette and the Pétrusse. Pont Adolphe is a double-decked arch bridge over the Pétrusse.
Known as the Old Bridge, juxtaposed with the new bridge that is the Pont Adolphe, it is known by locals as Al Bréck. It’s actually more of a viaduct, named the Luxembourg Viaduct and Viaduc Passerelle. Passarelle has an impressive 24 arches, standing 148 foot or 45 meters above the valley floor.
A unique feature of the Viaduc is the slight curvature in the middle that gave it an edge back in the day when it was in danger of coming under siege. Stierchen Bridge is a small medieval bridge next to the monastery of Neumünster in the Grund region that apparently comes with its own haunting ghost. Pont Grande-Duchesse Charlotte across the Alzette River is named after the Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg. Its distinctive red paintwork has earned it the name of the Red Bridge or Rout Bréck.
Castle Bridge or Pont du Chateau across the Alzette River, was built in 1735out of red sandstone to take the place of the wooden bridge that was in use up until then and which boasted a drawbridge.
Notre Dame Cathedral in the Old Quarter
No, we have not transported you across the border to Frane. Yes, the Old Quarter of Luxembourg has its very own Notre Dame Cathedral.
In the 17th century, Jesuit priests built the cathedral with its baroque-style north gate and picturesque stained glass dating back to the 1800s and 1900s.
Taking pride of place over the altar of the cathedral is the celebrated miniature statue of the Madonna and Jesus. The cathedral’s crypt guarded by two statues of lions is the eternal resting place of members of the Luxembourg royal family.
The Bock Casements in Luxembourg City
Enter the famous Casemates or Casements du Bock on foot through Luxembourg’s Bock cliff or Bockfiels. This 13-mile or 21-kilometer network of underground passages hewn out of rock once sheltered defenders by the thousands, horses, and equipment and housed kitchens, workshops, and slaughterhouses. Make sure you include this on your list of what to do in Luxembourg.
The tunnels date as far back as 1644 when this was still Spanish territory. The views from above ground are of the old 19th-century barracks, Grund, and the Rham Plateau. Visitors can also see the remains of the Wenceslas wall that go back to 1390.
Grand Ducal Palace in Luxembourg City
Grand Duke Henri is Luxembourg’s reigning monarch. His official residence dates back to 1572 in the form of the Renaissance era Groussherzogleche Palais or The Grand Ducal Palace.
Originally intended to be the city hall, its use as the Palace came about only in 1795. Between mid-July and the first week of September, the Duke’s residence becomes one of the top attractions in Luxembourg when it is opened to the public to view during guided tours.
The Walls of the Corniche, Luxembourg City
The le Chemin de la Corniche or Walls of the Corniche are simply spectacular and punted as “the most beautiful balcony in Europe.” Here, the big Gate of the Grund has been standing vigil over the ancient town in the valley below since 1632.
Aristocratic houses and ancient refuges, St. Michael’s church and the old convent of the monk order of the Dominicans are ensconced here, dating back to 987.
In Grund, a significant group of buildings invites explorers to visit to see ancient Abbey of Neumünster with its XVII century arcade (cloister) of Limoges and the church. Next to this is the ancient Hospice St.-Jean which was founded in 1309 by Emperor Henri VII, Count of Luxembourg.
William Square or Place Guillaume II in Luxembourg City
What was once the site of a Franciscan monastery, Place Guillaume II is now a walking area in what is among the largest open spaces in the city. Get a good look at the equestrian statue of William II, King of Holland and Grand Duke of Luxembourg which stands in its center.
Also to be seen here are the Town Hall as well as the celebrated Trémont’s lions. Visitors can buy local produce, plants, and flowers at the weekly market that is held in the Square.
Pop into the House of Raville which dates back to the 1500s with its beautiful spiral staircase and a lovely balcony.
Also beckoning to be appreciated of the attractions in Luxembourg are the Spanish Turret from which views over the Pfaffenthal suburb are well worthwhile, the old cavalry-barracks of Vauban, and Fort Thüngen, known as the Three Acorns, thanks to the three acorns on each of its towers.
Between the Sûre and Wark Rivers is the village of Bourscheid from which the scenery can be appreciated, thanks to its lofty stance on an elevated plateau. Hikers appreciate all this region has to offer, including the villages of Kehmen on the plateau, Michelau in the Sûre Valley, and Welscheid in the Wark Valley.
But this region of the Ardennes also has the ruins of the Bourscheid Castle which is straight out of the pages of a fairy tale. It has been looking down over the Sûre since the 10th century and is now restored and open to the public.
A different take on what to do in Luxembourg is definitely viewing the castle by the light of the moon and stars when darkness has fallen. The castle is beautifully lit up in the evenings and well worth experiencing from a vantage point in the village.
Upper Sûre Natural Park and Esch-sur-Sûre
Upper Sûre Natural Park or Naturpark Öewersauer offers visitors asking while in Luxembourg what to visit, a step into nature. Nature in abundance, from narrow valleys, plateaus, and wooded slopes to a magnificent lake.
Visitors get to enjoy leisure activities such as fishing, sailing, swimming, and diving and fully appreciate the regional ecotourism and wildlife either on foot or by boat. Culturally, the Nature Park Centre is housed in an old cloth mill together with a museum of artifacts and exhibits.
The biennial Water Art Festival plays out here, with its Rock meets Classic theme luring some two hundred or so musicians to entertain the crowds.
What to do in Luxembourg hereabouts definitely includes a visit to the small village of Esch-sur-Sûre, tucked away in the mountains along the river Sûre. See the ruins of its manor house that was built in 927 AD and is and is open to the public without charge.
This quaint old market town in a rocky valley encircled by woods is overseen by two partially rebuilt old castles from their vantage point high up on a crag above the valley of the White Ernz.
There is a medieval square that is a definite must-see among the local attractions in Luxembourg, and a museum of industry that is free to enter all year round. The museum shows off Larochette’s importance as a textile base in a bygone era. Among the many historical monuments in the village is the Neo-Roman church with its Art Nouveau frescoes.
This is also a popular village for hikers, offering opportunities to venture into the woods and the countryside. Hikers get to enjoy Meysembourg castle and Nommerlayen castle and what remains of a Roman camp at Aalburg.
Backpackers have the option of making use of the facilities in the region’s campsites, but accommodation in the area is also available in the form of old hotels and inns.
Perched on a plateau in the Mullerthal region are the ruins of the 12th-century Beaufort castle with its associated Neo-Gothic church. Walkers and hikers get to take to the many footpaths around here with their alluring views of the countryside that invite explorers to walk the forested hills.
Views of its spectacular rock formations are well worth the effort, as is the discovery of the gorges of the Hallerbach and the Saueracht in the Sûre valley.
Citizens of certain countries including the United States will be required to present this travel authorization known as the ETIAS visa when traveling to Luxembourg. ETIAS requirements can be viewed online and the ETIAS application form is also accessible online. The ETIAS visa is issued via e-mail once the application is approved.
What are the languages spoken in Luxembourg?
The three official languages in Luxembourg are French, German, and Luxembourgish. Most native Luxembourgers consider Luxembourgish or “Lëtzebuergesch” as their mother tongue. This has always been seen as a dialect of German.
When is the best time to visit Luxembourg?
Between May and September is best for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping because Luxembourg enjoys mild summers. December to February are the winter months. During winter, the hilly region to the north of the country is covered with snow.
Does anyone offer a service to cyclists and hikers to transport their luggage when in Luxembourg?
Yes, initiatives do exist to transport luggage between overnight stops for cyclists and hikers enjoying the Luxembourg trails and cycle routes. These services are usually offered between 1 April and 30 September. Bookings are done online and some service providers offer the service at no charge.
What should we know about food in Luxembourg?
Meals are typically served in large portions. The country is known for its pastries with September being the season to enjoy their plum tart known as Quetsch and Les pensees brouillees traditionally eaten on the day before lent known as Shrove or Fat Tuesday. National favorites are liver dumplings, fleeschtaart which are meat pies filled with minced pork, and civet de lievre or rabbit in a thick sauce.
What currency is used in Luxembourg?
The official currency of Luxembourg is the Euro.
Will I need cash while in Luxembourg and what are the best options for purchases and paying for services while in the country?
Payments are usually done with a debit card, known as Bancomat or Maestro. ATMs are widely available and this is the best and cheapest option for cash withdrawals. Check which ATMs offer withdrawals without a charge when using your particular bank cards. This is best done when communicating with your bank back home before leaving for Luxembourg.
Visa and MasterCard are accepted while American Express cards are not as widely accepted. Restaurants, hotels, and stores as a whole will accept major credit cards. Smaller shops will accept cash or payments made with a bank card.