We already know everything we need to know about Luxembourg, right? A tiny tax haven crammed on the cross roads of Germany, Belgium and France. Surely not the first place you’d think about visiting for a bank holiday weekend? Well, sure, probably not. In all truthfulness, I wanted to visit Luxembourg because my unintentional avoidance of this country was leaving me with a tiny hole in my scratch-off map… so if that’s not the most ridiculous reason for booking plane tickets, can you please share with me what is?
Anyway, after I found some pretty decent bank holiday flights, I didn’t wish to continue to wallow in ignorance and started to research into what I could actually expect from Luxembourg City; I began to realise that this destination wasn’t such a ‘vanilla’ choice and was starting to present itself as the perfect city for a relaxing break. A little gem of a city hiding in plain sight!
Say Hello to the Main Contender for Europe’s
Most Gorgeous Old Town: Grund
Grund is Luxembourg’s old town; a Disney-perfect set up at the base of the city’s valley, hugging the Alzette River. The May bank holiday brought up unseasonably warm weather, so the sun beckoned locals and tourists to mix in the bars and terraces in the old town. The Grund is one of the oldest parts of Luxembourg city, and despite the buildings dating back to the 14th Century, they are impossibly well-preserved and look almost like a carefully designed film set, which makes it one of the most attractive old town’s I’ve seen in Europe!
La Chemin de la Corniche:
‘Europe’s Most Beautiful Balcony’
‘Europe’s most beautiful balcony’; a grand accolade, sure, but the Corniche really is something special. You can guarantee that all of Luxembourg’s most iconic photos, in all it’s slate-roofed glory, were taken from along this view point.
After dinner on our last evening, just as dusk was falling over the city we took a walk up to the main vantage point on the Corniche to watch the sun set. It was a deliciously warm and quiet evening and we stayed up there for around an hour, taking in the sights as the view lit up for the evening. With Luxembourg being just a smidge off the tourist track, we were the only people that had ventured up there!
Explore the Green Spaces
Walking around Luxembourg, you realise that this city is carpeted in green. So much so, I had a hard time believing that I was in a capital city! With it’s valleys and hills and winding streets, Luxembourg is set out like a real life Escher, with a maze of pathways leading to city parks and canal walkways. Ordinarily, It would have irked me that there was no obvious, straight forward way of getting around the city, and, trust me, getting lost was all too easy, but when the views were this damn good, I could treat every walk as an adventure!
Lose Yourself in the Underground Tunnels: Casemates du Bock
One surprising aspect to Luxembourg was the network of underground caves, carved out in the side of valley. They were first constructed in 1644 and then extended 40 years later and used for military defence purposes. The entire network stretched 23 kilometres long and at it’s peak, housed soldiers and their horses, as well as workshops and kitchens, which seems impossible to imagine. Only 17 kilometres remain, and part of this you can go down to explore.
Hire a Bike and Take yourself on a Cycle Ride
There will always be something innately romantic about taking to the streets on two wheels, and although the reality of it is slightly more sweaty than hoped, it’s always a bit more exciting to sightsee by bike!
Much like many other major cities around Europe, Luxembourg offer cycle hire facilities for a small fee, and once you’ve registered at the terminals you can pick your bike and
If you’re anything like me; Missus-I-haven’t-seen-a-gym-in-at-least-five-years then you might have to hop off every so often to successfully reach the top of the hill… still it’s really good fun and a nice alternative to exploring in the conventional way.
Get Cultured at the Many Museums
I don’t always purchase City Cards when I travel; fifty percent of the time I find that when you look a bit deeper into the costs, they tend not to be the best value and pay-as-you-go seems to make more sense. This certainly can’t be said for the Luxembourg Card which I picked up from the Tourist Information Office in the city centre, which, for only 13 Euro for a one-day pass, or 20 Euro for two-days was a total steal. Just one perk of the card was free travel on public transport throughout the whole country, which just on it’s own, is ridiculously good! In addition to free travel, the card also gives you free access to around 60 museums and attractions and discounts to a whole lot more. If we just look at Luxembourg City, there are eight different museums or galleries where you can enter for free with a Luxembourg Card including Bock Casemates, which is one of the more popular attractions in the area.
In just two days we visited Bock Casemates, Lëtzebuerg City Museum (which is an extensive museum that breaks down the entire history of Luxembourg and how it came to be) and the National Museum of Natural History “natur musée”.
Discover Luxembourg City’s Best Pub Terrace
Luxembourg is expensive. You’ve heard that too, right? Here I am busting that myth. ‘Expensive’ wasn’t really the Luxembourg I experienced; I was expecting horrifying high Nordic-like prices when reality was that it was more on a par with London expenses, and because we’d budgeted generously for our city break, we were able to eat and drink really well for the whole weekend without breaking out in a cold sweat over the bill.
Due to Luxembourg’s location, it’s become a melting pot of some of Europe’s best cuisines; half sophisticated French dishes, half hearty German style food and bottles upon bottles of Belgian beer, there was so much choice and variety!
We stayed exclusively in the old town (Grund) for drinks, skipping between Liquid Café and Scott’s Pub for Kwak’s and Kriek’s. These two pubs were across the road from each other and despite being gifted names that sound like bad English bars on the back streets of Benidorm, (too harsh?) they were actually a couple of craft beer havens.
We found Liquid Café on our first evening; groups were settled in the wooden chairs by the road side, and inside there was a couple playing board games in two armchairs. It was relaxed, totally unpretentious, super cosy and home to one of the best beer menus I’d seen outside of Belgium.
Eating Out in Grund
We had breakfast included at our Hotel (Ibis Styles Luxembourg City) so we only had to cater for lunches and dinners whilst we were here. The May heatwave supressed our appetite somewhat but lunches were quick and easy and paired with beer (the best kind!). We were quick to discover that Scotts Pub served 10 Euro stone baked pizzas and when you consider that the bar also has the best terrace with one of the nicest views, looking out across the river, we were sold!
On our main evening in Luxembourg we wanted to go for a ‘proper sit-down’ meal; table service, a couple of courses, the works! Clearly not feeling too adventurous on location, we chose very fair-priced Brasserie Bosso which is conveniently right across the road from the entrance to Scotts Pub! (Honestly, we needn’t had ventured more than 5o yards for our entire trip – this street has it all!). The food though? It was good, really good! The pair of us shared Spätzle, Stew and garlic bread in a fairy-light lit court yard; perfect!
It’s not just the Corniche that gives you the best sights from above, Luxembourg also has an outdoor glass lift, Pfaffenthal. The outdoor glass elevator is primarily a communting tool, as the hilly Luxembourg requires it to help the locals get around. The glass lift connects the park which is near to the city centre to the Pfaffenthal area which sits at the base of the Alzette valley. We took the elevator down to the bottom and hired a bike from right outside the lift and carried on our journey on two wheels; exploring the pretty area at the bottom of the valley. Best of all; using the elevator is completely free of charge and gives you fantastic views across the city!
So, Would I be back?
Surprisingly, yes! Being so close to the UK, is was such a short flight (or a long drive). Whilst I probably knocked out quite a few of the big tourist activities on my fleeting trip, it was hard not to fall in love with Luxembourg’s relaxed vibe. For such a small country that isn’t on the well-trodden tourist paths, it still felt I wasn’t quite ‘done’ with Luxembourg. I’ll book a return trip, if only to visit my two favourite pubs again!
How much did this set me back:
What was the cost of a weekend to Luxembourg?
We travelled on a UK bank holiday weekend, when most are looking for a quick break, so our flights weren’t as cheap as they perhaps could have been. Still, we only paid £38 for a return flight out of London, direct to Luxembourg which is very decent! We stayed at the ibis Styles Luxembourg Centre Gare, near the train station which is slightly outside of where the main attractions are, but was the perfect compromise between location and price. A two night stay at the ibis was £156 for a double room and this included breakfast. We brought along £200 worth of Euros for spending money and spent up, which, to be honest, went mainly on drinks and food as most of the sightseeing, museums and transport was free or included in the city card! To total that up, our Luxembourg City trip was £432 for us, travelling as a couple. That’s a total of £216 per person for a two night trip to Luxembourg – how’s that for busting that myth that Luxembourg’s too expensive?
*Disclosure: I was gifted a complimentary Luxembourg Card to use whilst visiting the country this was in return for an honest review of the city and the attractions. Thank you to VisitLuxembourg for hosting me! I genuinely loved my visiting Luxembourg and using the Luxembourg Card and all opinions here and across my blog, are as always, totally honest and completely my own.