Luxembourg City is like that lovely cake you’ve been eyeing but avoided because you know it will be too rich to enjoy. But once you get a taste of it, you realize it was totally worth it and you’d probably be crazy enough to do it again. For starters, I loved Luxembourg, the city and the country. Yes it’s small and yes it doesn’t have a lot of things to do but it is extremely beautiful, wealthy and surprisingly the people are very humble.
Roman and I arrived in Luxembourg on a TGV train from Paris and this was our 4th country to visit on this trip. We were sad that we could only be in Luxembourg for one day but we were determined to make the most of it. On arrival we realized that our hotel was within walking distance and so we decided not to get a taxi or take public transportation. However if you do arrive on a Sunday and need public transportation, it’s free! We decided to drop our luggage off at the htoel and then start exploring the city!
First glance of Luxembourg is that it reminds me of a city in Switzerland, like Zürich. Everything is clean and the city is very charming. Nestled in the Petrusse Valley, Luxembourg City is designed in an odd way and is perched on a cliff. You have neighborhoods down in the valley while the Old City sits above the cliffs. The valley itself is impressive and crossing one of the bridges over the Petrusse Valley is a surreal experience; not the best for people scared of heights.
We were told that there was a market going on because it was the first Sunday of the month (thanks to our hotel attendant who was a cutie). We walked over to the market and honestly it wasn’t that special but we looked anyways. I believe there was more shopping further by the train station but we weren’t in Luxembourg City to shop. So we decided to actually head down to the bottom of the Petrusse Valley first and then work our way up to the old part of Luxembourg City.
The 3 Luxembourg City Musts
The Luxembourg viaducts are quite impressive and you will spot them by just walking around in Luxembourg City. The viaducts are really what makes Luxembourg City so unique and give the perfect backdrop for a picture. You actually may arrive on one of the viaducts because the trains leaving from Luxembourg City use them.
Near the viaducts you will also notice that there are holes in the cliffs that hold up the Old City of Luxembourg. They are called Casemates du Bock and were once used to fire cannons and for barracks. Today you can walk around inside the Casemates and get stunning views of the Passerelle viaduct as well as the Petrusse Valley below. We didn’t actually do the Casemates although we tried but I know it was cheap to get in and is a good 1 hour activity.
The main activity of Luxembourg is enjoy expensive surroundings by walking and taking a tour on your own. The main reason we came to Luxembourg City was to get a feel of the atmosphere, enjoy the food, and enjoy a wealthy city. Honestly there isn’t much to do in Luxembourg but to enjoy unique cafés, take in the landscapes and sip on wine or beer. The interesting thing about Luxembourg is that they take on both French influence and German influence and combine that into their every day activities. The people can speak both pretty well and English somewhat. The country somehow retains an sophisticated status while feeling relatively humble.
Luxembourg City Sights and Activities
Besides the two activities mentioned above Luxembourg City is a perfect walking city and really could be accomplished in one ambitious day. We were able to! But if you really want to enjoy yourself and soak it all in, I would recommend staying for a couple of days.
We had fun walking down in the neighborhoods of Grund and Clausen that are still part of the city of Luxembourg but are located in the Valley of Petrusse. Down in the calley there are great views of the Old City and a waterfall to take some pictures. There is the stunning St. Jean du Grund church that can be seen from many viewpoints in Luxembourg and near the church there is the National Museum of National History.
On a Sunday the city is dead but I kind of expected that. In Europe, Sundays are days when shops are usually closed and people are indoors. It seems that Luxembourg was trying to make their city more lively by hosting summer concerts in the Place Guillaume II in the Old City and it did seem a little more lively. What’s interesting about Luxembourg is there wasn’t very many Americans there. And that’s kind of cool. Luxembourg feels more European and the tourists that visit were mostly French and Germans with some Asians. On a Sunday the city is mostly occupied by tourists.
Once we were done with the valley below we decided to take the steps up to the Old City. The climb to the Old City is steep, so take your time but once up we were in the charming part of the city. The Old City is very narrow and actually quite small. The first area we came up was the Royal Palace, (yes Luxembourg has a Royal Family), and is stylish with a bit of opulence. I don’t think there was tours to go in. Along the Royal Palace, there are several shops and restaurants that are recommended. They are a bit touristy and a little more expensive but there are good Luxembourgish meals to be found.
Around the corner there is the Rue Philippe where much of the Old City shopping is but it’s pretty high-end shopping. We didn’t buy anything but instead decided to keep walking down towards the cliffs that overlooks Pont Adolphe. Pont Adolphe happened to be under construction while we were visiting but was still impressive at over a 100 years old.
We decided to cross the Pont Adolphe and came across this gorgeous building called the Spuerkeess or the building that houses the state Bank of Luxembourg. Next to the bank is this lovely park that has access to the Petrusse Valley.
Back in the Old City I would also recommend Notre-Dame Cathedral and Saint Michael’s Church if you’re into churches. We were able to get into Saint Michel’s Church for free but on Sunday the Notre-Dame Cathedral seemed closed. Also look into the Judiciary City at the Plateau St. Espirit. It’s the huge white building that hosts legal offices and courts!
Eating and Drinking
We didn’t spend much time in Luxembourg but I feel we were able to go to some great restaurants all based off of advice on TripAdvisor. On Sunday it’s hard to find restaurants that were open but if you go to the more touristy sections like Place d’Armes you will find several great restaurants open. We ate at Rue du Cure outside and enjoyed our beer and huge hamburgers. Yes not very Luxembourgish but tasty none the less. Also there is a gelato shop just down the street near the Place d’Armes.
One place that I highly recommend is this restaurant that faces the Royal Palace. It’s called Bistrot de la Presse and they specialize in French and Luxembourgish food. Plus the owner was so pleasant and cheerful.
Right next door to Bistrot de la Presse is by far one of the best restaurants I’ve been to. I normally don’t rave about a restaurant too much but the Chocolate House was by far one of the most distinct restaurants we ate at. We had just finished our meal at Bistrot de la Presse and decided to have a treat because we still had time before our train left. We walk in to Chocolate House to find some of the most beautiful cakes that I’ve seen and an interesting way to server hot chocolate.
First they give you a menu with many types of hot chocolate but the best part is that you can have hot chocolate with dash of alcohol. They warm up some milk and hot water and then serve a package of milk chocolate and a tube of whatever alcohol you decided to pick. Just dip in the chocolate into the warm water and watch the chocolate and alcohol mix in. Genius idea and tasty.
And the cake! I had this huge pink slice cake that was beyond amazing. I couldn’t even finish it all! I was overjoyed by this place and usually I don’t rave about desserts like this. A definite must if you visit Luxembourg.
We stayed at the Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal, a 5 star hotel that was well priced and above my expectations. First the attendant shows you how to operate the room and gave us some tips on what to do in Luxembourg. Sweetest guy! The room was fantastic and the hotel was beyond my expectations. I don’t think we saw or heard anybody around us and we weren’t even in a suite. It was by far the best hotel we stayed at on our trip. One of the most interesting parts was that the shower is basically the center of your room. I thought it was cool!
We actually thought about getting a hotel in the Old City but we quickly realized it’s more expensive and the hotels are older. The Le Grand Ducal is walk-able from the city center and takes a grand total of 15 minutes to get there. I highly recommend that you just stay at this hotel and ask for a view of the Petrusse Valley. The views are breathtaking! We were fortunate to see a storm rolling through Luxembourg after we got done with our day out which was quite the event.
Luxembourg City is a tiny charming European city that really doesn’t get enough credit. Luxembourg has surprisingly remained unknown to most Americans and tourists and I kind of like it that way. The city didn’t feel over crowded at any time and it still had the elegant sophistication that I crave from other European cities. I recommend that you spend a couple of days here and maybe even a week in the country of Luxembourg. There is plenty to see in the country alone and it’s possible to take day trips to different parts of the country. Unfortunately we couldn’t do this!
This country is expensive so don’t expect any bargains. Although I didn’t feel this city was as bad as Switzerland, staying here for even a couple of days would have been expensive. But I expected this and took part in paying top dollars for comfort. If I come to a nice country I intend to take part in all of it.
The Chocolate House is not to be missed and you can’t miss it as it’s in front of the Royal Palace, which will surely be on your itinerary. Other than that there is no other sights that are necessary. In fact we spent most of our time walking around and just enjoying the landscapes. Eating and drinking is a big part of this city and you should try some Luxembourgish food as well as French and German which obviously thrive here.
Most of all, enjoy this wonderful city and country. This is a great place to slow down for a bit and get away from mass Euroepan tourism. Yeah its expensive but at least you’ll be in a country with excellent taste lovely settings.
images by: shawnvoyage