When you’re on a tight schedule and would like to squeeze in as much experience as possible, I strongly advise you to travel through Luxembourg City. It doesn’t matter if it’s a flight connection, a train journey or simply involves stopping by this tiny European country when traveling by car. It’s one of the best picture-friendly and cute little places I’ve been to and is a great location to have a stopover for a day and stretch your legs (literally).
Luxembourg is already quite far from the off-the-beaten European tourist path, so you will be earning some solid travelers’ points when you visit this place. And don’t forget – it’s a separate country, so you can sew a new patch on your backpack (you know, like I do with my backpack).
Before coming here I heard many times that the city is amazing and pretty. That it’s bathing in flowers almost like a millionaire bathing in the bath filled with champagne.
I wish I came in summer, though.
I was not very fortunate with the weather, as it was quite windy, cloudy and relatively “cold” welcome for me.
Nevertheless, I was doing all I can to keep warm – lots of walking and cafe-hopping – and don’t regret it. Luckily, Luxembourg has a lot to offer in both areas.
Get in to Luxembourg City
You can get in to the country as usual – through air or land (airplane, train, bus or car). Nothing too extreme here – no air balloon traffic or a magical high-speed tunnel with unicorns that I heard of.
If you’re arriving by plane then the easiest is to take a bus to the city center – it’s a 20 minute ride and will cost you 8 EUR return. If coming by bus or train, then you only need to walk 10 minutes to the center. Small city.
It’s worth noting that Luxembourg is in Schengen area, so there is no border control when coming from nearby countries.
Where to stay in Luxembourg City
Here, I believe, some background is necessary. Luxembourg is considered one of the richest countries in the world (banking and finance hub, strategic location, not too many mouths to feed, etc.), therefore prices bite sometimes.
Staying in the center would be cool and fancy, yes, but staying in the center will cost you somewhere around 150 euros. I’d suggest staying at one of the airport hotels – if you book early enough, or on a very short notice you can find a deal for as low as 60-70 euros. Also, if you’re traveling onward by plane it’s a great option – just a 5 minute walk in the morning to the terminal (or a private hotel transfer – whatever floats your boat).
Otherwise, airbnb or couchsurfing is always an option where you’ll be kindly hosted and maybe even shown around (you can read about it on my blog post about travel websites).
How to spend a day in Luxembourg City
Before we go any further some practicalities.
The most important thing to note is that Luxembourg is located between France and Germany that both believe working on a Sunday is a sin. Therefore, keep in mind that all shops are closed on Sundays and only places where you can get some action are restaurants and cafes.
Next is the language. Again, French and German are two of the official languages, together with a third – Luxembourgish. The latter is a local combination of French and German which they are quite proud of. But don’t worry, English is spoken as a main foreign language by more than a half of the people.
Luxembourg City is very hilly. And even though there is the city center part with shops and restaurants, it’s quite small and after some time gets boring. I had a long haul flight to catch the next day, so I tried to get as much exercise as possible by walking all around the city up and down the hills stopping only at coffee places to recharge.
Now for the actual to do list. I advise to take your time and go at your own pace where your legs will take you. Mine took me here:
1. Lots and lots of views of the city
I loved the way the city looks from the above. It has a unique view that other places don’t have.
I took tons of pictures from the top and also from the bottom. The city is sort of split in half by a mini-valley in the middle that is connected with huge bridges that are 50m high. You can also take a walk through this valley – there is a park/recreational area for joggers and walkers.
Watch out – the city is quite hilly, so be prepared to walk a couple of hundred steps up and down throughout the day.
I personally admire all the people I saw who were running there. It’s just all the time up and down all the way (and in a serious way). Be warned!
2. Old town area
Luxembourg was originally built as a castle on a rock in 10th century, later followed by settlement around it protected by the wall. It was part of many empires, starting from Roman to the Prussians. Also, it used to be the most fortified city in Europe until some mid-19th century.
Now it’s obviously not used for siege purposes, but it’s a UNESCO heritage site and is maintained to show its past glory. It’s quite well-preserved, so the experience you get while walking there is quite cool.
Luxembourgish (I don’t know if that’s even a word) cuisine is quite similar to German – it is structured around two German building blocks – pork and potatoes.
However, the French added their touch to it with some tasty pastry and desserts. So if you’re into coffee-with-a-dessert kind of lifestyle, you won’t regret coming here.
Having said all that and given the weather, to me Luxembourg will be associated with soups. There is a great place in the center called “A la Soupe” that serves – as you might have guessed it – soups (I’ve marked it in the map above as well). The best part of it is that for a price of around 8 EUR you get a massive bowl (around a liter) of soup. Hot, steamy, delicious and just what I needed in the rainy day.
I would totally come back for more!