When you think of Luxembourg what’s the first image that springs to mind?
I must admit that only a few months ago I knew so little about Luxembourg that I could only guess at what it was like. I hadn’t even seen many photos until I did some research and read some other Luxembourg blogs. I could only tell you roughly where in Europe it was (it is a landlocked country bordered by Germany, France and Belgium) and that it was small. Very small.
When I thought of Luxembourg my brain conjured up images from other places I had seen in Europe. I wasn’t totally wrong- Luxembourg is sort of a mash up of French and German culture and most European countries do bear similarities since everyone was trying to conquer each other back in the day!
However, Luxembourgers (yes, that’s what you call a Luxembourg local!) do have their own culture and even their own language – Luxembourgish!
A lot of residents are trilingual. They can speak French, German and Luxembourgish! On top of this everyone we spoke to could speak English so a lot are just straight up multilingual*. Totally putting us Brits to shame since most of us can only speak English (just about).
*I searched Google for a word that means you can speak 4 languages. Such word does not exist so I’m guessing that after trilingual you just become multilingual!
Why visit Luxembourg ?
”Why do you want to go to Luxembourg!?”-a few people asked me and I thought, well…why not?
Me and Josh (my boyfriend) wanted a short break. We live in London so for us a short break means somewhere in Europe. Here are my main reasons for the trip:
- Flights to Luxembourg City were dirt cheap! We only paid £32 return from London with Ryanair. I think it probably remains one of the cheaper cities to fly to (From London anyway).
- I’m always a fan of going to places that I know little about and I certainly knew very little about Luxembourg. I wanted to see what it had to offer.
- After a bit of research, I discovered that Luxembourg is so pretty and full of castles, cut cobbled streets and history! Also, easy to get around by the cheap public transport system.
- The fact that it is so small meant we could see a lot in the short time we had.
Highlights of our 48 hours in Luxembourg
Vianden Town and Castle
Luxembourg is only 999 square miles. Even the small state of Rhode Island in the USA is bigger ! But its tiny size means you can see more in a short time.
With that in mind we decided to take a day trip to the town of Vianden on our first full day in Luxembourg. This cute town in north east Luxembourg is home to the wonderful Vianden Castle which you can visit for €7 (adult ticket price).
The castle was constructed between the 11th and 14th centuries but even before that it was a Roman ‘castellum’ which is like a Roman fort. In 1820 the castle was sold and it fell into a state of ruin. In 1977 the Grand Duke of Luxembourg transferred it to state ownership and the castle was restored to its former glory. For more about Vianden Castle’s history see its website.
Here’s a picture I made earlier… on Instagram (just a bit of self promotion there sorry! – do follow me if you haven’t already).
The town itself is very quiet and the cobbled, bendy streets make it nice for a little walk. You can also take a chair lift up and down a nearby hill to get a different perspective of the castle. This costs €4.80 return per person. Not a lot is open in town on a weekend but there were a few cafes including the Ancien Cinema Café Club (which serves huge portions by the way).
Getting to Vianden: From Luxembourg City take the train from Central station to Ettelbruck. Once you get off the train at Ettelbruck you need to take 570 bus to Vianden town. The bus station going toward Vianden is to your right when exiting the station and across the street (NOT the bus station directly to the left of the station). The whole journey takes about an hour but possibly longer depending how you time it with the trains/bus.
If I had to describe Luxembourg City in just 2 words it would be – pretty and quiet.
The Alzette and Pétrusse rivers cut through Luxembourg city and this has created deep gorges in the terrain. (So prepare yourself for some uphill walking!) But this is part of what makes Luxembourg City so lovely- it is built around its natural beauty.
There are some great viewpoints of parts of the city since half of it is set lower down. This makes for some fantastic photo opportunities.
I was surprised by how chilled out it was. Cities with lots of energy and noise can be great but it is nice to get away from that too. It never felt over crowded or stressful in Luxembourg.
We spent pretty much the entire second day just wandering about Luxembourg City.
Some highlights were:
-Notre Dame Cathedral (free entry)
-Fort Thüngen – behind which is the modern art museum and the old and new architecture side by side is quite cool.
–Casemates du Bock – we chose not to pay to explore the casemates but they are an interesting part of Luxembourg’s history. They’re basically underground passages, some of which were built as early as 1644. They were used for housing equipment and horses as well as workshops, kitchens, bakeries and slaughterhouses. You can see parts of the casemates in the stone from below. It’s worth heading there anyway because there’s a fantastic viewpoint of part of the city here (you dont need to pay to go to the viewpoints).
-Place d’Armes – if you are walking around Luxembourg of a weekend and wondering where all of the people are, you will proabably find them here.
-Palace of the Grand Dukes – one of the smaller palaces I’ve seen in my life. Luxembourg is a Grand Duchy. This might sound like a silly word but it means the country’s head of state is a monarch with the title of Grand Duke or Duchess. In Luxembourg’s case that is Grand Duke Henri- this palace is his official residence.
-The Chocolate House – lucky for Grand Duke Henri, he lives right opposite a nice cafe that serves all different hot chocolate flavours that come in a block on a spoon which you melt in the hot milk. (I went for the hazelnut one and it was yummy!).
-‘Barrio Grund’ (a viewpoint) – you will find it marked on Google Maps. I recommend walking from here to the Casemates du Bock.
-Place de la Constitution – flags, statues, views and a little garden. Its a nice little stop off point here.
Before I wrap up this blog I just wanted to mention some traditional Luxembourgish food I got to try! Not many restaurants serve Luxembourgish meals but I came across Am Tiirmschen* – a restaurant in the old town of Luxembourg City- and they served a traditional dish called Kniddelen. These are potato dumplings similar to gnocchi and they serve them with bacon and a cream sauce (you can also get it without the cream sauce).
It might not be for everyone but I LOVED it. I don’t usually talk about food on my blog nor am I the kind of person that takes 30 minutes getting the perfect food shot (it honestly baffles me when I see people letting their meals go cold in order to get an ‘instagram worthy’ photo).
But I wanted to give Kniddelen the recognition it deserved.
*I recommend booking a table at Am Tiirmschen in advance. You can do this on their website. We saw a couple get turned away because they had no reservation.
Luxembourg may be a small country but there’s lots I didn’t have time to see. I know there are also lots of great nature trails around the country so if I was to return I would definitely do a bit of hiking! If you have been to Luxembourg or have any recommendations I have not included in the blog let me know in the comments!