Top Things to Do in Luxembourg
Top Things to Do in Luxembourg
Would you like to visit a beautiful country with magical villages, castles and forests that looks like a fairytale? I would, that’s why I recently spent a long weekend in Luxembourg during Christmas time. Let me share with you my list of Top Things to Do in Luxembourg.
Officially called Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, it is a small country in Western Europe bordered by France, Germany and Belgium. It has influences from the neighbour countries, for example in the languages spoken: French and German that sum up to Luxembourgish, the national language.
Luxembourg’s historical legacy is very rich dating back to 963, when Siegfried the Count of Ardenne acquired the Bock Promontory, a massive rocky ledge where he built his castle in the place that is now Luxembourg City. Since then Luxembourg has played a key role throughout the centuries in the European history. Nowadays it is a developed country, combining tradition and modernity, and Luxembourg City is one of the official capitals of European Union.
Even if it is one of the smallest countries in Europe, with 2500 square kilometres, Luxembourg has a diverse offer to visitors. From the multicultural and vibrant capital, to typical villages with castles and fortresses, and natural parks with scenic trails and ancient forests… You will find plenty of options for a few days getaway.
It is quite easy to get to Luxembourg. There are direct flights from many European cities and you can also travel by train from the neighbour countries.
While in Luxembourg you can either use the public transports network to travel around, or rent a car. I decided to rent a car for one day to have more flexibility to go to the places I wanted to visit outside of Luxembourg City and optimise the short time available. But I heard that the public transports work quite well, so it can be an option if you prefer not to drive.
I recommend to stay in Luxembourg ideally for a minimum of 3 days: 1 to 2 days to visit the capital, and at least 1 day to explore the countryside and the surrounding villages.
I went to Luxembourg in late November, which was the perfect timing. The country was still covered with a blanket of leaves and dressed with beautiful Autumn colours. But the Christmas Markets were already opened in Luxembourg City. And I experienced the first snowfall of the year while visiting a Christmas Market, which was magical.
Now let me share my favourite Top Things to Do in Luxembourg for a perfect getaway. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Explore Luxembourg Old Town
If I had to describe Luxembourg City in two words, they would be probably charming and scenic. Combining historical sites with a twist of modernity and many natural parks, it is the perfect city to explore walking and getting lost in its many corners and diverse areas.
It was declared in 1994 a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the exceptional preservation of the old quarters and the vast fortifications around the city. In fact several times when I was walking around Luxembourg, I had the feeling of getting back in time.
Luxembourg is built in two different levels, therefore it has an upper and a lower part. The upper part was built on the ancient Bock Rock Promontory, whilst the lower part lies by the shores of Alzette river gorge. If you really want to know the city, you should take enough time to explore both areas.
Start your journey walking by the Old Town in the upper part of Luxembourg. Get lost in the ancient streets where you will find in every corner beautiful historical buildings, palaces and squares like Place Guillaume II or Place d’Armes with many options of restaurants and bars. In the streets around those squares there are lots of international and local shops, making it also a great shopping destination.
Don’t miss in this area some of the city most important sites. Stop by Notre Dame Cathedral, built in the 17th century which is now one of the most beautiful monuments in the country.
Not far away from the Cathedral at the heart of the Old Town, you will find the Grand Ducal Palace with an impressive facade. It was built originally in the 16th century to be the Town Hall of the city, and later in the 19th century it gained an annex for the Parliament. Currently it is the city residence of the Grand Ducal Family. It opens to visitors during the Summer months.
Don’t forget to see the iconic Golden Lady, a statue in the Constitution Square built in 1923, which is now a memorial to all Luxembourgers who fought in the two World Wars and also in Korea. From this area you will have some great views to Adolphe Bridge and the surrounding valley.
Admire the Views from Chemin de la Corniche
When in Luxembourg, don’t miss the views from Chemin de la Corniche, running along the Alzette valley from the Bock Promontory up to the lower part of the citadel.
It’s easy to understand why it has been called by the Luxembourg writer Batty Webber “the most beautiful balcony in Europe”. The views to the city district of the Grund and the valley of Alzette river are stunning. This was one of my favourite places in the city.
Get lost in the Grund
The Grund district is located in the fortified lower part of the capital. You can get there taking an elevator (Saint Esprit lift), walking by small streets heading down the city or by Chemin de la Corniche – you will find several staircases and paths taking you to the lower part of the city.
It has a completely different vibe from the centre in upper Luxembourg, with a relaxing atmosphere of a small village. Just take some time wandering around the pedestrian cobbled stone streets with beautiful stone buildings and some restaurants.
You will get to Neumünster Abbey, one of the places not to miss in Luxembourg. Consisting in a church and four wings enclosing an inner courtyard, it was built as a church in the 16th century. Later it was used later as a military hospital and a prison. Only in 2004, after 10 years of restoration works, it reopened to the public as a cultural and conference centre.
The area around Neumünster Abbey was one of my favourites in the city. Don’t miss a walkway by Alzette river with views to the Abbey and to a picturesque bridge. In the bridge there are some stairs taking you down to a natural area at the shores of the river which was covered with a blanket of orange and brown leaves.
In this area you will eventually find a mermaid statue with an interesting tale. According to the legends, Count Siegfried, the founder of Luxembourg, was walking by the river when he saw a beautiful princess. He fell in love with her and proposed her marriage. She accepted with one condition – on Saturdays he should leave her alone in her room without disturbing her. They lived happily for many years until one day the Count could not resist to look through the keyhole and saw her splashing in a pool, with her body ending in a fish tail. The beautiful princess was after all Melusina, the nymph of the Alzette. When she discovered that her secret has been revealed, Melusina was swallowed up by the earth. Since then the nymph was sealed in the Bock Promontory and only reappears every seven years.
Visit the Bock Casemates
The Bock Casemates is a network of underground fortifications with kilometres of subterranean tunnels built on several levels. It was initially carved in the 17th century and it has been extended twice as a subterranean defence system.
Nowadays the Bock Casemates has become one of the most known highlights in Luxembourg, but unfortunately when I visited it was temporarily closed. Nevertheless I had the opportunity to walk by the entrance area where I could be delighted with some of the best views to the Grund and Pfaffenthal districts.
Take the Panoramic Elevator of Pfaffenthal
Pfaffenthal is another Luxembourg district in the lower part of the city which is also full of history. Located by the river Alzette, it was home to many craftsmen like tanners that manufactured leather gloves in ancient times. The first hospital and maternity of the city were also established in this area.
Nowadays it’s very enjoyable to have a walk by the district, which seems to be a nice and calm neighbourhood with some gardens and open areas.
Take the free Panoramic Elevator of Pfaffenthal to get there. This glass elevator with 71m high offers some great views to the valley.
Chase Ancient Castles
Did you know that Luxembourg has more than 100 castles? Being a castle lover, chasing the most beautiful castles in the country was the perfect plan for a one day trip from Luxembourg City.
It’s easy to understand why there are so many castles in this small country. Luxembourg is bordered by powerful neighbours, so throughout the centuries it needed to build many defensive castles to protect the country. So you will find an amazing diversity of castles, palaces, large residences palace-like and manor houses.
Some of the most known castles in the country are Vianden, Bourscheid, Larochette, Beaufort, or Clervaux. There is also an area called “Valley of the 7 Castles” by Eisch Valley where you can see seven beautiful castles over a 25 km scenic drive – Hollenfels, Schoenfels, Mersch, Septfontaines, Koerich and two castles in Ansembourg.
I will share more details about the ones that I’ve visited – Vianden, Beaufort and Larochette.
Visit Vianden Castle and Village
I started my quest for Luxembourg castles in Vianden, one of the most recognized attractions in the country (and undoubtedly one of the highlights of my trip).
Vianden is a picturesque and scenic village located in the Eislek region (also known as the Luxembourg Ardennes), on both banks of Our river and surrounded by magnificent hills, forests and magnificent natural landscapes. Spend some time walking by the cobbled stone streets of Viaden’s centre and the Ourdal promenade, a trail starting in Vianden by the shores of Our river.
Even if it’s a small village, there are also some interesting museums like the Museum of the History of Vianden or Victor Hugo Museum. The author of the famous book “Les Miserables” spent some time in Vianden in 1871, while he was in exile from France. The house where he lived was transformed in a museum.
Head to Vianden Castle, which is located at the top of a hill, less than 10 minutes walking from the village centre. It was built between the 11th and the 14th centuries on the foundations of a Roman castle, and it was renovated many times throughout the centuries.
This was one of the most beautiful castles I’ve already been to and it’s totally worth to visit. The regular ticket costs 10 euros and you can access a very interesting exhibition of the different areas of the castle, where you will find out more about the life at the castle. You can also know more about the history of Vianden and the role it played in Luxembourg history. From the terrace you have great views to the surrounding village and nature.
If you’re a fan of chairlifts, in Vianden you will find the only one in the Grand Duchy. I didn’t have time to take it, but I read it goes up to a height of 440m and offers panoramic views of Our valley, the castle and the village.
Last but not least, for the best views of Vianden village and Castle, stop by the road heading down to Vianden. At the right side of the road there is a pedestrian path from where you will take the most beautiful pictures of Vianden.
Admire Beaufort Castle
Dating from the 11th century, this medieval fortress is located in the idyllic countryside of Beaufort next to the Mullherthal natural region. It has an adjacent Renaissance château with remarkable indoors.
Next to the castle there is a beautiful lake and forests where you can spend some time walking by and admiring the surrounding nature.
Be aware that the castle can only be visited on a guided tour.
Not far away from Beaufort, it’s worth to stop by Larochette, another beautiful village located in a narrow valley by the shores of White Ernz river and surrounded by forests.
In La Rochette walk by the old streets leading to a medieval square with castle views.
At the top of a hill heading the village, stands out Larochette Castle which is now partially in ruins. It is possible to visit the castle only in certain months, but it was closed when I went there at the end of November.
Explore Mullerthal Region
If you love nature and outdoors, don’t miss the Mullerthal Region at the heart of Luxembourg. This area is often referred as the Little Switzerland, because its landscapes reminds the Swiss ones.
In this area you will find forests, rock formations, waterfalls and trails in the nature that are a great plan for a daytrip. The famous Mullerthal Trail has 112 km passing along the natural beauties of this region, so if you are a hiking fan don’t miss this.
I didn’t have enough time to fully explore this region, but I stopped by some forests covered in Autumn coloured leaves and it was a great experience.
Celebrate Luxembourg Christmas Markets
Last but not least, if you visit Luxembourg during Christmas time like I did, you will be delighted by the Christmas Markets – Winterlights – around Luxembourg City. This year the markets are open from November 19th until January 2nd.
During more than one month, Luxembourg City embraces the magic of Christmas and it becomes a Winter wonderland. If offers more than 100 chalets and many attractions like a ferris wheel, an ice skating rink or a miniature train spread out in 9 different locations in the city.
My favourites were the Christmas Market in Constitution Square and the one at Guillaume II Square. I spent there quite some time enjoying the season vibes and having some delicious meals with the typical hot wine.
I will share one last tip. For the best views of Constitution Square Christmas Market with the ferris wheel, go to Adolph Bridge and take some pictures!
For more travel inspiration in Europe during Winter and Christmas time, don’t miss my Travel Guides to Vienna, Bratislava and Bavaria in Germany.