Luxembourg is one of those countries that is so close to home, I’ve always sort of ‘forgot’ to visit when I lived in Holland. From Amsterdam, it’s a about a 4 hour car ride. My dad even made the trip in his old timer MG once, so it’s definitely very doable. If you live in the south of the Netherlands, it’s only about 2,5 hours away.
Ready for a visit? This is my personal guide on what to do in Luxembourg for a weekend.
From London, I flew with LuxAir from London City Airport. This is a holiday on its own, really, especially if you’re used to flying from the crowded, confusing and far-away airports like Stansted or Heathrow. And on top of that, when taking off and landing, you’re treated to this gorgeous view:
The O2 Arena from above
What to do in Luxembourg for a weekend?
After rolling out of the vintage-looking De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400 Dash 8Q plane (yes, I googled this fact), going through customs is a breeze and right outside the terminal, you can find bus 16 (Eurobus), bus 9 or bus 114 to take you to the city center in about 15-20 minutes.
If you organise a Luxembourg Card at the airport, you can use the bus for free. The card will also get you many discounts and even free access to 69 tourist attractions!
From the Best Western Hotel where I stayed, it was only a short walk into the very accessible center. There is a nice atmosphere and because you walk straight into the shopping street, there is a good buzz of people right away.
Because I visited during the National Holiday (23 june), there were many more people on the streets as usual, although it never felt too crowded during the day, I can imagine that on a ‘normal’ weekend the city will be quite peaceful.
Where to start exploring?
The ‘Place d’Armes’ square, surrounded by bars and restaurants and many options for outdoor seating, is a great place to start exploring. I chose to visit the market on a neighbouring square, the ‘Place Guillaume II’ first. There were flowers, food stalls and handicrafts and on a sunny day like we had, it’s a perfect way to get to know Luxembourg a bit better.
The ‘Cercle Municipal’
The markets on the Place Guillaume
It’s hard to miss the statue of the former Grand Duke William II in the middle of the ‘Place Guillaume II’. On another square, you can find the ‘Hämmelsmarsch’ statue. The accordeon player is a self portrait of the sculptor Wil Lofy. This statue represents an old Luxembourgian tradition where the local music club goes through the community to invite everyone to a fair. They play the “Hämmelsmarsch” (‘sheep march’) by Michel Lentz.
Walking around the Historic Center of Luxembourg
I simply loved walking through the streets and checking out the architecture. So many pretty details on all the buildings!
Did you know the the old quarters and fortifications of the city of Luxembourg are UNESCO World Heritage Listed? You can read more about that here.
What I also liked, was the language of the local people. Beside being confused all the time thinking I was in The Netherlands because of their almost similar flags, also their pronunciation of words sometimes really sounded Dutch.
During my visit there were also a couple of piano’s placed across the city and people played on them all the time, I’ve seen this in some other cities too and think it’s such a great idea!
Visiting the Palace of the Grand Duke
With an incredible façade from the 16th century, the palace of the Grand Duke definitely gives the city a bit of extra splendour. You can visit it, or take place in one of the nice coffee places across the street and simply stare at it for a while, like I did.
Walking Tour of Luxembourg
We got a fantastic tour through the city from Marc Kieffer from the LCTO, the Luxembourg City Tourist Office. He was a very enthusiastic man, clearly loving his city and the fun thing was that he spoken over 7 languages, including Dutch! I always love hearing foreigners talk Dutch and I think he did very well!!
I can definitely recommend doing a guided tour and would check with the Luxembourg City Tourist Office for the possibilities, as they offer a wide range of guided tours.
Visiting The Bock Casemates
Did you know that under the Bock fortified castle, a unique 23 kilometers (about 14 mile) long network of casemates (tunnels) was built? These could not only shelter thousands of soldiers and their horses, but also housed workshops, kitchens, bakeries, slaughter-houses etc.
Nowadays, about 17 kilometers of the casemates remain (the part that would demolish part of the city if they would blow them up) and they are often on different levels. Tremendous stairways penetrate up to 40 metres inside the rock face. And you can visit them!
A part of the Casemates are used for theatre and music performances. Must be a unique experience! (And apparently very cold, too)
Visiting Museum Dräi Eechelen
You can find the Musée Dräi Eechelen in the restored keep of fort Thüngen. The permanent exhibition shows you a different era of the fortress in each of the casemates, as well as its influence on the country’s history.
You begin in the Middle Ages with the capture of the city of Luxembourg by the Burgundians in 1443 and end with the construction of the Adolf Bridge in 1903. There are over 600 objects and original documents to see, so I can recommend to take a bit longer than the 20 minutes before closing time that I had…
Besides the archaeological and arts-historical collection, there is also a section with historical photographs and an interactive database and audio-visual documentation in the multi-media room. Some very nice displays to browse through!
You can visit the museum by getting off the bus at the ‘Place de l’Europe’. Here you can soak up some modern architecture, like this building of the Philharmonie Luxembourg (on the right), before diving into Luxembourg’s history again.
Visiting Luxembourg during the National Holiday
As I mentioned earlier, I visited Luxembourg during their National Holiday weekend, so it was a bit more crowded and a lot more lively than usual, but still very pleasant to explore it! There were many food and drinks stalls in the streets, music and performances all around and during the evening, a huge fireworks display showed from the area where the Museum Dräi Eechelen is.
There are multiple viewing points to see the fireworks, we watched from the bridge looking out over The Bock. I can honestly say that the display was quite impressive as it lasted for about 15 minutes!!
How to get Around in Luxembourg?
Luxembourg city is really compact and easy to explore on foot. Public transport is very cheap, or even FREE with the Luxembourg Card! Another thing you could do is rent one of the city bikes. More info here.
Where to Eat and Drink in Luxembourg?
There are quite a few places to choose from when it comes to enjoying food and drinks in Luxembourg. I can recommend checking out the following:
The Chocolate House is known for… well… it’s chocolate, of course. But besides sweet bites and a variety of cakes, you can also enjoy their savoury pies and salads. When the terrace is full, like it was on the sunny day we visited, you can always sit inside on the ground floor or upstairs.
Lea Linster is a top chef in Luxembourg and in 2011 she opened a small boutique where she offers all kinds of freshly made tarts, pastries, jams and other products.
Coffee & Vintage Vibes
We discovered a couple of nice coffee places while walking around, two of them tried and tested: Kaale Kaffi > a very nice vintage clothing shop and coffee bar cross-over, where you can also order some small bites and healthy juices… and pssttt… they have wifi
and Konrad Cafe & Bar, a funky styled small bar serving lunch and alcoholic drinks.
A drink (or two)
Time for a beer? Why not visit Steiler, Luxembourg’s oldest pub…
…or one of many Irish/British/Scottish pubs that you can choose from, like ‘The Tube‘ in the heart of the city.
Somewhere to Eat
When you’re ready for a meal or a dance, head over to Essenza (& Apoteca bar in the basement)…
…or Urban, where it’s also very nice to sit outside. We were here during the World Cup and both places showed the matches on big screens, too.
As you can see, there is a lot to enjoy in Luxembourg, from shopping, eating out and visiting the historical sights… but if you’re up for a bit more adventure, no problem either. Check back soon as I’ll be writing on horseback riding and hiking in another part of Luxembourg!
Getting there: The national airline Luxair connects Luxembourg with the main European airports.
Accommodation: I had a good stay at the Best Western Grand Hotel Victor Hugo in Luxembourg City.
Activities: With the Luxembourg Card, you get FREE access to more than 60 tourist attractions in Luxembourg and public transport in the city. More info here: visitluxembourg.com/en/luxembourg-card. I visited the Bock Casemates and Museum Dräi Eechelen
Disclaimer: I was in Luxembourg on invitation of Visit Luxembourg. All opinions are, as always, my own.
Have you ever visited Luxembourg? What is your best travel tip?
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