Exploring Luxembourg in a Weekend
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
Seeing all of Luxembourg in a weekend is impossible, even though it’s one of the smallest countries in the world.
The country is only 2 586 square kilometers yet has its own language- Luxembourgish. Everyone there typically speaks at least two if not all of the four languages including Luxembourgish, German, French, and English. Luxembourg has a mix of cultures, making it interesting and unique to travel to.
To explore the best of Luxembourg in one weekend, I’d recommend staying one day in Luxembourg City and one day on a roadtrip around the countryside.
Day 1 – Exploring Luxembourg City
Luxembourg City is very easy to get around just by walking. The city has wi-fi available and plenty of clean and free public washrooms. We also took transit for part of our trip, it was just two euros for two hours of travel and relatively easy to figure out. It’s also quite popular for people to rent bikes in Luxembourg City, however since bicycle theft is a serious issue you will have to pay a 150$ deposit before renting. Because we went on a Monday, none of the museums or galleries were really open so we opted to just explore the city by foot.
City Sights – Monument of Remembrance, Notre Dame, and Adolphe Bridge
The Notre Dame Cathedral is grand and stands across from the Monument of Remembrance so we made this our destination and wandered through the city streets to get there, stopping halfway for a coffee and breakfast at a cafe. From the vantage point where the Monument of Remembrance stands with the old city walls, we walked across the Adolphe Bridge there for a great view of the city walls and forested valley below.
The valley in the middle of the City is peaceful to walk through. Once we had made our way across the bridge and explored that half, we went back through the valley instead of across it. This takes quite a bit longer but it’s an escape from the city and allows visitors to get up close to the ancient city walls.
If you follow the path through the valley and come back up near the Monument of Remembrance, you can continue on past the Monument of Grand-Duchess Charlotte. Within fifteen minutes from the old walls is the Place Guillame II and Palais Grand-Ducal. We saw the changing of the Guard at the Palais Grand-Ducal as locals walked by, if our travel bags and cameras didn’t make us stand out as tourists- that moment definitely did.
Right across the street was the afamous Chocolate House, and we stopped there for an authentic Luxembourg hot chocolate. They mount the hot chocolate flavoured cube onto a spoon and then you order a cup of hot milk and dip the flavoured hot chocolate spoon into it so it melts flavour into the mug of hot milk. There’s over twenty flavours of rich hot chocolate spoons on the Chocolate House wall. I’d recommend buying one of the spoons to go instead of staying for the mug there. It’s also going to cost a lot less to just get the spoon and that’s the most special part!
Another excellent natural area in the city is near Luxembourg’s two main museums, the MUDAM modern art museum and the Fortress Museum. This park was busy with locals and is less forested than the valley. Because it’s near the downtown area, we used this park as a long route way to get back to our apartment.
Day 2 – Country Castles
We set out early in the morning to discover some of Luxembourg’s 130 castles, the first castle we visited was LaRochette. This castle is a top rocks, looking onto the village in the valley below, and surrounded by forests. We went to the local bakery for coffee and croissants before heading up the ten minute path the the castle. To get onto the path to the castle, look for the sign for “Chateau” and the small staircase.
We admired the castle from the outside and went for a walk on the paths around the castle, the forest surrounding it was so beautiful and the castle is very unique. Although it is not fully intact anymore, the pieces still standing offer an interesting glimpse of what once was.
My favourite castle, and a must do for anyone visiting Luxembourg, was Viaden. This castle has been refurbished in the last few centuries and boasts a modern museum inside. The museum details the castle and city’s history; visitors are able to walk through all of the castle’s rooms, including the repainted chapel. In 1867, the walls were destroyed so none of the big powers occupying it could defend it using the castle. What stands today is a reinterpretation of what the castle would have looked like, a grandiose site atop a hill.
From the castle’s windows, there is an excellent view of the town of Viaden below. A hostel is right near the Viaden castle, offering a great view for guests as the castle is lit up at night. To get to Viaden, we went by car but you can also use Luxembourg’s excellent public transport system or bike. It’ll take quite some time to bike there and if you are taking a longer trip to Luxembourg, I’d highly recommend looking into a bike tour of the country.
Scenic Border Drive to Schengen
From Viaden, we took the long way home on a scenic route towards France. We passed rows of wineries and followed the Moselle river towards the town of Schengen. For most of the drive to Schengen we could look over across the water and literally see Germany.
One of the highlights of the trip to Luxembourg, for me, was visiting the the small town of Schengen. The Schengen agreement was signed here and the location itself holds symbolic significance; its located on a converging area of the French, German, and Luxembourg borders. The Schengen Agreement Monument reads “signed on 14 June 1985 and 19 June 1990 the Schengen Agreement concern[s] the gradual abolition of controls at their common borders as well as its convention for their application”. This Agreement was essentially the start of the free movement of peoples for the European Union.
The town is situated so that you can walk across a bridge over the Moselle river and into Germany. If you go a little farther, you’ll be in France. We stopped in Schengen for an ice cream and a walk along the Moselle river. The river is very peaceful with swans and we enjoyed Schengen’s relaxing small town feel.
With just two days in Luxembourg, visitors will feel the true multicultural mix of Luxembourg’s culture. This little country certainly has a lot to offer, from the city’s sights to the country castles. Exploring Luxembourg is easy, relaxing, and rewarding – it’s truly an excellent weekend getaway.