If you are planning a Europe tour, then I will recommend Luxembourg (the country and city), for your must-see list of destinations. To say the least, Luxembourg is like an unexplored but brilliant gem, hidden amongst its more famous neighbours: Belgium, France, and Germany. During my many years of work and stay in the Benelux region (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) I had the good fortune of visiting this scenic country, more than once. Otherwise, as a travel and tourism destination, Luxembourg often gets overlooked, by international tourists. But in recent years, Luxembourg or the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (official title) is gaining increasing popularity amongst both international and European tourists. Below, I have shared my personal brief insight into the magic that is Luxembourg, to help you plan your travel to this rich and diverse tourist destination.
Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world and in the European Union. But every time I have visited this small-sized tourist destination, it has packed a punch in its rich and varied offerings. Purely based on distance, you can travel across the length and breadth of the entire country in a few hours. But then, if you indulge yourself in any one aspect of this awesome country, it will mesmerize you and keep you busy for days with its rich history, medieval castles, natural beauty, cultural appeal, monuments, fantastic cuisines and friendly people with their laid-back attitude.
Travelling in Luxembourg
My ideal travel duration for tourism in Luxembourg is somewhere between 3 to 7 days. The entire city centre of the Luxembourg city is now an enchanting and awe-inspiring, protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. My favourite way to enjoy travel in Luxembourg is driving along the picturesque roads, but you also have excellent alternatives in the form of trams, trains, and busses. Luxembourg is one of the first countries in the world that is aiming for ‘free public transport’, starting in early 2020. So, if you are planning your trip in 2020, that is something you may want to factor into your plans.
Top cities and places to visit in Luxembourg
Though I have travelled multiple times, across the length and breadth of Luxembourg, three places have captured a permanent place on my mental landscape: Vianden, Echternach and Luxembourg city (not necessarily in that order). As a result, I have visited these cities time and again, over different seasons, and every time discovered a novel, undiscovered facet in them. Whether you plan a short visit or a slightly longer one, if you spread it over these three destinations, it will give you a fantastic insight and experience of this awesome land and culture that is Luxembourg.
Vianden (Vianden Castle or Chateau de Vianden)
As you turn the corner on the road, and the first views of Vianden town start appearing, you realise this town is straight out of a fairy tale book. This amazingly, picturesque town is complete with breath-taking views of the Our
river valley, the cobble-stoned streets, beautiful houses with all their historic charm intact; and to top it all the dominating structure of the charming Vianden Castle-Palace, placed on top of a rock overlooking the entire town. Whether you travel with your partner, alone or with a big group of family and friends, this is one unforgettable experience that will stay permanently etched in your memory, throughout your life. You can visit the Maison Victor Hugo
(Victor Hugo’s house which is now a Museum), take a guided tour of the Vianden Castle, a simple evening walk along the cobble-stoned central street called Grand Rue
or enjoy walks and treks along the Our
river valley. By the end of your stay in Vianden, this small town will have cast its unique and powerful magical spell on you forever.
Echternach in Luxembourg
After that castle-town experience, the Abbey-town of Echternach is a time-machine, wherein you will find yourselves walking the streets of the Medieval and Gothic periods of European history. Echternach is located on the banks of another river, the Sauer. In this oldest town of Luxembourg (also called ‘Little Switzerland’ by some), you can visit the Echternach Abbey, the serene Abbey grounds, the quaint Monastery, the hidden crypts in the Saint-Willibrord Basilica, the Abbey Museum and the part of the Abbey that now runs a Secondary School. You can actually walk along the corridors of history, as you stroll through the picturesque old town, lined by old Gothic-style houses, enjoy the Market Square (Marktplaatz
) while absorbing the historic appeal of epic monuments like the Palace of Justice (Denzelt
) and the Cross of Justice. If you need to escape into nature, you can enjoy a trek along the multiple scenic trails in the surrounding woods or a picnic along the Echternach lake. If you are of a deeper historical bent of mind, you can plan your trip around the famous ‘Dancing Procession’ which is an annual event around the months of May or June; now another part of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list from Luxembourg.
The entire old city centre of Luxembourg city along with its historic fortifications is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though the city is not too big in terms of size or population, the geographical location and layout are one of the most complex and mysterious that I have seen. This rich and complex structure of the city makes it another experience in Luxembourg that goes far beyond mere words and descriptions. This city too is located on the river banks, in fact on the confluence of two rivers, the Alzette,
and the Pétrusse
. As a result, the complex layout of Luxembourg city is spread across multiple physical levels, separated by narrow river valleys, joined by various picturesque bridges including the Adolphe Bridge and the Luxembourg Viaduct. You can enjoy walks along the old city streets, a visit to the Palace of the Grand Duke, the fortifications systems, the casemates, the old fortress, and the Notre-Dame Cathedral. To balance this old world charm with the modern, you can visit the Museum of Modern Art and the various European Union Institutions in the Kirchberg Quarter including the European Investment Bank and the European Court of Justice. Luxembourg city is another must-see destination that will grow on you as you explore all the hidden secrets of the multitude, mysterious and enchanting cityscapes of this gem of a city.
However hard you try, there are some places that are difficult to describe entirely in words, and Luxembourg tops my list of such places. Luxembourg is an experience that will make home in your heart, and keep pulling at your heart-strings wherever you travel in life after that. If you ever choose to visit Luxembourg after reading my review, please, please don’t forget to share your comments and experiences, and through your experiences, I too will travel along the scenic trails of this magical destination once again. Attribution for images: Pixabay.com, Unsplash.com