Luxembourg city guide

The tiniest things are often the most precious ones. Luxembourg is such a gem. It’s one of the smallest countries in the world, also one of the richest. People think it’s a city-state like Monaco or the Vatican, but it’s a little too big for that. Grand Duchy is what they call themselves. Basically it’s a monarchy with a Duke instead of a King. History aside, it’s just for the sake of being fancy. Luxembourg has been a target of conquest as soon as it became a country. They aimed to remain neutral and independent. But it was never an easy task particularly because of its location. Everyone wanted the country’s super-cool fortress. The Duke realized that it was the main reason they’re constantly being raided so he burned it. They could finally declare neutrality, like Switzerland. Germany wasn’t keen on the idea and occupied Luxembourg during both World Wars. After that they dropped the neutral mind-set, it was impossible to pull off for such a small country. And what do you do when you’re being bullied by the big boys? You form a biker gang. Luxembourg joined NATO and became one of the founding members of the EU. The rest is modern history.

Square with office buildings in Luxembourg City's business district Kirchberg (Kierchbierg)

Kirchberg (Kierchbierg) in the north east of Luxembourg City is the city's main business area with the headquarters of European institutions, banks, audit firms and other international enterprises

Being a tiny country in central Europe has many upsides, especially during peaceful times. A smaller area is easier to govern and doesn’t need to high taxation to keep the living standards up. All that sums up to low crime rates and negligible unemployment. It’s not Monaco or Dubai rich. It’s the slightly boring kind of rich like Vienna. Luxembourg is where rich people retire when they’re done partying. It’s the place where you’d rather visit with your aunt than with you friends. The capital, which goes under the same name and is also called Luxemburg City, is very charming with lots to see, taste and experience. But it’s also slow. Entire Luxembourg is a huge World Heritage Site, no wonder since it’s over 1000 years old. Place d’Armes stands in the centre of it all and has a distinct French feel to it. You will encounter cobblestone streets and cafés smelling of fresh baked pastries and all kinds of deliciousness. The nearby Place Guillaume II gets a bit livelier as it hosts popular open-air concerts. Both plazas are part of Ville Haute, the oldest part of Luxembourg. You won’t be disappointed if you’re into history. You’ll notice many stunning buildings around like the Cercle Municipal, seat of the local administration.

Luxembourg’s greatest tourist magnets are museums and fine dining. That’s, of course, in my opinion, but I doubt I’m alone on this one. Luxembourg City History Museum and the Modern Art Museum are both worth your time, if you’re into that sort of stuff. I find the Casemates much more interesting. The area called the Bock is what remains of the one of the most sought-after fortresses in Europe. Count Siegfried of Luxembourg may have burned it to avoid conflict but the ruins are still there. You can explore the walls and even the dungeons spread beneath the structure. They had all the imaginable facilities down there. With enough supplies and food stores the Dukes troops were able to withstand almost a year of siege. Some people say they’ve seen the mythical Melusine in the Bocks’ water sources. It’s a sort of a land-mermaid.

The renovated Vianden Castle located on a rock in Northern Luxembourg

Vianden Castle is one of the largest fortified castles in the Rhine area, located in the Nothern part of Luxembourg it can be easily reached from the capital

Luxembourg is so small that you can take a bike ride to the German border. Little Switzerland is to the east of the city: a truly magical area with forests perfect for trekking. It looks like something out of fantasy books, there’s even a wooden bridge over a small waterfall called Schiessentümpel. Visit one of many vineyards along the Moselle Valley, a wine tourism destination for many people. Luxembourg has a particular climate and topography that allows winemakers to grow different species of grapes. It is supposed to be top quality stuff according to people who know their wines. I’m not one of them. Knowing that it goes great with food is the extent of my expertise. There are dozens of those tiny-portions-fine-dining spots spread around Luxembourg. Restaurants here have been granted a total 12 Michelin Stars. That is a lot for such a small city. Chefs at Mosconi and Ma Langue Sourit have won 2 stars each so it might be hard to book a table. Clairefontaine is also held in high regard in the international foodie community. Might be easier to get in while it still has “only” one star.

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