I find it’s such a relief when you can leave your bulletproof vest at home, they take up so much room in your hand luggage! So you’ll be pleased to know that Luxembourg is the safest country in the world. Some travel guides will tell you how pristine the capital is, and how the residents of this land-locked country are the 2nd wealthiest in the world (per capita). That they pay the highest minimum wage around and that it’s a tax haven for big corporations like Wal-Mart and Pepsi. But no travel guide I read told me just how utopian Luxembourg city is.
Have you seen the Hunger Games? Well if Europe is Panem, Luxembourg is the Capitol. With no crime to speak of (including litter, graffiti or leggings) and bags of money to go around you can just imagine how immaculate and refined the city of Luxembourg is. Plus everyone has perfect hair. It’s true that we did see 2 or 3 groups of youths but I have wondered since if they were just in fact models on their way home from their latest Hilfiger fashion shoot.
In short, the city of Luxembourg is just a little bit bizarre, if not upscale and happifying – definitely worth 24 hours of your time and a jolly little spot for a day trip. So how can you spend one day in Luxembourg and what is there to see and do in this sparkling European city?
The Perfect Luxembourg Day Trip
Just a 2 hour train ride from Paris, it is very easy to spend one day in Luxembourg. Or alternatively, if you are en route to somewhere else in Europe, Luxembourg would also make a great 24 hour pit-stop on a road trip (who doesn’t love to tick another country of the list?!) Parking is easy and the roads are pretty quiet for a city so long as you don’t hit rush hour when the city’s population triples with commuters.
There are plenty of things to do in Luxembourg in one day but ultimately the city can be broken down into 3 area’s for the tourist’s sake, this makes it easier to explain what there is to see and where.
Ville Haute (or High City) is the Medieval section of Luxembourg perched on its sandstone hill overlooking the gorge down to the river.
Ville Basse (or Low City) or more specifically The Grund is the most picturesque part adjacent to the river – more like a village than part of a city.
Gare (or Station) is a lively neighbourhood of 19th-century townhouses separated from Ville Haute by the Petrusse River.
What To Do In Ville Haute
- If you’re a foodie then a day trip to Luxembourg could be your favourite kind of day : with more Michelin starred restaurants per capita than any other city in the world (there are 12), beautifully prepared gastronomic delights are around every corner, especially in the Ville Haute. Our budget didn’t stretch to these but thankfully it means the bar is set high and most restaurants in Luxembourg come at a very high standard. Even the bustling square, Place d’Armes, which comes across as the main place for tourists on a day trip puts out high-quality fare. And, if you’re lucky some evening entertainment from the bandstand, or at the very least a great people-watching spot with your meal. Luxembourg is also home to the restaurant with the largest wine list – Chiggeri – if you’re interested.
- The old town is also the start of a popular hike known as the Vauban circular walk. The leaflet can be picked up from tourist information. Basically it takes you around the UNESCO fortifications of the city from as early as the 17th century with some great views and interesting things to see. However, the walk takes a couple of hours so if you only have a day in Luxembourg it might be worth just doing a section of it. The best panoramic views from this part of the city can be seen from the Plateau St Esprit viewpoint and the walls of the corniche which is only about half a kilometre but definitely one of the best things to do in Luxembourg.
- Luxembourg is the only remaining Grand Duchy in the world. What is that, I hear you ask? Rather than having a Queen or President, Luxembourg has a Duke (or Duchess). His name is Henri and he lives in a rather glamorous palace in the middle of Ville Haute. The whole concept feels a little bit Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to visit his home and find out what he has for breakfast or where he keeps his man-drawer but you do get a fine view of the outside. (Some guided tours are occasionally available of the Grand Ducal Palace) It’s pretty cool and definitely something to see on your day in Luxembourg.
- Nearby Place Guillaume II has some pretty impressive architecture and a large statue of King Guillaume himself but maybe more interesting to the tourist are the twice-weekly markets held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. There couldn’t be a more finer backdrop. It also hosts a section of the Luxembourg Christmas Market too if you’re visiting Luxembourg city in winter.
- If by some osmotic power Luxembourg’s wealth starts to make you feel flush the Ville Haute area is the place to go shopping. Luxembourgers clearly want you to think they’re just like the rest of us and occasionally break up the run of designer shops with cute little local boutique’s but they’re not fooling anyone – it is not normal to pay €40 for a pair of socks. However, if you are wanting to take advantage of the countries smaller tax on designer clothes head to Grand-Rue and the nearby pedestrianized cobbled streets for the main area for shopping in Luxembourg.
- Slightly outside the Ville Haute area of Luxembourg is one of the most fascinating sights of the city – the Casemates du Bock. Part of the UNESCO list for Luxembourg these extensive tunnels built into the sandstone rock go on for miles and miles! They were built as a defence system when Luxembourg belonged to the Spaniards and some go 40 meters deep! It’s always cool to go subterranean and as such, the casemates have become one of the top sights in Luxembourg. (If you don’t have time to do a tour of the casemates on a day trip to Luxembourg you can see some of the famous entrances from the Chemin de la Corniche)
The Grund (Ville Basse)
Right in the middle of Luxembourg City is the quaintest little village called The Grund. You can get to it the quick way by taking the free elevator at the end of Chemin de la Corniche. Once you’re down by the Petrusse River the old city of Luxembourg takes on a totally different perspective. Scenes belonging on an easel and an atmosphere of laid back tranquillity. Years ago these pretty streets were inhabited by craftsmen and soldiers, today this must be prime real estate because it’s impossible to beat these vistas. Just spend an hour or two ambling the cobbled streets and enjoying the pubs and restaurants of this gorgeous area of Luxembourg. Unusually there are a handful of British style pubs in this neighbourhood and the area really comes alive at night.
As you would expect from a train station location, Gare is bustling with life and noise. But even this busier neighbourhood of Luxembourg has its own charm. Almost 20% of Luxembourg’s population are immigrants from Portugal and another 30% are from other countries and Gare is where you notice this diversity. Portuguese bakeries selling Natas alongside Chinese restaurants and Italian deli’s make this a more cost-effective, and more colourful area to eat at in Luxembourg. It may not be as pretty as the old town over the river but if you like to get a feel for how the locals live in a city then find a little bit of time in your Luxembourg day trip to see the Gare area.
Luxembourg Travel Tips And Practical Information
- Accommodation in Luxembourg can be expensive but we stayed at the COQUE HOTEL (click here for the best deals) about 1 mile from the city centre. The hotel rooms were sizeable, very modern and clean and the breakfast was great, all for 60 Euros. There aren’t many places to eat nearby but the hotel is sat on a tram route straight into the city in 5 minutes and is only a couple of euros for a return ticket.
- The three official languages of Luxembourg are French, German and Luxembourgish.
- Free wifi in Luxembourg is commonplace in case you need to google anything on the run.
- Luxembourg city in a day is more than possible but bring comfy shoes – it might be relatively compact but it is set on several levels so you can do a lot of walking!
- Luxembourg’s weather is temperate from May – September (between 14 – 18 degrees on average) and you can expect snow over the winter but the temperature generally doesn’t drop below 0
- Luxembourg international airport is 8km from the city centre.
- And lastly, if your travel companion is getting on your nerves in Luxembourg, euthanasia is legal.
Overall, Luxembourg is the perfect city to spend 24 hours in and could add another country to a European roadtrip. It’s compact and fun and not like anywhere else I have ever visited – a very unique place for a day visit. Have you been? What were your impressions? Drop me a line below in the comments.
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