How much do you know about Luxembourg? We all know it’s there. Somewhere in central Europe. But not that many of us have been there or even know that much about it. Having recently spent a long weekend there, I’d like to share with you 5 reasons why I think Luxembourg should be high on your list of places to visit.
Why visit Luxembourg?
This tiny landlocked country is tucked neatly between Germany, Belgium and France. Though small, it has a lot to offer, yet it is all too often overlooked as a holiday or short break destination.
1. Luxembourg City
Luxembourg City may be one of Europe’s smallest capitals, but it is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful. This beauty is found in the city’s architecture, both ancient and modern. The Old Quarter and Fortification are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and are fabulous to wander around and explore.
This beauty is also found in its parks and woodlands, covering about one third of the city. It is known as the green heart of Europe
I also loved the city’s wonderfully rich cultural diversity, which comes as no surprise when you learn that its population hails from over 150 different nations. German, French and Luxembourgish are the official languages in Luxembourg, but many others, including English, are also widely spoken.
2. The Countryside
While there is every opportunity to savour the great outdoors within the city boundaries, venture further afield and you will find some of the prettiest landscapes in Europe. It has rolling green hills, lush forests, rugged gorges and winding rivers as well as more than its fair share of majestic castles and pretty towns, set off by these stunning surroundings. It’s a compact little country and is easy to get around, so whether your preferred mode of transport is a car, train, bicycle or your feet, be sure to get out of the city and enjoy the countryside of Luxembourg.
3. The Castles
Speaking of castles, while there I visited a number of beautiful examples, most notably the fairytale medieval castles of Vianden (pictured below) and Bourscheid, both of which are surrounded by dense green forests, and provided wonderful subjects for my camera.
If you want to visit all the country’s castles, however, you’ll need an extended stay, as there are reputedly over one hundred in total, many of which are open to the public.
4. Museums, galleries and the photography of Edward Steichen
There are a great many wonderful museums and galleries in Luxembourg, but one of the quirkiest lies four floors below street level, inside a tunnel that once connected four of Luxembourg City’s banks. Here you’ll find the contemporary art gallery Am Tunnel, of the Banque et Caisse d’Epargne de l’Etat Luxembourg. This underground chamber provides a unique setting for the bank’s collection of contemporary art from Luxembourg, as well as a collection of photographs by Edward Steichen and additional temporary exhibitions.
It is in the 12th century Clervaux Castle in the north of the country, however, that you’ll find Edward Steichen’s world-famous photography collection, Family of Man. Left to Clervaux in 1964, the exhibition consists of 273 black-and-white, mid-20th-century photos from 68 countries, interspersed with quotations, designed as a ‘mirror of the essential oneness of mankind’.
5. Food and drink
Traditional cuisine is wholesome and hearty. Think dumplings, Bratwurst sausages and German style beers. It comes as no surprise though, that the food and drink scene in Luxembourg also reflects its multicultural society, with cuisines from all around the world well represented.
And to wash it all down you’ll find some great local wines, particularly the sparkling wine of the Moselle Valley.
During my visit I also discovered a fabulous local cider, Ramborn, and I was delighted to see the elderflower and sparkling wine based cocktail, Hugo, commonly on offer. It’s a popular drink right across this region of Europe, and my favourite cocktail on a warm summer’s day.
For quality, traditional cuisine in Luxembourg City try Am Tiirmschen (32 Rue de l’Eau, Luxembourg City 1449). It’s tucked away down a quirky little alley and has a very cosy atmosphere. Their kniddelen (dumplings) with smoked bacon and cream are a must. They also do a vegetarian version. I suggest you request this in advance when booking (tel: +352 26 27 07 33).
While this may only be a glimpse of what Luxembourg has to offer, I hope it has persuaded you to visit. And I suggest you do so soon, before the rest of the world discovers what a wonderful little country Luxembourg really is.
Where to Stay in Luxembourg
In Luxembourg City I stayed in two very good hotels, the mid-range Park Inn by Radisson, which is ideally located if you wish to explore the Old Quarter, and the stylish Meliá Luxembourg in the heart of the Kirchberg financial district, just a short drive from the airport.
above: the Meliá Luxembourg, below: Kirchberg financial district
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Thank you to Visit Luxembourg, the sponsors for my visit to Luxembourg.