A few years ago, my husband and I decided to take a trip during the holidays and spend New Year’s Day in Belgium. We took in the sights in Brussels and spent a day touring the town of Bruges. While vacationing in Belgium, we knew there was one thing we didn’t want to miss—a chance to visit Luxembourg, one of Europe’s smallest and least populated countries.
Luxembourg is a tiny country roughly the size of Rhode Island with a population of just over half a million. It’s situated between Belgium, Germany, and France, so it is an easy, fast day trip to make if you are visiting nearby. You can fly in from most major airports or take the bus from any of the three bordering countries. No pre-planning is required, just buy a bus ticket for around €15-20 and go!
That was exactly what we did. Time was short, so we decided to pop over to Luxembourg for a mere 24 hours. The next morning, we booked an overnight hostel and hopped on a bus. Only three hours later, we were strolling through the streets of Luxembourg City.
Hour 1: Luxembourg Accommodations
Our first order of business was to check into the hostel we were staying at across the Adolphe Bridge. The walk to where our hostel was located was gorgeous. Luxembourg City is very enchanting and, despite being modern, still retains its medieval charm. Across the bridge and in the lower part of the city (quite literally, as one part of the city is within the old walls and the other sits below, outside of the walls), the snowy streets and buildings appeared almost as though they had come to life from a painting.
The hostel was a little overpriced for a single bed in a basic dorm room meant for six, but fortunately, there were no other guests staying in the room so we had the space all to ourselves. For just one night, we didn’t mind the accommodations. However, if you plan to stay longer, I recommend searching for a private room or a hotel. Unfortunately, these options can be a bit pricey, so be sure to budget before you go!
Hours 2-11: Luxembourg Sightseeing
After checking into the hostel, we spent a long time wandering the streets of the Luxembourg Old City and enjoying the views. The Old City in Luxembourg is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see. One of the highlights of the Old City was without a doubt Neumünster Abbey, a sprawling abbey with a long history dating back to the 1600s (or even longer, if you count the original abbey it was built on top of).
Perhaps most fascinating of all were the old tunnels, called the Casemates du Bock. These tunnels remain from defensive fortifications built in the seventeenth century. Unfortunately, due to the lighting, I don’t have any quality photos of this experience. However, I hope this encourages you to go and see it for yourself!
Apart from these monuments, there are many interesting museums (including the Nationalmusée um Fëschmaart), and several other impressive churches, such as the Église Saint-Alphonse and the Notre-Dame de Luxembourg. We took our time touring around the museums and churches for the better part of the afternoon. Since we were only in the city for a single day, we didn’t have a set itinerary and instead visited whatever caught our interest in the moment.
Hours 12-13: Dinner Time and Luxembourg Window Shopping
As we meandered through the alleys and streets and made our way toward the main square, or the Place d’Armes, we passed by a variety of expensive boutiques and high-end shops. Fortunately, as a tourist, food and museum entry fees were quite affordable. We had a delicious meal of soup and soft, baked bread to warm us up after our stroll in the chilly January weather, followed by some delicious hot chocolate!
Although the national language of Luxembourg is Luxembourgish, almost everyone that we interacted with spoke enough English for us to communicate well, so we had no problem getting around and navigating the city. We also heard a lot of French and German spoken, although this is no surprise since Luxembourg is bordered by France, Germany, and Belgium.
Hours 14-24: Bedtime to Morning Stroll in Luxembourg
After supper, we slowly worked our way back to the hostel and turned in for the night. The next morning, we woke up early to enjoy another stroll around the city, along with a quick coffee and pastry from a nearby café, before heading back to the bus station. My husband and I are both foodies and love sampling local cuisine wherever we go. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to really enjoy the Luxembourg culinary experience in our limited time. The next time we visit, we plan to stay longer and eat more!
Obviously, in just 24 hours, we did not have time to leave the city and explore the countryside. However, we were able to see and experience quite a lot in our short time there. Not to mention, because it was January, we practically had the city all to ourselves!
Luxembourg Bucket List
If we had more time in Luxembourg, there are a few must-see sites that I would love to visit. The first of these would be Vianden Castle. Vianden Castle is located roughly 22 kilometers north of Luxembourg City. It’s a gorgeous, Romanesque castle that dates all the way back to the tenth century when it was used as a Roman outpost.
Another location on my wish list would be the vineyards in Moselle Valley. These vineyards, just 20 kilometers away from the city, make up Luxembourg’s only wine-growing region and produce St. Martin, Riesling, and Crémant de Luxembourg, which is very similar to champagne.
Finally, the next time I go to Luxembourg, I would love the chance to see Mullerthal, or “Little Switzerland,” as it has been nicknamed. Mullerthal is a gorgeous region located around 17.5 kilometers to the east of Luxembourg City. There are a lot of fantastic places to go hiking there. Its hills and waterfalls are often compared to the Swiss Alps.
Luxembourg Top Five Round-Up
If you want to feel as though you’ve been transported back in time (and without an overflow of tourists!), I definitely suggest visiting Luxembourg in the wintertime. Although the days were short and cold, the city and surrounding countryside were picturesque with a beautiful dusting of snow and ice. Seeing the winter landscape from over the ramparts of the city at sunset was one of the most magical and memorable moments of our trip. It truly looked like a scene from a fairy tale.
Here are the top five places I recommend visiting, especially if you’re traveling under time constraints:
- Old Quarters and surrounding fortifications
- Casemates du Bock
- Adolphe Bridge
- Neumünster Abbey
- National Museum of Art and History
I highly recommend visiting Luxembourg as a day trip if you’re nearby, even if only for a few hours. Although we were there for only a single night, Luxembourg City has stood out for both my husband and I as one of the most memorable cities that we’ve visited. But don’t take my word for it—go and see it for yourself the next time you’re vacationing nearby!
Interested in learning more about planning your own European adventure? Check out this guide to the best things to see in Split, Croatia.