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48 Hours in Luxembourg, A Tiny City With a Big Heart

 

 

Sandwiched between France, Belgium and Germany, the tiny country of Luxembourg is often overlooked as a place for a European getaway, and certainly isn’t as popular as the likes of Paris, Brussels and Berlin. However, Luxembourg’s charming capital city, which shares the same name, is fast becoming one of the hottest places to visit in 2018. With an interesting blend of modern and historic landmarks, as well as an abundance of things to see and do, it’s the perfect underrated city break destination to add to your travel bucket list. Luxembourg was the second stop on my recent European interrailing adventure with my sister, and here’s what we got up to during our time in this pretty city, and what you should do there too…

 

Purchase the Luxembourg Card

 

 

Now I don’t often rave about these city cards as I’ve never really felt the need to purchase one before, but the Luxembourg Card was hugely beneficial to us during our time in the city. My pre-conception was that it would be just for entry to exhibitions and museums and, given that I’m not really an indoorsy kinda person, I didn’t think we would use this card much at all. However, we were unlucky with the weather on our first day in Luxembourg and this card was an absolute god send on what could have been a really miserable day. The card gave us free access to many museums and small exhibitions and came in super handy when we were trying to dodge the horrendous rain that was intermittent throughout the day. We also used the cards for free public transport to and from the train station which came in useful, and we probably would have used it a lot more if we’d have had more time to explore the rest of the country. Big thanks to Sandy and the rest of the Visit Luxembourg team for gifting these fantastic cards to my sister and I, we felt they made a huge difference to our short time in their beautiful city!

 

Visit The Casemates du Bock Exhibition

 

Spent this morning dodging the rain and staying underground here in #Luxembourg. ☔️ We paid a visit to The Casemates, a series of secret tunnels that formed the country's excellent fortification system back in the 1600s. Once one of the most envied fortresses in Europe, and now a UNESCO world heritage site, a visit to The Casemates are an absolute must on your visit to this pretty city! 😍 . . . #VisitLuxembourg #IgersLuxembourg #LoveLuxembourg #LuxLife #JessDoesEurope #WanderlustWednesday #travel #travelblogger #lonelyplanet #mytinyatlas #darlingescapes #travelgram #instatravel #inspo #interrailing #europe #cities #capitals #citybreaks #icelollyloves #holidays #vacation #girlslovetravel #wanderlust #lonelyplanet #girlsvsglobe #travellover #travelinspo #inspo

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One of the most popular tourist attractions in Luxembourg, and perhaps the most ancient too, the Casemates du Bock are a series of underground tunnels which were used as defence works as part of the city fortress that protected the country from enemy fire during the many wars Europe endured. Housing thousands of soldiers, the Casemates were also home to workshops, bakeries and kitchens. The first passages were built in 1644, during the Spanish domination, and were in use for over 200 years when they were finally dismantled in 1867. Upon partially demolishing the fortress, over 17km of the passages remained in tact and were left in place as they were in such good condition. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Casemates are fascinating both to look at, and to walk around, and visitors are able to join an interactive exhibition as they meander their way through a series of tunnels and chambers and discover the history behind these impressive defence works. We did the Casemates whilst escaping the rain and it’s the perfect activity to do when the weather isn’t great – entrance is free with the Luxembourg Card!

 

Hike the Wenzel Walk

 

Fairytales are found at every corner in #Luxembourg and here's the cities very own little mermaid 🐬 Her name is Melusina, wife of King Siegfried, and the couple were happily married for many years. One of the conditions of their marriage was that Melusina required one day a week where she was totally alone, and the King was forbidden to see her from morning til night on this day. Everything went swimmingly until, one day, curiosity got the better of the King and he spied on his wife through the keyhole of their bathroom. To his horror the King saw an enormous fish tail at the end of Melusina's body and, once her secret had been discovered, she let out an almighty scream in rage that the King had betrayed her. Legend has it that Melusina jumped straight into the Alzette River, never to be seen again. ✨ Have you ever been to a fairytale city like Luxembourg? I love myths and legends so this place ticked all the boxes for me! 🇱🇺 #visitluxembourg #igersluxembourg #loveluxembourg #luxlife #liveluxembourg #riveralzette #fairytales #mermaid #legends #myths #city

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Luckily the weather brightened up on our second day in Luxembourg and we were keen to get out and explore more of the city before we left and continued with our interrailing adventure. After leaving the city centre we stumbled upon a signpost which signalled the start of a circular walk showcasing some of Luxembourg’s prettiest features and knew that we immediately wanted to go on an expedition to discover more about this fascinating city. The Wenzel Walk was named after Wenceslas II, the Duke of Luxembourg who reigned from 1383 to 1419 and erected part of the third wall during this time. Starting at the Bock Promontory, past the Wenceslas Wall and the stunning Neumunster Abbey, you’ll spot the mermaid Melusina whose history has a mythical past. The walk takes approx. 1 hour to complete and you’ll end up at the Rham plateau, offering fabulous views over the Alzette valley and river of the same name below, as well as the old town and the Luxembourg fortress. We loved taking some time to explore the rest of this city by foot and the Wenzel walk  is a popular route enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

 

Admire the Grand Ducal Palace

 

 

The official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, the Grand Ducal Palace is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the entire city, and one of the most impressive too. It’s stunning façade and Renaissance décor make it a photographer’s dream, and it’s location right in the heart of the city centre and in the middle of the old town ensures thousands of tourists visit the site year after year. We actually stumbled upon the Palace by accident after stopping at renowned café The Chocolate House for cake and hot chocolate and gazing out the window in awe at the splendid building that was directly opposite. It was only when we saw the guards and security staff outside that we realised we had found the Palace, and it certainly was a sight to behold. Despite being closed during winter, you can actually take a tour of the inside during the summer months and can see the Palace in all it’s glory. Originally used as the City Hall back in the 1500s, the Palace was formerly the Headquarters of the Luxembourg Government before becoming the home of the Grand Duke Adolphe in 1890, and subsequent Dukes thereafter. No trip to Luxembourg is complete without visiting this gorgeous Palace, I just wish we’d had the chance to see inside during our visit!

 

Take a Day Trip to Vianden Castle

 

 

Located in the north of Luxembourg and roughly an hour’s drive from Luxembourg City, the spectacular Vianden Castle is one of the largest of its kind in Western Europe. Dating back to the 10th century, the castle was originally built in a Romanesque style and was then transformed into a Gothic masterpiece before finally being converted to a Renaissance building until it started to crumble in the 1600s. The castle was fully restored in 1977 after being transferred to State ownership by the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and is now open daily to visitors all year round (excl New Years Day and Christmas Day). Entrance to the castle is free with the Luxembourg Card, and my sister and I were dying to visit but sadly we just ran out of time and didn’t have a spare day to take a trip from the city out to Vianden. We would have loved to have spent the day in Vianden, discovering the town of the same name with it’s pretty river and views over the gorgeous valley below the castle. Vianden can be reached by car or bus from Luxembourg City and a chairlift at the starting point can take you over the valley and up to the castle for the most spectacular views. I’m hoping to go back to Luexmbourg one day just to visit Vianden as it looks right up my street!

 

Getting Around

 

 

As the city centre is so tiny, you can walk around the entire area in just a few hours and see all the sights in a short amount of time. This comes in handy if, like us, you don’t have much time to spare, but I would recommend using the Luxembourg Card if you want to head a bit further afield and explore outside of the city centre – with free transport it would be rude not to! My sister and I hiked around outskirts of the centre first, from the modern area by the train station right into the heart of the historical centre, and then discovered other areas of the city that were a little more off the beaten track. Walking is always my favourite way of getting around when exploring a new city, and it’s so easy to see everything that way in Luxembourg.

 

Where to Stay

 

The view from our breakfast area!
Image courtesy of Parc Bellevue Hotel, Luxembourg

 

We stayed at the Parc Bellevue Hotel, about a 10 minute walk from the old town, and a 20 minute walk from the train station located in Gare. When deciding on accommodation in Luxembourg I found it really hard to know where to start as I wasn’t sure where would be best for my sister and I to base ourselves, and everything was looking super expensive for our dates (Easter half term), but the Parc Bellevue ticked all the boxes and we were really happy with our choice once we got to our hotel. Sadly our train from Paris had been cancelled due to SNCF strikes (nightmare!) but we managed to hop on a later one which meant that by the time we reached Luxembourg we pretty must lost the entire day and sunset was fast approaching. The walk from the station to the hotel was super easy (just one long, straight road) and we passed some incredible buildings and beautiful architecture along the way. The hotel was part of a twin complex, with it’s sister hotel the Parc Plaza located nearby, and we benefited from breakfast, an onsite bar and restaurant and comfortable, modern en-suite accommodation in a great location. I would recommend the Parc Bellevue to anyone looking for a budget friendly, value for money hotel in a city which is really quite expensive. The fairy lights at the entrance were the perfect way to welcome us and really made our stay that extra bit special!

 

As you can see, I had the most amazing 48 hours discovering Luxembourg and ticking a new city, and a new country, off my ever expanding bucket list. As it is quite small, I really don’t think you need more than 2 nights to explore Luxembourg and really get a feel for it. However, if you had more time on your hands, you could definitely rent a car or use public transport to wander a bit further afield and discover more of this country rather than basing yourself solely in the city like I did. Have you been to Luxembourg before? I’d love to hear what you thought of it!

Love Jess x

NB. My Visit Luxembourg cards came courtesy of the Luxembourg tourism board for the purpose of this review, but all thoughts and comments are of course my own.

 

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