Day 1. Exploring Luxembourg

Luxembourg is one of the world’s smallest countries, similar in size to the county of Dorset in south west England.  It’s located in north western Europe and bordered by Belgium, France and Germany.  It may only be small but it certainly packs a punch as we found out during our recent visit.

Ryanair flight to Luxembourg from London Stansted
Ryanair flight to Luxembourg from London Stansted

The previous afternoon we boarded a Ryanair flight from London Stansted to Luxembourg taking just one hour.  The airport is compact and well organised and we sailed through immigration collecting our luggage in no time at all.  We then caught Bus 16 from outside the terminal building to Hamilius on the edge of the historic old town taking a little over fifteen minutes.  An amazing thing about Luxembourg is that all public transport is completely free of charge for everyone, locals and visitors alike.  This includes buses and trains covering the entire country with no tickets being required.

Bedroom, Hotel Simoncini, Luxembourg
Our room at the Hotel Simoncini in the city centre

It was then a short five minute walk to Hotel Simoncini in the heart of the old town.  The stylish hotel incorporates a gallery with modern art work displayed on each of its floors.  We were warmly welcomed by the receptionist on duty and after quickly checking our passports she handed us our keys and we then took the lift up to our top floor suite.  We adored our spacious accommodation and after settling in, went out for a wander through the historic part of town, returning later with some food enabling us to prepare a light supper before bedtime.

Place d'Armes, Luxembourg
Place d’Armes Luxembourg

After a good night’s sleep we came to life under the invigorating power shower then popped down to the first floor breakfast room.  Here we enjoyed a selection from the cold buffet before moving on to delicious omelettes which were made to order.

Luxembourg City Hall, Place Guillaume II, Luxembourg
Luxembourg City Hall in Place Guillaume II, close to the tourist office

Two cappuccinos later, we were ready to start exploring the city centre and where better to start than at the tourist office located just around the corner from the hotel.  Here we picked up some leaflets and our Luxembourg Cards.  These cards offer excellent value as they cover more than 70 attractions not just in the city centre but the whole country with a three day card costing only €28 (£24.50).

Luxembourg city centre beside the Alzette river
Views over the Alzette river from the upper town

The city is divided into two levels with the upper part perched on a rocky plateau high above the lower town nestled in the Alzette river valley.  The old quarter is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its large number of historical buildings and fortifications.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Luxembourg
Notre Dame Cathedral, Luxembourg

Located close by was the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral so we took a look in there next (entrance free).  The cathedral took over 300 years to build and boasts three towers, stunning stained glass windows and a vaulted nave.  The crypt below the church contains the tombs of former Grand Dukes and Duchesses of Luxembourg.

Grand Ducal Palace, Luxembourg
The Grand Ducal Palace

Moving on, we viewed the exterior of the Grand Ducal Palace, this was originally the Luxembourg City Hall before becoming the permanent home to Grand Duke Adolphe in 1890.  It is now the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and it is where he performs his official duties.  The Palace is only open to visitors for part of the year and on a return visit to Luxembourg I would very much like to explore its lavish interior.

Exhibits inside Luxembourg City History Museum
Exhibits inside the City History Museum

We then visited the Luxembourg City History Museum, (open daily, admission €5 (£4.30) and included in the Luxembourg Card).  This excellent museum documents the thousand year history of Luxembourg.  It’s permanent exhibition ‘The Luxembourg Story’ is divided into four major periods from the city’s beginnings to the dynamic financial hub it has become today.

Monument of the Golden Lady, Luxembourg
Monument of the Golden Lady in Constitution Square

It was then approaching 11.00 a.m. and time for our tour of the Pétrusse Casemates, 45 minute tours €15 (£13.50).  The meeting point was in Constitution Square beneath the monument of remembrance known as the Golden Lady.  This war memorial is dedicated to the thousands of volunteers who fought alongside the French Army and the Allied Forces during both the first and second world wars when approximately 2,000 lives were lost.

Exploring the Petrusse Casemates in Luxembourg
Exploring the tunnels of the Petrusse Casemates

The Pétrusse Casemates form part of Luxembourg’s medieval fortifications and were built around 1644 and modified 20 years later to raise their height.  The guided tour was very interesting and an opportunity to get a sense of their structure along the winding underground paths and staircases.  We learnt that during the wars the Casemates also served as bomb shelters for Luxembourg residents.

cannon in Pétrusse Casemates, Luxembourg
Restored cannon in Pétrusse Casemates

This excellent tour re-opened to the public in June 2022 and now features state of the art light shows and sound effects helping to bring the underground passages to life.  It follows a one way route through the caves exiting at a point further down the hillside.  We returned to our starting point along the valley floor before climbing a flight of stone steps back up to Constitution Square.  From this square there are splendid views of Pont Adolphe and the Pétrusse Valley below.

Petrusse Valley, Luxembourg
The Petrusse valley

After a short coffee break we were re-energised and ready to embark on the 3.58 km Wenzel Walk.  It takes its name from Wenceslas II, the Duke of Luxembourg between 1383 and 1419.  It was during his reign that the Wenzel Wall was erected to protect the inhabitants of the valley.

Start of Wenzel Walk on the Bock promontory, Luxembourg
Start of Wenzel Walk on the Bock promontory

The entrance to the Bock Casemates is located at the start of the Wenzel Walk and these fortifications also contributed to the city’s defence in major conflicts and are even older than Pétrusse. Although usually open to the public, access is currently suspended whilst major renovations take place so we were unable to explore them on this occasion.

Views from the Castle Bridge, Wenzel Walk, Luxembourg
Views from the Castle Bridge on the Wenzel Walk

The walk commences from the Bock promontory near the Église Saint-Michel (St. Michael’s Church) then crosses the castle bridge leading up to a small fortification tower.  From there we walked over the remnants of the wall which was erected in 1735.  Along the Corniche there’s a balcony with some breathtaking views and lots of lovely photo opportunities.

Wenzel Walk, Luxembourg City Centre
Walking along the walls of the Wenzel Walk

The walk took us through the oldest parts of the city and to some of the fortress remains which were inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1994.  There were quite a lot of people around the Corniche but the path became much quieter further along as it wound its way up and down the hillside

Alzette river weir, Wenzel Walk
Alzette river weir along the Wenzel Walk

We followed more steps along to the Jacob Tower which houses a free to view video of the walk.  I would definitely recommend taking this clearly marked path as it runs parallel to the river passing many of the capital’s cultural and historical highlights along the route.  Further details of the Wenzel Walk can be found here.

Jacob Tower, Luxembourg
Jacob Tower, Wenzel Walk, Luxembourg

All that walking had made us thirsty so we found a shady table in Grund on a pub terrace for a little rest and refreshing glasses of beer near the base of the lift to the upper town.  After our refreshments we went up the elevator and then caught a bus to the Parc Foundation Pescatore pausing to admire the beautiful home for retired fishermen there.

Foundation Pescatore, Luxembourg
Foundation Pescatore

Continuing, we walked along the glass viewing platform and then took the Pfaffenthal Panoramic Elevator down to the Pfaffenthal district at the base of the Alzette valley.  The lift offers free access and it was fun to ride down the 71m high glass lift whilst taking in the stunning views.

Pfaffenthal Panoramic Elevator, Luxembourg
View from the panoramic lift approaching street level
Pfaffenthal elevator Luxembourg
The Pfaffenthal elevator

We then walked beneath the Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge, also referred to as the Red Bridge.

Red Bridge, Luxembourg city centre
The red bridge in Luxembourg city centre

From there it was just a short walk to the funicular up to Kirchberg.  How wonderful that even the funicular is free to ride in Luxembourg.

Kircberg funicular, Luxembourg
The Kirchberg funicular

Kirchberg is a district of gleaming modern buildings and home to the European Court of Justice.  Along with Brussels and Strasbourg it’s a centre of the European Union’s institutions and home to many international banks.

Place d'Europe, Kirchberg, Luxembourg
Place d’Europe, Kirchberg, Luxembourg

We explored the Place de l’Europe Europe square which incorporates a shopping centre, restaurants and cafes.  There was also a large Luxembourg sign facing the square but as this was in white lettering it didn’t stand out very well when photographed.

Musee Drai Eechen, Luxembourg
Musee Drai Eechelen, Kirchberg

Located to the rear of the square is the Musee Dräi Eechelen, housed inside the fully restored 18th century Fort Thüngen and approached across a drawbridge (free entry except for temporary exhibitions).  The main gallery traces Luxembourg’s history from 1443 to 1903 and after visiting, there are good views to be had from its upper terrace.

Restaurant Um Dierfgen, Luxembourg
The Um Dierfgen restaurant where we ate dinner

After such an action packed day we returned to the city centre by tram and enjoyed a rest back in our hotel suite for an hour or so before going out to dinner.  We chose to dine at Um Dierfgen, a restaurant specialising in Luxembourgish specialities close to our hotel.

Dining at Um Dierfgen, Restaurant, Luxembourg
Dining at Um Dierfgen restaurant

Whilst sipping glasses of locally produced white wine we studied the menu deciding what to have.  Our starters of frogs legs in garlic and a Luxembourg meat platter were delicious as was the rabbit in a mustard sauce served on a bed of tagliatelle for mains.  Portions were so generous that we couldn’t manage a dessert though they did look tempting as we saw them pass by.

Schueberfouer funfair, Luxembourg
Schueberfouer funfair

To round off our lovely day we took a tram to the Schueberfouer funfair which takes place in the city centre each year from late August to mid-September.  The festivities date back to 1340 when it took the form of an 8 day market in celebration of St. Bartholomew’s Day on 24th August.  The event attracts huge numbers of visitors each year and it was good fun to walk around the rides and stalls but after enjoying a large dinner we didn’t feel like going on any ourselves.

 

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69 thoughts on “Day 1. Exploring Luxembourg

  1. ishwaryaa

    Thank you for sharing your detailed post on Luxembourg filled with engaging pictures. Would love to visit this tiny yet stunning country in the near-future. Looking forward to reading more of your travel blogs!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How much would you estimate the cost to be? Considering I’m from the U.S, also well done post, I’m young and always trying to find new ways to improve in writing. This was the first post I’ve ever seen on this app/website and I already enjoyed it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Super glad you got to check out Luxembourg; the country’s on my list for a day trip from Paris, as I hope to return to Europe sometime next spring. Your trip there is serving good inspiration for my plans to go!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I think Luxembourg was one of the first European countries I visited when I first set out on my solo trip all those aeons ago. Strange for an Aussie to be in a country you could practically bicycle across in one day. The colours in your photos of the old part are just as I remember them.
    I wonder what it would be like to live in a country that has a population way less than one million.

    Liked by 3 people

          1. I was getting tired of coming home wet, despite the rain jacket they issued us with.
            But the final Sunday for the Men’s Elite was perfect weather.
            Now it is raining again…it’s been raining all year since February. I have no prior memory of such consistent “inclement” weather.

            Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s totally mind blowing that it could take so long yo build the cathedral as so many different generations of engineers and builders would have had to see it through! Still, they got there in the end. Luxembourg is such a lovely city / country to visit and the casemate tunnels were interesting too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I lived in Luxembourg for a few years and I agree that your synthesis shows the most important things. It is a very charming city to visit, clean and neat, where everything is designed with perfection in mind.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. This was a great post, Marion. I rarely see any posts or travel guides about Luxembourg. I am amazed by the inexpensive City Card and by the other free things to do. The panoramic elevator is something I’ve never seen just sitting in the middle of a city. I did look at the Wenzel Walk brochure you linked, but I think you covered it better in your post and with your photos! Have a lovely day and thank you for sharing this post.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for your interest in our day exploring Luxembourg City. The country seems to go under the radar and definitely doesn’t receive all the recognition it deserves and with a low cost city card and free transport there are even more reasons to visit. Hope you enjoy reading the rest of the series on our tour of the country. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What an absolutely gorgeous place on a picture postcard day Marion. So much to see and do and it looks like you did it all. The two level makeup of the city reminds me of our Quebec City. Thanks so much for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 3 people

  8. ThingsHelenLoves

    Lovely, lovely Luxembourg. I think it’s a bit of an underrated destination. You have showcased the city beautifully, Marion. Love the river view from the weir on the Wenzel Walk, it looks like the sort of view that hasn’t changed much in many years!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your kind words Helen. I recall that you visited Luxembourg whilst living in Germany. The country is beautiful and it definitely doesn’t receive all the credit it deserves. Let’s hope more people are tempted to visit now. Incidentally, when we booked our flights it was the cheapest Ryanair destination at that time from Stansted so even more reasons for people to visit! M.

      Like

  9. What a jam packed, wonderful day! I love visiting smaller places so I can leave feeling like I really saw it all. I don’t think I would be brave enough to try frog legs, but the dinner portions look massive, and that bed looks like a cloud to jump into after a busy day exploring.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. You are very priviledge that these countries are so close to the UK to visit (a one hour flight won’t even take me out of our country)! How amazing that transport is free for all! You had such a lovely walk through the city and I love the views from the various lookout points. I can see that the glass lift gave you an even better view – what a great idea! Your food looks great (I’ll maybe skip the frogs legs 😉). A great (and jam pack) day of exploring!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It was a lovely introduction to our stay in Luxembourg Corna and it’s almost unbelievable that all public transport is free and ticketless. I’d never tried frogs legs before but almost anything once! I actually really liked them and thought they tasted nicer than chicken wings. Maybe I’ll be even more adventurous and try snails next time!! Have a great week. Lovely and sunny here in northern England but a bit chilly.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, I was meaning to ask: Is Luxembourg both a country and a city? And getting back to the frogs legs – if they’re better than chicken wings, I might just take a bite! I enjoy garlic & cheese snails often when we go out to a restaurant … can’t think I do when I look at all the slimy snails here in our garden 😬. Glad you’re enjoying sunny weather … same here (but that’s probably no surprise)!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. When we were last in France we stopped at a small village along the Canal du Midi. Much to the horror of Karen and the others in our boat crew I ate the frogs legs cooked in a creamy garlic sauce. Just delicious. Well worth a try. However have never tried ‘les escargots’. Mark

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I think it’s just the sounds of ‘frogs legs’ that puts people off. We’re so glad we were adventurous enough to try them as they were delicious and I’d definitely opt for them again. Will try escargots when I have an opportunity too! Thanks for commenting. Marion

            Liked by 1 person

  11. I spent a brief afternoon, many moons ago, strolling around Luxembourg. Sadly I have barely a few surviving photos, so have never been able to add this handsome place to my blog archives. Your post brings back some familiar scenes and reminds me that Luxembourg is an architectural delight, both with its modern and classical buildings. So clean and pristine too, it seems. In the unlikely event I ever make it back, I would add a few things I didn’t get to see, like the tunnels. Free public transport for all eh… what a place.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Luxembourg was full of pleasant surprises for us and we enjoyed everything about this small country. The public transport system is so clean and efficient and unbelievable that it’s completely free for all. Perhaps you’ll get back someday! Thanks so much for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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