8 things you must do in Luxembourg

Though one of the smallest countries in Europe, Luxembourg is also one of the most charming and verdant nations to visit.

Tucked away between the much bigger neighbours of Germany, France and Belgium, Luxembourg has managed to retain its distinctive character and culture that's shaped the country. A nation since AD 963, the enchanting microstate has lots going for it, from grand medieval castles and the capital’s historic Old Town and fortress to lush vineyards and even great hiking.

Offering a little something for every kind of traveller, here are top things everyone should do when visiting Luxembourg.

Take a walk around the Old Town

Luxembourg City, the country’s capital, is best known for its historical corners and remains of its medieval fortress. Exploring the historic relics is best done by renting a bike at one of the many vel’OH stations sprinkled throughout the city or simply on foot. Within an hour or two, the past of this small yet remarkable capital will come alive in front of your eyes.

On your path through the zigzagging streets you'll come across the 17th-century Cathédrale Notre-Dame, which blends Gothic architecture with Renaissance details, the Grand Duke’s 16th-century palace, located at the heart of the city, and paved, broad plazas such as Place Guillaume II or Place d’Armes, both of which are filled with plenty of inviting terraces to rest and recuperate.

Afterwards, head to the panoramic lift connecting the Old Town with Grund. Situated around the shallow and narrow river Alzette, it's an affluent neighbourhood with centuries-old buildings to admire and the Neumünster Abbey, which sheltered monks in the 16th century. This picturesque area is a must-see on your visit to Luxembourg.

Cathedrale de Notre-Dame in Luxembourg (Image: BAHDANOVICH ALENA/Shutterstock)BAHDANOVICH ALENA/Shutterstock

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Discover the Bock Casemates

The city’s underground tunnels, Bock Casemates, were built during the Spanish domination in 1644 and are some of the most significant remains left from the fortress that encircles the capital. Tours through the tunnels lead into the subterranean passages that were built on different levels and reach as deep as 131 feet (40m) below ground.

Giving Luxembourg the nickname 'Gibraltar of the North', the 10-mile-long (17km) honeycomb of rock galleries provided the fortress with impressive defence works and housed not only garrisons, bakeries and even slaughterhouses, but also sheltered around 35,000 locals during the First and Second World Wars. Rumours of underground parties being held here during the Seventies and Eighties are common among residents too.

Bock Casemates in Luxembourg (Image: amalasi/Shutterstock)amalasi/Shutterstock

Enjoy hot chocolate with a view

A favourite among locals and visitors alike, the Chocolate House is the perfect spot for a coffee or the restaurant’s speciality – a hot chocolate. The café was dreamt up by Natalie Bonn, a Luxembourgish chef whose passion for the sweet stuff is obvious in every detail of the quaint café.

Customers choose a block of decadent chocolate, from classic milk to pistachio and latte macchiato, which sit on a wooden spoon.  It then turns into an exciting culinary experience where you dunk the chocolate block into a warm cup of milk so it slowly melts into the sweet drink.

Hot chocolate aside, the café offers a variety of cakes and pralines which will leave anyone with a sweet tooth ecstatic. Located right across from the entrance of the Grand Ducal Palace, guests can marvel at its Renaissance architecture or, at the right time, the changing of the guards, while sipping their drinks. 

Chocolate House in Luxembourg (Image: Chocolate House Luxembourg by Nathalie Bonn/Facebook)Chocolate House Luxembourg by Nathalie Bonn/Facebook

Hike through the Mullerthal

Mullerthal Region has a similarly hilly landscape as its nickname 'Luxembourg’s Little Switzerland' suggests, which makes it perfect for an invigorating hike with many scenic sights at every turn. The Mullerthal trails will lead you along sandstone crevices, shaded forests, sun-drenched valleys, rapid rivers and even tranquil waterfalls.

Hikers can choose from different circular hiking trails that vary from around five to seven miles (9-12km) in length and ensure that visitors discover the highlights of the region. Several picture-perfect towns are situated around the hiking trails, with the most famous being Echternach, a pastel-coloured town with a pretty town square with restaurants and cafés.

Other trails allow hikers to spot different castles that emerge from the green, forest-clad hills, such as the 11th-century ruins of the Beaufort Castle, the 12th-century Larochette Castle and the relatively newer 18th-century Meysembourg Castle, transforming the hike into a fairy-tale journey.

Hiking in Mullerthal (Image: real Denis Feldmann/Shutterstock)real Denis Feldmann/Shutterstock

READ MORE: Europe's most charming castles

Go wine tasting along the Moselle

Luxembourg is a wine country at heart so a visit is not complete without trying some of the country’s gorgeous wines. The lush vineyards are located along the Moselle river which stretches along the German border. The region is home to many historic villages, family-run wineries, modern wine bars and regional restaurants.

Moselle focuses on white wine so get ready to taste different Luxembourgish Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Chardonnay and the local favourites, Elbing and Rivaner. Prosecco enthusiasts will also leave the vineyards satisfied as the region produces the sparkling crémant, an alternative to better known prosecco.

Visitors who prefer alcohol-free drinks will enjoy the fresh grape juice, which is often made from the finest grapes as the bruised ones are used for wine production.

Moselle vineyards in Luxembourg (Image: Valery Shanin/Shutterstock)Valery Shanin/Shutterstock

Munch on traditional Luxembourgish dishes

If you want to explore the national cuisine, restaurant Koeppchen, which overlooks the Moselle and its verdant vineyards, offers traditional and authentic Luxembourgish dishes, some with a modern spin on the original.

Next to burgers made with local produce, your tastebuds can discover the hearty Luxembourgish dishes such as wainzossis (sausages cooked in a creamy white wine sauce and served with mashed potatoes), bouchée à la reine (a fine pastry case filled with chicken pieces in a rich mushroom sauce) or kniddelen (flour dumplings coated in the classic light cream sauce and crisp bacon pieces). 

Koeppchen restaurant in Luxembourg (Image: Koeppchen/Facebook)Koeppchen/Facebook

Uncover Luxembourg’s north with a visit to Vianden

Often overlooked by tourists, the north of Luxembourg offers many striking sights, like historic castles, forest landscapes and age-old towns. Vianden combines all three elements and presents the perfect place for visitors to immerse themselves into this fascianting region.

Vianden has been a popular tourist destination for hundreds of years. Famous French poet Victor Hugo was captivated by the medieval town with its panoramic views and stayed there on several occasions, recording its beauty in his writing. Queen Elizabeth II has also visited Vianden and its restored castle, which sits on top of a forested hill, remaining visible from every corner of the town.

A particular highlight of this northern town is its chairlift, raising visitors to an altitude of 1,443 feet (440m), where a scenic panorama over the valley and a one-of-kind view of the Vianden Castle unfurls. Hiking fans can also find many picturesque trails surrounding the town and other Vianden activities include a flurry of museums and an adventure park.

Image: Vianden in Luxembourg (Image: Pigprox/Shutterstock)Pigprox/Shutterstock

Get a serene night's sleep

As one of the newest and most exciting design hotels in Luxembourg, Mama Shelter provides visitors with more than just accommodation. The different creative aspects of the interior design, such as graffiti by French artist Beniloys, will turn your hotel stay into an art exhibition, while the rooftop bar delivers the ideal opportunity to let the day fade with a drink in your hand and a unique view of the capital’s financial district.

Hungry after your trip around the country? Mama Shelter has a well-rated restaurant with an international menu that will satisfy everyone’s tastes and diets, run by renowned chef Jean-Edern Hurstel.

If you don’t feel like finishing the day quiet yet, the hotel enjoys a prime location just across the street from the Philharmonie, the national concert hall, where you could spend your evening listening to one of the musical events the landmark has to offer.

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Lead image: Boris Stroujko/Shutterstock


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