A journey across Luxembourg – the highlights of this small country
Luxembourg? Yes, you have probably heard of it. Do you really only have one city or in this country? What, there are more cities, who come, the country is so small – clichés we face every day.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe with an area of 2,586.4 km² and about 600,000 inhabitants. Its notable that many things that are still debated publicly in the rest of Europe are already part of the agenda in Luxembourg: there are three official languages (German, French and Luxembourgish – yes, that is a language), study grants and educational leave (20 days in 2 years) no smoking in restaurants and we are both very proud of this one: Marriage equality since 2015, thanks to our homosexual Prime Minister, who was very committed in keeping that promise.
We both live in Luxembourg, but we have not really dealt with the sights of the country yet, as we simply took it for granted.
In December, however, we decided to visit the sights of the country in cooperation with the Luxembourg Tourism Office, who kindly provided us with the Luxembourg Card. Unfortunately the weather was so Luxemburg and it rained all the time, at the end of our tour we were able to cross off a considerable number of sights on our bucket list.
You are able to travel by train, tram with associated funicular (which has just finished) and buses in Luxembourg. Bus connections around the city center are relatively good, train connections to the north work ok as well, but we would really advise to not travel long distances by bus, as buses often don’t arrive or are simply delayed. The public transport situation is much more developed and effective in many other European capitals. Many people still rely on their car, due to the lack of infrastructure, which leads to enormous traffic disruptions, especially at peak times and rush hour.
Nevertheless, we were adventurous and chose the public transport for our tour. Our first stop after a 1 hour bus ride was the village of Vianden, in the north-east of the country. The village is located on the banks of the Our, in an idyllic landscape. The reason for our visit was Vianden Castle.
The castle was built in the 14th century, and it was in the possession of the Count of Vianden, the Prince of Orange, as well as the kings of the Netherlands until 1820. It was sold in 1820 and the once magnificent castle fell into ruins. It was not until 1890 that the castle became the property of the Luxembourg Grand Duke family. In 1977, it was restored in accordance with its former splendor and is today one of the most important architectural monuments in Europe. The castle can be reached after a 15-minute walk. In summer, there is also the opportunity to use the chairlift, but this option is closed during winter. The guided tour in the castle itself is very interactive and we have totally enjoyed it. The highlight, however, was the film they showed on a huge screen about the history of the castle. Vianden was also the location for several films, including Shadow of the Vampire.
National Museum of Brewing Wiltz
The National brewery museum is located in the castle of Wiltz. First of all we have to say that the lady at the front desk was super friendly, and we were well served. The guided tour is combined with an audio guide and as a small extra, a visit to the Ardennes Offensive Museum and the Tannery Museum are included (located in the same building) is included in the ticket as well.
The brewery museum is equipped with old artifacts, the highlight of the tour is the beer tasting. However, it should be noted that only 1 sort of beer can be tasted for free, so technically the appropriate term would be 1 free beer and not tasting.
Nevertheless, this museum is worth a visit, Wiltz is a beautiful small village.
The plateau Kirchbberg is the financial center of the country and connected with the city center by the “red bridge”. Numerous national and international banks, the European Court of Justice, the European Court of Auditors and parts of the General Secretariat of the European Parliament are located along the wide boulevard J.F. Kennedy’s. monuments of the city are as well located between all these buildings, such as the Coque (the largest sports center in Luxembourg), the Philharmonic Hall and the Mudam.
The Kirchberg is kind of a new are, the territory was basically meadow 15 years ago. The tram, which started to operate in 2017, allows you to commute across the Kirchberg to the new railway station Pfaffental.
In addition to the museums and the Coque , Kirchberg also offers a shopping center with a cinema as a leisure opportunity.
However, Kirchberg is not suitable for going out: restaurants are way too overpriced and the few bars are barely empty. Unfortunately, the audience is missing in the only club on Kirchberg as well: the Gloss.
The musée d’Art Moderne is located at the site of Fort Thüngen, at Kirchberg. It’s no coincidence that the unique architecture reminds you of the pyramid in front of the Louvre – the Mudam was designed by the same architect, Ieoh Ming Pei. The respective exhibitions in the Mudam are shown for a few months until the exhibition changes. We had the pleasure to check out an exhibition of Su-Mei Tse. The highlight of her exhibition is definitely the fountain Many Spoken Word, which uses black ink instead of water. Furthermore, we examined the exhibition in honor of Ad Reinhard: HARD TO PICTURE. The Mudam offers an after work every Wednesday called up to eleven: entrance to the museum is free and doors are open until 23:00. Definitely recommended.
The Philharmonie is located in the middle of Kirchberg. The Philharmonie is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful buildings in Luxembourg. We have only been twice to the Philharmonie: a gospel choir concert and the legendary summer closing party with various DJs. The party is highly recommended, and the architecture of the building gives the rhythmic sounds of House DJ a completely different atmosphere.
Musèe Dräi Eechelen
The museum of three acorns is located on the restored and partly rebuilt part of Fort Thüngen, just behind the Mudam. In the summer, Fort Thüngen is definitely an insider tip – take a walk through the park and admire the beautiful view. The museum itself is not really recommendable, the presentation is boring, but as previously said – the park hot tip in case the weather is good.
The small town of Clervaux is located in the Ösling, the northern part Luxembourg, in the Ardennes. The reason for our visit was the exhibition The Family of Man by Edward Steichen. The exhibition has been shown in the castle of Clerf since 1994.
Family of Man
The Family of Man is the world-famous photography exhibition started in 1950 by the Luxembourger Edward Steichen. Meanwhile, the exhibition is an Unesco cultural heritage. The Family of Man is one of the best exhibitions we have seen so far and has left a lasting impression. The exhibition presents a comprehensive portrait of humanity on topics such as: love, faith, birth, work, family, children, war, and peace. Edward Steichen wanted to try to promote overall understanding between people of all kind, after the war. The photographs depict people as they are and focus the fact that all people are equal in some way and thus create a humanistic image of man. The exhibition went on a world tour and in 1966 the last remaining version of it was donated to the state of Luxembourg, like the artist once wished. The exhibition is definitely a must for every visitor in Luxembourg; Clerveaux is also easily accessible by train from the center.
Luxemburg City Center
The old town of Luxembourg has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994 and offers many architectural and cultural highlights. No city had fascinated us more than the old town of Luxembourg. Not just because we live in this country, but simply because it looks like it came out of a storybook.
Winding alleys, block rocks with their underground passages the casemates, as well as parts of the old city wall round off the whole thing.
Our tour begins at the Place de la Constitution, at the monument “Gëlle Fra” which means golden woman.
The monument was built in 1923 to commemorate the Luxembourgers who had voluntarily served and died during World War I. You will explore a breathtaking view over the station district, which is connected by the Pont Adolphe, and the old city wall.
Our next stop is Place Guillaume II, known as Knuedler. In addition to the equestrian statue that shows William II, weekly markets take place there, and various events such as Rock am Knuedler are organized at the Knuedler in summer.
After passing Knuedler, we ll reach Clairefontaine-place, where you can find the famous Monument of Grand-Duchesse Charlotte.
Our highlight of the old town is definitely the palace of the Grand Duke. It’s kind of cool to spot a palace located directly in the city center. The palace is usually guarded by a soldier who patrols it. The Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies, which was established in 1859, is just to the right of the imposing palace. The building was used as a town hall until 1817, and was the first residence of the representative of the Dutch King and Grand Duke of Luxembourg as of 1817. Today, the palace is used primarily for state receptions and as an office building for the Grand Duke’s family and their employees. On national holiday, the Grand Ducal family can be seen at their balcony, waiving to the people.
There are some good places to have a drink in the evening, not far from the palace, or to enjoy the sun on the terrace in good weather.
We will try to post a bar / disco guide in the near future, in order to show you our favorite places.
Do you know the movie Halloweentown? The portal to Clausen looks exactly the same, not kidding. Clausen is a district in the center of Luxembourg and is located in the valley of the Alzette. Until a few years ago, Clausen was really the party district in Luxembourg. Unfortunately, there is hardly anything left of the old charm. The cute cafes look very inviting, but with a few exceptions a year, almost nothing is going on there. Meanwhile, Clausen also houses companies such as Amazon and Microsoft. But check it out; you have to see it anyways!
The Pfaffenthal can be reached best by the new glass elevator connecting the Parc Pescatore in the Upper Town with the Pfaffenthal in the Alzette valley. The red bridge, which is a landmark of the city leads above the Pfaffenthal. Otherwise you can go for a walk in the Pfaffenthal, or borrow bicycles.
The best way to reach the Grund is by taking the elevator at Plateau Saint Esprit, the city’s center of justice. The Grund is located on the banks of the Alzette and was formerly mainly inhabited by artisans. Today you can find there are some good restaurants and cafes. Furthermore, we recommend walking from the grund to Neumünster in order to visit the abbey Neumünster, the former monastery / prison until 1980.
Check our our Luxembourg foodguide here.
Luxembourg is very open about homosexuality. There is not really a LGBTQ scene in Luxembourg, nor do we have any bars. But frankly, the scene is not missed a lot, same-sex couples are accepted everywhere, and it’s not a big deal if they kiss in public or hold hands. We are grateful that we live in such an open country and to have the same rights as heterosexual couples.