The city of Luxembourg is the capital of the namesake country, and with a population just short of 100,000 it is by far the smallest country capital of the European Union. Very different in character from the bustling metropoles of the continent, Luxembourg is defined by its mountainous location and spectacular elevations afforded by the deep and narrow valley of the rivers Alzette and Petrusse it was built upon. The city has historically been an inconquerable fortress, which led it to be nicknamed the "Gibraltar of the North".
Luxembourg may not feature on most tourists' bucket lists, but it sees a very generous share of incoming visitors every year for a city of that size. This is due to its importance in the European financial sector, with many banks and institutions having their headquarters or subsidiaries there. Moreover, as one of the founding members of the European Union, Luxembourg hosts a number of EU institutions. Finally, Luxembourg has favourable taxation regulations for international holding companies, so that many multinationals locate their European seats there. This all makes the small city have a very upscale and business feel, and the tourist industry there is geared towards the business traveller.
Luxembourg is officially divided into 24 districts. Some of those of interest to tourists:
- Ville Haute ("High City") - the medieval town core.
- Ville Basse and Grund ("Low City") - situated in the gorge that cuts itself across the city and the most picturesque area.
- Gare ("Station") - the location of the train station, a 15 min walk south of Ville Haute and home to many restaurants and cafés.
- Kirchberg - a modern district across the Grand Duchess Charlotte Bridge in the north east of the City. The cityside eastern area of Kirchberg is home to many European Union institutions including the European Court of Justice, European Court of Auditors, parts of the European Commission, the Secretariat of the European Parliament and the European Investment Bank. The western end of the Kirchberg plateau is home to Luxembourg's thriving international financial services district. The Mudam modern art museum, the Philharmonie and the Dräi Eechelen fortress are near the Place de l'Europe beside the impressive EU institutions buildings.
- Hollerich - a formerly independent commune which was a prominent industrial site within Luxembourg. The remains of the industrial heritage are still to be seen around it
Getting into the country of Luxembourg basically means getting into the City of Luxembourg, as all major connections to Luxembourg terminate there. Do follow the advice given in our guide to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg is served by the Findel Airport in Sandweiler, a municipality just northeast of the city. Compared to other major airports serving European capitals, it has quite limited connections - there are no long-haul flights scheduled to Findel, and the European network only encompasses several other capitals and destinations, meaning that flying in from many European airports requires a transfer on your way.
The airport is dominated by the country's flag carrier, Luxair, who operate a network of connections to selected other European capitals, some German cities and holiday destinations in the Mediterranean. This is complemented by some of the Star Alliance European members flying singular connections to Findel from their hubs (Luxair is not a Star Alliance member, but is partially owned by the Alliance's founding partner Lufthansa and shares its frequent flyer programme with them). Oneworld is represented by British Airways flying in from London Heathrow Airport, while SkyTeam's presence is limited to KLM Cityhopper's connection to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
Two low-fare carriers serve Findel - easyJet from London Gatwick, Milan Malpensa and Lisbon, and Vueling from Barcelona. On top of that, a small regional airline called Hahn Air flies from Findel to Dusseldorf Airport (and NOT Hahn as the name might suggest).
Interestingly, while passenger traffic is limited to regional jets and private aviation, Luxembourg Findel Airport is a major cargo hub thanks to the prominence of the cargo airline Cargolux with its base there. Both Cargolux and other major international players in the cargo market fly in huge intercontinental jets in and out of Findel daily.
Getting to the city from Findel Airport
There are regular buses to the city center (line 29 and 16, about 15 minutes), the train station (line 29, 16 and 114, 15-25 minutes), and Kirchberg, the European district (line 16, 10 minutes). Buses to the city center and train station run at least every 10 minutes (15 minutes on Sunday).
The bus stop is on an island across the street on the left as you exit the airport.
Tickets cost 2 euro and are available at a kiosk (cash or card), or from the driver (cash only). A 4 euro ticket is also available which is valid for the entire day.
An alternative to flying in directly to Luxembourg, which may be costly and time-consuming from some locations in Europe, is taking a low-fare flight with the likes of Ryanair or WizzAir to either Charleroi in Belgium or Hahn in Germany, and taking a direct coach transfer to Luxembourg from there.
The imposing neobaroque Gare Lëtzebuerg adored with a clock tower and huge windows is Luxembourg's main train station. It is relatively well served by connections from neighbouring countries.
- The domestic train operator CFL has EuroCity-class trains going to Paris and Brussels
- CFL also obviously connects Gare Lëtzebuerg with pretty much every other station within the country of Luxembourg
- The Belgian SNCB/NMSB also has trains connecting Luxembourg with Bruxelles-Midi. Some trains continue to Strasbourg in France and Basel in Switzerland
- Deutsche Bahn operates the IC35 Ostfriesland from Luxembourg through Koblenz, Cologne, Dusseldorf and Münster
- Additionally, Deutsche Bahn's regional services operate the DeLux Express from Luxembourg to Trier
- The French SNCF operates a high-speed TGV train from Gare de l'Est in Paris to Luxembourg. There is also a slower Intercite connection via Nancy all the way south to Nice
- TER Lorraine line 1 goes from Nancy via Metz and Thionville to Luxembourg
- The Swiss SBB operates several long distance trains from stations in Switzerland such as Zurich, Geneve, Chur and Interlaken to Brussels that stop in Luxembourg on their way
- The best way to get around Luxembourg is by foot, bike and bus. Due to the city's small size and beautiful scenery, by foot is also the best way to appreciate it. In a few hours (or dividing your trip in two days) you can get to know the whole city on foot. Buses are regular and they all pass through the central bus station 0Hamilius.
- The city also operates a self-service bike scheme and the stations can be found in various locations around the city centre. For more information check the Ville de Luxembourg (VDL) website.
- Also in the city is the country's main railway station and this can be got to by most buses. The station is a good way of getting around the country or speedily getting into any of the neighbouring countries.
- The Alzette (The river of Luxembourg). It is very small now, but because the sandstone of the area is very soft, it dug out a huge valley. This is called the Ville Basse and is a spectacular area particularly the Grund (Statgrond) which is well worth the time to take a stroll around. The old fortress surrounded this valley. The Venceslas walk (named after Venceslas, Czech king and count of Luxembourg who built much of the fortresses around) leads along the fortresses, protecting the city on one side (and now forming one of the most spectacular "balconies", the Corniche) and the fortress of the Raam plateau on the other.
- 'The pedestrianized old town'. This is where the greatest concentration of (rather expensive) shops as well as bars and restaurants are to be found. Specific sights are few but all around town you can spot details that remind you of Luxembourg's historical value.
- The Bock. The rock on which the first castle stood, founded in 963 by Sigefroy (Sigfried). It is tied to a number of other remains of the old fortifications. Among others, the famous fortress builder Vauban built much in the city.
- Casemates Bock, ☎ +352 222809. a network of underground fortifications, built in the 18th century. The fortifications and environs are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Place Guillaume and the Place d'Armes (near the Hamilius bus station). Place Guillaume (also known in Luxembourgish as the Knuedler) is the venue for a market every Wednesday and Saturday. It is also the site of an equestrian statue of William II of the Netherlands and Luxembourg and the neo-classical Town Hall which is fronted by two bronze lions summer months the Place d'Armes is filled with tables and chairs from the surrounding cafes and at the centre of the square is the bandstand around which various concert seasons are based.
- Grand Ducal Palace (Just off the Place Guillaume). Fully restored during the nineties. It also houses the Luxembourgish Parliament the Chamber of Deputies. The Palace is open for a period of 6 weeks over July and August whilst the Grand Duke and his family are away on their holidays. Guided tours last for about 1 h, are inexpensive, and are available in various languages, including English. Tickets are available from the tourist office in Place de Guillaume II
- Cathedrale de Notre Dame. Built between 1613 and 1618 by Jesuits and was elevated to the status of cathedral in 1870. Nearby is the Gëlle Fra: literally 'Golden Lady'. This is a golden figure of a woman holding a wreath, a symbol of victory. It was taken down by the Nazis during occupation but stands today as a memorial to those who gave their lives in World War II.
- Pétrusse Casemates (Nearby Gëlle Fra and Place de la Constitution). constructed by the Spanish in 17th century. They are not as large as the Bock Casements.
- On the road from the inner city to the Bock you will find the Eglise St. Michel. This church took on its present form in 1688, but was probably built in the early 14th century. It was restored during 2003 and 2004.
- Musée d'histoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, Luxembourg City History Museum.
- Hotel de Ville (City Hall).
- Casino Luxemburg.
- Neumünster Abbey. now a cultural and encounter center with a nice church and the old St. John's hospital
- Nationalmusée fir Naturgeschicht (National Museum of Natural History).
- The Kirchberg area. houses a number of banks and most of the European institutions in Luxembourg (Parlament, Court of Justice, Court of Auditors, European Investment Bank and some of the Commission's Directorate Generals. A number of buildings were built by celebrated architects like Richard Meyer, Dominique Perrault and Gottfried Benn. Some modern sculptures also appear between the buildings. Most of the European Institutions hold annual open days. Many of the banks, EU institutions and other offices open their doors to the public once a year to allow access to their extensive art collections
- MUDAM (Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean), 3, Park Dräi Eechelen (Kirchberg, buses 1,3,6,Eurobus). Designed by I.M. Pei of "Louvre Pyramid" fame, this museum showcases Luxembourgish artists and changing international exhibitions. The nonlinear (and rather confusing) building is half the fun, and on a quiet weekday afternoon in the off season you'll pretty much have the place to yourself. €5.
- Musée de la Banque.
On the outskirts
- World War II Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. In the eastern section of Luxembourg City, just south of the airport. Open daily except for December 25 and January 1; 9AM-5PM. The cemetery is the final resting place for 5,076 American military dead, most lost during the Battle of the Bulge. It is also the final resting place for General George Patton. A monument is inscribed with the names of 371 Americans whose remains were never found or identified. Two large stone pylons with operations maps made of inlaid granite describe the achievements of American armed forces in the region during World War II. Free.
- Cemetery for German soldiers at Sandweiler, Deutscher Soldatenfriedhof; L-5280 Sandweiler, ☎ +352 35 50 07. Is a World War II cemetery in Sandweiler, in southern Luxembourg. It contains the graves of 10,913 German servicemen from the Battle of the Bulge in winter 1944 and spring 1945. It is 1.5 km from the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. Devoted to the fallen German soldiers from one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. A touching memorial.
- Schueberfouer, Glacis. Held every year across 2 weeks during end of August and early September, this huge and historic funfair attracts enormous crowds. As well as the many stomach churning rides there are numerous places to eat and drink to your heart's content. An important date in the social calendar of young Luxembourgers.
- Grand Duke's Birthday. While not the actual birthday of the current Grand Duke (or any preceding for that matter), June 23 is the country's national day. All night street parties, fireworks and parades are enjoyed by seemingly the entire population of the country on the evening preceding the holiday.
- Utopolis Kirchberg.
- Philharmonie Luxembourg.
- Cityshopping Info Point, Place D'Armes. Luxembourg takes promoting shopping in the city very seriously to the point that the Luxembourg City Trade Association and the authorities opened an information point in the very centre to provide guidance and suggestions regarding all your possible shopping needs and interests.
- Smets Luxury Outlet, Rue Beaumont 20. 10AM-6:30PM (Mondays from 11AM, Sundays closed). Pascaline Smets operates the family-owned business of multiple high-end boutiques throughout Luxembourg, offering the best fashion brands. Whatever doesn't sell by the end of the season, however, ends up at her luxury outlet in rue Beaumont, where you can fetch a bargain with your favourite label.
- Ernster, rue du Fossé 27. Mo-Sa 9:00AM-6:30PM. A family business operating for over a century, the Ernster bookstore grew to be a five-storey paradise for bookworms with a wide selection of books in many languages, as well as a special section for children. Apart from the main store, you can find Ernster in the Belle Etoile shopping centre and in several other locations throughout the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
- Monthly Market in Glacis. Every 3rd Sunday of the month. Every month in the expansive Glacis square in Limpertsberg a market takes place, which is a mixture of a flea market, a farmer's market and some local arts & crafts. Browse and enjoy the best Luxembourg has to offer if you are in the city for the date.
- Weekly Market in Bonnevoie. Every Wednesday, 7:00AM to 1:30PM. Bonnevoie hosts a weekly market every Wednesday in front of the parish church
- Market in Place de Paris, Place de Paris. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 7:00AM to 1:30PM. The district of Gare holds markets in Place de Paris twice a week.
- Market in Place Guillaume II. Wednesdays and Saturdays, 7:00AM to 1:30PM. Place Guillaume II plays host to a market twice a week.
- lët’z go local. The organisation with the jocular name seeks to promote local Luxembourgish produce of all kinds, be it food, drinks, fashion, design or even leisure services. They organize markets multiple times every year in varying locations in Luxembourg to showcase the offer of their members.
- Auchan Luxembourg, Rue Alphonse Weicker 5. A fairly unremarkable yet large shopping gallery, anchored by a bi-level Auchan hypermarket, the only store of the French chain in the country.
Home to a surprisingly high number of Michelin star establishments, the city houses many fine eateries. Luxembourg also has a very large population of Italians that came to the country in the late 19th century so Pizzerias in Luxembourg are always very reliable and frequent. For something cheap and quick the Place d'Armes is the best bet.
- La Fontaine, 25, place de Paris, ☎ +352 494076. One of a number of affordable bistros clustered around place de Paris, conveniently located halfway between the station and the old city. The quadrilingual menus run the gamut from pizza and mussels to Luxembourgish classics like judd mat gaardebounen (smoked pork neck with broad beans), and there are daily specials for around € 8. € 20.
- Taj Mahal, 2, rue de Strasbourg, ☎ +352 40 59 41. By anyone's standards, a fantastic curry house serving rich and delicious Indian food. Very friendly staff too. Well worth making the short trip from the centre to this restaurant located near the station.
- Mousel Cantine, 46, Montée de Clausen, ☎ +352 470198. Great local plates on the site of the former Mousel brewery. Wash down huge portions of pork knee and broad beans with tankards of Mousel lager. €25.
- Le Palais D'Asie, 47, avenue de la Liberté. Don kimonos and marvel at the skill of the chefs as they prepare Japanese and Chinese style cuisine before your very eyes including ceiling-high flames and an "egg show". As entertaining as it is tasty. Arrive hungry as the portions are generous.
- Chez Julie, 17 Rue de Bonnevoie (at gare), ☎ +352 26 29 69 70, e-mail: email@example.com. Mo-Fr 7:15-17:00. Vegetarian and organic food in small lunch restaurant. Excellent pies, soups, salads and cakes. The tables are small with little space between them, so you get a chance to say hello to your neighbors. No alcohol served, Free WiFi. €15.
- Aime La Fourchette, Avenue Monterey 5 (close to Place d'Armes). Solid and good bistro food.
- L'Etoile du Top Floor, Boulevard d Avranches 40. 12:00-2:30PM & 7PM-11:30PM. The restaurant atop the Sofitel Grand Ducal in Bonnevoie, led by chef Sebastien Perrot, affords one of the best views over Luxembourg along with the finest cuisine.
Luxembourg is a decent place to have a drink. Due to the amount of ex-pats who live in Luxembourg there are a wide variety of establishments in addition to the Luxembourgish bars. Pubs in Luxembourg tend to be a traditional affair, although more modern bars, and English or Irish themed pubs have also become the norm. Luxembourg is a low-key capital city and is generally not the best place for big nights out, although during the months of warmer weather it can have its moments. English themed pubs
- Britannia Pub, Rue de Clausen 1342. A favourite watering hole of local English ex-pats. Good place for watching football and rugby.
- Decibel (Gare), 42-44 Rue de Hollerich, ☎ +352 27 36 53 35, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A music bar in a courtyard alongside other bars and restaurants off the lively rue de Hollerich, an eclectic range of music can be heard here and Decibel has one of the widest range of Belgian beers in the City both on tap and in bottles. It is run be Irish people so the Guinness is decent as well.
- The Black Stuff (Pulvermuhl), 15 Val de Hamm, ☎ +352 42 54 96, e-mail: email@example.com. The Black Stuff is an Irish Pub on the outskirts of the city that is popular with ex-pats and locals alike. In the winter the log fire makes the cosy back room a good option to enjoy a Guinness or a hot port, the terrace is popular in the summer. It is a popular place to watch Football and rugby and the best place in Luxembourg to watch televised Gaelic Football and Hurling.
- Pygmalion, Rue de la Tour Jacob 19. Or the Pyg, an Irish pub and the best of the English, Scottish, Irish triumvirate situated in Clausen. Pub quizzes every other Monday
- Crossfire. A Scandinavian pub off Ave. de la Liberté, small and friendly.
- Scott's. No. 4, Bisserwee (down in the Grund). A common place for a drink (or two).
- Urban, Rue de la Boucherie 2. A refreshingly modern bar that has a wide mix of clientèle. Although often overcrowded it is a great place to start a night out. Urban also has live music every Sunday evening and has sporting events shown on two massive plasma screens.
- The Tube. Subterranean, London underground themed bar. International young crowd and great tunes for various tastes. Gets extremely packed late on Fridays and Saturdays and overspills into the street during warmer months.
- Vis-a-vis, Rue Beaumont 2 (Near Place d'Armes), ☎ +352 46 03 26. Hang out with the locals in this charming little Luxembourg-ish bar. Cheaper than a lot of other watering holes found in the city.
- Café des Artistes (Grund). Smokey little Luxembourg piano bar illuminated by candlelight.
- Melusina, Rue de la Tour Jacob 145. Has a large main room with a balcony. It also has another couple of rooms at the back of the club which are worth a look.
- Magnum. Located near the big parking lot (Glacis) just outside of the centre, but worth the walk there. No heels are too high and no skirts/shorts are too short here.
- Coco Mango, Boulevard d'Avranches 40 (at the Sofitel Grand Ducal). The bar of hotel Sofitel Grand Ducal enjoys some of the best views over the city. Pop in for a drink and enjoy!
For a city of that size, Luxembourg has a hotel room supply that is more than ample, thanks to the large amount of business travellers visiting the city. Therefore, the industry is geared mostly towards them and consists largely of mid- to high-standard business hotels.
- Camping Bon Accueil. In Alzingen 4 km to the south of the city. One hundred pitches. Adult €4, kid €2, pitch €5.
- Luxembourg Youth Hostel, 2, rue du Fort Olisy, ☎ +352 22 68 89 20. A nice clean hostel with a friendly atmosphere and only 10 minutes on the bus from the city centre. 23.90€ per bed in a shared dorm, discount with HI membership. Breakfast free, other meals €5 - €10.
- Hotel Empire, 34, place de la Gare. Located right across from central station. Small rooms, but cheap and a good location. July 2011 prices were 65€ for single occupancy, 75€ for double. Has indoor storage for bikes as well as an air compressor and tool kit. Breakfast included.
- ibis Budget Luxembourg Airport (formerly Etap), Route de Trèves. This is an older ibis Budget (blue rooms) located next to the Findel Airport, which provides the most basic standards for some of the lowest rates in Luxembourg.
- Campanile Hotel Luxembourg Aéroport, Route de Trèves 22. The Luxembourg Airport Campanile is relatively new and offers the familiar basic comforts to motorized travellers.
- ibis Hotel Luxembourg Aeroport, Route de Trèves. An old and worn "red-pillow" ibis located side-by-side with the ibis budget, offering marginally higher comfort at slightly higher rates.
- ibis Styles Luxembourg Centre Gare. The "green-pillow" ibis Styles is one of the hotels filling up almost the entire block in front of Luxembourg's train station (although the ibis itself does not face the station, but rather the narrow Rue Junck leading up to it). Everything in the hotel is on the small side, but on balance breakfasts are always included in the room rates.
- Grand Hotel Cravat, Boulevard Roosevelt 29 (a few steps off the Place Guillaume II, in front of the Monument de Souvenir). Slightly worn but comfortable midrange hotel.
- Mercure Luxembourg Centre (just 200m from the TGV railway station). a good 3 star with 68 rooms at reasonable prices.
- Christophe Colomb, 10, Rue d'Anvers, Gare (close to the train station), ☎ +352 4084141. €100.
- NH Luxembourg, Route de Trèves 1. Luxembourg's NH is an airport hotel, located within walking distance of the Findel Airport terminal buildings (although walking through the traffic arrangement around the airport is not recommended), with common spaces such as the gym, restaurant and conference rooms directly overlooking the apron and runway. Otherwise, it is a fairly standard NH hotel.
- Mercure Grand Hotel Alfa, Place de la Gare 16. The historic Grand Hotel Alfa, situated right opposite Luxembourg's train station, now operates as a Mercure. The hotel is slightly dated on the inside, with historic common spaces preserved and room decor that will make you want to go to sleep quickly.
- Novotel Luxembourg Centre, Rue Du Laboratoire 35. The Novotel is in Bonnevoie, next door to Sofitel Grand Ducal. Unfortunately, it faces away from the Alzette, so there is not much in terms of a view, but the hotel itself is quite modern and follows the usual Novotel standard.
- Suite Novotel Luxembourg, Av. J.F. Kennedy 13. The Suite Novotel is offering facilities appropriate for long-term stays of guests working for the many institutions located in Kirchberg. Each room has a living space and a kitchenette, and there are facilities for long-term guests to help them make their home away from home. This is one of the new generation of Suite Novotels, appointed in white, beige, gray and black, with touches of purple and violet, which provides more a modern, clean feel.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Luxembourg, Rue Jean Engling 12. The DoubleTree is on a woody hill in Dommedagne, north of the city, in a quite remote location. There is a bus stop down the road, a bit of a walk away, though. The hotel is quite new and very nicely appointed, leaving nothing but a better location to be desired.
- Novotel Luxembourg Kirchberg, Rue du Fort Niedergruenewald 6. The Novotel in Kirchberg is a low-rise one in an office park, surrounded by office buildings, as well as the Sofitel Europe and Suite Novotel. The hotel itself is quite new and pretty standard for a Novotel, yet there is not much in the way of family entertainment that Novotel prides itself for, not even a pool.
- Park Inn by Radisson Luxembourg City, Avenue de la Gare 45-47. A modern Park Inn in the vicinity of the train station with one of the most consistent applications of the brand's basic colours scheme, down to the coffee cups.
- Best Western Plus Grand Hotel Victor Hugo, Avenue Victor Hugo 3-5. A fairly characterless but solid hotel in the north of the city
- Sofitel Luxembourg Europe. an Accor Hotels group luxury property located in Plateau de Kirchberg, in the North European Quarter. Comfortable beds and a famous Italian restaurant.
- Hôtel Albert Premier, 2a, Rue Albert Premier 1er, ☎ +352 442 4421, fax: +352 447 441, e-mail: AlbertILA@ila-chateau.com. Elegant four star hotel situated close to the old city and Central railway station. 42 rooms with en-suite bathrooms, restaurant, internet access, sauna, fitness room, garage, meeting facilities. €150-480.
- Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal, Boulevard D'avranches 40. The other Sofitel is in the Bellevoie district, with a location affording brilliant vistas of the Alzette river Valley and the old town of Luxembourg. Of particular note in terms of views are the top-floor bar and restaurant. The hotel itself is appointed in a very modern theme, contrasting with the classic Sofitel Europe.
- Melia Luxembourg, Park Dräi Eechelen 1. The Melia enjoys a location right beside the MUDAM in the Quartier Europeene Sud and is an interesting work of modern architecture both outside and on the wholesome inside.
Try to show respect for the local language and make some effort to say a word or two of it even if it's just the standard greeting "Moien". In restaurants and high-end service establishments the personnel is generally expected to serve you in French, so if you speak French, do use it.
Luxembourg is a safer environment than most other European capital cities, and it would be rare to encounter any physical threat. Nevertheless, care is required in and around the train station area (especially late at night), which contains a handful of seedy clubs and prostitutes.