Luxembourg isn’t a country that people are vying to travel to. In fact, you may not have even known Luxembourg existed. It’s a small country nestled between Germany, Belgium, and France and flies under the radar of many European travelers. In all honesty, it’s a great idea to visit Luxembourg in one day because there are many routes that take you through it when traveling between the above countries.
Here are a few important things to know before you go:
Size: 999 square miles (20th smallest country)
Language: German, French, Luxembourgish
Capital: Luxembourg City
Since it’s small and full of countryside, it’s easy to see the highlights of Luxembourg in one day. The most obvious place to start is the capital, Luxembourg City. I was extremely pressed for time since I only had a three-hour layover in the city at the train station. Although I don’t necessarily recommend spending a night in Luxembourg (there’s not that much to see) I would try to have at least over three hours, so more than I did.
Everything I discovered in Luxembourg was a complete accident. I knew close to nothing about the country, except that the Luxembourgs had been a huge power in Europe centuries ago. So, knowing that, I looked at my Google maps when I arrived, saw a castle ruins, and headed there, figuring that anything exciting would be around that area. My time in Luxembourg City was literally spent getting lost and wandering around. After all, that really is the best way to see things.
An ideal itinerary in Luxembourg will be based around the train station. That’s the most common way for people to enter the country. Luxembourg does have an international airport, but it’s pretty much the only one in the country so it’s obviously international.
Luxembourg Train Station
Luxembourg’s train station, like most train stations, is close to the city center. It’s in a bit of an industrial and business area, but a 20-minute walk will put you in the heart of the city. Speaking of the heart of the city, I was so shocked and pleasantly surprised when I arrived. My parents had told me that they were unimpressed with Luxembourg and that it was nothing but big, boring, industrial buildings. I think we have some major differences on what constitutes ‘boring’.
There is a massive bridge that spans the Alzette River and has an excellent view over quaint little Luxembourgish homes. They looked like they were from a quaint little fairytale village. I didn’t linger too long here, except to take pictures because of course it was raining that day. But I had been burning up in Germany for the past three weeks so I was more than happy to be cold and wet.
Luxembourg commemorates its heroes with an eternal flame just outside of one of Luxembourg’s official government buildings. It’s a very beautiful monument and the Luxembourg flags make a great background for it. The flame isn’t worth traveling to specifically, but if you pass it on your way from the train station it’s worth looking at.
Notre Dame Cathedral
Another general European city tip is that if you find a church’s steeple, there will probably be a lot to do around that area, so follow the spire! I could see that there was a massive church just up ahead (because of its two tall spires) so I kept walking until I found it. This church was called the Notre Dame Cathedral and was beautifully dark. I had been hauling my backpack with me the whole time so this cathedral offered me an opportunity to rest my feet and hide from the rain. The church is on the edge of the tourist area of the city, so once you leave it you’ll be able to see a lot more tourist shops and restaurants geared toward foreigners.
I was there pretty early in the morning, so a lot of the stores and cafes hadn’t opened up for business yet. It was great because I had the opportunity to see the city without many tourists. Plus, it makes the pictures a million times better.
Grand Ducal Palace
Luxembourg’s Old Town is relatively small but is home to most of its sights. The Grand Ducal Palace is close by Notre Dame and is impossible to photograph in one picture. Trust me, I tried. Luxembourg is a duchy with a constitutional monarchy and the palace is the official residence of the Grand Duke. You probably won’t see him, but you can watch the guards marching and parading around the palace. Go before noon in order to have the place to yourself. Guided tours are offered from July until the end of August.
Luxembourg Fortress Ruins and Bock
The old fortress ruins are the highlight of Luxembourg. UNESCO deemed them a World Heritage Site in 1994 in order to preserve the ruins. They are hundreds of years old and although they are just ruins now, it’s still impressive to think about their history. There is a museum that explains everything in depth, since the signage on the outside is only in French and German. I would’ve gone into the museum but I was too short on time.
From the fortress, you can see all along the old city walls. They overlook those same houses that you saw earlier, except it’s from a completely different angle that you didn’t even know existed. It’s absolutely breathtaking. It was as I was standing here that I really questioned why my parents tried to deter me from visiting. I mean just look at these views.
Chemin de la Corniche
The Chemin de la Corniche is a tongue twister but it’s considered to be the “most beautiful balcony of Europe. It’s a narrow, cobblestone pathway that winds over the Alzette River. Down below you can see an abbey and hear the church bells chime. I can’t imagine how beautiful it has to be in the sunshine! ! Personally, this was my favorite place in Luxembourg. If it weren’t for the rain and my train that was leaving soon, I could have stayed here all day.
As you can see, the highlights of Luxembourg are fairly basic and are close to one another here in the capital. It’s definitely easy to visit in one day on a layover but don’t skip over this tiny country!
Here are a few fun and random facts about Luxembourg that you might not know:
- It’s the 2nd richest country in the world
- Luxembourg has the highest minimum wage in the European Union
- Half of the workforce commutes from France, Belgium, or Germany
- It’s the only Grand Duchy left in the world
- Over one-third of the country is covered in forest
Have you ever been to Luxembourg before? Do you think its feasible to explore the capital city in just one day?