Hidden away between Germany, France and Belgium, the variety of fun things to do in Luxembourg is often overlooked. But despite its size, the country is awash with tourist attractions and hidden gems. The core of Luxembourg-City is built on a medieval, Unesco-listed fortress and stretches over magnificent green valleys and quaint cobblestone streets that prove that the country has more to offer than bank headquarters. Because of its central location, finance industry and EU-institutions, Luxembourg is an extremely multicultural place and you will hear all kinds of languages while roaming the city. By car, most of the country is easily accessible within an hour from the city. But for a place this small, Luxembourg’s landscape is extremely diverse: from the picturesque nature in the north, to the industrial South and the vineyards of the Moselle.
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Best things to do in Luxembourg
What is it? The business district of Luxembourg-City, home to the country’s EU institutions and stunning architecture.
Why go? The Kirchberg area symbolises the changes Luxembourg underwent over the past decades: from a mostly agricultural and industrial country to one of Europe’s finance hubs. Walk across the infamous ‘red bridge’ that connects the old town and Kirchberg and marvel at some of the most spectacular architecture the country has on offer. Head to the Philharmonie and the adjacent Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM) and enjoy the spectacular panoramic view across the city and its valleys from the Dräi Eechelen plateau.
What is it? The place to go for arguably the best croissants and tartlettes north of Paris.
Why go? Luxembourgers are strongly divided over which pâtisserie has the finest selection of pastries. Both Namur and Oberweis are national institutions and will delight every sweet tooth. The Opéra and Mont Blanc are divine. The coffee, however, is not. Head to the Knopes Coffee for your daily dose of caffeine.
What is it? Stunning vineyards and a lot of wine tasting – only a 20-minute drive from the city.
Why go? Luxembourgers love their wine so much they even reference it in their national anthem. The Moselle River is Luxembourg’s wine country and one of its most scenic nature spots. Tourists flock here in the summer and enjoy a glass of Riesling or the local Elbling on riverbank terraces or the many wine cellars along the Moselle.
What is it? A legendary bar that puts on regular sing-alongs and folk nights.
Why go? If you want to grab a drink at night, visit the picturesque Grund area and step into this cosy and poster-plastered bar. At late hours, the candlelit piano becomes the gathering point for everybody who wants to join in singing along to French chanson and traditional Luxembourgish folk songs.
What is it? Luxembourg’s cultural hub in a unique location.
Why go? The Rotondes were built as a storage facility for steam locomotives but are now housing some of the finest cultural events in the country. From record fairs, art exhibitions to theatre and indie concerts, this place will satisfy each quirky desire.
What is it? World-renowned photography exhibition in one of the country’s many castles.
Why go? The Luxembourgish artist and curator Edward Steichen immigrated to the US as a little boy and later became the Director of the MoMA’s Department of Photography. His exhibition ‘The Family of Man’ is still one of the most iconic collections of photography and after travelling the world it is now on permanent display in the castle of Clervaux in the north of the country.
What is it? For those who are not afraid of heights, this transparent outdoor elevator offers a panoramic view across the old fortress.
Why go? Opened in 2016, this elevator connecting the city centre with the Pfaffenthal valley has become a favourite among locals and visitors. The all-glass construction is perfect for admiring the sweeping valleys of the city. It’s also one of the few attractions that are free.
What is it? A glimpse into Luxembourg’s industrial past. Ride a historical mining train and go underground in the country’s south.
Why go? Before Luxembourg became Europe’s banking hub, iron ore mining was the country’s main economy. The south of Luxembourg is still called ‘Minette’ (ore) and is famous for its blast furnaces and red rock landscapes. The Fonds de Gras used to be a mining valley and now hosts an underground mining museum and an authentic steam train.
What is it? Let your taste buds discover the real Luxembourg in this local restaurant.
Why go? If it is your first visit to the Grand-Duchy, chances are, you don’t know too much about Luxembourgish cuisine. Bei de Bowen (At the boys) is the perfect place to start discovering. Although dishes tend to be very meaty, the boys are happy to cater to vegetarians. The kniddelen (gnocchi-like dumplings) and gromperekichelcher (fried potato cakes) are a must-try!
What is it? Hike through Luxembourg’s ‘Little Switzerland’.
Why go? Luxembourg is blessed with picturesque natural landscapes but the 112km-large Mullerthal valley stands out in particular. Because of its hills, the region is often compared to the Swiss Alps. Echternach, Luxembourg’s oldest city and home to a stunning historical Abbey, is only a short drive away and well worth a visit. Mullerthal is located around 40 minutes from the city of Luxembourg.
What is it? See classics and contemporary masterpieces in this old-school cinema.
Why go? Rita Hayworth and Humphrey Bogart smile from the walls of this beautiful movie house. Lean back in the comfortable red velvet seats and enjoy an unforgettable cinema experience. The programme caters to arthouse taste and includes everything from black and white Hollywood classics to contemporary Eastern European cinema. Movies are shown in their original language with subtitles and cost only €3.70 – a bargain in an otherwise expensive city.
What is it? This pedestrian trail across the old fortress is the easiest way to explore the city.
Why go? Luxembourg-City is small so it’s important to not rush through it but to stroll along the narrow cobbled streets of the old town to enjoy the stunning views. In the sixteenth century, the city was one of Europe’s strongest fortresses (‘Gibraltar of the North’). The Wenzwelwee stretches from the city centre to the remains of the fortifications and down to the cosy Grund and Clausen neighbourhoods.
What is it? Traditional café that gives visitors a good glimpse into Luxembourgish mannerisms.
Why go? Located right in front of the Parliament building, this café and restaurant is the perfect spot to observe Luxembourgers arguing about politics and football, while enjoying a cold pint. The décor hasn’t changed a bit over the last decades and is basically a shrine of dedication to Luxembourg’s royal family whose faces adorn the nicotine-stained walls. The food is, of course, also typically Luxembourgish and includes many of the national dishes.