For our first trip of the new year, we decided to explore a new country: Luxembourg. Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in the world, and is the only Grand Duchy in the world, which means its ruler is a monarch bearing the title of grand duke or duchess. The beautiful fortresses and the old town of Luxembourg City are UNESCO world heritage sites, and they are definitely sights to see. For all you foodies out there, Luxembourg boasts twelve Michelin Stars, making it the highest density of star restaurants per inhabitant. For us, Luxembourg is a quick 1.5 hour drive away (or 2 hour train ride), so it made for the perfect day trip.
The Luxembourg American Cemetery is a World War II grave site and memorial for over 5,000 American servicemen and women. It’s about two miles away from Luxembourg City, and was definitely worth the trip. They’ve done such a great job with the cemetery, the memorial, and the chapel inside. There are two giant maps on the stone terrace in front of the cemetery that display the battle movements in Western Europe and the Battle of the Bulge. General Patton is buried here too. A humbling stop on our day trip, and one not to miss!
Luxembourg City is the country’s capital and is very walkable. It’s made up of an upper level, which has tons of shopping, museums, and restaurants, and the lower level, which is referred to as The Grund. If you’re driving, find a parking garage in the upper level. We parked in the Monterey Parking Garage, which is under the Pirate Ship Playground. We don’t have kids, but if we did, this playground would have been a major hit! Spend some time walking around the old town – Place d’Armes is a good square to start. We went on a Saturday in January, so it wasn’t as crowded as it typically is, but there were still plenty of vendors selling antiques, crafts, and food in this square.
The Grand Duke’s residence is a beautiful yet understated palace in the middle of town. There are a modest two guards in front of the entrance, but it’s not gated off like most other palaces, and there are restaurants a few feet away. Still, it’s a big beautiful building, and it’s pretty cool that the Grand Duke lives there throughout the year. When the Grand Ducal Family is on holiday in July and August, the palace can be toured by visitors. I’ve seen a few pictures online of the inside of the palace, and it looks like one I’d like to visit, so maybe we’ll be making another trip to Lux in the summer!
Directly across the street from the Palais is this cute little restaurant called the Chocolate House. I highly recommend stopping by for at least a hot chocolate with Baileys, but they have breakfast and savory lunches on their menu too. The outdoor decor itself was cute enough to lure me in, but the chocolate spoons are a genius way to do hot coco! Plus, I love eating with a view, and a view of a palace is pretty neat.
Les Copains D’Abord
Important thing to note on your day trip to Luxembourg: a lot of restaurants close after lunch at 2pm. We got a later start than we were hoping, and were worried we might miss the opportunity for a meal in Luxembourg, but we made it. Les Copains D’Abord was quite a lucky find, and it was the perfect lunch spot. Cute interiors, great wine, chalkboard menu, and my favorite: meat & cheese boards. We got the mixed board, which had smoked salmon, Parma ham, and French sausage, and three different cheeses, plus a burger and wine. It was great!
Notre Dame Cathedral
The Notre Dame Cathedral is the country’s only cathedral. It is small, but absolutely stunning inside. If you have time, definitely poke your head inside.
Get Down to the Lower Level
Once you’ve walked through the old town, you’ll want to head over to the lower level. I’d recommend the scenic walk, but you could also take one of the two elevators. The Pfaffenthal Lift has a glass bottom and is a scenic elevator. The Plateau St. Esprit Elevator is located in the courthouse complex. Both are free.
Chemin de la Corniche & Wenceslas Wall
If you can, walk down the Chemin de la Corniche to get to the Grund. This has been hailed as Europe’s Most Beautiful Balcony, and it’s easy to see why. It boasts impressive views of the houses, restaurants, river and bridges of the Grund below, as well as Bock Casements and walls of the fortifications. We passed by Wenceslas Wall on our walk down to the Grund, and climbed up that to get more great views.
The Grund almost feels like a whole other city. It is filled with narrow streets, canals, bridges, gardens, and cute cafes and bars. We stopped for a drink at Scott’s Pub and loved it! Take some time to walk around, enjoy the peaceful river, and admire the impressive fortress walls.
The casements are a series of defensive underground tunnels under the Bock Promontory (fortification). The views along the top of the Casements are grand, but unfortunately the underground passages of the casements were closed for winter. I was so bummed because I was really looking forward to getting lost in the tunnels! Just another reason for us to come back to Luxembourg.
Wine Store (and Shopping)
Grand Rue is a great shopping street in Luxembourg. There’s an H&M, a Zara, and a cute pastry shop called Laduree. There are also a bunch of luxury designer brands like Louis Vuitton and Cartier. I could have easily walked around shopping for hours. We took a detour and stumbled upon Vinoteca Ville, a really cute wine shop with tons of older bottles and a great selection of wine.
As mentioned above, I definitely need to make another trip to Luxembourg to tour the Grand Duke Palace and to visit the Bock Casements underground tunnels. There are also tons of castles in Luxembourg, and I really want to make a trip to the Vianden Castle, which looks straight out of a Disney movie. I also want to hike over to the Schiessentumpel Waterfalls. They look so picturesque and peaceful! We’ll have to make a trip back next winter for their Christmas markets. I have heard amazing things about them and need to add it to my list (re: this post)! Next time I go, I also want to spend more time trying out the restaurants, wine shops, and bars. What are your favorite things to do in Luxembourg?