May 13-15, 2022
My new year’s resolution for 2022 was to visit 10 new countries this year, which meant that we needed to get a little more creative with our weekend trips. With this in mind, we booked a quick trip to Luxembourg City, the elegant capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Although Andy was skeptical about heading to yet another place we hardly knew anything about, we had an absolutely lovely weekend in one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe.
Although Luxembourg City is quite small, it is incredibly picturesque and full of history. The Alzette and Pétrusse rivers converge in the city center, which straddles the two gorges on a series of hills and cliffs, and its many parks and green spaces made the city feel much closer to nature than a cosmopolitan capital. The city is extremely clean, quiet, and well-preserved — and its inhabits seemed just as refined. Because it’s sandwiched between France, Germany, and Belgium, Luxembourg’s culture, people, and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbors, which is an extremely interesting mix. In particular, Luxembourgish, French, and German are all considered administrative languages for the country, so many signs, announcements, etc. are in all or a combination of the three languages (often in addition to English) and 80% of its population can speak 3+ languages.
We stayed at Mama Shelter Luxembourg, which is part of a French boutique hotel chain that is known for its funky decor and fun bars/restaurants. It was a little outside of the city center, but that ended up not being an issue whatsoever because Luxembourg City’s clean, quiet, and reliable public transportation system has been completely free of charge since 2020. The weather was absolutely perfect, so we really had an all-around fantastic and stress-free weekend exploring and eating our way through this charming city.
If you’re planning a trip to Luxembourg, click here to access and download my Google Maps list of saved locations.
Food & Drink
- L’Atelier Windsor: I found this stylish, traditional restaurant in the Michelin guide, and it was the perfect place to have a delicious and romantic dinner on Saturday. The service was outstanding, and the moderately priced menu had plenty of options featuring local produce and high-quality ingredients that paired perfectly with its extensive wine list.
- De Gudde Wëllen: When the weather is good, this “pop-up terrace” with perfect views of the historic city opens up on Rue du Saint-Esprit, toward the end of the Chemin de la Corniche. They don’t serve food, but the pop-up bar had a surprisingly comprehensive cocktail, wine, and beer menu. We enjoyed (several) drinks on the terrace as we soaked up the afternoon sunshine.
- Restaurant Brasserie Bosso: Located in the beautiful and historic Grund district, this charming bistro had plenty of outdoor seating and a menu of traditional Luxembourgish dishes (which are, naturally, a mix of German and French influences), which was perfect for late-afternoon lunch.
- Cereal Lovers: This stylish, sleek takeaway restaurant and coffee shop focuses exclusively on breakfast and lunch…although they, ironically, do not actually offer any cereal options beyond muesli. We were pleasantly surprised to find housemade bagels on their menu (a rarity in Europe) and enjoyed a nice breakfast here on Saturday before starting a full day of sightseeing.
- Mama Shelter Luxembourg: Our hotel’s bars and restaurants were extremely popular with both guests and non-guests, and we ended up spending more time on site than I usually do with most hotels. We had an excellent late-night meal at the restaurant on Friday, and on Saturday we spent a few hours enjoying the beautiful weather on the partially covered sixth-floor rooftop, which offered ping pong and pétanque in addition to a trendy cocktail menu.
Activities & Attractions
- Bock Casemates: The Casemates du Bock is an 11-mile-long series of subterranean tunnels built underneath a former castle on a rocky promontory that is surrounded on three sides by the River Alzette. The casemates (fortifications from which weapons can be fired) were first carved out of the rock by the Spanish beginning in 1644, and this underground structure served as a bomb shelter for thousands of residents and soldiers during World War II. Unfortunately, the tunnels themselves were closed for significant renovations when we visited, but we were still able to walk around the Pont du Château and view some of the castle ruins.
- Chemin de la Corniche: This gorgeous pedestrian promenade built on the 17th-century city ramparts provides panoramic views of the picturesque Grund district as it winds along the River Alzette from the Bock Casemates up to the lower part of the Citadelle du St-Esprit (Holy Ghost Citadel). We took beautiful pictures here, but it’s also a very practical way to get between several key points of interest, especially if you stop for a drink at De Gudde Wëllen along the way.
- Cathédrale Notre-Dame: The only cathedral in the country, this Gothic Revival building was originally a Jesuit church and dates back to the early 17th century. It’s a beautiful building with a lot of historical significance, including a crypt housing the remains of several notable Grand Dukes and Duchesses.
- Palais Grand-Ducal: Built in the 16th century, the Grand Ducal Palace is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and where he performs most of his duties as head of state of the Grand Duchy. It’s a beautiful building to walk by, but I wouldn’t spend the time or money to tour inside.
- MUDAM: The Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM) stands on the site of the historic Fort Thüngen in Dräi Eechelen Park, which is a lovely area of the city in its own right. I.M. Pei designed the country’s only contemporary art museum, which opened in 2006, and it is truly a stunning building that beautifully integrates with the reconstructed fort and surrounding park.