UNESCO-listed marvels, WWII history, fab festivals, gourmet goodies – how does such a small country pack so much in? Here’s just 12 of many cultural experiences to have in Luxembourg…
Connect Luxembourg City’s seven museums (all within a one-mile radius) on your map with a pen, and a smile emerges. Welcome to the Museum Mile – also known as the ‘MuseumSmile’.
Whether you are after art or history, there is a museum in this concentrated area for almost everyone! Here’s the lowdown on the full 7…
1. Villa Vauban
This elegant 19th-century villa, surrounded by a park, has an excellent art collection that includes various Dutch Old Masters worth admiring.
2. Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’Art Contemporain
An exciting space for experimental and contemporary art.
3. Lëtzebuerg City Museum
Ride the huge glass lift to discover 1,000 years of Luxembourg history.
4. National Museum of History and Art
View art and archaeological artefacts, as well as fine arts, crafts and medals.
5. National Museum of Natural History
Admire a fascinating collection of preserved animals.
6. Museum Dräi Eechelen
Housed in Fort Thüngen, this chronicles the city’s origins and its military past.
7. Museum of Modern Art Grand-Duc Jean
In a modern building built on to the rampart walls of Fort Thüngen, MUDAM features a truly superb contemporary art collection.
Painter, photographer, curator and passionate experimenter, Luxembourg’s most famous artist, Edward Steichen (1879-1973), packed more into a lifetime than most of us can dream of. At Clervaux Castle, you can view his UNESCO-listed The Family of Man collection, which encompasses 503 photographs by 273 photographers from 68 countries. It’s not just the breadth of talent and material brought together that has gained him respect, but also the profound message behind the works – the photos were all chosen to depict the universality of human experience and emotion across all cultures.
You can also check out the collection of Steichen works at the National Museum of History and Art in Luxembourg City; The Bitter Years, an exhibition of photos Steichen curated in 1962 documenting the Great Depression in rural America, is now on display in Dudelange.
From fireworks to music and food events, Luxembourg punches well above its weight in terms of the festivals it offers.
Although the summer 2020 events are cancelled due to COVID-19, the events will be back in 2021. Summer is a lively time to visit, with the festivities kicked off by Luxembourg’s National Day every June, when the Grand Duke’s official birthday is marked with military processions, outdoor parties and fireworks. One of Luxembourg’s busiest events is the Summer in the City festival, which sees the city transformed with open-air concerts, films, markets, food stalls and much more.
But there’s plenty to do for those visiting Luxembourg outside of the summer months, too. For example, twice a month, the Luxembourg City Tourist Office hosts the concerts de midi, which are free classical concerts in a range of lovely venues, including Église St Michel.
South of the city, the Land of the Red Rocks drew entrepreneurs, quarriers and miners eager to extract its red iron ore during Luxembourg’s 19th-century industrial heyday. Now, rewilding and regeneration projects are breathing new life into the abandoned mining sites.
Take the 35km Minett Tour and journey into Luxembourg’s illustrious industrial past. One of the places you will visit is Belval, an ambitious regeneration project has turned an industrial wasteland into a vibrant new urban quarter, where parts of the old steel infrastructure sit next to modern architecture. Climb the blast furnace to admire views across to France.
Did you know Luxembourg’s curious Echternach Whit Tuesday hopping procession has been recognised by UNESCO? Along with Edward Steichen’s photo collection at Clervaux Castle and Luxembourg City’s Old Quarters and fortifications, it’s one of the country’s three UNESCO-protected highlights.
Thought to have started in the 16th century by pilgrims, the hopping dance sees people from all over Europe dressed in white shirts and dark trousers hopping through the cobbled streets of Echternach to the sound of a polka melody.
This hopping dance is full of joy, and is certainly worth watching ... or joining in with!
Put on a pair of VR glasses and immerse yourself in 1987 Luxembourg. With a little help from virtual reality, a tour guide will walk you through Luxembourg's ancient streets. where you will literally be able to see what the country would have looked like in the 1800s.
You will then board a bus, to watch Middle-Age Luxembourg race past the window - An historic experience like no other.
Public readings, screenings, meetings with writers, slam evenings, philosophical round tables, exhibitions of local artists and small “café-theater” shows. It may be small, but the literary café Le Bovary in the heart of Weimerskirch packs in a lot when it comes to culture.
It is the first permanent café of its kind to be opened in the Grand Duchy and with colourful book corners lit by quirky lamps, a beautiful outdoor area, a grand bar and delicious food, this is arguably one of the most fun libraries in the world.
Between Clervaux Castle in the north and Schengen Castle in the south-east lie more than 50 castles, palaces, fortifications, keeps and crumbling ruins to explore. Gaze at the Grand Duchy’s medieval strongholds – teetering on rocky promontories and fortified with thick walls, gated entrances and towers – and admire its grand mansions and neoclassical palace.
Situated in the heart of Europe, Luxembourg has been strategically important across the centuries, and you should spend some time exploring the many sites chronicling the Grand Duchy’s military history.
The Battle of the Bulge Museums at the castles of Clervaux and Wiltz examine the pivotal Second World War clash that ultimately led to Luxembourg’s liberation from Germany.
Over in Diekirch, the National Museum of Military History will give you an insight into the two World Wars and the Korean War, too. The museum is home to a fascinating collection of vehicles, weapons and equipment.
More World War history can be soaked up at the National Resistance Museum in Esch-sur-Alzette where you can discover the stories of resistance fighters and the fate of Luxembourg’s Jews.
If you’d rather be outside, then try the Remembrance Hikes, where you can walk past woodland bunkers, explore city wartime sites and follow the secret refugee path on one of the country’s commemorative walks.
If you have a family member who fought in World War Two in Luxembourg, then you might like to try a bespoke tour with Gaul's Legacy Tours, where you can retrace the steps of your ancestor.
Despite having a population of under 5,000, Schengen is one of the most recognisable names in Europe. The historic Schengen Agreement was signed here in 1985, extending the Benelux countries’ open borders to include France and West Germany, and later, most of Europe. Check out Schengen’s European Museum to find out more.
But there is much more to Schengen than the famous treaty. This lovely ribbon settlement sitting on the banks of the Moselle in a mild river valley is striped with vineyards, and justifiably proud of its wines. Join the Hunnefeier Festival in October, celebrating the grape harvest, and sample local foods and wines, including its sparkling crémants. Enjoy market stalls, music and street entertainment, then hike the Schengen Grenzenlos (Borderless Schengen) dream loop down into France, taking in sweeping views over the Moselle Valley and steep-sided vineyards to Lorraine.
A foodie’s heaven, the Grand Duchy is renowned for its high-quality local fare. Treat yourself to a gourmet meal at one of its impressive number of Michelin-starred restaurants, or seek out one of its many food and drink festivals, markets and delis. There’s even an annual walnut market in Vianden.
Take a guided walking tour through the beautiful Moselle Valley. From Grevenmacher to Schengen, the Moselle is lined with vineyards and wineries, as well as wine bars and restaurants serving up the best local labels. Starting from the Wine Museum in Ehnen, discover why the geology of the Moselle produces the finest rieslings. Or join the circular Crémant wine walk from Wellenstein and learn why this sparkling vino is a favourite tipple in Luxembourg. You can also organise your own DIY wine tour: pick up the trail map and brochures from tourist centres. As well as discovering picturesque Moselle villages and beautiful landscapes, you’ll be able to tour wineries, learn how wine is made and, best of all, sample a few bottles!
Main caption: (SIP/Uli Fielitz)
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