From the Land of the Red Rocks, the Moselle vineyards and the forests of Mullerthal to its vibrant capital, compact Luxembourg is the perfect weekend destination. Here's how to spend a short break here...
They say the best things come in small packages - an idiom that could have been invented just for Luxembourg. The miniature Grand Duchy is jam-packed with romantic castles, top-class museums and stunning hiking trails. From the Land of the Red Rocks, the Moselle vineyards and the gorges and forests of Mullerthal to its vibrant capital, compact Luxembourg is the perfect weekend destination.
The fortifications and Old Quarter of the city is a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage site. To take in the sheer scale of the imposing fortress above the dramatic sandstone gorge, stroll along the banks of the Alzette in the vicinity of Neumünster Abbey, then cross to the promontory. Explore the labyrinth of dark tunnels and staircases in the Bock Casemates. Revel in the beauty of the old town or explore the Place D’Armes, the Grand Ducal palace and Notre Dame cathedral. There’s plenty of choice for lunch in the old town, from street food and shabby-chic cafes to elegant restaurants.
Alternatively, take your pick from seven top-notch museums in the heart of the city, all within a one-mile radius – the Museum Mile. If you enjoy art, you can choose between the elegant Villa Vauban with its old Dutch masters, Casino Luxembourg - Forum d'art Contemporain and the Museum of Modern Art Grand-Duc Jean, a magnificent contemporary building built onto the rampart walls of Fort Thüngen. Love history? Head for the Lëtzebuerg City Museum and ride the glass elevator to travel through 1,000 years of Luxembourg heritage. Museum Dräi Eechelen chronicles the city’s origins and its military past in a restored 18th century fort, while the National Museum of History and Art showcases art and archaeology. Don’t miss the National Museum of Natural History with its stunning collection of preserved animals.
Visit the gleaming city-scape of Kirchberg. Among the glass-fronted high-rise buildings and fluid forms of Kirchberg’s futuristic architecture, you’ll find streets, plazas, parks and greens embellished with playful sculpture. Book a two-hour walking tour with Luxembourg City Tourist Board.
Alternatively, head out of the busy city into the Guttland region, an area of sleepy villages, rolling countryside and tranquil woodlands. Its highlight is the Valley of the Seven Castles – 24km of fairy-tale castles along the Eisch Valley.
Experience fine dining at the chic Tempo Bar où manger behind the stunning Philharmonie before enjoying an evening of exquisite music at the world-renowned concert hall.
Take the bus to Echternach (home to the famous ‘hopping procession’) in the Mullerthal region, better known as 'Luxembourg's Little Switzerland’. This superb walking country takes the rambler through forest, ravine, river and meadow. Climb out of town, with fine views across to Echternach, then head through woodlands to the dramatic Wolves' Canyon. Stop for lunch at the Brasserie Heringer Millen in the village of Mullerthal, with its ceiling to floor conservatory overlooking the valley. Take time to explore the mill museum and visitor centre next door. From here, you can hire hiking equipmemt for free for 24 hours.
Walk along the tranquil Black Ernz (looking out for herons), then climb through the other-worldly moss-covered valley of Hallerbach to Beaufort Castle. Explore the ruins of the medieval fortress along with the interior of the newer Renaissance castle next door.
Alternatively, if you’d rather relax than hike, look no further than the Moselle Valley. From Grevennacher to the historic settlement of Schengen, this mild river valley, with its sun-kissed vineyards, is the perfect place to chill out. Amble through waterside settlements, enjoy lunch on a garden terrace overlooking the Moselle and indulge in an afternoon of wine-tasting. Finish the day at Le Bistrot Gourmand at the lake in Remerschen and choose from a menu of flavoursome mains and mouth-watering desserts.
Wander through Echternach, its pastel-coloured buildings snuggled into an elbow of the River Sûre. The settlement sprang up around the imposing abbey. Nowadays, life centres around the town square with its restaurants, cafés and outdoor seating, a good place to enjoy an evening meal.
Ride the restored 1900 steam train from Pétange to Minett Park at Fond-de-Gras and explore the open-air museum of preserved buildings from a nineteenth-century mining community.
Alternatively, head for Prënzebierg Nature Reserve, a superb nature reserve for the budding geologist, wildlife lover or rambler. Take the two-and-a-half kilometre Giele Botter Geological Trail through the red earth of the iron-rich, open-cast mines. Stroll along the terraced quarry, with far-reaching views to France. To make the best of the trail, book a guided tour.
At Belval an ambitious regeneration project has turned an industrial wasteland into a vibrant hub for artists, scientists, entrepreneurs and visitors. Here, the old steelworks sit side-by-side with ultra-modern architecture. Explore a blast furnace and find out about Belval’s history and renewal in the exhibition hall of Massenoire.
When the sun sets and the tower blocks of Belval are flooded with lights, enjoy the shopping mall, restaurants and multiplex cinema.
Main picture credit: Christophe Van Biesen
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