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Top 10 Things To Do, See & Experience in Luxembourg

Not sure about you, but no one I know in Ireland has ever been to Luxembourg (and no, I don’t have any politicians or bureaucrats as friends, thanks for asking). Now that various airlines, however, fly to the city (which is located, officially, in the rather sumptuous region of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg), word is filtering out. People are becoming more and more aware that one of the smallest sovereign states in Europe (998 sq miles), with one of the smallest populations (over 600,000) is staking a claim for your visit. A landlocked country, it is bordered by France to the south, Germany to the east, and Belgium to the west and north, it is one of the three official capitals of the EU as well as the seat of the European Court of Justice. For those who don’t know much about it, the country is, like Belgium’s capital, Brussels, too often tainted with the bland brush. And yes, as you will read, the country and city (which has a population of almost 120,000 and which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site 25 years ago) has many attractions. Dive in to find out what to do, see, experience, eat, drink and enjoy.

Luxembourg - Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean

MUSEUM: Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean

Why should I?: This place cost about $100m to build, and, boy, has the money has been well spent! Designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Leoh Ming Pei, the museum (think futuristic, lots of glass, spacious areas) opened in July 2006, and has concentrated solely on collecting and displaying modern art. With artworks from the likes of Julian Schnabel, Thomas Struth, and Andy Warhol, and collections from artists such as Cy Twombly, Cindy Sherman, Grayson Perry, Steve McQueen, Marina Abramovic, and Gilbert & George, you can safely say its mission statement has been admirably adhered to.

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Luxembourg - Kaale Kaffi

COFFEE: Kaale Kaffi

Why should I?: After the archetypal walk around a museum you’re bound to want to sit down for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon coffee, so in the first instance we would suggest a visit to Kaale Kaffi (9 Rue de la Boucherie; no website). In keeping with small city/town European side street commerce, it’s a quirky place, as much coffee shop as second-hand clothes joint and antiques store. And yet it fits in with Luxembourg’s fairy tale-like demeanour. We loved it.

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Luxembourg - The ramparts

WALK: The ramparts

Why should I?: The city’s location has always been deemed a tactical one, high up on cliffs overlooking the Alzette river, a prime target for a sequence of occupations by (then) hostile countries. There are now, however, a series of fortified promenade-type walkways all around the pedestrianised Old Town, all of which provide terrific views of the many narrow, mediaeval streets. One really nice touch along here is the frontage of the city’s History Museum, which has been transformed from a number of town houses and given a sleek glass makeover.

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Luxembourg - The changing of the guard

WATCH: The changing of the guard

Why should I?: You can very easily do this in London, as you stop to take a gander outside Buckingham Place, and wouldn’t you know it (Luxembourg being the world’s only remaining Grand Duchy), you can do exactly the same outside the Grand Duke’s palace (which is also the seat of government). The fact that you can watch the soldiers doing their drills while sipping your personally flavoured hot chocolate on the patio of the Chocolate House – located in a 15th century building directly opposite the palace – is a finger-licking bonus.
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Luxembourg - Dipso

LUNCH: Dipso

Why should I?: A perfect place for a light lunch, Dipso (4 Rue de la Loge; no website) is a wine bar that also serves plates of cheese and charcuterie. Located in the Old Town, in a stone building that dates back to the 15th century, there is a 20-plus choice of wine by the glass. Lunchtime is for a quiet nibble and sip, but we’d also recommend you pop by close to midnight, when it hops like a rabbit.

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Luxembourg - Wine Regions Luxembourg

TOUR: Visit the wine regions

Why should I?: Do you really need to ask? While you might not pick up a bottle or two of Luxembourg wine at the supermarket or wine shops back home (or indeed, even think about it), the country has a decent enough reputation for rosé and sparkling white wines. Reaching along the banks of the Moselle River from Wasserbillig to Schengen, you will see a few wineries and small wine museums. If you’re driving, prepare to fill the boot!

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Luxembourg - Diekirch

DAY TRIP: Head to Diekirch

Why should I?: Just over 30 minutes by train from the city centre is the small yet very historic town of Diekirch. Following the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944 – in which it played a crucial part – Diekirch was rebuilt. Now a bustling town of over 6,000, the central pedestrian zone is full of characterful cafés, bars, and independent shops, all of which filter into tiny lanes and passages. One museum that is well worth your time to visit is the National Museum of Military History, which has impressive displays outlining the town’s role in WW2.

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Luxembourg - Ennert de Steiler

DRINKS: Ennert de Steiler

Why should I?: This bar is part revelation, part conundrum. It is on the site of a historical building dating from the 14th century (2 Rue de la Loge), has been a pub since the 19th century, and it was on the receiving end of a decent makeover several years ago. In other words, it has that old world/new scene vibe about it that in less experienced hands might not work. We really liked it, though – ideal for a pre-dinner drink or a post-dinner blow out.

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Luxembourg - La Cristallerie

DINNER: La Cristallerie

Why should I?: If you fancy pushing out the boat and testing the flexibility of your bank card, then La Cristallerie (Hotel Le Place d’Armes, 18 Place d’Armes) is a safe bet. Michelin-starred, this smooth, sophisticated and cosy restaurant pivots around the creativity of chef Fabrice Salvador and his (and his team’s) commitment to deliver “real flavours that chase boredom.” This is noticeable from start to end, top to toe – from starters (Hamachi Crudo, Plankton, citrus) and mains (Kobe Japanese beef, Grade 5) and desserts (Soufflé Chocolate and yazu) to the huge selection of world wines (from local and European to as far flung places like Tahiti).

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Luxembourg - La Pipistrelle

SLEEP: La Pipistrelle

Why should I?: A perfect choice for city centre accommodation situated very close to visitor attractions, shopping, restaurants and cafés/bars, La Pipistrelle (26 Montée du Grund) is a compact pied-à-terre (four bedroom suites), which at the very least means it’s quiet. The exquisite rooms are stylish and uber-modern, and while there isn’t late-night room service (in fairness, the city is on your doorstep), there is a terrific breakfast, served in a lounge area that was once a shield for the old city fortress walls. A classy B&B with the comforts of a 5-star hotel? Say hello.

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