Have you ever wanted to visit a place for a weird reason? I was slightly obsessed with Luxembourg while I was living in Germany because it is a tiny country. Why was it so tiny? What are the people like? I didn’t know much about it, I just wanted to see it.
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a country smaller than the state of Rhode Island and is surrounded by Belgium to the North, France to the South and Germany to the East. It’s basically the European version of Four Corners in the southwestern United States, you can almost reach out and touch it’s neighboring countries. I was lucky enough to find a great deal on the Deutsche Bahn to the capital, Luxembourg City, from Stuttgart, Germany. Utilizing the French bullet train the trip was a quick three hours, making it a easy, albeit longer than normal, day trip. For this trip we didn’t have much of a plan, just to wander. Even so, we were able to see a lot in a short time because the city center is pretty small. Here is just one plan for what to see during your time in Luxembourg City. There is much we didn’t have time to explore do to not knowing or time constraints.
Exploring Luxembourg City
After arriving at the Gare Centrale (main train station) head up up the main thoroughfare Avenue de la Gare to the city center. Once you pass all the shops the street opens up to a pretty green belt as you cross over the La Passerelle,a big bridge. As we were walking we were Peter Piper’d by organ music wafting in the air. Following it we ended up stepping into the beautiful Cathédrale Notre-Dame that happened to be holding an organ concert. Lucky us! Even if there isn’t a concert happening, be sure to stick your head into inside as it’s a beautiful example of gothic stone architecture. Stop in at the tourist office, just behind the Cathedral for maps and suggestions of things to see. Once again we got lucky and were treated to a traditional farmer’s market that was happening in the plaza behind the tourist office. Beautiful fruits and cheeses were displayed, it was just so delightfully French!
A Royal Palace and A Cup of Sweet
One plaza over is the Palais Grand-Ducal, the royal residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Tours of the residence are given during the summer, so unfortunately we were unable to visit. If you are planning a trip in the summer be sure to grab your tickets ahead of time, they tend to sell out. While you’re waiting for your tour, or after being disappointed they were sold out, or if you just need a sweets break in your day – be sure to check out the Chocolate House Bonn across the street from the palace and get yourself some amazing hot chocolate. They have cakes and other pastries as well, but when you pick your chocolate flavor, you’re delivered a hot mug of milk and a block of chocolate on a spoon to stir into your milk as it melts. So cute!
Best View in the City
As you make your way beyond the Palais, eventually you’ll find yourself on the Schlassbréck, a tall red brick bridge overlooking the city. This was my favorite part of the trip, the view is truly stunning. You can see the stone foundations of the centuries old city, and below, the river that winds through the city dotted with churches, gardens and trees. It’s like a fairy tale village. Below the bridge runs several underground tunnels that were started in the 17th century but used during WWII as bunkers known as the Casemates du Bock. Had I known more about these prior to visiting the city I definitely would have explored them. So cool!
Walking the city is really a study in architecture, everywhere you look there’s a different style of architecture; from the art nouveau with intricate carvings and gold trim, to the modern white facade of the National History and Art Museum and everything in between. It’s a photographer’s dream. You could easily spend much of your day just wandering the city taking pictures – and we did! Sometimes it’s fun to just get lost in a city you’ve never been before. You don’t know what you’re looking at, but it’s beautiful!
American Military Memorial
The one thing I did know about before visiting was the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. When I mentioned to my friend in the Army that I was going to Luxembourg, he suggested I visit. Over 5,000 American servicemen are buried in the cemetery, including General George Patton, most of whom died during the Battle of the Bulge. The white cross headstones are set against bright green grass in a beautiful and humbling memorial. While I did plan to visit, I didn’t do research before hand to check what time it closed. To get there without a car you have to take the bus, then walk a good distance and by the time we arrived they were just closing up. The woman at the gate allowed us in for a few minutes because she felt bad that we had walked all the way there.
A Stroll Through Paris
After getting back to the city center we didn’t have too much time before our train left. We swung back around to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame and found the Monument of Remembrance lovingly referred to as the Gëlle Fra or Golden Lady by locals. It’s a memorial for those Luxembourgers who volunteered to fight during WWI when Luxembourg was occupied by Germany. Much later inscriptions were added to honor those who fought during WWII and the Korean War. Fun Fact: The street the Memorial is on is called Boulevard Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Heading back to the train station we somehow took a different path and were able to walk through an area known as the Paris of Luxembourg. Most of the buildings along this street looks like it belongs in Paris starting with the Plateau Bourbon building, at the foot of the the Pont Adolphe. Just another amazing part of Luxembourg City!
Since the advent of Pinterest and Instagram, it’s easy to feel pressure to have the perfect vacation. I, too, am guilty of wanting to visit a place just because I found a beautiful picture online. While there is nothing wrong with that method of trip planning, sometimes it’s can be freeing just to wander through a city without looking for something specific. This trip to Luxembourg was before I started seriously travel blogging, and I didn’t care that I had no plan. Now that I travel with creating content in mind, it’s hard to have that feeling again. Here’s to more wandering and less worrying during travel!
What motivates your travel plans? How to you decide where to go? Let me know in the comments!