Don’t Dare Dream of Skipping this Grand Duchy
Some might think Luxembourg City is like a “flyover” state. Good to stop and stretch one’s legs on a long journey, but not much to offer in the way of food, culture or fun. How mistaken you would be.
Immediately exiting the centrally located train station (as if there is any other kind) you’ll find a busy city with banks (and more banks), hotels and shopping on every street. People are living here, working here, and enjoying their city. Cross over the Adolphe Bridge linking the Upper old town with the station district. Then head down to the Petrusse Valley that separates the busy city from the quiet countryside. There’s a whole village down there, just minutes away from the bustling city. It’s almost fairy-tale like in appearance. You can walk or take the Petrusse Express train included with the Luxembourg Sightseeing Tour.
This tour lets you travel all around town in a double-decker open-air bus. You can hop on and off when you like, or start with a 60-minute circuit that will give you the lay of the land. From the historic and equally ornate Grand Ducal Palace to the graceful Golden Lady in Constitution Square. And then there’s the historic old town. Like really historic – we’re talking hundreds of years ago. It’s charm personified. Get a birds-eye view from the Chemin de la Corniche, which has been widely described as the most beautiful balcony in all of Europe. (Take that, Juliet.)
After walking along the fortifications overlooking the valley, purchase a one-day bus pass and take off for the castle-strewn countryside. There are dozens of palaces, some restored, some in various states of elegant decay. Just 30 minutes away from the Old Town you’ll find Beaufort Castle. Dating to around 1150, an addition was put on around 200 years late, followed by a wing in 1500. It has everything you want in a castle, including a torture chamber and what’s left of a moat. During the summer, lights twinkle, bringing the castle back to life, and where one can imagine dancing the night away with nobility.
Don’t think this duchy is one of quiet restraint, sitting so small (about half the size of Rhode Island) with some of the world’s richest residents. These Luxembourgans know how to par-tay. What was once an ancient shepherds' market back in 1340, the centuries-old Schueberfouer has grown into a giant funfair. To commemmorate its humble beginnings, sheep are paraded through the streets. Rather than scare the wool off of them, they are returned to their meadow before the spectacular fireworks fill the Luxembourg City sky. When the locals have had their fun, the city beckons with more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than anywhere in the world.
Luxembourg is part of a trading union, together with The Netherlands and Belgium these countries are known as Benelux. Our Eurail Benelux Pass lets you discover these Low Countries with ease. So visit your “bucket list” cities first: Amsterdam, Bruges, Brussels. Just don’t ignore the “Lux.” It’s a Duchy treat, too.