Travel Diaries – Luxembourg City

We arrived into Luxembourg City on our bus from Brussels in the late afternoon. Since we were also leaving by bus, we chose to stay right near the bus station at the Ibis Styles Luxembourg Centre Gare. We are carrying little extra luggage so walking less with it is a bonus.

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This hotel was typical of the other Ibis hotels we have stayed in. Small, minimal nordic-style rooms with all the basics. While the bathrooms are never big, this one was one of the smaller ones I’ve experienced. It was almost too small to get dressed in after a shower. It was clean though and included all amenities like soap, shampoo and a hairdryer.

Ibis Styles Luxembourg Centre Gare Room
The small but bright and clean rooms at the Ibis Styles Luxembourg Centre Gare
Ibis Styles Luxembourg Centre Gare
The bathrooms were very small. This was it, with a toilet to the right.

We had breakfast included in our stay, and it was pleasing to see a decent range of cereals, pastries, bread, cold cuts, yoghurts etc. Coffee was from a machine, but a few different types were available along with a good selection of teas. Overall, a good spread for a continental breakfast.

While the area is perhaps a little seedy, with pubs and nightclubs, we had no issues with any noise or bad behaviour. The up side is that there are plenty of restaurants around the area as well as shops, department stores and fast food options. Another positive was the good wifi. I would stay here again if I was watching the budget as I feel it represented good value for money.

With only one full day in Luxembourg City I had done a little research and made a list of the things I wanted to see. As we were getting ready to head out, Simon turned on the television to discover that only a couple of hours before, Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg had passed away.

The Grand Duke Jean lived to the ripe old age of 98! Although he is not the current head of state (he abdicated to his son Henri in 2000) he will still be mourned as such. He ruled Luxembourg for 36 years and was much beloved by his people.

How this would affect our day we did not know.

It was about a 15 minute walk from our hotel into the centre of Luxembourg City. We walked out of our hotel and down the street, only getting a few metres before turning around! It was meant to be 23 Celsius and sunny, but instead the weather was cold and overcast, so back we went to get an extra layer of clothes!

Luxembourg City is a town set over two levels – some high parts and some low parts. Every time we wanted to get between the two it seemed like we walked a whole pile extra to do so.

Our first experience was as we were making our way into the city. We came to the Adolphe Bridge and decided that it might be nice to walk down near the small creek to get a nice photo of the bridge from the side, rather than walk straight over it. We had a lovely walk along underneath it, while trying to work out which path would get us up the other side. Spring is just starting to get into full swing with trees starting to flower and colour popping up everywhere, so it was quite a nice walk to be “accidentally” doing.

Adolphe Bridge from Below
The view of the Adolphe Bridge from the valley floor below

Once we got back up we were at Constitution Place – with perfect side on views of the bridge! If only we had walked straight over and turned to our right we would have been here!

Adolphe Bridge
And the view of the bridge once we got up to Constitution Place

Constitution Place (or Place de la Constitution) is a square that sits high up on the bastions surrounding the city centre. It contains the Gelle Fra monument which commemorates soldiers lost in World War One. The square offers fantastic views of the Adolphe Bridge and the whole Petrusse Valley. It is also home to a huge flagpole flying the flag of Luxembourg, which today was at half mast.

Gelle Fra
The Gelle Fra memorial in Constitution Place

Flags all over the city were flying at half mast due to the death of Grand Duke Jean, but really, that was the only sign of mourning we could see. Whether it was too early since he only passed away a few hours earlier, or that is it until the state funeral in a couple of weeks I’m not sure.

Constitution Place
Views of the big flag pole at Constitution Place

We could see the Notre Dame Cathedral from where we were, so we went in to have a look. As it turns out this is where the state funeral will be held. We also got to see the royal crypt in the basement of the church. I believe the Grand Duke will be buried here in the vault under the floor where his ancestors have been buried for generations, including his parents and wife.

Notre Dame Crypt Luxembourg
The royal crypt in Notre Dame Cathedral Luxembourg

Notre Dame Cathedral was originally built in the 1600s as a Jesuit church. In later years it became Catholic. As far as comparisons to similar cathedrals, it is definitely not as beautiful as many of them. It’s still worth a quick look though, with an interesting history of Luxembourg shown in the front foyer.

Notra Dame Cathedral Luxembourg
Not quite as stunning as some of the other big European cathedrals, but none the less, still quite pretty.

Right next door to the Cathedral is the National Library. We stuck our heads in to see if there were any interesting displays, but it really did only look like a library for use by those studying. You can get a code to access free wifi here though, so if you need to do some work, this could be a good option to do that.

We continued roaming the streets, checking out the squares and cute little shops. The Grand-Ducal Palace is also in the centre of the city and almost impossible to photograph due to the size of it and the narrow streets. The only indication it is the palace are the two guards marching up and down in front of it.

Window Shopping Luxembourg
Window shopping in Luxembourg meant drooling over these delicious creations
Chocolate House Luxembourg
Call past the Chocolate House for the best hot chocolate in Luxembourg – and it is right across from the Grand-Ducal Palace if you want to try to spot the royal family
Grand-Ducal Palace Luxembourg
The Grand-Ducal Palace sits in an ordinary street with just these guards out the front

What we did notice in the city were the building works going on. Everywhere we looked there was construction of some sort – even in the Cathedral. There is a new tram line going in that accounts for some of it, but so much more is going on here too.

Next we walked along the Corniche to admire the views over The Grund (old town) before visiting the Bock Casements – pretty much just tunnels in the rock used in the past to defend the town.

Views over the Grund
Views over The Grund (on the right) from the Corniche, with the Bock Casemates on the left
Bock Casemates View
Views over The Grund from one of the Bock Casemates openings.
Bock Casemates Tunnels
Tunnels run down the centre with openings to each side to give great views down the valley
Bock Casemates View
A view out the other side of the Bock Casemates

Afterwards we wanted to get down into The Grund area – and this was when we walked up and down and along so many streets to try to find some stairs! It looked like it should be simple, we saw others walking from places we imagined would lead us down. Mostly they didn’t, but eventually we did find a way down.

As we made our way along the little stream admiring the picturesque views we came across a strange pink mermaid. This is Melusine, Luxembourg’s little mermaid. Her legend varies a little, but basically (my short version!) Melusine was cursed with having the tail of a mermaid every Saturday. She got married with the condition that her husband never came to her chamber on Saturday, but he did and saw her mermaid tail. She forgave him for not doing as she asked, but one day he blurted her secret out in court. She was so angry that she turned herself into a dragon, killed everyone and flew off, never to be seen again!

Luxembourg Mermaid
The mermaid of Luxembourg

We popped into the Natural History Museum, which looked to be one of the best museums of it’s kind I’ve been in, even though it was relatively small. The displays were modern and filled with information, and so many of them were interactive! There was one small issue – most of the information was only in French or German! There was some English though, particularly in a temporary exhibition on Night, which was great.

National History Museum
One of the many interactive, 3D displays in the Natural History Museum. This shows a habitat both above and below water
Night at the Museum
The temporary display on Night was very well done (and had English descriptions included)

We kept just walking around admiring the views until our legs were worn out and we came back to our hotel for a rest!

Oh, I just have to mention our lunch stop! Since it was cold, the perfect solution for lunch was soup! I had come across a mention of the shop “Á la Soupe“. I tried the traditional Luxembourg Bouneschlupp, a soup of sausage and green beans. I have to say it was delicious and I would gladly eat it again. Prices here were reasonable, with our soups being around the €7 mark with a big hunk of bread included. The “Soup of the Day” was even cheaper, but since we were having quite a late lunch it was already sold out for the day by the time we got there.

Bouneschlupp Soup
A big, warm bowl of Bouneschlupp Soup

The following morning we still had some time to spend around Luxembourg City so thought we would just go for a walk and see were it took us.

It turned out to be a nicer morning than the previous day so we strolled through the parks surrounding the city centre. The spring flowers were all just starting to emerge to add a bit of colour.

Spring in Luxembourg
The gardens in flower in Luxembourg

We came to the Pfaffenthal Lift, which descends 65 metres from the top level of the city to the bottom. One side of the lift is glass, so there are great free views. We went down the lift and then came back up again, just to enjoy the views.

Pfaffenthal Lift
The structure for the Pfaffenthal Lift – a daily commute for many people between the two levels of the city
View from the Pfaffenthal Lift
Views over the valley from inside the Pfaffenthal Lift. In the centre distance the walls of the Bock Casemates can be seen

We walked all through the centre again, taking advantage of the blue skies to retake some of the gloomy photos from the day day before.

If you are looking for a healthy but tasty lunch, with take away available, check out the options at Rawdish. It’s on the way from the city to the train/bus station. We grabbed some sandwiches to eat while on the bus and they were delicious.

Rawdish Luxembourg
Look out for Rawdish for healthy but tasty food

As we made our way back to our hotel to check out and catch our bus, we finally walked across the Adolphe Bridge which gave fantastic views back towards the city. We really should have done that the previous day!

You may also be interested in these other posts
A Day Trip to Versailles from Paris
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