As I mentioned in my last post, Luxembourg City is a cool little city hiding a lot of surprises among its picturesque architecture. It was also an incredibly expensive city, for example the cab from the airport to the city center cost us 50 Euros (!), so I've focused here on cheap things to do in Luxembourg. There was a lot more to do and see, but being with a stroller limited our explorations as many things were only accessible via stairs. Do keep this in mind if you are also traveling with a baby or young child. Maybe a carrier would be a more viable way to see other parts of the city.
Normally, I'm really good at navigating and finding my way around cities (even ones that I've not been to before) using my memory and a map. I really struggled though in Luxembourg City. Because the city is split in two by a river and deep gorges, there are several bridges connecting different parts of the city. Just by looking at a map, you are unable to determine what is a bridge and what you can access since the city is really at different levels (because of a gorge with buildings and streets that you look down upon).
This is a photo heavy photo, so grab some coffee/cake and enjoy :)
1) Farmers' Market
The Saturday farmers' market in Place Guillaume II from 7:30 am to 2 pm is a great place to purchase local food, people watch, and just generally wander around the historic old town. I picked up a container of strawberries and lazed on a bench in the sun while people watching. I'd definitely recommend visiting!
2) Walk Through the Park
Parc Ed. Klein on Avenue Marie-Therese (across the street from Hotel Parc Plaza) is a beautiful place for a leisurely walk. Green space in Luxembourg seemed to be limited, which kind of surprised me. I don't even think that I saw any playgrounds. Ig you happen to be visiting Luxembourg at the right time of year (mid-March) you'll be rewarded with fields and fields of purple, white, and yellow crocuses!
3) Explore the Old Town
The old town of Luxembourg City is gorgeous and if you look closely enough, you'll find incredible details. I mean, look at that street art, the intricate carving above the church's entrance, and beautifully colored buildings. In the old town, be sure not to miss:
- Grand Rue, where you'll find Oberweis, lots of high-end stores, and the Musician and Sheep statue called Hammelsmarsch
- Place Guillaume with its Saturday farmers' market, great restaurants, and beautiful buildings
- The Grand-Ducal Palace, where you'll see cool inverted face statues (not sure how to explain it ... see the photo below), beautiful architecture ... but skip the famed Chocolate House (here's why)
- Eating madeleines from Lea Linster
4) Leave the Old Town and Head Over the Bridge
See that little building down there below the road, almost built into the side of the rock face? Doesn't it look awesome? We didn't make it down there, but had we had one more day, I absolutely would have. That little building is called Quirin Chapel, and reading a bit into it the guide book I picked up from the hotel, it sounds like there are caves inside the chapel. It was built in the 1300s and really looks like it is worth a visit. If you make it down there, I'd love it if you share photos!
Also, in the Gare district, you'll find international restaurants and grocery stores. I was so excited by finding two Chinese grocery stores that I stopped and filled up a basket with treats! You'll also find Kathy's Cupcakes, hot pot, a numerous bakeries.
5) Walk all or part of the Wenzel Circular Walk
Although the route of the Wenzel walk is marked, I'd suggest picking up the specific pamphlet from your hotel or a tourism office. With your pamphlet in hand, you can learn about 1000 years of Luxembourg City's history as well as each specific stop along the path. Parts of this walk are accessible with a stroller, and you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the city.
6) Visit Cathedral Notre-Dame
Luxembourg's Cathedral Notre-Dame is stunningly beautiful from the outside. Confusingly, the Cathedral Notre-Dame has two different entrances located on different streets. The signage at one entrance is clear, and another (those from the first three photos below) is very confusing. Just next to the Cathedral Notre-Dame is a university library, so until looking at the map in more detail, I thought that this was the most gorgeous (and religious-looking) university library -- but it is actually just a different entrance to the Cathedral.
Despite this confusing on my part for entering, the interior to the Luxembourg Notre Dame Cathedral is incredibly intricate. Everything from the carved columns to the stained glass windows, it really is worth a visit. It is also free to enter.
7) Check out the Shops in the Am Garage
The hotel we stayed at in Luxembourg had a Luxembourg local magazine that highlighted some unusual things to do in the city. One article mentioned the relatively new Am Garage, which is a former mechanic's garage that has been turned into a hipster hub. About a 20 minute walk from the old town, you'll reach the Am Garage, which hosts restaurants, cafes, and shops. Try Knopes Artisan Coffee and pick up a snack from one of the other bakeries.
8) Feed in Your Book Addiction
On 4 Rue de la Reine (right near the Ducal Palace), you'll find All English Bookstore, which carries, as the name suggests, only English books. Here, you'll find children's books, bestsellers, all genres, and small gift items. Certainly a great stop!
9) Enjoy the Colorful Stained Glass in Saint-Michel Church
Saint-Michel Church is almost more impressive than Luxembourg's Notre-Dame Cathedral. Built in 987, it is the oldest religious building in Luxembourg. In addition to its age, the thing that made it stand out to me is its incredibly intricate stained glass. The sharp edges and lines make the stained glass look very different to me compared with other churches I've visited.
Entering Saint-Michel Church is also free.
10) Marvel at the Casemates
There are two casemates in Luxembourg City: Bock Casemates and Petrusse Casemates. Work on the Bock Casemates began in 963 and are a multilevel underground defensive passage. The Bock Casemates are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Much of the accompanying Bock Promenatory, fortified rings, and forts were destroyed from about 1876-1875, but the casemates remained resilient.
Building of the Petrusse Casemates began in 1644, and are very well-preserved. The Petrusse Casemates fell into dis-use until about 1933 when they were first opened to visitors. Note that the Petrusse Casemates are currently closed.
What else would you suggest doing in Luxembourg? Have you been? Any other budget tips for this expensive city?