Enjoy a grand vacation in old Luxembourg

Nestled between the countries of France, Belgium, and Germany, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has a surprising wealth of sights and activities for a country that rates as one of the smallest in Europe. This founding member of the European Union has produced four Tour de France champions, which shows the central role that the sport of cycling plays in Luxembourg’s culture. Bicycles and bicycle rentals are ubiquitous, as are the myriad and winding bicycle trails that course throughout the diverse countryside of thick forests, gently rolling hills, and modest mountains.

 

Getting in, out, and about

 

Luxembourg is both a part of the European Union and the Schengen Agreement, which means US travelers only need a valid passport for entry into the country or to cross over the borders of the surrounding countries. Once entering into the Schengen Area, your passport stamp allows you to stay in any country within the area for up to 90 days within a 180 day period.

 

Aside from having the common vaccinations up to date, you need not get any additional shots. However, some travelers may find it prudent to get a rabies vaccination, especially if you are planning on exploring the caves that dot the region of Müllerthal. Rabies is not generally found in the dogs local to the area, but traveling through the caves can expose you to bats who carry the disease. Other optional vaccines are against Hepatitis A and B. You should consult with your local physician regarding your travel plans to determine what, if any, vaccines are right for you.

 

Although Luxembourg is rather expensive, particularly in terms of meals and lodging, since it is a well-known capital for banking and finance, you cannot carry more than €10,000 in or out of the country.

 

If you experience any health issues or other emergencies in the country, remember the emergency phone numbers of 112 for a medical emergency or 113 for the police. If you need to access a pharmacy late in the evening, call 112 for information, since pharmacies in Luxembourg rotate 24 hour access among them.

 

 

The traveler’s tongue

 

Luxembourg has its own official language, Luxembourgish. However, French is the unofficial national language, and most of the street signs and other signs are in French. German is also spoken quite extensively, with most citizens being trilingual. However, don’t misconstrue Luxembourgish as a dialect of German, despite its similarities. Most of the locals would find that insulting to their culture. English is commonly spoken in some areas, but it is hit or miss. When in doubt, address people in French and ask if they speak English. Most will be glad to help you. If you really want to score points with people, try a few phrases of Luxembourgish, since so few people know the language outside of the country. Here’s your first word to try: Moien, (pronounced moy-en). It means hello, and if you say it with a smile, you’ll be surprised how many doors it will open for you.

 

Money matters in Luxembourg

 

Luxembourg is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Consequently, finding cheap accommodations is a next to impossible task, with even the cheapest of rooms costing no less than €100 a night per person. While there may be some cheaper youth hostels with varying degrees of comfort, your best option is to stay across the border in nearby France or Germany and make a day trip out of Luxembourg.

 

If you are into camping, the year-long mild climate in Luxembourg does make this a viable option. The landscapes in Luxembourg are varied and lovely, which adds to the pleasure of camping out.

 

Since Luxembourg is such a small country, getting around by train or bus is actually fairly cheap. It takes no more than an hour to travel from the capital of Luxembourg City to anywhere else in the country. Day passes for the trains and buses come in for around €4.

 

Dining in Luxembourg is expensive, with even the most modest of meals coming in at just under €20. Tipping at restaurants is unnecessary since your check will include a Value Added Tax that helps support the server.

 

Since it is a financial capital of Europe, you will have no trouble finding banks or ATMs to change your money in Luxembourg City. In the surrounding areas, these are not as available.

 

Although the euro is the primary currency for many countries in the EU, and some outside, each country’s version of the euro has a unique identifying stamp on the back of it. If you happen to receive any Luxembourgish coins among your change, keep them because they are less common than other euro coins.

 

Things to do and see in Luxembourg

 

Luxembourg packs a whole lot into such a small country. Here are some of the highlights:

 

  • Visit the town of Echternach, especially the first Tuesday after Pentecost, known as Whit Tuesday. The oldest town in Luxembourg features a remarkable festival that includes a strange hopping dance throughout the town streets. The Abbey of Echternach, surrounded by beautiful gardens is a highlight any time of year.
  • Tour the wine country of Mosselle. Start the Route du Vin from the town of Remich through the Mosselle Valley, where you can sample a wide variety of delicious white wines including Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Elbling, Riesling, and Rivaner varieties.
  • Gamble at Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg’s only casino, or relax and be pampered at its world famous spa, Domaine Thermal.
  • Sample the fine brew at Diekirch or visit its National Museum of Military History, which recounts the Battle of the Bulge that took place in Luxembourg, one of World War II’s most famous battles.
  • Eat the national dish judd mat gaardebounen, which consists of pork neck that has been smoked and mixed with boiled broad beans. Another popular dish is gromperekichelchen, which is a cake made of potatoes, parsley, onions, and shallots. Most of the food you’ll find in restaurants will have a decided French influence, but with much larger portions.
  • Since the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was initially founded as a crossroads in Europe during the tumultuous Middle Ages, there are numerous castles and fortresses. One of the most stunning castles is outside the town of Vianden, the Château Beaufort, which is on a hill surrounded by forests and a lake where swans paddle through the waters. In order to reach the castle gates, you have to take a cable car up the hill. Another highlight in the town of Vianden is the house of Victor Hugo, the author of Les Misérables.
  • No trip to Luxembourg is complete without touring the capital city. The Wenzel Walk allows you to tour the city’s ramparts, hearkening to a time when warring factions marauded through the Luxembourg countryside. Another unique feature of Luxembourg City is Bock Casemates, a hive of tunnels that meander through the rocky cliffs around the city. One of the most stunning views in all of Europe is on the Chemin de la Corniche, which overlooks the forested valley below the city.

 

Whether you spend days on your vacation traveling inside the boundaries of Luxembourg, or incorporate it into a larger European trip, you’ll find this fairy tale land to be a highlight for your vacation.