Throughout history this spot of land has always played a strategic role, situated as it is at the heart of Europe; it was the site of a Roman fortress and in the 16-17th centuries was an important bastion along the Spanish Road when that country was Europe’s pre-eminent superpower.
Today Luxembourg finds itself culturally something of a mix of Romance and Germanic Europe. It is the only remaining Grand Duchy in the world, a parliamentary representative democracy hemmed in by Belgium, France and Germany. The strength of the steel industry has declined in recent years to be replaced by finance, especially in Luxembourg City.
How To Get There
Findel airport is Luxembourg’s only international airport.
Luxembourg is also accessible by rail from the UK. Take the Eurostar either to Brussels or Paris and take a connecting trip to Luxembourg. Via Paris is somewhat quicker but given that it is using the TGV it may be more expensive too.
Car travel is another option, crossing the Channel either by ferry or le shuttle for Dover-Calais. Alternatively there are also ferry services from Hull to Zeebrugge and Hull to Europoort.
Where to stay
Luxembourg has a wide range of accommodation from modest rooms with shared bathrooms through to five star hotels. You can see a full list of options by region and type at the website www.ont.lu
In terms of Luxembourg city, the main shopping areas can be found around the Auchan shopping centre on Kirchberg, the Grand Rue and side streets as well as the area around the train station. Options range from designer goods through to Luxembourg’s famous chocolates, called knippercher. These areas can be categorized further with more high-end purchases to be made in and around the Grand Rue with more modest items to be found around the train station. The place d’Armes is where you are more likely to find souvenirs and handicrafts.
As already mentioned, Luxembourg is a small centre but Luxembourg City itself has a number of options when it comes to letting your hair down. Being a tax-haven it is somewhere that many people are attracted to work between education and having a family which means that a relatively large number of “young” people, between 27-45 years, frequent the city. Most of the bars are in the old town or in Grund and they range from Irish pubs to happening night clubs, sports bars to traditional pubs, electro to alternative etc.
1. Caves St Martin- The St Martin Wine cellars on the Luxembourg Moselle River have been around for over 75 years. Hewn into the solid rock the cellars are an impressive sight and during a tour you will be able to sample sparkling wine produced according to la methode traditionelle.
2. Palais Grand-Ducal (Palace of the Grand Dukes)- The city residence of the Grand Dukes is in the old town of Luxembourg city. It hails from the 16th century with an Italian Renaissance façade and was once the town hall of Luxembourg.
3. Museum of Natural History- located in the Luxembourg suburb of Grund and illustrates in various rooms Man’s impact on his environment since the beginning of time. The exhibition is interactive and provides information about natural history, ecology and world history.
4. Casino Luxembourg- This has become a forum for art exhibitions throughout the year. The 13 rooms of this restored historical building are used not just for the exhibitions but also are home to other cultural shows, conferences, concerts and guided tours.
5. Museum of Music- The museum traces the development of brass music in Luxembourg as well as the Harmonie Grand-Ducale Municipale. It is a place to find out about 200 years of music in Luxembourg with photographs, instruments and musical scores.
6. Victor Hugo House- French author Victor Hugo spent some time in Luxembourg as a political exile in the town of Vlanden in the years 1862, 1863 and 1871. The museum was founded 50 years after Hugo’s death in 1935 and renovated in 2002.
7. Echternach Abbey Museum-The museum can be found in the cellars of the Abbey Palace which dates from 1727. It houses copies of important manuscripts which were created in Echternach. The museum also describes the life and works of St Willibrord, a Northumbrian missionary who died in Echternach in the 8th century. The exhibits and the beauty of the setting are what makes this museum worth visiting.
Events in Luxembourg
There are many festivals taking place throughout the year in Luxembourg City especially. This can be regular weekly events through to annual ones. Wednesdays and Sundays there is a market in place Guillaume for food, flowers, cheeses, jams etc. Also on Sundays from June to October you may be lucky enough to see one of the many open-air concerts which take place at the place d’Armes and this can be anything from classical to musicals.Lent is the time for a number of street carnivals and this culminates in the Oktave of Our Lady of Luxembourg. This is a pilgrimage which honours the local patron saint and runs from the third to the fifth Sunday after Easter. In honour of St Willibrord there is also the Spring/Dance Procession of Echternach and this takes place on the Tuesday after Whitsun.Other events include:National Day- This is 23rd June and spectators get to see the Grand Duke inspect his troops. The day prior is a chance for people to party in the streets and then gather to watch the firework display which takes place over the Petrusse Valley. From June through to September there is the Summer in the City street festival of art and animation.Also in June is the International Festival of Classical music which is held in Echternach. July sees the Rock um Knuddler and Bluesn’ Jazz Rallye in Luxembourg City.In July and August in Wiltz there is the International Theatre and Music Festival. In Vianden on the first weekend of August there is a Medieval Festival.Schuebefouer- In late August a large travelling fair comes to Glacis Square. The tradition of this fair was begun way back in the 14th century by the Count of Luxembourg and the King of Bohemia. Journée Européenne du Patrimoine- this is held on the 3rd Sunday of September.
How to get aroundIn regards to Luxembourg City itself, it is small enough to get pretty much anywhere on foot or by bike. There is also a bus service and for a fairly modest sum this will take you around the city (billet courte-distance). This ticket can also provide transits between city and country buses and trains if you intend to visit other parts of the country. Another option is to buy a day ticket (Oeko-Billiee or billet reseau) or for a longer stay, a five day ticket.Those enjoying the nightlife might want to take advantage of the “Nightrider” bus which runs on Friday and Saturday nights from 7pm to 4am. It operates in a similar way to a taxi in that it drops you off exactly where you want to go. The national railway is called Luxembourg railways and they operate one service at the same time every hour to every station from 8am to 8pm. Worth bearing in mind too are the German, French and Belgian rail services which all run from their respective countries into Luxembourg.
Social etiquetteSocial etiquette in informal and business situations is reserved in Luxembourg. This goes for greetings which are always limited to handshakes between men and kissing is reserved only for very close friends. It is common for people to be addressed formally such as Madame or Monsieur. Dinner guests are expected to bring a small gift for the hostess. It is also appreciated if something is offered to children.
Location: Landlocked country in Western Europe between Belgium, France and Germany.
Time: GMT + 1 Hour
Language: Three official languages; French, German and Luxembourgish.
Climate: Modified Continental climate; mild winters and cool summers.
Area: 2,586 sq.km.
Population: 491,775 Religion: Luxembourg is a secular country but estimates have Roman Catholicism as the primary religion.
Electricity: 230 volts at 50hz
Telephone code: 00352
Currency: The Euro.
Passport/visa requirements: Holders of a valid United Kingdom passport can stay for up to three months without a visa. National airline: Luxair (www.luxair.lu)
Airports: Findel airport is Luxembourg’s only international airport. Flight time: Approximately 1 hour 15 mins.
Public Holidays- 2009
New Year’s Day- 1 January
Carnival- 23 February
Good Friday- 10 April
Easter Sunday- 13 April
May Day- 1 May
Ascension Day- 21 May
Whit Monday- 1 June
National Day- 23 June
Assumption Day- 15 August
Luxembourg City Fete- 31 August
All Saints Day- 1 November
All Souls Day- 2 November
Christmas Day- 25 December
St Stephens Day/Boxing Day- 26
December UK Tourist Office details: Luxembourg Tourist Office- Sicilian House, Sicilian Avenue, London, WC1A 2QR, Tel: 020 7434 2800