Luxembourg is often the forgotten country of western/central Europe, particularly by travelers. Bad mouths say it has nothing to do and there’s nothing particularly interesting… Are they right? We don’t think so!
We have been in Luxembourg several times (we even have family there), so we think we are ready to present you with all the good (and bad) things you can do, eat and experience in this small but interesting country. These are the 50 things you need to know before traveling to Luxembourg,
Luxembourg and the Locals
#1 Where is Luxembourg? Luxembourg is a landlocked country located in central Europe between France (to West and south) Germany (East) and Belgium (North). Curious trivia fact: it’s the smallest country bordered by 3 countries.
#2 Luxembourg is a representative democracy with a constitutional monarch, however, the interesting part is that it’s a Grand-Duchy, because the head of state isn’t a king but a Grand-Duke. Even more interesting is that Luxembourg is the only grand-duchy in the world!
#3 Luxembourg has less than 600 000 inhabitants and almost half of them are immigrants. These immigrants come from their neighbors (Germany, France, and Belgium) but also from Portugal and Italy. In fact, Portuguese are the largest foreign group in Luxembourg with almost 20% of the Luxembourger population being from Portuguese ancestry.
#4 There is also a big community of ex-Yugoslavian countries and small communities of Africans and Asians. This is truly a multi-cultural society. Strangely, there are very few middle eastern and Luxembourg apparently received very little migrants.
#5 What’s the climate in Luxembourg? The climate in Luxembourg is considered moderated continental climate with cold winters and mild Summers. May to August are the warmer months with longer hours of sun, which means that is the best time of the year to visit Luxembourg. Nevertheless, bring warm clothes and raincoats/umbrellas, it usually rains and the summer nights are cold.
#6 Luxembourg (together with Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany, and Italy) is one of the founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community, which was declared to be “a first step to the EEC and later to the EU and Eurozone. Today, Luxembourg city is considered to be one of the unofficial capitals of the EU with many services being held there.
#7 Luxembourg is one of the richest and most developed countries in the world! It ranks second on the list only behind Qatar as the highest GDP per capita. This richness comes mainly from their banking system and low taxes on holding companies which means that a lot of the biggest companies in the world have their European headquarters in Luxembourg.
#8 There are many people working in Luxembourg and living in the neighbor countries. It’s estimated that roughly 100 000 people (German, Belgian and mostly French) cross the border every day to work in Luxembourg. Long live the European Union and the Schengen treaty.
#9 There are 3 official languages in Luxembourg: French, German and Luxembourgish. Incredibly, most people actually speak the 3 languages making it a de facto trilingual country. You may have never heard Luxembourgish but it’s very similar to German, in fact, in the past, it used to be considered a dialect of German.
#10 One cool thing about the languages of Luxembourg is the fact that in the streets or stores you see the 3 languages… Sometimes you see things written in two languages, sometimes in only one… It’s casual, but it shows how Luxembourgers change between the three languages naturally. Even in conversations, you can see them using one language and then the other easily.
#11 On top of this, most people speak English fluently and the foreigners(and their descendants) tend to speak their own language. It’s not difficult to find a Luxembourger who speaks 4 or 5 languages. So, you probably won’t find many problems communicating here… at least we didn’t.
#12 When meeting a Luxembourger and you want to greet him/her with a kiss, you should give him/her not one, not two, but thee kisses! Yeah, it’s weird… but it’s their thing 🙂 In fact, I kind of like… well… sometimes… let’s move on!
#13 Alike Belgium Luxemburg doesn’t really have mountains. The highest point doesn’t even have 600 meters of altitude. Although don’t think that the country is plain, it’s in fact very hilly, with small and slightly inclined climbs.
#14 When we think about Luxembourg we probably think about the big companies, the banks, being so small and so rich. However, what will probably surprise you most is how rural the country is. Apart from Luxemburg city, the rest of the towns are incredibly small and the countryside is full of forests, farms, fields, and livestock.
#15 Is Luxembourg clean? YES, it’s clean! And by clean I mean extremely clean! I really can’t remember having been in a cleaner country than Luxembourg.
#16 Furthermore, Luxembourg takes recycling very very seriously! In fact, our friends in Luxembourg tell us that if you don’t recycle plastic, particularly bottles, you’ll get fined! Way to go Luxembourg!
#17 Is Luxembourg safe? It’s as safe as it gets 🙂 according to reports it’s one of the safest countries in the world. However, like in any other destination, tourists’ should be aware of petty crimes like purse snatching and pickpocketing, but even that is quite rare.
Travel in country and Tourism
#18 Luxembourg only has one UNESCO Heritage site: the Old Quarters and Fortifications of the city of Luxembourg. These fortifications were regarded as some of the most impressive in Europe.
#19 The city of Luxembourg is really interesting. On one hand, it feels like a huge city with all the banks, big companies headquarters, the European Union quarter… On the other hand, it’s a rather small town, with less than 120 000 inhabitants and has a medieval, charming vibe with some old buildings, the fortifications, and caves…
#20 Wandering around Luxembourg city is really pleasant and definitely one thing you should do. The old town center isn’t very big and you can walk everywhere. There you can’t miss the Palais Grand-Ducal, one of the most beautiful buildings in Luxembourg, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the old quarter.
#21 Within Luxembourg city we need to highlight the Bock and the city casements as they were our favorite attraction in the whole country. This is a promontory and a series of tunnels and casements built in the medieval era. It’s only a very small part of what once existed but it’s still pretty cool to explore. It also allows you to observe the city and walls from some amazing angles.
#22 Outside the capital the main attraction is probably Vianden. Vianden is a very cute small town with cobblestones, old houses, an imposing castle, creating that medieval aura that we love in old European villages. Everything you need to have a great time exploring. On top of all this, there’s a chairlift that will take up to the mountain where you can view the town, the castle and the beautiful views to the forests of Luxembourg.
#23 The Moselle river region close to Remich is also worth checking for several reasons. First of all, it’s a big wine producing region, with absolutely beautiful vineyards, but it’s also the most similar thing that Luxembourg has to a Riviera. Lot’s of people go there to enjoy the views and have fun by the river, particular in Summer and weekends.
#24 Did you know Luxembourg has a beach? Between Remich and Schengen there’s an artificial beach with lots of people, at least in Summer. It costs 4 Euros to enter. Not really expensive if you think about the prices of everything else.
#25 Very close to the beach it was built the biodisersum and some nice trails where you can walk close/through the swamps while enjoying nature’s fauna and flora. These swamps were created decades ago when people used to go there and remove sand, close to the river.
#26 Do you know Schengen is in Luxembourg? Schengen is the very, very small village in the southernmost part of Luxembourg, between Germany and France where the agreement to abolish internal border checks was signed. The village itself isn’t anything extraordinary, but it represents the freedom of movement and abolishment of borders and that’s why we wanted to visit it. There’s even a Museum dedicated to the history and significance of the Schengen agreement.
#27 Eastern Luxembourg is really beautiful with forests, hills, and fields with different colors. It also has its fair share of castles, and cute little villages.
We really recommend you to drive around and discover some of the little, hidden gems that Luxembourg has. Here you have to mention Berdorf, Larochette, Mullerthal, and Echternach, but have a look at this list of 10 best castles in Luxembourg.
#28 You should note that every tourist attraction closes at 18h, even in summer when there’s daylight almost until 23h… It’s frustrating when you want to do/see everything so plan accordingly.
What to eat and drink in Luxembourg
#29 Traditional Luxembourgish food represents the country’s location and it’s highly influenced by their neighbors. As in Germany, most traditional everyday Luxembourg dishes are of peasant origin. However, lately, you can also see the influence of the food brought by immigrants from Portugal and Italy.
#30 Typical Luxembourgish dishes include: Judd mat Gaardebounen (Smoked Collar of Pork with Broad Beans), treipen (the Luxembourg variant of black pudding), Bouneschlupp (green bean soup with potatoes, bacon, and onions)
#31 The bad news is that real Luxembourgish food is really hard to find in restaurants! In fact, we asked around and checked a few places and really couldn’t find traditional food… So, unfortunately, we haven’t tried any of these dishes.
#32 On the other hand, Luxembourg is full of Italian, Portuguese and French restaurants! And apparently, Italian food is really good here!
#33 Supermarkets also reflect this. They are full of ingredients from all over Europe! It’s actually incredible the variety of things one can find! Portuguese, Italian, French, German, and even Spanish, Indian and Chinese. It’s really a foodies paradise!
#34 Luxembourg produces some nice wine, particularly the famous pinot. If you appreciate wine, you should try it. It could also make a good souvenir or a gift to bring back to a special someone.
Money and Costs of traveling to Luxembourg
#35 Luxembourg is a founding member of the Eurozone so it uses the Euro as its currency, with all the great things it comes for us travelers, particularly Europeans.
#36 Luxembourg is really expensive all around, particularly accommodation in Luxembourg city (60+USD) and restaurants in the city (15-20USD per person). You may find some good bargains but it isn’t easy. You should count on at least 80-100 USD per person in Luxembourg.
#37 One thing we found that wasn’t particularly expensive were entry tickets to attractions. In fact, it looked cheap if we take on consideration the cost of living and wages in Luxembourg.
#38 As one would expect the ATM network is very developed and you can find them basically everywhere, even in some very small villages. We were never charged with ATM fees in Luxembourg but we are not sure if we were just lucky or if it’s free everywhere. Anyhow, if the ATM tells you that will charge you any fee, just go to the one next door.
#39 Debit cards are accepted in basically everywhere. Be aware that credit cards may not be accepted in smaller businesses or you will be charge charged up to 5%.
#40 Supermarkets are expensive when compared to other countries but cheaper than eating in a restaurant. So if you are on a budget you should consider buying food there. Cactus supermarkets are spread all over the country and are a great option if you want to try Luxembourgish things!
How to travel in Luxembourg
#41 As you would expect in a highly developed, small and central country, the public transports system is highly developed. If you are traveling only in the capital don’t even consider renting a car. It really isn’t necessary.
#42 Moreover, if you are coming from other European cities (like Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris, etc) we would recommend you to come in by train. It’s easy, central and it’s always cool to travel by train. Nevertheless, the Luxembourg airport receives several low-cost flights which may be very convenient and budget-friendly 🙂
Trivia note: Luxembourg airport is a very very busy cargo airport, it ranks as the 5th busiest airport in Europe, which is incredible for such a small country.
#43 It’s also really fun because the roads are very good, there’s very little traffic in rural areas and other drivers tend to drive very well (unless they are French obviously 🙂 )
#44 There are no highway tolls in Luxembourg!
#45 Fuel prices are very low! Probably the lowest in the Eurozone, and even among developed countries. There’s also little to no difference in prices between gas stations so don’t lose time comparing prices or finding a cheaper one.
#46 One of the downsides of driving is that traffic during peak hours is really terrible, particularly to enter and exit the city. There are more than 100 000 people commuting from the neighbor countries to Luxembourg every day and this obviously causes traffic on the highways. The other is that It may also be difficult (and/or expensive) to find parking spots in Luxembourg city.
Enjoying Luxembourg? You’ll also like the 50 things you need to know before traveling to Belgium!
Other useful information about traveling in Luxembourg
#47 As you would expect in such a developed country you can find WIFI in many restaurants and almost all hotels/hostels. If you are from the EU, remember that you can use your own 3G card with the same costs as back home.
#48 Above we said that tourist destinations close at 18h, but in fact, almost everything (including supermarkets) closes at that time or earlier. Be prepared for that. Also, like in many other central Europe countries note that supermarkets are closed on Sundays.
#49 Are you asking yourself: What documents do I need to enter Luxembourg? As said above it’s an EU member and integrates the Schengen area, which means free movement of people within it. If you are from a Schengen country just take your ID Card (or passport) and enjoy these great times :). If not click here for more info on this and on Schengen Visas and here find which passports need a visa to enter Luxembourg.
#50 Do I need vaccinations to travel to Luxembourg? You are not required to have any vaccination to visit Luxembourg unless you are coming from an infected area. However, as in any part of the world, it is advisable to have your anti-tetanus vaccination up to date if you are going to be in contact with nature and the countryside, as well as any other official vaccination program.
Looking for more information on Luxembourg? Have a look at these interesting facts about Luxembourg.
Our Recommended Travel Guide Books For Luxembourg
For those who want a travel guide only to Luxembourg we suggest: Luxembourg (Bradt Travel Guide)
If you are traveling to more than just Luxembourg we suggest: DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Belgium & Luxembourg