Cosmopolitan and compact Luxembourg City is the perfect weekend getaway or addition to any trip to Germany, France, or Belgium. Luxembourg is known as a financial center and one of the richest (and smallest) countries in the world. Yet with a UNESCO heritage historic fortress, beautiful lush parks, high-end shopping, world-class art, European fusion cuisine, and a buzzing nightlife, you will need 2 days in Luxembourg to explore it fully.
Luxembourg is the European Union’s second smallest state…but don’t let its diminutive size fool you. Luxembourg City’s topography is mind-blowing. The scenic vistas from Luxembourg’s upper town peering down into the lower valley are simply spectacular. But this city offers so much more than just incredible views.
Wedged between Germany, France, and Belgium, Luxembourg is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and art. And a little-known fact: Luxembourg City is one of the European Union’s three official capitals, along with Brussels and Strasbourg.
2 Days in Luxembourg Itinerary
We spent 48 hours in Luxembourg City during winter break, which was a lovely time to visit and also explore the Christmas Markets. I have provided our sample itinerary for two days in Luxembourg, but there is so much more that you can add to your plan if you stay longer.
Consider purchasing a digital LuxembourgCard through the Visit Luxembourg website. We used our LuxembourgCard to the max in the city. The card provides free or discounted admissions to over 90 places of interest throughout the entire country including museums, castles, palaces, and leisure facilities.
See the map of the attractions mentioned below (created with Google My Maps.)
Luxembourg Itinerary: Day 1
Start off with a photo souvenir from your short visit with a picture in front of the larger-than-life “LUXEMBOURG” sign in front of the European Convention Center. The sign moves around the city, so be sure to inquire where it is set up during your stay since this makes such a fun photo op for your family.
From there, it is time to explore one or more of Luxembourg’s many museum. The city has seven museums in a one-mile stretch: Villa Vauban (art museum), Casino Luxembourg (contemporary art), Lëtzebuerg City Museum (city history museum), Nationalmusée um Fëschmaart (national museum), Natur Musée (natural history museum), Musée Dräi Eechelen (museum of fortress, history, and identities), and Mudam – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (modern museum of art). We visited three of these museums, but wished we had time to see more of them.
Since you are in the world’s only remaining sovereign Grand Duchy, be sure to check out the Grand Ducal Palace. Luxembourg’s government is known as a representative democracy led by a constitutional monarch, Grand Duke Henri. Depending on the time of year you visit the Palace, you might catch the Changing of the Guard or be able to tour the lavish rooms. Check the website before you go. If the Palace is closed when you visit, you can still enjoy a photo op with the stoic guards standing in the background.
Then, head across the street from the Palace to the world-famous Chocolate House for lunch and treats. Choose from decadent hand-crafted Belgian and French chocolates, baked goods, and hot chocolate. Walk into this charming shop housed in a medieval building and select from a wall of flavored “hot chocolate spoons.” Next, head upstairs to the restaurant and dunk your edible spoons into a mug of hot milk. Toss some homemade marshmallows on top for extra sweetness. Heavenly! While in the shop, don’t forget to pre-order your scrumptious slice of cake from the expansive display. The restaurant also offers omelets, sandwiches, and other café fare for lunch.
Now that you are satiated, it’s time to experience firsthand the charm of this one-of-a-kind city. Leave a few hours free to simply roam around the narrow cobblestone streets, interesting squares, boutiques, cafés, bookshops, cocktail bars, and niche museums. Peek into the grand Notre Dame Cathedral and stroll through the 13th-century Place Guillaume II, which hosts markets and concerts, and houses the Town Hall and the Luxembourg City Tourist Office.
A must when you visit Luxembourg City is time spent on the Chemin de la Corniche, “the most beautiful balcony in Europe” (named that by Luxembourg writer Batty Weber). The expansive “balcony” spans the ramparts that line the Alzette River Valley. This balcony consists of several lookouts that reward you with breathtaking viewpoints. We visited various parts of the balcony throughout our weekend to capture the scenery both during the day and at sunset.
If you visit during the holiday season, consider taking in a show from Cirque du Lux, the city’s Christmastime circus. The circus is a flashy variety show blending acrobats, clowns, artists, singers, and dancers. The visual nature of the circus allowed us to enjoy the spectacle and laugh at the performances even if they weren’t in English. While we can’t be sure, we are fairly certain that we were the only tourists in the audience that night. TIP: The circus is family-friendly, and we saw many children there of all ages.
After the show, we walked across the street to the popular Hitch restaurant for dinner and drinks. Hitch serves a variety of cuisines from around the world, but our favorite dishes were their Asian-inspired dumpling dishes and “Hitch Rolls,” artfully designed avocado, cucumber, spicy tuna tartare and shrimp tempura rolls. And if you don’t want your night to end, Hitch is also a nightclub.
Luxembourg Itinerary: Day 2
Start your morning by going way back in time to the heart of the city, the Casemates du Bock, a UNESCO Heritage Site. Touring the Casemates invites you to explore a maze of tunnels and an architectural crypt. This grand defensive fortress is part of the reason why Luxembourg is known as the “Gibraltar of the North.”
With Luxembourg surrounded by larger powers (today known as Germany, France, and Belgium), in the year 963, Count Siegfried began constructing a fortress on the rocky promontory, high above the Alzette River Valley. Over hundreds of years, the city’s leaders continued to fortify the fortress by adding three exterior rings, 24 forts, and underground tunnels. These hidden passageways served as soldiers’ barracks, bakeries, workshops, and a World War II bomb shelter.
TIP: Since this site is a “must-see,” book your entrance time online before you arrive.
Take a break to enjoy an upscale Italian lunch at Bella Ciao, located in the heart of the Place d’Armes. Open seven days a week with both indoor and outdoor seating, you can choose from pizzas, pastas, salads, and more.
Ready for a walk after lunch? Wander through the French-designed verdant Municipal Park to reach the beautiful Villa Vauban. The Villa Vauban, also known as the Luxembourg City Art Museum, is housed in an 1873 bourgeois villa which boasts a collection of Old Master Paintings and works by many of Luxembourg’s artists. TIP: During the summer, many events are offered in the park around the villa.
Now it’s time to check out The Grund (the Old Town). Make your way through Pescatore Park to find the free Pfaffenthal Panoramic Glass Elevator that will whisk you down to The Grund, the city’s lower level. Before entering the elevator, enjoy the lookout at the Alzette River Valley below, one of the best photo spots in the city.
The Grund delights with its quaint bridges and picturesque streets. We felt like we were exploring a small charming town, rather than a European capital. The Neimënste (the new church), built in 1542 following the destruction of the Altmünster Benedictine abbey, is now a popular cultural and conference center. Check out their calendar of performances and exhibitions.
Consider sticking around the area for dinner. And if you visit during the summer, stop by the Rives de Clausen, an old factory area transformed into a vibrant space featuring bars, restaurants, and cafes. TIP: For those looking to fit in some exercise and work up a sweat, hike up one of the steep alleys or take the stairs between the upper and lower town.
Following our visit to The Grund, we hopped back in the elevator and returned to the upper city. As modern art fans, we ended our sightseeing at the city’s Mudam – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean. This breathtaking contemporary art museum, designed by the Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei, welcomes visitors to enjoy a mix of many artistic genres ranging from painting to sculpture to video art.
For dinner, you can find various restaurants at many price points offering cuisines from around the world. We opted to dine at a top-rated, artfully decorated, Spanish restaurant, El Barrio. Highlights for us included heaping portions of paella (they even have a delicious vegetarian option) and tasty tapas that make it easy to share little plates of lots of flavors. Once again, we delighted in seeming to be the only tourists in this restaurant.
Since we visited during the holiday season, we capped off our stay in Luxembourg by visiting a few of the magical Christmas Markets splashed throughout the city. These traditional Christmas Markets vary by location, but all spread the holiday cheer with delicious food, handmade crafts, and rides for the kids. The stalls in these markets are an ideal location to sample unique Luxembourgish dishes such as Gromperekicheler (potato cakes), Kniddelen (dumplings served with cream and bacon), and mulled hot wine. Check the schedule of the Winterlights festival for details.
It is so easy to fill 2 days in Luxembourg with world-class museums, delicious cuisine, spectacular scenery, and most important, family fun.
Where to Stay in Luxembourg
Editor’s Note: The author was provided with discounted and/or complimentary tours, passes and hotel stay so that she could try them and review them for your information. All opinions are her own. This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. All images courtesy of Lisa Grabelle unless otherwise noted.
Luxembourg offers places to stay at all price points and in many locations. Since the city is compact, select a hotel or rental that suits your travel style. We booked at Mama Shelter, a family-friendly super hip spot. Mama Shelter is located in the quieter northeastern neighborhood of Kirchberg, which is home to the European Parliament, Philharmonie Luxembourg, and Mudam – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean.
This boutique chain goes all out, with Mama Shelter’s 145 modern rooms decorated in a playful artistic style. From the moment you enter the lobby, Mama Shelter invites smiles by surrounding you with fun graffiti by artists on the walls and ceiling. The ground-floor restaurant serves a bountiful breakfast buffet, and is full of locals listening to music and dining at night. Mama Shelter also provides a hip co-working space, a rooftop lounge (perfect for sunset), and an in-house bakery. With the tram stop just a few minutes walk from the hotel and the train station only a fifteen-minute trip by taxi, we found Mama Shelter’s location convenient for our stay.
Find other places to stay in Luxembourg:
Getting Around Luxembourg City
A massive perk when visiting Luxembourg –all public transport in Luxembourg City is FREE! Yes, you heard me right. What a treat it is to hop on the clean and prompt above-ground tram service. We used it throughout our entire trip.
We also walked a lot. With Luxembourg City’s parks and fabulous views, this city is a delight to explore on foot. And, of course, rideshares and taxis are always an option.
TIP: Since the topography of this city has lots of ups and downs, factor that in when planning your routes. Google Maps can be deceiving. Take advantage of the free mega-elevators throughout the city to save your legs, transporting you between the upper and lower areas of the city.
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Lisa is a travel writer for Hilton Hotels and has been traveling all her life…38 countries and loving it! Originally from the sunny skies of Miami, Lisa, a former lawyer, lives near Philadelphia. Travel is her passion. As soon as one vacation ends, Lisa busily plans her next adventure for her non-stop family of adventurers. Lisa’s motto is “don’t just visit the destination…live it!”