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Luxembourg

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Did You Know … ?

  • The Saxon name for Luxembourg City was Lucilinburhuc, meaning little fortress.
  • Luxembourg is the world’s only grand duchy (meaning headed by a grand duke).
  • More than 60% of Luxembourg City’s inhabitants are foreigners.
  • Luxembourg has Europe’s highest per capita income.
  • The country’s Grand Duchess Maria Teresa was born in Havana, Cuba.

Beyond the ramparts

Luxembourg is a small country — smaller than Rhode Island — with a history as a separate political unit reaching back more than a thousand years, to 963.

Geography is central to Luxembourg’s story. It sits at a crossroads in northwestern Europe, surrounded by Belgium, France and Germany. It has been coveted and often ruled by various empire builders who wanted control of its capital city, Luxembourg City, sometimes called the Gibraltar of the North because of its fortifications and defensible location atop a rocky promontory overlooking the Alzette River.

The ramparts, in various configurations, stood for 900 years, until removed in 1867, but visitors are struck by the city’s dramatic position, just the same — and can still roam underground portions of old defenses.

The city, also blessed with modern urban amusements, is the place in Luxembourg that most tourists know best — if they are acquainted with the country at all.

However, Luxembourg the country boasts a collection of other and nicely varied diversions suitable for visitors. Much is packed into this small space. Besides, Luxembourg’s people are friendly, and English is widely spoken.

The tourist office presents five key areas of touristic interest. Besides the capital city and its surroundings, the remaining four areas are:

  • The Ardennes, in the northern third of the country, is a forested plateau made interesting with cliffs, deep valleys and their rivers. Tourist choices emphasize hiking and discovering historic castles.
  • Mullerthal, in the eastern part of the country and often dubbed Little Switzerland, is known for its rock formations and hiking trails.
  • The Moselle region, also in the east, is Luxembourg’s wine country.
  • The Terres Rouges, or Land of the Rocks, in the far south, has its name because it was iron mining country and is still home to the country’s major commercial cities, such as Differdange, Dudelange and Esch-sur-Alzette, now considered trendy with special appeal to the young.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Hike the so-called Bulge trails, which trace the events of World War II’s Battle of the Bulge. Supplement that with a visit to the Battle of the Bulge Museum in Wiltz Castle, in the town of the same name, in the northwest.
  • See some of Luxembourg by bicycle. The country has more than 3,000 miles of trails for biking and hiking.
  • Set aside time for sailing or windsurfing at the Upper Sure Lake, in Luxembourg’s Ardennes.
  • Taste a nonfiltered Luxembourgish beer, which is opaque and has more yeast than regular beer.
  • See the landscape from the heights of a hot-air balloon. Fly over the lake region or from Junglinster (with passport in hand, as a precaution, because you could land in a different country).
  • Or, see the countryside from a glider, Head to the gliding airfield Op der Hoh and the flying school of the Cercle Luxembourgeois de Vol à Voile near Useldange northwest of the capital. Alternatively, make arrangements to fly a light plane from Luxembourg-Findel airport.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Clip on cross-country skis for some fun at Hosingen or Weiswampach.
  • Visit one or more of the private wine cellars in Luxembourg’s Moselle Valley. Sample Moselle wines on the spot, and buy bottles to carry home (in checked bags).
  • Start a self-drive trip in Mersch to tour Luxembourg’s Valley of the Seven Castles. Tour them when you can, but most are not open to the public.
  • Fish from a bank or from a boat at the Moselle, Our or Sure River. Or fish at the Upper Sure Lake. A license is required.
  • Walk into some of the numerous foreign banks, generally along the Boulevard Royal and Plateau de Kirchberg in Luxembourg City. Even if you are not looking after a fortune there, take a look at the art displayed in some of the modernistic bank buildings.
  • Attend Schueberfouer, the annual amusement fair held for three weeks in August, and do what Luxembourgers do: Eat fouerfesch, whiting fish fried in brewer’s yeast, with fries.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Slow down in the Upper Sure Lake region for swimming, plus sunbathing at the side of the lake. Make a trip on the lake’s solar-powered boat.
  • Join a guided tour of Luxembourg City. Wander through the dark Casements, a network of underground tunnels with openings providing views of the city. These are the remains of old city defenses, used as recently as World War II.
  • Play golf. There are courses available in Luxembourg City and elsewhere in the country.
  • Send postcards to friends, especially the stamp collectors among them.
  • Take a river tour of the Moselle wine valley. Travel between Schengen and Wasserbillig, for example.
  • See the grand duke review his troops during National Day festivities on June 23 in Luxembourg City.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Luxembourg National Tourist Board at www.visitluxembourg.com