A postcard-perfect old town and stunning vistas are just a few of the things that make Luxembourg a special place to visit for business or leisure. Others include the Moselle wine region, home to the bubbly cremant (the local version of champagne) plus divine upmarket accommodations, cuisine and spa services. I could go on, but I’d rather share my favorite places and things to do in this tiny European gem. Sounds good? Read on:
You’ll find plenty of cozy corners in this quaint village-like country (!!!) Yes, I sometimes have to remind myself that this wee destination of 525,000 inhabitants is a full-fledged nation. But, I digress. There are two main areas of interest for food fanatics: the Rives de Clausen district – built on the industrial site of two former breweries – and the Ilôt Gastronomique Fëschmart (the Gastronomic Island) a vertical mall-like establishment located in the Old Town.
Eateries of note include the lovely Michelin-starred Le Bouquet Garni , Le Sud – an old brewery-turned-exquisite dining-experience – and for a contemporary twist, I recommend the excellent Clairefontaine. Wine lovers will appreciate the rustic Caves Gourmandes and the newly-inaugurated Dipso Wine Bar.
Le Bouquet Garni
Dipso The Wine Republic
With a storied history dating back to the 900’s (no I’m not forgetting any digits) a great deal of the accommodations available are classic in style. Now that I think of it, even the more modern hotels feature vintage touches either by design or by law – many of the heritage buildings are protected by UNESCO.
Great examples of this trend are found in a slew of newish hotels, ranging in line from opulent (Hotel Le Place D’Armes) to the chic (Le Châtelet) to the colonial (Maho). But if classical is not your thing, there are a number of contemporary spaces; the Parc de Beaux-Arts looks much more contempo on the inside than you would expect and the Sofitel Grand Ducal is ultra-mod at its finest.
Hotel Le Place d'Armes
Stairway in Hotel Le Place d'Armes
An architectural paradise, it goes without saying that Luxembourg should be experienced on foot. Walk through the old town to the remnants of the once mighty fortress and other military edifices. Visit the adjoining Musée National Drai Eechelen to learn more about the country’s historic past. The17th century Abbey of Neumunster is another structure not to be missed (actually its rather large so probably couldn’t miss it even if you wanted to). And just outside, the Moselle River, flowing between Luxembourg and Germany leads travelers to a lushly enchanting wine country where further exploration of vineyards and villages can be enjoyed on foot, boat, bicycle or even horseback. My favorite wineries include Caves St.Martin, Caves Krier Frerés and the art deco Caves Crémants Poll-Fabaire (try saying that ten times fast).
Art museum designed by Impei next to an ancient fort
Nuemunster Abbey with the Moselle river flowing just outside
Nightlife is not as vibrant as in other European capitals but there are a few choice places to enjoy a nightcap and a quick bite. Notables include the trendy Hitch, the fashionable Boos Club surrounded by forestry, the culturally-inclined Ancien Cinema Café-Club and the Munich-inspired Big Beer Company (classier than it sounds).
Like most cosmopolitan places, you’ll find the usual upmarket suspects at most shopping areas. More interesting here are the outdoor markets (Tuesdays and Sundays) and specialty stores that feature unique local products. For extra special gift ideas 100% Luxembourg sells everything from food and drink to artwork and interior decorations. Beiebetrieb Schmitz-Wolff has a nice selection of homemade honey and brandy. If the scent of roses makes you giddy you’ll love Claudine Kunnert-Ehlinger, a merchant selling rose vinegar and liqueur. Pitz-Schweitzer, a distillery founded in 1840 is a great place for all things wine and spirits-related while Käerzefabrik Peters features candles carved into any size, shape and species imaginable.