Luxembourg isn't really a name thrown around when thinking about trips to Europe. Nestled between France, Germany and Belgium it's one of the lesser known and lesser visited states in continental Europe. However, the lure of cheap flights and a couple of nights in a cheap hostel were all the reason I needed to visit this small country.
For a nation this size, it has quite a colourful history, and although very small, there's a few excellent sites to visit - particularly in the capital - helpfully called Luxembourg City. It manages to mix history, culture and modernity quite well, and in terms of per capita income, it's one of the more wealthier countries in the world.
You can read detailed notes from my trip to Luxembourg City here, and the northern town of Vianden here. In this article, I want to share some of my favourite pictures taken on my trusty, rusty 8mp camera.
Travel advice for Sikhs
Go out and enjoy yourselves in a relaxed setting, this place is definitely Sikh friendly. In fact one of my favourite airport experiences occurred when flying out of Luxembourg City. Everybody knows a salai is a Singh's best friend. Most of the time when travelling, I take a plastic one with me and wrap it in the middle of my clothes. Most of the time it doesn't get picked up in the scanner - but if it does, chances are it gets confiscated and I'm left using the ends of spoons from stopping my hair looking like a mad scientist.
On this occasion, for some reason, I took a metal salai with me and it got picked up in a scanner. Airport security asked me to take it out of my bag, so I did. I told them what it was for, and they deliberated among themselves for a few seconds before handing it back with a warm smile and wishing me the best for my journey. If only all airport experiences were this friendly. Although, if they were, this would be a rather uninteresting blog!
In the city itself, a few stares are to be expected but nothing malicious. I did overhear some eastern European's call me a Muslim and laugh behind my back - you can read how I reacted here, but I don't think they'll be doing that again.
Grund is the oldest part of the city, and one of the most beautiful. A few bars on either end of a small bridge mark the busiest part of this old town. Located at the bottom of a fairly steep hill, it's a tough walk to get around - but the addition of lifts in strategic places is definitely helpful for the old and those with kids.
The view looking up from the Alzette river where you can see the walled fortifications of the city is a particularly Instagrammable place.
One of the most beautiful parts of the city, and I'll be honest, one of the most beautiful parts of any city that I have visited is Le Chemin de la Corniche - also known has Europe's most beautiful balcony.
That hill I spoke about? You're going to have to walk up it. It's not so bad actually, and definitely worth it for the views. The balcony is a narrow path, or promenade along the Alzette Valley and the ancient fortifications built by the French and Spanish.
The Corniche overlooks the old town of the city as well as the 17th century spire of St Jean du Grund. This was hands down one of my favourite views I have seen. It almost feels as though you are on top of the buildings below - some of them are 300 - 400 years old. It's just so different from the usual views you get of a city when you see it from any height - whether that's a natural hill or a skyscraper. It's something that will stay with me forever, and for me, this view alone is worth the trip to Luxembourg.
There's less to see and do in the middle of town, although there is the Palais Grand-Ducal or Palace of the Grand Duke, a 16th century building where the Grand Duke entertains foreign dignitaries,
I felt sorry for the one guard who was pacing back and forth near the entrance - it looked like the world's loneliest job.
This was a little unexpected and a small highlight. The Pfaffenthal Lift is located in the historic Pfaffenthal neighbourhood. The lift rises more than 60 metres from the ground from a roughly 9 metre overhang above the valley. Tucked away in a small side street, it can be easy to miss, but it's well worth the trip. The view from the top is decent but not spectacular.
Back in the city centre is the Notre Dame Cathedral. a 17th century Roman Catholic Cathedral built in a late gothic style. This is where I had that little run in with that group I mentioned earlier. It's a very nice cathedral, although not quite on the same level as its namesake in Paris, or cathedrals in many other large European cities.
The Casemates are tunnels within the fortifications of the old town, first dug out by the Spanish in 1644 and expanded later by the Austrians. The cost to enter is a fairly cheap €6 but this was my second bad experience in the city, which you can read about in my detailed article on the city.
There's a reason why this city is called the Gibraltar of the north, and having since visited the 'Rock', the Casemates and other fortifications are very similar. As you walk down into the underground you find yourself in a labyrinth of tunnels, sometimes very open, and at other times so small that you have to crawl through them. Parts of the tunnel, especially those in the interior aren't for those with claustrophobia or a faint heart.
I woke to a very foggy, and hauntingly beautiful view of La Chemin de la Corniche. The weather had cast an eerie blanket over the city, and the result was spectacular as far as I could see. Somehow, Europe's most beautiful balcony had just got a little more beautiful.
Even the reflections on the water around the old town were beautiful. The spire of St Jean du Grund very quickly became my directional cue, and if I found myself lost, it was an easy thing to walk toward.
At night, Europe's most beautiful balcony becomes a spectacular jewelled light show. The dark streets are broken up by the bright glow of street lights. Walking through the old town at night was one of my favourite experiences. It felt as though I had travelled back in time. The streets were narrow, and in many places cobbled, and there were no cars to be seen or heard.
A short couple of bus rides take you to the north of the country, and the city of Vianden. It took just under an hour and the total cost of the journey was €4 - not bad at all.
The city is famous for its beauty, found both in its architecture and natural landscape. I began by taking a chairlift up a very, very steep hill and about a quarter of the way up I realised that I had a pretty bad fear of heights. Probably the strangest part was when the chairlift crossed right over a busy road, and cars were driving just metres beneath me.
The small amount of apprehension was worth it for the views from the top - a fantastic panoramic view of the town and it's most famous attraction, Vianden Castle. The town itself only has a population of around 1,800, so looking down I was pretty much seeing the entire thing.
The castle itself may have come from the set of a Disney film, it's that impressive. I took a shortcut through a small wooded area rather than going back down the hill and taking the main route up. I thought it would cut some time (which it did), although I wish I wore more comfortable footwear.
My favourite part was getting to see glimpses of the castle through gaps in the trees, the gaps getting bigger the closer I got.
The castle dates back to the 10th century, and for the next 600 years played an important role in the locality. In fact, it wasn't until the mid 1800s that the castle fell into ruin after King William I sold it to a local merchant who began selling contents from within the castle and then eventually parts of the castle itself.
The Castle began its rebuilding in the late 1970s. The view overlooking the town of Vianden from certain rooms was amazing, and it houses a very interesting museum, with some fantastic exhibits, from weapons and armour, to a brewery to a replica bedroom.
I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the sights that I did during my trip to Luxembourg. It's a beautiful country, and if you manage to find a good cheap price for flights and accommodation, it's definitely worth a visit.
British Sikh, born in the Midlands, based in London, travelling the world seeing new cultures.