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Immersive history and enchanting architecture in Luxembourg’s capital

Luxembourg may see fewer visitors than cities in larger European countries, but those who are willing to step off the beaten track will soon understand why this captivating destination was the first to be named European Capital of Culture in 1995, and again 12 years later. 


Once a formidable fortress, the wonderfully pedestrian-friendly medieval center, called Ville Haute, perches on a cliff high above the rest of the city. Don your comfiest walking shoes and set out to discover must-see landmarks. These include the labyrinthine subterranean defense system known as Casemates du Bock, the 16th-century Grand Ducal Palace, and the magnificent Notre-Dame Cathedral – a masterpiece of late Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Don’t miss Chemin de la Corniche, a walkway atop the 17th-century ramparts with breathtaking views across the valley below. 


Set at the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse rivers, Luxembourg has many bridges. Amongst the most picturesque is the Adolphe Bridge, a double-decked arch that connects Ville Haute to the Gare district. A lovely area to explore in Ville Basse is the Grund, which has a village-like feel and UNESCO World Heritage status. Expect fairy-tale architecture painted in pastel shades, set along the serene banks of the Alzette and punctuated with abundant greenery. In between the narrow alleyways, views up to Ville Haute’s landmarks make for a spectacular backdrop. 


Wherever your perambulations take you, cultural opportunities abound. Discover exceptional contemporary works at Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (Mudam), or a distinguished collection of 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces at the Neoclassical mansion Villa Vauban. The Grand Theatre offers everything from operas to musicals, while the extraordinary Philharmonie concert hall is a haven for classical music lovers. When visiting in summer, head to Neimënster, a former Benedictine abbey, for open-air concerts and festivals. 


If culinary culture is more your thing, you will be spoiled for choice in Luxembourg, where Michelin-starred restaurants, cozy local eateries and a trove of artisan butchers, patisseries and chocolateries borrow inspiration from their French and German neighbors. Luxembourg is known as a destination for oenophiles too, with Crémant de Luxembourg sparkling wines a particular favorite. Visits to the vineyards that line the Moselle River are a must, as is a day trip to Vianden Castle – a national icon named by CNN as one of the 21 most beautiful castles in the world.