Landlocked by three of Europe’s most powerful countries, Luxembourg has historically been eclipsed by its larger neighbours as a top tourist destination. The miniature nation appears as a mere dot on the map in the centre of France, Germany and Belgium. At just 2,586 square kilometres, the country is only a fraction bigger than the county of Dorset in the UK – but it’s much more than France’s garage. There’s lots to discover in this underrated, pint-size place, so what are you waiting for?
Discover Europe’s formidable ancient fortress
They country’s strategic position meant it was the prize of many territorial disputes over the centuries. The “Fortress of Luxembourg”, as it was often referred, was one of the most valuable destinations on the continent. Ownership passed from one major power to the next, from the Holy Roman Empire to the House of Burgundy to the Kings of Spain, the royalty of France and then the Prussians. Each made their own improvements to the fortifications until the barricades covered almost 500 acres. In 1867, the walls were torn down under the terms of the Treaty of London, which demanded Luxembourg become a place of perpetual neutrality.
Since then, the remains of the UNESCO-protected fortress and the city’s old quarter have become a major tourist attraction. Old stone bridges, forts, bastions and case mates of the Bock and Petrusse Valley are all fine spots just waiting to be discovered. To learn more about Luxembourg’s fascinating past in finer detail, take a jaunt around the Vauben Circular Walk or visit the Musee Drai Eechelen which is full of comprehensive exhibits.
Fairy-tale castles and vast forests
Another of Luxembourg’s biggest draws is its perfectly preserved fairy-tale scenery. The centrepiece is undoubtedly Vianden Castle in the centre of the city. Complete with turrets and pinnacles to rival something from a Brothers’ Grimm tale, it’s easily one of the finest castles in the entire world. Nearby, the charming capital gives off a medieval vibe with cobbled streets, crumbling churches, trinket shops and amazing eateries. In fact, Luxembourg has the highest concentration of Michelin Star restaurants in the world for its size. Make sure to sample the delicious national dish of ‘judd mat gaardebounen’, smoked pork in wine-infused cream sauce.
Exploring the Moselle wine region
Some of the world’s finest white wine is produced in the Moselle valley, where the vineyards of Luxembourg, France and Germany meet in vast expanses around the Moselle River. The sprawling valleys and steep hills covered in fruit trees are the starting point for many a fine liquor or schnapps, but the area’s Riesling has many a wine connoisseur travelling for miles to get a drop from the source. Matched with fine dining and vineyard tours, Luxembourg is the perfect spot for foodies – but those with a more adventurous spot will also find themselves swept away. The Moselle River is also a top destination for water sports, such as water skiing and swimming, cruises along the valley, and hiking high up into the fresh air of the dark pine forests.
Ready to explore Europe’s hidden gems? Take a look at our crossings from Dover-Calais today!