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How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg

How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg | CosmosMariners.com

I will fully admit that my knowledge of world geography stinks. I'm okay with the biggies on each continent, but when you start getting into the smaller countries, I struggle a bit. So, with that in mind, don't make too much fun of me when I share this next tidbit of knowledge: I don't think that I could've found Luxembourg on a map if you'd paid me a million dollars prior to October of 2015.

One wonderful thing about traveling (and travel blogging) is that I am exposed to and read about many, many different countries, so--good news!--my geography is slowly improving every day. And, for an even bigger slice of that good news pie, I'm happy to report that some of these countries that I didn't have a clue about are actually well worth your and my time.

Case in point: Luxembourg. It's a tiny European duchy that's squished between France, Belgium, and Germany. This incredible Western European location makes it an excellent base as you discover both Luxembourg and the countries bordering it.

If you find yourself in western Germany, southern Belgium, or eastern France with a little bit of extra time on your hands, consider adding a few days in Luxembourg to your itinerary. We decided to linger at the end of our Germany road trip, and what we discovered there was the perfect bookend to our adventures.

To really get a feel for everything that Luxembourg has to offer, you need two days: one in the more cosmopolitan, modern Luxembourg City, and another enjoying the lush green countryside outside of the country's one major hub.

Day 1

For your first day in Luxembourg, strap on your walking shoes and head out into the city. Whenever possible, use public transportation to get to and from the city center as parking and driving can be extremely stressful--you can't miss the brightly colored Multiplicity buses. Once you're in the city center, most everything that you'd want to see is in pretty easy walking distance, and all of the major sites are signposted in French and German.

As you wander around, you'll notice that Luxembourg is a little French, a little German, and completely European. The city has a unique mixture of languages (there are three official: French, German, and Luxembourgish), cultures, and styles. It draws from the larger countries around it while still retaining its own identity, which can't be easy.

One of the major attractions in Luxembourg City is the subterranean tunnel system that winds its way under the city. The Bock Casements were carved in the 1600s by the Spanish who then ruled this area; they held troops, military supplies, and even horses. Today, much of the 23 miles of kilometers of tunnel are open to the public...though, if you luck up as we did, the tunnels will be under refurbishment and won't let you in. This was one of the biggest disappointments of our Luxembourg visit, and I will be back to wander through them on a future visit.

How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg | CosmosMariners.com

Just around the corner from the entrance to the Casements is the beautiful Notre-Dame Cathedral, a towering structure tucked away between some government buildings. The stunning stained glass and the interior Gothic architecture is worth a peek inside.

How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg | CosmosMariners.com

Stop for a while in the Place d'Arms and get a feel for what makes this city tick. As the main square of Luxembourg City, Place d'Arms is where you'll find shops and eateries, outdoor concerts and people lingering over their meals on nice days. This has been the heart of the city for centuries: it was first laid out as a central shopping area during the rebuilding efforts following a fire in the mid-1550s. In the 1670s, it was reworked as a military parade ground--hence the current name, Arms Square.

How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg | CosmosMariners.com

One of the favorite pastimes in Luxembourg City is shopping. There are some incredible luxury stores, so grab some macarons from Laduree while you browse through the likes of the local Chanel, Lacoste, and Hèrmes stores.

How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg | CosmosMariners.com

Although it wasn't open for tours while we were there, we did stand outside of the Grand Duchal Palace with the rest of the common folk and snap and picture or two. And, for what it's worth, we saw some ambassadors being escorted into the Palace while we were taking pictures.

How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg | CosmosMariners.com

If you're visiting during the summer and want to see how Luxembourg's rulers live, there are daily tours (except for Wednesdays) from mid-July to early September.

How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg | CosmosMariners.com

If you'd like to learn more about the Battle of the Bulge and the sacrifices that both the Luxembourgians and Americans made in World War II, a trip to the American Cemetery just outside of town is worth a few hours of your time. We made a visit since my great-uncle, who stepped on a land mine at the age of 19, is buried here, and the tour that we were given was personal, moving, and unforgettable. General George Patton, the controversial but influential World War II leader, is buried here alongside many of the men and women that he oversaw in battle.

Day 2

For your second day in Luxembourg, you'll want to head out into the countryside to see what the rest of the country is like: rolling, green, and lush. As you drive past tranquil farms and rivers, it's hard to imagine how badly Luxembourg was affected during World War II--and how it has managed to recover in the decades since.

When German forces overtook Luxembourg in 1940, the royal family (and many tens of thousands of Luxembourgian) fled to nearby countries. Those who were left under German occupation were forced to speak German instead of the French or Luxembourgish that was more common. The 12,000 Luxembourg men who were under occupation were all placed into military service, and a fourth of them died in battle. The Jewish population of Luxembourg was decimated during the war: only 36 of the nearly 1,000 Jewish Luxembourgians are known to have survived the war.

How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg | CosmosMariners.com

Yet, in the years since the war, Luxembourg has put great value on restoring its history, culture, and people to their former places. An excellent example of this is Vianden Castle, a must-visit on your second day in the country. This imposing castle rests on a rock overhang and is magnificent when you first come around the curve in the road and spot it.

There's been a structure here since the Romans occupied this area 2,000 years ago, and a castle was slowly built upon over the years. In the 1800s, however, the castle fell into disrepair and locals began using it for a quarry. It was only a few years after World War II ended that the Duchy decided to refurbish it--and rebuilt it in places--so that it could welcome visitors again. (If you want to learn more about this amazing space, read my full post on it here!)

Have you visited Luxembourg? Which of the days would you rather do: city exploration or countryside adventures?

How to Spend 2 Days in Charming Luxembourg | CosmosMariners.com

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