Luxembourg is the capital of small beautiful country of the same name. Located in the heart of Western Europe it is a perfect destination for a weekend trip. Luxembourg city is very green, with lots of historical buildings, old fortifications and scenic views. We visited it as part of our mini Benelux trip and absolutely loved the place. In this post we’re going to share some ideas on what to see and how to spend one day in Luxembourg city.
Find more ideas on travelling in Luxembourg in our post Two-three days itinerary in Luxembourg.
A bit of history
History of Luxembourg city goes back to Roman times to as early as the 10th century. First towers and fortifications were built at the crossing of two Roman roads at the site of modern Luxembourg. Because of its location on the steep rocky formations at the confluence of two rivers (Alzette and Pétrusse rivers) the city historically had a strategic military importance.
Over the centuries Luxembourg has passed from one European nation to another. Each adding and reinforcing city walls and fortifications, and leaving its influence on the city. At different points of time Luxembourg was conquered by Burgundians, Spanish, Austrian, French and Prussians. No wonder Luxembourg has three official languages – French, German and Luxembourgish, plus other widely spoken languages such as Portuguese, English and Italian.
Following the Treaty of London in 1867, which declared Luxembourg a neutral and independent state, lots of the city fortifications were dismantled (not at once, of course, but over the period of sixteen years). But nevertheless, many of them still remain today, including walls, gates, casemates and forts.
The city center of Luxembourg with all its well preserved historical fortifications have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994.
Top things to see in Luxembourg city in one day
The main attraction of Luxembourg city is its old town, and the best way to see it is by foot. Even though the old town is basically split to two levels and you will have to walk uphill and downhill in places, the city is still very walkable. There is even a public elevator that can take you from the valley below to the upper level of the city.
Here are the top sights to see if you have one day in Luxembourg city.
Neumünster Abbey, located at the lower level of the city, is perhaps one of the most recognizable places of Luxembourg. This 17th century abbey is a popular place for public gatherings and features on many postcards and pictures of the city.
After getting down to Neumünster Abbey, to its spacious square and walking on the stone bridge of Pont du Stierchen, walk the Chemin de la Corniche.
Chemin de la Corniche is a walkway atop the historical walls. It leads from the lower level of Neumünster Abbey up to an observation deck with scenic views of the remains of the 18th-century tunnels & WW2 shelters – Casemates du Bock.
Saint Michael’s Church
After enjoying the beautiful views at Chemin de la Corniche, check out Saint Michael’s Church nearby. This Roman Catholic church is the oldest religious building in Luxembourg city. The first chapel was built on the same site in 987. Later it was destroyed and rebuilt several times, and the current building of Saint Michael’s Church dates back to the 17th century.
Cathédrale Notre-Dame (Notre-Dame Cathedral)
Another historical church worth visiting in Luxembourg is Cathédrale Notre-Dame – the only cathedral in Luxembourg. This 17th century Catholic cathedral was originally a Jesuit church.
Palais Grand-Ducal (The Grand Ducal Palace)
Palais Grand-Ducal is the official residence of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg (the monarchical head of Luxembourg). If you are visiting in summer you can take a guided tour in the palace (read the details on the official website). Otherwise The Grand Ducal Palace is closed to the visitors most of the year.
Palais de Justice (Justice quarter)
Next, walk to Palais de Justice (also known as the Justice quarter, or Judiciary City) – a nice quiet place surrounded by elegant buildings of justice courts and offices. Don’t miss the large colourful vases standing alongside one of the buildings, still bridge, bronze 3d map and Fontaine aux colombes.
The Justice quarter is located at Plateau du Saint Esprit and there are beautiful views opening up from it towards the lower level of the old city. There is an elevator beside the Justice quarter that you can take to get down to the lower city – Ascenseur Elevator Plateau St. Esprit Grund.
Walk down to the Grund
Instead of taking the elevator from Plateau St. Esprit to the Grund, we opted for a walk down the winding streets.
Grund district lies in the valley around the Alzette river. It has lots of well preserved sights from medieval times and is very photo-hygienic 🙂 Besides, it’s a nice place to have lunch – there are quite a few cafes and restaurants at Grund.
We simply walked the streets of Grund district and enjoyed its historical sights, stone bridges and green spaces. You can walk along Alzette river, around Neumünster Abbey, over the Pont du Stierchen, then under Pont du château and further towards Muerbelsmillen.
Muerbelsmillen is a small mill museum. It’s open only in the afternoon on weekends and the entrance is free. Might be a nice stop when you’re travelling with kids to let them see all the wheels and gears and old grindstones.
Take Pfaffenthal Lift
After walking the streets of the Alzette River valley and once you’re ready to go back up to the city center, head to Pfaffenthal Lift – public elevator connecting Alzette River valley with the city center above. Not only it saves you time and energy walking uphill from the valley but it also offers scenic views thanks to its glass doors.
Not far from Pfaffenthal Lift are old towers of Porte des trois tours and Spanish Turret (Spanischer Turm) – also with stunning views towards the valley below.
Fort Thüngen and Fort Obergrünewald
Fort Thüngen and Fort Obergrünewald are historical fortifications located close to each other in a small forest-like park Parc des Trois Glands (Park of the Three Acorns).
Fort Obergrünewald was built in the 17th century by French engineer Vauban (the same guy who built the pentagon-shaped Citadel of Lille – read about it in my post about Lille).
Fort Thüngen was built later, in the 18th century, and was connected with Fort Obergrünewald by a tunnel.
We started from Fort Thüngen, and walked towards Fort Obergrünewald with its beautiful views over the city center in the distance. Afterwards we walked the track among the trees in Parc des Trois Glands down towards the Alzette river.
We really enjoyed walking there, and our boys loved all the fortifications, stone walls and old moats.
Place de la Constitution (Constitution Square) and Pont Adolphe (Adolphe Bridge)
Luxembourg city has lots of places with beautiful views, and Place de la Constitution (Constitution Square) is one of them. Constitution Square is located south of the city center just above Parcs de la Pétrusse and Garden Luxembourg.
There is a Monument of Remembrance with granite obelisk and golden statue of a woman (known as the Golden Lady) on the Constitution Square. Under the Constitution Square are Petrusse Casemates – old underground tunnels and casemates that served as bomb shelters during WW2.
Make sure to walk on Pont Adolphe (Adolphe Bridge) – stone-arch bridge built in 1900-1903 that has great views to Pétrusse Casemates, park, and Constitution Square.
At the end of Adolphe Bridge at Plate de Metz you will find Musée de la Banque (Bank Museum). Even though it was closed when we visited, we could still appreciate its exterior and architecture.
Place Guillaume II and Hôtel de Ville (City Hall)
Place Guillaume II (also known as Knuedler) is a town square in the center of Luxembourg city. The square is surrounded with nice buildings and green trees. There is an equestrian statue of Grand Duke William II in one part of the square, and the City Hall in the other part of the square.
If you visit in December, Place Guillaume II will transform to a Christmas market location and host an ice skate rink. At all other times Place Guillaume II is where you can stop for a lunch or dinner – there are few places to eat around the square.
Right next to Place Guillaume II is another city square – Place d’Armes. It also has lots of cafes and restaurants around it, and also hosts a Christmas market during the winter festive period. Place d’Armes is a nice place to relax and have a lunch break (or dinner) after walking in the city.
Few shopping streets start at and around Place d’Armes if you have time to wander around some shops and boutiques.
Where to eat in Luxembourg city
No experience of a new city is complete without tasting some of the local food and drinks. There are many cafes and restaurants in the center of the city and I suppose if you only have one day in Luxembourg you wouldn’t want to go too far from the main attractions.
As I already mentioned above, Grund quarters have many places to eat, as well as Place d’Armes and the area around Place Guillaume II.
Where to stay in Luxembourg
If you are spending the night in Luxembourg, it’s a good idea to stay in the heart of the old city. All the major attractions will be within walking distance and you won’t waste your time on going to/from your accommodation to the main city sights.
In Luxembourg we stayed in a hotel on the Place d’Armes – right in the center of the city. As we arrived in the city by car, we simply parked it in an underground parking garage in the center of the city and explored Luxembourg on foot.
Is one day enough in Luxembourg?
You can see many of the main attractions of Luxembourg city in one day. The city center is compact and can be easily explored within a day. We visited all the sights and attractions that I mentioned in this post with our boys (7 and 11y.o. back then). Which means we didn’t walk too fast and didn’t rush things. We had enough time for rest breaks, ice cream stops and many stops to take photos and just enjoy the city.
If you have more than one day in Luxembourg, read our post – Two-three days itinerary in Luxembourg.
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5 thoughts on “One day in Luxembourg city”
So much history and so many beautiful places in Luxembourg! You have certainly whetted my appetite to visit. Love the idea of the Christmas market in the square, but perhaps too late for this year…..
Luxembourg has always been intriguing because of it’s small size and ability to “check off” a country in a day. But your pictures are beautiful and it is so charming that it seems to deserve so much more than a tick of a box.
The Grund quarter looks lovely, I would love to take that walk between the two levels of Luxembourg, preferably downhill 😃
We’ve never visited Luxembourg but would love to and your post has certainly convinced us that we should make the trip. It’s a really beautiful city with so much to see. It was also great to learn about its history. Fort Thüngen and Fort Obergrünewald looked very interesting and we’d enjoy walking through the Grund district.
Luxembourg seems like a nice stop for a day if in the area. It looks like it has lots of things to see but nothing huge that takes up too much time. Besides that, it looks adorable. Your photos are all great and really showcase how pretty the city is!