Let me start by saying that Luxembourg (City) isn’t my favourite city in the world. It’s probably not even in my top 50. But if you are wanting to go to the small country nestled in-between France and Germany, there are certainly charms to this sweet city, where I’d recommend spending three days (one in the city, and two day or half-day trips). Alternatively it’s a good place to pass through for a few hours if you’re on a train across the european continent.
Luxembourg is a rich country and its national languages are Luxembourgish, German and French. I remember being bitter that Sheffield University opted to dissolve its Swedish programme in favour of Luxembourgish, which only has 400,000 speakers (in comparison to Swedish’s 9.2 million). This is cemented in the fact that I didn’t seem to hear anyone speak Luxembourgish, and only saw it on a few advertisements. Perhaps strangely, I didn’t hear much German either, and I actually mostly conversed in French with hotel staff and in restaurants. I did ask a few people what they preferred speaking in the most, and a lot said French/Luxembourgish rather than German, which (I’m not sure why) I hadn’t really expected.
I went to Luxembourg for New Year’s Eve, which is probably not the best time to go as it’s freezing cold and everything is closed. I think I’d have much preferred it in high summer, but it’s certainly pleasant at all times of year to amble through the old town and marvel at the alsatian-like architecture.
If politics, government and the EU interest you, Luxembourg is the place to go – it’s the headquarters of the European Court of Justice, the European Investment Bank, the European Investment Fund and the Secretariat of the European Parliament. I.e. Buildings to you and I. There’s also a viaduct and a cathedral, which are never too unwelcome. I particularly liked the Grand Ducal Palace, which was surprisingly understated and in the middle of the town centre, despite being the house of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
As for a day trip, I’d recommend hopping on the train to Trier, in Germany which is only 40 minutes away and reasonably cheap. It’s a very pretty city with a good atmosphere (and incidentally the birthplace of Karl Marx), lots of restaurants and a nice western German vibe. Luxembourgish restaurants and pubs were fine, but I wasn’t bowled over by them.
Are you tempted to go or have I put you off completely?! Or am I being to harsh? I do think it’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you’re going to other places (Strasbourg, Frankfurt, Brussels, Paris are all reasonably reachable), but it’s probably a country you don’t need to rush back to time and time again! Or, at least, not when you’re a 23 year old…
(Also – LuxemBOURG or LuxemBURG? I’ve only ever pronounced it the former, but have heard it said the latter many times)