Luxembourg... or land of luxury and banks…
So I’ve mentioned before that Belgium is a small Western European country. Well… if we’re talking smallest of them all, then Luxembourg is the place to be.
Squished between France, Belgium and Germany, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (fancy name, isn’t it?) is a country with only a couple of hundred thousand inhabitants and one of the biggest GDP per capita in the world; so at the same time, the smallest and the richest country in Europe.
The Grand Duchy has been around for more than 500 years, having its origins somewhere in post-medieval Europe. The local population mostly speaks French, but also German and the weirdly sounding Luxembourgish. Most of the people based here either work in the institutions of the European Union (the top court of Europe is based here) or in financial corporations (Luxembourg is known for being a fiscal paradise).
The landscape is spectacular, the capital city (also named Luxembourg) being built in and above a valley. You can arrive either by train (from France, Belgium or Germany), by car or by plane on the small airport located just outside the capital. Hotels are mostly luxurious and quite expensive, but as you wonder outside of the city proper, they get a bit cheaper. Nevertheless, if you’re not good on your cash, it may not be the best place for you – prices are over the European average and a lot of basic stuff (like water or McDonalds) can be unavailable to the average Joe.
The main attractions in Luxembourg are located in the capital: one really impressive thing is the cathedral, dating back to the 16th century. It’s placed on ridge, just on top of the main valley – worth a visit. The main square of the city, where the Grand Duke’s palace (now the parliament), the town hall and a lot of souvenir shops are located, is probably the place where most people will go. But the biggest attraction is the view: a short walk through the city center will make you understand that being located in a valley has its advantages.
Luxembourgish people are generally nice, although you might not meet any of them during your stay. Having that it’s a very international place, most of the people roaming around are from all over: Europe, America, even Japan… There’s also a huge Portuguese community in the tiny principality – literally, every other person is from Portugal or either speaks Portuguese (bus drivers, cabbies, even tour guides).
There are two big downsides to Luxembourg travel: one is the weather – the fact that the entire country is literally in a valley means that it will attract cold air and clouds, so if you get to enjoy sunshine the day you visit, consider yourself lucky. The second one is the nightlife – almost all the bars and cafés close at 10 PM and there are very few clubs that are open all year round. So if you’re in to partying and wet T-shirt contests, Luxembourg is probably not the place for you.
Either than that, it’s worth a trip. Allez Lux!