This tiny country, the only sovereign Grand Duchy in the world has half-a-million inhabitants. It’s sandwiched between Belgium, France and Germany. As its history is linked with its larger, more assertive, neighbours, it’s a wonder Luxembourg exists as a separate state at all. It does, a country of diverse scenery, from the Ardennes forests in the north, to the Mullerthal region in the east (known as Luxembourg’s little Switzerland), Moselle region in the south east (shared with Germany), and the Red Rocks region (old industrial area) of the south.
Its cosmopolitan capital, Luxembourg city, started off as a fortification in 963 when Count Siegfried built a castle on a hill known as the Bock. Surrounded by the gorges created by the Alzette and Petrusse rivers, this defensibility led to Luxembourg being known as Gibraltar of the North.
Cheap flights to Luxembourg land at Findel Airport, just 2.5km (1.5 miles) east of the city. The national airline, Luxair, connects Luxembourg to 20 European destinations.
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Luxembourg has a variety of climates despite its small size. The mountains and hills of the north have cold, wet winters while the rocky, forested land in the south has a temperate climate.
Luxembourg is too small for domestic flights, but there is a very good road network. Several car-rental companies including Hertz, Europcar and Avis are represented at the airport. There is an efficient bus and rail network throughout the country. The river Moselle links Luxembourg to the large European canals.
What is good to know if travelling to Luxembourg?
- High on the Bock promontory in the 10th century, Count Siegfried established the Lucilinburhuc. Over the following centuries the fortress was extended, expanded, and – in the 19th century – dismantled, but the excavations (listed by Unesco as a World Heritage site) are well worth a visit.
- Explore Luxembourg on foot. The Wenzel Circular Walk takes in the Upper and Lower towns, while the Vauban Circular Walk encompasses the ancient fortifications – Bock promontory, Old Town, Pfaffenthal and Clausen, Fort Niedergrunewald, Fort Thungen and Fort Obergrunewald.
- Noteworthy museums include the Luxembourg City History Museum, the National Museum of History and Art and the National Museum for Natural History.
- The US Military Cemetery is just east of Luxembourg City. More than 5,000 American servicemen are buried here; 10,000 Americans fought in Luxembourg during the Second World War. This is also the resting place of General George Patton, considered one of the greatest military figures in history.
- Getting out to the countryside: Ardennes in north-west Luxembourg is a beautiful area of forests and valleys and offers recreation for walkers, cyclists and, in the winter, cross-country skiers. It was also a battleground (the Battle of the Bulge) during the Second World War. The National Museum of Military History at Diekirch examines the area’s bloody past. Beautifully restored Vianden Castle is also in this area.
- Mullerthal, in the north east of the country, is known as Little Switzerland for its stone cliffs, verdant valleys and forests. It also boasts Beaufort Castle, an impressive ruin dating from the 12th century. Echternach is the country’s oldest town, established in the 7th century. It has an annual dancing procession on Whit Tuesday, which draws thousands of visitors.
- The Moselle valley in central Luxembourg is the country’s wine-growing region. Grape and Wine Festivals are held in the spring and autumn.