Nestled between the countries of France, Belgium, and Germany, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has a surprising wealth of sights and activities for a country that rates as one of the smallest in Europe. This founding member of the European Union has produced four Tour de France champions, which shows the central role that the sport of cycling plays in Luxembourg’s culture. Bicycles and bicycle rentals are ubiquitous, as are the myriad and winding bicycle trails that course throughout the diverse countryside of thick forests, gently rolling hills, and modest mountains.
Getting in, out, and about
Luxembourg is both a part of the European Union and the Schengen Agreement, which means US travelers only need a valid passport for entry into the country or to cross over the borders of the surrounding countries. Once entering into the Schengen Area, your passport stamp allows you to stay in any country within the area for up to 90 days within a 180 day period.
Aside from having the common vaccinations up to date, you need not get any additional shots. However, some travelers may find it prudent to get a rabies vaccination, especially if you are planning on exploring the caves that dot the region of Müllerthal. Rabies is not generally found in the dogs local to the area, but traveling through the caves can expose you to bats who carry the disease. Other optional vaccines are against Hepatitis A and B. You should consult with your local physician regarding your travel plans to determine what, if any, vaccines are right for you.
Although Luxembourg is rather expensive, particularly in terms of meals and lodging, since it is a well-known capital for banking and finance, you cannot carry more than €10,000 in or out of the country.
If you experience any health issues or other emergencies in the country, remember the emergency phone numbers of 112 for a medical emergency or 113 for the police. If you need to access a pharmacy late in the evening, call 112 for information, since pharmacies in Luxembourg rotate 24 hour access among them.
Luxembourg packs a whole lot into such a small country. Here are some of the highlights:
Whether you spend days on your vacation traveling inside the boundaries of Luxembourg, or incorporate it into a larger European trip, you’ll find this fairy tale land to be a highlight for your vacation.
The traveler’s tongue
Luxembourg has its own official language, Luxembourgish. However, French is the unofficial national language, and most of the street signs and other signs are in French. German is also spoken quite extensively, with most citizens being trilingual. However, don’t misconstrue Luxembourgish as a dialect of German, despite its similarities. Most of the locals would find that insulting to their culture. English is commonly spoken in some areas, but it is hit or miss. When in doubt, address people in French and ask if they speak English. Most will be glad to help you. If you really want to score points with people, try a few phrases of Luxembourgish, since so few people know the language outside of the country. Here’s your first word to try: Moien, (pronounced moy-en). It means hello, and if you say it with a smile, you’ll be surprised how many doors it will open for you.
Money matters in Luxembourg
Luxembourg is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Consequently, finding cheap accommodations is a next to impossible task, with even the cheapest of rooms costing no less than €100 a night per person. While there may be some cheaper youth hostels with varying degrees of comfort, your best option is to stay across the border in nearby France or Germany and make a day trip out of Luxembourg.
If you are into camping, the year-long mild climate in Luxembourg does make this a viable option. The landscapes in Luxembourg are varied and lovely, which adds to the pleasure of camping out.
Since Luxembourg is such a small country, getting around by train or bus is actually fairly cheap. It takes no more than an hour to travel from the capital of Luxembourg City to anywhere else in the country. Day passes for the trains and buses come in for around €4.
Dining in Luxembourg is expensive, with even the most modest of meals coming in at just under €20. Tipping at restaurants is unnecessary since your check will include a Value Added Tax that helps support the server.
Since it is a financial capital of Europe, you will have no trouble finding banks or ATM's to change your money in Luxembourg City. In the surrounding areas, these are not as available.
Although the euro is the primary currency for many countries in the EU, and some outside, each country’s version of the euro has a unique identifying stamp on the back of it. If you happen to receive any Luxembourgish coins among your change, keep them because they are less common than other euro coins.
C.W. Garay is an alumnus from the University of North Texas, where he received both his BA in psychology and an MA in English, specializing in creative writing, fiction. When not traveling he resides in Denton, TX, rated as the number one small town in which to live in the US according to Business Insider’s 2013 survey. In addition to writing articles on traveling, he also writes fiction under a pseudonym. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.