When you think of Luxembourg City, you probably envision a very high standard of living, with prices to match. To some extent this is true, but you can definitely visit this pretty, compact city without breaking the bank.
The high cost of living in Luxembourg was something my husband and I had read about long before actually travelling there. According to the UBS 2018 Prices and Earnings report, Luxembourg was rated the 15th most expensive city in the world. So we were prepared to see jaw-dropping prices and to live off of grocery store dinners for the duration of our five-night stay.
But that didn’t happen. In fact, we were pleasantly surprised by the prices over all. As with any major city, you can definitely spend a lot of money in Luxembourg City, if you choose to do so. (For example, our hotel had a wonderful brochure for a local jewelry store, in which nothing was priced under 3000€!)
But in general, we found the average prices in Luxembourg to be more reasonable than, say, Copenhagen. The cost of living may be high here, but as a visitor, it’s not nearly as expensive as many people may think.
Even so, we still discovered a few tips and tricks during our stay that can help you save a few more Euros.
1. Take Public Transportation
Luxembourg City is pretty walkable and compact. But if you don’t want to walk everywhere, especially if the weather isn’t favourable, take public transport. Transit in Luxembourg has always been reasonable – it used to be a mere 2 Euros for a single ride to travel anywhere in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – but as of March 1, 2020, the government made all transportation (trains, trams and buses) completely free! This was done in hopes of reducing traffic congestion.
Also free is the Pfaffenthal Panoramic Elevator. This cool glass elevator opened to the public in 2016. It connects the historical city center with the Pfaffenthal neighborhood in the river valley below. The elevator shaft is 60 meters (approximately 18 stories), so it’s quite the impressive ride!
With the glass-enclosed cabin (including a portion of the floor!) you get some great views of Luxembourg City from a different perspective.
Address: 2 Rue du Pont, L-2344
2. Visit the Bock Casemates
The Bock Casemates are part of the old Fortress of Luxembourg, the former city fortifications. The fortress was built over many hundreds of years, beginning at the time of the city’s foundation in the 10th Century until 1867.
Luxembourg City – the old town anyway – was founded on a steep, rocky outcrop and flanked by the confluence of the Alzette and Pétrusse Rivers. This put the city in a great strategic and political position. Subsequently, Luxembourg played a large part in European history for hundreds of years.
The Bock Casemates are defensive tunnels dating to 1644, when Luxembourg was under Spanish rule. The 24-kilometer expanse of tunnels covered multiple stories and also contained numerous galleries, which could accommodate 1200 soldiers.
Following the Austro-Prussian war and the Luxembourg Crisis in 1866, when the French Empire and Prussia came to a head regarding Luxembourg’s political status, the 1867 Treaty of London was drafted. This treaty gave Luxembourg full neutrality and independence. But in return, the city had to demolish the fortress. The remaining section of the fortress and the old town were listed as a UNESCO Heritage site in 1994.
17 kilometers of the casemates were spared during the 1867 demolition order. This was due to the fact that the underground tunnels couldn’t be completely destroyed without damaging urban buildings above. This was quite fortuitous, as the casemates were used as a shelter during both world wars in case of bombardment.
If you visit the casemates you will also walk through Castle Bridge, built in 1735 to replace an old wooden drawbridge. The bridge also connects the Bock Promontory and the Upper Town.
Adult admission to the Bock Casemates is under 10€.
Quick budget travel tip: Another option to save a few Euros on admission is to purchase the Luxembourg Card – they offer 1, 2, or 3 day cards. The card gains you free access to over 60 attractions throughout the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. The one day single person card is 13,00€, for example, so if you take in 2-3 attractions or more in one day, the card more than pays for itself.
3. Check Out the Museums
Admission to museums in Luxembourg (as well as most historic castles and other attractions) typically run under 10€ per adult. Which doesn’t seem like a lot until you start to add it up. If you visit 2-3 attractions per day, that adds up to the price of a meal. (Unless of course you have the aforementioned Luxembourg Card.) But some museums are less expensive, and some are even free to visit!
If you only see one museum in Luxembourg City, let it be the National Museum of History and Art.
Entry to the permanent exhibits in the museum is free. Temporary exhibits cost €7. The flat-faced, modern exterior of the museum, which gives it the impression of being modest and austere, hides an extremely impressive interior. The museum not only stretches sideways across a glass pedway to a series of historic houses across the street (known as the Wiltheim Wing), but it also extends vertically, including three underground levels.
Artifacts include a Roman mosaic dating to 240 AD, prehistoric artifacts, Art Deco pieces, and contemporary art. You can easily spend a full day admiring everything they have on display.
Other museums that aren’t free, but are worth visiting:
MUDAM – The Contemporary art Museum of Luxembourg
National Museum of Natural History
Lëtzebuerg City Museum: living history of the city
4. Take a Walk
Walking, of course, is free, and is always one of the best ways to explore a city. Luxembourg City is a very walkable destination. And they have a love – bordering-on-obsession – of walking paths and trails, especially circular walks. This is THE place to go if you love nature, history, and hiking, and want to find a way to combine all three.
Within the city there’s the Wenzel Walk, a circular walk that takes approximately 2.5 hours in total to complete. This path takes you past the fortress, the old town, and parts of the town outside the city wall.
Be sure to stop at the Chemin de la Corniche – known as the most beautiful balcony in Europe – to snap a few photos of the river valley below. The Spanish and the French built the corniche in the 17th century as part of the city ramparts.
Although you can take a guided tour along the route, it’s really not necessary. You can pick up a printed pamphlet at the Luxembourg City Tourist Office at 30 Place Guillaume II. Just note that some sections of the walk are not stroller or wheelchair-friendly.
Beyond Luxembourg City there are countless hikes and themed walks to suit all ages and physical abilities. The most popular are the Escapardenne Trails and the Mullerthal Trail. You can find out more about the hiking trails in Luxembourg here.
5. Explore Rives de Clausen at Night
I admit I have a great weakness for old repurposed industrial sites – Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord in Germany being a particular favourite. If you love seeing what beautiful brick industrial buildings can become, you have to swing by Rives de Clausen. This former Mousel et Clausen brewery site is now a vibrant, lively restaurant and bar district. It’s nice during the day, but it’s particularly beautiful once the sun goes down.
Some bars and restaurants here are pricier than others, so you’ll want to poke around for the best deals. But this is a great little area to wander around in and people watch.
Bonus Tip: What to Splurge On
Well, maybe “splurge” is hyping it up too much. But there are two things in Luxembourg that you need to treat yourself to – and no it’s not $3000 jewelry! Luxembourg does two things incredibly well – make beer and make pastries. Neither treat is particularly pricey, but for some folks these could be considered non-essential things that just add extra expense. But here, those few extra Euros are totally worth it.
Beer has been brewed in Luxembourg since at least 1300 AD. Lager is the style of choice, but you’ll find many options around this small country. While at one time Luxembourg had 12 major breweries, there are now only three big companies and a handful of smaller microbreweries.
Our recommendation for great beer paired with a lively, fun-loving atmosphere is the Big Beer Company in the Rives de Clausen district. This brew-pub is located in the old Mousel brewery building.
It has a perpetual Oktoberfest vibe, including Bavarian-style food options, generous one-liter mugs, and live music. The old steam engines are still at the centerpiece of the building.
Address : 12 Rives de Clausen
Pastries and Desserts
Honestly, the pastries and baked goods in Luxembourg rival those in France. Just look at the little porcupines on the left – the spikes are made of sliced almonds. I know this for a fact because after walking by the Pâtisserie Jean-Claude Arens pastry shop by our hotel every morning, I finally had to get myself one. It did not disappoint!
We visited around Father’s Day, and these racing car cakes were also in their display window. I’ve never seen such artistry before.
Address: 4A Avenue du Dix Septembre
Where to Stay
Looking for a place to stay in Luxembourg City? Start your search here:
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