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Escape to Luxembourg: there's more to the Grand Duchy than business
From the fairytale architecture spires of its historic city centre to the waterfront vistas of its scenic Grund district to the Haussmann-style boulevards radiating from its gorgeous 19th-century station, Luxembourg City is a lovely European capital on a human scale, and its immediate hinterland boasts rolling pastures, wild forests and relics of a rich industrial heritage.
Surrounded on three sides by rugged cliffs and medieval fortifications, Luxembourg City’s historical centre is a charming web of narrow, mostly pedestrian streets lined with boutiques and punctuated here and there by bustling market squares. At its heart is the majestic Grand Ducal Palace, where Luxembourg’s hereditary sovereign resides.
The Bock Casemates ring the city centre and overlook the Lower City, known as the Grund, with its bars and restaurants. Across the Alzette river valley is the reconstructed Fort Thüngen, which houses the Dräi Eechelen museum, and
behind it, the Grand Duchy’s contemporary arts museum Mudam.
Luxembourg City is full of upscale hotels but one towers above the rest. Sofitel’s Grand Ducal is perched on the edge of the Petrusse valley and offers breathtaking views of the capital, particularly from its eighth-floor bar and restaurant. In the south of the country, near the French border, Esch-sur-Alzette’s designer Seven Hotel provides boutique accommodations in the verdant, hilltop Gaalgebierg park.
Luxembourg’s food scene has blossomed in recent years, and gourmands can now find an array of international eateries. With its spacious, sun-kissed terrace
and proximity to the station, the Buvette is a hotspot for lunch and happy hour. Family business Athena serves up top-quality Greek dishes and Hellenic hospitality a few blocks away. Down in the Grund’s neighbouring Clausen quarter, Ukulele presents spicy Thai fare in one of the historic neighbourhood’s original houses.
Then there’s Éirelux. Situated in an industrial park on the fringes of the capital’s Howald district, the place was conceived as an Irish grocery before growing into a pub and bistro. Diners can chow down on Irish specialities while drinking Irish craft beer and watching football on a giant screen.
There’s much to see beyond the cobblestone streets of Luxembourg City’s historical centre. Take the elevator down to the Grund and Clausen districts, where green spaces and restaurants line the banks of the meandering Alzette river.
A short drive to the south is Belval, a repurposed steelworks that now accommodates an industrial history museum, a shopping and dining complex, contemporary office blocks and a university campus as well as the Grand Duchy’s biggest concert venue, the Rockhal.
To the north, rugged countryside awaits. There are lakes, rivers, forests and even spectacular waterfalls in the Mullerthal region, nicknamed Little Switzerland.
This article first appeared in ING Expat Time