A day trip to Luxembourg from Brussels, Belgium
With its title as the second richest nation (based on GDP) in the world, I imagined the cityscape of Luxembourg to be similar to financial hub Frankfurt located in neighbouring Germany. Assuming it to be full of modern commercial skyscrapers occupied by giant financial corporations and banks, the city of Luxembourg took me by surprise as I explored the city filled instead with carefully conserved architecture amongst a picturesque landscape. Having a spare day up my sleeve in Brussels, I spontaneously booked a day tour through Viator Travel to visit the capital.
Booked: Online through Viator Travel
Cost: 59 Euros
Length of tour: Approximately 11 hours from pick up to drop off with 1 bathroom stopover
Lunch: At own expense
Other Fees: There were no sites that we entered that required entrance fees, but if you wanted to revisit them during free time, these would be at your own expense.
Pick ups started from 08:30, and I arrived back at my hotel around 18:00-19:00 in time for dinner in Brussels – the below timings are approximates from the day.
08:30-09:00 Pick up from selected hotels.
If your hotel is not on the list, you can contact the tour company and they will either ask you to walk to a nearby hotel on the list, or a central meeting point in the city. I stayed at the Pentahotel which wasn’t a pick up point, however was only a block away from the Hotel Manos where I was picked up.
09:00-12:00 3 hour drive from Brussels to Luxembourg
There was minimal traffic exiting from Brussels into the city so was an easy drive along the highway with one stopover at a convenience store/public bathrooms halfway through the journey. The views were mostly forest and bushes so I spent most of the time (along with the other passengers) napping.
12:00 – 13:00 Walking tour
We crossed the road to pay a quick visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral, and passed through Place de la Claire Fontaine with the monument of the Grand Duchess Charlotte, and the highly rated, Michelin starred fine dining restaurant Clairefontaine.
The pedestrian friendly streets took us to the impressive Palais Grand Ducal then towards a spectacular view of the the winding banks of the Alzette River and the Grund set in a lush green valley.
We walked along the river passing apple trees and quaint gardens and ended up at a square next to the Niemenster and a view of the Bock. Another short stroll down the riverbanks, and we were at Judiciary City or otherwise known as Justice Quarter on the Plateau de Saint Esprit.
13:00 – 14:30 Free time
The walking tour ended with some free time at the Place D’Armes, close to the larger Place D’Guilleme. Both squares offered a myriad of casual cafes and patisseries, bistros and fine dining establishments, catering for every budget, palette and cuisine.
There were several boutiques in the surrounding streets – and admittedly, I spent most of my free time browsing The Kooples store than sightseeing. Typical. Souvenir shops were also plentiful if you wanted to pick up some memorabilia.
14:30 Meeting point and bus departs for Bastogne
15:00 – 15:20 Mardasson War Memorial Bastogne
We had a quick stopover at the Mardasson War Memorial in Bastogne, Belgium where we spent roaming around the grounds at our own pace. The Bastogne War Museum is a few steps away from the Memorial, however I felt there wasn’t enough time to take it all in and you would only really go inside to check out the gift shop on the premises.
15:20 – 16:00 Place McAuliffe Bastogne city
Our final stop in the day tour was a visit to the Monument McAuliffe and Sherman Tank in Place McAuliffe where we had some free time to explore the cosy town centre. I spent my fee time strolling down Rue Du Sablon visiting Leonidas and Daskalides chocolate stores.
16:00 Bus departs for Brussels and drop off at selected hotels or central meeting point
Overall thoughts on service and tour
I booked the tour the night before I planned to go and hadn’t realised that I needed to confirm my attendance by calling them at least 24 hours prior. I was a bit apprehensive that night thinking I would miss the tour, however I called their office at opening and the staff member I spoke to was very helpful. They managed to contact the bus driver who had already commenced the pick ups to stop by and pick me up too.
The coach was clean with seats that didn’t recline, but was sufficient and comfortable enough for the journey.
Most of the other passengers on the day I went were older couples in their 40’s/50’s with a few younger couples (I was travelling alone and there were probably only 2-3 others who were travelling alone too).
Our tour guide was very informative without being boring and spoke quite passionately, keeping the tour interesting. If you don’t keep up or are at the back, you probably won’t hear much of what the guide is saying. I was probably halfway through the crowd the majority of the time so could hear bits and pieces, but this didn’t bother me as I was busy taking photographs anyways.
The current tour on Viator is slightly different as it also includes a stopover at the picturesque riverside city of Dinant, Belgium which wasn’t included when I went last year.
Self driving or public transport options
As I was travelling alone and made the last minute decision to visit Luxembourg from Brussels, I preferred to travel with a large group and I had the convenience of having a tour guide lead the way so the tour was my best option. The train would have taken longer and I didn’t have the option of a car as I didn’t have an international driving license (Knowing me, I probably would have got lost too!). If you are flexible, below are some comments and links on travelling with a car or train to Luxembourg.
Going by train: If you are on a strict budget you can do the day trip by train. The train was cheaper by 10 Euros even when I looked at the schedules and prices a day ahead, departing from Bruxelles Midi to Luxembourg train station (it may be even cheaper if you are planning your itinerary ahead). The train journey is a direct connection at approximately 3h05m each way.
Going by car: If you have the luxury and convenience of a car, the drive from Brussels to Luxembourg looked pretty straight forward as most of the journey was on a highway. We only encountered a little bit of traffic when it started raining as cars tend to slow down in rain. Some advice on driving from a LP forum on driving can be found here.
|At the end of the tour, the tour guide will advise the group that they will leave a hat at the front of the bus for gratituities, so make sure you bring some change. I saw most people leaving a 5 or 10 Euro tip so make sure you bring some change (don’t feel obligated to though).|
|Wear comfortable shoes for the walking tour.|
|Bring your own snacks and water. Our coach stopped over at a convenience store alongside the highway halfway through the Brussels-Luxembourg journey for a toilet break. Most people went to the bathroom then headed to the store to purchase breakfast (there was fruits, croissants, coffees and teas available), however they were very expensive.|
|Lunch isn’t provided so bring some cash in case the restaurants don’t accept cards.|