A Weekend Away in Luxembourg

Ever since completing our Journey Through Japan, we’ve been searching for a new travel destination – somewhere close to the UK so we could squeeze the trip in between planned visits to friends and family. Our (google) search eventually led us to Luxembourg, a relatively small yet stunningly beautiful country sat in the middle of France, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. With three days spare we booked our flights and left from London for a weekend away in Luxembourg.

Special thanks to Visit Luxembourg for helping us organise this trip and for the recommendations on places to stay, visit and eat.

Transport and the Luxembourg card

We often avoid landing in a new country late in the evening as it’s often less convenient due to a less frequent transport service and fewer people around to ask for information. Thankfully this wasn’t the case with Luxembourg as even at 10pm the airport information desk was still open. The staff were able to help us with all our questions and direct us over to the right bus stop for Bus 29 which takes passengers into the city. This bus along with other forms of public transport inside the city centre are free every Saturday. But wait, it gets better…from the summer of 2019 onwards, all public transport in the country will be free for everyone everyday!

If you’re planning your own trip to Luxembourg and it falls before summer 2019, we’d highly recommend picking up a Luxembourg Card which includes the trains and buses you’ll need to get around. Another benefit of having the card is the free access it provides to more than 60 local attractions. Cards are available up to 3 days for single and groups.

Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal

Within 15 minutes we were off the bus and outside Sofitel Luxembourg Le Grand Ducal, our hotel for the night. Inside the building you’ll be greeted with a lovely contemporary decor and a warm welcome by some of the friendliest hotel staff we’ve met. We called it an early night as our body clocks were still in the Asian time zone and were very pleasantly surprised by how comfy the beds were. It’s no exaggeration to say these were some of best hotel beds we’ve slept in. This was our first time staying with the Sofitel brand but we can assure you it won’t be our last.

Check property on Booking.com. 40 Boulevard d’Avranches, 1160 Luxembourg


Day 1

Old City

It was completely dark when we arrived into the City of Luxembourg so the morning was the first time we were actually able to see the city. Sipping on a cup of coffee and indulging in a delicious buffet breakfast on the top floor of Sofitel, we looked out onto the picturesque town.

The first thing we noticed were the strikingly tall walls surrounding and running through the city centre. It looked as though the city itself was part of larger fortified castle. Though perched atop the walls you won’t find watch towers and canons, instead beautiful examples of classic European architecture line up side by side. Luxembourg was once one of Europe’s greatest fortified sites and today finds a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

We spent a few hours wandering the streets of Old City Luxembourg, stopping at the Notre Dame Cathedral, Place Guillaume II, The Viaduc Bridge and Le Chemin de La Corniche Balcony where you’ll find a beautiful view point of the canal and the Grund below.

Chocolate House

As our luck would have it, our first day in Luxembourg was met with a heavy downpour of rain – very rare we were told. To save ourselves and our camera gear from getting any wetter, we found cover inside the cafe of the original Chocolate House of Luxembourg. Their signature item here is the hotchocospoon, literally a block of chocolate stuck onto the end of a spoon. Stir the spoon into a warm cup of milk and voila you have a rich cup of hot chocolate. There are many flavours to choose from as well toppings of cream and marshmallows. If you’re lactose intolerant (like Eric), then you’ll be happy to hear they offer dairy free milk too.

Around €5 for a hotchocospoon. Chocolate House Bonn, 20 Rue du Marché-aux-Herbes, 1728 Luxembourg

Panoramic Elevator of the Pfaffenthal

Next up on our itinerary was the Panoramic Elevator of the Pfaffenthal. Warmed up from our hotchocospoon, we walked to the elevator which took a little under 10 minutes. The journey took us through more picturesque streets and around the city walls. The elevator is free to visit and has a very practical use of connecting the Pescatore park and the Pfaffenthal area. But what makes the elevator worth visiting for tourists is the beautiful panoramic view from the top and the transparent glass floor looking straight down below.

Free. Panoramic Elevator of the Pfaffenthal, 1, Montée du Pfaffenthal, 2329 Luxembourg

Museum of Modern Art (MUDAM)

As photographers we’re always on the hunt for photogenic spaces so when we heard the Museum of Modern Art was designed by Ieoh Ming Pei, the same architect who designed Le Grand Louvre in Paris and the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong – e had to check it out. As the name suggests, MUDAM houses beautiful exhibition of moderns art intertwining with the museum space itself. Well worth a visit for modern art, architecture and minimalist lovers.

Adult admission €8. Admission included with Luxembourg Card. 3, Parc Dräi Eechelen, L-1499 Luxembourg City

Grund

Our last spot of the first day was the Grund, an area recommended to us as the most picturesque part of Luxembourg. By this time the sun had already set and the city fell into a romantic glow, lit up only by the warm street lights and light spilling out from house windows. We have to agree that the Grund is perhaps the most picturesque part of Luxembourg, offering a feel of what this entire city would have once felt like during the medieval times.

Grund, 13 Rue Plaetis, 2338 Luxembourg

Off to Vianden

We were enjoying the Grund so much we almost forgot we had to travel an hour outside the City of Luxembourg. Thankfully we weren’t a minute later as we made our RE 3768 train to Ettelbruck to just catch the final bus 570 (7:16pm) to Vianden where we would be staying the night. All transport costs were covered under the Luxembourg Card.

Hotel Belle-Vue

We checked in at Hotel Belle-Vue which was a lovely traditional Luxembourg hotel located right beside our bus stop. Once again we received a nice warm welcome. This time we were pleasantly surprised to find that our room had a balcony which faced Vianden Castle – a strikingly beautiful castle perched on top of the hill. The hotel also had a swimming pool, which we would have loved to enjoy had we not forgotten our swimwear…nevermind as we still managed to enjoy the whirlpool jacuzzi installed in our private bathtub.

Check property on Booking.com. 3 Rue de la Gare, 9420 Vianden, Luxembourg

Dinner at Beim Hunn

The foodies among you may have noticed the only food we mentioned so far were the hotchocospoons. Well, that’s because we were so busy out photographing and sightseeing we forgot to cater time to eat – a common problem for us when travelling. Prior to our arrival we were recommended by Visit Luxembourg to have dinner at Beim Hunn in Vianden, and told to have an empty stomach for this meal, well we’ve surely checked that box. Beim Hunn is well known locally for its delicious grill and very, very, very generous portions. We recommend the spareribs which comes with two racks and the mammoth 700g Prime Rib of Beef. Meat lovers will be in for a treat.

Our two course meal for two came to €81.20. 114 Grand-Rue, 9411 Vianden, Luxembourg


Day 2

Vianden Castle

After an entire day full of rain, we couldn’t be happier to open the curtains and find dry weather. We made the usual mad dash out the door to photograph sunrise…well one of us did. Sarah decided to stay in and enjoy the beautiful view of Vianden Castle from the warmth of the hotel bed.

Vianden Castle is one of the largest and finest feudal residences you’ll find in Europe today. A must see if you’re planning to visit Luxembourg.

Entrance into Vianden Castle is included with the Luxembourg Card, otherwise €7. Montée du Château, 9408 Vianden, Luxembourg

Back in the warmth of the hotel, we met back up and enjoyed a traditional Luxembourg buffet breakfast at Hotel Belle-Vue before setting off for the second day of exploration.

Originally we had planned to visit Bourcheid Castle after Vianden but we wanted to re-photograph some of the locations we visited yesterday when it was raining. So with that in mind, we made our way back into the City of Luxembourg the same way we came out.

Back in the city

Arriving back into the city we were greeted with beautiful sunshine. We made our way around the some of the spots we visited yesterday until it was time for lunch.

Our chosen eatery was Um Dierfgen, which serves traditional Luxembourg cuisine in a lovely rustic setting. We were meant to visit this restaurant on the first day but ran out of time as it only opens between 10am-3pm. Once again we were overwhelmed by the massive portions but hey, at least we weren’t hungry! We went for the selection of sausages which was delicious but the outstanding dish has to be awarded to the flavour-packed chicken pie.

Our lunch for two including drinks and one appetiser came to €63.60. 6 Côté d’Eich, 1450 Luxembourg

With our tummies well and truly full, we made a final trip through the city which was only perfectly rounded off by a beautiful sunset.


Final thoughts

It’s been a long time since we’d done any exploring in new European destinations but Luxembourg was just the perfect reminder we needed to do more. The stunning architecture, deep history, delicious food and this almost indescribable feeling of romance as you wander the streets – Luxembourg may have just pipped Budapest as our new favourite European city.

Three days in Singapore

Three days in Singapore

When we heard some of our UK friends were travelling around South East Asia, we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fly out and meet them in Singapore. We only had three days in the city but that was plenty to have us wanting to come back again soon. Here’s our three-day itinerary for what we got up to in Singapore.


Day 1

Check in + pool

We spent our first morning enjoying our hotel’s outdoor pool – a much-needed refresh after our red-eye flight. Park Hotel Alexandra very generously sponsored our accommodation and we couldn’t have asked for a better place to stay. The hotel is situated amongst the lush greenery of The Southern Ridges and is located a short distance away from Downtown Core and Sentosa Island – both places we went on to visit (more on this later).

Park Hotel Alexandra also provides each room with a smartphone loaded with calls, texts and data during your stay. This meant we saved money and the hassle of buying a local SIM upon arrival.

Old Hill Street Police Station

After grabbing some breakfast at Park Alexandra Hotel, our first stop was to see the Old Hill Street Police Station. This building was once home to Singapore’s first police station and jail – hard to imagine with its new colourful lick of paint. The building was renamed MICA Building in 2000 and is currently being used as an atrium for art activities.

We didn’t quite have time to explore inside but were able to take a few shots of the colourful exterior (tip: stand on the opposite side of the road for a better view of the building).

Old Hill Police Station Singapore
MICA Building/Old Hill Police Station

ArtScience Museum

This museum combines technology and art to create visual marvels. Anyone who uses Instagram will likely have seen the museum’s LED light installation, Crystal Universe. Although beautiful, it surprised us how small the light installation actually was, luckily we visited on a fairly quiet day and didn’t have to jostle with many others.

The light installation can be found at the end of the museum but visitors can enjoy many of the interactive games along the way, although most are suited more towards children.

For up to date prices and to book tickets, visit Marina Bay Sands.

ArtScience Museum Singapore
Crystal Universe light installation

Gardens By The Bay

We spent the remainder of our first day at the Gardens By The Bay. This was our most anticipated part of the trip, we spent a good few hours exploring the Supertree Grove, Cloud Forest, Flower Dome and many of the other attractions (full attraction list). As nature and outdoor lovers, it was interesting to see the potential for nature and urban to intertwine. We highly recommend staying for the light show in the evening (check times here). Travel tip: If you’re thinking of going up to the Skyway, do it just before the light show starts for the best views in the park.

On our way back to catch a taxi to our hotel, we also managed to catch the Marina Bay Sands light show from the Helix Bridge but we would recommend you make your way over to the Merlion Park if you want the best view of the show. Note, to watch the fountain water show you will need to head to the Event Plaza at Marina Bay Sands.


Day 2

Palawan Beach

We spent the entire second day on Sentosa, a resort island off Singapore’s southern coast. Fun fact: Sentosa is a man-made island for the sole purpose of letting visitors have fun.

Sentosa offers a number activities for visitors to choose from, we ended up deciding to spend our morning relaxing down by Palawan Beach. The beach itself is clean and well maintained with perfect water temperatures all year round. The beach also connects to the smaller Palawan island via a long suspension bridge. The relaxed tropical vibes at Palawan Beach was a lovely contrast to the bustling activity going on in the city centre.

Universal Studios

This theme park needs no introduction. You can expect great fun for all ages with roller coasters and rides to shows and parades. Singapore’s Universal is the smallest in the world but this is actually a good thing as it means you’ll be able to cover everything in just one day. Book your tickets in advance to save queuing up.


Day 3

Masjid Sultan

We started our final day with a visit to Masjid Sultan, Singapore’s most famous mosque. Ever since our visit to Malaysia, we’ve loved visiting and photographing mosques as each one tends to have its own unique and beautiful design – Masjid Sultan was no different, it looks like something straight out of Aladin. Arriving first thing in the morning meant there were very few people around which was great for photos, but note that the mosque itself doesn’t open until 10am.

Before entering the mosque, remember there is a dress code to abide. Males should wear long trousers and a top which covers the shoulders. Females will need to cover legs, arms and their hair. Robes are provided on location if clothing is deemed unsuitable.

Just round the corner from Masjid Sultan is Singapore Zam Zam, a great little Indian restaurant where we had a delicious yet economical breakfast – a must-try is their selection of roti.

Masjid Sultan
Masjid Sultan

Masjid Abdul Gaffoor

With our tummies full, we walked toMasjid Abdul Gaffoor, our second mosque of the day. Both mosques are beautiful and definitely worth visiting. Robes available on location.

Masjid Abdul Gaffoor
Masjid Abdul Gaffoor

Katong

We managed to squeeze this last activity on our way towards the airport. Katong is residential neighbourhood filled with colourful shophouses. This was one of the prettiest streets we’ve ever seen and well worth the slightly awkward trip out.

Katong shophouses
Katong shophouses

Back to Changi (Singapore) airport

And just like that our three day trip in Singapore came to an end. We hope you found this post useful in your own planning and if you have any questions just comment below or email us and we’ll be more than happy to answer. Happy travels!