A family-friendly day visit in the city of a count who married a mermaid. . . Luxembourg (day 25, summer camping road trip)

Sunny-side-up greetings from the city of a Count who married a mermaid. . . already, it’s a great set-up for an adventure with kids, isn’t it? And Luxembourg is a family-friendly city at that! Even if you only have a day here with your kids, below is a quick guide for you on what family-friendly things you can see or do here.

Before going to Luxembourg I was convinced that it is a country only for people with thick wallets. After all, LUXury is in its name. . . this was my first thought at least. To my surprise, Luxemburg was quite. . . well, normal. It welcomed us with cheap (yet quite nice) camping, very affordable public transportation (which is going to be totally free of charge starting In March 2020) and friendly service providers who spoke English and other languages.

“Hallo. Grouss Laachen!” That’s how you say “Hello. Big Smile!” in Luxembourgish.

View from the rocky Casemates du Bock overlooking a valley with a courtyard of an abbey, the Alzette river and an old bridge.

Text on picture reads: www.FreeElectrons.Family with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at a top corner.
Europe’s most beautiful balcony” , overlooking the valley and the river of the Alzette into which the mermaid Melusina disappeared a thousand years ago.

There’s something about little countries of Europe that pulls us in. During last year’s summer camping road trip we visited Andorra, Monaco and Liechtenstein (which our kids call “Frankenstein”, to this day!). On days 24 and 25 of this summer’s camping road trip (2019) we made it a goal to visit this little country of deLUXe! OK, ok, it’s NOT so little and not SO obviously luxurious (except for the numerous simultaneous construction projects all over the city, courtesy of the many international companies that have offices here! Business must be booming!).

So the story goes. . . Over a thousand years ago Count Siegfried married a mysterious beauty called Melusina who had only one condition–that she will keep Saturdays a private matter. That is, the Count was not allowed to see her on that day. So time bred jealousy that drove the Count to break his promise. He secretly followed her to the Bock casemates (the foundation of what is now called the “Gibraltar of the North“), saw her bathing in the river and discovered her secret. . . that she would turn into a mermaid on the forbidden day. When she saw him watching her, she jumped into the river Alzette and disappeared forever and ever and into the minds of Luxembourgians.

A young boy, back-turned, explores a lighted tunnel into the depths of the underground galleries of Casemates du Bock.

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Exploring the underground galleries of the Casemates du Bock, where the mermaid Melusina disappeared into, and later became the aptly named Gibraltar of the North.

Other than that. . . Why else should you visit? Well, stuck between France and Germany with all the wars between them, Luxembourg made it a point to mediate for peace between these warring countries. This essentially became the founding principle of the European Union.

Now, Luxembourg is one of the 4 official capitals of the EU (the others: Brussels, Frankfurt and Strasbourg) and the seat of the highest court of justice in the union–the European Court of Justice. So ‘nuf said.

And oh, the city itself, with its old quarters and a complex of underground fortifications–totaling over 20-something square kilometers, is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. It once was the most heavily fortified city in Europe! What!?!

City of Luxembourg: family-friendly one-day itinerary. . . with kids

If you want to have a truly kid-friendly visit of the “Ville of Luxembourg” , make your first stop at the city tourist office and GET YOURSELF a copy of “City Promenade for Kids“. Available in English (of course) and in any other language. And if you wanna see what Luxembourgish looks like, grab a copy!

A picture of the self-guided tour of the city called "City Promenade Fir Kanner" (or City Promenade for Kids) with caricatures of a count and a mermaid.

Text on picture also reads: 
"Mam Grof Sigfrid a mam Melusina duerch d'Stad Letzebuerg", "luxembourg" and "www.FreeElectrons.Family" with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at a top corner.
City Promenade for Kids“–in Luxembourgish. Available in English. A great way to discover the city and win a FREE gift from the City Tourist Office.

This self-guided tour is some kind of a “treasure hunt” where you can explore the old fortress city of Luxembourg by following a guided map. It piqued the interest of our boys! Not only did they learn a bit about the main attractions in the old city center, they were also very engaged in hunting for that piece of information at each of the 12 stops. Info that is needed to break the code to open a “vault” back at the tourist office and get the FREE little souvenir gifts for the little ones : )

In the end the “hunt” was also informative, fun and sufficient for us parents too!!!

The whole go-slow trek/route took us 3-4 hours (with our 7 and 3-year old children going up-and-down the hilly old quarters of the city), and including the tour of the underground galleries for the older one.

It’s not usually the case that tourist offices give you MORE than the typical spiel about the city. We have visited over 40 tourist offices so far. . . In this case, the city went above and beyond the service to ensure family-friendly visit.

Here are the main sights/stops (in pictures) for this free children-friendly Luxembourg City Promenade

DURATION: 3-4 HOURS, MINIMUM, WITH YOUNG KIDS… AFTER ALL, FOR EVERY STEP YOU TAKE, THEY HAVE TO TAKE 2 OR 3, SOMETIMES UPHILL!

A picture of the self-guided tour of the city called "City Promenade Fir Kanner" (or City Promenade for Kids) with caricatures of a count, a mermaid and the prominent tourist attractions of the city.

Text on picture also reads: 
www.FreeElectrons.Family with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at a top corner.
A great way to discover the city (for both kids and parents!) with a FREE children-friendly Luxembourg City Promenade with Kids. Duration: 3-4 hours with young kids. . . After all, for every step you take, they have to take 2 or 3, sometimes up hill!
  • Place Guillame II
  • Grand Ducal Palace
  • Place d’Armes (City’s Palace)
  • Place de la Constitution (Gelle Fra)
  • Cathedral of Our Lady of Luxembourg
  • Place Clairefontaine
  • Corniche road to “Europe’s most beautiful balcony
  • Leutzebuerg City Museum
  • Bock Casemates
  • Hollow Tooth Tower
  • Saint Michael’s Church
  • Marche-aux-Poissons (National Museum of City and Art)
  • Adventure Playground at the City Park (optional)
Two young boys at the foot of a greenish-colored copper-based statue of a man on a horse, under blue sky with an inserted smiley face custom icon at the top corner.

One of the boys is looking at a map, while the other sits in a pram/stroller.

Text on picture reads: www.FreeElectrons.Family
Place Guillame II. The main city square with William II–once King of the Netherlands and also the Grand Duke of Leutzebuerg/Luxembourg–at the center riding a horse. There are plenty of places for dining in this square, if you are into dining while people-watching.

As in many city squares and tourist spots, food at the main plazas were a bit pricey for our budget. And since we did not pack lunch this time, we chose (and recommend) a side-stall Eco-friendly take away lunch by Kaempff-Kohler at 18 Place Guillame. Our kids love their paninis–Pastrami de Boeuf and Chedar–and Tomate Mozzarella for us.

Two young boys sitting on a chain link in front of the well-maintained Grand Duke Palace in Luxembourg, under blue sky with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at the top corner.

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Grand Ducal Palace. . . where the Grand Duke of Luxembourg lives and works.
Two young boys and a stroller/pram-pushing father, walking on a city square with people, heading towards the City Palace of Luxembourg, under blue sky with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at the bottom corner.

Text on picture reads: www.FreeElectrons.Family
Place d’Armes. . . the city square of sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating areas with the City’s Palace (host to all kinds of events and concerts) dominating the square.
Two young boys (one standing, the other on a stroller/pram), in front of an obelisk monument with a golden statue on top at a pedestrian plaza, under gray sky with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at the bottom corner.

Text on picture reads: www.FreeElectrons.Family
Place de la Constitution. . . where you can see the “Golden Lady” (Gelle Fra) atop a monument in memory of Luxembourg’s fallen soldiers in the wars.

Cathedral of Our Lady of Luxembourg. . . the city’s largest church with a statue of a 400-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary and a pilgrimage site for locals in April-May during the period known as “Oktave”.

A front-facing bronze statue of the Grand Duchess Charlotte--the beloved monarch of Luxembourg-- in an empty square/plaza, under blue-grayish sky with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at the bottom corner. 

In the background are buildings; one of which is a 3-storey building with the country's blue-white-red flags in front of it.

Text on picture reads: www.FreeElectrons.Family
Place Clairefontaine. . . with a monument of the beloved Grand Duchess Charlotte–the beloved monarch of Luxembourgians.
View of houses among trees along the Alzette river from the Corniche road of "Europe's most beautiful balcony", under blue-grayish sky with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at the bottom corner. 

Text on picture reads: www.FreeElectrons.Family
A panoramic view along the old Corniche road, “Europe’s most beautiful balcony” .
Old children toys (airplane, horse, car and a cash register) inside the Leutzebuerg/Luxembourg City Museum.

Text on picture reads: www.FreeElectrons.Family with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at the bottom corner.
Head towards the Leutzebuerg City Museum. . . You can have a break or snacktime at a small quiet garden at the back of this museum.

The Bock Casemates (promontory). . . a rock cliff surrounded by the river on three sides. This is where the Count built his first fortified castle and later built with underground galleries, originally 23 kilometers long that linked all sections of the old fortifications, and where thousands of soldiers and horses lived, making it the most heavily fortified in Europe. Recommend going down and into the Bock (separate fee) to have different viewpoints of the fortifications and explore the maze-like layout in the relative darkness of the caves. T I P : NOT for our 3-year old or toddlers though (steep, shallow and narrow stairs in the dark!)! and of course NO STROLLERS!

View of the rocky Casemates du Bock over a valley and a river with an old bridge.

Text on picture reads: www.FreeElectrons.Family with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at the top corner.
The Bock Casemates–the rocky cliff that juts out, surrounded by the Alzette river on three sides. Inside of which are a series of underground tunnels and fortifications.
An old rocky tower in ruins with modern buildings in the distance and tree canopies in between.

Text on picture reads: www.FreeElectrons.Family with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at the top corner.
Site of many a heavy battles. . . the Hollow Tooth Tower with a panoramic view of the European Centre of Kirchberg over the viaducts. The tower has a memoriam to a founding father of the European Union who was born in Luxembourg, a man named Robert. . .
View of the altar from the entrance of the well-kept 1,000-year-old Saint Michael Church in Luxembourg.  Strong sun penetrating through the partly stained glass windows.

Text on picture reads: www.FreeElectrons.Family with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at a bottom corner.
Saint Michael’s Church. . . a thousand-year-old church (as old as the city itself) with a canon ball atop one of its towers (supposedly).

Marche-aux-Poissons. . . The old Fish Market (sounds fancy in French, doesn’t it?). This was apparently was where the two ancient Roman roads met and the beginning of the city. Here you can see what the old city looked like with its small winding streets and old houses. Stop by the National Museum of City and Art to see the best-preserved mosaic from Roman times, if you have the time.

Two young boys (one standing, the other sleeping in a pram) in front of a windowless modern building.  An outdoor cafe at the entrance.

Text on picture reads: www.FreeElectrons.Family with an inserted smiley face (custom icon) at a top corner.
The modern National Museum of City and Art at the oldest part of Luxembourg–the old Fish Market (Marche-aux-Poissons).

Adventure Playground at the City Park. . . With a rush-back to the tourist office before it closed at 1700, we were unable to go the municipal park with its adventure playground where the city mermaid (Melusina) and a pirate ship apparently awaits the city’s young visitors. Oh well, SAVE SOME for LATER!

A FREE light-blue-colored water station for people and dogs in a pedestrian city square in Luxembourg.

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FREE water from water stations like this one in the ville/city of Luxembourg. Note. . . even for dogs. A family-friendly and dog-friendly Luxembourg!

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