One of Europe's smallest countries — ranked 175th in size of all the 194 independent countries in the world — Luxembourg is only 2500 square kilometers, measuring 82 km long and 57 km wide. It borders Germany to the east, France to the south, and Belgium to the west and north but not to be outdone by its larger neighbors, Luxembourg was named European Capital of Culture in 2007.
Oesling, the northern third of the country, contains low mountains and few people. The southern two-thirds, Gutland, is much more populated and is divided into five sub-regions, including the Red Lands, which is the heartland of the country and home to Luxembourg's biggest towns.
Known for its fairy tale scenery, Luxembourg has a storied past full of counts, wars, dynasties, fortresses and castles. The people, mostly rural, are proud, and their motto, "We want to remain who we are," demonstrates their fierce independent streak. The country's population is less than half a million and the only towns of any size are the capital, Luxembourg City, and Esch-sur-Alzette.
The most popular town for visitors is the highly romantic and picturesque Vianden, not far from Luxembourg City. Also popular is Echternach, a vibrant town near some ancient forests in the north. In the country's southeast is the green and lush Moselle Valley full of vineyards and quaint little hamlets along the river. The rest of the country is rolling farmlands complete with pastel homes and medieval castles. It's not wonder visitors feel as if they're in a fairy tale.
Most fairy tale-ish of all is Luxembourg City itself. The city is 1000 years old, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and often described as having the most dramatic sites in all of Europe. Here you'll find a mix of the old and new. Located high up on a promontory overlooking a deep valley and gorge, the vistas are spectacular, while behind you, are thoroughly modern museums, upscale boutiques, world-class restaurants, along with turrets, towers and castles. The city is also famous for its green parks and old neighborhoods full of atmosphere, such as Grund and Clausen. Make sure you wander through Old Town to get a taste of the past.
The scrumptious cuisine of the country is based on German and French cooking with the national dish being smoked pork laced with a thick cream sauce with chucks of potato broad beans. Other specialties are grilled spareribs, liver meatballs with sauerkraut and something called kachkeis, which is a cooked cheese. Beers are famous here, as are the fruity wines.
Luxembourg's marine west coast climate means it gets a lot of rain, especially in late summer.