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Stay at Luxembourg or do it from Brussels

Hi All,

We are planning our first Europe trip in the month of May. I tried googling, but too much information confused me. Here are few very basic queries which may solve the dilemma and help to pen down a concrete plan.

  1. What should be the convenient route (by train) - Paris-Brussels-Amsterdam-Luxembourg-Zurich-Paris? or please suggest if any other variations are available.
  2. Should the Luxembourg city be covered from Brussels and travel Zurich from Amsterdam? Or is Luxembourg worth a visit?
  3. How is the train connectivity from Luxembourg to Zurich and Zurich to Paris? What about taking a bus on this route?

Our Paris return tickets are booked. The tentative plan, Paris - 5 days, Luxembourg - 1 day, Rest - 3 days each.

Thank you so much.

Posted by
7502 posts

It's too bad you can't switch to open-jaw air tickets, but you said they are booked. If your luggage isn't too big, you might consider bargain airlines for the longer jumps. For example, it would make sense to fly to Amsterdam and then train to Brussels. Otherwise Amsterdam is out-of-the-way.

I don't think Luxembourg City is a must-see, although I enjoyed one day there. I would point out that Cologne and Basel are both on your route. Do you plan a daytrip out of Zurich? I'm not sure Zurich itself warrants three days, like Brussels, where daytrips are especially easy. Amsterdam has some superb daytrips less than an hour on the commuter train. But your choice of large cities to see by train is not bad. We also prefer to sleep three nights in the same place. Our host, Rick Steves, likes to say, "Plan to return," i.e. this is not your only chance. He also has some excellent free pages (top left) on train travel in Europe.

In trip planning, it can sometimes be better to list "nights" than days. It's easy to make a mistake about the first night on the plane, or the "lost" last day going to the airport, for example. Some smaller sights that are relatively easy by train, that you didn't mention are Antwerp, Bruges, the Middle Rhine valley, Trier, Strasbourg (which is well-connected to Paris.)

Posted by
27362 posts

I hope some of our Switzerland experts see your post. I think few, if any, of them would recommend 3 nights in Zurich. I imagine you're going to Switzerland for the mountains. Zurich is a pleasant but unexceptional city, and a very, very costly place to stay. Why not stay in the mountains?

I enjoyed a couple of overnight stopovers in Luxembourg, but in the case of your itinerary, I'd skip it and use that time in Switzerland.

Posted by
15570 posts

Visiting Luxembourg City from Brussels is a long day trip. I'd suggest an overnight.

I truly enjoyed Luxembourg mainly because it was interesting with a combination of European cultures, historic sights, and natural beauty. And nowhere near the crowds you'll find everywhere else.

You could easily go Brusssels-Luxembourg in the morning. Spend the rest of the day seeing the city. Spend the next morning seeing anything you missed the previous day and take an afternoon train to Amsterdam.

The trains from Amsterdam to Zurich are nine hours plus with numerous connections. Consider flying. You will miss scenery but you will get there faster. There are nonstop flights. They take about an hour and a half.

Zurich to Paris is a four hour direct train.

Buses will take longer than trains.

Personally, I would take off one day in Paris and take the train from Amsterdam to Zurich. It's a long day but the scenery in southern Germany is worth it. Try to get an early morning train with the least number of connections. Others will disagree because they don't want to sit on trains. I enjoy the journey as much as the destination because I enjoy seeing the countryside .

Posted by
24 posts

Zurich is sort of out of the way of the rest of your destinations. Not sure how important visiting Switzerland on this trip is to you, but you could consider visiting Germany instead. Trier is right across the border from Luxembourg and leads into the Mosel River Valley, and the Middle Rhine Valley. The region is well connect by train to the Benelux countries and to Paris for your return flight.

Posted by
8889 posts

Saroj,
If you are in Switzerland for only 3 nights, Zürich is not the place to go. Zürich is a nice city (but then are lots of others), but the reason to go to Switzerland is MOUNTAINS!
Luxembourg is nice, but again why Luxembourg over Strasbourg, Munich, Florence or lots of other places?
Brussels is not the best place in Belgium, Instead I suggest Brugge, one hour from Brussels by train.

Yes, you should do this "open-jaw", flying into the location at one end, and exiting at the other end, for example, fly into Amsterdam, then Brussels - Paris - Switzerland and fly out from Zürich. But you have unfortunately already booked your tickets.

CONCLUSION: Paris - Brugge (via Brussels) - Amsterdam - Switzerland (a long all day train journey). In Switzerland Stay in the Berner Oberland (search on this forum) - Paris
There is a train from Zürich and Basel to Paris ever 2 hours, with connections from anywhere in Switzerland.
Do not consider buses. Trains travel at up to 320 Km/Hr, buses at 120.

Look up train times at: https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml
Book at the site of the company running the trains.
For lots of info about trains, see this website: http://seat61.com/

Posted by
8536 posts

I enjoyed Luxembourg. I would say it was well worth a day if it doesn't take you out of your way. When we left to go to Germany, it was quicker to take a bus to Germany and then get the train than to take the train all of the way. I am unsure if this would be the same for going to Switzerland.

Posted by
1568 posts

I too enjoyed Luxembourg - was there last year as we drove through different areas of France and Germany. We stayed at the Park Inn which is closer to the train station though a short walk into the town center.

I tend to prefer to stay the night in a town even if it is a one nighter as opposed to day trip. There are pros and cons to both - I like to see what towns are like in the evening when the cruise ships and day trippers leave.

Posted by
2 posts

I personally would not spend 3 days in Brussels; stay in Brugge instead. I would do 2 days in Brugge and 2 days in Luxembourg. We took the train from Amsterdam to Brugge. Brugge is one of my favorites cities! So beautiful. We did the Rick S walking tour and took in the Basilica of the Holy Blood, City hall, Groeninge Museum, Church of our Lady, Memling Museum, and the fun De Halve Maan Brewery.
Then we took the train from Brugge to Luxembourg with a stopover in Brussels. We stowed our bags at the Brussels train station and explored Grand Place, did the Comic Walk, and took in the Cantillon Brewery. Got back on the train to continue on to Luxembourg.
Luxembourg is a very pretty city and I took many pictures while on the Promenade Walk. Saw the Boch Casemates, Notre Dame, Adolphe Bridge, and listened to live music in Place D'Armes square. A short bus ride to the American Cemetery and Memorial is worthwhile. It is where General Patton lies among his troops. Very tranquil and beautiful.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks people! Your replies are really helpful.

Brussels - Yes! Plan is to visit Brudges and Gent/Antwerp from Brussels; now it seems, we should stay at Brudges; and not at Brussels.
Luxembourg - Seemed exiting to us from photography perspective, wanna just have a leisurely walk.
Amsterdam - We wanna visit this amazing place and do Rotterdam, the Hadge, and Delft among others.
Zurich - The aim is not to visit Switzerland but the city... did not think about alps/mountains... (will do Switzerland with Italy in future, fingers crossed). We are rail lovers and were thinking of a day train to enjoy the beauty, won't get bored. But keeping Zurich on hold now.
Trier, Moselle River Valley and the Middle Rhine Valley - Can do if we increase our stay at Luxem and drop Zurich.
Thinking between these two options:
Paris-Brudges(Brussels)-Amsterdam-Luxembourg-Paris? (will save on Zurich long journey time and utilize in Luxembourg)
Paris-Brudges(Brussels)-Amsterdam-Zurich-Paris (will skip Luxembourg and around, and get a feel of Zurich city)

Your suggestions and opinions are welcome!

Posted by
2916 posts

I'd second whomever it was that suggested Bruges over Brussels. I spent one night in Brussels, and that was more than enough, but I loved Bruges. As to Luxembourg City, the first time we visited we both thought it was fantastic. Then we went back around 15 years later, and hardly recognized the place. Some of the charming places we saw seemed to have disappeared, and ugly new construction was everywhere. There was no charm. I also see you mentioned Trier. We spent one night there and really enjoyed the city.

Posted by
4 posts

Hi travelling enthusiasts,

Thanks so much for suggesting Trier which has opened up a possibility of visiting nicer places.
Here are few queries. I appreciate your inputs:
1. Which two can be our base/halts to cover Luxembourg city, Trier, Mosel River Valley, and the Middle Rhine Valley? Trier, Cologne, St. Goer, or Cochem...
2. From Trier, can Mosel River Valley and the Middle Rhine Valley be covered in a day and Luxembourg in another half day? Are these day tours available from Trier?
3. Do you need to hire a car to visit Mosel River Valley, and the Middle Rhine Valley? Is it walkable distance to reach till the river cruise station/stop? How is the connectivity to these places?
4. Does the following plan look convenient and places well connected by Train?
Paris-Trier-Cologne-Amsterdam-Brussels-Paris
(Objective is to cover Paris, Trier, Luxembourg, Mosel River Valley, the Middle Rhine Valley, Amsterdam, Brugges, Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels)

Thanks a ton!

Posted by
7502 posts

You are going to have to do the grunt work yourself. Perhaps starting with the time/cost maps on our host's websited, top left:
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/transportation/trains
Look very closely at his Time maps, or sketch things out on Google Maps.

You have proposed a huge trip, as if you can't count on ever returning to Europe. It's also very different in each country; Local trains in Belgium are frequent, short, and cheap. You can't compare visiting Brugge from Gent with visiting Luxembourg or Cologne from Trier. It appears that you hope to avoid renting a car, which is fine, but it means concentrating on large cities (like Amsterdam) and less on places that need a day or less, like Trier or Burg Eltz.

It appears that this is a 15-day trip (you encrypted that information in your last sentence.) If so, this is too much train travel for that amount of time. You are overlooking how many daytrips there are to be made from Amsterdam, Brussels (or any other Belgian city), and Paris. If you want to avoid renting a car, you have to concentrate on those.

Posted by
4 posts

Hey, thanks Tim and Nigel. I got your point!
I appreciate your candid replies 👍