Interview with Elisabeth, member of the Luwembourg Automobile Club
Cars are very much a part of life in Luxembourg and the Luxembourgers cherish their vehicles. Up until now, it was customary to do everything by car, but this is beginning to change with the introduction of completely free transport in 2020. It's clear that the government is seeking to bring about an eco-responsible revolution. When I first arrived, I used my car a lot. Now it usually stays in the garage.
The new tram is perfect, the funicular is a good idea, the electric bus network impeccable (The City Night Bus even runs at night to bring your children home from their night out) and trains criss-cross the country. No more excuses not using them.
Let's start with the car : what do we need to know?
Getting around by car is relatively easy, the roads are well maintained. Traffic flow needs improving, that goes without saying, because rush hour is chaotic. But with thousands of Belgians, Germans and French cross-border commuters rushing to the borders morning and evening, it cannot be otherwise. I advise against trying to leave Luxembourg between 4 - 6.30 p.m.
A few points to be clarified.
Registering your driving licence: People with a driving license from the EU member states are not obliged to exchange their driving license.
Persons holding a British driving license who settle in Luxembourg on or after 1 January 2021 must have their license transcribed within 12 months (after having lived for in Luxembourg 6 months). After this period, the license will no longer be valid for driving in Luxembourg and a transcription requires the successful completion of a test.
If your license is from outside the EU, you have one year to translate your license (ask for information from the Société Nationale de la Circulation Automobile). From the age of 50, the license is valid for a period of 10 years, renewable after a medical examination.
Importing your vehicle: You have a period of 6 months to register our vehicle in Luxembourg with the SNCA in Sandweiler. However, think about the fact that VAT is 17% and there is no carbon tax. In short, cars are often cheaper in Luxembourg. Then you can personalize your number plate if you wish, using two letters and four numbers of your choice!
Winter regulations: Please note that your vehicle must have winter tyres in the event of winter conditions. There is no specific date, but the automobile club recommends changing once the temperature drip below 7C ( the return from the All Saints holiday (1/11) is the right time). It’s up to you to see when roads start being slippery. Non-compliance means a 74€ fine and if you have the misfortune to block the traffic due to the lack of the right tyres, you will hear bad what from other drivers think of you!
Parking in town: Not an easy option! The city center car parks are either under construction or full, but the Cityapp-VDL app allows you to see, in real time, the availability in each of the car parks. The Glacis car park is my favorite solution, spacious and easy access: I always find a place and the tram runs every 5 minutes to get to the center. If you come from out of town, the most economical and stress-free solution is one of the P+R. These car parks (Park & Ride) are free, located on the outskirts of town and allow you to reach the center by public transport.
Otherwise, as residents of the city of Luxembourg, the residential parking sticker system (to be requested from the department of transport in Hamm) is practical for 2 hours free parking anywhere in the city and 24 hours free parking in your residential area . Want to park for more than 2 hours? You have a choice of cash payment or via the Call2Park application. With a blue disk that you buy in service stations, you have 2 hours free parking (indicating the time you leave). Otherwise, parking is chargeable from Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., free on Sundays and public holidays.
The car in the city is becoming more and more restrictive. So, obviously, we are less tempted to come by car
To rent a car: Carloh (carloh.lu) is the car-sharing system in Luxembourg; otherwise, you will find all the usual car rental companies at the airport. Another option: register with the ACL (Automobile Club de Luxembourg) which rents cars in Bertrange, not far from the city center.
Taxis are quite pricy and by reservation (except from the station and airport). Webtaxi and Colux have apps that work very well. But, of course, when you go out at night, it’ better to take you car because you won’t be able to hail a taxi on the street, there won’t be any. Uber does not exist in Luxembourg. ‘Night Rider’ is a night shuttle on request and by reservation.
Is public transport a real plus in your opinion?
From one end of the country to the other, and for free, it is easy. The Mobiliteit.lu application can be downloaded immediately to be kept informed in real time, of any delays etc. This application will become your new best friend.
There are 40 city bus lines, of which 34 are regular and 7 run at night. Perfectly geo-located, the buses are announced in advance on the panels of the bus shelters.
Call a Bus: This on-demand door to door service is reserved for City residents aged over 70 and operate from Monday to Saturday, from 9 a.m. to midnight. Many communes offer a similar service for short trips within the commune for any of their residents.
City Night Bus and shuttles: your children know-all there is to know, ask them! They use them when they come home from a night out. It’s very reassuring for parents. 7 lines are in operation, beginning with the letters CN (City Night) and operate every Friday from 9.30 p.m. to 3.30 a.m. There are also night bus services to many of the outlying villages.
Having disappeared 50 years ago, the tram returned in force at the end of 2017. Its circulation has revolutionized transport within the capital. It runs every day from 5 a.m. to midnight, at intervals of between 3 to 15 minutes , this will be your preferred type of transport. In 2023 the line the line goes from Luxexpo in Kirchberg to the Bonnevoie high school (Lycée de Bonnevoie) with ongoing projects to the Airport and the new football stadium via the Lycée de Vauban.
The funicular connects Pfaffenthal with Kirchberg plateau. It connects the Luxembourgish railway network with the tram, bus and cycle path. It can be found under the Red Bridge.
The train is also a plus to avoid using the car. The CFL, organization managing eco-responsible trains (powered by 100% renewable electricity with no CO2 emissions) offers free second class travel in Luxembourg. For first class and cross-border journeys, consult the CFL website, mTickets app or use the mKaart card. From Luxembourg station (Gare Centrale) you connected to many of Europe’s capital cities. Tickets can also be purchased at the station or on the CFLwebsite. On the other hand, it is not faster to go to Brussels or Amsterdam by train that by car.
And what about airplanes?
Findel Airport is amazing. 20 minutes from the city center, boarding is very fast and offers a good range of destinations. Before Covid we believe, tried all the direct flights to sunny getaways: Athens, Milan, Ibiza, Faro, Lisbon ... a real treat less than 3 hours from home. Big companies (British Airways, ITA, Lufthansa, Tap ...) offer flights as well as low-cost companies: Ryanair, Easy Jet.
Special mention for our national company Luxair, which is efficient and serves many European capitals and flights to Dubai, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey. Via its subsidiary Luxairtours, you will find organized trips.
Don’t forget to look on Skyscanner for departures from airports like Brussels, Charleroi (196km, 2 and a half hours) or Frankfurt Hahn (234km, 2 and a half hours). They’re not that far away and you will broaden your horizons. The world is your oyster!
Also consider shuttles if needed: Flixbus, Door2gate or `a la carte, proposed by Emile Weber.
What advice do you have for newcomers?
Without hesitation, buy a bike ( Up to 600€ subsidy offered by the government as a nice bonus) and take advantage of the 660 kilometres of cycle paths to discover the charming corners of the country,
It you’re not decided, rent it. Each main town has a ‘bike-sharing’ system which works very well (Vel’oh in Luxembourg city). You can also contact ‘Velo en Ville’, just next to the Luxembourg Acceuil. And to park your bike in a secure space, Mbox: there are around thirty throughout the country, accessible with the mKaart transport card.