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Luxembourg - Health and safety
With Dr Felicity Nicholson
There are no serious health issues to worry about, and no endemic diseases. As in other parts of northern Europe, influenza outbreaks can occur over the winter months. Elderly or vulnerable visitors arriving at this time may therefore wish to consider vaccination before travelling. Insect bites are perhaps the biggest risk in rural areas so it is worth taking an insect repellent. There is also a risk (albeit low) of Lyme disease. It is wise to be up to date with the standard UK vaccinations including diphtheria, tetanus and polio which comes as an all-in-one vaccination (Revaxis), which lasts for ten years.
If you do have an accident or fall ill, the level of healthcare is amongst the best in Europe (and by inference, the world). Residents of EU countries including the UK and Ireland should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling, as this covers the costs of any standard medical treatment you may require. Everyone, including holders of an EHIC, should also take out travel insurance that includes medical costs, as the EHIC doesn’t cover all eventualities, such as repatriation to your home country following an accident.
Travel clinics and health information
A full list of current travel clinic websites worldwide is available on w istm.org. For other journey preparation information, consult travelhealthpro.org.uk (UK) or wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel (US). Information about various medications may be found on netdoctor.co.uk/travel. All advice found online should be used in conjunction with expert advice received prior to or during travel.
Luxembourg is a very safe place in which to travel. The crime rate is low compared with most places in Europe, and violence a rarity. You can wander round anywhere without fear, although incidents aren’t completely unknown so normal precautions should be taken, particularly late at night. Lone women travellers seldom experience problems, but again the usual common-sense rules apply. Attacks on women do occur, but are rarer than in most western European countries. This is also officially one of the world’s least corrupt lands, so you shouldn’t have to deal with any ‘requests for additional payments’.
Some streets in the immediate vicinity of Luxembourg City’s main railway station – including rue Joseph Junck, directly opposite the entrance – form the red light district and have a local reputation for drug dealing and prostitution. In reality it’s pretty low key compared with larger cities elsewhere, which is just as well because a lot of hotels are located there. Besides having to walk past a few seedy bars, you’re highly unlikely to be disturbed by anything other than loud music, and even here single women are not in any significant danger. There are also a few down-and-outs and winos in the same area, but they’re generally harmless and far fewer in number than you would find in other major capitals.
Of course, nowhere in the world is completely without risk, but a little due care and attention to what’s happening around you should keep you safe. If anything, your biggest annoyance is likely to stem from the drunken behaviour of expat office workers having one too many on their way home on a Friday evening. Antisocial behaviour and assaults (usually alcohol-related) among the nation’s youth are on the rise – or so the national papers will have us believe – but again this is a minor annoyance compared with most countries.
Travellers with a disability
Luxembourg’s efforts to make the country as convenient as possible to people with mobility difficulties are as advanced as anywhere in the world, and disabled visitors should not encounter any unexpected surprises. Most hotels, restaurants and tourist sites are fully accessible to wheelchair users. There may, however, be a few smaller hotels that do not have lifts, and some attractions – not least of all castle ruins on rough ground – may be less easy to visit than others.
For specific queries and the most up-to-date information, contact Info-Handicap, Luxembourg’s national association for the disabled. The multilingual website wheelmap.org has an interactive global map showing accessible and partially accessible properties, including museums, hotels and restaurants. If in doubt, local tourist offices are also usually happy to assist with any special requests from disabled travellers.
Gay and lesbian travellers
Luxembourg’s tolerance of homosexuality is reflected in the fact it has been legal here since 1792. It’s an offence, punishable with a fine or prison sentence, to incite or indulge in acts of hatred, discrimination or violence based on sexual orientation. Gay and lesbian visitors are by and large treated with respect and accorded the same welcome as anyone else. The age of consent for everyone, gay or straight, is 16.
Owing to the country’s low population as a whole, the gay scene is quite limited in scope. The website of the Rosa Lëtzebuerg Gay and Lesbian Association has information about upcoming events in the Grand Duchy, and lists the addresses of gay (and gay-friendly) bars and restaurants.
The election of Xavier Bettel as Luxembourg’s first openly gay prime minister in 2013 has brought further benefits, most notably his pushing of the same-sex marriage bill through parliament in 2014. This bill, which also gives same-sex couples the right to adopt, came into effect on 1 January 2015.