Liechtenstein, a small country of 37,000 people with an area of 61.7 square miles (160 square kilometers) is bordered by Austria to the east and Switzerland to the south and west. Its capital Vaduz is only 67 miles from Zurich, 111 miles from Innsbruck and 161 miles from Milan.
If you haven’t placed Liechtenstein on your travel bucket list, it is time to do so. Here are the reasons why:
1. Tiny and naturally beautiful
Liechtenstein is surrounded by the Alps and Rhine River, at the center of the Alpine Arc. In the summer months, go mountain biking or hiking and enjoy the natural beauty of Liechtenstein. There are about 250 miles of clearly marked signs on hiking and mountain bike trails from the lowest valleys to the mountain peaks. You’ll find alpine hikes and bike trails of every level.
During the winter months, Liechtenstein is a paradise for snowboarders and skiers. The mountain village of Malbun, located about nine miles from Vaduz offers winter activities for visitors of every age. You can choose between cross-country skiing, ice skating, ice climbing and snowboarding.
Top festivals in Liechtenstein are Ice Night Malbun (January), Malbun Sommerchilbi (summer fair in July) and Malbun Donkey Festival (August)
2. Vaduz Castle and other sights
The Prince of Liechtenstein, Prince Hans-Adam II, and his family live in Vaduz Castle. This 700-year-old castle has been with the family since 1712. Though the castle is not open to the public, every year on National Day, August 15, citizens and guests are invited to the garden lawn in front of Vaduz Castle to celebrate. It’s the only day the gardens are open to the public.
For the rest of the year, visitors can take the walking path to the castle to get a panoramic view of Vaduz and the Rhine Valley.
Some of the top highlights in Vaduz are the Princely Cellars of Vaduz and the Citytrain. Go wine tasting and buy the exquisite wines from the prince’s private vineyards. You may even find the friendly Prince popping by to say hello (hoi, for the locals).
For a fun ride, take the Citytrain for a short 35-minute ride around the city with the friendly conductor and his tiny, gray and blue colored train. The train runs from 1 to 4:30 p.m.
If you prefer to walk instead of taking the Citytrain, we recommend walking around Mitteldorf and Oberdorf neighborhoods. Both neighborhoods have houses that date to medieval times. One of the most famous is The Red House, a medieval gabled house surrounded by small vineyards and gardens.
Other attractions in Vaduz include:
• Museum of Fine Art
• National Museum
• Postage Stamp Museum
• Treasure Chamber of the Principality of Liechtenstein
3. Quirky art scene
Liechtenstein official tourism website sums up the art scene well. It said:
Art in Liechtenstein is not monumental, obvious art designed to be displayed in the world’s major cities. Instead, it is a game of hide and seek. It creeps up on you and surprises you in public places, between shops, at the entrance to a building or as part of the architecture. There is plenty of art to discover just remember to keep your eyes open!
Some quirky statues we found were the bronze horse sculpture “Grande Cavallo” by Nag Arnoldi and a bronze statue of a reclining woman called Ruhende Frau by Fernando Botero.
4. Dining and shopping
To the locals, the main center of Vaduz is “Städtle” or “small town.” Parts of the area are only for pedestrians and closed to cars. You’ll find cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, boutiques and banks in Städtle.
Ribel (cornmeal-based), Käseknöpfle (pasta with melted cheese) and Jugged venison with Knöpfle (venison and soft egg noodles) are three traditional Liechtenstein dishes to try. You can find the recipes on Liechtenstein tourism’s website.
Besides traditional meals, great coffee, desserts and fabulous princely wine, visitors will find it fun to buy Liechtenstein souvenir passport stamp. It is not a postage stamp but a stamp on your passport to prove that you’ve visited the country. Buy one at a souvenir shop or the tourist office located across the street from the Kunstmuseum (The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art). Each stamp is 3 Swiss Francs.
Liechtenstein uses Swiss Francs. If you’re vacationing in Zurich or Lucerne, it’s ideal to hop in a car or get a driver to drive you across the border to Liechtenstein. Both cities are less than an hour’s drive to Vaduz.
Note: Liechtenstein is one of the 26 countries included in the Schengen area. So, if you’re traveling in Switzerland, Austria and other Schengen countries, you can visit Liechtenstein with your Schengen visa (if a visa is required).