7 best things to do in Liechtenstein

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Liechtenstein is a principality located in the Upper Rhine Valley in the Alps, bordered by Austria and Switzerland. It is the fourth smallest country in Europe and it is doubly landlocked, which means that it is surrounded by countries without direct access to the sea. Given its location in the Alps, it is not surprising that more than half of the territory is mountainous. The capital is Vaduz and the language is German, but the currency is the Swiss franc.

Liechtenstein does not have an airport but a good road network, so you can easily reach it from anywhere in Austria or Switzerland. Once I left Switzerland and entered Liechtenstein, I got hooked. You are greeted by a huge castle on a hill, you can get your passport stamped (like in San Marino), see mountains, woods and lush pastures, find quaint museums. You can visit an artificial lake without fish and, my favorite: a falconry.

If you love skiing and any kind of winter sport, you have come to the right place. Neighboring countries may be more famous, but Liechtenstein, being so small, has much less traveled trails, and they are of equal quality. There is also a large network of hiking trails to explore in summer; and, last but not least, the wines of Liechtenstein are delicious, and you can taste them in the prince’s own cellar.

Vaduz Castle (Photo credit: Mikel Trako / Shutterstock.com)

1. Let yourself be charmed by Vaduz

Liechtenstein, as small as it is, is a very important global financial center and a very wealthy country. Citizens too, not to mention the royal family. They reside in the castle perched on a steep hill, known as Schloss Vaduz, resembling what you might have read and seen in fairy tales. Prince Hans Adam II and his family live in the 130-room castle and, therefore, it is not open to the public. But you can get a closer look at the medieval castle by climbing the wooden paths that lead to the rock terrace. The paths are dotted with viewpoints which also provide some explanations of the history of the castle and the Alps. If you happen to be in Liechtenstein on August 15, you might be lucky and be able to walk into the rose garden and take a closer look. It is Liechtenstein’s national day and the public, both locals and tourists, are allowed in, provided they have booked a ticket online. It’s free and there is a reception on the lawn and the day ends with a huge fireworks display.

What makes Vaduz so charming are the breathtaking views of the Alps and the Rhine from just about anywhere. It is easy to get around as it is a small town. Stroll along the ‘Main Street’, Stadtle Street, the one and only pedestrian street in Vaduz, and admire all the charming shops, cafes and museums, all located along this street. Don’t miss: the modern Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein. But art lovers will already appreciate the many statues and sculptures along Stadtle Street.

If you are a stamp collector or have friends who are, stop by the post office, called Postwertzeichen Stelle, and purchase a selection of stamps. They are sought after collectibles and make a great gift.

Another beautiful landmark to visit in Vaduz is St. Florin’s Cathedral. You will love the stained glass windows and the history linked to the parish church elevated to the rank of cathedral.

If you’re hungry after all of this exploring, consider Michelin-starred restaurant Torkel. Another fun thing to do in Vaduz is to visit the Liechtenstein Center (tourist office) on Stadtle Street and get your passport stamped. A memory of a very special kind!

The best time to visit is from mid-May to the end of September when the weather is mild, although there can be rain showers at any time of the year and, of course, snow in the winter.

Gutenberg Castle - Balzers, Liechtenstein.
Gutenberg Castle (Photo credit: Diego Grandi / Shutterstock.com)

2. Hiking the Liechtenstein Trail

If you really want to get to know this beautiful country, put on your walking shoes and hike the 47 mile Liechtenstein Trail, or part of it. Liechtenstein is truly a hiker’s paradise and there are almost 250 miles of well-maintained and marked hiking trails that run through the 11 municipalities. On this site you will also find some really good suggestions on how to divide the trail into stages if you are not feeling fit enough or just don’t want to do it all in one go.

One of the highlights is Gutenberg Castle which stands on a hill in the southernmost town of Balzers. The castle began in the Middle Ages as a church and cemetery, and although it fell into disrepair for centuries, it was lovingly restored between 1905 and 1912. You can walk to the castle from the village neighbor.

For something unexpected, you might want to visit a llamas and alpaca farm in Triesenberg. Your palate and stomach will appreciate the delicious Kaesespaetzle (mini cheese dumplings) at the Zum Loewen restaurant in Schellenberg. As you can see, the Liechtenstein Trail isn’t just about hiking.

Former Biedermann House in the village of Schellenberg, Liechtenstein.
Farm Museum (Photo credit: pisces2386 / Shutterstock.com)

3. Explore the rural past of Liechtenstein

Although Liechtenstein’s current wealth may come from banking and financial services, it is, after all, a rural country, and agriculture was the norm in centuries past. While you are in Schellenberg, take the opportunity to visit the Farm Museum. It is located in a wooden farmhouse that was first built in 1518, completely made of wood, even the nails and bolts were made of wood. Iron was avoided at the time. Saying “first built” is of particular significance, as trusses of this style could be, and were, dismantled and moved when the owner of the land moved to another location. This has happened with this farm three times over the centuries and is the reason why only a handful have survived. Inside are farm implements from the late Middle Ages as well as intact and furnished living rooms and bedrooms, an early 20th century clock and an old sewing machine. This beauty is also called Biedermann Haus after the name of the last owner.

4. Learn what a Curta is

Have you ever wondered what the world of writing and accounting was like before the advent of IT? Get an education at the Calculator and Typewriter Museum in Schaan / Vaduz. And take the kids to see that there was life before the Internet! This fabulous museum is home to over 250 antique typewriters and calculators, many with original instructions. Among them, the famous Curta, the world’s smallest mechanical calculator (designed and manufactured in Liechtenstein), and the aptly named Enigma coding machine, used by the German military during WWII.

Small town on the Upper Middle Rhine, Mittelrhein.
Rhine Valley (Photo credit: Mikalai Nick Zastsenski / Shutterstock.com)

5. Taste the prince’s wines

from Liechtenstein fires (Prince) not only owns castles, priceless works of art and banks, but also vineyards, and you can have the pleasure of tasting its princely products. The Herawingert winery in Vaduz is located in one of the best wine regions of the Rhine Valley. Due to the southwestern slopes and mild climate along with excellent soil, it produces first class Pinot Noir and Chardonnays. Tastings can be organized by appointment and take place either in the Barriquesaal or in the Bacchusstube. For more details on tastings and prices, go here.

Village of Malbun, Leichtenstein.
Rick Deacon / Shutterstock.com

6. Hit the slopes in Malbun

There is only one major ski resort in Liechtenstein, and that is Malbun. Major should be taken with a grain of salt because Malbun is tiny. There are only a handful of hotels and a few ski lifts, but no crowded slopes, noisy après-ski, and other things that are typically associated with popular ski resorts. Here you will live a most romantic and calm ski experience, a bit like the good old days without mass tourism. The access road from Vaduz, however, is tricky, full of steep inclines and sharp turns, so unless you are a very experienced winter driver, it is best to take the local bus or a taxi. But, believe me, it’s worth it.

7. Let the hawks fly

Imagine being up close and personal with birds of prey as majestic as eagles, hawks and hawks, and even seeing them land on your own gloved fist. Falconer Norman Voegli (nomen is an omen, as Vogel in German means “bird”) is the owner of the Falconry and Hotel Galina in the Malbun Mountains. Every Saturday and Sunday from June to October he puts on a great show and, an expert that he is, will tell you everything you want and need to know about birds of prey, their habits and how to take care of them.

He also organizes hikes with hawks that follow him like pets. It is one of my favorite things to do in Liechtenstein.

Pro tip

Liechtenstein is a mountainous country, so even if you don’t plan on hiking, plan to wear good walking shoes, even when exploring Vaduz. Also be prepared for occasional rain showers.

There is no such thing as a nightlife in Liechtenstein. Locals tend to go to bed early.

Due to international financial and banking activities, English is widely spoken. The currency is the Swiss Franc and you need cash for small expenses like bus tickets.

While you are in Europe, consider:


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