The Principality of Liechtenstein is one of the smallest countries in the world. This little country literally seems to live up to the saying "Small but Powerful": in only a few years, the principality went from an agricultural state to one of the richest countries on this planet.
Despite its reduced size, this micro state ranks in the top positions of many international rankings. Economically, Liechtenstein has one of the highest gross domestic products per person in the world. The unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world at 1.5%.
But Liechtenstein is not only strong in numbers but also an attractive travel destination. Especially if you enjoy breathtaking mountain panoramas and outdoor sports in the Alps. Discover the top things to do in this cute little country of only 160 square kilometers.
Geographic situation: Sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria
Size: 6th smallest country in the world (25 km long and 12 km wide)
Form of Government: Principality (the Liechtenstein dynasty reaches back to the 12th century)
Currency: Swiss franc - CHF (but € are widely accepted as well)
How to get there: No international airport, but very easy to get to Liechtenstein by train. If coming from Switzerland, get off at Buchs or Sargans, and if coming from Austria, get off at Feldkirch. "Vaduz Post" is the main bus stop, situated directly in the capital's center.
Inhabitants: Liechtensteiner (only 2/3 of the population are native)
Where to stay
|Landhaus am Giessen|
|JURA Hotel Malbun Alpin Resort|
|Park Hotel Sonnenhof|
1. Visit Vaduz
Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein is probably the quietest capital I've ever visited. But maybe the one with the prettiest natural setting. Situated along the Rhine river, this town with only 5000 inhabitants is surrounded by mountains of 2400 m and higher. Although your first impression might be "There's nothing to do here!", a short walk in the pedestrian streets of Vaduz will quickly convince you otherwise.
Of course the most attractive sight is the castle of Vaduz, home to the Prince of Liechtenstein. You'll see it already from far away when you are approaching Vaduz. Perched atop a steep hill, it literally enthrones its realm. A short hike of only 20 minutes will lead you straight from the capital to the home of the princely family. Take your time to enjoy the breath-taking almost royal panorama.
Another reason why you should visit Vaduz are its numerous museums. I bet this city has a museum for every taste! First there's the National Art Gallery (Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein) holding modern and contemporary art. The Liechtenstein National Museum (Landesmuseum) will give you an intriguing insight to the pulsating natural and cultural history of this versatile country. There's even museum for those that are into stamps or winter sports. I truly enjoyed the Hilti Art Foundation, in cooperation with the National Art Gallery which displays paintings from Gauguin, Boccioni, Picasso, Magritte and Kirchner.
I also enjoyed the architecture of Vaduz' government district. It's so bright in colors and it seemed all new to me. Indeed the square, called Peter Kaiser Platz, was all renovated and redesigned in 2008. The government and the parliament building form an fascinating contrast which perfectly resumes Liechtenstein's blend between new & old.
I recommend the Liechtenstein Museum and Adventure Pass which will give you free entry to most museums and important discounts on many attraction throughout the country. It's most definitely worth its money. This quick guide to Vaduz, Liechtenstein provides you with useful info on what to visit in the capital.
But still, the worst you could do, would be limiting your Liechtenstein visit only to Vaduz. This quaint tiny country has so much more to offer!
2. Hiking: Fürstin Gina Trail
Liechtenstein has 2 advantages which will let it stand out against other hiking destinations:
1. It's located in the heart of the Alps
2. It's relatively unknown. Thus you'll mainly meet local trekkers or be almost alone on the trails.
The "Fürstin Gina Weg" (Princess Gina Trail) is one of the most popular hikes in Liechtenstein. It will evidence that the principality should not only be famous for its financial center or its tax system, but for its spectacular mountainous setting after all. It's particularly picturesque due to the unique flowers that can be found all along the mountain ridge.
The trail starts in Malbun where you can take the chairlift to get up to Sareis. From here the Princess Gina trail will lead you up to the highest point of the tour: the Augstenberg mountain (2359m). From here you'll enjoy a jaw-dropping panorama over the Alps of Liechtenstein and Austria with Malbun village in the valley. I am pretty sure that after this climb you'll claim a cold drink. At Pfälzerhütte, about 1h hike away from Augstenberg, you'll not only be served cold drink but also local delicacies. From Pfälzerhütte it's about a 3h hike back to Malbun passing along mountain pastures and pines.
Even though you wouldn't qualify yourself as proficient hiker, I can only recommend this trail to every Liechtenstein visitor. There are some difficult and steep parts, but the views will be worth it all. Especially with a long and tasty pit stop at a mountain hut.
A more explicit post on the Princess Gina Trail can be read here.
3. Meet the Locals
Wherever I travel, I always try to get in touch with the local population. What is a travel destination without its people? To my mind, they give a place this special feeling, a certain warmth that will make you wanna come back to this place.
The same happens in Liechtenstein. As I only stayed a long weekend, I was glad that the Liechtenstein Tourist Office provided me several opportunities to meet local Liechtensteiners. How many can claim that they got to know a REAL Liechtensteiner?!
I admit that at first sight it might be difficult to get in touch with the population of Liechtenstein. They seem to be a bit reserved and wholehearted. You should be ready to make the first step. But once you broke the ice, they turn out to be steady people with a dry, even ironic humour. I loved their sereneness and their unique link with nature. The Alp mountains have an defining role in the Liechtenstein self-concept. Every person in the principality seems to be a exceptionally gifted hiker. And particularly free from giddiness.
A good opportunity to meet "real Liechtenstein people" are the local festivities. Here only a few:
4. Hiking: The Fürstensteig Trail
Difficulty: Medium/Difficult - Duration: 3h - 6km
Being able to do the Fürstensteig Trail (The Prince's Way) is definitely a highlight of every Liechtenstein visit. Unless you are not really free from giddiness.
The trail isn't very long, but it might be difficult for those who are afraid of heights. The trail starts in a scenic forest, but then soon, the real spectacle of the Prince's Way will open up in front of you. During several hundred meters, the trail is extremely exposed. Below you, the steep slope is going done several hundreds meters.
As already said, nothing for those who are afraid of heights. Fortunately there are fixed wire ropes to which you can hold on. But still I had to do some parts of the trail on four paws. :)
But all the work will pay off: when you arrive at the peak (called Chemi) you'll have a gorgeous view on the Austrian Alps and a lush green valley.
For those who still want more, I recommend climbing the Alpspitz peak (1943 m) or the Drei Schwester (Three Sisters) peak (2053 m) which forms the natural border between Liechtenstein and Austria.
My ultimative hint for the Fürstensteig Trail: Don't. Look. Down.
A more detailed post on the Fürstensteig Trail is in preparation. In the meanwhile, have a look at this page.
Against the general belief, Paragliding is not an extreme sport. Sure, it's not meant for those who expect a relaxed city tour in a carriage, holding a glass of wine. But still it is a good mix of discovering the area in a more uncommon way and a certain adventure.
There are several providers who offer paragliding services above the breathtaking panorama of Liechtenstein. In this context I can recommend Paragliding Arosa. Not only was Jogi, my pilot, very patient (even though I was not a newbie), he even helped me to get the best pictures of the ride.
The only thing you have to do, is settle back and listen to the explanations of your pilot. He'll provide you worthy information about flying and the natural landscapes of the Alps. You'll never see 3 countries and the blue Rhine from such a perspective.
Just sit back and enjoy feeling free like a bird.
6. Try the local food
Traveling is not only about pretty landscapes and its people. But also about food. For some, traveling's mostly about food (myself included!).
The authentic cuisine of Liechtenstein has a strong influence from Switzerland, Austria and Germany. In real terms, this means: hearty dishes like jugged venison or a doughy pasta-style cheese dish served with apple sauce, called "Käsknöpfle mit Apfelmus".
I can especially recommend the food served in mountain huts. Your lunch simply tastes 3-times better with a jaw dropping mountain panorama like in Guesthouse Sücka, Pfälzerhütte or Sareiserjoch. Those locations might be a bit more pricey, but the quality and the views are outstanding.
7. Watch a Falcon Show
Assisting the falcon, eagle and owl show of the Falconry Galina in Malbun is a unique experience that will fascinate not only
The show hits its peak, when you're invited to strech out you arm so that the eagle can sit down on it.
You might think that these, oh so poor birds just stay at the falconry because they're caged and get fed all day long. But that's not the case. As soon as they reach the age of 5, they make decisions autonomously. They decide if they want to return back to their cage or if they rather fly away during one of the daily shows.
The protagonist of the show is definitely falconer Norman Vögeli. The relationship with his birds and his knowledge are fascinating. I am sure he will captivate you with his passionate storytelling. He is one of the very few falconers who achieved that "his" eagle named "Taiga" comes back voluntarily.
Not only does he do a show with "his" birds, but his eagle "Taiga" also joins the weekly hikes he organizes. Everybody is invited to participate and get to know more about these fascinating creatures.
8. Cycling in the Alps
Liechtenstein is a perfect destination for cyclists as well. Whether you prefer short picturesque routes along the Rhine river or more
adventurous trails for mountain biking: there will be your perfect trail!
The Liechtenstein's cycling network is fully developed all over the country and well signposted. You'll have the hard choice whether you want " 5 castles" or the "3 countries" to be the main theme of your excursion.
Also mountainbikers looking for a new challenge will enjoy themselves in Liechtenstein. You'll be spoilt for choice, just have a look at this site: Mountainbiking in Liechtenstein.
If you don't want to forgo the tremendous views while climbing the Alps by mountain biking but you're not 100% sure whether you've the physical condition, I recommend renting an E-Mountainbike at the BikeGarage managed by humorous Gerald Bartel.
I promise that you'll feel as if you'd be ready to participate in the Tour de France, that's how easy it was to cycle up the Alps.
A lovely route for E-Mountainbiking I can recommend, is the trail that leads from Triesen Säga over the Triesenberg along the Alte Landstrasse - Wiaga Strasse through the Röfiwald and the "Old Tunnel". After a short descent you'll reach Berggasthaus Sücka where you can get a revitalizing refreshment with glorious views over the Malbun valley.
The circular trail will lead you back to your departing point in Triesen Säga along the Sückastrasse through the "New Tunnel" along the Rizlina and Bergstrasse.
9. Make your visit memorable
When you visit Liechtenstein, you have to keep in mind that you are visiting one of the world's smallest and richest countries. Especially for those wanting to tick off their travel bucket lists, a visit of Liechtenstein and its capital Vaduz are mandatory. So you better make your stay memorable in case you want to do a little show off with your Liechtenstein visit.
There is no better way to make your visit unforgettable then by getting the official Liechtenstein stamp in your passport. With the Museum and Adventure Pass you'll save the 3€ of the stamp and get it for free.
Another mandatory thing to do is the bridge which marks the border to Switzerland. A photo with the Liechtenstein border sign might be a touristy thing to do, but it will be a fun souvenir of your trip to Liechtenstein.
For those of you who are into postage stamps, you'll want to get some of the highly coveted Liechtenstein postage stamps at one of the several tourist shops in Vaduz.
Another fun way to experience the tininess of the principality is doing the Three-Countries-Cycle tour from Liechtenstein via Switzerland and Austria. Where else can you cycle through 3 countries in 1 day? (Unless in Luxembourg ;)
10. Lama and Alpaca Trekking
Who else is a big animal lover? Although I wasn't able to do the Alpaca and Lama Tour, it's now my main reason to go back to Liechtenstein.
I can't imagine anything more picturesque and fun then walking with those cute animals on Liechtenstein's breathtaking Alp panorama.
The tour is not only a highlight for children but also for those who are seeking a more unusual trekking tour. All the treks are joined by a professional Lama grower who will provide you useful information about these peaceful animals.
They even include a stop off at a nearby cheese maker. I am sure you get why I am absolutely crazy to do a Lama and Alpaca trekking day in Liechtenstein!
Read more about this lovely experiences here.
I recommend the Liechtenstein Museum and Adventure Pass which will give you free entry to most museums and important discounts on many attraction throughout the country. It's most definitely worth its money.
In order to get more information on tourism in Liechtenstein, I recommend the site of Tourism Board of Liechtenstein.
Disclaimer: I have been a guest of the Tourism Board of Liechtenstein. All my opinions, as always, are my own. This posts contains affiliate links. In case you purchase one of the items, I'll receive a small commission. The price remains the same for you.