Liechtenstein, a tiny mountain principality that is just a day-trip excursion by bus from Switzerland, is a small country with a big personality and wonderful natural beauty.
Not much bigger than Manhattan, Liechtenstein is the 6th smallest country, ruled by a monarch who lives in a Gothic castle, is the world’s largest producer of dentures and is the only country that is actually named after the people who purchased it.
Putting false teeth aside Liechenstein’s capital, Vaduz, is possibly the most soulful place on earth but once here it really is worth venturing out and enjoying the cycle trails, quaint villages, lush green forests and craggy cliffs of the rest of Liechtenstein.
Liechtenstein does not have its own airport so the best way to get there is to fly into Friedrichshafen in Germany and take the train that connects to the Swiss border towns of Sargans and Buchs.
From these towns there are usually 3 daily buses that will take you to Vaduz.
Once in Liechtenstein getting around is easy with the buses that traverse the country and are reliable and cheap (www.lba.li). You will find timetables posted at each stop or you can pick one up at the tourist office.
This capital city is where everybody tends to know everybody else and has quiet, tidy streets with lively patio cafes and a Gothic castle on a hill. In fact Vaduz is more reminiscent of a village than a capital city of a country.
Unfortunately many visitors only get to see Vaduz when visiting Liechtenstein as so many come as part of a bus tour that stops long enough for them to gather some tax-free goodies and souvenirs.
Activities and Sights
Schloss Vaduz (Vaduz Castle)
The castle is not open to the public but is well worth the climb to get closer to its graceful exterior and to enjoy the views of the magnificent back-drop.
There are also some walking trails along the ridge that are just beautiful.
If you would like to get a peek at the castle grounds then plan your visit for Liechtenstein’s National Day on the 15 August. On this day there are wonderful firework displays and the prince invites the whole country to come to his place for a glass.
It must be said here that should you happen to bump into the prince in the pub then be sure to make him pay for the round of drinks as it is estimated that the royal family of Liechtenstein is worth approximately 3.5 billion euros.
Liechtensteinisches Landes-museum (National Museum)
The Liechtensteinisches Landes-museum (www.landesmuseum.li) is located at Stadtle 43 and is open 10am-5pm Tue-Sun and to 8pm on Wednesday.
This museum is really interesting and takes you step by step through Liechtenstein’s history from witch trials of medieval times to the manufacturing of false teeth.
Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein (www.kuntsmuseum.li)
Here you will find temporary art and unfortunately not the prince’s collection of old masters as they have been relocated to the Liechtenstein museum in Vienna.
Located at Stadtle 32 the museum is open 10am to 5pm Tue-sun and to 8pm on Thursday.
The post Museum is located on the first floor of Stadtle 37 and unlike the other two admission is free. Opening times are 10am-noon & 1-5pm.
It has to be said this is probably only a minor diversion and showcases Liechenstein’s national stamps since 1912.
This camping site is located south of Triesen and just south of Vaduz.
Set in a beautiful leafy spot the campground offers a kiosk, playground, TV lounge and restaurant.
Open all year round.
Tel: 392 36 77, 392 23 11.
SYHA Hostel (www.youthhostel.ch/schaan)
The SYHA hostel caters mainly to families and cyclists.
This hostel is located between Schaan and Vaduz and is within easy walking distance of both.
Open from March to October the reception is closed between 10am and 5pm.
A ten minute walk from the center of Vaduz this is a simple family run place that is reasonably priced.
The Landgasthof Au’s Garden Restaurant is great for local food and serves anything from omelets to a couple of vegetarian choices.
Tel: 232 11 17
Please note this establishment only accepts cash.
Gasthof Lowen (www.hotel-loewen.li)
This will be a bit of a splurge but well worth it……six centuries old, elegant, historic and creaky.
The eight spacious rooms are furnished with antiques but have modern bathrooms.
You will also be able to use their fine dining facilities and enjoy some time in the cozy bar.
Tel: 238 11 41
Drinking and Eating
Stadtle is a pedestrian only zone and has a clutch of very nice cafes and restaurants.
Café Wolf is a café and restaurant and is very relaxed with outside pavement tables in the summer and a fantastic menu that mixes Swiss and international cuisine.
Located at Stadtle 29
Tel: 232 23 21
This restaurant is situated in the Hotel Adler and is very pleasant offering a broad selection of culinary choices from pasta to beef steak fillet with mushroom risotto and a truffle -red wine sauce (Rindsfilet vom grill auf Steinpilzrissotto mit Truffle -Rotweinsauce nappiert).
Tel: 232 21 31
This ivy clad restaurant belongs to the prince and sits just above his vineyards.
Sit on the terrace and enjoy a wonderful view of his castle above whilst in the winter enjoy the restaurants ancient but cozy wood lined interior.
The menu mixes modern with classic. Take a look at the set luncheon menu for a good overview.
Located at Hintergass 9
Tel: 232 44 10
Liechtenstein has one ski resort and you will find this at the end of the road from Vaduz.
Malbum is a 1600m-high ski resort and although the skiing is limited it is inexpensive for this part of the world.
This resort is great for the beginner and indeed prince Charles of England learnt to ski at Malbum.
There are a few intermediate and cross-country runs for the more experienced skier.
Equipment can be hired from Malbum Sport (www.malbunsport.li)
You can stay at the Hotel Walserhof, which is a simple mountain house that has four double rooms and great outdoor dining. The mountain views here are truly hard to beat.
Source: Europe on a Shoestring – The Lonely Planet