Liechtenstein…have you even heard of it? If I wasn’t such a map nerd, I may not have. I had been traveling around Europe in the summer and found a random cheap flight out of Zürich to Malta, a place on my list. Since I had been to Zürich before and had time to play around while making my way down from Brussels, I decided on a visit to Liechtenstein. It took a little research to figure out how to enter this landlocked country with no airport or seaport. However, once you are in Switzerland or nearby, it is not difficult to have a visit to Liechtenstein.
Liechtenstein is the 6th smallest country in the world with only 37,000 people. This tiny principality is nested between Switzerland and Austria. It is actually “double land-locked” since it is surrounded by other countries that are land-locked! I fondly nicknamed it “Swiss Junior” because they also use the Swiss Franc and you need the same odd-shaped 3 prong Swiss outlet adaptor here.
Currency: Swiss Franc (but Euro is widely accepted)
Language: German, specifically the Alemannic dialect similar to Swiss Standard German. English widely spoken.
Government: It is a principality ruled by Prince Hans-Adam II who has more real authority than any other royal in Europe. Interesting facts about this: “The family crest dates to the Middle Ages, when the Liechtenstein family had close ties to the Habsburgs. The Liechtenstein family purchased this piece of real estate from the Holy Roman Emperor. The domain was granted principality status in 1719 but still answered only to the Emperor. The Liechtenstein princes at the time lived near Vienna and this new country was only a status symbol and hardly even visited. It wasn’t until the 20th century that the first Liechtenstein prince actually lived here.
Forget the Rolls or Ferrari, these princes buy countries as status symbols. Gangster status!
It actually was easier than it would seem. From Zurich you take a train (1.5 hrs) to the Swiss/Liechtenstein border town of Sargans and then walk one minute to catch the bus into Liechtenstein. I took the bus to the capital of Vaduz (pronounced Va-doots) which took about 30 minutes.
“Storm the Castle!”. Not sure why this was in my head as I huffed up the hill in my floral dress but maybe I watch too many medieval themed shows??? Anyway, this is Vaduz Castle. Isn’t it pretty? The Prince lives here. Ah, so much fairy-tale feels right now. Downside is you can’t go inside but the outside was good enough for this princess wannabe.
You can get a nice view of the castle from the town as well. To walk up, go to the Brasserie Burg on the main street and you will see signs. The walk is uphill but not too steep. It will take about 15 minutes. On your way down instead of turning left to go back to the center, turn right and you will end up in the old village, Mitteldorf.
Did you say “Prince” and “Wine” in the same sentence? Yes. I’m so there!
I love when I’m lost and looking for things and then something obvious, like a vineyard, pops into my view. Oh life, sometimes you work with me!
Of course it’s pink, and pretty. These vineyards have been in existence since 1712 when princes of the past wanted to grow their own wine. It’s like…drinking in history. Do you like how I just make drinking wine into a legit educational experience?
The wine tasting here is 9 CHF (USD 9.4) for 3 decent sized pours. The grape grown here is pinot noir. The white pinot is interesting. Very dry and unique. A bottle will cost you 18 CHF. One of the two reds is an oaked one, which they refer to as the “Rolls Royce”. It smells amazing like spiced berries and tastes fruity with a hint of pepper. This one is 35 CHF. The other red in non-oaked and a light red color. It was too light for my palate but that’s just me. Of course I prefer the pricey one.
Always make sure to have a post wine stroll through the vineyards with your
instagram husband GoPro with tripod ready.
It is a Roman Catholic neo-Gothic church constructed in 1874 and designed by Austrian architect Friedrich von Schmidt. Pope John Paul II elevated the church to cathedral status in 1997.
In 1931 Vaduz decided to build a new town hall. Of course, a competition was held and the architect Franz Roechle was the winner.
Here you can learn all about the history and culture of Liechtenstein and the royal family.
This is a great resource. Located on Stadtle street, you can find comprehensive information about the country, hotels. festivals, hiking trails and much more.
This charming old village with traditional homes and gardens is what Vaduz must have looked like in the time before banks took over! This village is a pleasure to stroll through, plus, will lead you from the castle to the winery!
The Rote Haus (Red House) gets its name red color the building has had since the middle of the 19th century.
Since 1807 the building has been in the possession of the Rheinberger family.
Leichtenstein has 5 castles but this is one of the most popular and well-preserved. It dates back to 1100 and is in the town of Balzers. Entrance to this is free to the public!
There are two sets of ruins here, the upper castle and the lower castle. Entrance here is also free. I think we can tell this country doesn’t need more money, eh?
You can hike through history here through the ancient settlements of Malanser and Lutzengütle. At the end of the trail you arrive to the town of Schellenberg. The oldest house in Liechtenstein, the Biedermannhaus, is here.
If you want to learn more about hiking in Liechtenstein, check out this post from Paulina on the Road: Hiking in Liechtenstein
If you don’t have a car for your visit to Liectenstein, no worries since the bus system is extensive. The bus is very easy, even for me! The bus is neon green and hard to miss. It costs 2 CHF each way (regardless of destination). There are many stops for Vaduz. If you want to be between the town and old village (and near the winery), use the Quaderle stop. For the town, the Stadtle stop. For the end of the town near the cathedral, the Post stop.
This isn’t going to be my most informative “where to eat” section because…I didn’t eat that much here! Shocking! First of all, Liechtenstein is expensive. I had a very basic pasta dish with one beer and it was 27 CHF at Brasserie Burg. I had a cappuccino for 6 CHF at Cafe Adler. These are two of a handful of restaurants in Vaduz, so there isn’t much choice. In Schaan, many places were closed for summer holidays which is a shame because they looked like charming family run places. They were probably still pricey AF. If you stay at the Schaan-Vaduz Hostel, they offer a dinner. I’m not sure of the exact price but it’s reasonable and looked to be a home-cooked meal.
I did have a nice lunch/snack at Cafe Gass in Schaan. It was a delicious German quiche (not sure what to call it) It was something savory, creamy and cheesy with a crust. German quiche, right? It was a bargain at 8 CHF.
Definitely try fondue anywhere that you see it offered!
Budget: Schaan-Valduz Youth Hostel: This is where I stayed. Don’t let the name throw you off. People of all ages, inluding families were there. It has a beautiful view of the mountains and a large yard. Seems like more of a guesthouse than a hostel. Walter the proprieter is extremely friendly and makes dinner every night. The breakfast here is quite good as well (They have Nutella AND peanut butter…what else could you want?)
Mid-Range: Residence Hotel: Location in center of Vaduz
Luxury: Parkhotel Sonnenhof. Apparently this has a prominent view of the castle!
Plan your visit to Liechtenstein here!
I can’t say Liechtenstein is the most exciting country I’ve ever visited but it is quiet, safe and packed with striking alpine beauty. There is no nightlife to speak about. This is the kind of place where you truly relax in the evening while on vacation. Plus, I really can’t resist place with castles on the hill, especially one with a real prince living in it! If you are a hiking and nature enthusiast, you probably would enjoy spending more time here. Unfortunately with my whirlwind spontaneous little trip, I only had 2 days but still had a very nice visit to Liechtenstein. This is a place that forces you to relax, look around and truly appreciate how beautiful and simple nature is!
Would you like to have a visit to Liechtenstein?