This small country only takes up 24 kilometers (15 miles) along the Rhine River and is mostly mountainous. It is one of Europe´s micro states, yes, it is tiny, the 6th smallest country in the world by land (160 square kms/62 square mi) and population (38,250). They are small, wealthy, Germanic and the only other country that uses the Swiss Francs. Most tourists stop here for a few hours on route between Switzerland and Austria but I can assure you that you are missing out if you do this.
I stayed 3 days!
…and easily could have stayed longer!!
Vaduz is the capitol (pronounced vadut – z pronounced as t) and it is well connected but only by bus…not cheap buses but indeed buses. A train does make 4 stops in the country before entering Austria but unfortunately this is it. There is no airport and I arrived via local bus from Zurich about a 3 hour journey; Zurich to Sargans by train then bus to Vaduz (11 or 12E). You can also drive…which is much shorter, 1 hour to 1.5 hours.
Occupying a tiny space in Europe with prices being quite high within the country I guess I can see why many travelers only make a pit stop. Hotels are definitely not cheap so I actually stayed across the river in Sevelen, Switzerland at an airbnb. There are several hotels across the border but there wasn´t much to do over there unless taking in the stunning mountain views or hiking is your thing. I might suggest looking to stay in Schaan, Liechtenstein, the next city over from Vaduz. I didn´t stop there but I took the bus through it and there seemed to be more restaurants and activity, perhaps because it is the largest city in the country with 5,750 inhabitants! Using services such as airbnb and staying in other cities in the country or near the border is the best solution I found as I still believe Liechtenstein is well worth more than the average two hour visit. By the way there is one hostel in Schaan but it isn´t open all year, Schaan-Vaduz Youth Hostel (book here).
Once all set up nearby or in the country and ready to visit, getting around Liechtenstein is pretty easy by bus or car. The buses are frequent and transit every part of the country, although it is not that cheap. I look one from Vaduz to the top of the mountain (Malbun) and it was 6 Francs one way for a quick 30 minute ride. There is also the option of biking…I luckily had this option provided by my airbnb and you can imagine how happy I was as I biked to another country daily….ha ha and then the whole length of it too! There is a path along the whole river (both sides actually) and a few bridges that cross over, some are just pedestrian/cycling bridges, such as the touristy one outside of Vaduz that is wooden. In the cities there are plenty of bike lanes and often hidden paths to take as well so biking is definitely an option. You can also use the roads and even head up into the mountains, I did see one guy cycle up to Malbun, where the ski area is, then take the bus down due to the winter weather conditions.
Useful bus routes to know:
Bus 11 to Feldkirch, Austria (trains from there to many places) By the way this is a cute city worth a visit too!
24 to Sevelen, Switzerland
21 to Malbun (from Post Office Bridge)
11 or 12E to Sargans, Switzerland (Trains to Zurich)
*TIP: Watch the locals as they board and disembark the buses…
Liechtenstein is a great place to walk as tons of great hiking is available, in fact, you can walk across the whole country in just a few days via the Liechtenstein Trail. Had I arrived in another season I for sure would have hiked. Unfortunately I did not hike because the winter weather started accumulating on the hills by the time I arrived in late November. The trail I really wanted to do was the hike to be on the summit of three borders, the Naafkopf summit hike. If a few 1000 meter elevation gain seems too daunting you should at least do the shorter version of this trail up to the Palatinate hut and see the flag (there is even a chairlift option to Sareis part way up) or pick a different trail that suit your level. In most of Europe you can look at summit web cameras to check the conditions so I was always looking to see if I could make this hike or not (vantusky.com). I will have to return another time to do this hike. I guess I could have done some lower level hikes at this time but I was really pushing to do the summit instead so I barely researched others. One hike that I could have done and almost did was from Tiesenberg to Vaduz. I really enjoyed exploring Tiesenberg and taking in the views from this town halfway up the mountain. I´m sure the hike down would also have been fantastic and I really wanted to do it to read more about the Sagens which are portrayed along the way but by the time I figured out how long the route down was from here I didn´t have time. It is around a 6.4 mile hike with average hike time of 3-4 hours…
Now in my three days I know I could have done more exploring but my interests were centered around sport, trying the food and wine, and seeing a museum in Tiesenberg to learn about the local culture, history of Liechtenstein and mythology of the Sagens. I did achieve most ideas I had in mind during my time and even did so in a relaxing (to me) way. During my visit I really got to know Vaduz, stopped in Malbun, toured Tiesenberg and had a quick stop in Balzer (to see the castle while out cycling). Everywhere I went looked like it had something to offer, in fact on my last day I took the bus to Austria and it stopped in all the other towns I missed in the country and in doing this I actually got a great peak into even more places I´d want to explore on a return trip.
Must see in Vaduz:
– Castle (Schloss) – use path from town to enjoy a walk there (you can not enter since this is the Prince´s residence). If you walk up road past castle and take the gravel path (left side) you get better views of the castle. TIP: walk farther up hill – mile or so – and you get even more!
– Pedestrian street – can see parliament building, visit some museums, shop and eat, see cool public art and if you must St. Florin Cathedral is just past parliament
– Old Wooden bridge – cross the Rhine to Switzerland (1901 and only wooden bridge left along the mighty river)
– Try the local wine! (walk to the Red House area and see vineyards – can be added from Castle walk)
– Passport Stamp at visitors center costs 5 Francs I believe
Must see in Malbun:
– Ski in winter (information and ski resort and lift tickets)
– Ice Skate in winter
– Hike in other seasons
Must see in Tiesenberg:
– Walser Museum (FYI: closed at lunchtime)
– Views of the Alps Mountains, the Rhine and towns below
– Walk up to the Water Tower
– Hike nearly year round
Other Must see options:
– Gutenberg Castle in Balzers – setting is gorgeous and it is well preserved
– Cross Country Ski in Steg or hike
– Carnival in February (in the snow!)
– Funkenfeuer…aka burning of the witches (celebration to mark end of winter, welcome spring!) or Bonfire Sunday
- Avoid Sundays in town as nearly everything is closed in Liechtenstein, Switzerland and even Austria
- Store bags at lockers at bus stations while you roam about
- Use bus instead of train to move between countries as they run more frequently
- Take least amount of cash (Francs) out of the ATM as possible since it is hard to exchange it unless in Switzerland
- If looking for a job, this may be the easiest place to land one in Europe as the population doesn´t meet demand (roughly 40% of population is foreign). Hilti is from here and many others. (more info)
- If traveling multiple days and planning to see museums and such consider the Adventure Pass (transportation, passport stamp and many other great things included)
About Burning of the Witches (Bonfire Sunday) or Funkenfeuer
Running along the Rhine, the trails up by the Vaduz Castle or anywhere in the country, along the stream in Vaduz
Race the Alpin Marathon Liechtenstein, a 42km/26.2 mile journey from outside Schaan through Vaduz and finishing in Malbun in June (nearly run the whole country) Register
Cycling the Rhine, cross three borders in a day and more
Hiking is probably the most rewarding in Liechtenstein since there are so many trails, they basically all interconnect, have amazing views AND there are way less people out on the trails compared to other popular Alpes hiking spots.
Trails to consider:
Liechtenstein Trail (more info here)
3 Borders Summit/Naafkopf
12km and about 5 hours… from Malbun you hike to the Paltinate Hut then continue on to and then the Summit
(Websites to check out for more information – click Translate – sac-cas alltrails hikr)