Experience Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein is the sixth smallest country in the world, with a total area of 62 square miles and a population of 38,000. It’s Europe’s fourth smallest country and the second least-visited country in the continent. Just 80,000 tourists make the trip each year.
Vaduz, the capital city of Liechtenstein, sits on the Rhine River near the Swiss border. On a hillside overlooking the town, Vaduz Castle dates back to the 12th century and is a royal family residence. In the Städtle, the pedestrianized town center, the sleek Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein displays modern art. Nearby, the National Museum houses archaeological and cultural artifacts in a medieval building. The capital is most often visited on a brief stopover, but as the capital of one of the last vestiges of the Holy Roman Empire and the seat of the only German-speaking monarchy in the world, Vaduz merits a closer look.
Much of the state is covered in Alpine forests and meadows of pretty wild flowers and Liechtenstein has an interesting history that you can delve into on a trip here, including learning how it became its own autonomous region in 1806. Visitors flock to the state in order to enjoy the wonderful opportunities to commune with nature here, and in the winter you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding. In the summer hiking and mountain climbing are common pastimes, and there are also fantastic monuments like castles and museums scattered throughout Liechtenstein.
The Hofkellerei are the Prince of Liechtenstein’s exquisite wine cellars. Liechtenstein does not immediately come to mind when thinking of fine wines but at the Hofkellerei, visitors can taste several of Liechtenstein’s high-quality, award-winning wines. The staff is very hospitable and the charming atmosphere makes this a fantastic destination to learn more about wine making in Liechtenstein. Visitors can enjoy strolling along the wine trail and experience the winemaking process from grapevine to final product.
This stunning Alpine region is a haven for skiing enthusiasts.It is not overly crowded, so the pristine natural scenery is breathtaking. Visitors are treated to some of the best views of Vaduz and the Rhine from an altitude of over 5,000 feet. The fantastic scenery and reasonable prices are a treat for seasoned skiers, but this is also an excellent area for those who are new to skiing. The skiing facilities are well maintained and the mountainous landscape is excellent.
The small town of Malbun, once only inhabited in summer, is now a draw for skiers (and winter sporting activities). Perched on an Alpine ridge near the Saminatal Valley, Malbun boasts several ski lifts, perfect snow conditions and a natural ice rink. Today, its many groomed trails and après ski activities enjoy one of the longest seasons in the Alps. For kids, Malbi Park Kinderland offers beginners lessons and programs, and the area also boasts a large network of Nordic ski trails. The resort is also popular in the spring and summer months, when its slopes become perfect conditions for hikers, climbers, and mountain bikers.
Liechtenstein is known for its castle, although of these there are only two of which are still well preserved, the Vaduz Castle, is home of the country’s monarchs, and Burg Gutenberg in the village of Balzers. Of the others, all that is left are ruins, but each has its unique charms. If you’re able to visit just one of these picturesque locations, make it Schellenberg, where you’ll actually be rewarded with a chance to explore two old ruins at once. The larger of the two, the Upper Castle (Obere Burg), was built in 1200 and once had all the elements of a typical medieval castle. The smaller, the Lower Castle (Untere Burg), was built in 1250, but by the 16th-century both had fallen into disrepair. The third set of ruins, Schalun Castle - also known as Wildschloss - is within walking distance of Vaduz and dates from the 12th century.
If you’re up for a challenge and some breathtaking views, discover The Princes’ Way. It is one of the most famous paths winding its way through the Rätikon Mountains. The hike’s starting point boasts views from Alp Gaflei, at an altitude of 4,593-ft.. As you climb, each path rewards with more fantastic views as well as sections with fixed wire ropes to grip. You will have the chance to see the Three Sisters in the distance at Gaflei Saddle. The hike then continues below Helwangs Peak to ‘Chemi’ (chimney) and traverses down to Bärgalla Saddle with more views of the valleys and mountains in Liechtenstein. You finish back where you started in Gaflei, having completed a hike of 3.7 miles.
The Eschnerberg Trail, created between 1972 and 1975, offers visitors to explore the history of Liechtenstein, leading hikers to the ancient settlements of Malanser and Lutzengütle. Signs along the way tell the story of archaeology and local legends and myths. Walkers find themselves wandering the forest of Schellenberg with fabulous views of the Rhine Valley as well as the summit of the Alpstein and the Rätikon mountains. At the end of the trail, hikers experience the town of Schellenberg. This is the location of the Biedermannhaus, the oldest house in Liechtenstein. This farmhouse was built during the 16th century and displays the farming culture of the 1900’s.
Liechtensteiner cuisine is strongly influenced by neighboring Austria and Switzerland, as well as by other European countries, such as France and Germany. In saying this, you’ll also find, the cuisine has its own distinct gastronomic flavors. For example, the two culinary staples of cheese and soup are often featured here more than anywhere else, typically at every meal. Visitors that come to LIechtenstein have a well rounded experience of cuisine. From hearty dishes served in rustic mountain huts, to formal dining in luxury gourmet restaurants.
The capital, Vaduz, is the place to go shopping! Here you’ll find a range of souvenir shops to take home any type of unique pieces from the region. Many souvenirs here are similar to those found in Switzerland. You will find fine embroidery and linen, expert woodcarving, delicious Swiss chocolate, handmade luxury clocks and watches, fantastic-pungent cheeses and an array of Swiss army knives.
Liechtenstein is famous for handmade ceramics and pottery, as well as items made from local Balzner marble. Nendeln is known for its pretty Schadler Pottery and the workshop that you will find here is one of the oldest in Liechtenstein. Pottery has been produced here since 1836 and you will find a huge range of crockery like plates as well as arts and crafts pieces and even tiles. Visitors can watch the pottery being made in front of you by the resident potters and ceramic painting experts and if you are interested in local arts and crafts then this is a great place to pick up a souvenir from Liechtenstein.
Be prepared that prices for souvenirs are very expensive for a majority of foreign visitors. It is possible to find some similar souvenirs just across the Austrian border in Feldkirch for potentially half the price.
All things nightlife take place at Stadtel, the pedestrianized area of Vaduz with a wide variety of bars serving beer and local Liechtensteiner wine. Schaan also offers a number of trendy bars, while you’ll find many others in Balzers, Malbun and Nendeln.
If you are looking for something more lively, head to the Coco Loco Nightclub in Balzers, where a mix of DJs and live bands entertain the crowds into the wee hours of the morning. Visitors can also enjoy several live concerts that take place on the weekends throughout the year.