Thoughts about travelling in Liechtenstein

Women- in traditional costume in Vaduz, Liechtenstein (Europe)

The long-distance bus from Bellinzona, where we visited some mediaeval castles, drops us at the banks of the River Rhine. From the bus stop it is only a 10 minute walk into the centre of Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s capital. But it’s a countryside scenery with a lot of green meadows and even some horses. Travelling in Liechtenstein starts out as a very easy adventure.

Liechtenstein is among the smallest countries in Europe, with only of 24,8 km at its longest expansion. Besides Uzbekistan – one of the countries we visit often – it is the only double-land locked country in the world. This means you will have to cross two countries to get to an ocean.

Mountains and Hiking in Liechtenstein

Travel Blogger on the Fuerstensteig in Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein has surprisingly high and lonely mountains for such a small country. We travelled to Liechtenstein mainly for the hiking and spent a few days on the high-altitude Route 66, which leads along the peaks of the country. On the first part of the trail, we meet lots of marmots but very few people. The mountain scenery is spectacular, though. In particular, we like the hiking trails leading through very steep rocks. Some of the trails are almost like via ferratas and we have to use our hands for additional support.

On our way to the trail head on day 2, there is some problem with the regular bus going to the small village of Gaflei. Finally a driver turns up in an unmarked Minibus which he could arrange without further ado. All the hikers literally pile into the van, glad that the bus is not completely cancelled (as it would be in many places). In general, the bus system worked fine for us, although bus tickets were outrageously expensive (as everything in Liechtenstein).

Shopping in Liechtenstein

Later that day, when we try to source a gas cartridge for our camping stove in one of the outdoor shops, the staff just shrug. Where would they buy gas cartridges? – we ask. “I don’t go camping,” one says. “Abroad,” the other grins. “There is a big shopping mall just outside of Liechtenstein in Switzerland. Only ten minutes by car”. Living in the 6th tiniest nation of the world means that everywhere around you is abroad!

And abroad is where the locals go for most things. Shopping, education, cultural activities. Nevertheless, we meet a group of Liechtensteinians from a nursing home on a small farm in a remote mountain valley. The carers had driven them up in minivans for some butter milk and mountain air. For them, it is a rare option for a domestic excursion, we assume. After all, even much of Liechtenstein’s beautiful nature, such as the Three Sisters Trail, is only accessible to younger, fitter people.

Friendly people of Liechtenstein

Whenever we talk to people in shops or cafés, we find them quite friendly and open. However, in most cases it turns out that they are not born in Liechtenstein nor have Liechtenstein citizenship. We had a similar experience in Iceland last summer. Presumably these countries with very high wages and small populations attract a lot of foreigners who work in the service industry. Even in the tourist information, where the staff cheerfully hand out leaflets and advise on hiking trails, we wonder whether they are from Liechtenstein at all. While the woman behind the counter is friendly enough, she’s not particularly knowledgeable about the local mountain paths. When we go for a wine tasting in the Prince’s Vineyard, both the staff and the visitors are all from Austria and Germany, and most of them live just across the border in Switzerland, because Switzerland is cheaper!

Town hall of Vaduz, Liechtenstein

In fact, Liechtenstein has officially 39 000 inhabitants, and a working population of 40 000! At least one third of those living in Liechtenstein are migrants (many from Switzerland, Austria, and Germany). And of course a large part of the workforce commute daily from the neighbouring countries of Switzerland and Germany.

The people of Liechtenstein are very proud of their head of the state, the Prince of Liechtenstein Hans Adam II. Incidentally, his daughter-in-law, Sophie in Bayern, was a former schoolmate of Natascha’s … Liechtenstein is a hereditary democracy and while Prince Hans Adam II is the head of the state, there is also an elected head of government, the prime minister.

Visiting the National Museum in Vaduz

Liechtenstein women in traditional dresses entering the Liechtenstein National Museum

We also liked the well-presented National Museum very much, where we learned a lot of (sometimes not so useful) facts about Liechtenstein. Perhaps it is also an asset that the country is so small: On the floor space of a former palace it is quite possible to introduce practically all aspects of Liechtenstein’s history and culture. And of course, some details seem hilarious. For instance, for a while in the 18th century Liechtenstein was part of military alliances. These required the country to supply five foot soldiers and half a cavalryman! Nevertheless, the Prince often did not comply with these obligations, and today Liechtenstein hasn’t had an army for over 150 years.

And then we learned that almost 20% of the false teeth used worldwide by dentists are produced in the small town of Schaan in Liechtenstein. Thanks to a lot of different types of teeth, they can be implanted worldwide and are especially popular among Bollywood stars.

Art and Food in Liechtenstein

Inverted Pool by Nazgol Ansarinia in the Liechtenstein Art Museum

The Liechtenstein Art Museum with several special exhibitions was equally good. In the “C4” exhibition of four art collectives, we particularly like the “inverted pool” by Tehran-based artist Nazgol Ansarma. But the museum also has some top sculptures casually scattered around the small pedestrian zone, including a lovely Botero.

Obviously public institutions in Liechtenstein have good funding. And that’s no surprise as the small state is a tax haven and much of Liechtenstein’s income comes from banking. The tiny country is one of the richest countries in the world and has the highest density of private banks.

Salmon dish at the Liechtenstein Gourmet Festival

Thus, we are happy to learn that there is a gourmet festival taking place on the weekend. For the Genussfestival, about a dozen award-winning chefs offer dishes from gourmet food trucks. For us it is a good opportunity to taste some local food. After all, Liechtenstein is even more expensive than Switzerland and a simple dish in the restaurant near the campsite costs over 50 €! So we gladly spend 12 € for some truffled French fries at the food festival.

Wine tasting while travelling in Liechtenstein

Wine tasting in the Vaduz Hofkellerei

On our first day we went straight to a wine tasting at the only vineyard in Liechtenstein, called the “Hofkellerei”, for some wine tasting. With 4 ha of crops it must be one of the smallest vineyards in Europe, owned by the princes of Liechtenstein. Everything in the steep vineyard is done by hand and the few bottles produced every year are very much sought after.

As they have already run out of their own white wine this year they offer us a wine from their other producing region in Austria. The Liechtenstein Prince’s family originally comes from Austria and they still farm their bigger vineyards there. Not least because it is easier to export from there into other countries of Europe. Liechtenstein is not a member of the European Union and thus must pay higher taxes on EU exports.

We try one white wine and two red wines. All of them are very drinkable but do not offer any surprising sensations in the mouth.

A cow travelling down from the mountains into the Valley in Liechtenstein

Is it worth travelling to Liechtenstein?

We loved our 3-day hiking trip on the Route 66 in Liechtenstein and we enjoyed the museums and the Gourmet Food Festival. Most people will visit Liechtenstein on a day trip and only see the capital Vaduz. In our opinion it is very worthwhile to spend some time in the smaller villages and in the mountains as well. To keep costs low, we stayed at the only campsite in Liechtenstein, the Camping Mittagsspitze in Triesen. Still not very cheap, but as expected, it had very good and clean facilities.

Have you travelled to Liechtenstein? What were your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

NB: We had no sponsoring while travelling in Liechtenstein and paid all expenses by ourselves.

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  1. Liechtenstein is a family-from Germany – they left Germany around the late1930’s from Hitlers request to avoid WW11 and traveled out of Germany through Europe and landed in a small location in Europe the family named it Liechtenstein — the Liechtenstein Museum is quite interesting everyone should see !

    1. Dear Noel, actually Liechtenstein has been founded in the early 18th century by an Austrian family. The kept their main residency in Austria. But you are right, that they left Austria (which belonged to the “Reich”) during WW II.

  2. I would love to visit Liechtenstein. I had the occasion last summer but I opted for a different route for my road trip. It’s funny to read that locals do most of their shopping abroad. But living in such a small country, it makes sense. You were lucky to stumble upon a food festival with such great chefs as well. I was a bit shocked to learn how expensive food in restaurants is.

  3. The sheer number of enjoyable activities available in Liechtenstein is amazing. This nation has captivated my heart with its hiking trails, art communities, shopping, warm residents, wine tasting, and gourmet food. And this now includes my bucket list for travel. Many thanks for sharing your wonderful experience and demonstrating the value of coming here!

  4. When we took the train from Budapest to Vienna, there was a train stop in Liechtenstein. We just had to get off the train to say we stopped there. But it has been on our list of places to re-visit one day. We would certainly want to spend some time in the outdoors. But I was surprised at all your found to see and do. And of course we would want to try wine tasting. A visit during the Gourmet Food Festival sounds like perfect timing.

    1. Dear Linda, Liechtenstein is a very small country with a lot of high-income people. So I guess they want to spend it somewhere. And the country wants to attract European tourists as well.

  5. Your three days trip to Liechtenstein sounded wonderful! The view from the mountain looks spectacular, but if I go there, I will stop before the via ferratas look like trail condition. lol. I was surprised to read that there is a camping ground in this tiny super expensive country. Of course, it’s funny to read that in ten minutes you can go to other countries, because where I live, in ten minutes I will arrive in the next town.

  6. I’ve heard very little about Liechtenstein, so I appreciate your informative post. For a country with only 39,000 residents, it sure seems to have a lot going for it. Who knew it had the highest concentration of banks?! For some reason I thought Switzerland held that title! The mountains are certainly spectacular and I would imagine hiking there is quite popular and worth the effort.

  7. This is an interesting place to visit. I have never been to Liechtenstein and would love to explore the place in the future. I had no idea they are one of the richest countries in the world and would love to learn more about their economy and their way of life. Your post definitely piqued my interest.

  8. I agree with Tami. I can’t remember ever reading a blog post on Liechtenstein. It reminded me of our time in Switzerland in some ways. I wish I could get into hiking. It would love to enjoy nature from a higher perspective—but I’m just so uncoordinated, Ha!
    I LOVE your line and had a BIG laugh:
    “We try one white wine and two red wines. All of them are very drinkable but do not offer any surprising sensations in the mouth.”
    We all have high wine expectations especially when they cost an arm, leg and a liver. 🙂
    Lovely post and pictures!

    1. Dear Lissette, yes – the more different wines you drink, the more you get an idea what you like. We are always in for culinary surprises. The Bordeaux wines for example are quite interesting. And we also like the Spanish wines. Switzerland also produces some interesting (but expensive) wines. Happy, that you liked our post.

  9. Thanks for an absorbing post on Liechtenstein a place I had no idea about. I am not sure whether I would do the hike but would certainly love to spend time in Vaduz and go around visiting the museum and enjoy the food on offer. Nothing like a food festival though to feel the variety. Would love to stay over for a day to visit some villages and be near the mountains as you recommend.

  10. This is a fantastic post on Lichtenstein, the 6th tiniest nation of the world. It’s great to learn that it has so much of natural abundance and hiking trails. And it’s interesting that most of it’s people come to work from neighboring countries. I would love to visit Liechtenstein and explore it’s country side, national museum with interesting sculptures and the gourmet festival.

  11. Wonderful post – I learned so much, and I love that! Firstly, I didn’t know that a double-land locked country is a thing and particularly, that there are only two of those worldwide. Yet, on a cozy winter evening, I will double-check that on a globe 😀
    I love your quirky pictures from this quirky country like the highly decorated cow.
    Also, I believe that the work Existenzängste / Champagner is very suitable for that region 😉
    Actually, I think I should integrate that motto far often into my everyday life 🙂

    1. I have checked the double-landlocked fact – it is true. I was working as a tourguide in Uzbekistan and always used this fun fact in my introduction to the country.

  12. I always forget about Liechtenstein when heading to Europe due to it’s size. I knew it had great mountains but hadn’t really considered going here for a hiking trip (I think I need to rethink this and head here as part of my next european trip).

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