Imagine crossing the border from one country to another without any formalities. It’s barely noticeable that you enter a new country. Drive for a mile or so, and you notice one difference that definitely separates the country from the previous one (that wasn’t bad at all per se): The country is, without a doubt, the most well-maintained and cleanest that you have ever been to. Beautiful flowers are planted in pots along the roads, and people on the streets are fashionably dressed. Welcome to the miniature country of Liechtenstein!
This German-speaking microstate, the sixth-smallest independent nation in the world by land area, is a constitutional monarchy, and it is one of the two countries in the world that are doubly landlocked. It has an astonishingly low unemployment rate of only 1.5% and the highest gross domestic product per person in the world when not adjusted by purchasing power parity. All in all, Liechtenstein is a very rich, very well-organized state that welcomes tourists to learn more about it.
Parking in the center of the capital Vaduz is easy, there are plenty of parking spots in both parking garages and on the streets. The best place to start getting to know the city and the country is the Liechtenstein Center. The personnel there has answers to pretty much every question you can have, and the place gives you a good overview of what Vaduz and Liechtenstein are about.
I got excellent hiking directions (it was a walk though, not a hike) from the Liechtenstein Center to the Vaduz Castle that offers amazing views across the country.
It is worth the climb even though you can’t enter the castle as it is a private residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein. I heard some people complaining about it at the top that they couldn’t check out the castle from the inside. I felt kind of bad for them as it seemed like they didn’t enjoy the beauty of the walk up there and the almost mythical atmosphere that the slightly foggy weather gave to the area.
The fog created an ambiance of the Middle Ages, and I could just imagine knights riding on horses down the cobble stone road. Really, even just the walk up there made it a mini-adventure. The winding path that leads up to the castle has information boards that are both educative and entertaining. They tell interesting bits and pieces about the life and history of the micronation, so taking your time and reading them is worth it!
Back in the center of Vaduz, the Main Square is a good spot for resting after the walk and planning out the rest of the trip. It’s a beautiful area with lots of cafes, restaurants, stores, and statues. The picturesque architecture creates an interesting point of comparison to the modern parliament building.
The square is pedestrianized, so if you are traveling with children, it’s a safe area for teens and even younger ones to explore by themselves.
Near the Main Square there’s also the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, so if you are a lover of contemporary and modern art, a stop there may be a good choice. I found the sculptures outside of it as well as the exhibitions inside fascinating, but that wasn’t very surprising as I usually tend to visit museums that focus on art starting from the early 1900s.
After exploring the center of Vaduz for a couple of hours, I had a snack in a café and headed south toward Switzerland. As I was not after white slopes and powder snow this time, I passed the great winter holiday location of Malbun on my way out. I have heard that even though it is not the largest of the ski resorts in the area, it has a ski lift that takes you to the top even in the summer and the views that open from there are magnificent as you can see Austria, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland, all at the same time. Even if you don’t have a car, there is a daily bus connection from Vaduz to Malbun area, so it is easy to reach. I couldn’t but wonder if I missed out on something that I would regret, but the Alps in Switzerland were already calling my name, so it was time for me to say goodbye to Liechtenstein.