Measuring in at about 16 miles long and 8 miles wide is Europe’s fourth smallest country, Liechtenstein. This tiny nation is a small parcel of land that is bordered by Austria and Switzerland.
With gorgeous mountains, peaked castles and abundant wealth, Liechtenstein is like walking into a fairytale come true.
Herzlich Willkommen – Welcome to Liechtenstein
While the land size may be limited, Liechtenstein packs a lot into its landscape. The country is well-known for its skiing, hiking, and other adventurous activities. But what draws many visitors is simply the allure of visiting one of the world’s smallest nations. With a new walking trail and paved roads, visitors can explore all over the country and discover Liechtenstein’s hidden gems.
Situated in the Rhine Valley, Vaduz is Liechtenstein’s spectacular capital. While much of the town sits on flat land, the mountains are a beautiful backdrop all year round. The green vegetation flourishes in the warmer months and come winter, snow turns Vaduz into a snowcapped wonderland. Other highlights in Vaduz include the castle, which sits on the nearby hillsides and the pedestrian pathways located below. With world-class shopping and dining, Vaduz easily entices people to come for a visit.
- Culture and Language
- Visa Requirements
- Spending Budget
- How to Get Around
- Top Cities to Visit
- Points of Interest
Culture and Language
As a part of the greater Rhine Plain, the area of what we now know was Liechtenstein has always been important place for human settlement. Evidence of Neolithic farming has been found in Liechtenstein with date estimates that go as far back as 5,300 BC. But before Liechtenstein became the country, it was once split into two lordships that were owned by the Holy Roman Empire.
For hundreds of years, Liechtenstein was ruled by the Romans, until the German Confederation gave the country its freedom in 1866. Since then, Liechtenstein has remained powerful but rather quiet in its international affairs. In both the World Wars Liechtenstein remained neutral. Today, Liechtenstein is a member of the United Nations and with a big push for industrialization by Francis Joseph II in the latter half of the 20th century, the country gained a ton of wealth.
The House of Liechtenstein has ruled over the country for centuries, but today it partners with a Prime Minister and four fellow ministers to rule the nation. The royal family is still much adored by the people in Liechtenstein and their current ruler is Prince Hans-Adam II.
Most of Liechtenstein’s culture is rooted in Alemannic culture, which was originally derived from Germanic tribes that lived along the Upper Rhine River. The country is also close to the Catholic religion. Together, these two influences have made Liechtenstein unique. Many of their celebrations and festivals are spread throughout the year and some of their more famous holidays include their national day and seasonal harvests.
The German culture and its roots are also ingrained in Liechtenstein through the language. Standard German is the country’s official language, which is spoken by the vast majority of the people. However, many citizens also speak an Alemannic dialect, which is also spoken in pars of Switzerland and Austria. A large population of foreign-born citizens increases Liechtenstein’s diversity and up to 14% of the country speaks a foreign language.
English is spoken in Liechtenstein and it tends to be a popular choice as a second language amongst citizens. Many of the higher educational institutions in Liechtenstein will instruct their students in English, which is making it more common for the locals to be conversationally fluent in the language. But with an increase in tourism, English is also an important language for the country’s hosts and visitors.
Liechtenstein is also a unique country because of its minimalistic border control. For travelers who are coming from Austria, officers have the right to ask you for your travel documents while you are onboard your bus or train. But if you are coming from Switzerland, there is a completely open border. Liechtenstein and Switzerland have an agreement that allows Switzerland to represent the little country. This means that there is nothing more than a sign to indicate you have left Switzerland and entered Liechtenstein.
Liechtenstein is also a member of the Schengen Agreement and Area, like Austria and Switzerland. For US travelers, this means that once you have entered the Schengen Area, you are mostly free to travel around its various countries with ease. However, as per the Schengen Agreement, you are not required to obtain a tourist visa prior to arrival if you are not staying for more than 90 days.
You will need to have your travel documents in order. For US citizens, this means that your US passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond your intended departure date from the Schengen Area. Liechtenstein does not have its own international airport and most travelers will enter the country via Switzerland or Austria, so you will need a single page for your entry stamps into those countries.
Officers in Liechtenstein also have the right to question you about the amount of money you are carrying if it appears to be over $10,000 Swiss Francs, but there is no official restriction regarding the amount of money you are allowed to carry into Liechtenstein. Finally, many tourists want proof of their visit to Liechtenstein in the form of a passport stamp. With no border control, you won’t get stamped into Liechtenstein. But the tourist center, named the Liechtenstein Center, do sell souvenir passport stamps for visitors.
While many people take day trips to Liechtenstein from Switzerland or Austria, other visitors may want to spend more time in this miniature country. But if you’re looking to spend a night or multiple nights in Liechtenstein, you will need to expand your budget. Liechtenstein is small but it is pricey. The higher prices are affected by the size, which can make it difficult to find accommodation.
Many travelers find it quite difficult to find lower prices for accommodation or restaurants in Liechtenstein, which means it is important to outline a spending budget. A spending budget can help you estimate the cost of your trip to Liechtenstein and determine how best to manage and spend your funds while exploring this tiny country. The most important things that you’ll need to consider as a part of your spending budget include the cost of airfare, accommodation, food, drink, and transportation.
Liechtenstein is so small that the country does not have an international airport. This forces visitors to fly into either Switzerland or Austria to visit Liechtenstein. The average flight cost to Switzerland from the US is about $900 US dollars, while a flight to Austria will cost about $800 US dollars. Travelers then have an option of taking a train, bus, or car into Liechtenstein, which will cost $25-$75 US dollars.
Unlike other countries, the cost of visiting Liechtenstein does not seem to fluctuate based on season. With reasons to visit Lichtenstein in every season, the price of travel and accommodation tends to stay the same all year round. However, the number of tourists does tend to peak more in the summer and winter months.
Accommodation is also very expensive in Liechtenstein and a simple dorm room in a hostel will set you back about $50 US dollars. A private room is more expensive, and you should be prepared to spend up to $120 US dollars per night. Hotels also have a high cost and a big range in prices. Most hotels throughout Liechtenstein will charge $175-$400 US dollars per night.
Airbnb is another option, but don’t expect to save much money. Most listings will charge an average of $100 US dollars per night for a private room. Private apartments or houses are harder to find and can be very expensive to rent.
Food is also very expensive in Liechtenstein and you should expect to spend $60 US dollars per day, at minimum. The most affordable food options will be quick cafes, which may offer a simple meal for about $16 US dollars. Local restaurants will cost about $60 US dollars for a meal and gourmet menus will be your most expensive option. For a gourmet meal, you should expect to spend up to $215 US dollars.
But food is a great way to experience a country’s local culture and Liechtenstein has a few dishes that have become favorites amongst tourists. Torkarebl is a porridge with dumplings, which is harder to find because it is truly a local dish. But you may be able to find it in local restaurants so that you can taste this delightful dish.
Hafalaab is one of Lichtenstein’s national favorites, which is a dumpling soup served with bacon and ham. Ribel is a common dish that is served throughout Lichtenstein as an appetizer or side dish. The dish is often compared to polenta and with plenty of butter, the dish can be served with sweet sides like jams or savory dishes like meat.
The price of your meal will also increase if you are looking to purchase drinks too. Most beers in Liechtenstein cost about $8 US dollars, while a bottle of wine sells for about $27 US dollars. Any other type of drink will normally cost about $10 US dollars.
All in all, you will need to set a high budget if you plan on visiting Lichtenstein. Most people will spend about $180 US dollars per day at a minimum when they are in Lichtenstein. A more moderate budget that would give you a few more options and upgrades would cost about $270 US dollars per day. But you can also increase your budget even further and spend well over $300 US dollars per day in Liechtenstein.
How to Get Around
With Lichtenstein being so small, one affordable part of your trip will be the cost of transportation. As we mentioned above, once you have flown to Austria or Switzerland, it will often cost less than $75 US dollars to travel into Lichtenstein. Trains are the more expensive option with the most expensive fares costing about $75 US dollars, while buses are quite affordable, and a ticket can be bought for about $25 US dollars.
But once you are in Liechtenstein, the cost of getting around drastically reduces because there aren’t endless miles for you to explore. However, Liechtenstein does have public transportation available in the form of bright yellow buses. The Liemobil buses are the best and easiest way to travel around Liechtenstein, while also reducing your budget. A single bus ride costs less than $3 US dollars or you can buy an unlimited day pass for $16 US dollars, which is then valid throughout the entire country.
Rental Bikes and City Train
In the capital of Vaduz, visitors also have the option to use free rental bikes or take the City Train. The train costs $12 US dollars and it stops at all the tourist attractions. If you are yearning for more independence and you have an international driver’s license, you can also rent a car for $27 US dollars per day and drive yourself around Lichtenstein.
Top Cities to Visit
With Lichtenstein being such a small country, there is a lot packed into a tight area. Vaduz is the main city to visit, but the small towns that are scattered about the countryside are also unique destinations to see. Here are the top cities and towns to visit in Lichtenstein.
Located near the border with Switzerland, Vaduz is the most visited city in Lichtenstein. As the capital, Vaduz consistently charms visitors with its beautiful setting along the Rhine and its upbeat personality. The Vaduz Castle overlooks the town and today, it is still home to the Lichtenstein Royal Family. Beneath the castle, the streets of Vaduz are filled with fancy shops and restaurants so that you can explore all of the local goods.
Further off of the beaten track is Nendeln. This small town is known for its taverns, Roman ruins, and local art. The Schadler Ceramics Workshop is a popular spot for visitors and two wine cellars also display quality Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer. The nearby mountains and vast woodlands also make Nendlen a beautiful place to explore.
Sitting above Triesenberg, Steg is the place to escape into the wilds of Lichtenstein’s mountains. With picturesque scenes and quaint houses, Steg is a great place to set off to some of the country’s other top destinations. From Steg, you can head down the mountain to Triesenberg or over to Malbun and Ratikon.
Malbun is Liechtenstein’s most famous winter resort, which is home to plenty of ski trails and terrains. The installation of ski lifts in 1960 boosted Malbun’s popularity and now, beginner or expert skiers can have some fun while they hit the slopes. There are also plenty of local programs that can help kids and beginners learn how to ski.
Eschen sits below a series of mountain peaks called the Three Sisters. The town is nestled in the valley and its Medieval feel often draws in tourists who are eager to explore the local church and wineries. The Holy Cross Chapel sits in the center of the town and around the church are plenty of small streets that are filled with quiet cafes and shops.
Balzers is most well-known for the Gutenberg Castle, which is a well-preserved medieval masterpiece. Out of one of only two medieval castles still standing, Balzers is the place to go is you like to see history come alive. With recorded history that dates back to the 12th century, visitors can take a guided tour of the castle or head into town to visit the local wineries.
Points of Interest
If you are looking for what to do in the towns besides bask in the natural beauty, there are plenty of points of interest in Liechtenstein to keep you occupied. Here are the top points of interest in Lichtenstein.
The Kunstmuseum is located in Vaduz and has been well-praised for its collection of modern and contemporary art pieces. However, also holding pieces of Liechtenstein’s history, visitors can also view works of art from the 19th century. This also includes pieces of art from the Royal Family’s private collection.
The Eschnerberg Trail is just one of Lichtenstein’s famed trails that take visitors out into the the breathtaking scenery of the country. The trail crosses gentle slopes, towering mountain peaks, and passes through quiet valleys. At just over 3 miles long, it is a relatively easy trail to complete, which includes prehistoric highlights such as Malanser and Lutzengütle.
Ruggeller Riet Nature Reserve
With an abundance of local flora, fauna and birds, Ruggeller Riet Nature Reserve has become the go-to place for nature lovers who are looking to explore the natural beauty of Liechtenstein. The nature reserve has plenty of trails and rest areas for you to explore. There are also bike paths that can connect you to Switzerland and Austria.
The Liechtenstein Trail spans the entire length of the country and it passes through each of the 11 municipalities of Lichtenstein. The trail is about 46 miles long and in just a few days, you can walk all of Liechtenstein. The trail will also take you to lesser known spots in the country like flowing brooks and vast meadows.
Get Out and Go
Size is not issue for Liechtenstein and visitors are eager to brag about their trips to this tiny nation. With less land to cover, Liechtenstein is the perfect place to adventure for short trips and extended stays. There is plenty to see, do, and explore. Plus, with entertainment provided all year long, Liechtenstein will dazzle you in every season.