Was this your first question when you saw the title of today’s blog?
Am I making them up now?
I am very interested in travelling to small and unique places that are normally off the beaten track for most tourists. Liechtenstein is certainly that.
Liechtenstein is a ‘double landlocked’ country, found between Switzerland and Austria. It is another microstate – like my previous blog about San Marino – however Liechtenstein is slightly larger at roughly 160 square kilometers and a population of around 38,000.
Being so small and situated in the alps, it does not have its own airport, so this meant quite a journey to get there.
I first flew to Zurich after work on a Friday afternoon. For these weekend trips I usually only take a backpack, as I don’t need much luggage and budget airlines now charge you to bring a wheeled carry on – and I enjoy the benefits of cheap flights.
After arriving late in Zurich, I spent the night in a hostel as I was only passing through. The next day I got up bright and early to catch a train from Zurich Hauptbahnhof to the small town of Sargans, which took about an hour, and then caught a bus over the border to the capital, Vaduz.
The weather was quite bleak, and I was a bit concerned as I was planning on hiking up Grauspitz – which has a peak 8,527 feet above sea level.
I first made my way to the center of town, where I passed the Vaduz Cathedral, which is in a neo-gothic style of architecture and looks great with the looming mountains behind the cathedral (would have looked better with a sunny landscape). I then ventured along the main walkway, Städtle, which also had the Liechtenstein National Archives, which has a really grand facade that highlights the pinnacle of typical European architecture.
At the tourist office I paid 5 Swiss Francs for a passport stamp (just like in San Marino), as the country has no border crossing, so it is a great way to make some tourist dollars and a great souvenir for country counters. Unfortunately for me (as I’d already guessed) I was informed that parts of the hiking and skiing routes up in the alps were closed due to poor weather and low visibility.
I still wanted to do some form of hiking, so I took a bus up to Triesenberg where I planned to catch another bus to Malbun, the peak area to ski in the country. Buses cost around 3 Swiss Francs per one-way ticket. However, the next bus didn’t turn up and the weather didn’t get any better, so I decided to ditch Malbun and walk towards Gaflei, which led to another route to Alpspitz, which sits at a 6,375 feet elevation is an easier hike.
I walked along roads through suburbs and open fields where all I could hear was cow bells, but couldn’t see them due to visibility being only 5-10 meters. I then faced another issue, in that the road turned into gravel and was no longer safe for me to continue on with the weather being so bad.
I thought I could potentially walk back to Vaduz, however, yet again that wasn’t possible as visibility and the lack of footpath meant I had to turn back around to Triesenberg.
With my failed attempt to do any hiking I decided to head to Vaduz Castle, which is where the Prince of Liechtenstein resides, but unfortunately I was unable to explore the castle itself and could only enjoy the exterior of the building. On the walk up, however, there was a great viewpoint of the city and the border with Switzerland (The Rhine River).
The day was almost over so I thought I’d walk over to the Alte Rheinbrücke, which is a beautiful river crossing over the Rhine River that really shows the true European vibe of the country.
On Sunday I had a couple of hours in the morning before I made my way back to Zurich to catch my flight home, so I decided to do another walk around town.
I found Vaduz to be a very arty city, with several unique sculptures across the small city and many museums such as the Postal Museum, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, and Liechtenstein National Museum – very handy in case you find yourself in the city in poor weather and you’re not a fan of walking in the rain.
There was an amazing chocolate shop, Läderach, which had massive sheets of chocolate in a variety of flavours and toppings, however I was unlucky that basically all the shops on the Sunday were closed.
So, word of warning – do your shopping on the Saturday (or any day except Sunday).
Even though there isn’t much to do in the microstate of Liechtenstein, I still would recommend a weekend or day trip if you are travelling through the region.
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