If ever the words “small but perfectly formed” were apt, it would be when describing the tiny Alpine principality of Liechtenstein. This diminutive micro-nation nestled between Austria and Switzerland is home to some of the most staggeringly beautiful scenery in Europe, with rolling Alpine meadows, lush forested hillsides, the silver ribbon of the Rhine and castles from the pages of a fairy tale. But all that eye candy is actually just the beginning. The country has one of the most important industrial histories in the world, with roots dating back to the Stone Age.
Encompassing an area of just 160 km2, Liechtenstein may be a “blink and you’ll miss it” destination on the map, but once in your heart it will never be forgotten.
What To Do
The country’s storied past is on glorious display in the delightful capital Vaduz, with the centrepiece being its stunning 12th-century castle, an imposing structure set on the banks of the River Rhine. Don’t forget to go beyond the updated city centre into the old town, Mittledorf, where ghosts of the past still loom large over the picturesque vineyards.
Liechtenstein Landesmuseum (the National Museum) is housed in an elegant 15th-century building and is the ideal way to get to grips with the importance of the nation’s history, with exhibits of Neolithic and Roman artefacts.
The country’s only winter resort town, Malbun, is a true winter wonderland, with superb ski conditions and one of the longest seasons in the Alps.
Exploring the lowland areas of the principality offers a different view of the scenery, and the craft towns of Nendeln and Eschen are a delightful window into the artistic and cultural past. These towns are also the start and finish points of the most picturesque hiking trails in the country.
With its proximity to Austria and Switzerland, the cuisine of Liechtenstein borrows heavily from both, but with a dash of French influence as well. Game like venison and wild boar feature heavily, along with freshwater fish and plenty of dairy products – most notably cheese.
Geschnetzeltes schweinsleber comprises very finely chopped pig’s liver served with rosti, fried sliced potato and onion patties. (It’s hard to say but very, very easy to eat.) Which also goes for the mouth-watering Käseknöpfle, mini dumplings filled with a mixture of different cheeses. Riebel is a traditional dish of boiled dough, fried in butter and sugar and served with apfelmus (apple sauce), and there’s literally a bakery on every corner, serving up delicious flaky pastries adorned with fresh local fruit.
Land-locked Liechtenstein enjoys a temperate alpine climate, with cold winters and mild summers punctuated by the famous warming Föhn wind.
For the winter sportspeople, between December and April is the best time to visit, with abundant snowfall and temperatures averaging about -1°C in January. From April to November the weather is mild, and even in summer it can be quite cool, with averages of 21°C. This is the most comfortable time to visit and is perfect for hiking and mountain climbing.
How To Get There
The closest international airport is in neighbouring Switzerland, at Zurich. From the UK the flight time is around an hour and 40 minutes, with British Airways, Ryanair and easyJet all offering regular scheduled flights from various UK destinations. Once you land in Zurich, Shuttle Direct’s convenient low-cost airport transfers are available to take you the rest of the way.
You can travel across Europe to Liechtenstein by Eurostar to Paris or Brussels, then take an express connection to Feldkirch, in Austria, or either of two Swiss border stations at Sargans or Buchs. Pre-booked Shuttle Direct services can be organised to get you to and from these train stations and take you the rest of the way to Liechtenstein in around 15 minutes.
Travelling to Liechtenstein? Don’t Miss…
The Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, in Vaduz, is the tiny principality’s premier art gallery and cultural centre, with a permanent collection of 19th century and contemporary art works.
Gutenberg Castle presides over the landscape from a lofty hillside vantage with roots back to the Neolithic times. This wonderfully preserved fortress dates back to the Middle Ages, its impressive form offset by a magnificent backdrop of sheer-faced mountains.
Just one of the many fabulous hiking trails waiting to be explored, the Historic Eschnerberg Trail winds past the ruins of ancient prehistoric settlements and takes in breath-taking views over the Rhine and beyond.
About Shuttle Direct:
The most trusted provider of low cost transfers from airports, cruise ports and train stations across Liechtenstein, as well as throughout Europe and North Africa, Shuttle Direct has a service to suit any budget or needs. Pre-book using our easy-to-navigate online system and all your onward travel arrangements will be confirmed before you leave on your holiday or business trip.