Suddenly, I finally set foot in Liechtenstein!
I don’t know why Liechtenstein was sitting in the top 5 of must-visit places on my bucket list. Maybe it’s because as a resident of a small country like The Netherlands, it’s enjoyable to know there are countries even smaller than yours. Maybe knowing you can get from one side to the other in less than 30 minutes by car is funny to me.
I have a despicable sense of humor.
I didn’t know what the hell I was doing in Liechtenstein when we got there. I even felt slightly anxious that my friends would not enjoy themselves. Driving all the way from the south of Germany, I really hoped it was all worth it.
When you look at things to do in Liechtenstein online, there’s not much information to be found. Most top 10 lists include a stamp museum.
Typical cows with a typical sound.
Every website I researched for general information literally said: ‘There’s not much to do in Liechtenstein, but if you happen to end up there anyway…’ Other sites complained about the high concentration of banks, high prices and lack of parking space. Not very promising, is it?
Despite the digital warnings, we embarked on our 140 km drive to mythical Liechtenstein anyway. And boy was I excited!
When you road trip Germany, and especially the south with its rolling hills, mountains and lush forests, the drive to Liechtenstein can be quite enjoyable. Just the views over the stunning Bodensee are worth the trip. Curious about the practical side of this story? Scroll all the way down for some practical information, side trips and bucket list ideas!
View on the Austrian mountains
The history of Liechtenstein
Although this part of Europe was inhabited for over 7500 years, Liechtenstein’s history begins in 1719. That’s when Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor, announced that the counties of Vaduz and Schellenberg were to be united into one territory ruled by Anton Florian of Liechtenstein.
After the Empire fell into the hands of French Emperor Napoleon I in 1806, the country joined the German Confederation led by the Emperor of Austria in 1815. Until World War I, it had a close connection to Austria and later to Austria-Hungary. After the war Liechtenstein signed a customs and monetary union with neighboring Switzerland.
Like Switzerland, the country remained neutral during World War II, although it had slight Nazi sympathies because it became a Nazi repository for gold and other valuables.
Since the 1970’s, Liechtenstein has lowered tax rates, attracting large international companies to the country. Like Switzerland, Liechtenstein has become a tax haven for rich individuals and successful companies. The current Prince of Liechtenstein, Hans-Adam II, is the sixth-wealthiest monarch. Quite impressive for a country with only 37.000 residents!
Fun facts about Liechtenstein
Tiny country, big facts!
Did I emphasize enough how small Liechtenstein is?
160 square meters (62 square miles) make the principality of Liechtenstein the 6th smallest country in the world. To put things in perspective: this pocked-sized country is…
… 61,459 times smaller than United States.
… 260 times smaller than The Netherlands.
… 4 times smaller than Singapore.
… 2 times smaller than Malta.
The country is divided into 11 municipalities, most consisting of just one town. About 37.000 people call Liechtenstein home.
The country is double landlocked
Both countries bordering Liechtenstein—Austria to the north and east and Switzerland to the south and west—are themselves landlocked. The only other country in this category is Uzbekistan.
Liechtenstein has no army
Back in the day, the army consisted of 80 men protecting this miniature country. Nowadays, Liechtenstein doesn’t have an army anymore.
Switzerland accidentally invaded Liechtenstein in 2007
Because the borders between the neighboring countries are unmarked, the Swiss troops accidentally walked over the border. Liechtenstein had no idea until they got an official apology from its friendly neighbor. They decided not to retaliate.
Snoop Dogg tried to rent the country
But was denied. The rapper wanted to shoot a video clip there in 2010. A great idea, according to AirBnB and a local marketing company. In 2011, they launched a marketing campaign which made it possible to rent the country for $70.000. For that money, you could invite 149 friends on a sleepover, which included a warm welcome from the Prince of Liechtenstein himself, customized street signs and a symbolic key to the country.
Liechtenstein is the world’s leading manufacturer of false teeth
Ivoclar Vivadent, based in Schaan, is good for 20% sales of the total sales worldwide.
It’s one of the safest countries in the world
With the last murder happening over two decades ago and the rape rate being zero, Liechtenstein is doing more than okay in the crime department. Most people in Liechtenstein don’t even lock their door because of that.
Is it worth visiting Liechtenstein?
Driving to Liechtenstein, we found ourselves between the stunning Alps. With Austria on one side and Switzerland on the other, we couldn’t really complain about the views. The cities of Liechtenstein itself were quite cramped, with the expected banks everywhere.
Because we didn’t feel like visiting the stamp museum, the only thing we could do to get out of the urban areas, was drive up the mountains to the ski resorts. On the way we passed the gorgeous castle of Vaduz, as well as the typical alpine meadows.
So, is it worth visiting Liechtenstein?
As a day trip, Liechtenstein can’t be scrapped from your to do list. The tiny country might not be filled with bucket list adventures, the stunning views from above make it worth visiting anyway.
You might want to come to Liechtenstein if…
… You love the idea of visiting a teeny tiny country.
… You want to add another country to your list, without losing too much time visiting it.
… You love Alpine meadows and the typical sound of cowbells.
… You enjoy breathtaking views and fresh mountain air.
… You want to experience the best snow in all of Europe.
… You’re a fan of fairytale castles.
… You like stamps.
Top 5 fun things to do in Liechtenstein
Although not many, there are some fun things to do in Liechtenstein. You need approximately one or two days to see everything worth seeing.
Despite previous warnings, there is one important reason to visit Liechtenstein anyway: the tiny country has a lot of amazing hiking routes. The mountainous surroundings offer excellent views on the city of Vaduz or smaller places like Balzers.
2.Visit a castle
Liechtenstein has a few castles that are worth visiting. Burg Gutenberg, overlooking the quant villages of Balzers is probably your best choice, as the other well-preserved castle (Vaduz Castle) is closed for visitors. You can also visit the ruins of Obere Burg and Untere Burg, both located in Schellenberg.
3.Experience Europe’s best snow
Malbun is home to wonderful skiing opportunities in winter. It is said that the snow here is the best in all of Europe. During summer and fall, Malbun is excellent for hiking and admiring the view.
4.Take a million photographs
Mountains and Alpine meadows provide the best opportunities to take a million photographs and make your friends jealous. I walked around Malbun in fall and was delighted with the amazing colored trees decorating the mountains. Have you ever seen yellow pine trees? Neither have I!
The Prince of Liechtenstein winery is the place to taste wine and tour the vineyards. Make sure to try both red and white wines as they are quite famous in Europe!
Other cool things to do in Liechtenstein
- Visit the Walser Museum in Triesenberg.
- Learn about postage stamp in the Stamp Museum.
- Visit the National Museum of Liechtenstein.
- Take a look at the St. Florin Cathedral.
- Marvel at the Red House in Vaduz.
- Discover the Typewriter Museum.
- Explore the Traditional Farm House Museum.
- Visit the Art Museum.
How to get to Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein is double landlocked between Austria and Switzerland. You have to drive through one of these countries to get there. Depending on what you want to visit during the rest of your trip, you choose either one.
When you’re starting point is Germany, each route takes you around the gorgeous Bodensee. On your way you can choose to stop in one of the beautiful towns around this lake. We chose Lindau for a quick stopover (and a mandatory Currywurst!) and thus we drove the Austria route.
Although we could drive through Switzerland from Lindau, we chose to stay on the Austrian motorways because of the motorway vignette we had to purchase. Liechtenstein itself doesn’t require a motorway vignette.
How to choose between the different motorway stickers
Both countries require you to purchase a motorway vignette. This sticker is mandatory for driving the motorway and can be purchased at gas stations on your way to either one of the countries.
However, there is a difference in price, depending on what your plans are in these countries:
- Vehicles up to 3500kg can get a normal vignette, which costs 40 CHF (€35).
- Driving with a caravan? It also needs a motorway vignette!
- A vignette is valid for one (calendar) year.
- It has to be placed on the vehicle correctly: no scotch tape is allowed, and damaged stickers are not valid. Old stickers need to be removed.
- Apart from the motorway vignette, some roads require you to pay additional toll. When you want to drive the Munt-la-Schera tunnel (CHF 16/ €14, one way (2018) For the Great Sint-Bernard tunnel (CHF 31,20/ €26.90, one way (2018), you pay extra.
- Remember to keep the receipt of your purchase. You need to show it during police control.
- Renting a car in Switzerland? Usually it already has a motorway vignette. Rented cars from other countries don’t.
- A motorway vignette is mandatory for the Autobahn (A) and Schnellstrasse (S) for cars up to 3500kg.
- A motorway sticker comes in 3 varieties: 1 year (€87.30), 2 months (€26.20) and 10 days (€9) in 2018)
- Austria has more toll roads than Switzerland, the so-called Sondermautstrecken. Here’s a map of all the toll roads in Austria.
- Like Switzerland, the sticker has to be placed onto the window correctly. You also need to keep the receipt.
- Rental cars registered in Austria have the motorway vignette. Other rental cars don’t.
How to visit Liechtenstein on a budget
Personally, I never thought I could visit Liechtenstein on my mid-range travel budget. Pricewise it’s comparable to expensive Switzerland. But it can be done! Here are some rules you can follow:
- Get your gas in Germany, it’s quite affordable at most gas stations. Avoid the Autobahn for the truly low prices!
- Pack a lunch or eat along the way in Germany. Most gas stations offer a warm meal for a low price. We ate a delicious currywurst with fries in Lindau, which cost us €6.50 per person.
- Choose the right motorway vignette.
- Spend the night in Austria or Germany.
Is Liechtenstein worth visiting?
What do you think? I had to pinch myself several times driving through this beautiful pocket-sized country. I finally crossed it off my bucket list. When will you?
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