Liechtenstein is a German-speaking 25 km long principality of about 60 square miles between Austria and Switzerland. It’s known for its medieval castles, alpine landscapes, and villages linked by a network of trails. The capital, Vaduz, is a cultural and financial center. Liechtenstein is the 6th smallest country in the world, and one of the wealthiest. Bordering Switzerland and Austria, it is landlocked by landlocked countries, making it one of the only 2 double landlocked countries in the world (the other being Uzbekistan.)
The area has been inhabited since the Neolithic age and was once part of the Roman Empire. Over the centuries it had a number of different rulers and and occupying nations. It became an Imperial Principality in 1719, and a sovereign state in 1806. Many people left due to poverty in the early 19th century, with economic conditions starting to improve in the mid 1800’s, and worsening after the first world war. The boom in the economy didn’t come until after the second world war when the country quickly became industrialized. It is currently one of the wealthiest countries per capita in the world with an average annual income over $700,000. Though the country is known for banking, manufacturing still plays an important role in the economy. Money in Liechtenstein is the Swiss franc, whose value is currently slightly higher than that of the US dollar.
Liechtenstein’s capital city Vaduz sits on the Rhine River near the Swiss boarder and is home to Vaduz Castle, a royal family residence perched high on a hill overlooking the city and dating back to the 12th century. It has been the official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein since 1939. The castle is the symbol of Liechtenstein. The town’s other most notable building is the Cathedral of Saint Florin built in 1873. There is no railway station in Vaduz, but a short bus ride from nearby Switzerland will get you there.
Things to do in Vaduz
Start at the Liechtenstein Center tourist office where you can find out all sorts of information and things to do. See Vaduz castle, visit museums, see the giant postage stamps painted on the sidewalk, look for fine arts, see the cathedral, or try wine tasting at the Prince of Liechtenstein winery. Picturesque scenery is pretty much everywhere. Ride the city’s tourist road train for a narrated tour of some of the town’s main attractions. Visit the Mittledorf area or the red house for a look at traditional architecture, check out the chocolate shop in the town center. There’s also a main square and town hall. Outside of town there are hiking trails.
All of that information came from online before our trip. When we actually got there we went to the tourist office and found out that some things are seasonal and were closed or not operating during our visit. You can’t go inside the castle, though you can go up the hill for a better view of it from outside.
The Cathedral of St. Florin was built in 1874 on foundations from an earlier medieval site. It was originally a parish church, but given cathedral status in 1997. It is also referred to as the Vaduz Cathedral. Tourists are allowed inside when the church is not in use.
Our hotel, which was called Hotel Vaduzerhof, was at the edge of an area called
Städtle, which had all sorts things like shops, restaurants, and even museums surrounding a town square, and all connected by wide walking pathways and no roads. There are government buildings at the far end. Since the hotel was at the edge and on a corner it had roads on two sides. It was a nice hotel and the room was pretty spacious.
Our hotel room had a balcony and a view overlooking the main square of Städtle. The square had an outdoor ice arena which had no activity going on other than what looked like people working on it when we first walked by so we thought they were just getting it set up. Later on people were skating there. After dark they added colored lights and music. We could also see a bit of Vaduz Castle, perched on the edge of a cliff high above.
The hotel was either fairly new or recently remodeled. The rooms were very clean with modern decor. It had more outlets than the older hotels we had been in so far, and better lighting, but still no USB ports. The room had a big very modern bathroom and beds with the same sort of individual sleeping bag style sheet/quilt combo the Swiss places had. There was a desk, closet, and luggage rack. There were a bath towel and hand towel for each person, but even this nicer hotel had no washcloths. I don’t know what Europeans have against washcloths. They are quite useful when you want to get clean after all. There was just some sort of all-in-one soap, shampoo, and bodywash combo in the shower so it was a good thing I had some individual toiletries of my own. My hair would have the feel and consistency of straw if I used that sort of combo product on it. The hotel had free wifi of a faster speed than some of the other places we stayed. Unlike most hotels in Europe, this one had free breakfast. While common in American hotels, this was the first time we found it anywhere we’ve been in Europe, though our next hotel in Innsbruck, Austria had a nice free breakfast buffet too. This was before Covid so they may not have it any more.
Other things generally included in American lodgings, but missing nearly everywhere we stayed on this trip are a coffeemaker and a clock. Not that I drink coffee, but it is a means of heating water which is useful for making things like tea – or instant oatmeal in places that don’t serve breakfast.
Of all the places we went in Europe this trip Vaduz was the hardest to get to and had the least to do. Unless you want to go to Liechtenstein just for the sake of going to Liechtenstein (which is why we went there) it’s not really worth the hassle unless you have time to explore beyond Vaduz. I would have enjoyed the trails if we’d had time to hike them and known where to find them and how to get there. Some tourist activities like the tram train that takes people to all the sights are just for summer. Some of the buildings look genuinely ancient, others look like they are more recently built, but in the older style as if they were made to look old. Some are entirely modern.
We only stayed one night in Vaduz and arrived mid afternoon so we just walked around looking at stuff and had dinner at a Chinese place, which had quite good food. We found a Swiss chocolate shop with some different things than we had seen in Switzerland so we gave it a try and they were really quite tasty.
When I looked up Liectenstein online before our trip, everything I found said that there was no train station in Liechtenstein, but it was a short bus ride there from the station at Buchs, Switzerland. We had to take an extra train to get to Buchs from Sargans, which was about a 9-minute ride. At Buchs we found no bus directly to Liechtenstein, but we could take one to Schaan and get to Vaduz on a different bus from there. As it turned out the bus from Schaan also went to Sargans so we could have skipped the extra train to Buchs and taken a bus directly to Liechtenstein from the train station in Sargans.
The other thing nobody mentioned when I was looking for information before the trip was that there is more than one bus stop in Vaduz. It stops about every couple blocks all the way through town. Only Vaduz Post actually said Vaduz on the scrolling readerboard on the bus that listed all the upcoming stops, but the driver started announcing Vaduz this and Vaduz that several stops prior. Vaduz Städtle was where we should have gotten off as that was right by our hotel, but we didn’t know that at the time and got off at Vaduz Post which seemed kind of central and like a main stop. Google maps then said we had to walk back a few blocks to get to the hotel. The weather was nice that day and it wasn’t too far so it wasn’t really a problem.
We had an early train the next morning and avoided the hassle of having to catch 2 different busses as well as not having to depend on them to get to the train on time by taking a taxi to the station since there were no Ubers in Liechtenstein. The hotel people arranged for the taxi in the evening so all we had to do the next morning was go outside and meet it.
Copyright My Cruise Stories 2020