Okay fine, I admit it. Like most people, the driving factor for me recently spending 2 days in Liechtenstein was simply to cross it off my list. I can’t help it—I’m a list lover. And crossing things off that list? Oh yes! Give it to me! More! More!
As someone who travels a lot, I’m often faced with the dilemma of: do I visit a new place? Or return to one of my favorite places? And, well, because I grew up in the age of ice cream and cookie dough in one splendid spoonful, I’m used to getting it all. The ability to make solid choices went out the window the moment leggings as pants became even mildly socially acceptable.
Visiting Munich, Germany to attend Oktoberfest each year like I do, I always try to add in a trip to somewhere nearby or on the way that I’ve never been. In 2014 it was Iceland; in 2016 it was Norway and the Czech Republic; in 2018 it was Portugal and Austria. And in 2019 it was lovely little Liechtenstein—now one of my favorite places I indeed plan on returning to. In yoga pants, obviously.
Though my initial plan was simply a day trip, I ended up spending 2 days in Liechtenstein because, though lured in by the possibility of a posh passport stamp, I really was interested to know what the place was all about. I mean, was it really all that different from Switzerland, Austria, and Germany? What is there even to do there? Does the prince need a new quirky American friend? I look great in a tiara. Call me, boo!
HOW TO GET TO LIECHTENSTEIN
Though Liechtenstein lacks its own airport and train station, it’s actually super easy to get to, and easy to get to other places from spending 2 days in Liechtenstein. What Liechtenstein lacks in terms of direct air and train travel, it more than makes up for in fluorescent yellow green buses with friendly drivers who happily break for cattle and wave to people picking apples on the side of the road. It’s really adorable here, y’all.
To get to Liechtenstein from, say, the United States, you’ll want to fly into Zurich, Switzerland. From there your trip will consist of:
➤ Train from Zurich Flughafen (airport) → Zurich Hauptbahnhof (main train station)
➤ Train from Zurich Hbf → Sargans, Switzerland
➤ Bus from Sargans train station → Vaduz Post
After retrieving your bag(s), head to the train station inside the Zurich airport. You can try to figure out the next parts on your own (showoff), or you can do as I do and just tell the person at the info booth you need to get to Sargans. He or she will get you the train tickets you need as well as give you a timetable of where you need to be and when, what trains you need to be on, and which platforms they leave from. The only way this could be easier is if he/she carried you there on his/her back. I don’t think this is a service they offer, but this is a country of hikers so you never know.
The train from Zurich Flughafen to Zurich Hbf takes about 7 minutes, then get off and switch trains. The trip from Zurich Hbf to Sargans takes about an hour and ten minutes. At Sargans, exit the station and directly across the street you’ll see where the buses line up. Here, you have a couple of options, both quick and easy, just grab whichever one is there when you are. You can take:
➤ LIEmobil Bus 11 towards Feldkirch, get off at Vaduz Post (lime green bus, 30 minutes)
➤ LIEmobil bus 12E towards Vaduz, get off at Vaduz Post which is the last stop anyway (lime green bus, about 20 minutes).
Read on for how to take these buses for free, otherwise you can just pay the driver when you board.
You’re now in the center of Vaduz (pronounced vah-doots), the capital of Liechtenstein. OOORR you’ve messed up terribly and are now wandering around suburban Austria with two pieces of luggage and one desperate need to pee. Enjoy!
AFTER 2 DAYS IN LIECHTENSTEIN
If, like me, you’re headed to Munich for Oktoberfest after your 2 days in Liechtenstein: take the LIEmobil bus 11 (again) from Vaduz Post to Feldkirch, Austria, then a train from Feldkirch to Innsbruck, then another train from Innsbruck to Munich. Then drop your bags and head straight for the beer tents because you’re all about that #timebudgettravel. Information on train timetables and tickets can be found at bahn.com. Information on how to optimize your Oktoberfest cleavage can be found here. Happy hoisting!
WHERE TO STAY IN LIECHTENSTEIN
Just a few minutes’ walk from the Vaduz Post bus stop is the 4-star Residence Hotel – where I stayed during my 2 days in Liechtenstein and where I recommend for you. This gorgeous hotel is right in the center of everything—you can walk anywhere you need to go in Vaduz, and it’s just a few minutes from the Liechtenstein tourism office, the main bus stop, the best restaurants, Switzerland (yes, Switzerland), and more.
Part of the Residence was just completely rebuilt and the hotel is brand-spanking-new. I stayed in one of these new rooms and it was huuuge, modern, and had the most amazing balcony. The breakfast is delicious, the staff is great, the minibar is surprisingly reasonably priced, and the hotel has everything you need, even a free welcome drink and window blinds that open and close themselves. Only the best for someone who’s about to become BFFs with the Prince, amirite?
DO KNOW A LITTLE ABOUT LIECHTENSTEIN BEFORE YOU GO
So, what is Liechtenstein all about anyway? Why should you even go there? With only 2 days in Liechtenstein, learn a little about the place before you go so you can breeze right on through the informational portion of your visit and head straight to the cheese-covered potatoes (you’ll see).
For starters, you should at least know that Liechtenstein is teeny weeny—just 62 square miles to be exact. For comparison, that’s like two Walt Disney Worlds put together or, roughly, the same size as Dwayne Johnson’s back. It’s the world’s 6th smallest country, the 4th smallest country in Europe, and the only country to be completely within the confines of the Alps. Also, being completely surrounded by Switzerland and Austria, it’s one of only two double-landlocked countries in the entire world (Uzbekistan being the other). As you can see, Liechtenstein is the cozy center of some very serious hugs. Enter: Dwayne Johnson. 🤗
Liechtenstein is officially the Principality of Liechtenstein which means it’s ruled by a billionaire prince who lives in a castle on a cliff who I’m pretty sure I’m related to.
LIECHTENSTEIN FAST FACTS
➤ CURRENCY | Swiss francs
➤ LANGUAGE | German
➤ POPULATION | 37,800+
➤ CAPITAL | Vaduz
➤ BEST FRIEND | Switzerland
➤ LIKES | Long walk through the mountains, covering things in cheese, baby cows
➤ CURRENT PRINCE | Hans-Adam II (full name: Johannes Adam Ferdinand Alois Josef Maria Marco d’Aviano Pius… because of course it is)
➤ WORLD LEADER IN | Manufacture of false teeth, Olympic medals per capita, Gross Domestic Product per capita (i.e. they rich, bitch!)
DO SPEND MORE THAN JUST A DAY TRIP TO LIECHTENSTEIN
Before my 2 days in Liechtenstein I consistently read two kinds of accounts of the country:
- “Liechtenstein is amazing! A true hidden gem!”
- “Liechtenstein is boring and there’s nothing to do there.”
Now, I almost always disagree with people in the second example of travelers, but I will admit I was nervous about spending a whole two nights there. Would I be wasting my time? Will I exhaust all there is to do on day one? What if the prince doesn’t invite me to a ball at the castle? *angrily unlaces corset* However, what I found once I was there was that even 2 days in Liechtenstein was not enough.
Most people make a stop in Liechtenstein part of a day trip from Zurich or when passing through from Switzerland to Austria or Germany. And if that were the case—if I had just eight hours to experience the country—I definitely wouldn’t have seen Liechtenstein’s potential. Instead, what I found was the same as travelers in this first category—a true hidden gem!
Okay, so maybe Liechtenstein isn’t for everybody (NASCAR enthusiasts, your grandmother’s knitting club, any Hollywood movie agent in any film ever) but it sure is for a lot of people and especially yours truly. The capital of Vaduz is full of museums and cultural sites—sure, they’re not the Louvre but each of them is interesting in their own way and, really, your grandmother’s knitting club would love that—and the villages outside the capital are pure Alpine perfection.
There’s a huge network of hiking trails, tons of culture and history, quirky spots and activities, and Liechtenstein is a huge winter sports destination (Olympic medal winners, hello?). The Liechtensteiners are some of the friendliest people I’ve encountered in Europe and the food here is simply AH-MAZING. Liechtenstein is easy to get to, easy to get around in, and has some of the best Alpine sunrises and sunsets I’ve seen.
What day trippers don’t realize is that Liechtenstein is so much more than Vaduz. The country may be small but it’s packed with interesting and adorable Alpine villages chock full of fluffy sheep, edelweiss, fresh mountain water, and a pupper that won’t leave your side during lunch.
So, don’t listen to the haters. There’s plenty to do here and to do it any justice you’ll need at least 2 days in Liechtenstein. It’s not boring and there is plenty to do.
DON’T WING YOUR 2 DAYS IN LIECHTENSTEIN
However, your 2 days in Liechtenstein will take some planning. Because Liechtenstein is so small and the tourists so few, you’ll find the window of opening times for the attractions (etc.) you want to visit are just as tiny. (Anyone else picturing a pie sitting on a window sill all cartoon-like, and the window slams shut just as your bunny nose gets near it? Just me?)
In Liechtenstein, you may find:
- sites and attractions closing around 4 or 5 pm, so you’ll really need to budget your time
- most things closed on Sundays, so save that day for your outdoor adventures?
- and many restaurants that aren’t even open on the weekends at all. I was just as shocked as you are. (However, Brasserie Burg is open late every day and their burgers are SO GOOD.)
Liechtenstein is always worth visiting, but to really get the most out of 2 days in Liechtenstein, you’ll want to plan ahead (and maybe pack some extra snacks). When planning my time in Liechtenstein—as I do with all my trips—I follow a general set of rules for maximizing my time in a new destination, and you can view that here. (Don’t worry, it’ll open in a new tab so you can check it out after you finish reading this.)
DO PICK UP A SWISS OUTLET ADAPTER
Oh, you thought your standard European outlet adapter was going to work in Liechtenstein because it is, indeed, a European country? Silly rabbit. Sure, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are part of the Schengen Area, and are located on the European continent, but they’re also both famously neutral. Hey, they have their own political agenda, why not have their own outlets too?
Swiss/Liechtensteiner outlets have their own unique shape that only a select few European adapters will fit into. And that’s only after trying every outlet in the room and basically just getting lucky. (This happened to me in both Switzerland and Liechtenstein this year.) Luckily, I was able to find one outlet I could shimmy my plug into but, had I not, the Residence Hotel has adapters on hand for weary, battery-drained travelers.
This is what Liechtenstein outlets look like:
So you’ll need an outlet adapter like this one if you’re planning to visit Liechtenstein and/or Switzerland. The good news is that the (2-prong) Swiss/Liechtenstein outlet adapter should fit into all the other European outlets.
DON’T EXPECT A BUDGET DESTINATION
Because where there are Swiss francs, there are people going “WAIT… HOW MUCH??!!”
If you’ve ever been to Switzerland, you know the sticker shock of which I speak. And, BFFs that they are, Liechtenstein is no different. It is the richest country per capita, after all. It does have one of the highest standards of living in the world. But I think it goes without saying, in Liechtenstein, you get what you pay for… and this place is noice!
Your 2 days in Liechtenstein will not be a budget trip, but it doesn’t have to be insanely expensive either. Many of Liechtenstein’s top activities (hiking and other outdoorsy things) are totally free and getting around via public transportation can also be…
To save some cash on your 2 days in Liechtenstein:
- book your hotel in as advance as possible
- share meals with fellow travelers (from my experiences, the meal portions in Liechtenstein are enormous)
- and definitely pick up an Adventure Pass to save money on all things sightseeing and for free public transportation all over the country.
DO PICK UP THE ADVENTURE PASS
Liechtenstein’s Adventure Pass is one piece of paper that saves you tons of money on sightseeing (and more) and gets you free access to public transportation all over the country so you’re not dropping francs on francs on francs. Plus, free wine. Uhh hello, no brainer? This is Ashley speaking.
- Free admission to Liechtenstein’s top attractions and museums – i.e., everything you’ll be doing there
- Free Liechtenstein passport stamp – the country’s most prized souvenir
- Some surprise free gifts
- Tons of free entertainment options
- Some free tours
- Free coffee and beer at various cafés and two free wines at the Prince of Liechtenstein’s winery
- Free admission to the bird of prey show at the Falknerei Hotel Galina (which I opted for over the winery because: I’ve tasted enough wines for the year, but what I haven’t had enough of are huge, terrifying birds devouring dead rats 🤘🏻
- Free transportation on the entire LIEmobil bus network that covers all of Liechtenstein as well as getting there from Switzerland and even into Austria.
And it’s super affordable.
The Adventure Pass can be purchased in Liechtenstein at the tourism office or ahead of time online (and by doing so you can use it to get free transportation from Switzerland before you even reach Liechtenstein). With it you can zip in and out of sites and zip around the country to maximize your time with none of the guilt.
Learn more about the Adventure Pass here.
Many thanks to Liechtenstein Tourism for providing me with an Adventure Pass so I could help relay the best ways to spend 2 days in Liechtenstein! As always, all opinions are my own.
DON’T JUST STAY IN VADUZ
Those visiting on a day trip to Liechtenstein may be forced to spend all their time in the capital due to time restrictions, but with 2 days in Liechtenstein you can get out and explore so much more of the country.
Vaduz is Liechtenstein’s capital and where most of the sights and museums are concentrated. However, the country, being as compact as it is, makes getting around super quick and easy. The LIEmobil buses are always on time to the minute, and you can get from Vaduz to either end of the country in less than 15 minutes. Can Disney World say that? Methinks not. *read that in Donald Duck’s voice for full effect* While you should spend a good amount of time in Vaduz, it’s outside the capital where you’ll experience the most Alpine-ness of this Alpine country.
You can head south to the city of Balzers and Gutenberg Castle–Liechtenstein’s other castle, the one you can actually visit. You can spend some time trekking with llamas (for real though!!) in Triesenberg, you can hike the Liechtenstein trail which covers the entire country, or do as I did and head up into the mountains in Malbun.
To follow in my damn I’m wearing the wrong shoes for this footsteps, use your Adventure Pass to take the 21 bus from Vaduz Post to Malbun Zentrum (the last stop on the line). From there, like, literally right where you get off the bus, take the chairlift to the top of the mountain. It’s fine; apparently chairlifts are a totally normal thing that people do even though they make no sense to me. From there you can head straight to lunch on the patio at Berggasthaus Sareis or, as I did, wander the trails for a while, cursing the fact that you didn’t book more time in Leichtenstein and taking in the amazing mountain views of Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and, oh hey Austria!
Afterwards, head back down and wander around adorable Malbun, fill up your water bottle with fresh Alpine water, make friends with some sheep, and eventually head to the bird of prey show for beers + birds. To return to Vaduz, just take the 21 bus from Malbun Zentrum back to Vaduz Post (the last stop). It could. not. be. easier.
Having fun exploring other parts of the country is the goal, but in all honesty, riding around Liechtenstein on the buses is entertainment enough. You’ll see so many amazing views, witness everyday life in Liechtenstein, and you may even get caught in cattle-related traffic jams. Even if you just ride the bus to the end of the line and back… totally worth it.
DO KNOW HOW TO GET INTO THE TREASURE CHAMBER
Hey guess what! Riding the chairlifts wasn’t the only time I almost peed myself in Liechtenstein! The second time was when I visited the Liechtenstein Treasure Chamber—which you totally have to do.
The Liechtenstein Treasure Chamber is a small museum that houses some of the most important of the country’s treasures: fine art, a huge collection on Fabergé eggs, medieval relics, literal moon rocks, and, naturally, the prince of Liechtenstein’s opulent crown.
Visiting the Treasure Chamber, as it’s so creepily-named, was on my list of places to visit during my 2 days in Liechtenstein, but I ended up doing so accidentally.
At the ticket counter inside the Liechtenstein National Museum (my intended target), I handed the employee my Adventure Pass and she handed me back a gold coin. I was told to take it to the building that’s two buildings down and I would know what to do. (Spoiler alert: I did not know what to do.)
The building she described was actually the Liechtenstein Treasure Chamber and inside the main entrance was a small vestibule like the kind that often hold ATMs and Chandler Bing during that blackout that one time. There was a box on the wall with a sign that said to insert the coin. (HOW DID THEY KNOWWWW)
I inserted the coin, having zero clue of what would happen next, and immediately the wall next to me opened up. Now I’ve seen enough sitcom murder mysteries to know that when a secret passageway opens up in the wall, you walk into it. So walk into it I did.
Just then the wall abruptly closed behind me, sealing me inside what was little more than a pitch black 4’ x 4’ room. Just as I was about to scream bloody murder, I was able to barely make out some writing on the wall that implied I wasn’t going to die a horrible death because another wall was about to open up. And open up it did.
The side wall of my tiny black cell opened up into, well, a slightly larger all-black room that was lit as dimly as possible yet filled with sparkly treasures. Though I could barely see where I was walking since my eyes hadn’t acclimated to the darkness yet, I was 100% sure I was in there alone. *Soo… I’ll just be taking this crown now kthanksbye….* Eventually an employee entered to answer my questions and, most likely, make sure I didn’t walk off with any priceless royal thingamabobs. To exit, I repeated the process on the other side.
All in all, the process of entering the super aptly-named Treasure Chamber is quick and painless IF YOU KNOW WHAT’S COMING. I get the bejeezus scared out of me on my travels so you don’t have to! You are welcome.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET YOUR PASSPORT STAMPED
As a frequent traveler, I love collecting passport stamps. In fact, if I had a treasure chamber, it’d be full of kickass passport stamps. Well, those and the picture of Charles Barkley and me that time we hung out at a bar and did not discuss our golf swings.
Though there is no official border crossing to get from Switzerland to Liechtenstein (as well as no airport or train station in which to arrive), you can still get your passport stamped there. And it is cu-ute! Getting a Liechtenstein passport stamp is easy—just pay 3 CHF at the Liechtenstein tourism office and they’ll stamp it for you (or just use your Adventure Pass and get it fo’ free).
Was I a little nervous to get my passport stamped in Liechtenstein? Yes, and here’s why: you may have read that certain “souvenir” passport stamps can potentially invalidate your passport seeing as how it’s an official government document that’s not to be fiddled with. Such “souvenir” passport stamps include the likes of the ones you can get at Macchu Pichu in Peru, “Checkpoint Charlie” in Berlin, the Equator in Ecuador, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Wales, and more. (That’s a literal town in Wales, not my cat walking over the keyboard.)
Page 5 of the United States passport expressly states “This passport must not be altered or mutilated in any way. Alteration could make the passport invalid, and if willful, may subject you to prosecution. Only authorized officials of the United States or foreign countries may place stamps…in this passport.”
Now I don’t know about you, but I’m keen on keeping the U.S. Government on my side. More importantly, I’ve heard accounts of people having trouble entering foreign countries when these “souvenir” stamps were discovered in their passports—stamps that can be seen as “forgeries.” Like, after they’d already flown there. (For what it’s worth, these accounts have always centered around travel to China, Russia, and Finland.)
However, while these rules may apply to the souvenir passport stamps of Easter Island, the DMZ, the Galapagos Islands, the South Pole, and the End of the World in Argentina, et al, visitors to Liechtenstein have little to worry about. Though the Liechtenstein passport stamp is given inside the tourist information center, and for a fee at that, the Liechtenstein tourism office has a government decree allowing them to give out the passport stamp.
Given this information, you shouldn’t have any problems with a passport stamp from Liechtenstein (as I know many people who have them). As for the others, maybe stamp an old passport? Stamp some other piece of paper? After all, this is an official government passport, not a sticker book from the Magic Kingdom. At the very least, get more information. All I can say is, if my ass travels to the South Pole, you can bet your beluga I’m getting proof of it.
DO WALK OVER TO SWITZERLAND
Why? Because you can. Vaduz lies right on the border of Liechtenstein and Switzerland and just a few minutes’ walk will take you across.
A short walk along a quiet creek and past some cow pastures will take you to Alte Rhinebrücke, the old bridge over the Rhine River. This covered bridge dates back to 1901 and is the only remaining wooden bridge over the Rhine. The bridge is entirely vehicle-free (but not livestock-free so look out for poo) and you can get a shot of yourself standing in two countries at once because you’re a huge dork who’s totally into that stuff.
DO HIKE UP TO VADUZ CASTLE
Also from the center of Vaduz, you can hike up to Vaduz Castle, where my bro Hans lives. Because the Prince of Liechtenstein actually lives in Vaduz Castle, you can’t go inside. I guess all that “Love is open dooooor!” stuff was just nonsense. However, you can get up close.
From the town center, follow the road up Beckagässli, to the left of Brasserie Burg. From there, simply follow the signs towards the Schloss. From the center, the walk will take you about 18 minutes. Along the way there are amazing viewpoints and informational signage about Liechtenstein, the castle, and the royal family. The path up to Vaduz Castle is super steep, gravely, and full of dirt so make sure you wear some decent shoes.
At the castle, you can walk around the property and look at it all from the outside in (for now, mwahaha!). Up here you can get great shots of the castle as well as of Vaduz from up above.
DO TRY LOCAL CUISINE
Liechtenstein being the Alpine country that it is means one very important thing… CHEESE!
During your 2 days in Liechtenstein, don’t leave without trying such signature foods as:
- Käsknöpfle—a kind of traditional cheese pasta along the lines of spätzle in Germany or, well, macaroni and cheese here at home (only way better)
- Ribel—a cornmeal based dish, similar to polenta, important dish among the country’s poor of Yore.
- Wursts, schnitzels, various smoked meats—because Alps
- And my personal favorite, Rösti—fancy Swiss name for ‘giant hash brown’
On the patio of the mountainside restaurant Berggasthaus Sareis, I had rösti mit käse for lunch—basically a huge hash brown that’s covered in raclette (or as they call it, “mountain cheese”) and baked. It’s greasy, it’s stinky, it’s incredible. Add in a view of the Alps and you’ll totally forget the fact that your lunch smells like feet.
DON’T EXPECT A LOT OF CROWDS
Overtourism got you down? Liechtenstein may just be what you need.
While much of Europe (Venice, Paris, Prague, for example) continues to suffer the devastating effects of overtourism, certain other places are quite the opposite. Forget about the shoulder to shoulder crowds in Paris, worry not about the long, long lines in Rome, and avoid the terrible trash problem of Lisbon. Liechtenstein is a breath of fresh air on so many levels.
One way to combat overtourism is by traveling during a destination’s offseason. Another way is to visit the lesser known parts of the world. Liechtenstein, for instance. During your 2 days in Liechtenstein, you won’t have to wait in a single line, you’ll have more than enough elbow room everywhere you go, you can breathe fresh air in a wondrously clean country where sometimes the only sound you’ll hear are cowbells. There’s no trash, no crowds, no scam artists, no having to stand on packed buses, no pollution, no fighting for photographs, and no reason to not visit Liechtenstein.
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