Do you think that country-bagging is the only reason to visit Liechtenstein? Think again.
On a day trip to Liechtenstein from Feldkirch in Austria as part of an Interrail trip from London to Budapest, I quickly discovered that this tiny principality is more than just cowbells and questionable bank accounts.
Fancy finding out more? Get the lowdown on how to get there and discover my favourite things to do in Vaduz, its diminutive capital.
Getting to Know Liechtenstein
Where is it?
Liechtenstein is sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland. After Vatican City, Monaco and San Marino, it is the 4th smallest country in the world. It is roughly the size of Washington DC or one-tenth the area of Greater London.
It has one of the lowest crime levels worldwide.
Although the official language is German, English is widely spoken.
The official currency is the Swiss Franc but Euros and credit cards are widely accepted. Liechtenstein is an expensive destination.
How to Get to Vaduz, Liechtenstein
The bus is your best friend in Liechtenstein.
It has one railway line connecting Switzerland to Austria which is not particularly useful. This makes limited stops at only three stations: Schaan, Forst Hilti and Nendeln. If you decide to take a day trip to Vaduz by train, you must alight at Schaan and take a bus from here.
FROM FELDKIRCH, AUSTRIA
I stayed in the lovely old town of Feldkirch and caught bus #11 to Vaduz (terminates at Sargans). The journey time is 50 minutes and the bus drops you off at Vaduz Poste, from where it’s a 2-minute walk to the Tourist Information Centre.
Pay the driver with cash or contactless card. You can check the timetable here.
FROM ZURICH, SWITZERLAND
Liechtenstein is a rewarding day trip from Zurich. You are looking at a journey time of 90 – 120 minutes.
The easiest way to get there is to catch a train to Sargans, just south of the Swiss-Liechtenstein border. From here, jump on bus #11 (direction Feldkirch) or the express bus #12E (direction Vaduz)
What to Do in Vaduz in One Day
As this is probably the smallest capital you will ever visit, getting around is not a problem. Anywhere you want to visit can be reached on foot.
That said, free bike hire is available and there’s a kooky city train that makes 35-minute circuits of Vaduz.
Make the Liechtenstein Center your first stop of the day. This Tourist Information centre has free maps and you can perch on its fake throne for the ultimate selfie.
1. Visit Liechtenstein’s spiritual heart
Built between 1868 and 1873, the Neo-Gothic Parish Church of St. Florin is Vaduz’s cathedral. What it lacks in grandeur, it makes up with in charm.
It was designed by the Austrian architect Friedrich von Schmidt and is known for the magnificent stained glass windows that form a backdrop to its gilded altar. The Princely Vault, at the rear of the cathedral, is the final resting place of the members of the Prince’s House.
2. Cross the border into Switzerland (and back again)
Alter Rheinbrücke, or the Old Rhine Bridge, is a pedestrian/cyclist-only covered wooden bridge linking the municipality of Vaduz with that of Sevelen in Switzerland. Completed in 1901 and 135 meters in length, it is the sole surviving wooden bridge across the Rhine.
3. Pick your favourite statue
The area around the main pedestrian drag of Städtle has been transformed into an open-air sculpture gallery. It features works by Fernando Botero and Nag Arnoldi amongst others.
I loved this sculpture by Gunther Stilling.
4. Get stamped in Liechtenstein
Adding a Principality of Liechtenstein stamp to your passport is one of the most popular things to do in Vaduz. Liechtenstein does not operate border checks and this is a souvenir stamp, not an official one.
There have been reports of souvenir stamps considered a mutilation of a passport. The Department of State advises against US citizens buying novelty stamps such as these.
But if you want to go ahead, the Liechtenstein Center will do the deed for a modest fee.
5. Climb to Vaduz Castle
Take the (very) steep pathway opposite the Rathaus to the place Prince Hans-Adam II likes to call home. Although you cannot visit Vaduz castle, your reward for huffing and puffing your way up the hill is sensational views across the city and the Rhine Valley beyond.
Vaduz Castle started life as a fortress in the 12th Century and came into the hands of the Princely family in 1712. On August 15th each year, the Prince opens his doors for the National Day celebration where cheese and wine are served.
6. Help the Prince drink his wine
Wine lovers aren’t short-changed when visiting Liechtenstein. The Prince of Liechtenstein Winery in Vaduz produces excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the grapes grown in the Herawingert vineyards, one of the best grape-growing regions of the Rhine Valley.
Although I was gutted to learn that the Princely Cellars (Hofkellerei) were closed on my day in Vaduz, it wasn’t difficult to find a restaurant that served the sublime local Pinot Noir.
7. Try Käsknöpfle
You have to love a country whose national dish is a twist on macaroni cheese. This delicious delight is made from short tubes of pasta smothered in cheese sauce and topped with fried onion slivers. It is served with a side of apple puree.
Your coronary artery will be screaming for mercy.
8. Take a look at the Red House
It’s easy to understand how this distinctive building got its name.
Although the Red House dates back to 1338, the dark-red colour is a 19th Century addition. Since 1807, the building has been the private residence of the Rheinbergher family. It is not possible to view the interior
9. Stroll through the Mittledorf
The walk from the Red House back to the city centre takes you along the charming streets of Mitteldorf. Old houses line the narrow streets of this historic village and there are some of the best views of Vaduz Castle.
10. Visit one (or more) of the museums in Vaduz
Vaduz punches above its weight when it comes to museums. If you are looking for a cultural experience or a rainy day activity, here is the pick of the best.
State collection of the Principality of Liechtenstein. Modern and contemporary art.
Liechtenstein National Museum, chronicling the country’s history and culture.
Detailing the postal history of Liechtenstein.
Is it Worth Taking a Day trip to Liechtenstein?
Vaduz is worth visiting as an addition to your Austria or Switzerland itinerary.
Set in a valley ringed by snow-capped peaks, it packs a punch considering its diminutive size. It has a clutch of cultural attractions and is home to some of the friendliest locals in Europe.
Curiosity and country-bagging may lure you to Liechtenstein. Vaduz’s relaxed vibe and scenic surroundings will tempt you to linger for longer.
Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.
Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.
To get in touch, email her at email@example.com or follow her on social media.