Liechtenstein (or the Principality of Liechtenstein) is the sixth smallest country in the world (160 km²), and it is double landlocked between Austria and Switzerland — and also uses the Swiss Franc as its currency. Its capital, Vaduz, is also home to the head of its constitutional monarchy, the Prince of Liechtenstein. The spoken language is an Alemannic dialect and there are only 11 municipalities with a total population of around 37 000 people.
When planning our day trip to Liechtenstein, I had a little trouble finding what the best itinerary would be. So, to help others plan their visit to this beautiful country, I figured I would share our experience.
Here is my itinerary for a day in Liechtenstein (we did it by car, but it’s probably feasible to do by public transport).
After about a two hour drive from Innsbruck, we started off by visiting the castle ruins in Schellenberg. The ruins date back to the 13th century. There are two sets of ruins, “Obere Burg”, the larger of the two ruins, and “Untere Burg”, the smaller of the two. It is thought that these two castles were inhabited until the 16th century, after which they were abandoned.
If ever you are in the mood for a beautiful, serene hike, there are also many walking trails around both castle ruins.
After visiting the ruins, we headed to Vaduz, the capital. In Vaduz, there are many museums you can visit. We decided to only visit one, the Liechtenstein National Museum, which houses artefacts showing the history of Liechtenstein, and also has a nice natural history collection. We only had time to visit this museum (and I have a penchant for history more than art), but if ever you have the time, the Museum of Fine Arts (Kuntsmuseum) is probably worth a visit. Near the museums, you also have quite a few gift shops and the Liechtenstein tourist information centre if ever you want more information on what there is to see in the capital. A couple of noteworthy buildings in the city centre are the Cathedral of Vaduz and the government buildings, which are quite interesting architecturally.
The main sight in my opinion is Vaduz Castle. Although you can’t visit the castle since it is the residence of the current Prince of Liechtenstein, it is a nice hike from the centre of town up to the castle, and the castle itself is quite a sight. The castle was constructed in the 12th century and became the property of the Princely family in 1712. It was renovated in the early 20th century, and became the official place of residence of the Prince and his family in 1939.
After visiting Vaduz, we headed to Balzers, the southernmost municipality of the country, to visit Gutenberg Castle. This castle was built in the Middle Ages and stands on a steep 70 meter hill — which we decided to climb straight up instead of taking the pedestrian path (I don’t think we were supposed to go up that way, but hey, it was an adventure!). The castle chapel and the rose garden are open to the public only in the summer, so unfortunately we were not able to visit them, but the bailey (courtyard) is open year round. This castle was the perfect end to our day in Liechtenstein as it showed the rich history of this small country.
So just to recap, here are my top things to do in Liechtenstein:
- Stop by the Schellenberg ruins
- Hike the Schellenberg walking trails
- Explore Vaduz
- Visit the Liechtenstein National Museum (and other museums if you have the time!)
- Hike up to Vaduz Castle
- Go check out Gutenberg Castle
If you think I missed anything important during my day in Liechtenstein, let me know in the comments below!