A day trip to Liechtenstein – the royal gem of Europe

This is the story of our travel to one of the smallest countries in Europe. As with many small things, Liechtenstein turned out to be a real gem and we want to share how we visited it in summer 2020, without any planning beforehand in a mixed party of kids and adults. You can do a day trip to Liechtenstein from Switzerland, Austria, and even Germany (as we did) by just driving in. And the fairytale shall soon begin.

A day trip in Liechtenstein: view of Vaduz Castle

Arriving in Switzerland

In order to get to Liechtenstein by car, you will enter from Austria or Switzerland. Switzerland and Liechtenstein form a common economic area, so you will use Swiss francs for payments. Liechtenstein’s customs union with Switzerland dominate its foreign policies, however, Liechtenstein is part of the European Economic Area (EEA).

If we cut the politics and take a look at nature, it was quite impossible for us to realize we’re already in Liechtenstein – because the jagged mountains and endless green meadows with happy cows are easy to be confused with those in Switzerland.

A day trip in Liechtenstein

Welcome to Liechtenstein

As soon as we passed the “Welcome to Principality of Liechtenstein” sign, we celebrated entering country number 78 and headed to our first destination for the day – the Vaduz Castle. The Alps were greeting us so we opened the windows of the car to breathe in the fresh air.

We had prepared some points of interest on an offline map because we knew data roaming could be tricky. Liechtenstein is part of EEA so you can use your mobile as in any other EEA country, but Switzerland is not, so the mobile tariffs are crazy. The thing is, because of the proximity with Switzerland, you never know which operator you’ll connect to when in Liechtenstein. We even have some 80-euro-bill to prove that. So yeah – prepare with offline maps.

A day trip in Liechtenstein: view of Vaduz Castle

Vaduz Castle

Vaduz Castle is the palace and the official residence of the Prince of Vaduz. It’s closed to the public (unless you’re invited by the Prince or his family) or you visit on August 15 (Liechtenstein National Day) – when a huge celebration is organized around the castle and every Liechtensteiner and guest are invited to meet the Princely Family. The castle gave the name to the capital of Liechtenstein – Vaduz. No wonder the castle occupies so many postcards and photos from Liechtenstein. We had to see for ourselves, so we climbed the hilltop (with the cars, but many people opt to hike up).

Schloss Vaduz was built in the Middle Ages and it stands majestic and renovated, proud, and overlooking the city of Vaduz. You can snap photos of it from many different places, you can hike some of the wonderful routes nearby, or even bike others. When we visited in August, the surroundings were so green, contrasting to the castle, and the sun shining over – we could easily spend hours in the area. We’ve seen magical photos from winter times when the surrounding peaks turn white, so we believe Vaduz Castle is just as magical at any season.

Vaduz Castle, Liechtenstein

Letzi hike

As we wanted to explore more with our group, we chose the shortest hike – to Letzi, which was supposed to take about 10 minutes from the castle. It was kid-friendly and it only took us less than an hour in both directions, but we don’t mind – surrounded by green, met some friendly fluffy sheep, reached an old hut, and had many opportunities for photos walking in the green tunnels.

A day trip in Liechtenstein

Red House

If you’re in the Mitteldorf area or coming down from Vaduz Castle, you’ll probably notice a medieval masterpiece of architecture with a red facade. This is the famous Red House, which is someone’s house so you won’t see it from the inside (unless, of course, you’re friends with the owners). It has impressive gabled stairs and a tower, so dream on – imagine being royalty in this famous Liechtenstein attraction.

A day trip in Liechtenstein, the Red House

The vineyards of Hofkellerei (Cellars of the Prince of Liechtenstein)

Speaking of royalties, we arrive at one of the most beautiful vineyards we’ve seen – those of the cellars of the Prince of Liechtenstein. You can walk (or bike) on the pathway between the rows of vines, reading the story of winemaking in the region, smelling the roses, absorbing the views. Such a treat to all the senses. It could be romantic, playful, magical – and it comes free of charge.

We noticed the wine-tasting options, but as we thought we didn’t have enough time, we headed to the center of Vaduz to explore the city.

A walk in the center of Vaduz

By the early afternoon we got plenty of clouds and rain was coming so we decided to grab a bite and relax a bit. Anyway, in the meantime, some of us managed to walk on the main pedestrian street of Vaduz, home to many interesting museums (maybe for the next time, if the weather enforces it) – Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Schatzkammer Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein National Museum, the beautiful Neo-Gothic St. Florin Cathedral, and the Parliament building. If you pass the Liechtenstein Tourist Info Center, you can get some souvenirs, a map of the country with its highlights, and the passport stamp. The last made a pretty good souvenir from Liechtenstein (cost: 3 francs).

Vaduz city center, Liechtenstein

Vaduz Citytrain

We thought the city train would be more of a highlight for the kids, but one could never guess who enjoyed it more! It was raining quite a bit when we boarded, we had a whole compartment for our company, and the party began. As the train moves around the city of Vaduz, the audioguide complements the experience with some historical notes and good stories. Our favorite was the traditional music that was played, which empowered us for a happy train dance and song.

The train tour takes about 35 minutes and passes all the major landmarks of the capital, together with some charming living areas with beautiful houses, the Rhein river itself, and the Rheinpark Stadion – the national stadium of Liechtenstein. Vaduz Citytrain offers other customized tours, for more info and timings: here.

The old wooden bridge over the Rhine river

As soon as we drove near the old wooden bridge, we knew we had to stop to snap a few photos. Alte Rheinbrücke is a 135-meter-long bridge that connects Vaduz and Sevelen municipalities. It was built and 1901 and rebuilt once, and now it’s forbidden for motor vehicles so you can walk or bike it.

The old wooden bridge over Rhine river, Liechtenstein

Wine tasting in Cellars of the Prince of Liechtenstein

As our day trip in Liechtenstein was coming to an end, we knew how to do the perfect closure – with a winetasting. So we headed again to Hofkellerei and entered just 10 minutes before their closing time. As sommeliers are always the best people in the world, they were kind enough to arrange a quick tasting for us, we got to learn about the grape varieties, terroirs of Liechtenstein (perfect for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) and Austria, tried a few amazing wines, and of course – got the best souvenirs from Liechtenstein!

We highly recommend a winetasting session at the cellars of the Prince of Liechtenstein! When we visited in august 2020, it cost only 9 francs per person. You can check their opening times here.

So this was the itinerary for our day trip to Liechtenstein. There are many more things to discover in this beautiful small country, but let’s leave something for the next time. You may have noticed that you can see and experience quite a lot even for a day, even with kids. Well, the weather definitely helped us (even when it was bad). Auf Wiedersehen, Fürstentum Liechtenstein!

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