When deliberating where to travel now, you may likely have overlooked a small Alpine microstate tucked in between Austria and Switzerland. Liechtenstein may only be 62 square miles large but make no mistake. The economy has flourished thanks to banking, international business, and prospering industries, making it one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Liechtenstein is likewise rich in natural beauty. The towering European Alps keep watch over picturesque villages and rolling green valleys, eventually resting their gaze upon the mighty Rhine river. In the capital city of Vaduz, modern architecture accents the charm of classical buildings still standing. In the Alpine villages, tradition is a reminder of their agrarian heritage. You can do Liechtenstein in a day, but why sell yourself short when this tiny country is bursting with life and culture waiting to be discovered?
Vaduz's unique blend of modern and traditional design and values reminds citizens of how much their country has prospered without compromising their heritage. Visit the Prince's castle, perched on a hillside overlooking the entirety of Liechtenstein and the upper Rhine Valley. Visitors are welcome to hike to the viewpoint next to the fairytale castle for jaw-dropping views. You may not be able to tour the royal home's interior, but you can experience the magnificent view for free. Every August 15, the castle grounds are opened to the public for Liechtenstein's National Day. Attendees can mingle with other partygoers and enjoy complimentary beer and an appearance by the Prince himself.
Liechtenstein's climate is perfect for growing some of the best wines in the Rhine Valley. You can find wine tasting venues at several vineyards in the country, but the most notable is the Hofkellerei, the Princely Wine Cellar in Vaduz. It may not be the most affordable wine tasting in the region, but it is a rare experience to have a taste of any royal family's stash of wine, much less tour their cellars and vineyards. Visit their website for more information on tasting options, and to browse the menu for food pairings.
While you're in Vaduz, don't forget to stop at the Old Bridge. Constructed in 1901, this impressive wooden structure stretches over the Rhine River into Sevelen, Switzerland. The bridge is closed to automobile traffic, which makes it a great route for cycling or walking if the weather permits. Take your time while spanning the distance of this covered walkway to marvel at its construction. Overhead, the tunnel's ceiling is a network of wooden beams that elegantly holds the structure together. Don't forget to stop at the border demarcation line inside the tunnel for a unique selfie.
The Red House in Vaduz is an icon that dates back to medieval times. Ownership of this beautiful building has changed often over the years and was even the site of the Saint Johann Monastery at one point. It isn't hard to understand why after only a few short minutes at this picturesque spot. Forested hills are a stunning backdrop for the bright red stone house overlooking lush vineyards. The home underwent renovations in the 18th century, and the addition of a steeple resulted in the Red House's now-familiar silhouette. Pack a picnic lunch and plan to spend a few hours relishing the peaceful setting.
In 2019, Liechtenstein celebrated its 300th birthday with special events, fireworks, and the inauguration of the Liechtenstein Trail. This hiking route features over 100 of the country's most important sites and natural wonders in one 'greatest hits' collection. Start your trek from any of the 11 municipalities and follow the trail's markers as it guides you through vineyards, pastures, mountain villages, and along the banks of the Rhine River. The trail is just under 50 miles long, making it possible to walk across the entire country in only a few days.
Liechtenstein in the summertime is perfect for hiking in the Alps and enjoying long-distance views. There are many scenic hikes to enjoy, but the ski resort village of Malbun features Liechtenstein's only eagle hike. The Falconry Galina is home to several well-known birds of prey, and their family-friendly hike is a rare chance to accompany the golden eagle in its natural habitat. Check the falconry's website for booking and seasonal information.
Whether you are in town for skiing, hiking, or beautiful vistas, the Joch Pass is a great stop to stretch your legs and enjoy the natural beauty of Liechtenstein. Visitors can walk the old mule trail to this Alpine Mountain Pass, or they can take a quick ride up on the chairlift. Open during the summer and winter, the Joch Pass chairlift is the perfect opportunity for a 360-degree view of the Uri Alps and surrounding villages. At the top of the pass, you have access to the mountain ridge trail that runs along the Austrian border. Take a breather at the cafe and warm up with a hot drink before returning down to the valley floor.
In addition to stunning scenery and a thriving economy, Liechtenstein boasts a strong tradition in arts and crafts. Schädler Pottery is the oldest workshop in the country. Located in Nendeln, the artisans here continue the age-old methods of creating ceramic crockery, traditional works of art, and tiled stoves. For a close look at the potters and ceramic painters at work, schedule a guided tour of the workshop. You'll witness the production of tiles and other artworks as they go from the potter's wheel to the kiln. The best part? The tours are free of charge as long as you have a reservation. Make sure you support these artists by selecting a piece to take home as a souvenir.
While touring the vibrant landscapes of Liechtenstein, the natural blending of modern and traditional design often gives way to unexpected sights. The ruins at Schellenberg are no exception; the remains of these castles are just as breathtaking as the Prince's fortress perched atop Vaduz. You can find the larger ruins of the 13th century 'Upper Castle' in the Hinterschloss area of Schellenberg. Imagine that you are traveling back in time as you walk the crumbling halls of this historic site, and feast on a well-deserved picnic lunch along the stone walls before heading to the 'Lower Castle.' Both sites are free to visit and roam, so bring the whole family or someone special to share the sunset with.
If you decide to plan an autumn trip to this Alpine wonderland, try your best to be in Triesenberg for the annual Liechtenstein Festival, or Triesenberger Wochen. Each year from mid-October to the end of November, local eateries pull out all the stops to serve some of the most delicious and authentic traditional cuisines in the region. These tasty dishes reflect centuries-old recipes that came from the Walser region of Germany, including creamy pasta and Öpfelchüachli, sweet apple-flavored doughnuts. Delight your taste buds as you sway to local music and laugh with the community. Vaduz is less than four miles away, but consider staying in town for the jovial atmosphere and gorgeous landscapes.