Why travel to Liechtenstein?
Europe and its microstates: Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Malta, the Vatican, and finally Liechtenstein!
Liechtenstein is one of the smallest and richest countries in the world and at the same time one of the few existing somehow real monarchies on this planet. Its uniqueness but also compactness make Liechtenstein a very interesting destination in the Alps between Switzerland and Austria and ideal for a short day trip. Let me tell you a bit more about what Liechtenstein is like its history, fun facts and what you have to see when you visit the 4th smallest country in the world.
All you need to know about Liechtenstein!
Liechtenstein is a country of about only 38,000 inhabitants. The official language is German and the locals speak the Liechtensteiner accent and the country itself is about 300 years old.
Why does such a small state exist in the heart of Europe?
It all goes back to when Europe, or rather German-speaking Europe, was divided into many many different small or big different kingdoms and duchies. All of them were somewhat loosely connected in the North German Confederation.
Eventually, most of those territories were now concretely unified into a real state, either becoming a part of the newly formed German Empire or as a part of Austria. Only little Liechtenstein did not choose to do so as well and stayed independent since then.
Liechtenstein reorientated its focus from Germany to Switzerland and therefore chose to further cooperate with Switzerland in the future in many areas, such as what is today most visible: Liechtenstein uses the Swiss Franc as its currency and its borders are controlled by the Swiss Border Control.
Still, since the rise of an interconnected Europe in the past decades, Liechtenstein also chose to cooperate economically with other countries in Europe being a member of the European Economic Area, although it is no member of the European Union.
Now, what makes Liechtenstein so unique?
Liechtenstein is a hereditary monarchy on a democratic basis since 1921. You might think: Well, what’s the matter? There are dozens of monarchies in Europe… the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark.
Although this is true, there is one little exceptional detail. Liechtenstein is a modern democracy, where everyone above 18 years has the right to vote, they have a parliament and also a Prime Minister.
But, it also is a real monarchy, and in comparison to (more or less) all other monarchies in Europe, the Liechtensteiner monarch, Hans-Adam II. , has real authority, power and competencies.
The Prince of Liechtenstein Hans Adam II. has many powers such as blocking new laws, dissolving the parliament and vetoing decisions of the government.
It also has to be said that uniquely, the people can also vote out the monarch which makes it even more special.
The Royal Family of Liechtenstein is one of the richest in the whole world and also the country itself is very wealthy compared to other European countries, as it has one of the highest GDPs per capita. It has a strong economy and is a haven for (maybe shady) capital, with one or the other financial scandal.
This is a huge leap because Liechtenstein used to be a very poor country consisting of mainly farmers and agriculture.
That was a bit of a background about the country itself. Now, let me tell you a bit more about what to see, what to do and what I enjoyed most when visiting Liechtenstein so that you are prepared when travelling to this country!
What to see and do in Liechtenstein
Because Liechtenstein is so tiny and compact, you can most likely see all the big sights within a day. There are a handful of towns and villages in Liechtenstein with Vaduz beings it’s capital. You could also for sure spend a weekend or so there to fully immerse yourself into its culture, but keep in mind that generally everything, thus also hotels or Airbnbs, is very expensive!
The Liechtenstein castle is where the Prince of Liechtenstein, Hans-Adam II., lives and it is located right on top of Vaduz, providing you with a great view over all of the town, the Rhine, Switzerland and the Alps.
We got there by taking the free city bus and continued walking a short steep hiking path for about 10 minutes to the castle.
Unfortunately one cannot enter the castle as it is the private property of the Royal Family but you can still take awesome pictures from up there. The view on Vaduz and quite literally the whole country up to Switzerland and the mountains is just fantastic.
The Parliament and Government Building of Liechtenstein
The Liechtensteiner Parliament and Government Building are perhaps one of the smallest you will ever see! Both are located in Vaduz and it’s just so awesome to see such significant institutions in a town that is not much bigger than a village. The architecture is quite pretty and fascinating and everything feels very close and local to some extent because in other countries I could usually never get so close to a parliament or government building and especially not without any police or security staff as it is in Liechtenstein’s capital Vaduz.
The Alps – Liechtenstein between mountains!
With Liechtenstein being an alpine country, you must make sure to enjoy these glorious mountains. If you want to get out of the city of Vaduz you could for example plan a trip to Malbun, which is located in the mountains themselves or just simply plan a hiking tour in the Alps.
The Rhine is a river I am very much familiar with as a German, as it flows mainly through Germany. But, its spring is in the Alps and it flows as well through Liechtenstein, serving as well as the name of Liechtenstein’s National Anthem «Oben am jungen Rhein» which translates to «Up the young rhine» (It’s also the same melody as the British Anthem, by the way).
It’s really gorgeous, just look at the picture!
The Old Rhine Bridge
Make sure to cross the border to Switzerland on the Old Rhine Bridge. You do literally cross the border in the middle of the bridge, which is on its own quite remarkable, as it is over one hundred years old and made out of wood.
Trips to surrounding countries
Liechtenstein is located between Austria and Switzerland and is not very far away from Lake Constance and Germany. Therefore, if you have enough time, it is an awesome idea to spend some time in those countries as there are just a half an hour drive away from Liechtenstein.
Liechtenstein is the ideal destination for a short day trip or even visiting it on a weekend. Do you to plan to visit it or already have been there? Let me know in the comments down below!
I recently also visited Budapest in Hungary, make sure to check this blog post out as well for more travel inspiration! 🙂
See you next time!