We love places that aren’t filled with tourists. Those wonderful small towns where you can find yourself alone on a street in the middle of the day or have a restaurant all to yourself. And we’ve found that these gems often have the most interesting history and some truly stunning scenery. Our winter stop in Liechtenstein, a very small country in central Europe, held true to this theory.
This 300-year-old country – one of the smallest in the world – had much more to offer than we ever could have imagined. We are so thankful we made a short, but extremely relaxing and romantic stop in the Principality of Liechtenstein on our way from Zurich to Salzburg. (Liechtenstein shares land borders with Switzerland and Austria.)
Unique Activities for a Taste of Liechtenstein in Vaduz
Like many times before, we ended up using a city pass to explore Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, and the surrounding area. However, this is by far our favorite pass yet – and was really affordable at only 25 Swiss francs.
Not only did the Liechtenstein Museum and Adventure Pass give us access to the bus system – which was an activity in itself – it also included a wide variety of options that really made us feel like we got a taste for everything Liechtenstein has to offer.
Luckily, we were able to start exploring right away by storing our bags in some inexpensive lockers near the bus station. (One locker fit both of our big bags and two small bags). This tip from the tourist office really saved the day and allowed us to save some precious exploring time by not going all the way up the mountain to our hotel and back!
Plus, while at the tourist office, our helpful new friend made sure to give us the iconic Liechtenstein Passport stamp – also included with our pass. This is a fun touristy thing to do to prove you made it to this unique place!
Museum Hopping in Liechtenstein
Our pass got us into the Treasure Chamber, National Museum, and the Hilti Art Foundation. The Postmuseum is also included but it was closed for renovations during our visit.
We recommend going into the National Museum (Landesmuseum) first, since this is where you will pick up the coins you need to enter the Treasure Chamber and the Postmuseum is near the exit of that.
The National Museum gives a look at Liechtenstein’s history through artifacts. And the building itself dates back to 1438 – having formerly been the princely tavern, a customs house, and the seat of the government.
Going into the Treasure Chamber felt very special. We entered through a multi-door process and were escorted by a guard. He stayed in the room as we admired the various pieces – including many from the personal collection of the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein (Prince Hans-Adam II).
The walls, floor, and ceiling of the room were dark, making the lit-up glass cases feel that much fancier. While not very big, this is definitely worth the short stop. We enjoyed the Fabergé eggs and moon rocks the most!
Then we rounded out our museum tour at the Kunstmuseum (one of the multiple art museums included with our pass). It had a large and very modern exhibit by Yuri Albert with some very unique pieces.
Before continuing on to our more active part of our visit, we stopped at the well-rated and very yummy ‘Made in Italy’, an Italian restaurant with some great lunch deals. Oh, and we stopped in the gorgeous nearby church as well.
Climbing to the Vaduz Castle
After a quick stop to pick up the complimentary magnet souvenirs that came with our pass, we began the short hike up to the castle. There is a well-marked, curving path that keeps you from going onto other people’s property.
One of the most interesting things we learned about Liechtenstein is that the royal family interacts with the town like locals. They do their own grocery shopping and can be seen out and about like any of the other inhabitants – they just happen to live in a gorgeous castle above the town.
On the way up, you can read the signs along the trail to learn more about the castle and the family.
Since this is their home, you can’t take a look inside. But the walk up there is lovely and provides amazing views of the town below and the surrounding mountainous landscape. Well worth the steep climb!
While the castle views are gorgeous, one of the most scenic places we visited on our short trip was the Prince of Liechtenstein Winery. Of course, we couldn’t miss this unique winery owned by the royal family! Plus, we weren’t going to pass up on the free wine tasting included with our pass – a top tourist attraction here, but happily not busy when we visited!
Their soil is perfect for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. And there are other wines brought in from the family’s other vineyards. The Blanc and Herawingert Pinot Noirs we tried in this beautiful setting were fantastic!
This was a nice, relaxing way to end our tour of Vaduz before taking the bus up, up, up to our hotel in Malbun – about 30 minutes away. (P.S. The public transportation in this beautiful small country is great!)
A Romantic Night in Malbun
We had desperately been wanting some good snow for this trip, and going up to the winter wonderland in the mountainous area of Malbun did not disappoint. We loved staying in this sleepy little ski town in off-season at the wonderful Hotel Turna & Restaurant.
When we arrived, there was no one else on the main road – just a gorgeous snowy landscape all to ourselves. And we could continue to admire the stunning views from our hotel room, thankful the weather conditions worked out perfectly.
We really enjoyed this place, had a nice dinner – then breakfast the following morning – in the on-site restaurant, and loved the kind staff who always made sure to check on us during meals. It was just a lovely place overall and a much-needed romantic break from our go-go-go schedule of Christmas Market hopping all December.
We were sad to leave the next day, but know we will be back. The many trails and gorgeous scenery in the summer months are beckoning us already! It seems like there will be plenty of outdoor activities awaiting us! Maybe we will even try the 75-km Liechtenstein Trail …
FAQ for Visiting Liechtenstein
What is the official language of Liechtenstein?
German is the official language of Liechtenstein, and most locals speak this language.
What currency is used in Liechtenstein?
The domestic currency of Liechtenstein is the Swiss Franc. This is also the currency of nearby Switzerland.
Is Liechtenstein part of the EU?
No, Liechtenstein is not part of the European Union, however, it is part of the European Economic Area and the United Nations. It is also part of the Schengen area.
What is Liechtenstein known for?
Liechtenstein is known for being a winter sports resort as well as being a tax haven. The Liechtenstein economy is also very wealthy and it is knowns as one of the world’s richest countries! However, it doesn’t have an international airport.
How can you get to Liechtenstein from the United States?
The easiest way to get to Liechtenstein is to fly into a bordering country and take a train or bus into the country. U.S. citizens and Canadian citizens should be able to enter with just a passport.
Special thanks to Liechtenstein Marketing for providing us with the tips and great Liechtenstein Museum and Adventure Pass that really made our trip extra special! As always, all opinions are our own.
Read more about our Europe travels here. And to learn how we traveled in Europe for five months on a budget by house sitting, read this guide.