Liechtenstein

Where: Liechtenstein, a micro-nation between Switzerland and Austria.

When: November 2015

Why: For my husband’s 30th birthday, I bought him trips to two new countries: Andorra and Liechtenstein. The only reason we went to Liechtenstein was to knock another country off the list and so that we could say that we had been to Liechtenstein. I am so glad we went here though, as Liechtenstein is gorgeous and we had a fabulous time in the snowy mountains.

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Map

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Intro

Liechtenstein is a micro-nation, located between Austria and Switzerland, close to Lake Constance in Germany. It is the last remnant of the Holy Roman Empire and one of only two doubly landlocked nations (pub quiz fans).

Liechtenstein is tiny, and one of the things that amazed me was that at one point I could see pretty much the whole nation at the same time! Liechtenstein is so small that it’s just the side of a mountain.

There’s two largish towns (Balzers and Vaduz the capital) and some smaller villages. Vaduz, the capital, has one main pedestrianised street and everything seems to be on this.

They have a royal family (the current ruler is Prince Adam), some vineyards, a few castles and lots of false teeth shops.

Liechtenstein may be small, but it has bags of character and it was a great place to be. It’s a pretty, well-organised country, with good public transport, pretty villages and things to see and do. It snowed whilst we were there, so we were able to be in a winter-wonderland for the weekend. The views of neighbouring Switzerland were astounding and it was all just pretty and magical and nice.

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Getting there and getting around

I used Rome to Rio and Google Maps to work out how to actually get to Liechtenstein.

We flew from Luton to Zurich with Easyjet (£58 return), got a local train to Zurich Haubtbahnhof (15 minutes), caught an intercity train from Zurich to Sargans (1 hour), and then bus 11 from Sargans station to Vaduz, the capital of Liechtensten (40 minutes).

Going to Liechtenstein, we bought tickets from the machine at the airport train station. We bought single tickets all the way from the airport to Vaduz and this cost us 42.80CH each (about £30). We looked at getting a return ticket, but it didn’t seem to be any cheaper. We could have bought the tickets online at www.sbb.ch, but again, this didn’t seem to be any cheaper, so we bought them there and then.

DSC_0151_2

Swiss trains are wonderful. Both trains we caught had comfy seats, huge windows and power sockets for everyone. I particularly love double-decker trains and we caught one of these back to Zurich. It was very snazzy, comfy and a really nice way to travel through snowy Switzerland.

Zurich station is enormous and has a large shopping centre inside. At Christmas there was a large Christmas market in the ticketing hall.

Sargans station had a supermarket and a cafe. We had about an hours wait in Sargans on our way to Liechtenstein, so we had a little walk in the town, played in the snow, went to the supermarket and admired the pretty castle.

The bus from Sargans to Vaduz departed from the bus station outside the train station then ran through the town centre, stopping at the post office.

The bus between Vaduz and Sargans cost us 6.40CH each (£5). We bought our tickets on the bus and there was one bus approximately every hour.

Alternative ways to get to Liechtenstein include a train to Buchs HB, then two buses from there to Vaduz (12 and 11), or a train to Feldkirch in Austria, and the 11 bus in the other direction.

All the transport options are programmed into Google Maps.

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Getting around in Liechtenstein, we caught bus 21 from Vaduz to Triesenberg. There were two buses an hour and they stopped outside our hotel in Triesenberg. Again, we bought the tickets on the bus and these cost 3.50CH (£2). This bus ran until 2 a.m.!

You can visit the official Liemobil website for up to date ticket prices and timetables, though this is in German. Fahrplan has all of this information in English.

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What we did and didn’t do on our holiday

So, to be perfectly honest, we didn’t do much in Liechtenstein apart from giggle about being in Liechtenstein, admire the mountains, eat hearty food and potter about Vaduz and Triesenberg.

There’s not a huge amount to do in Liechtenstein, it’s just a really nice place to be. I think in summer you can do lots of sporty, outdoorsy things, and there’s one ski resort at Malbun, which is up in the peaks above Triesenberg.

We went for a wander around Vaduz, looked at things from outside, glanced in a few shops and then caught the bus up to Triesenberg. In Triesenberg, we checked into our hotel then went for an explore around the village. It was cold and snowy and romantic.

We had a look at the rathouse and the onion domed chapel, we walked up the hill to see some of the other restaurants and went to the supermarket to look at Liechtenstein food and drinks.

Most things in the village closed around three, so we went for a siesta (we’d been up since four), and then out for dinner at Restaurant Kainer.

DSC_0098_1Restaurant Kainer sits on the valley edge, in the village of Triesenberg, slightly downhill from our hotel. It was expensive but cheaper than some of the other restaurants in the village, and it had stupendous views of the mountains. We ate good, local, heart-attack food (reindeer meatloaf for me and macaroni cheese for Jeff), and we drank local Liechtenstein beer and wine. The food was delicious and they were very kind.

www.kainer.li.

Whilst we were at the restaurant the clouds cleared and we could see the valley below us and the snow topped peaks around us. After dinner we went back to the hotel and mostly just sat and admired the views. This is what I wrote to my friends on Facebook at that time:

‘I wish everyone could be here to see this view: our room overlooks the Rhine Valley and Switzerland (we’re in Liechtenstein) . We’re surrounded by Alps and now the clouds have gone, we can see their outline up above us. Way, way, way below us on the valley floor is a motorway and a train line, and it’s really relaxing to see the cars zoom by on their way to Germany, and the one carriage train potter up the valley . Opposite, on the neighbouring mountain, we can see the lights of occasional hamlets, and the headlights from cars swishing up the switch backs to get to these isolated spots. The moon is behind us, peeking over the mountain top from the neighbouring Austrian Valley. There are stars twinkling overhead. It’s so quiet, but there’s so much activity going on around us. We’re in an isolated village, but can see so many other villages and towns, and we feel kind of protected and united, all snuggled up in the valley together. There’s snow on the ground and ice in the air. This is magical and wonderful and wish you were all here to see this.’

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The next morning when I woke up, there was a blue, cold, cosy glow in the air and I spent ages on the balcony, wrapped in my blanket, watching the mountains.

We ate an amazing buffet breakfast on the amazing balcony, high up on the valley side, surrounded by mountains. Then we had to catch the bus back to Vaduz, for the bus back to Sargans, for the train back to Zurich and our flight home to Luton.

We had an hour or two to spare in lovely Zurich so we visited the Christmas market at the train station and then went shopping for chocolate, Christmas presents and C&A.

What we didn’t do in Liechtenstein

Balzers Castle, Balzers, Liechtenstein
Balzers Castle, Balzers, Liechtenstein

Balzers Castle: Gorgeous castle in the town on Balzers, on the Swiss border. Has vineyards on the slopes of the keep. Looks amazing with the peaks rising up in the background.

The Kunstmuseum (giggle): Great place to go to be childish. In reality, it’s an art gallery. Located in the centre of Vaduz. Has a free library box outside, which Jeff thought might be an exhibit, but I think is just free books. It’s in a big, black cube.

Postal Museum: Contains rare stamps. Free.

National Museum

Souvenir shops: The cool thing about being in Liechtenstein is that you’re in Liechtenstein, and buying postcards/stamps/souvenirs to show that is pretty cool. There’s lots of souvenir shops in Vaduz.

Vaduz Castle: You can’t actually visit the castle as the royal family live there, but you can walk around the grounds. The castle sits on a cliff face overlooking Vaduz. It’s 700 years old. You can also visit the Prince’s Wine Cellars (Hofkellerei) for wine tastings. You’ll see the wine and royal beer in the shops too – and apparently it’s not exported and so can only be bought in Liechtenstein.

Ski Museum: Located in Triesenberg.

Ski Resort: Malbun is the Liechtenstein ski resort. It’s up above Triesenberg and the Triesenberg bus goes here.

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Wine and beer: The prince makes beer and wine. You can buy Liechtenstein beer and wine in the shops. Most stuff in Liechtenstein is pretty expensive, but the booze in the supermarkets was pretty reasonable and we picked up a bottle of Prosecco for 5CH (about £4). We would have loved to have bought some Liechtenstein wine, but sadly we only had cabin baggage.

 

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Where we stayed

Hotel Kulm, Triesenberg

Hotel Kulm, Triesenberg, Liechtenstein.
View from Hotel Kulm, Triesenberg. You can see the restaurant balcony down below.

Located in the centre of the village of Trieseberg, Hotel Kulm is famous for its restaurant which is on a balcony sticking out over the Liechtenstein valley. The views from the hotel were just magnificent. We were upgraded to a room with mountain views and we spent a lot of our time out on the balcony, admiring the view, freezing in the snow.

The rooms were basic but were warm and comfy. We booked a double, but it was two singles with rims around them pushed together.

The buffet breakfast was delicious. We had local meats cheeses, breads, fruits, coffees, hot chocolate, yoghurts, meats and sausages. Yum.

We booked through booking.com and paid on arrival. I have seen deals at the hotel for £50, but we paid £80.

Triesenberg is only fifteen minutes by bus from Vaduz, the capital. The buses run every half an hour, right till 2am and they stop right outside Hotel Kulm. The views from the hotel make the extra journey worth it. There’s a few restaurants in Triesenberg, a cash point and a small supermarket – all right next to the hotel.

www.hotelkulm.li

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Useful links

www.tourismus.li

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liechtenstein and wikitravel.org/en/Liechtenstein

www.lonelyplanet.com/liechtenstein

DISCLAIMER

Please note, some, if not much of this information may not be correct, or may be out of date. All these articles show is how we found these places when we visited and what we personally thought of each place. Where possible I will include links to site which will contain more up-to-date info. All of this is my own work and any opinion expressed is that of the author only.

If you think I’ve missed something important or have got something wrong, please let me know in the comments section below.

All photos copyright of J Clemo-Halpenny. If you would like to copy or reproduce any of these images, please email me to ask permission.

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