Without doubt, Liechtenstein is the country I was the most excited to share with you following our summer Euro-trip in the van. A total hidden gem, it was a last minute addition to the route and turned out to be an unexpected favourite stop for the both of us. A beautiful combination of incredible landscapes, rich culture and history, and of course, wine. Ever since meeting a guy while I was in Australia who was from Liechtenstein, I've always wanted to visit the sixth smallest country in the world. As we drove between Austria and Switzerland, it seemed crazy to miss the opportunity to drive across the 160km² stretch of land and see what Liechtenstein had to offer.
10 reasons why YOU should visit Liechtenstein
1. Incredible landscape
Set entirely within the Alps, you can be sure you're in for some spectacular scenery. But honestly, we had no idea how incredibly beautiful and untouched the country is. Despite being one of the most highly industrialised countries in the world, the landscape is truly breathtaking and unpolluted. Imagine crystal clear lakes in the shadows of mountains and gorgeous log cabins nestled in the countryside.
2. A perfect road trip/day trip
One of the best things about Liechtenstein is it's perfect for adding to a trip you've already planned. Being so small it takes just a few hours to road trip across it and the beautiful scenery make for a lovely drive. Why not hire a car and go off exploring on your way to one of the nearby countries?
3. Find your Prince Charming
Liechtenstein is a land known for it's medieval castles and none more famous than Vaduz Castle (Schloss Vaduz), the home of the Prince of Liechtenstein, the head of the country and a member of one of the world's oldest noble families. Normally closed to the public, this palace is open to the public on August 15, Liechtenstein’s national holiday, a perfect opportunity to see the palace, and maybe even the prince first-hand!
4. Swim in mountain lakes
Discover the true meaning of alpine fresh when you jump into these crystal clear and absolutely-bloody-freezing lakes. Seriously, I don't know if I had see real beauty before I saw these untouched waters laying peacefully in the shadow of the mountain. It was like something from The Sound of Music, seeing such pristine scenery with mountains and log cabins in the distance. If, like us, you travel during the summer, it's a perfect time to cool off from the summer sun and to stop for a picnic. We stopped at the beautiful Gänglesee which you can see pictured.
5. Window shop
As of 2012, Liechtenstein was considered the smallest, yet richest, country in the world and has been known in the past as a billionaire tax haven. This may no longer be the case, but it's still a very wealthy country. Just passing through the streets of Vaduz, we lost count of the number of vintage and seriously expensive cars cruising the streets. Where one was parked, a crowd gathered around it to take photos. And later, driving through the mountains, we spotted some seriously incredible houses worthy of a feature on Grand Designs. I love seeing gorgeous properties that people have built and designed themselves, and this is a great place to spot some amazing structures.
6. Get off the beaten track
Liechtenstein may be one of the most developed countries, but travelling through you really get a sense of having escaped from the touristy spots in Europe. Vastly different to the crowds in Switzerland and Austria during the summer months, Liechtenstein seemed rather undiscovered and more of a hidden gem. To be honest, I still only know one other person who has ever been there which I find astounding after having visited. If you want to see a beautiful part of Europe which has managed to remain somewhat untouched and almost stopped in time, this is the place for you.
7. Wine tasting
I love my wine, so you can imagine how excited I was when we popped into the tourism office and they recommended we visit a nearby vineyard with views of Vaduz Castle. We drove to The Hofkellerei of the Prince of Liechtenstein where we had beautiful views over the vineyards and were welcomed for a wine tasting. We tried a few of the local wines and eventually chose a bottle to take home with us, such a lovely experience and a great way to spend the afternoon.
8. Quirky art, culture and history
For those who have a bit more time to explore, Liechtenstein is a goldmine for culture vultures and there is plenty to keep all entertained. From exploring the quirky collection of sculptures on the streets of Vaduz, to visiting the Liechtenstein Festival Schaan, a two-day summer event crammed with art, music and culture. Fancy visiting one of the many museums? There's one for everything, why not check out the Calculator Museum, Postage Stamp Museum, FIS Ski Museum, and Kunstmuseum? And for those who love history, there are some amazing sites to visit, including Gutenberg Castle which dates back to the 1200's and Roman excavations.
9. Walk between Liechtenstein and Switzerland
When you drive in or out of Liechtenstein via Vaduz, be sure to stop at the bridge for a photo opportunity! The bridge straddles the river, where one side is Liechtenstein and the other is Switzerland. It's not often you can walk less than 10m and be in the next country, but it's well worth stopping to take in the view and of course, get that shot for the 'gram to prove you were there.
10. Get outside
Whether you visit in the summer and love hiking, or come in the winter for skiing, Liechtenstein has something to keep everyone active and out enjoying the amazing scenery. The country is a paradise for walkers, whether expert or intermediate level, promising epic scenery that will take your breath away. After a hard day's walking, how better than to wind down with a hearty meal from one of the restaurants. For the snow enthusiasts, there is a great resort in Malbun, with ideal slopes for intermediate skiers and some easier and harder ones as well. Don't miss the opportunity to get outside and make the most of this stunning country.
One thing I loved the most about Liechtenstein was that it was the perfect detour on our overall trip. One morning we looked at the map as we decided our route to drive from Munich through Austria and into Switzerland, and we saw Liechtenstein and thought, why not? And honestly, it was one of the best decisions we made during the whole trip. A spectacular and fascinating little country, and one of my most unexpected favourites to have ticked off my bucket list. I know some people go just for the stamp for their passport, but I can tell you, it is worth so much more and I can't recommend exploring the country while you are there enough.
Have you been to Liechtenstein? What did you think? Would you like to go?