14 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Liechtenstein
The tiny Principality of Liechtenstein, an independent state tucked between Switzerland and Austria, is one of the most picturesque alpine countries in Europe. Despite being only 160 square kilometers in size and having a population of just 35,000, Liechtenstein is an economic powerhouse thanks to its favorable tax laws, and is in fact the most industrialized nation in the world (though you'd never know it from its forest-covered hillsides and alpine meadows). Settled since the Early Stone Age, it was also important during Roman times, eventually becoming the Imperial Principality of Liechtenstein in 1719 and fully autonomous in 1806.
Today, the country is a popular travel destination thanks to its lovely mountain setting; many excellent hiking trails (check out the routes around Falknis and Naafkopf, two of the country's tallest peaks); ski and winter activities; and its many impressive points of interest and tourist attractions, including museums, galleries, and castles. Discover the best places to visit in this petite country with our list of the top tourist attractions in Liechtenstein.
1. Liechtenstein's Capital City: Vaduz
One of the most picturesque capitals in Europe - and certainly the smallest - Vaduz is home to the Liechtenstein Center, a tourist information center offering everything the traveler needs to get the most out of their visit. Popular things to do in Vaduz include shopping and dining, as well as exploring the city's historic Städtle, or "small town," with its many attractions. One of the most visited attractions here is the country's parliament ("Landtag") building near the banks of the River Rhine in Peter-Kaiser-Platz (guided tours are available). Also worth seeing is the Rathausplatz, home to the historic Town Hall (Rathaus), and the Neo-Gothic parish church (Pfarrkirche) built in 1873, also known as the Cathedral of St. Florin. Although it's not open to the public, you'll want to get some photos of the impressive 12th-century Vaduz Castle (Schloss Vaduz), also known as The Princely House of Liechtenstein, which is home to the country's monarch.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Vaduz
2. The Treasure Chamber of the Principality of Liechtenstein Editor's Pick
With its focus on the country's rich royal heritage, The Treasure Chamber of the Principality of Liechtenstein is a must-see attraction in Vaduz. Consisting of artworks and other treasures from the Princely Family's 400-year-old private collection, the items on display have been supplemented by donations from notable private collectors such as Adulf Goop, whose collection of rare bejeweled Easter eggs includes work by the famous Karl Fabergé. Other highlights include an array of superb artworks, including the "Rhine Journey" series by Johann Ludwig Bleuler, a large collection of historic weaponry, along with many other artifacts with connections to European royalty through the centuries. There's even an interesting collection of moon rocks, given to the country in recognition of the role of its manufacturing base in NASA's spacecraft. This popular new attraction gets busy during peak seasons, so either plan your visit for early in the day or, better still, during the shoulder seasons.
3. State of the Art: Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein
Housed in a state-of-the-art facility in Vaduz, the architecturally pleasing Liechtenstein State Art Gallery (Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein) showcases many fine examples of modern and contemporary artwork. In addition to frequent temporary exhibits, its permanent collection includes pieces from the 19th century, including sculptures and works from the collection of the Prince of Liechtenstein (most of the royal collection is housed in the Liechtenstein Museum in Vienna). Also worthy of a visit is Kunstraum Engländerbau, a nearby exhibition space that regularly hosts displays of contemporary art from around the world.
Address: Städtle 37, FL-9490 Vaduz, Liechtenstein
4. Gutenberg Castle
High above the village of Balzers in the south of Liechtenstein stands majestic Gutenberg Castle (Burg Gutenberg), a superbly preserved fortress dating from the Middle Ages. The 70-meter-high hill on which the castle stands has been inhabited since Neolithic times, with many of the most important archaeological finds - including the ancient Mars von Gutenberg statuette - now housed in the Liechtenstein Landesmuseum. Highlights include the chapel and rose garden, along with the many fun cultural events and festivals held in the warmer months, such as open-air concerts and outdoor theatrical performances.
Address: Fürstenstrasse 50, 9496 Balzers
5. Liechtenstein National Museum
A must-see while in Vaduz is the excellent Liechtenstein National Museum (Liechtenstein Landesmuseum), a state-owned attraction housed in a splendidly preserved 15th-century former inn once visited by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1788. Highlights include a superb 1:10,000 scale relief model of the principality, as well as exhibits focusing on the country's prehistory and early history, along with displays of weapons and religious art. Also worth a visit is the Postal Museum, a branch of the Liechtenstein National Museum, which is popular for its displays of postage stamps and the history of the country's postal service.
Address: 9490 Vaduz, Liechtenstein
6. The Towns of Nendeln and Eschen
The small towns of Nendeln and Eschen are the principal communities of the lowland area of Liechtenstein and are well worth a visit. Nendeln is notable for its old foundations from a Roman villa, as well as the Schädler Pottery, established in 1836 and the oldest craft workshop in the country. Famous for its stoneware crockery and traditional tiled stoves, this art-related attraction offers guided tours of the workshop, glazing area, and kiln room. Of interest in Eschen are the Pfrundhaus, a 14th-century building used to display local art, and the attractive Holy Cross Chapel. Eschen is also the starting place of an easy one-and-a-half-hour hike offering superb views of the surrounding area.
7. Schaan and the Liechtenstein Festival
Just three kilometers north of Vaduz at the foot of the Drei Schwestern massif is Schaan, a busy little industrial town notable for its old Roman fort foundations. Located in a beautiful spot perched above the town is the 18th-century pilgrimage church of Maria zum Trost, notable for its fine views. One of the oldest towns in Liechtenstein, Schaan is home to the DoMuS center with its exhibits of local history and art, an interesting coppersmith's workshop, and the fascinating Calculator and Typewriter Museum (see more on this attraction below). Schaan is also a good place to begin a hike and includes a number of well-marked trails of varied difficulty. It's also home to the Liechtenstein Festival, a two-day celebration of music, entertainment, and food.
8. Triesenberg's Culinary Delights
Triesenberg, the largest municipality in Liechtenstein, lies in a beautiful location in the middle of an alpine valley just six kilometers from the capital of Vaduz. The picturesque village itself is known not only for its splendid scenery and unique dialect - a variation of German originating from the Walser region - but also for its food festival, the Triesenberger Wochen, held each year from mid-October to the end of November. During the festival, local restaurants and hotels serve up traditional dishes of the Walser people, many of them centuries-old and unique to the village. There's no shortage of beautiful vistas from the village's cute chalets, hotels, and small inns, too, making Triesenberg a great place from which to explore Liechtenstein.
9. Hiking the Historical Eschnerberg Trail
Thanks to its alpine setting and quaint towns and villages, Liechtenstein is a hiker's paradise, drawing outdoor enthusiasts from across Europe to its mountain peaks, wooded slopes, and attractive valleys. Numerous well-established trails crisscross the country (just look for the bright signs showing walking times), one of the most popular being the 15-kilometer Historical Eschnerberg Trail connecting the towns of Bendern and Schellenberg. Highlights of this fun trail include the prehistoric settlements of Lutzengütle and Malanser, as well as many spectacular views over the Rhine and the surrounding mountains. Another popular trail is the Princes' Way Hike through the scenic Rätikon mountain range and offering superb views of the famous Three Sisters (Drei Schwestern) mountains.
10. Winter Fun in Malbun
Famous as Liechtenstein's only winter resort, the small town of Malbun, once only inhabited in summer, is now a draw for winter sports enthusiasts. Perched on an Alpine ridge near the Saminatal Valley, Malbun boasts perfect snow conditions that led to the establishment of the first ski lifts and slopes in the 1960s. Today, its many groomed trails and après ski activities enjoy one of the longest seasons in the Alps. All told, more than 23 kilometers of pistes are maintained, offering suitable terrain for skiers of all abilities, served by three lifts capable of hauling skiers to heights of 2,000 meters. For kids, Malbi Park Kinderland offers beginners lessons and programs, and the area also boasts a large network of Nordic ski trails. The resort is also quite popular in the spring and summer months, too, when its slopes instead become magnets for hikers, climbers, and mountain bikers.
11. Country Castles: Schellenberg
Liechtenstein is home to five castles, two of which remain intact: Schloss Vaduz, seat of the country's monarchs, and Burg Gutenberg in the village of Balzers. Of the others, all that is left are ruins, but each has its unique charms. If you're able to visit just one of these picturesque locations, make it Schellenberg, where you'll actually be rewarded with a chance to explore two old ruins at once. The larger of the two, the Upper Castle (Obere Burg), was built in 1200 and once had all the elements of a typical medieval castle. The smaller, the Lower Castle (Untere Burg), was built in 1250, but by the 16th-century both had fallen into disrepair. The third set of ruins, Schalun Castle - also known as Wildschloss - is within walking distance of Vaduz and dates from the 12th century.
12. The Ruggeller Riet Nature Reserve
Set amid 90-hectares of unspoiled wilderness in northeastern Liechtenstein, the Ruggeller Riet Nature Reserve is a great place to experience the country's rich flora and fauna. While bird-watchers will enjoy the chance to spot endangered species such as storks, the reserve's nature trails lead you through a variety of attractive vegetation and scenery, from moors to meadows, with rolling hills as a backdrop. A great time to visit is during the end of May into early June, when the reserve's abundant Siberian iris burst into bloom. It's also a great place for a picnic, or better still, enjoy a barbecue in the dedicated public rest area overlooking the Rhine in Weinbau. From here, you can even join the bike path networks that extend all the way into neighboring Switzerland and Austria.
13. Forst High-Rope Adventure Park
Another fun outdoor activity suitable for young and old alike is the Forst High-Rope Adventure Park, located just a short drive from the village of Triesen. Highlights of this tree-top adventure course include three high-rope trails perched at tree-line level, offering plenty of great views along with the excitement. After clearing a number of fun rope-bridges, aerial walkways, and climbing related obstacles, your adventure ends with a thrilling zipline ride back to ground level. This fun three-hour experience comes with the use of all safety gear along with a brief yet thorough training session (professional guides are available if so desired).
14. The Calculator and Typewriter Museum
Despite what you might be inclined to think, the Calculator and Typewriter Museum in Schaan isn't just for nerds. One of the top free things to do in Liechtenstein, this fascinating museum pays homage to these once ubiquitous tools of writers and accountants the world over. The unique collection consists of more than 250 important and rare pieces, many of them antiques, the oldest dating back to the late 1800s. Highlights include the world's smallest mechanical calculator, the palm-sized Curta, which was designed and manufactured in Liechtenstein, along with an original WWII Enigma encoding machine used by the German military (and famously solved by the British).
Where to Stay in Liechtenstein for Sightseeing
Despite its size, Liechtenstein offers a surprisingly good selection of accommodations, from high-end luxury hotels to more affordable family-run enterprises.
- Luxury Hotels: Given its royal heritage, it's no surprise that Liechtenstein is home to a number of very fine luxury hotels. Perhaps the best known is the Residence Hotel in the capital of Vaduz, popular for its larger suites and apartment-style units and superb on-site dining. Over in Triesen and equally well-known for its fine dining is the elegant Hotel Schatzmann, a great choice for its scenic mountain views and proximity to adventurous activities such as biking and hiking. A great option for those traveling with kids is Gorfion - The Family Hotel in Malbun, notable for its special family suites with separate bedrooms and bunkbeds, plus fun family activities.
- Mid-Range Hotels: Located in Triesen, the attractive Hotel Schlosswald offers high-quality amenities, clean and comfortable rooms, along with beautiful mountain vistas from its large patios and outdoor spaces. Another good option is JUFA Hotel Malbun -Alpin-Resort, which offers well-appointed rooms and great amenities, all just a short walk from great skiing and hiking trails. The location of Hotel Meierhof in Triesen is perfect for adventurous types looking to explore the countryside. It offers good quality accommodations for both short- and long-term stays.
- Budget Hotels: One thing's for sure, and that's the fact that even the budget-level hotels in Liechtenstein are a cut-above. A great option is kommod, a modern-looking affair, which offers guests access to a wide variety of sporting activities, from golf to tennis and football. Hotel Restaurant Weinstube in Nendelne is also well worth considering and offers a surprising degree of class and a variety of accommodation configurations.
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A Day Trip to Switzerland: Thanks to its proximity to Switzerland, Liechtenstein is an easy jumping-off point for a variety of great Swiss destinations. A must-do is to make the hour-long journey west to Zurich, the country's largest city, and certainly one of the prettiest... especially in the historic Old Town district; many of its structures date back to medieval times. Then, of course, there's all the things to see and do in lovely Lucerne. This beautiful medieval town on Lake Lucerne is home to one of Europe's leading music festivals, the Lucerne Festival.
A Day Trip to Austria: A variety of top destinations in Austria, too, are just an easy day trip away from Liechtenstein. One of the country's most popular tourist spots is the beautiful city of Innsbruck, an easy two-plus hours away and as popular for its old medieval town center as it is for its many outdoor adventures, including everything from hiking and biking to skiing and snowboarding. If pressed for time, however, consider hopping in the car (or on a bus) and instead making the 50-minute journey to explore the attractions of Bregenz, located on the south shore of picturesque Lake Constance. Here, you'll enjoy strolling along the historic town's gorgeous promenade, or hopping aboard the Pfänderbahn cable car to enjoy incredible views over the lake and the Alps.
A Day Trip to Germany: Germany, too, is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Liechtenstein. A great day trip would be to make the two-plus hour drive to explore the attractions of historic Augsburg in Bavaria. Here, you'll enjoy 11th-century Augsburg Cathedral, and the medieval Fuggerei district, which has remained pretty much unchanged since the 1500s. Just an hour farther east from Augsburg is the magnificent city of Munich, famous for its many beautiful churches, palaces, and large public squares (if you can, be sure to visit during the city's famous Christmas Market). Also doable in a day (albeit a long one) is a driving tour of both Bavaria and the Black Forest, looping back to Liechtenstein.