Tiny Liechtenstein is the 4th smallest country in Europe, after Vatican City, Monaco and San Marino. It's usually either an elusive tick on travel bucket lists or one of those locations people don't even realise is a country. At around 62 square miles in area, Liechtenstein is about the same size as Washington DC, and the capital city, Vaduz has a population of less than 6000.
While Liechtenstein doesn't have an airport, if you're travelling through Switzerland or Austria, you might fancy popping into Vaduz for the day to tick Liechtenstein off your map. It's only 70 miles drive from Zurich in Switzerland, or about 107 miles from Austria's Innsbruck, tantalisingly close for ticking off a country you're unlikely to go to exclusively for a holiday. But is Vaduz worth the detour? Read on to see what to do with one day in Vaduz.
How long do you need in Vaduz?
We would say that one day is plenty to spend in Vaduz - you certainly wouldn't want to book a city break here unless you were using it as a jumping off point for hiking in the surrounding Alps. It's small enough that you can easily park up, walk around the centre and visit its top attractions in a day. Several of the most popular things to do in Vaduz are what we call "walk up and look at" attractions - things you appreciate from the outside and typically don't take long to visit. While this means they're free (bonus after a trip through spendy Switzerland!), it also means you'll easily whizz through Vaduz's top things to do in an afternoon.
What to do with one day in Vaduz:
Follow the steep leafy walking trails up to charming 12th century Vaduz Castle for beautiful views over the city and distant mountains. Not to be confused with Lichtenstein Castle in southern Germany, Schloss Vaduz is the private residence of the royal family of Liechtenstein. Next, head downhill through the winding cobbled streets of Mitteldorf, Vaduz's little old quarter and pause at another Vaduz landmark, the Rote Haus (Red House), a striking gabled medieval house with its Rapunzel-esque stone tower and attractive vineyard.
Potter down Stadtle, Vaduz's main drag where you'll find the Liechtenstein Centre, a tourist information building where you can pay about £3 to have your passport stamped. At the far end is Peter-Kaiser-Platz Square where you'll find the Government Building, Parliament's Landtag Building and elegant St Florin's Cathedral. This Roman Catholic cathedral was consecrated in 1873 and has an impressively tall steeple and colourful red and blue clock. It has been the site of Royal weddings and christenings, and several members of the Liechtenstein Royal Family are buried in the Princely Crypt, including the parents, wife and brother of Prince Hans-Adam II, the current reigning monarch.
Grab some lunch at one of the many cafes and restaurants in Vaduz's centre (you'll find everything from Schnitzel to bagels to pizza - Vaduz's food options are very cosmopolitan. The art gallery cafe serves good, if expensive, fresh sushi).
For such a small city, Vaduz has a lot of museums and we'd recommend visiting one or two in the afternoon as that's pretty much it for outdoor attractions in the city. We told you it was small! You could check out the black basalt Kunstmuseum's collection of paintings, sculptures and installations (open Tues - Sun, CHF 15, free on Wednesdays), or learn about the culture and history of the Principality at the Liechtenstein National Museum (open Tues - Sun, CHF 10).
The small Liechtenstein Treasure Chamber displays 500 years worth of jewellery, swords and other treasures from Faberge eggs to Moon rock! Liechtenstein company Balzers AG (now part of Oerlikon AG) made the coating for NASA's spacecraft on the Apollo missions, and Liechtenstein flags were taken the the moon on Apollo 11 and 17 missions (open daily, CHF 8, or you can get a combined ticket with the National Museum for 13 CHF)! For a freebie, pop into the tiny Postal Museum. Little Liechtenstein's stamps have always been sought after by collectors and this museum has gathered and displayed all the postage stamps issued by the Principality of Liechtenstein since 1912 (open daily, free entry).
Alternatively you could head to the Hofkellerei of the Prince of Liechtenstein and spend the afternoon tasting the fine wines made at the royal family's Vaduz vineyards! The Prince's winery is open Monday - Saturday, 9-6pm M-F, 9-5 Sat)
If you follow our Vaduz day trip itinerary we reckon you can happily feel like you've done the city justice without rushing.
So is Vaduz worth visiting?
Yes and no, location depending. Vaduz is tiny and charming and it's satisfying to tick off a new country (we drove 3 hours from Barcelona to visit Andorra), so if you're in northwest Switzerland or western Austria it's well worth nipping in for the day so that you can visit Liechtenstein - we'd definitely recommend adding it onto your Swiss road trip route after Zurich, as it'll only take you an hour and a quarter to drive there. That being said, as much as we enjoyed our day there, Vaduz's attractions aren't so ground breaking or unique that it's worth going massively out of your way to visit unless you're desperate to bag Liechtenstein.
A quick Vaduz FAQ:
What is Vaduz famous for?
As well as being the tiny capital of one of Europe's smallest countries, Vaduz is most famous for its castle and Red House, and the Prince's annual party, where all Liechtenstein's citizens are invited to enjoy a garden party, speeches, wine and fireworks at the castle on August 15th, Liechtenstein's National Day.
Where is Vaduz?
Vaduz is in on the western border of Liechtenstein, which is surrounded by Switzerland on the south and west, and Austria to the north and east. Liechtenstein is German speaking and they use Swiss Francs, so if you're visiting from Zurich you won't need to change currency.
How to get to Vaduz:
Vaduz is one of the few world capitals that doesn't have an airport so you'll need to drive in or catch the bus. Vaduz doesn't have a train station either! The nearest would be Schaan-Vaduz in Schaan, a couple of miles north of Vaduz, with trains running between Buchs in Switzerland and Feldkirch in Austria. Buses run regularly from Schaan to Vaduz.
Some interesting facts about Liechtenstein:
Liechtenstein is famously wealthy with one of the highest GDPs in the world!
The dinky principality has a national football team and frequently competes in the Olympics, but has never taken part in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Ivoclar Vivadent, based in Schaan sells 20% of all the world's dentures.
Liechtenstein is one of the world's only double land locked countries: the two countries that surround Liechtenstein, Austria and Switzerland,are also land locked!
You might also find these blogs useful:
5 top attractions in Vaduz, Liechtenstein
All our other blogs about Switzerland can be read here!
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