Liechtenstein is a tiny European principality landlocked between Switzerland to the west and Austria to the east and tucked away in the Rhine Valley. It is an alpine country loaded with snowy peaks. In the summer, wildflower meadows, crystal-clear lakes, and rushing river streams color the scene, making Liechtenstein a miniature Switzerland, at least superficially. Culturally, however, this tiny nation is very distinct.
Liechtenstein’s western region encompasses the fertile Rhine Valley, where the Rhine River forms a natural boundary with Switzerland. There are six main towns in this region, including the capital, Vaduz, which sits in the thick of the Rhine Valley. In the north are the towns of Bendern, Schellenberg, and Schaan, the latter being a famous resort. Triesen and Balzers dot the south where medieval castles overlook the river. All of the towns and villages in the west are picturesquely decorated by small houses with flower-covered wooden balconies and backyard orchards, gardens, and centuries-old inns.
Liechtenstein’s eastern region borders Austria and consists of mountain scenery, green pastures, wooden chalets, and small white chapels. There are also pockets of shady forests that abound with wildlife. Gentians, the country’s national flower, alpine red roses, wild orchids, and other colorful flowers cover this area, making it a paradise for botanists.
The country’s romantic landscape has inspired many ancient legends, including the story of the “Little wild men”, which recounts shy dwarves living in mountain caves and doing the chores of sleeping villagers at night. Another tale describes three heartless sisters who were transformed into three craggy mountains by the gods. These “three sisters” include the country’s highest peak, Naafkopf, which sits in the southeast.
Liechtenstein is a country geared and devoted to tourism. In fact, the entire country (or at least the capital city) can be rented out to businesses, organizations, and weddings for a price. The main tourist attractions of this nation include skiing, tobogganing, wine-tasting, and sightseeing of the numerous royal castles. The main ski area is Triesenberg, which is home to the slopes of Malbun. Visitors can also enjoy winter hiking, ice skating, tobogganing, snowmobiling, and sledding in Malbun.
In the summer, hiking the trails of the Ratikon range is a popular endeavor. Along the way are romantic cabins. The Via Alpina is another favorite trail; it connects eight Alpine countries with its 18.5 miles of footpath. Mountain biking, particularly around the Eschnerberg Mountain is also popular among visitors.
This tiny country is packed with royal castles. Visit the Vaduz Castle towering atop a rock terrace; the Gutenberg Castle in Balzers standing on 70 meters of rock; the medieval Red House in Vaduz with its famed gabled stairs structure; the Schellenberg Ruins in Schellenberg, the site of a settlement that dates back to 3000 BC; and the Benefice House in Eschen, a building that dates back to the 14th century.
Don’t miss out on the quality wines grown in Liechtenstein’s Rhine. You can visit the Hofkellerei, which is home to the very own wine cellars of the Prince of Liechtenstein. The Castellum Winery in Eschen and the Harry Zech Winery Cantina in Vaduz offer a chance to chat with the wine growers who produce the Liechtenstein brands: Sanitas, Cultus, and Amor.