castle, family travel, landlocked country, Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein Castle, Liechtenstein Palace Visit, smallest country in the world, Switzerland, The Amazing Race, Travel, travel with kids, Vaduz
We had not heard much of anything about Liechtenstein prior to our move to Europe. We had seen it on The Amazing Race and heard things from friends but that’s about it. After reading about the area, we learned that it is a double landlocked country, second in GDP per capita behind Qatar, the 6th smallest country in the world (making it a micro state), and the largest exporter per capita of sausage casings and false teeth.
We drove the hour plus from our Austrian hotel to Feldkirch and then over the border into Liechtenstein. The border crossing was very interesting with the “double” speed limit road sign (FL for Liechtenstein and CH for Switzerland), a guard at the crossing, and dozens of trucks lines up for an inspection. There is no Autobahn speed limit in Lichtenstein because they have no highways- just smaller local roads.
The country is only 62 square miles and we saw most it in just a couple of hours. Through some tiny towns you quickly pass along with lots of industry (the Rhine flows through the country). Just a few minutes past Schann you come to the capital of Vaduz.
Vaduz is a beautiful city tucked against the Alps on the east and the Rhine on the west. We headed up the mountain side towards the Princes’ Castle. The castle and it’s views of the valley were stunning. There is a parking area 150m past the castle, and we walked down to take some pictures. The rain was just clearing and the combination of the sun, clouds, and view were incredible. Unfortunately, since the castle is the residence of the actual Prince you cannot visit. We knew this so had this expectation, but Sarah did contemplate knocking on the gate.
Next stop was the center of Vaduz, which conveniently had a (Zentrum) parking lot and garage less than a block from the sights. It was only about 2 Swiss Francs for parking. Interestingly, Liechtenstein uses Francs instead of Euros.
Vaduz center is a very charming and compact town area. The tourist information building is at the center, surrounded by the kunst, Postage, and history museums, Parliament buildings, and numerous shops and restaurants. It is a pedestrian area also which was nice. Except for a few busses of Tourists, it was not crowded at all. We did visit on a Monday which meant that some of the shops as well as the History museum were closed. We walked around, took pictures (note that the castle is directly above you on a cliff), had lunch at a nice bistro, and did some shopping. The food was more expensive than Austria and more like Swiss prices, but the shopping was very reasonably priced. We also found that nearly everyone spoke English- very different from the Montafon Valley where we stayed in Austria just about an hour away.
We did a final drive of this micro state by passing the Rotes (red) house and getting some pictures. We still aren’t sure why it is that famous, because it is just a pretty house on a hill. We really had only heard about this from AFN commercials… After seeing the Red House, we then took the steep winding road to Triesenberg and took more pictures of Vaduz and the Rhine valley. For a country so small there issuing a bit of striking scenery.
We will certainly head back to Leichtenstein and highly recommend it if you are in the area and want to add to your country count!