Day Trip to Vaduz, Liechtenstein - 1 Day Itinerary
Let’s just put it out there — I’m one of those annoying people who like to keep count of countries they’ve visited (and humblebrag about it).
So, when I was going to Switzerland from Austria, although it was possible to take a direct train across, I decided to stop in the small country in the middle called Liechtenstein.
What’s most interesting about Liechtenstein is that it’s the 6th smallest country in the world, and the third smallest in Europe. Just over 160 square kilometres, it’s so small that you only need about a half hour by car to get from one end of the country to the other!
Despite its size, Liechtenstein is not to be underestimated — it is one of the richest countries in the world.
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Overview of Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein is landlocked between Austria to the west, and Switzerland to the south and east. Around half of the country is mountainous as it is part of the Central Alps. The small town of Vaduz is located in a valley along the Rhine River.
Vaduz was mentioned in 12th-century manuscripts as ‘Faduzes‘. In 1499, the entire town was destroyed by the Swiss in the Swabian War.
In 1719, the Imperial Principality of Liechtenstein was established, and in 1806, the country gained its independence after being occupied by Napoleonic troops.
Liechtenstein has no standing army and maintains neutrality as it did in both world wars. This neutrality was what allowed the country to continue flourishing to this day.
Despite being the capital of Liechtenstein and the seat of the national parliament, Vaduz is not the most populous city in the country; the neighboring Schaan has a larger population.
As of December 2019, Vaduz has an estimated population of 5,696, about 40% of whom are foreigners.
The majority of the population (close to 70%) is Roman Catholic, while the largest minority religions in the city are Protestantism and Islam, about 10% and 8% respectively.
With cultural influences from Austria, Bavaria, and Switzerland, the people of Liechtenstein speak German as the main language. Liechtenstein is the smallest German-speaking country in the world, and the only German-speaking country that does not share a border with Germany.
Liechtenstein is part of the Schengen but is not part of the European Union. Therefore, they do not use the Euro, but the Swiss Franc. The current exchange rate is EUR 1 = CHF 1.09.
The Prince of Liechtenstein
I think the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein deserves a mention because he sounds like such a cool person.
Born on 14th February 1945, Prince Hans-Adam II is one of the world’s richest heads of state, and Europe’s wealthiest monarch (whose fortune is more than 10 times that of Queen Elizabeth).
This is partly due to his inheritance and partly because of his good business sense. He runs his own bank called LGT and has an extensive art collection.
Despite his wealth, the prince can often be spotted jogging around the country and chatting with commoners.
Every year on August 15th (Liechtenstein’s National Day), he opens his castle to the public and invites everyone for wine and cheese. So, if you want to dance and party at Vaduz Castle, make sure you visit on this day.
Not only that — every Liechtenstein citizen also gets invited to the castle when they turn 18 to have a birthday party with the Prince!
Best Time for a Day Trip to Vaduz, Liechtenstein
Vaduz and the valley area have a continental climate, where the winter is cold with a daily average temperature around 0°C (32°F) in January. The sun is rarely seen especially at the valley bottoms, and precipitation often comes in the form of snow.
In summer, it’s relatively warm, with maximum temperatures around 25°C (76°F). The hottest it ever got was 36°C (97°F) in August 2003.
The best time to visit Vaduz, Liechtenstein is from mid-May to late September, when the weather is pleasantly warm during the day, but cool at night. However, take note that rains and thunderstorms are quite frequent during this time, especially in the mountains.
Also, you might want to avoid going on Sundays, as most things are closed.
How to Get to Vaduz, Liechtenstein
The Austrian Federal Railway runs a limited service between Feldkirch (Austria) to Buchs SG (Switzerland), via Schaan-Vaduz (Liechtenstein). However, trains only run a few times a day, which makes buses more convenient.
From Feldkirch railway station, take the distinctive yellow-green Liechtenstein bus N°11 or N°14 straight to Vaduz (N°14 is the quicker of the two). The bus departs approximately every 20 minutes.
If you’re taking the train from Switzerland, it’s recommended to take the train to Sargans and catch bus N°11 to Vaduz. There are lockers at the Sargans station if you need to leave your luggage.
Another option is to take the train to Buchs station and continue with bus N°12 to Vaduz via Schaan. Consult the SBB timetable to see which option suits you better.
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Alternatively, you can also drive from either location. The roads are well signposted, and there is plenty of parking in Vaduz.
How to Get Around in Liechtenstein
Once you arrive in Vaduz, you can pretty much get anywhere on foot. You can even explore the whole country on foot, if you’re up for it. Some of the signposts tell you how long it would take to walk to each destination.
If you’re not too fond of walking, the country has an excellent transportation system that connects all the villages. Liechtenstein has only one main road, so the public transports are made efficient and cheap to encourage more people to use them, in an effort to reduce traffic. Check the Liemobil bus timetables and fares here.
You can also borrow bicycles for free for the whole day!
Things to See & Do in Vaduz, Liechtenstein in One Day
1. Get Your Passport Stamped at the Liechtenstein Center
The Liechtenstein is the best resource for first-time visitors to the country, so you might want to make this your first stop.
This tourist office is located on the Städtle Street and provides comprehensive information about the country, hotels, events, hiking trails, and much more. It also has a gift shop selling Liechtenstein merchandise, and a fake throne where you can take photos wearing a crown.
But my favorite thing about this center is that you can get your passport stamped with the Principality of Liechtenstein stamp.
Because the country does not have immigration checks at the border, this is the only place you can get the ‘souvenir stamp’ (charged at CHF 3).
However, do keep in mind that souvenir stamps may be considered a form of passport mutilation and can get you into trouble at some borders. I personally didn’t encounter any problem with my Liechtenstein and San Marino stamps, but do it at your own risk.
2. Explore Städtle Street
3. Vaduz Castle (Schloss Vaduz)
Sitting on a hillside overlooking the city, Vaduz Castle is hard to miss. This 700-year-old castle was built as a fortress in the 12th century, got destroyed in a war in 1499, and was later restored in the 16th-century style, with towers and turrets.
Today, it is the official residence of the Prince of Liechtenstein. It is closed to visitors throughout the year except on August 15th, when everyone is invited to attend the annual National Day celebration.
On other days, it’s still beautiful to see from the outside.
4. St Florin Cathedral
Best known for its stained glass windows and towering steeple, this neo-Gothic Roman Catholic cathedral is one of the most popular sightseeing attractions in Vaduz. It was designed by Austrian architect Friedrich von Schmidt in the 1870s.
In the vicinity, you can also visit the graves of Prince Franz Joseph II — the father of the current reigning Prince — and his wife, Countess Georgina von Wilczek.
5. Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein
Giving a sharp contrast to the surrounding greenery, this imposing black structure houses the State Art Collection of Liechtenstein. The sleek modern exterior is embedded with river pebbles from the Rhine River Valley, while the interior features clean lines and pristine white walls.
Its current collection covers artwork from the 19th century to the present, focusing on installations and sculptures, including pieces from the Prince’s private collection.
Check Kunstmuseum’s operating hours and latest updates here.
6. Liechtenstein National Museum
The Liechtensteinisches Landes Museum (Liechtenstein National Museum) houses a permanent exhibition that highlights the country’s history, culture, and landscape.
There are more than 3,000 permanent exhibits housed in over 40 rooms, as well as periodical exhibitions exploring a wide range of different themes.
7. Liechtenstein Postal Museum
A branch of the National Museum, the Liechtenstein Postal Museum displays a large collection of stamps issued by the country since 1912.
As well as learning about the history of the country’s postal service, visitors can also admire the stamp designs, test prints, and machines used by postal workers in the old days.
Close by is the main post office, where you can buy stamps as gifts for your philatelist friends or family members because the stamps sold here are often considered treasures by stamp collectors worldwide.
8. Parliament Building
Situated on the main square, the Principality’s Parliament Building is another photo-worthy attraction in Vaduz. The building was designed by German-American architect Hansjörg Göritz and was built using more than a million bricks.
Since 2008, it has housed Liechtenstein’s parliament, the state archives, and various government offices.
9. Old Rhine Bridge
Measuring 135 metres in length, the Alte Rheinbrücke is a covered wooden bridge that crosses the Rhine River to link the municipalities of Vaduz in Liechtenstein and Sevelen in Switzerland.
It was completed in 1901 and is now the only remaining wooden bridge spanning the Rhine. Motor vehicles are not allowed to use the bridge, making it particularly popular with pedestrians and cyclists.
10. The Red House
Built in 1338, the Red House got its name from the dark-red color it has had since the middle of the 19th century. The stepped gable house is attached to a large tower containing living quarters.
Due to its location on a hill, you should be able to see it from a distance while walking in the Mitteldorf area of Vaduz.
If You Have More Time in Vaduz, Liechtenstein
My travel partner and I had to leave early because we were planning to reach our ‘barn hotel’ in Switzerland before dark. So, we didn’t get to see everything Vaduz had to offer.
If you have more time in Liechtenstein, here are some of the things you can do:
- Try a plate of Käsknöpfle — Liechtenstein’s national dish of cheese pasta served with apple sauce and crispy onions.
- Sample some wine at the Hofkellerei (Royal Winery), which is essentially the Prince’s personal wine cellar. You can also take a walk through the vineyards and learn about wine-making in the Rhine Valley.
- Visit the Gutenberg Castle in Balzers, south of the capital. Dating back to the Bronze Age, this castle — with its beautiful setting — houses a museum, two chapels, and a rose garden. It is one of the two castles in the country that have survived intact to this day. Because it’s not a royal residence, the castle is open to the general public. In the summer months, a number of cultural events and activities take place at the castle’s inner courtyard.
- Go hiking. Liechtenstein is practically made for hiking, with so many interesting trails to follow including the eagle adventure hike and the 75-km route that covers all the municipalities in Liechtenstein.
Where to Stay in Vaduz, Liechtenstein
As Liechtenstein is tiny, and Vaduz even tinier, there aren’t that many accommodation options in the city center itself. But the hotels in surrounding towns aren’t too far away, and — as mentioned earlier — can be reached in half an hour or less.
Schaan-Vaduz Youth Hostel – Surrounded by the quiet countryside between Schaan and Vaduz, this youth hostel is only a 5-minute drive from the Swiss border, 300 metres from Schaan Quader bus stop, and 3 km from Rafis-Burgerau train station. When the weather is nice, barbecue food is served outside. Packed lunches are available for your day trips. The hostel provides a football pitch, rental bicycles, and storage space for skis. From EUR 35 per night for a bed in a 6-bed dormitory room or EUR 83 for a Single Room with private bathroom. Rates are inclusive of breakfast.
Landhaus am Giessen – The hotel is an easy walk or a short bus ride from the center of Vaduz (0.9 km). It offers free parking and free WiFi for guests. Each room has an en-suite bathroom and a balcony. In the warmer months, you can relax on the small terrace. From EUR 103 per night for a Single Room with breakfast.
Park-Hotel Sonnenhof – Only 0.7 km from city center, the 4-star hotel features an award-winning gourmet restaurant that has been awarded 16 points by the Gault Millau guide. It also has a private park with panoramic views of the Alps, the Rhine Valley, Vaduz Castle, and nearby vineyards. Spa facilities include an indoor pool and a sauna. A modern, eco-friendly water cooling system keeps the whole building cool during hot weather. From EUR 200 per night for a Small Single Room with breakfast.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Vaduz on a Day Trip
Can you explore Vaduz in one day?
Yes, if you start early in the morning and end in the evening, you can see all of Vaduz, including all the museums, at an easy pace. If you have a car, you can even explore the rest of the country within a day.
But I would recommend staying a little longer to enjoy the countryside and hiking trails.
Is Vaduz expensive?
To be honest, everywhere in Europe is expensive by my Southeast Asian standard. But Vaduz is especially so. It’s only slightly cheaper than neighboring Switzerland, the one notorious for being among the most expensive countries in the world.
While the transportation is fairly inexpensive, food will set you back around CHF 20 – 30 for a simple meal. We didn’t spend any money on food in Vaduz, having packed some leftover from our breakfast in Feldkirch.
The cheapest accommodation option you’ll have is the Schaan-Vaduz Youth Hostel.
Is Vaduz Liechtenstein worth visiting?
Yes, despite the steep prices, Vaduz is a clean and beautiful city with many helpful locals, and is definitely worth a visit. It’s also very safe — so safe that most of the citizens typically leave their doors unlocked because the crime rate is very low.
What is the most obscure / offbeat / underrated city or country you’ve ever visited? Share your experience in the comment section below.