There is so much majestic natural scenery and Gothic grandeur conveniently packed into Liechtenstein, yet it is the world’s sixth smallest country at 62 square miles. This micro principality is wedged between Austria and Switzerland and lies between the upper Rhine Valley and Austrian Alps at the heart of Europe. The only inconvenience is that there’s no airport; international arrivals fly into Zurich, 44 miles away.
The best way to see the countryside is on the hiking and cycling paths that meander past craggy cliffs, quaint hamlets, verdant forests and vineyards. Gaflei is the jump off point for the Furstensteig, a trail along the ridge separating the Rhine and Samina valleys. The winter belongs to Malbun-Steg, Liechtenstein’s premier ski resorts. Winter sports facilities include downhill and cross country skiing, ice skating, tobogganing and snowboarding. The climate is mild for such an alpine location.
In the capital Valduz, the top site is the storybook, 12th century Valduz Castle on the edge of a cliff, residence of the Liechtenstein royal family and therefore inaccessible to tourists. Another spectacular fortress outside the capital in Balzers is 13th century Gutenberg Castle, also perched high on a rock. Valduz is known for its museums. Get a souvenir passport stamp at the Postage Stamp Museum; tour the Prince’s private art collection, including works by Rembrandt and Rubens, at the Museum of Fine Arts, or visit the ski museum.
Join a wine tasting at the Prince’s wine cellars (reservations required). Stop into a local restaurant and try the national specialty, kaseknopfle (cheese dumplings). Liechtenstein has a musical heritage and you may want to catch a performance by the local brass bands, choirs and operetta societies. Concerts take place year round.