Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein has been a fixation of mine and that of my flat mates since we landed in Switzerland. It’s not the most popular travel destination, we knew that, but somewhere to the East of Switzerland there was (and still remains) a 25 km by 12 km country that we just had to see.
“Enough with the big countries” we said. “We’ll get to those eventually. What we really need to see is Liechtenstein!”
After this past weekend, I can officially say, “I’ve been to Liechtenstein.” And because I’ve been to Liechtenstein, I can tell you that there’s really not all that much to see there.
Besides the cool 12th century castle, which the royal family of Liechtenstein still calls home, Vaduz, the capital city, doesn’t have much to offer. Outside of its free stamp museum, an art gallery and a few kebab shops, the tiny country of Liechtenstein can easily be seen in a few hours.
With that being said, I shouldn’t play down the country too much. Like our tour book stated before we left, “Most people go to Liechtenstein simply to say they’ve been there.” After arriving in Vaduz by bus (Liechtenstein does not have rail travel), we trekked to the city’s tourism office to have our passports stamped. Three Swiss Francs later (3 CHF, the Swiss currency used in both Switzerland and, as it turns out, Liechtenstein), we were well equipped with proof of our visit.
With that in mind, Liechtenstein successfully delivered exactly what we were after. Everyone got a huge kick of telling his or her family and friends that they were in Liechtenstein (of all places). Not ones to easily fall into tourist traps, we turned out to be suckers for Liechtenstein memorabilia and much of our short visit was spent in the tourism office purchasing postcards, stamps and miniature cuckoo clocks. We even eyed a game of Liechtenstein Monopoly, but in the end, decided against it.
In any case, we were happy we had the chance to see the country. We even had the opportunity to take in a few Liechtenstein facts:
1) Liechtenstein is the largest exporter of false teeth (who knew, right?)
2) People who live in Liechtenstein are called “Liechtensteiners”
3) The country is run by a monarchy. Prince Alois and his family live in their family’s original 12 century castle atop a hill, which can be seen from anywhere in the city of Vaduz
4) Although Vaduz is the country’s capital with just over 5,000 inhabitants, the largest city in Liechtenstein is actually Schaan with 5,700 inhabitants
5) Liechtensteiners speak German and accept both the Swiss Franc as well as the Euro as currency
At the very least, should you ever venture to Liechtenstein, I can guarantee that you will never misspell the country name again.