In April, Boyfriend and I spent a few days in Livigno, Italy. He'd asked me to join him there after his snowboarding break and I said yes, on the condition that we'd drive through Liechtenstein and visit its capital on our way home.
But what is the capital of Liechtenstein? It's Vaduz!
The capital of Vaduz made quite an impression on me as everything there was so clean and seemed so organized. Everybody was walking around in a suit.
I decided to research Liechtenstein a bit.
- Some fun facts about Vaduz, capital of Liechtenstein, and the country itself
- Where to stay in and around Vaduz
- How to get to Vaduz
- Learn more about Liechtenstein
- Should you visit Vaduz and the rest of Liechtenstein?
Some fun facts about Vaduz, capital of Liechtenstein, and the country itself
1. Where is Vaduz and where is Liechtenstein?
Liechtenstein is a small country between Switzerland and Austria. Liechtenstein capital, Vaduz, is located right along the border with Switzerland and, in fact, the entire Western border of the country is formed by the Rhine river.
On our drive home through Switzerland, it was just a 20-minute detour to go there. If you're not coming by car, you can take the bus from Switzerland or Austria. There's no international airport in Liechtenstein.
Liechtenstein is part of the Schengen Area and so its borders are open, but it's not part of the European Union.
2. What's the currency of Liechtenstein?
Not being part of the European Union, the Liechtenstein currency isn't the euro, but the Swiss franc.
Money plays a big role in Liechtenstein. The country is considered a tax haven and when you walk around in Vaduz, you see banks everywhere. But not only that, the country's population is also considered one of the richest in the world.
Fun fact: there are more companies registered in Liechtenstein than there are people living there.
3. What is the population of Liechtenstein?
Liechtenstein is considered to be a microstate or a ministate, being both very small in land size and in population size. But what is the population of Liechtenstein and how big is Liechtenstein in terms of area size?
Well, the country is just over 62 m² or 160 m² big and has a population of around 35,000 people. Two-thirds of them are first-generation immigrants. The official language is German, but people mostly speak Alemannic, a German dialect.
To give you an idea: in my hometown of Leuven there are around 98,000 official residents and Leuven is only the 10th biggest city in Belgium in terms of population.
The Vaduz population was about 5,400 in 2016.
As for area size, Liechtenstein is the 6th smallest country in the world and the 4th smallest in Europe. It's just 160 square kilometers/62 square miles big.
4. The Principality of Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein is, indeed, a principality and the Liechtenstein royal family lives in Vaduz, the capital city of Liechtenstein. You can actually see the castle they live in from afar when you enter Vaduz as it's perched high upon a hill overlooking the city.
The Liechtenstein royal family is very popular and in March 2003, the people of Liechtenstein even voted in favor of a change in the constitution that would expand the power of the monarchy, allowing the prince to dismiss the government or any minister. He also has the power to veto any law.
5. Vaduz Castle
As the royal family still lives in Vaduz Castle, it's unfortunately not open to the public. We drove up there to have a closer look, but when you do that you actually end up behind the castle and although you see it from up close, the view on it is much nicer from down below in the city.
Some Vaduz Castle facts:
- the castle lies about 120 meters higher than the city of Vaduz.
- it dates back to the 12th centure.
- the princepily family has owned it since 1712. Before that, the castle was the property of the counts of Werdenberg-Sargans, who are assumed to have built it.
- while the castle is closed to the public, once a year, the residents of Vaduz are invited for a drink in the castle garden.
6. Hiking, biking and more in Liechtenstein
However, when you drive up there you'll probably leave your car at the small parking lot a bit further down the road from the castle where you also have the option to enter a large forest. You can also find a trail map there and we saw that there are routes for hiking, biking, rollerblading and more all over Liechtenstein. You can even do a tour around Vaduz… or around the country!
7. Liechtenstein tourism
Liechtenstein is mountainous and thus mostly known as a winter sports destination. In warmer seasons, the country offers the beforementioned hiking and biking routes.
Although nature and outdoor activities seem to be Liechtenstein's biggest selling point for tourism, there are also some cultural attractions, such as the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Gutenberg Castle and the ruins of Schellenberg.
I can recommend the city of Vaduz for a stroll, but the “touristic” center is really small so I don't think you could spend an entire day here.
Where to stay in and around Vaduz
Budget: Hotel Restaurant Kulm
Hotel Restaurant Kulm is only a 15-minute drive south-east of Vaduz, located in a charming mountainside village called Triesenberg. The view across the Alpine Rhine valley is spectacular! Some rooms come with a balcony, and the hotel has a restaurant and an outdoor terrace. Rooms are simple and tasteful, and free internet access is provided.
Boutique: Hotel Bildungszentrum Sunnahof
This restored 500-year old building is bursting with character and immersed in beautiful mountain scenery. Fifteen minutes drive from the capital, it’s the perfect cozy base to explore the local area. There’s a gorgeous garden and terrace area for guests to use, and all rooms are fitted with a TV, DVD player, free toiletries and hot drink-making facilities.
Chain: JUFA Hotel Malbun Alpin Resort
JUFA Hotel is nestled at the bottom of a mountain that’s a popular ski destination. It might be the other side of the country to Vaduz, but that still makes it only a 20 minute drive away! There’s a restaurant on-site and a terrace with great views. It also has a sauna and a table tennis table. The rooms are contemporary and bright, with free WiFi and a TV.
Luxury: Residence Hotel
Residence is a beautiful four-star hotel in the heart of Vaduz, right next to the castle. Guest suites are vast and full of light, and equipped with a flat-screen HD TV, minibar, coffee machine and en-suite bathroom. Every room has a balcony with gorgeous Alpine views. The hotel also has a restaurant and bar, and spa treatments are also available.
Apartment: Appartement Fernsicht Triesenberg
This is part of a collection of chalet-type apartments in the village of Triesenberg just outside of Vaduz. Each apartment has a fully-equipped kitchen with dining area, a living space, a bedroom and a bathroom. The atmosphere is warm and snug, perfect after a day’s exploring. Free parking is also offered.
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How to get to Vaduz
If you don't want to drive, like we did, buses and trains are another option. They both leave from Buchs, the main Swiss town on the border with Liechtenstein.
Trains run a few times a day and stop at Schaan-Vaduz train station.
Check here for train timetables and prices.
Visit Liechtenstein on a guided tour
If you'd rather visit Liechtenstein on a tour, this one departing from Zurich, Switzerland comes recommended by over 800 people.
Learn more about Liechtenstein
Want to learn more about Liechtenstein? Check out these books.
Should you visit Vaduz and the rest of Liechtenstein?
We only spent a short time in the capital of Liechtenstein as we were driving home and still had a long way to go, but I would have loved to spend an entire day or two in the country and check out more of the countryside. If you don't go for skiing or extensive hiking, I think two days in this small country will probably do, although I can't know for sure until I go back!