Princely moments in Vaduz

What makes the Liechtensteiners different from the Swiss, I ask Joel, who picks me up from the train station in Sargans. With the bus I would have come also quite comfortably to Vaduz, but so we have more time to look at the city.

"We are on a first name basis. Not only people we know, also strangers. Or the contact person at the office. If you address others as Sie, you immediately oute yourself as a non-native," he explains to me. Good, that would be noticeable with me already by the lack of Liechtenstein accent. But basically I find it very likeable. After all, you can be respectful to each other without using first names. In German-speaking countries, I've only ever heard of this in the mountains: above two thousand meters, it's "Du" instead of "Sie".

Hoi – that's how you greet in Liechtenstein

From Sargans to Vaduz (pronounced faˈduts) it takes us only about a quarter of an hour. The capital of Liechtenstein is not far from the Swiss border. No wonder, the whole country measures only 12 by 25 kilometers – and yet it is only the fourth smallest country in Europe, sixth in the world. 37.500 people live here, 5.000 of them in Vaduz. The Rhine separates Liechtenstein from the Swiss canton of St. li. Gallen and on the other side the Vorarlberg greets over from Austria.

Stadtle, the pedestrian zone in Vaduz

Art and strolling mile: the Stadtle in Vaduz

The main shopping street is called Stadtle. In fact, below the Vaduz Castle, everything that makes up Liechtenstein purrs together on the size of a postcard: the treasury of the prince, the parliament in Toblerone form, the art museum, whose black and white cube are connected underground. Behind the brightly polished stone facade, the Hilti Art Foundation shows modern art exhibitions. Hilti (exactly, the one with the drills) is one of the best known companies in the country. In general, industry has played an important role in Liechtenstein for a few decades, and the small state has also established itself as a financial center.

In the middle of the town, we are in the middle of it all; this car-free street is also home to the Liechtenstein Center, the geographic center of the country – and the place to go for vacation tips of all kinds. For example, for the official entry stamp, which no one at the border presses into your passport for a long time now. Seems to be so popular that tourists from all over the world voluntarily stand in line and pay three francs. Free trophy with the Liechtenstein Experience Passport, which we pick up at the center.

With Citycards and similar offers it is often such a thing. Most of them are only worthwhile if you use a lot of the offers. Not so with the Liechtenstein Museum and Experience Pass, which is already worthwhile for us on the first hike. We have the 3-day pass, which allows us to take the bus to the start of our hiking tour for free and later the chairlift from Malbun to the mountain station Sareis. Visits to various museums as well as the treasury are also included.

Parliament in Vaduz Art museum in Vaduz

Picture-book beauty: the princely castle high above Vaduz against the grandiose mountain backdrop

A sound, similar to a quiet roll of thunder, sounds down from the castle. This is the prince, explains the city guide, that's how it sounds when he drives in or out with the car over the wooden drawbridge. The family lives upstairs in the castle, which is why you can't visit it either. Liechtenstein is a democracy-based monarchy – in 2019, the Alpine country celebrates its 300th birthday. Birthday.

We marvel at a selection of works of art from these three centuries in the princely treasury, including the prince's cap, historical weapons and state gifts. Unique is probably the Easter egg collection of the Liechtenstein artist Adulf Peter Goop with the precious apple blossom egg of Karl Faberge.

By the way, chocolate hats are also a popular souvenir from Lichtenstein. The Prince does not wear a crown, but a hat lavishly decorated with pearls, diamonds and rubies.

After visiting the treasury, we stroll through the middle and upper village, the oldest part of Vaduz, which is partly under monument protection. Cobblestone idyll, flowers and vine tendrils decorate the facades – everything here seems village-like in the truest sense of the word. One of the houses stands out due to its strong red color and its staircase-like gable shape. The Red House houses the oldest Torkel (wine press) in Liechtenstein, which is no longer in use.

Red House, Vaduz Middle village in Vaduz

Princely wines and excellent cuisine

Four winegrowers press wine in Liechtenstein full-time, there is not much space in the country. It is no wonder that some hobby winemakers convert their garden into a vineyard without further ado. The good wines are all drunk on site, the quantities are too small for export.

We are of course interested in how wines from Liechtenstein taste (well, to anticipate). In the vinotheque of the prince's court cellar we taste the Pinot Noir, which grows in the "Herawingert" directly in front of the door. The four-hectare vineyard is considered the centerpiece of Liechtenstein viticulture and belongs to the Prince. Vines have been growing here since the 13th century. Century, the winery exists since the 15. Century.

The wines of Liechtenstein go particularly well with the food and so we are pleased that we often find a nice selection of local wines on the wine lists of the restaurants. This is also the case at Restaurant Marèe, which is one of the best in Lichtenstein: a Michelin star, three toques from Gault Millau and repeated awards from gourmet magazines Hubertus Real and his team have already cooked up. The food is terrific, the wine recommendation perfect, and the atmosphere as pleasantly casual as is seldom the case in establishments of this class. The terrace of the Marèes, which is modeled on an eagle's nest, is also beautiful, and from here we have a magnificent view over Vaduz.

Eagle's nest: terrace of the Marèe RestaurantPassport stamp LiechtensteinWinzerhausHergartswengertDegustation at the Princely Court Winery Caramelized pork belly at Restaurant Marèe in Vaduz

Further information and tips:

By car via the A81 via Singen/St. Gallen or the A7/A96 via Memmingen via Feldkirch. If you travel via Austria, you can save the Swiss annual vignette and only need to buy the Austrian 10-day vignette.
By train you can get to Liechtenstein from Stuttgart via Zurich and Sargans. At the border, take bus 11 to Vaduz.

Overnight stay:
We stayed at the Hotel Meierhof in Triesen, only a few minutes away from Vaduz. The bus to Vaduz stops directly in front of the house, so you can leave your car behind. There are also regular good connections to the starting points of the hiking tours.
Hotel Meierhof, Meierhofstr. 15, Triesen,

Food & Drink:
Restaurant Marèe (in the Hotel Sonnenhof), Mareestrasse 29, Vaduz,

Court Winery of the Prince of Liechtenstein, Feldstrasse 4, Vaduz,
A wine tasting (2 wines A 0,1 l) in the princely Hofkellerei is included in the museum and experience passport.

Liechtenstein Center, Stadtle 39, Vaduz,
Website of Vaduz:

With the Museum and Experience Pass, you can ride the bus for free on all LIEmobil lines, visit various museums, as well as receive small gifts, z.B. a free coffee at the Demmel roastery in Schaan.
Valid for one, two or three days, the pass costs CHF 25/29/39 for adults. Available at the Liechtenstein Center or at the Bus Welcome Desk in Vaduz, as well as some other tourist information offices in the country. More info at www.experience

Treasury, Stadtle 37, Vaduz
Tokens for visiting the treasury can be bought at the ticket office of the Postal Museum or the National Museum (8 CHF), with the Museum and Experience Pass the entrance is free of charge.

With the Vaduzer Stadtlezug you can explore the city in the summer on the comfortable tour. Duration ca. 30 minutes (daily 13 and 16.30 hrs), tickets are available at the Bus Welcome Desk (the Citytrain ride is free with the Museum and Adventure Pass).

Small but nice: Vaduz, the capital of the dwarf state Liechtenstein has a lot to offer: Culture, culinary delights and the mountains are also not far away. Ideal for a short trip in between. #Vaduz #Liechtenstein #Travel tips

This is an editorial contribution, which could nevertheless have a promotional effect under certain circumstances. The trip was kindly supported by Liechtenstein Marketing. In my research, I work in part with tourism associations, tour operators and hotels. This has no influence on the nature, content and scope of my articles; my opinion remains, as always, my own.