L iechtenstein is famous for two things: its size and its stamps. The Principality is about the size of Akron, Ohio with only 13% of the population. And as for those postage stamps, the finely engraved mini-works of art depict the monarchy, nature, history, art and religion, among other subjects, and are so popular with collectors they provide 25% of the government’s income.
You should understand that unless you have a car it is a bit difficult to visit. Shoehorned between Switzerland and Austria, the Principality’s nearest airport is in Zurich. There is a train station in the capital of Vaduz, but no European express trains make the stop, although you can make bus or train connections from Switzerland.
Still, though, it’s a country with stunning natural beauty, fairy-tale castles (one home to the reigning prince), mountain meadows and small Alpine villages. There’s not a lot to do in Vaduz since Liechtenstein is a place one visits primarily to enjoy the outdoors — all its villages have extensive networks of hiking trails, and in summer guided half- or full-day tours can be arranged through the Liechtenstein Alpine Association. In winter, attention turns towards skiing, snowboarding and other snow activities.
And it does have its fairytale castles. In fact, as one would expect, His Serene Highness Hans-Adam II, the reigning prince of Liechtenstein, resides in one, a fortress complete with massive ramparts and red and white medieval shutters, perched high above Vaduz and the Rhine Valley below. Unfortunately, it is not open to the public.
Finally, if you’re one who collects passport stamps be aware that passports aren’t routinely stamped when you enter Liechtenstein. If you want to get a stamp go to the tourist office’s Liechtenstein Center and have it stamped for 2 SF or, in the summer, at the info booth in the bus terminal.
Oh, and one other thing — you can now rent Liechtenstein. Yes, rent it, as in rent a hotel room or rent a car. The principality, best known among businessmen for its tax-haven status, has decided to rent itself out for $70,000 a night, including customized street signs, temporary currency and accommodations for up to 150 guests.
Good to Know
There’s not a lot to do in the capital but Valduz does have several notable museums.
Now here’s a way to avoid all the hassles of planning for a trip — rent Leichtenstein for your next vacation.