Although Liechtenstein is one of the tiniest countries in Europe, its unusually picturesque landscape compensates for the modest size. Moreover, it advertises its 'right size' as an advantage which helps us better understand it. Landlocked between Austria and Switzerland, Liechtenstein is an Alpine country, offering excellent opportunities for skiing and a beautiful countryside.
The country has maintained close ties with neighbouring Switzerland, and its general appearance is quite similar to the typical Swiss landscape – dyllic and tidy villages, green meadows and dramatic mountains form the stereotypical Alpine countryside. The country is predominantly agricultural and tourism is one of the main branches of its economy. Its territory is crossed by the wide Rhine Valley, running from the south to the north along western border of Liechtenstein.
The principality was established in the early 19th Century as a part of the Holy Roman Empire of Germany. Long centuries of relations with Austria, Switzerland and German duchies, especially Bavaria, have contributed to Liechtenstein’s culture, which embraces many elements of its neighbours’ traditions. German is the official language of Liechtenstein, but English is sufficient to survive. During its history, Liechtenstein was always neutral during military conflicts, a fact which Liechtensteiners are proud of.
Travellers visiting the capital city, Vaduz, should see the Vaduz Castle. Although it can be viewed from the outside only, it is worth attention for its monumental architecture and scenic location. Vaduz only has around 5,000 inhabitants, but offers remarkable historic and cultural sights. Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein is known both for its original ultra-minimal architecture, which resembles a black box, and extensive collection of modern and contemporary art. The National Museum of Liechtenstein attracts with an array of various items from many periods, such as archaeology, history and many kinds of art. A number of theatres, cinemas and festivals complete the list of the capital’s attractions.
Gutenberg Castle is another popular attraction and is located in Balzers. The Medieval castle is perched on a high rock, overlooking the town. The Schellenberg ruins, located in the northern Liechtenstein, are remnants of a 13th-century castle. However, it has been proved that the first settlements on this area date back to the third millennium BC. Its picturesque location makes it a very attractive tourist destination in Liechtenstein.
Liechtenstein is a mountainous country, a feature that is important for skiers. Ski resorts in Liechtenstein are generally smaller than the Swiss and Austrian ones, and therefore, they are cosier and the prices are more reasonable. The most popular winter resort is Malbun, which attracts fans of many winter sports from skiing to snowboarding, or sledding and skating. In the summer, mountains provide excellent conditions to practise other sports, such as hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. The local infrastructure is well developed, especially hiking trails and paths, as well as the great golf courses in Schaan, and not to mention the excellent cycling routes. Stunning views are included, no matter if you come during the summer or winter.
Liechtenstein is known as a tax haven, luring businesses from all over the world with low taxes and secrecy. There are no airports in Liechtenstein, but the country is easy accessible via Zurich airport which is some 100 kilometres away. Another close airport is situated in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Liechtenstein is less-known than its larger neighbours, but it features all the expected charms of the Alpine countryside and can be a wonderful alternative for pleasant laid-back holidays.