Day trip to Liechtenstein from Zurich
On our second full day in Zürich, we decided to visit Vaduz, Liechtenstein. We had discovered too many places during our tour of Zürich and had nothing left we needed to visit so we changed our plans and decided to visit Vaduz on Monday, instead of Tuesday. You will find out soon why we should have stuck with our gut and stuck to the Tuesday schedule as we answer what to see in Vaduz.
With a population of only 37,000 across 160 square km. It has an unemployment rate of 1.5%, impressive to say the least, and only accepts 30 some-odd immigration requests per year. As the sixth smallest country in the world, technically a constitutional monarchy with the title of the principality, Liechtenstein is not a formal member of the European Union but does participate in the European free trade and freedom of movement (Schengen). Liechtenstein also uses Swiss currency (CHF).
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When to visit Vaduz
So, it turns out, everything is closed on Mondays. In North America, we celebrate the Sabbath and most shops, museums and public buildings are closed on Sunday. Europe doesn’t have the same customs, so they cater to the will of the people; why be closed on the only two days a week they are available to visit? Many countries have their off-days on either Monday or Tuesday. I have been planning this vacation for a few months now and I had written ‘Tuesday’ in very big letters on the top of my itinerary. Come Monday morning and we were short of something to do (only because Zurich was equally closed on Monday), hubby had the bright idea to visit Vaduz, Liechtenstein. I forgot why I had scheduled it for Tuesday and didn’t think much of it. My itinerary had a list of places that were opened during the winter holidays, and a mention of those that were closed. I failed to note the days of the week that they were open, so we went anyways.
Had we visited on Tuesday, we would have visited the National Museum. In the Summer, the Citytrain also looks like a pretty great option for seeing the city.
Where to eat in Vaduz
Burg Brasserie was maybe 200 m from the Vaduz tourism office and it was highly recommended. When we arrived, we could see why. The menu was in both English and German, which was perfect, and they weren’t closed for lunch (’cause it’s happened before). It was empty when we showed up at 12:30 pm and it quickly picked up after we placed our orders.
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Across the street from the restaurant was a Christmas market skating rink. I couldn’t find any stalls for the market, just a rink decked out in Christmas decorations. Unlike Paris, we had to rent these skates and the sun was coming. After lunch, the Zamboni was clearing away the melted ice and it didn’t look good for our chances of skating today.
Liechtenstein Wine tasting
Shortly after having lunch, not 750 meters away, we found ourselves at the Royal Wineries.
The winery had a great walking path that we could stroll through, looking at all the great vines that would one day make a great bottle of wine for me to buy. The winery has been owned by the royal family since 1712 when they acquired it from the county of Vaduz. The vineyard itself is roughly 4 hectares in size.
In the back room, they offered a wine tasting of 9 CHF per person. This included Pinot Noir; Rose, Medium and Strong (aged in French Oak). I’m more of a wine drinker than wine connoisseur, but I do know a good taste when I smell it. We decided to buy a few bottles of the Medium.
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Since 1938, free access to the castle is no longer possible. It is, however, with a guided tour only, and during the summer months.
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We had some time to kill and it was right there so we took a little detour to check it out. There was a parking spot further up the hill to take a hike around the castle grounds but both kids had already fallen asleep by then – didn’t take long. We took a few pictures from the parking, then slowed way down on the way out so I could snap a few on the way. Considering I am not the photographer, and the cobblestone roads didn’t exactly leave for a steady hand, I think it turned out half-decent.
Now, why didn’t we just pull over and take a pic closer than the parking spot? It is a very curvy road and the traffic was inconsistent. We didn’t feel safe pulling over on the side of a mountain, down being on the outside, just for a few snaps. Going stupid-slow was enough for me.
What to see in Vaduz
We parked in the center of town and found our way to the Vaduz Tourism office. This place was great. There was a load of information pamphlets and maps, inexpensive souvenirs (as opposed to a shop, because everything is still super expensive anyway), and the clerk was able to answer all of my questions. Namely, what was left open and where can we go eat.
The Postage Stamp Museum Vaduz and attached Treasure Chamber were available after the standard lunch-hour closure. Another terrific thing about these parts, instead of staff-rotations, the staff just close the doors and have 1.5 hours break in the middle of the day. Can I have a break to eat my lunch in peace? Cause that would be great.
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The office had an adorable Christmas tree set, which no one wanted to have their photo taken in front of. They both wanted to sit in the chair and wear the crown, except it was right in front of the window and the sunlight coming just ruined it all. But you get an idea of cuteness below; some Chinese tourists asked to have their picture taken with her. If you see her on a billboard or blog somewhere in the future, let me know.
Just before we left, I remember reading something online. Someone, they weren’t specific, will stamp your passport for a small fee. Since Liechtenstein is technically Schengen, there is no border check. For some reason, they have decided that the wishes of the tourists could still be granted. The clerk informed me that she is the one that does the stamping. 4 CHF per passport, we now have Liechtenstein Passport stamp. Yay!
Red House is one of the town’s landmarks. The house was built in 1338 and gots its name from the dark-red colour the building has had since the middle of the 19th century
Kunstmuseum is the state museum of modern and contemporary art. The Liechtenstein Kunstmuseum (Liechtenstein Museum of Fine Arts) has regularly changing exhibits, mostly displaying modern art and modern art installations. There is also a permanent exhibit of the Prince’s own collection, but it is only a very modest part of his large collection. Don’t expect to see cultural or traditional items in this museum. You will have to go across the street to the Landesmuseum. The Kunstmuseum is to display art and not reflect the traditional history of this small country.
In 2008 the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein was voted one of The World’s Top 10 Ugliest Buildings and Monuments, a list compiled by the website VirtualTourist.
The National Museum in Liechtenstein houses a permanent exhibition focusing on the history, culture, and landscape of the Principality of Liechtenstein. It also hosts special exhibitions. Visitors to the three main buildings will find 42 exhibit rooms spread across almost 2000 square meters.
Probably one of the smallest cathedrals in the world, it is definitely worth a few minutes of your time for a quick stop.
Mentioned more in depth below, the Vaduz castle is a great looking castle perched on top of the hill, overlooking the city. The castle underwent a major restoration between 1904 and 1920, then again in the early 1920s during the reign of Prince Johann II, and was expanded during the early 1930s by Prince Franz Joseph II. Since 1938, the castle has been the primary residence of Liechtenstein’s Princely Family. The castle is not open to the public as the royal family still lives in the castle.
Old Rhine Bridge
Only after 1860 when flood-proof dams were created, arose the conditions for the construction of bridges over the Rhine. From 1867 to 1879, 13 covered wooden bridges were built in the Rhine Valley. On July 8, 1870, Sevelen had made the decision to build this last Holzbrücken romantik (Romantic Wooden Bridge) on the Rhine and to stop the Rhine ferry. Of these 13, only the one at Sevelen was left standing. All others had been destroyed by floods or fire or collapsed from old age. Since 1973, however, it is only open to pedestrians and cyclists. For the heavy traffic 200 meters further up a new concrete bridge is available.
It is the oldest surviving wooden bridge in the Rhine.
Das Stadtle – City Centre
This is where we had lunch. All shopping, souvenir shops, the tourism center, Christmas markets with skating rink and restaurants are located here.
Hofkellerei (Wine Cellars) Vineyards
If you are even passing through Liechtenstein you must make a point to stop here. The grounds are beautiful and it was a great break after a long drive. We went in and did the wine tasting in the cellar room. The woman that did the tasting demonstration was so friendly and helpful. We really enjoyed ourselves and the wine is wonderful.We left with 4 bottles to take home with us. You can see the Castle from the vineyard.
With only 4 hectares producing just 36,000 bottles per year and not exporting the wine, this vineyard is one of the most unique in the world.
In the end, this had to be one of our cheapest day trips ever, since we didn’t actually accomplish anything, but we did have a fun time doing it. That must count for something.
Never on a Monday!
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