For many, Liechtenstein is one of those magical places dreamed up by a novelist, but the real beauty of this tiny princedom is that it actually exists. Squeezed between Austria and Switzerland, Liechtenstein may be small, but it’s worth a visit – even if it’s just to get another stamp on your passport. Here are five of the top attractions:
1. Hofkellerei des Fursten von Liechtenstein – or the Prince of Liechtenstein’s wine cellars: Award-winning wines and unbelievable hospitality make this a wine tasting experience you’ll never forget. Signs around the vineyard describe how the grapes go from vine to wine. Wines from Liechtenstein make princely perfect gifts. The wine cellars are located in Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s capital and are open Mondays through Saturdays.
2. “Visiting Vaduz with Goethe”: For lovers of literature, the opportunity to walk in a beloved author’s footsteps is the next best thing to paradise. “Visiting Vaduz with Goethe” is an experience trail taking participants on a voyage through art, culture, architecture, gastronomy and history. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German poet, novelist, dramatist, scientist, humanist, painter, and theorist, spent two June nights in 1788 in Vaduz. The walk is open daily, lasts about 2 ½ hours and participants should wear comfortable shoes. Find information at the bus terminal or tourist office in Vaduz.
3. Birka Bird Paradise: Rare birds from around the globe, including macaws, parakeets, amazons, parrots, peacocks and baby birds, are the highlight of the Birka Bird Paradise. Rare plants and amphibians are also on display. The Paradise, located in Mauren, is a popular year-round destination which includes a playground for children. Visitors are encouraged to explore the nature reserve through an exploratory hike or they can combine a bike tour with a visit to the Bird Paradise. There is no admission charge and the facility is open every day.
4. Falknerei or the Galina falconry: OK, so at the risk of making Liechtenstein seem like it’s all about the birds, the Galina falconry gives visitors the chance to get up close and personal with falcons, hawks, eagles and eagle-owls. Daily from May 13 to Oct. 21, with the exception of Mondays, a professional falconer puts on a unique flight show with his birds of prey. At speeds of up to 95 mph, raptors and swift falcons spiral upward and then plunge down toward the audience and then into the falconer’s hands. The Galina falconry is located in Triesenberg-Malbun.
5. Malbun ski resort: With a ski and snowboard school, terrain for everyone from beginners to advanced skiers and a cross-country course nearby, Malbun is the premier ski resort of Liechtenstein. Buses travel throughout the day from Vaduz. The resort also features mountain climbing and hiking opportunities.
And one more thing: Get your passport stamped! For 1.50 euros, you can get your passport stamped at the tourist offices throughout Liechtenstein. Yes, most of the time, getting your passport stamped is part of the country-hopping deal, but in Liechtenstein you kind of have to go out of your way.
Since Liechtenstein is only about 62 square miles, hopping from town to town isn’t a big deal with their amazingly cheap bus system.