There wasn’t a lot of Internet info on getting to Liechtenstein. But we made it to Vaduz just fine.
During the planning process for our trip to Europe, I wondered about getting to Liechtenstein. How were we going to do it? Liechtenstein is so small that it doesn’t have an airport, and Pete had his heart set on visiting. I’d found a lovely, historic hotel in Vaduz where we could spend a night between Paris and Munich. Now I just had to get us there.
The Internet didn’t really have a lot of recent information on getting to Liechtenstein (pronounced with “licked en shtein” that rhymes with shine). It is a tiny country sandwiched in a little corner between Switzerland and Austria, which might have been a simple matter for driving, but we weren’t.
Finally, I settled on an incomplete plan. We’d take the high speed TGV Lyria from Paris to Zurich, and then we’d wing it from there. I told Pete I had it figured out. The reality was I hoped I’d see a train connection from the Zurich airport that would get us closer to the border. Someone on the Internet had said that the busses from Vaduz actually crossed and stopped at Swiss train stations. We were going to find out.
Sure enough and soon enough, we disembarked the Lyria in the Zurich station, and quickly connected with an OBB train to Sargans. Getting to Liechtenstein using this route through Switzerland is a visual feast. The train runs along the southern side of Lake Zurich, with a gorgeous blend of mountain scenery and charming cities. Slower speeds made taking in the views so enjoyable. When we got to the Wallensee area (double click the map to enlarge), the mountains got even higher and snowier, and the architectural charm went into overdrive.
When we got to the Sargans station, we began to look for the bright green Liechtenstein bus. And you couldn’t miss it! We quickly hopped on and hoped for the best.
German is not my strong suit, and it became clear to me that we’d hopped the wrong bus, bound for Schaan from Sargans. A kind driver and passenger helped us off and advised us the bus number we’d need from the Schaan station. This tiny mistake cost us about 15 minutes inconvenience.
Heading in to Vaduz, we weren’t sure exactly where the hotel was in relation to the bus stop. Pete punched the hotel’s address into Google maps and we watched our progress. Within another 10 minutes, the bus stopped right next to it! There are advantages to traveling within such a tiny country!
Liechtenstein is a wealthy principality, and it has been a corporate tax haven since the 1970’s, reversing economic dire straits after the end of WWII. The Prince of Liechtenstein himself is said to be the sixth richest person in the world. His approval rating is high within the country, as Liechtenstein’s standard of living is among the world’s highest. Incomes and prices are high. Teachers make the equivalent of $90,000 per year. Swiss frank (CHF) is the official currency; when we visited the exchange rate was close to 1:1. The Liechtenstein government is unicameral, consisting of 25 members. Women received the right to vote in 1984 after a slim majority of male voters approved. Parliamentary and political authority lies with the Prince.
The skyline is dominated by the Prince’s residence, Vaduz Castle. I took these photos on our way to the City Centre, where we got our passports stamped. Locals gave us a warm welcome, and our lack of German wasn’t a barrier. Even though it was January, the weather was temperate. Communities at higher elevations throughout the principality welcome skiers in winter and hikers in summer. Outdoor activities are prioritized and there are many festivals in summer.
We really enjoyed our very brief stay in Vaduz, and found ourselves wishing to return. The next morning it was a matter of getting on the green bus back to Schaan, and hopping a train to Feldkirch to continue on our way to Munich. Consider a visit! Getting to Liechtenstein isn’t that hard!