One of the smallest and strangest countries in Europe is the Principality of Liechtenstein. It is nestled in the Alps between Austria and Switzerland. Liechtenstein is a German-speaking microstate that few people know about and few people visit. A trip to Liechtenstein is a trip to the fairy tale land of European Alpine times of castles and princes.
Another forgotten European alpine microstate is Andorra between Spain and France. This amazing collection of scenic valleys of a country looks like a downhill ski resort come to country. But the smallest country in Europe and the world is Vatican City (completely surrounded by the city of Rome). Vatican City is a place everyone should visit and despite its small size, it still holds secrets.
What you need to know about the Principality of Liechtenstein
The ruler of Liechtenstein is the Prince of Liechtenstein and is the fourth smallest country in Europe. It has about 39,000 inhabitants and the capital is Vaduz.
Europe is no stranger to microstates. The microstates of Europe are Vatican City, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra and, depending on the criteria, Luxembourg. Additionally, the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) and the Isle of Man function to a large extent as microstates. Another quirk of Europe is Gibraltar – a self-governing British territory.
- Cut: 160 square kilometers (62 sq mi)
- Population: 39,000
- Capital: Vaduz
- Dimensions: 25 km (15 miles) long and 12 km (8 miles) wide
Like many other European microstates, Liechtenstein does not have an international airport, but it can be reached from its neighboring countries by local bus. You don’t have to worry about border crossings as it is part of the Schengen area and traffic is free. The official language of Liechtenstein is German and the official currency is the Swiss franc.
- International Airport: Nothing
A country to visit in the European Alps
“A small country, Liechtenstein nestles between Switzerland and Austria, among mountain ranges that rise steep and rugged above the Rhine.”
For many, Liechtenstein is the stuff of fairy tales. To some extent, it fills the role of a small Alpine principality full of mountainous turreted castles ruled by an iron-willed monarch. It is even the last country in Europe to give women the right to vote in July 1984 after a vote which was only adopted with 51.3% of votes in favor. That being said, today it is a democracy with a very high human development index.
- Women’s vote: Liechtenstein was the last country to grant women the right to vote in 1984
If one is an outdoor enthusiast, there is a lot to explore there. There are hiking trails, ski slopes and eerie castles. Some of the best hiking trails are the routes around Falknis and Naafkop (two of the highest peaks in the country). Other attractions include museums, galleries and (more) castles.
To start planning your trip to Liechtenstein, consult the official tourism website of the Principality of Liechtenstein. The website has all the information one will need – what to do, where to do, what to see and where to sleep.
One of the main attractions is the majestic Gutenberg Castle above the village of Balzers. It is a beautifully preserved fortress dating back to the Middle Ages. During the warmer months, outdoor concerts and outdoor theater performances can be found.
- To open: The castle is open all year round
- Admission: Free entry
Vaduz – The capital of Liechtenstein
It’s hard to call Vaduz a capital “city” when it only has less than 6,000 inhabitants (the city of Schaan is more populated). The city is located on the Rhine and its most prominent landmark is Vaduz Castle perched on a steep hill in the middle of the city. Unfortunately, Vaduz Castle is not open to the public, but impressive photos of the imposing 12th-century structure can still be obtained.
- Population: Less than 6,000
- Smaller : The smallest capital in Europe
It is also the home of the reigning prince of Liechtenstein and the associated princely family. Other notable buildings include the Saint-Florin Cathedral, Government House, City Hall, National Art Gallery, as well as the National Museum.
- Point: Enjoy shopping and dining in Vaduz
Some consider Vaduz to be one of the most picturesque capitals in Europe – regardless, it is certainly the smallest. If one is looking for tourist advice, there is a tourist information center offering everything you need to know to get around the small country.
Best train trips in Canada (and what you’ll see along the way)
About the Author