February 23, 2024

Liechtenstein: a photoessay from one of the world’s tiniest and prettiest capital cities

Lonely Planet calls it a pipsqueak of a country. I don’t think Liechtenstein is the sort of country that would take offence. It it super tiny, it is super rich, and it is picturesque beyond belief, nestled (some would say hidden) right in the middle of Switzerland and Austria.

In fact, this country is so small that is it is easy to miss it on a map or even on a road trip through that part of Europe – you can drive from one end to the other in an hour and so, and not realise that you have drive through another country. The scenery still remains utterly Swiss – clean, green and alpine – with a few medieval castles perched whimsically on top of mountains and edge of cliffs.

Liechtenstein was – and has never been – on my radar, even when I was right next to it, in Switzerland. It just happened that I had a free evening in the old town of Chur and Vaduz came up as a place to visit. And why not? Not just a new city – but a whole new country in a single evening! So, after a couple of bus changes and a journey through postcard pretty landscape, we were in Vaduz, the landlocked capital of Liechtenstein.

True to its reputation for tininess, there is one main road – we walked up and down that high street lined with cute boutiques, kitschy souvenir shops and al fresco cafes several times and finally fetched up in front of the tourism office.

There is one thing – no, two things really – to be said for this city: the utter cheekiness and quirkiness on display all around (see the pictures below), and the fact for such an itty-bitty town, there were half a dozen museums catering to all kinds of interests.

Unfortunately, the museums were shut as was the main castle (or on the verge of closing) by the time we reached. And anyway, I was not in the mood for culture – more like gelato on that hot summer afternoon, and so after some creamy stracciatella ice cream and a fridge magnet for a souvenir, we made our way back to Chur.

A note about the magnet: I fell in love with this country a bit more after seeing the self-effacing humour on the magnet – who wouldn’t? I have to admit that I didn’t know how to spell or pronounce the country’s name till I actually visited it (and I am still not sure I can do it without sneakily checking it online).

And locals are probably aware that this is true for almost every single visitor, and have decided to take it in their stride, and even make a tourist souvenir out of it, tongue firmly in cheek.

A new and thoroughly delightful country discovered. What can be a better way to spend a spare evening in Europe?

Read more about Liechtenstein on their official tourism site

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