Hidden Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein, one of two doubly landlocked countries in the world, is known as a winter sports haven because of its location: wedged between Switzerland and Austria. If you’ve ever wanted to go down professionally-groomed toboggan runs, then Liechtenstein is the principality for you.


Like many microstates, Liechtenstein has a very visible sense of its own history. Because of its history of affluent aristocrats, you will find tons of private and public art galleries in Liechtenstein that features some truly amazing works by artists like Picasso, Beuys, and Moore, and museums host annual expositions to show them off. The art scene extends into music as well, with operetta being very popular. Every year, the operetta societies in Liechtenstein (alternating between the cities of Vaduz and Balzers) organize on a comprehensive operetta season (what else would you expect from a bunch of ex-aristocrats?)


Winter sports is why Liechtenstein really shines as a tourist destination. The Alps provide fantastic opportunities for downhill skiing and snowboarding, and you’ll find well-groomed cross-country trails. Recreation areas are concentrated in two regions: Malbun and Steg. Malbun is very well equipped, with six ski lifts, a toboggan run, and footpaths. I haven’t been to Steg, but I’ve heard that it is similarly equipped.


If strange, borderline bloodthirsty German festivals are your cup of tea (and whose cup are they not?) you should try to be in town for Funkensonntag – literally “Spark Sunday.” Every year, just before Easter, hordes of Liechtensteiners build large bonfires and burn witches made of straw on them. They claim that it merely harkens back to heathen ceremonies to drive away winter – so let that be a lesson to any witches out there: If you’re in Liechtenstein, steal the sun at your own peril.


As you can see, Liechtenstein has a lot to offer, no matter the season. It’s a great destination, and fun to see what has become of the old German aristocracy.