How to Visit Liechtenstein by Rail
Although Liechtenstein has a great location in a gorgeous alpine setting, much of the appeal when you visit Liechtenstein is simply for the novelty. And that’s alright. The country is the only remaining remnant of the Holy Roman Empire and has a lot of history. It fits snugly between Austria and Switzerland, and its citizens are proud to be Liechtensteiners.
Liechtenstein is technically a principality. It’s known for being tiny, stretching just under 25 km (16 miles) long and 13 km (8 miles) wide, and its population is a mere 36,000. There is just one rail station, which is reachable with a Eurail Pass. However, due to the infrequency of trains and probable train changes, it may not necessarily be the best way to reach the country. But it’s not that cut-and-dry. Let me explain.
Getting to Liechtenstein
There are a few different ways to get to Liechtenstein. The easiest, if coming from Zurich, is to first get to Sargans, Switzerland by rail. From Sargans, just south of the Swiss-Liechtenstein border, it’s an easy bus ride north into Liechtenstein. Look for Bus #11, leaving every 30 minutes, which costs five Swiss francs. An express bus (#12 E) leaves every hour, reducing the 30-minute trip.
Another route into Liechtenstein is from Feldkirch, Austria. Once again, it’s Bus #11. In this direction, it makes its way south all the way back to Sargans, stopping along the way at nearly any place you could want to stop in Liechtenstein, including Schaan-Vaduz Station and Vaduz.
If on the odd chance you find the schedule most convenient to take the train all the way into Lichtenstein, the station you’re looking for is called Schaan-Vaduz. This station is located in Schaan, the country’s largest city, located about 4km north of the capital Vaduz. Arrival in Schaan-Vaduz will most likely require changing trains in Buchs/SG (Switzerland).
Where to stay
Feldkirch is a nice place to base yourself while visiting Liechtenstein. It’s close by, has a variety of accommodation options including an excellent hostel, and has a nice old town itself. Feldkirch is substantially less expensive than anyplace in Liechtenstein.
5 reasons to visit Liechtenstein
1. A stamp in your passport
Liechtenstein is an independent country, but because there are relaxed border controls, there will be no record of your visit in your passport. Unless, that is, you visit the tourism information center. The tourism folks will happily stamp your passport for 3 Swiss francs and give you plenty of information for visiting the country. Then you can tell, and show, everyone at home that you’ve visited the 6th-smallest country in the world and one of only two doubly-landlocked countries.
2. A visit to the capital, Vaduz
In addition to a number of museums including the National Museum, the capital Vaduz is home to the New Parliament Building, the Cathedral, and majestic Vaduz Castle. As the official residence of Prince Hans-Adam II, the castle is closed to the public. But you can get an up-close look at the gorgeous 700 year old stone structure after a 20-minute walk uphill. As a bonus, you’ll get a spectacular view over Vaduz and the whole of the country.
3. A hike in the mountains
Liechtenstein is a fantastic place for a hike. This tiny country packs in 250 miles (400 km) of hiking trails, the highest of them reaching 8,527 feet (2,600 meters). Wherever you trek, the view will likely be glorious: up into the rugged alpine terrain or down onto the green river valley. You don’t have to be an experienced hiker. Some of the easiest walking trails go on a simple, easy-to-get-to path 15 minutes above the valley floor. Plus, all trails are well-maintained and marked.
4. Hitting the slopes in winter
If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during winter, head up to Malbun-Steg for some classic wintertime activities in the Alps including downhill skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. Liechtenstein is an alpine country. So what would a trip here be without seeing its mountains with snow?
5. A stamp on your postcard
Liechtenstein is famous for its philately. That’s fancy-speak for the study of stamps. Besides stopping in the Postage Stamp Museum, you’ll want to send a postcard home to your friends with a Liechtenstein stamp. Liechtenstein may use Switzerland’s money, but they have their own postal service and unique stamps.