Have you ever thought, 'Hey, maybe I'll go to Liechtenstein for a day next Saturday?' No? Okay, just me then!
As I have now entered the final year on my UK work visa, I have become cognizant of how much more of Europe there is still to be explored.
Liechtenstein is a very accessible day trip from London. Early in the morning, I flew about an hour and a half flight from London Heathrow to Zurich, Switzerland. Car hire was conveniently located right within Zurich's airport. From there, Vaduz (Liechtenstein's capital) was about an hour and 20-minute drive. And just like that, I made it to Liechtenstein. Ta da!
The first stop was the Vaduz Tourist Information Center. For 3 Swiss franc (or €2.75), I was able to buy a passport stamped.
After getting stamped, I had a nice stroll through the pedestrianized center of Vaduz, where older buildings stand adjacent to recent structures, traffic circles have water features in the middle and the streets are full of modern/contemporary art installations.
Upon gazing upward, I could see Vaduz Castle overlooking the city. Commoners are unable to visit the castle as the princely family still resides there.
The next stop was about a 20-minute drive away, up switchback mountain roads, to Malbun. 1,600 meters (5,249 feet) above sea level, in the Alps, Malbun is Liechtenstein's only ski resort town. In non-winter months, only one chairlift operates. It was 15 Swiss francs to ride and took about 10 minutes to reach the top, climbing another 400-odd meters.
At the top, breathtaking views of the Alps of Liechtenstein and the neighbouring region of Vorarlberg, Austria could be seen from the terrace of the Sareis mountain restaurant, where I dined.
There, I ate typical Liechtensteinian food, had a glass of wine and enjoyed the sweeping vista whilst being serenaded by cow bells.
Post-lunch, I watched a paraglider launch himself from the summit, connected only to a fabric wing, which certainly seemed like the quickest way down the mountain, but I opted for the less adventurous chairlift approach.
From Malbun to Triesen took 20-minutes in the car. The idea was to visit Seilpark im Forest - a rope adventure park. By the time I arrived, I had only about 20-minutes before having to head back to Zurich airport. Also, the mats zip-tied to the trees as a safety precaution didn't seem quite up to snuff, so I decided to give this a pass.
An hour and a bit later, I was back at Zurich airport. I dropped the rental car, passed through security/passport control, walked to the gate, took off, flew and landed back in London all by 8pm.
I found Liechtenstein to be a delightful, albeit tiny, alpine country that was definitely worth a day trip!
For some interesting/funny tidbits about Liechtenstein, read this article.