By Lydia Shu
Tucked between Switzerland and Austria, the world’s sixth smallest country — covering just 160 sq km — offers some breathtaking landscapes and the opportunity to party with royalty.
Winter sports all around
Liechtenstein’s Alpine setting means winter sports are played everywhere — from skiing to snowboarding, and ice skating to sledging. In Malbun, a small village where the landscape remains relatively unspoilt, the intrepid can tackle a 20m-high ice-climbing tower, built by the Liechtenstein Alpine Club.
Not only does Liechtenstein have the third-highest per capita income in the world, but its corporate tax rate of 12.5 per cent has contributed significantly to turning the country into a hub for financial services. This has attracted foreign businesses and kept its unemployment rate down to 1.8 per cent as of February, one of the lowest in the world.
Best of both trade worlds
While not an EU member, Liechtenstein participates in the EU-linked European Economic Area and the Swiss customs union, giving the 300-year-old principality barrier-free access to both the European single market and Switzerland.
It might be small, but Liechtenstein has a variety of scenic trails that make hiking a popular weekend pastime. The Princes’ Way Hike (the Fürstensteig) starts at 1,400 metres above sea level at Alpe Gaflei, passing through the scenic Rätikon mountain range, past Alpe Gafadura and back to Gaflei. There is a spectacular view of the Three Sisters mountains, a chain of three peaks steeped in legend.
The historic Eschnerberg Trail passes through significant archaeological and historical sites such as the prehistoric settlements of Lutzengütle and Malanser, finally leading through a quiet forest to the municipality of Schellenberg. From there, hikers can take in a panoramic view of the Rhine valley, the Alvier mountain, the Rätikon range and the Alpstein.
Family-friendly themed trails include the Walser Legends Trail, firing the imagination with signposted stories of knights and mythical carvings.
A royal garden party
Living in Liechtenstein entitles you to a party invitation from His Serene Highness Prince Hans-Adam II. Much loved by their people, each August the head of state and his son invite residents of their pocket-sized principality to a party in the gardens of Vaduz Castle — the prince’s official residence in the nation’s capital — to celebrate Liechtenstein’s national holiday.
Photographs: Getty Images/iStockphoto; Liechtenstein Marketing; Getty Images; Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images