1. The Scenic Train Ride Along the Zurichsee and Wallensee
Getting there is half the fun. It's pretty straightforward to get to Liechtenstein from Zurich. Catch the train from the Zurich Hauptbahnhof to Sargans near the Liechtenstein border. The Liechtenstein public bus stops at Sargans and you can ride all day (hop on and hop off) with your train ticket (select Vaduz as the destination at the train station ticket machine in Zurich). The train ride from Zurich to Sargans features stunning views of Zurichsee and Wallensee.
2. Have a Hills-Are-Alive-with-the-Sound-of-Music Moment
I find wikitravel to be a helpful resource particularly for less touristy destinations. I was looking for potential places to stop on the bus rather than just heading straight to Liechtenstein's capital of Vaduz. The wikitravel page for Liechtenstein tipped me off to Balzers. We got off the bus and climbed the hill toward the local castle. As I looked down on the valley below, I felt the urge to spin around Sound of Music style and start singing. Not wanting to spook my colleague with my off-key voice, I resigned myself to singing silently on the inside. It felt great to be on a day trip to Liechtenstein!
3. Liechtenstein's Charming Churches
Balzers also features a lovely church nestled between nearby peaks. I particularly liked the gold writing on the church reinforcing the fact that we were in Liechtenstein!
4. Have Liechtenstein's Castles All to Yourself
I found Liechtenstein in general and Balzers in particular to be very zen. We took our day trip from Zurich to Liechtenstein on a Saturday morning and walked through the streets and up the hill to the castle. We saw just one man walking his dog. Otherwise, we had the Balzers to ourselves. From the castle perched on the hill, we admired the stunning views of Liechtenstein below.
5. Liechtenstein's Sweeping Vineyards
Also in Balzers we were able to walk among sweeping vineyards. It turns out that Liechtenstein produces a respectable Pinot Noir (I grabbed a bottle to take home at a supermarket in the capital). On to Vaduz, Liechtenstein's capital city!
6. Follow the 'Yellow Brick Road' in VaduzWe rode the public bus from Balzers to Vaduz and were deposited at the bus depot in the center of town. We soon learned that Vaduz has its very own yellow brick road. Again I had to resist the urge to start singing we're off to see the Wizard...the wonderful Wizard of Oz! The good thing about Vaduz is that it's super easy to get around and if you follow the yellow brick road, it will take you to the heart of Liechtenstein's small capital city (less than 10 minutes walking end to end).
7. Explore the Largest Open Air Art Exhibit in Europe
As we walked down the yellow brick road (I was mentally skipping of course...), we soon noticed all sorts of intriguing sculpture around us. It turns out that Liechtenstein is home to the largest open air art exhibit in Europe. Who knew? I love fun and visually stimulating surprises like these on my bleisure day trips.
8. Eat Liechtenstein's Comfort Food
We had just enough time for a walk around Vaduz and a quick lunch before heading back to the bus for the return journey to Zurich (I told you this was a whirlwind day trip!). The cuisine in Liechtenstein is similar to Swiss food - definitely hearty fare. I tried cheesy spaetzle with fried onions on top. It was comforting and delicious on a chilly Spring day in the mountains.
9. Send the Ultimate Postcard
I'll level with you. One of the main reasons I wanted to make the journey from Zurich to Liechtenstein was the excuse to send an envy-inducing postcard to friends and family :-) We were definitely able to do this in style. The shops in Liechtenstein selling postcards also sold picturesque local stamps to match. In fact, Vaduz features a postage stamp museum that my friend really wanted to see. Sadly, it didn't open on Saturdays until the afternoon when we were scheduled to be on our way back to Zurich to catch our flight. Make sure to allow yourself a full day in Liechtenstein if you want to see all the sights.
10. Check Another Country Off Your List
I'll level with you again. Another reason we decided to embark on this day trip from Zurich to Liechtenstein was so that we could tick another country off our bucket list. Why not...you only live once and I certainly want to see as much of the world as I possibly can.
And with that, I raise a virtual glass of Liechtenstein Pinot Noir and offer a toast: Here's to a successful (and only slightly ridiculous!) 'bleisure' day trip adventure in Liechtenstein.
Getting to Liechtenstein from Zurich
To get to Liechtenstein from Zurich, buy your ticket from the SBB kiosk at the Hauptbahnhof in Zurich with Vaduz as the destination. If you have more time, it's possible to take the bus to the train station in Buchs at the northern end of Liechtenstein and return to Zurich from here to avoid backtracking.