Visiting the sixth smallest country in the world feels a little like stepping into the setting for an old-school thriller. Nestled between Switzerland and Austria, this double landlocked principality has the iron-willed ruler, fairy tale castles and rugged mountains beloved of romantic tales of daring exploits.
In fact, Liechtenstein is very civilised, and one of the richest (and dearest!) countries in the world. Vaduz, the capital, sits on the River Rhine and boasts a turreted castle complete with resident Princely Family and 12th-century keep, a neo-gothic cathedral and museums of modern art and archaeology.
The Triesenberger Wochen food festival serves up centuries-old dishes like Öpfelchüachli (apple-filled doughnuts) every October/November.
If you enjoy ticking off challenges, Liechtenstein offers quick wins. You can traverse the entire country relatively quickly, from side to side or top to tail.
We weren’t so ambitious, selecting Section One of the Panoramaweg Trail (pleasingly, signposted as route 66). This 13km trek over Liechtenstein’s mountainous spine began with a a ride on the disquietingly creaking chair life from the eerily deserted ski resort of Malbun. Despite it being September, we found ourselves hiking in falling snow, reducing the famous views to murky smudges and making the knife-edge ridges tricky to navigate. After welcome respite in a mountain hut, the weather mellowed, and we were treated to wonderful rolling vistas and the oddly comforting clang of enormous traditional cowbells. The charming, foolish faced of marmots, which popped up at regular intervals, cheered us even further.
After an intrepid crossing over a freezing river, the comforts of Berggasthaus Sucka, a cosy Alpine lodge decorated with cowbells, were very welcome. There are no words to do justice to the oozy, cheesy goodness of the Tartiflette that we devoured for dinner.
Gutenburg Castle in Balzers is free to visit and hosts outdoor concerts and plays in its rose gardens over the summer.
This is a feature from Issue 4 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.