As you may have gathered by now, visiting Europe isn’t exactly a simple feat as there are so many hidden nooks and crannies to explore that you are going to want to see them all at once. One such hidden jewel is the doubly-landlocked microstate known as Liechtenstein. Bordered by Switzerland and Austria, it has an estimated population of 37,000 and a total area of 160 square kilometres. So, before you get on the plane to explore its elusive scintillation, keep these top five things in mind!
Ok, so here’s the basic guideline: Liechtenstein is a friendly and peaceful country. With its size and population in mind, it is important to understand that just about everyone knows everyone. For this particular reason, people are so polite that they are going to say hello to you even when they pass you by in common places. To emphasize their friendliness, the Liechtensteiners do not expect tips. Despite the aforementioned, 5-10% extras are gladly accepted and cherished. If you consider the service to be impeccable, do not succumb avarice and slide them a few extra coins. While it does not influence future service at the establishments at hand, tipping is something to deeply consider when faced with such warm professionalism.
2. Size and navigation:
When you first saw how small Liechtenstein really was, you were probably wondering what the best way to get around was. While we can effortlessly state that all professional and semi-professional trekkers are going to have no trouble circumnavigating the entire country on foot, the best possible way to get around is on a bike – eco-friendly and you are going to explore the grandeur first-hand. With a total water percentage of just over 2.7%, it is a place to cherish for what it is: riddled with ridges, hilly and green. Oh, and did you know that the Principality of Liechtenstein (for that is what it is called officially), is the sixth smallest country in the world (beaten only by the Vatican, Monaco, Nauru, Tuvalu, and San Marino)?
3. Language barriers:
Before you jump to conclusions, know that the official language in the Principality is German. This may seem simple on paper if you are a speaker, but know that it is not just any kind of German; it is the Alemannic Dialect. Now, if you know how German works, you know that you’ll need quite a tuned ear to catch its subtle nuances. The Alsatian Dialect can also be heard here and there but the one that you should be more concerned about is the previous one for it is spoken by 84% of the population. In spite of all that, the locals can switch to Standard German at any given time. Oh, and did you know that most of the locals speak English to some degree? Well, it seems that there are no language barriers in Liechtenstein after all (wink)!
4. National identity:
This is quite an important thing if you want to stay on the polite side of things: the Liechtensteiners will never refrain from reminding you that they are a sovereign state (for centuries now) and that they are neither a part of Austria, nor of Switzerland. It is considered impolite or downright offensive to tell them that “they are all the same” or that “they are like the Germans”. These people are fairly traditional (which includes influences from Catholicism) and they will respect you until you respect them. On Sundays, the streets of Vaduz (the capital) will be almost empty with a few tourists here and there. This is due to the fact that the local residents go to church and they practice the “rest day” concept. If you want to break the ice, always accentuate how much you are impressed by the beauty and the prosperity of Liechtenstein – this will often ignite amicable verbal exchanges revolving around local values.
Yes, you read that right! Liechtenstein is an excellent place if you want to spend some time in an ever-changing environment. Various microclimates form depending on elevation and you might want to consider packing an umbrella or at least some thicker clothes. Since many locations in the country look rural, they will be unparalleled for those who wish for a more tranquil experience. While Liechtenstein is one of the safest places in Europe, locals highly advise travellers not to get off the beaten path due to environmental hazards. If you are a daredevil, of course, we cannot stop you (wink)!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in the Principality of Liechtenstein and what aftertaste have they left you with? Share your knowledge with the world in the comment section below and be sure to check back from time to time! Safe travels!