One of the smallest and oddest countries in Europe is the Principality of Liechtenstein. It is tucked away in the Alps between Austria and Switzerland. Liechtenstein is a German-speaking microstate that few people even know about and fewer people ever visit. A trip to Liechtenstein is a trip back into fairy tale land of the alpine European ages of castles and princes.

Another forgotten European alpine microstate is Andorra between Spain and France. This stunning collection of picturesque valleys-of-a-country feels like an alpine-ski-resort-come-country. But the smallest country in Europe and all the world is Vatican City (completely surrounded by the city of Rome). The Vatican City is a place everyone should visit and despite its tiny size is still packing secrets.


What To Know About The Principality of Liechtenstein

The ruler of Liechtenstein is the Prince of Liechtenstein and is Europe's fourth-smallest country. It has a population of around 39,000 and the capital is Vaduz.

Europe is no stranger to microstates. The microstates of Europe are the Vatican City, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, and depending on one's criteria, Luxemburg. Additionally, the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey) and the Isle of Man function as microstates to a large degree. Another oddity of Europe is Gibraltar - a self-governing British territory.

  • Size: 160 square kilometers (62 square miles)
  • Population: 39,000
  • Capital: Vaduz
  • Dimensions: 25 km (15 miles) long and 12 km (8 miles) wide

Like many other European microstates, Liechtenstein lacks an international airport, but one can access it from its neighboring countries by a local bus. One doesn't need to worry about border crossings as it is part of the Schengen Area and movement is free. The official language of Liechtenstein is German, and the official currency is the Swiss Franc.

  • International Airport: None

Related: Tourists Can Now Experience The Vatican In A Private, Early Morning Tour

A Country Worth Visiting While In The European Alps

"A pipsqueak of a country, Liechtenstein snuggles between Switzerland and Austria, among mountain ranges that rise steep and rugged above the Rhine."

Lonely Planet

For many, Liechtenstein is the stuff of fairy tales. To some degree, it fills the role of a small alpine principality full of mountainous turreted castles governed by an iron-will monarch. It was even the last country in Europe to give women the vote in July 1984 after a vote that was only passed with 51.3% in favor. That being said, today it is a democracy with a very high Human Development Index.

  • Women Vote: Liechtenstein Was The Last Country to Give Women The Vote In 1984

If one is an outdoor enthusiast, then there is plenty for one to explore there. There are hiking trails, ski slopes, and foreboding castles. Some of the best hiking trails are the routes around Falknis and Naafkop (two of the country's tallest peaks). Other attractions include museums, galleries, and (again) castles.

To start planning one's trip to Liechtenstein, check out the Official tourism website of the Principality of Liechtenstein. The website has all the information one will need - what to do, where to do, what to see, and where to sleep.

One of the main attractions is the majestic Gutenberg Castle high above the village of Balzers. It is a beautifully preserved fortress dating from the Middle Ages. In the warmer months, one may find open-air concerts and outdoor theatrical performances.

  • Open: The Castle is Open Year-Round
  • Admission: Admission Is Free

Related: Why Tiny Gibraltar Is Worth Visiting (And How You Can See Its Resident Monkeys)

Vaduz - The Capital of Liechtenstein

It's hard to call Vaduz a capital "city" when it only has a population of less than 6,000 (the town of Schaan has a larger population). The town is situated on the Rhine River and its most prominent landmark is Vaduz Castle perched as it is on a steep hill in the middle of the town. Unfortunately, Vaduz Castle is not open to the public but one can still get impressive photos of the imposing 12th-century structure.

  • Population: Less Than 6,000
  • Smallest: Europe's Smallest Capital

It is also the home of the reigning Prince of Liechtenstein and the associated princely family. Other notable buildings include the Cathedral of St. Florin, Government House, City Hall, the National Art Gallery, as well as the National Museum.

  • Tip: Enjoy Shopping and Dining in Vaduz

Some consider Vaduz to be one of the most picturesque capitals of Europe - be that as it may, it is certainly the smallest. If one is looking for tourist advice there is a tourist information center offering everything one needs to know to get around the petite country.