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Why carry an IDP while driving in Liechtenstein?

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world – it is understandable to most of the local officials and authorities of the countries you visit.

It translates your identification information into 12 languages — so it speaks the language even if you don’t. Liechtenstein highly recommends an International Driving Permit.

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The country may be one of the world’s smallest, but when it comes to beauty and charm, it’s certainly one of the world’s biggest. Liechtenstein, or to give its full name in German, Fürstentum Liechtenstein (Principality of Liechtenstein), is among the world’s wealthiest; however, the country is the second least visited in Europe. This means, at least among seasoned travelers, that the country isn’t overrun with tourists.

Often overlooked by travelers, this tiny Principality has much to offer than just the novelty of visiting a country you can cross in less than half an hour by car. It offers a diversity of destinations, like idyllic Alpine villages where you can hike spectacular trails in the summer and ski on its Alpine slopes in the winter, its winery, castles, museums, and Michelin-starred restaurants. International driving permits are essential, especially to a foreign driver, to ensure you can drive in foreign countries, so it's best to get one now.

Malbun Ski Resort

One of Europe’s best-kept secret skiing destinations, the ski resort in Malbun, Liechtenstein is located 1,600 meters (5,249 feet) above sea level, just two kilometers from the Austrian border. Set in the stunning beauty of the Alpine mountains, the slopes here are comparable with the best of what other ski resorts in the Alps can offer. Downhill is about 23 kilometers long and caters to skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Seven ski lifts are available for guests to take them up the slope.

The Malbun ski resort also has a snow park, where your kids can enjoy an actual winter wonderland. Beginners of all ages can also try out the snow park’s courses. More advanced skiers and snowboarders can also enjoy the slopes and obstacles. The resort is a small one compared with other ski resorts in the Alps, with only a handful of hotels amid the private homes and chalets. The ski resort is open from December to April.

How to get there?

The closest major airport to Malbun is the Zurich International Airport in Switzerland. From there, you can drive your car on the excellent Swiss motorway system through the border of Liechtenstein. The distance is about 125 kilometers and will take you about an hour and a half of driving. If you’re looking for a closer airport, there is an airport located in Friedrichshafen, Germany near Lake Constance. The airport, however, is small and flights are limited.

From Vaduz, it is only 15 kilometers via Landstrasse. The road up on the mountain is narrow in some places and allows only one vehicle to pass, but you’ll be treated with a stunning view of the capital and other nearby areas below. The drive takes about 15 minutes. Make sure your driving license and international driver’s license in Liechtenstein are in order. To apply for an international driving permit online, fill out the application form and submit your original driver's license.Also, don't forget to bring snow chains when going to the ski resort.

When you arrive, you will be welcomed by the resort’s friendly staff, and unlike the more popular ski resorts, there are no crowds. Just a serene, idyllic mountain getaway where you can ski and have fun with your family and friends.

What are facts about the destination?

It is interesting to note that in 1985, Princess Diana and Prince Charles went on a skiing holiday here in Malbun. And in 1968, the Swiss Army threw (accidentally) five grenades at Malbun. Thankfully, no one was hurt, except for a few ski chairs. It happened apparently during the off-season.

A police spokesman from Liechtenstein said, “Of course we shall protest. But only mildly. It was obviously an accident.” Liechtenstein for its part hasn’t had an army since 1868. It has close ties with neutral Switzerland, which protects its peaceful, diminutive neighbor.

Vaduz Castle

The castle rests on the side of a hill, around which are imposing snow-capped mountains overlooking Vaduz the capital, a symbol of the country’s medieval past. It’s hard to miss; visitors can see Schloss Vaduz even from Switzerland. Historians believe that the castle was originally a fortress built in the 12th century. The castle came into the possession of the current Prince’s ancestors in 1712.

A foreign driver should hold an international driving permit and original driver's license to legally drive vehicles in this country. The International Drivers Association issues international driving permits to let tourist drivers have the opportunity to drive vehicles in foreign countries instead of taking public transport.

What is its Historical Significance?

The west wing served as the family’s official residence until 1732; the castle has undergone renovations several times over the years since then. In the early 1930s, the castle was extended under Prince Franz Josef II. In 1939, the Prince and his family moved and made Schloss Vaduz the official residence of the ruling family. Today, the castle is still the official residence of the current prince, Prince Hans-Adam II and his family.

A trip to the Principality won’t be complete without a visit to the 900-year-old castle. It is said that the castle is filled with priceless works of art, but the family sold a few after World War II to raise money for the cash-strapped Principality. That was then; the Principality is now among the wealthiest countries in the world.

The 130-room castle is divided into different apartments for the royal family’s use. There is also a private chapel inside the castle, where the family attends weekly mass – the country’s official religion is Roman Catholic, after all. This is also the venue where the cabinet members of Liechtenstein are sworn in.

What is it famous for?

Visitors can only see the castle’s exterior since the castle is not open to the public. Except for one day of the year - on Liechtenstein’s National Day or Staatsfeiertag, every August 15. Locals and visitors lucky enough to be given a ticket are invited inside the castle grounds to mingle with the royal family. This much-anticipated event is popular not only among the locals but with tourists as well.

The National Day usually begins with an official reception on the lawn in the castle’s garden, with speeches by the Prince and the president of the parliament. This is followed by drinks in the garden. In the afternoon, there is a large fair in the center of Vaduz, which continues until the early hours of the morning. The festivities are concluded in the evening with a fireworks display above the Vaduz Castle.

You may not be among the lucky ticket holders to hobnob with the affable Prince, but the castle is still a must for any visitor. It is a mere 2-kilometer away from the city via 28 and Furst-Franz-Josef-Strasse - just a 4-minute uphill drive. At the top is the castle and the sweeping view of the city; and beyond, the stunning vista of the Rhine River and the Swiss Alps. Don't forget to bring snow chains if you're driving during winter.

The Prince of Liechtenstein Winery

Another “must visit” is the Hofkellerei des Fursten von Liechtenstein, or the Wine Cellar of the Prince of Liechtenstein. Located about a kilometer away from the city center, wine enthusiasts should definitely pay a visit to this winery. The winery is home to the Herawingert vineyards, one of the most well-regarded vineyards in the Rhine Valley.

The winery is open to the public all year, from Monday to Saturday. They’re closed on Sundays, like most of the businesses in the country. Visitors can go on a guided tour through the vineyards, observe the wine-making process, and taste the best wines the Hofkellerei has to offer. There isn’t any bad time of the year to visit the vineyard, as the winery is open even during winter.

You and your group can visit anytime between 8 am to 6 pm, but come at least an hour before closing time. Groups of 10 or more should make a reservation before dropping in to give the winery staff sufficient time to prepare. Keep in mind that the legal drinking age in Liechtenstein is 16 for beer, wine, and cider; for liquors and other spirits-based beverages, it is 18. Always bring your documents with you - passports, original driver's license, and international driver’s permit for Liechtenstein.

What is it famous for?

Measuring about four hectares, the vineyard’s location has a mild climate and the warm, southerly wind called the “föhn,” known as the “grape-cooker,'' gives the area a climate well-suited for wine-growing. This area has been producing wine for two thousand years and has been in the Prince’s family since 1712. Its excellent quality of soil is ideal for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

The winery’s Pinot Noir, known locally as Blauburgunder or Blue Burgundy, is particularly famous for its refinement, like its Chardonnay. So don’t forget to bring home a few bottles of these rare and exceptional wines. They are not available to purchase elsewhere, except for a few specialty wine shops in Switzerland.

During April, the winery hosts Wine Tasting ceremonies with great pomp, where locals taste the new wines from the last harvest. At the start of the grape harvesting season in autumn, locals are invited to be grape pickers where they take great pride in hand-picking the year’s harvest, which lasts for a few days. After the harvest, they all sit down to dinner, eating, and drinking wines from earlier harvests.

This region has been producing wine for two thousand years, a tradition began by Celtic tribes that had settled in the area. The tradition continued down the ages, until the area, including the winery, was acquired by the current Prince’s ancestors. Today, the winery is popular for its white wines like Chardonnay, and its red wines like the Blauburgunder. Liechtenstein today is regarded as the world’s smallest wine-producing country.

Important Driving Rules in Liechtenstein

You should always follow road traffic rules when driving in another country. While we are familiar with the most obvious ones, it doesn’t hurt to have a checklist ready on what to do and what not to do when driving in a foreign country. After all, you wouldn’t want to be put in an uncomfortable situation, would you? These road traffic rules are imposed to secure everyone's road safety, so it's important to follow them. In Liechtenstein, you drive on the right side.

  • Driving age is 18 years; if you want to rent a car, you have to be at least 21. You should always bring your driving license when driving in Liechtenstein. A foreign driver like you should also bring an International Driver's Permit. The IDA is an organization that issues international driving permits recognized in over 150 countries.
  • Do not drink and drive. This is one of the most important road traffic rules you need to follow as it is one of the leading cause of accidents not only in Liechtenstein but also to other countries.
  • Speed limit is 50 kph in urban areas; 80 kph in rural areas; 120 kph in motorways.
  • Seatbelts are mandatory, for the driver and passengers – front and rear seats.
  • Dipping your headlights is obligatory when driving through tunnels.
  • When driving, the use of mobile phones is banned; you can only use your phone hands-free.
  • Third-party insurance is mandatory.
  • Honking at night is verboten.
  • Drivers who wear glasses or contact lenses should have a spare in the vehicle.
  • You are not allowed to drive if your windscreen is obscured by frost.
  • During winter, you should have snow chains in the car with you, in case you come across roads that require them.
  • You should have spare bulbs for your car’s external lights, a fire extinguisher, and a first aid kit in your car.
  • Hitch-hiking isn’t allowed on motorways and other major roads.
  • During the day, sound your horn when you are approaching a sharp bend with limited visibility; flash your headlights instead during nighttime.
  • You should have your driver’s license and international driving license in Liechtenstein with you, as well as insurance details, car registration documents, and an emission test certificate.
  • Unlimited time free parking places are marked as “White Zones.”
  • “White Zone Pay & Display” are pay-parking zones with time limitations. Drivers should display on dashboards tickets purchased at a meter.
  • “Blue Zones” are for vehicles with blue parking discs, which are available at police stations, tourist offices, and banks. (Disc parking is a system of allowing time-restricted free parking through the display of a parking disc or clock disc that shows the time on which the vehicle was parked.) Blue Zones are also used for disabled parking.
  • “Yellow Zones” are no parking zones.
  • There are no toll roads in Liechtenstein, but remember that toll roads exist in Austria and Switzerland. So, if your road trip will pass through these countries, you will have to buy road tax stickers (vignettes) for these countries and display them on your windshield.
  • You must switch off your engine when stopped at a traffic light or road crossing.

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