Nov 4, 2011 5:32:10 AM
Small and perfectly formed: why your kids will love Liechtenstein
At first glance, it makes a strange kind of sense: when travelling with your mini-mes, where better to go than a miniature country? And happily Liechtenstein, the tiny principality nestled between Austria and Switzerland, has much more to offer than its novelty size: it’s scenic, safe and the perfect destination for travel with children.
Go to Liechtenstein for the bragging rights and passport stamp, but stay because your kids won’t want to leave. With Alpine trails, year-round sports and some of the cheeriest adventure playgrounds around, Liechtenstein packs a wealth of attractions into its borders while retaining its breezy, spacious charm. Here’s a rundown of the best things to do for all the family in this tiniest of getaway spots.
1. Banish boring walks
You can already hear the outcry as your plan for ‘another boring walk’ is met with rebellion. Fortunately a good number of Liechtenstein’s stunning mountain trails are not only a doddle for parents with prams, many are themed to keep children interested. For wannabe knights and princesses, try the Walser Legends Trail with signposted stories and entertaining mythical carvings. Or if there’s a budding astronaut in your brood, the Planet Trail maps out the solar system with silver orbs and signposts, so you can watch as your children race towards Jupiter. And there are plenty of picnic and barbecue spots along the (Milky) way.
2. The littlest adventure park
With its high-adrenaline name, the diminutive Neuguthof Adventure World may be overselling itself a little. But although this Wild West-themed playland doesn’t have any Disney razzle-dazzle or rollercoasters, all that will be forgotten as soon as your kids lay eyes on Rabbit City. The park’s resident fuzzballs have an entire miniature town to lollop around, including a rabbit saloon and rabbit jail. Should your children manage to tear their eyes away, they’ll also be able to stare down the park’s absurdly cute pygmy goats, enjoy a mini safari and run you ragged in the fiendishly difficult corn maze.
3. Games with a mountain view
In winter, take to the slopes in the town of Malbun, a tiny ski resort boasting shorter queues than other Alpine destinations. There are frequently some good offers for kids to ski free too. Malbi-Park, a pint-sized (and fully supervised) snow park, lets littler skiers try out the snow without being unleashed onto grown-up slopes. And for the summer months, you’ll rarely have seen a mini-golf course with as stunning a backdrop as the Swiss Alps. Throw in pristine swimming pools, falconry shows and lungfuls of fresh mountain air, and the kids should be out like a light come bedtime.
4. Sightsee on the miniature train
Every child loves a mini-train, but how often do you get to chug through an entire capital city in a leisurely 35 minutes? The adorable CityTrain weaves through the quaintest streets of Vaduz, pauses by the vineyards and allows show-stopping views of Liechtenstein’s crowning glory, Vaduz Castle (with a few jolly tales of Liechtenstein’s well-loved prince along the way). Warning: this pleasant distraction is almost guaranteed to have your brood singing the maddeningly catchy Liechtenstein CityTrain theme song well into the afternoon.
5. Something for the parents
The family-friendly hotels in Liechtenstein have bonus treats for tired parents. Hotel Turna has a daycare centre and a children’s playroom, and the Gorfion offers children’s swimming classes, a supervised children’s restaurant allowing you the occasional romantic dinner for two, and a ‘sleep in service’ where the hotel will entertain your kids from 7am-11am.
Making the trip
The simplest way to enter Liechtenstein is by car from Switzerland (the closest airport being Zürich). Another easy alternative is taking the number 12 bus from Sargans station in Switzerland, a few minutes’ train ride from Zürich. It’s a smooth journey, with connecting buses every 15 minutes, and the mountain views should keep you and your flock well entertained. The capital, Vaduz, is as easily navigable on foot as you’d expect from this petite country, and most city attractions are within walking distance. Easy bus rides connect Vaduz to Malbun and the rest of the country.
Hit Liechtenstein and more with Lonely Planet’s new Central Europe guide.