This Country Quietly Opened Europe’s Best New Thru-Hike Last Year

Scratch "walk across a nation" off the bucket list

Liechtenstein
Fürstentum Liechtenstein
By Tanner Garrity / February 24, 2020 1:35 pm

Your daily commute probably lasts longer than a drive across Liechtenstein. The double-landlocked European nation (the countries “landlocking” it — Switzerland and Austria — are also landlocked) is the continent’s fourth-smallest after Vatican City, Monaco and San Marino, and can be cranked through, end-to-end, in under 45 minutes.

For that reason, Liechtenstein’s long been Europe’s resident drive-through nation — a perfect day-trip spot that rarely sees visitors devote days or weeks at a time. But to commemorate its 300th birthday last year, Liechtenstein went the way of other smaller European nations, and devised a sustainable rebranding scheme meant to catalyze tourism in the 2020s.

In short: the Liechtenstein Trail. It’s a 45-mile, 100%-continuous thru-hike, which can be walked north to south or vice versa. It meanders up mountains, through 800-year-old castles, and past friendly locals, who for now at least, seem keen on the idea; according to writer JoAnna Haugen, who hiked the path with her dad and husband last October, townspeople have taken to leaving out free pears and schnapps for hikers.

Haugen reports that her group comprised the 29th, 30th and 31st people to officially hike the Liechtenstein Trail. We’d imagine that that number has hit the hundreds since last fall, but heading into the spring, as sections of the trail (which ascend up to 6,500 feet) thaw out, the time is now to plan your trip. Younger generations are travel-obsessed, and Instagram can’t keep a secret for long.

While there, make sure to download the LIstory App. Liechtenstein marked the trail with 147 points of interest, which connect via GPS to the app and spit out all sorts of facts of historical or geographical facts. The idea — you’ll eat some croissants and take some pictures of cute cows, but leave with knowledge and respect for Liechtenstein, too.

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