uni.liLIECHTENSTEINThe hiking culture in Liechtenstein

The hiking culture in Liechtenstein

1st Blog: Lotte von Hofacker 08.10.22



On August 26th I left Bergen, my hometown in Norway. I departed from the harbor in Bergen and took the ferry 18 hours south- across Østersjøen and down to Hirtzhals in Denmark. From there I continued the journey by car towards the south to Liechtenstein and made several stops along the way. First in Copenhagen, then in Hamburg and another two in Würzburg and Lindau. A drive I was familiar with and parts I had driven several times before, but this time, to a destination I knew fairly little about. Liechtenstein, my home and study place for the next 6 months. I was excited to get started and to get to know the place and the surroundings. One can ask, why in the world would I drive 1800km to get to Liechtenstein if I could instead, have traveled by airplane? The easy answer to that is, I wanted the advantages and the possibilities a car could give me to reach remote places in nature. 

I wanted to explore Liechtenstein and the surroundings mainly through outdoor activities. And so I did. My first hike was the “Three sisters”, the big mountain range that creates a protective shield to Austria. It turned out to be a great hike and not long after I decided to do my second hike, up to Naafkopf, a mountain ranging 2570 meters above sea level. One can say, not really a high mountain here in the alps, but for Norwegians with our highest mountain being 2880m, this was categorized as alpine. And so it went on. I continued doing at least one hike per week in the following weeks, and at times I crossed the border to Switzerland or to Austria to find the beauty there. As I climbed the mountains I sometimes came into talk with other people. And what i noticed, very few of those encounters were with people from the area or the country itself. Very few of the people I talked to on my hikes in Liechtenstein were actually from Liechtenstein or living nearby. 

However, this made me think and come with the observation that; it doesn't seem like people are as connected to the mountains as we are in Norway. This hypothesis was again strengthened several times after having talked to people about my hikes. People that came from Liechtenstein or had stayed in the country for multiple years. Many of these people, who I considered active, told me that they hadn't even done the Fürstensteig hike, or even heard about the hikes that I had done. This was very strange to me in many ways. In my head the first thought that came to mind was; why would you live in this area if you don't take advantage of the surroundings? 

I ask myself why, why is it so that the people here benefit so little of the mountains even though they have a playground as a backyard? So as the weeks went on and I went out and came back from my hikes, people gave me the nickname “the mountaneer '' and always assumed that I was on my way out to summit a mountain. Obviously for them, I was categorized as an extreme hiking guru. To me however, my amount of activeness would have been looked upon as normal or average in Norway. So this was and is still something I have to get used to. Maybe nature has a more symbolic meaning to the people of the Alps. And that there is less of an average hiker, but rather a “either, or”- either you don't hike, or you hike all the time. I think the hiking tradition has been a big part of our culture in Norway- with a strong national romanticism. We always have, and still do admire our nature, not just through paintings but by being in it and experiencing it. And before I came here I thought I would find it here as well, the strong connection between human and nature. But the connections are very much something everyone speaks about- but surprisingly don't experience as much in real terms.