As with most things in life, bigger isn’t always better…
By Jim Ferri
Around the world there are a number of interesting small destinations, some of which will likely never succumb to mass-tourism. On the other hand, some small destinations are almost overrun with travelers.
Some of the small destinations mesmerize travelers with beautiful beaches and swaying palms, while others dazzle with their urban beauty and incredible art treasures. Each enchants travelers who search them out.
Here are 10 tiny places, the largest only about 1/3 the size of Dallas, which may well pique your interest. They’re presented in order of size, with the smallest first.
Take your pick, and once we’re beyond Covid grab your passport and go.
Vatican City, the Smallest Country (.2 sq mi)
Primary Airport: Rome, Italy
A city within a city, the Vatican is a small walled enclave in the city of Rome. Although it’s not a member of the United Nations, it is widely recognized as an independent nation. The reason to come to Vatican is twofold: to see the beautiful St. Peter’s Basilica, the architectural jewel of the Renaissance, and the incredible collections in the Vatican Museums.
Monaco (.7 sq mi)
Primary Airport: Nice, France
Squeezed onto a picaresque stretch of the Mediterranean coast in the south of France, Monaco owes its popularity among Americans to Grace Kelly, the glamorous Hollywood star who married the principality’s Prince Rainier. It’s an exceptionally picturesque place that continues to attract travelers worldwide, both because of publicity about the glamorous lives of the royal family, and the glamor associated with the world-renown Monte Carlo casino.
San Marino, a Small Country on a Mountain Top (24 sq mi)
Primary Airport: Rimini, Italy, although Venice provides service from North America
About a two-hour drive southeast of Bologna, Italy, San Marino is well off the beaten track. Despite its location, however, this little medieval republic, which claims to be the world’s oldest, still attracts millions of tourists each year. Its economy is fueled by tourism and its streets are lined with countless souvenir stalls and shops. If you plan to visit you’ll find a steep climb up to the town, even more so up to the imposing fortress towers on the edge of the cliffs.
Liechtenstein, a Small Country In the Middle of Europe (62 sq mi)
Primary Airport: Zurich, Switzerland
This small country is visited by relatively few Americans, with fewer being able to spell its name. The principality is on the Rhine River between Switzerland and Austria. Easily accessible from Switzerland, it’s only about four miles wide but renown for its skiing and hiking. It’s also know for its postage stamps that are sought after by collectors around the world, and its beautiful Alpine scenery, complete with Alpine meadows and idyllic little villages where geraniums cascade from window boxes and fairytale castles dot the hilltops.
Marshall Islands (70 sq mi)
Primary Airport: Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands
Set in Micronesia roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia, the Marshalls are well off the beaten path. Still, though, the Marshalls attract tourists, most of whom are divers who come to explore its beautiful reefs and World War II wrecks. Two of the islands in this far-flung chain (there are more than 1,100 of them) are former U.S. nuclear test sites and a third is presently a U.S. missile test range.
St. Kitts & Nevis (104 sq mi)
Primary Airport: the major airport is on St. Kitts. The smaller airport on Nevis has no service to North America or Europe
This two-island nation, located about an hour by air southeast of Puerto Rico, is considered by some to be near-perfect. Mellow and friendly, this small country offers both beaches and mountains and has protected its colonial past and natural environment by forbidding any building to be taller than the tallest palm trees. Divers love the pristine waters of St. Kitts and Nevis, while other travelers enjoy lounging about some of the islands’ plantation estates.
Seychelles (107 sq mi)
Primary Airport: on the island of Mahé near the capital city of Victoria
Another of the popular small countries of the world are the Seychelles. They may be a bit far for many American travelers – the 115 islands that make up the chain are scattered about the Indian Ocean north of Madagascar – but those that do travel there find it paradisaical. The Seychelles have long been a haven for honeymooners (especially British honeymooners such as Prince William and Princess Kate) because of the islands’ incredible beauty and luxury accommodations. But it’s also a legendary ecotourism destination where you can watch birds and giant tortoises in their natural habitat.
Maldives (115 sq mi)
Primary Airport: on Hulhule Island in the North Male Atoll, near the capital island Male
For many people the word “Maldives” is synonymous with luxury. The 2,000 or so islands that comprise this small country in the middle of the Indian Ocean offer an incredibly beautiful natural adventure, as well as some of the most decadent resort vacations anywhere. Come to the Maldives to swim among coral reefs with Crayola-colored fish, indulge yourself with a spa treatment “to die for,” or dine in a world-class restaurant. It’s not cheap, but true luxury never is.
Maltese Islands (122 sq mi)
Primary Airport: near the capital city of Valletta
It’s unfortunate that so few Americans visit the small country of Malta since it’s such an incredible mix of architecture, history and culture, since the Phoenicians, the Byzantines, the Carthaginians and the Romans have all left their marks on these three islands. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean south of Sicily, the country is an amalgam of North African/Arab and Sicilian influences and there are plenty of festivals held on the islands throughout the year (and plenty of history to unearth at other times).
Grenada (133 sq mi)
Primary Airport: on Grenada near the capital of St. George’s
Know as the Spice Island because of the nutmeg and cinnamon it produces, Grenada is also renown for its natural vistas that range from beaches to luscious rain forests. In the southeastern Caribbean at the southern end of the Grenadines, its capital St. George’s is considered to be one of the prettiest in all the Caribbean. Outside of town you’ll find the hillsides to be a colorful riot of bougainvillea, frangipani and hibiscus.
Editor’s Note: you may also enjoy Things to Do In San Marino, the Least -Visited Country in Europe, Places to Visit in Europe – 9 Worth a Detour, and Best Places in Italy (You Likely Don’t Know)