Last Updated on July 16, 2022
As with most things in life, bigger isn’t always better…
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
By Jim Ferri
Around the world there are a number of interesting small countries. While some will likely never succumb to mass-tourism, other are almost overrun with travelers.
Some of mesmerize travelers with beautiful beaches and swaying palms. Others dazzle with their urban beauty and incredible art treasures. But each enchants the 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 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 enclave in the city of Rome. It’s a great place to visit on a waking tour 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. The first is to see the beautiful St. Peter’s Basilica, the architectural jewel of the Renaissance. The other is to see the incredible collections in the Vatican Museums.
Monaco (.7 sq mi)
Primary Airport: Nice, France
Squeezed onto a stretch of Mediterranean coast in the south of France, Monaco owes its popularity to a woman. Not surprisingly, she’s Grace Kelly, the glamorous Hollywood star who married the principality’s Prince Rainier. Adjacent to Nice, France, it’s an exceptionally picturesque place that continues to attract travelers worldwide. That’s because of publicity about the glamorous lives of the royal family. And also 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
Although only about a two-hour drive southeast of Bologna, Italy, San Marino is well off the beaten track. But 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. It’s even steeper 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. Liechtenstein is also know for its postage stamps, sought after by collectors around the world. They also come to see its beautiful Alpine scenery, complete with Alpine meadows and idyllic little villages. Everywhere you look you see geraniums cascading from window boxes and fairytale castles dotting 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. Many 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 is located about an hour by air southeast of Puerto Rico. It’s considered by some to be a near-perfect island in the Caribbean. Mellow and friendly, this small country offers both beaches and mountains. It has protected its colonial past and natural environment by forbidding any building to be taller than the tallest palm. 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 but those that do travel there find it paradisaical. It’s composed of 115 islands are scattered about the Indian Ocean north of Madagascar. They have long been a haven for honeymooners (especially British honeymooners such as Prince William and Princess Kate). The islands’ incredible beauty and luxury accommodations are another reason. 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. Its 2,000 or so islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean offer an incredibly beautiful natural adventure. They also offer some of the most decadent resort vacations anywhere. Come to the Maldives to swim among coral reefs with Crayola-colored fish. Then indulge yourself with a spa treatment “to die for.” And finish the day dining 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. It’s such an incredible mix of architecture, history and culture. The Phoenicians, the Byzantines, the Carthaginians and the Romans have all left their marks on these three islands. In the middle of the Mediterranean south of Sicily, it’s an amalgam of North African/Arab and Sicilian influences. There are plenty of festivals held on the islands throughout the year (and plenty of history to unearth always).
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.