The Traveller's Magazine icon
The Traveller's Magazine
  •   4 min read

Size isn’t everything, right? When it comes to planning your trips, don’t forget those tiny nations that more to offer than you may think. We’re taking a tour of the tiniest countries in the world, some you may have never even heard of!

We’re not talking overseas territories here, because we all know how small Gibraltar is and how many French and British foreign collectivities there are. We’re talking totally independent self-governing countries that just happen to be incredibly small. Located around the globe, here is our pick of the best of the smallest.

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein

German-speaking and landlocked between Switzerland and Austria. Surrounded by the gracious Alps, Liechtenstein is known for its incredible scenery and is a very popular spot for stamp collectors. Liechtenstein uses the Swiss Franc as its currency but is completely independent, something to remember as locals won’t hesitate to remind you.

What do to there:

Liechtenstein, being in the mountains, attracts its share of trekkers in summer and snowboarders in winter. For a ski and snowboard holiday, head to Malbun. You’ll find lift prices much lower here than in neighbouring Switzerland. As for summer, mountain biking and hiking reign as the most popular outdoor activities. A trip to Balzers Castle is essential.

Flights to Zurich

Tuvalu

Tuvalu

Tuvalu is a group of islands in the South Pacific, collectively making up the fourth smallest country in the world. Two words: island paradise. If you’ve ever dreamt of spending a holiday on a small and (for the most part) secluded island, Tuvalu is your ticket. The population is made up of mostly Polynesian settlers, both English and Tuvaluan are spoken on the islands.

What do to there:

With tropical weather comes dry seasons and wet seasons. It’s best to avoid November to March when western-blowing gales bring heavy rainfall. With little city infrastructure, the best thing to do here is curl up under the shade of a palm tree and relax. Don’t miss out on catching some local Tuvalu culture!

San Marino

San Marino

San Marino is the world’s oldest republic and has a lot in common with Italy, the country’s closest neighbour. Rimini is just 10km away. San Marino is made up on many tiny towns dotting the mountain sides but the prettiest is without a doubt the main city, also named San Marino. Good to know, San Marino is Italian speaking and uses the Euro as its currency. If you want to stay longer than 20 days, a special permit is needed.

What do to there:

Get your passport stamped at the tourist information centre. For €5 they will give you a visa tax stamp and an official ink stamp overtop of it. San Marino is a small city, make up on narrow and winding streets. Best to wander without a map and you’ll always run into surprises.

Flights to Rimini

Nauru

Nauru

Also located in the South Pacific, Nauru is the smallest independent republic in the world. It is located just south of the Marshall Islands. It’s good to know that the island used the Australian dollar as its local currency. The best time time to avoid is between November and February when the island receives the majority of its rainfall.

What do to there:

There are surprisingly few sandy beaches on Nauru. On the other hand, the island is surrounded for the most part by coral reef, a diver’s paradise! For tropical beaches, best to go to Anibare Bay. For something out of Treasure Island, check out Buada Lagoon, the only body of water on the island. It’s lined with dense palm trees, a tropical oasis.

Flights to Nauru

Monaco

Monaco

Between the Alps and the French and Italian Rivieras, some say that Monaco has it made. This small city-state is for the most part totally urban, with Monte Carlo in the middle of it all. The state is divided up into four different parts: Monaco-Ville (old town), Condamine (port), Monte-Carlo (business district) and Fontvieille.

What do to there:

From casinos and palaces to shopping malls and museums, there is certainly a lot to do in (expensive) Monaco. Essentials stops are the Monaco-Ville for medieval architecture, the Palais Princier, Monaco Cathedral, the Jardin Exotique and the Oceanographic Museum and Aquarium.

Flights to Nice

Vatican City

Vatican

Where to start? Vatican City is packed with more artwork and history per square meter than just about any other city in the world! It is a MUST on any trip to Italy. The city-state has a population of 800! The good thing about it is that it’s super easy to reach, being located right in Rome, you can walk there from Piazza Venezia or just take bus #64 from central Rome. Latin is the official language (no, it’s not “dead”)!

What do to there:

Send a postcard! Because who really wants to receive a postcard with a stamp from Italy when they can have one from Vatican City? Just look for the bright yellow postboxes in the streets. Snap a photo of the Swiss guards posted outside the Vatican City entrances. Read: they look more like Renaissance-era court entertainers than soldiers. The Vatican Museum and St. Peter’s Basilica shouldn’t be missed and are worth the lines.

Flights to Rome

What’s the smallest country you’ve ever visited? What’s the biggest?

Img: PhylB, mrlins, Ru Lochlea, wiki, asvirskas, Alex E. Proimos  / Flickr cc.

Looking for your next trip? Find the best flights with us!


One response to “Tiny tours: the best of the world’s smallest countries

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

footer logo
Made with for you