Derek Cullen is an adventure tour leader and travel writer from Ireland. Having spent more than six years leading expeditions in Africa, Derek is currently working as a freelance writer from various destinations around the World.
Latest posts by Derek Cullen (see all)
- Dublin: The Top 20 Attractions - January 8, 2018
- Camping Alone at the Most Haunted House in Ireland - October 31, 2017
- The 7 Smallest Countries to Visit in Europe - October 16, 2017
They may be lacking in size, but even the most surprising places are overflowing with natural attractions, unique experiences and some very exciting things to do. From majestic mountains and stunning coastlines, to the enchanting castles and world-class eateries – the smallest countries in Europe are home to everything, that makes any adventure worthwhile.
- Population: 76,965 (2017)
- Land area: 180.6 square miles
Situated in the mountainous region between Spain and France, Andorra has a reputation for being one of the best places in Europe for skiing and snowboarding. In fact, this is the main reason for which the Pyrenees is quite an expensive place to travel. Thankfully, the options for hiking and enjoying other aspects of the outdoors ensure that it can also be enjoyed by those on a budget.
With the above in mind, you can expect high-end comfort and luxury from most accommodation providers in Andorra. There’s also a suitable variety of different restaurants and bars located at every turn. Furthermore, the ten million tourists who arrive in the region each year are guaranteed a wonderful climate during the Summer, some excellent tax-free shopping opportunities, plus a convenience in knowing that Euro is in circulation here.
Aside from the facilities, the scenery and the rolling landscapes in Andorra are undoubtedly one of its main attractions. The beautiful sprawling valleys, towering peaks, flowing rivers and a luscious forest is a common sight, wherever you go in the mountains.
- Population: 34,618 (2017)
- Land area: 2.625 square miles
Renowned for being a popular tourist destination many decades ago, Gibraltar is still home to many features which make it look very similar to a quaint seaside town in England. Consisting of red postal boxes plus fish-and-chip shops, this is certainly true of the appearance downtown, while the eateries and the nightly entertainment are a further proof that a connection exists.
Located on the periphery of Europe, there is also a feeling of isolation in Gibraltar which is strangely nice. The towering ridge for which this entire region is best known, is worth visiting alone. Rising more than four hundred meters in the sky, “the Rock”, as it’s known, strikes an iconic sight, as it looms large over the town below.
As for things to do or experiences in Gibraltar – there are plenty. From the medieval Moorish Castle, the enigmatic St. Michaels Cave to the endless views from Europa Point, which feels every bit as though you have stepped out onto the edge of the world.
- Population: 37,922 (2017)
- Land area: 61.78 square miles
Liechtenstein is often overlooked and remains largely unknown – such is the hidden nature of one of the smallest countries in the world. Nonetheless, this undeniably stunning country is blessed with unforgettable scenery. Its charming medieval villages and stunning castles make it appear as a land of fairytales, as opposed to a real country.
Located next to Austria and Switzerland, it is also easily accessible. In addition, a large number of tour operators in major areas make it easy to explore the hidden treasures it holds. Filled with Gothic cathedrals, quaint squares and some interesting museums, the city of Vaduz is home to most of Liechtenstein’s thirty seven thousand inhabitants. The heart of the town is also nicely complimented by an enchanting masterpiece, the Vaduz Castle.
One of the best ways to experience this captivating country is by taking a trip to Malbun, where a number of iconic landmarks can be found, amidst the most impressive countryside you are likely to see anywhere in Europe.
- Population: 583,455 (2017)
- Land area: 999 square miles
Wealthy and blessed with some of the best wine regions on the continent, Luxembourg is another excellent place to explore. The rugged clifftops and a very historic city center are just a few of its famous attractions. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this old town is graced with a spectacular castle while the villages in rural parts of the country are a great way to become acquainted with the lax atmosphere throughout Luxembourg.
With the Grand Ducal Palace and the Notre-Dame Cathedral standing proudly on its cityscape, the center has a certain appeal. In many ways, it is also a city with all the major attractions found elsewhere in Europe, including museums, landmarks, parks, and restaurants.
With its population of almost six hundred thousand, Luxembourg is indeed one of the smallest countries in the World, and is sometimes ridiculed for being even smaller than Rhode Island in the United States.
- Population: 431,199 (2017)
- Land area: 122 square miles
Every year thousands of students arrive in Malta to study English. Likewise, the foreign workers have started to come in droves, in search of the relaxing lifestyle which can be found on this small archipelago.
Featuring an impressive mix of a rugged coastline with jagged cliffs and some ancient basilicas right next to pre-historic fossils, this tiny country is also an encounter with a primitive history as well as a stunning scenery. The enormous temples, such as Hal Saflieni Hypogeum are spellbinding, while the sight of local fishermen taking to the Mediterranean, evokes images of another more recent time, awhile ago.
It would also seem that friendly locals inhabit every part of Malta and this is especially apparent in the smaller villages where traditions and cultures are more obvious. In many ways, it is this variety or combination of new and old which makes Malta such an appealing destination. Whatever your interests are, you are sure to enjoy Malta – one of the tiniest countries in the world.
- Population: 38,695 (2017)
- Land area: 499 acres
Located on the Mediterranean coastline of France, Monaco is best known for its annual Formula One Grand Prix event and its truly glamorous lifestyle. Enticing tax breaks brought an increase in the number of wealthy residents here. Besides, the incredibly high standard of infrastructure, sublime beaches and the stunning scenery also ensures its huge popularity as a vacation spot among the rich and famous.
That being said, this is certainly one of the most stunning parts of the French Riviera with some truly exceptional architecture paying homage to the natural beauty nearby. With a population of less than forty thousand, this is also a rather spacious place to spend time given the minimal amount of congestion.
Lastly, there are numerous things to do in Monaco – its iconic landmarks and museums, such as the Prince’s Palace and the Oceanographic Museum are waiting to be explored. In the evenings, there is no end to the recreational choices. Moreover, a wide range of eateries surrounds the most flamboyant entertainment in town, the Monte Carlo Casino.
- Population: 33,400 (2017)
- Land area: 23.63 square miles
San Marino is known by many as a micro-nation – its modest thirty-three thousand population is surely a testament to the small nature of this country. Located next to Italy and entirely landlocked, it is also the oldest sovereign state with a history dating back to AD301. On the other hand, this tiny landmass is also home to one of the fastest growing GDP per capita in the world, which translates to a strong economy and a stable lifestyle for the locals.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the capital, Città di San Marino, is the most visited part of the country. Its towering peak, the Guaita, can be climbed for unrivaled city views. At the same time, there is also Cesta and Montale – the other spectacular fortresses next to Mount Titano.
Featuring a wax museum, the National Museum, and the Museum of Curiosities, it is easy to see why this busy city is so popular. Though, the day tours to the nearby castles are arguably the most common reasons for which visitors will venture outside of the capital.
Unassuming and certainly lesser known than most nations around the world, the smallest countries in the world are every bit as interesting and possibly even more when you consider the fact that they are less crowded and more suited to anyone yearning for a very personal experience.