10 Smallest Countries You Can Explore in One Day

10 Small Countries Around the World You Can Explore in One Day

Who said you can’t explore a destination in just one day?

More often than not, travellers worry about needing more time to explore a new country.  However, for those short on time, there are still many opportunities to explore when you travel to the world’s smallest destinations! What these places lack in size, they make up for in charm, character, and unique experiences. From Europe to Asia to the Middle East, we round up some of the smallest countries and territories you can see in a day! 

Also read: 22 Countries With Digital Nomad Visas for Long-Term Workcations

Smallest countries and territories you can experience in a day

1. Vatican City

smallest countries

St. Peter’s Basilica | Image credit: Ágatha Depiné | Unsplash

With a landmass of just 0.49 square kilometres and a population of about 800 people, the Vatican City stands as the smallest independent nation-state in the entire world. Enclaved within the city of Rome in Italy, travellers often come here to marvel at the phenomenal St. Peter’s Basilica

Other must-visit architectural wonders and cultural landmarks include the iconic Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens, and Vatican Museums, which house the works of famous artists like Michaelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci. For mesmerising panoramic views, consider climbing up to the top of St. Peter’s Dome

2. Monaco

smallest countries

Port Hercules | Image credit: Maxime Vandenberge | Unsplash

Recognised as the second smallest country in the world, Monaco features an area of just 2.02 square kilometres, making it an ideal destination for exploring in a day. Despite its small size, it boasts a vibrant culture that offers a mix of luxury, rich history, and natural Mediterranean beauty. 

An ideal place for discerning travellers, visitors come here to explore attractions like the opulent Monte Carlo Casino and the Prince’s Palace of Monaco. You can also enjoy elevated dining and recreational experiences with beautiful harbour views over at Port Hercules

3. Nauru

Image credit: Winston Chen | Unsplash

With a land area of only 21 square kilometres and a population of about 11,000 people, Nauru is the third smallest country in the world. Lying between Australia and Hawaii on the South Pacific Ocean, it is also considered the world’s smallest island nation. 

Your trip to this coastal paradise promises stunning natural landscapes and breathtaking ocean views. Marvel at the sunset and famous coral formations of Anibare Bay (the country’s only sandy beach), or go fishing at the freshwater lake of Buada Lagoon

4. San Marino

smallest countries

Mount Titano | Image credit: Matteo Panara | Unsplash

San Marino is a landlocked microstate, occupying about 61 square kilometres of land. Situated atop Mount Titano in the north-central region of Italy, it houses a population of only 33,621 residents. If you’re planning to visit this Italian city-state for one day, expect an entire day of sightseeing, history, and culture. 

Since it’s one of the smallest countries in the world, you won’t need a great deal of time to see all of its major attractions. Some unmissable experiences include touring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of San Marino Historic Center, exploring Museo di Stato, and hopping on a funivia (cable car) to reach the highest point of the country. 

Also read: 6 Destinations That Captivated the World Through Social Media

5. Macau

Image credit: Leung Cho Pan via Canva Pro

A small yet dynamic destination located on the southeastern coast of China, Macao boasts a blend of Portuguese and Chinese cultures. Experience this unique fusion on a Macanese foodie tour or when you explore its top tourist spots like Venetian Macao, Casino Lisboa, and the Historic Centre of Macao, which is home to over 20 historical monuments including the Ruins of St. Paul

Despite occupying a small area of land (about 33 square kilometres), it is densely populated with 680,000 inhabitants and witnesses thousands of tourists each day! That said, be sure to plan your trip accordingly. 

6. Qatar

National Museum of Qatar | Image credit: Jirayu Koontholjinda | Unsplash

Qatar in West Asia features a land area of around 11,571 square kilometres, making it one of the largest of the smallest countries on Earth. However, much of its land is made up of deserts. Travel to the bustling city capital of Doha for a taste of its world-class cultural gems: from museums and art galleries to shopping malls and entertainment centres. Don’t pass up the chance to explore the Katara Cultural Village, the National Museum of Qatar, the urban oasis of Aspire Park, and the traditional marketplace of Souq Waqif

7. Liechtenstein

Image credit: Henrique Ferreira | Unsplash

Sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland, you’ll find the micronation of Liechtenstein. Although easily overlooked on the map, this hidden wonder boasts several medieval castles, breathtaking alpine scenery, lush forests, and picturesque villages within a land area of 160 kilometres. On your visit to its capital, Vaduz, you’ll be greeted by tons of art galleries, museums, and bustling squares. Fun fact: Liechtenstein does not have an airport. To get here, you’ll have to hop on a flight from St. Gallen-Alternrhein Airport in Switzerland. 

8. Marshall Islands

Ajeltake | Image credit: 志斌 陈 | Unsplash

Tucked between Hawaii and the Philippines on the Pacific Ocean lies the island group of the Marshall Islands. It comprises more than 1,200 islands and islets spread out over 181 square kilometres, making it the seventh smallest country in the world. Exploring the Marshall Islands in a day promises an opportunity to immerse yourself in pristine natural scenery and vibrant marine life. Your gateway to the islands is at Majuro Atoll, where you will enter via the Amata Kabua International Airport

9. Maldives

Image credit: Asad Photo Maldives via Canva Pro

Tucked away in the Indian Ocean, the micro island-nation of Maldives beckons tourists for its stunning beaches, crystalline waters, and diverse marine life. With over 1,000 islands and 26 atolls, it offers discerning tourists a blend of natural beauty and luxury experiences. Picture overwater villas, romantic fine dining, epic water adventures, and world-class spa treatments. But of course, that’s just a few of the many things this tropical paradise can offer you!

10. Tuvalu

Vaiaku Village | Image credit: Dmitry Malov via Canva Pro

The Polynesian nation of Tuvalu in the South Pacific Ocean only has an area of about 26 square kilometres! It consists of nine tiny coral islands, six of which have lagoons stretching out into the ocean. The country’s capital is situated on the main island of Funafuti. Here, half of Tuvalu’s population of 11,646 people resides. A true coastal gem in its own right, Funafuti abounds in coral reefs, sparkling sandy beaches, and luxury resorts for that uber-chic tropical escape! 

Also read: Living the Dream: The 10 Best Countries for Work-Life Balance

Want to be able to explore an entire destination on your short vacation? Consider travelling to the world’s smallest countries and territories to make the most out of one day. You might be surprised to find out what these small gems have in store for you!

About Author

Andrea Larice Yap
Andrea Larice Yap

Andrea is a writer and creative individual based in Manila. This tiny human runs on iced coffee, music and films. You’ll probably catch her daydreaming in a park or jotting down random words to to put in a song. Otherwise, expect her taking a dive in the pool of uncertainty called “life.”