It’s not a lie when they say that the best things come in small packages, and that’s the case with a few European countries. The size of the country sure does not mean that it is not worth visiting or that there’s nothing to explore, you’ll see for yourself, just keep reading about the most beautiful small countries in Europe.
Before we start, be sure to check out our Cultural Places Platform and discover the amazing tours that will help you explore your destinations at your own pace.
Let’s start exploring the smallest countries of Europe…
This hidden gem is nestled between Belgium, Germany, and France, and has three official languages, one of them being its own – Luxembourgish. Luxembourg is a fairy-tale country with its lush green hills, over a hundred of castles settled between them, and winding paths and scenic bridges that guide you to them.
The capital, Luxembourg, set on the Alzette River, offers you a lot to explore, too. The Old Town, called Ville Hauteis was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its forts and other monuments. It’s not that big, but it offers so much to keep you busy for at least half a day. Start at the main square – Place Guillaume and check out the equestrian monument, and Hôtel de Ville or City Hall, located across the square. Visit Chemin de la Corniche – the most beautiful balcony of Europe, the pedestrian street that gives you the most amazing views of the lower city, called Grund.
Besides Luxembourg, we recommend visiting the town of Echternach, Vianden, or the village of Bourscheid. We could go on and on, but each little town is amazing, with all the hidden castles.
When a country (or in this case a principality) is completely situated in the Alps, you can only imagine how beautiful the scenery is. That is the case with Liechtenstein, a small state located between Austria and Switzerland, occupying only 160 square kilometers. It is mostly covered with Alpine forests and meadows of wildflowers. Similar to Luxembourg, there are many gorgeous castles to be explored here.
© Michael Gredenberg / CC BY-SA 3.0
It’s a perfect destination if you love active vacations – there’s a lot of skiing going on in the winter, and in the spring or summertime you must go hiking and experience the beauty of its nature. Walk over the Old Bridge, only 15 minutes from the center of the capital Vaduz. The bridge is actually the border crossing with Switzerland.
© Kecko / CC BY-SA 2.0
Vaduz is an amazing city, and the locals are so friendly. Besides the extraordinary nature, there is a lot to see around the city. There you can find the gorgeous neo-Gothic Vaduz Cathedral, which is the iconic landmark of the city. Also, there is the Vaduz Castle that is home to the royal family and is set on a hill above the city. You’ll enjoy the city and the whole state for sure.
Andorra is a small country, actually, a principality ruled by two co-princes settled on the border between Spain and France. Andorra is home to many natural wonders, and it even hosts three amazing natural parks. The largest one is Madriu-Perafita-Claror, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which gives you a chance to stumble upon amazing wildlife. Also, Andorra is a very popular winter sports resort.
If you love old, stone buildings, Romanesque churches in Andorra will blow your mind. Some of the most beautiful ones are the Church of Santa Coloma and the Church of Sant Esteve, both located in the capital. They all hide tons of artwork and breath-taking altarpieces, you’ll be amazed.
Andorra’s capital, Andorra la Vella, has tons of interesting monuments, statues, and landmarks. While you’re there you simply have to see the sculpture created by famous Salvador Dali, known as “Noblesse du Temps”, “the Nobility of Time” or “the Dali Clock”. Check out the main city square – it is so serene and calm, even though it is in the capital city. Just sit on a bench, relax, and enjoy the views of the surroundings. Andorra la Vella hides a couple of very interesting museums, too, such as the Tobacco Museum, the Miniature Museum, the Perfume Museum, or the Comic Museum.
Set within the borders of Italy but totally independent, San Marino is one of the tiniest republics in the world with the surface of 61 square kilometers only. Also, it’s one of the oldest republics, founded back in 301 AD. Set in beautiful, peaceful natural surroundings, San Marino is known as the most serene republic in the world.
The capital, also called San Marino, was built as a fortress on the top of Mount Titano, with one of the most incredible views. When the weather is clear, you can even see the Adriatic Sea. The city is mostly pedestrianized so prepare yourself for a really good walk. You’ll stumble upon beautiful convents and churches, dating back to the 14th and 16th centuries, as well as some neoclassical basilicas and three glorious fortresses.
The city is so picturesque, with its winding, steep, cobblestoned streets and amazing architecture – there are old houses with rocky facades everywhere. Stroll around, you’ll find numerous museums with cool exhibitions and you won’t be disappointed. Also, the streets are lined with cute cafes and little shops with souvenirs, local handicrafts including famous, amazing ceramics.
© Pablo Alejandro Araujo Granda/ CC BY-SA 2.0
The Principality of Monaco, with its 2 square kilometers of the surface is definitely the smallest country on our list, and the second smallest in the world, after the Vatican. Located on the French Mediterranean coastline, surrounded by the azure blue sea, with perfect weather conditions, it feels like a paradise. Monaco earned the title of one of the most luxurious destinations, thanks to its Casino, lux hotels, and Grand Prix motor race.
There are many interesting spots packed into this micro-state, that you have to visit. Of course, one of them is the Monte Carlo casino, at least you have to stroll around it and do some people-watching and checking out all the luxurious cars parked in front of it. Visit the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (or Monaco Cathedral) – a gorgeous building that is the resting place of many members of the Grimaldi family, including Grace Kelly.
It’s a good idea to explore Monaco’s museums, including Musée Oceanographique, that is set on a cliff above the sea. There are few amazing gardens worth visiting, one of them is Princess Grace Rose Garden, which was created by Prince Rainier III to the memory of his wife, Princess Grace.
© Artur Staszewski / CC BY-SA 2.0
If you’re more into sun-bathing and swimming in nice seawater, Montenegro is the destination for you. It is a lot smaller than its neighbor Croatia and kind of less-crowded in the summertime. It is full of small cities and fisherman villages where you can enjoy nice beaches, amazing seafood, and parties.
Visit Kotor and enjoy its Old Town – you’ll see one of the most amazing fortifications ever, it’s around 5 kilometers long city walls, that climb up to the hill. When you climb up to the highest point, you’ll experience the most amazing view of the bay. While you’re there visit the little town of Perast – the quietest place in Montenegro, and the island Gospa od Skrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks).
If you’re into nightlife and parties, visit Budva, set in the southern part of the country. Budva also has a nice Old Town, but it’s a larger and louder city than Kotor is, and is known for its exciting nightlife.
If you’re more into hiking than swimming, visit the nearby town of Nikšić and mountain Lovćen, and the National Park that is set there. Climb to its highest peak, where you’ll find the most important monument in Montenegro – Petar Petrovic Njegos (famous poet and philosopher) Mausoleum. You’ll experience the best panoramic view of the whole Montenegro. It is said that when the weather is clear, you can even see the Italian coast.
The southernmost and the fifth smallest European country, Malta, is the perfect summer destination. If you love clean beaches, crystal-clear seawater, laid-back vibe, and amazing seafood, visit Malta – you won’t regret it.
The capital, Valletta, is one of the smallest capitals in Europe, it stretches just 1 km by 600 meters, but it has so much historic architecture that UNESCO designated the whole city a World Heritage Site. It is all built in the baroque style with golden stone buildings, ornate churches, colorful balconies, and narrow streets.
There are a few things in Valletta that you must visit, one of them is the Palace of Grand Masters, that has been the administrative center of Malta for centuries, even today it is the President’s office. When you get inside you will step back in time admiring beautiful portraits and frescoes and some rare collections of tapestries, and a pretty exciting collection of arms and armor, as well.
© Marie-Lan Nguyen / CC BY-SA 2.5
Explore the Valletta’s waterfront that was recently restored and reinvented as a center for leisure, shopping, and dining and where you will see the majority of departing ships and yachts.
All these countries are pretty small, but they sure don’t lack any charm with amazing historic landmarks and gorgeous natural surroundings that they hide. They really have a lot to offer, and you’ll find the perfect destination for yourself, for sure.
If you’d like to start exploring these small countries in Europe digitally, start with exploring Valletta — the small but mighty capital of Malta.