10 Smallest Countries in Europe
The smallest countries in the world have always intrigued me. How did they manage to remain independent and not get swallowed up by their much larger neighbors? What would it feel to live in a country smaller than many cities? How similar is the culture to that of the nearby countries? I have now been to the 10 smallest countries in Europe, so I wanted to share my experiences along with some interesting facts about these tiny countries in Europe.
The Vatican – Smallest Country in Europe
At just 0.17 square miles (0.44 square kilometers) the Vatican is the smallest country in Europe and the smallest country in world by area. The Disneyland theme park in California is bigger than the Vatican. It sits entirely within the city of Rome, and the Vatican has less than 800 residents, none of whom are permanent residents. This also makes the Vatican the smallest country in the world by population.
I have now visited three times, and even though it’s a very interesting place filled with stories of scandals and beautiful art, I think three times might be my limit for the smallest independent country in the world.
>>We took this Early Entry Sistine Chapel and Vatican tour and it was worth the early wake-up time.
The Principality of Monaco is 0.78 square miles (2.02 square kilometers) and borders only France and the Mediterranean Sea. It is the second smallest nation in Europe and the second smallest country in the world. With a population of over 36,000, it is the most densely populated country in the world. The tiny country is known for casinos and Formula One racing. Monaco does not charge income tax, has the highest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world, and has 0% unemployment. It is NOT a cheap country.
I visited during my first trip to Europe in 1994, and all of those pictures are film and stored in my parents’ basement. Even though Andy and I planned to take a day trip there from Nice in May, we were exhausted and decided to skip it. But we did catch a glimpse from the train on our way to Italy.
Another tiny nation completely surrounded by Italy, San Marino has an area of 23.6 square miles (61.2 square kilometers). It is the oldest republic in the world and the third smallest country in Europe. When Garibaldi was uniting Italy, he left San Marino along because they let him seek refuge there when he was fleeing from the Austrians a decade earlier.
Andy and I visited San Marino in June on a day trip from Rimini, Italy. The views are amazing from the high perch of the capital city. Definitely worth a trip if you’re in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.
>>Read more about the oldest republic in the world.
The country of Liechtenstein is sandwiched between Switzerland and Austria. Its area is 61.78 square miles (160 square kilometers), making it the fourth smallest country in Europe. It does not have a train station, but you can easily reach it by bus from the nearby train stations in Austria and Switzerland. It is one of only two countries in the world that is doubly landlocked (Uzbekistan is the other one), meaning it is surrounded by only other landlocked countries. Liechtenstein uses the Swiss Franc as its currency. This small country is the world’s largest producer of false teeth.
Andy and I went to Liechtenstein shortly after I moved to Germany. Our apartment was still undergoing a few remaining renovations, and we needed a break. Once we got out of the capital city of Vaduz, the country was very charming and beautiful. We’re normally city people, but being up in the quiet mountains of Liechtenstein was really nice.
>>Read Andy’s post about Liechtenstein beyond Vaduz.
Malta is an island nation in the Mediterranean covering about 122 square miles (316 square kilometers) which is just a little smaller than the city of Atlanta. It’s the smallest country in the EU, and the fifth smallest country in Europe. It includes three inhibited islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino, plus a handful of uninhibited islands. It is south of Sicily, east of Tunisia, and north of Libya. Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English, and it gained independence from the UK in 1964.
A friend of mine married a guy from Malta several years ago, and when they went back to Malta to have a church wedding there, she asked me to be in the wedding. I spent my time discovering Gozo, the secondary island that makes up the country of Malta, since that’s where he was from. I’d love to go back and see more of this small country someday since I didn’t get to do much sightseeing.
Since so many of you arrive at this post searching for info about Calpurnia in Europe, I wanted to clear things up. The country of Calpurnia is not one of the smallest countries in Europe. In fact, it’s not a real country at all. I’m guessing you recently watched this movie, which takes place in the made-up country of Calpurnia. Anyway, I hope you’re enjoying my list of the smallest countries in Europe – the real ones!
Andorra is a mountainous country in between France and Spain. This European country is slightly larger than Malta with an area of 180.7 square miles (468 square kilometers). It is the sixth smallest country in Europe, and its capital, Andorra la Vella, has the highest elevation of any European capital. The official language is Catalan, although Spanish and French are widely spoken as well. Andorra is mostly known for shopping due to its duty free status and skiing in the Pyrenees in the winter months. There are no airports or train stations, so to get there you either have to drive or take a bus.
Andy and I made a short one night stop in Andorra last summer before continuing on to Barcelona. It was interesting to me that even in the touristy areas, signs were in Catalan, Spanish and French, but no English. Just like with Liechtenstein, we thought the country was much nicer outside of the capital city.
>>Read more about our Andorra adventure.
Locked in between Belgium, Germany and France, Luxembourg has an area of about 998 square miles (2,586 square kilometers) and is the seventh smallest country in Europe. This is still more than 200 square miles smaller than the state of Rhode Island. Luxembourgish, French, and German are the official languages. Each language is used in different levels of school and each one serves a different purpose in society, so most people speak all three. Just one of many interesting facts about Luxembourg.
This was where Andy and I started our trip in May. Though we did enjoy seeing Vianden Castle, we were not so impressed with the rest of our time in this small country. I’ve heard it’s a great country for hiking and other outdoor activities, though the capital wasn’t our thing.
>>Read more about visiting Vianden Castle.
Cyprus is the 8th smallest country in Europe and is located in the southeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea. It covers an area of 3,568 square miles, and it’s the third largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily and Sardinia. While most of the world recognizes the entire island as one country, the northern section (about 1/3 of the island) considers itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. However, Turkey is the only country in the world that recognizes Northern Cyprus as a separate country. Greek is spoken in the south, and Turkish is spoken in the north. The euro is the official currency of the south, but the north uses the Turkish lira.
I traveled to Cyprus a few years ago when I was getting impatient with Berlin’s long winter. I spent 8 days in Cyprus visiting four cities in the south and one in the north. It was a gorgeous country with lots of ruins and castles and a stunning coastline. Cyprus is also one of the warmest countries in Europe, so I might return if I need another quick break from cold weather.
>>Read How Much I Spent Traveling in Cyprus.
At 4,212 square miles, a little smaller than Connecticut, Kosovo is the 9th smallest country in Europe. But like Cyprus, it’s a controversial one. Kosovo was once part of Yugoslavia, and afterwards, part of Serbia. In February 2008, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia, but Serbia (along with a handful of other countries) still does not recognize this declaration. During and after the conflict in the 90s and 2000s, the US did a lot to help Kosovo. The country still remembers this, and today in Pristina, the capital, you’ll find a statue of Bill Clinton, and streets named for Clinton, George Bush, and Robert Dole. For such a small country, it’s packed with history.
I only spent 4 days in Kosovo, but it was a fascinating 4 days. The people were incredibly friendly and helpful, and everything was inexpensive. I visited 3 different cities, and each was unique. My trip was at times devastatingly sad, but at other moments, it was heartwarming to see how the people are working through such a traumatic past. If you get the chance to visit the newest country in Europe, I recommend it.
>>Read more about Exploring Kosovo: A Country Under the Radar.
Montenegro covers an area of 5,333 square miles and is the 10th smallest country in Europe. This is about 500 square miles bigger than Connecticut. It was once part of Yugoslavia, and from 2003 to 2006, it was part of country of Serbia and Montenegro. Unlike Kosovo, Montenegro split from Serbia with no objections. Despite being such a small country, Montenegro’s landscapes range from rugged mountains to seaside beaches, and you can even find one of the last remaining rain forests in Europe here. The official currency is the euro, but Montenegro is not in the eurozone and does not print or mint any of the currency.
While planning a trip to Bosnia a few years ago, I decided to add on 4 days in Montenegro since the countries border each other. I spent 2 days in Kotor and 2 days in Budva. Both were gorgeous, but I liked Kotor’s old town better. If you’re up to the challenge, hike up the hill to the castle that overlooks the town. It’s more than 1300 rocky, uneven stairs to the top, and I only made it up about 1/3 of them. Montenegro is one small European country I’d love to return to someday.
>>Read about Kotor and Budva: How I Spent 4 Days in Montenegro.
More interesting facts about the smallest countries in Europe
- In the list of the 10 smallest countries in Europe, Malta and Cyprus are the only island nations.
- Three of the 10 smallest countries border France: Monaco, Andorra, and Luxembourg.
- The only 2 countries on the list that are completely surrounded by one other country are the Vatican and San Marino, and they’re both surrounded by Italy.
- Six of the 10 smallest countries in Europe are landlocked: Andorra, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Vatican, San Marino, Kosovo.
- The total area of all 10 countries added up equals about 14,500 square miles. That’s roughly the size of Connecticut and Maryland combined.
- The 10 smallest countries in Europe include the newest country in Europe (Kosovo) and the oldest (San Marino).
- These small countries all use the Euro, except for Liechtenstein and the northern part of Cyprus.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed this journey through the 10 smallest countries in Europe. Though these countries are all very small, they pack a lot in. Each has its own culture and history, and a unique place in Europe. Some, like Andorra, are a little more difficult to get to and require a little more planning, but then there’s the Vatican right in the middle of Rome.
It’s hard to really grasp how small they are or understand much about their history without visiting, and I’d highly recommend traveling to at least a few of them. I’m trying to curtail my list-ticking tendencies these days, but I’m happy to have been to the smallest countries in Europe.
You might also enjoy:
- Review of the Early Access Sistine Chapel and Vatican Tour
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Europe for Two Months
- How Much We Spent Traveling in Finland and Estonia
- Getting Locked in My Hotel Room in Sarajevo
October 22, 2013 @ 1:41 PM
Nice list! What about Gibraltar? Too big? Not in Europe? Not independent?
October 22, 2013 @ 9:01 PM
Thanks Brian! Gibraltar is *technically* not an independent country, it’s a dependent territory of Great Britain. On my list of countries I’ve been to, I count it as a country since it’s more separate, just as I would count Scotland separately even though technically it’s part of the UK. Since that is just my own arbitrary way of counting countries, I figured it doesn’t apply here. The countries on this list are independent nations.
October 31, 2013 @ 3:56 PM
I recently visited Puerto Rico and whether or not to count this as a separate country became quite the discussion. In the end I counted it as a separate country though. 🙂
October 31, 2013 @ 9:15 PM
Technically Puerto Rico is part of the US, but I think it falls in to the same category as Gibraltar. Separate enough to count it as its own country even though it really isn’t 🙂
July 3, 2018 @ 4:16 PM
Ligeia, thanks for visit the island. Im from PR but i live in Massachusetts.
Well, Puerto Rico is a free associated state. part of the United States, American territory, we are born Americans and we have many of the benefits as Americans who live in the United States, but not officially state. that’s why there are 50 stars in the flag, we do not count as states, but we are American territory
October 22, 2013 @ 7:40 PM
yes! I want to go to all of these places!
October 22, 2013 @ 9:02 PM
It’s a fun list, I hope you get a chance to visit them!
October 23, 2013 @ 2:03 PM
Great list Ali and I would have guessed, as Brian did, that Gilbralter would be on it but I read your comment and have to thank you for the lesson… didn’t know it is a British territory. Thanks.
October 23, 2013 @ 2:36 PM
Thanks Maria! Yeah, Gibralter is one of the slightly odd ones. I totally count it as a separate country, but my “requirements” are a little looser than the more official rules of what makes something a country.
October 23, 2013 @ 6:36 PM
Great post! I never knew Monaco was a country. I always thought it was a part of France. Would love to visit one day.
October 23, 2013 @ 9:01 PM
Thanks Jonathan! Yep, Monaco is a country. It’s really easy to visit from nearby cities along the French Riviera, Nice is probably one of the more popular ones.
October 26, 2013 @ 10:53 PM
We still need to visit Malta and Andorra is on my list because, well I’m a bit of a list checker. Though I’ve heard Andorra isn’t worth a visit.
October 28, 2013 @ 11:02 AM
Malta is gorgeous! I hate that I only had about 4 or 5 days there, but Andy and I will go there one of these days. Andorra was really pretty, but I didn’t like it as much as Leichtenstein or San Marino. Worth a stop if you’re traveling in between Barcelona and Toulouse or something like that.
October 27, 2013 @ 2:14 AM
Great list for sure! So far, I’ve only to been to the Vatican and definitely want to visit the rest.
October 28, 2013 @ 11:02 AM
Thanks Cheryl! It’s a fun list of countries to work through!
Mary @ Green Global Travel
October 27, 2013 @ 4:22 AM
Fabulous and educational list! I would love to see them all and have to admit that I was completely unaware of San Marino – until now!
October 28, 2013 @ 11:03 AM
Thanks Mary! San Marino is really interesting and so beautiful, I highly recommend it!
October 27, 2013 @ 6:00 PM
This is such a fabulous list and you’re so lucky to have visited these places! Some of these are on my radar to visit as well 🙂
October 28, 2013 @ 11:07 AM
Thanks Lauren! They were a lot of fun to visit!
October 29, 2013 @ 2:12 PM
I want to visit all of them. Some of the people I work with are in Zurich, and they kind of poke fun at Lichtenstein. This just makes me want to visit it all the more.
October 30, 2013 @ 3:20 PM
Thanks Steven! Yeah, I’ve heard about the Swiss making fun of Liechtenstein, but it really was a pretty place. Definitely worth going for at least an overnight, and get out of Vaduz to really appreciate it.
October 31, 2013 @ 3:54 PM
Great post idea Ali! Loved it!
Having been to only one of those mentioned here, I suppose it’s time to go back to Europe. 🙂
October 31, 2013 @ 9:15 PM
Thanks Ligeia! They are fun countries to visit!
Nicole | The Wondernuts
November 8, 2013 @ 4:08 PM
When we drove into Luxembourg, I was like: let’s stop and get a passport stamp! So, we drove through the border. And there was no stop, no agents waiting, just stalls to drive by.
I peered into one of the offices as we drove by, I’m pretty sure the customs agent inside the office was on Facebook…
Luxembourg is tiny. =)
November 10, 2013 @ 7:53 PM
Once you’re inside Schengen, you don’t have to deal with border crossings, as long as it’s from one Schengen country to another. Makes it easier in a lot of ways, but I know what you mean, I miss getting those stamps! Liechtenstein and San Marino tourism offices will give you a passport stamp for a small fee as more of a souvenir, so we did both of those. I wanted to do it in Andorra too but I couldn’t find a way.
November 14, 2013 @ 10:53 AM
Liechtenstein is one of the most amazing countries!
November 14, 2013 @ 12:40 PM
Thanks Veronica, it’s certainly beautiful there!
Natasha von Geldern
November 14, 2013 @ 2:38 PM
Good food for thought on how to add to my countries list easily. I always have that debate with my husband about counting countries that have devolved government but are not entirely independent – like Scotland. I definitely put them on MY list. Cool post 🙂
November 14, 2013 @ 5:48 PM
Thanks Natasha! Silly as it is, I do enjoy country counting. And yes, I’d count Scotland as a country even though it technically isn’t!
Anu @ CountryHoppingCouple
November 28, 2013 @ 1:10 AM
Have already visited Vatican, Liechtenstein, Malta and Monaco and loved all of them. Andorra is in my list for long enough. Lovely compilation.
November 28, 2013 @ 11:06 AM
Thanks Anu! Hard for me to choose a favorite, but it’s between Liechtenstein, Malta and San Marino.
January 3, 2015 @ 8:08 PM
i wish vuisiting europe from Nigeria but i need visa. How to get to europe from Nigeria.
January 5, 2015 @ 7:08 PM
Sorry, I can’t help you with that. You should check with the embassy for the country you want to visit and see what the requirements are to apply for a visa. Good luck!
October 6, 2015 @ 12:20 AM
Can you recommend a way to visit multiple countries on your list perhaps over a two or three week period? Is there a particular travel agency you would recommend that is familiar with the travel required between them? We are thinking of doing cluster trips for those countries that may make sense and need help with the planning.mthanks for your help. Garry
October 7, 2015 @ 9:26 PM
Hi Garry! I don’t know of any travel agencies, but let’s see if I can get you started. Here’s how you could, in theory, get to all 7 of these countries in one crazy trip:
The Vatican is easy to reach because it’s in the middle of Rome, so you could start there. From Rome, you can take the train (http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en) to Rimini, which is the easiest place for getting to San Marino. There’s a bus from the Rimini train station to San Marino, and they sell the tickets right in front of the bus.
Then you could take the train to either Milan or Venice and fly from there to Malta. From Malta, fly to Barcelona and take the bus (http://www.andorrabybus.com/en) to Andorra. Then take the bus from Andorra to Toulouse, France, and from there fly to Nice, France where you can get a quick train (tickets are cheap and easy to buy at the station the day you’re going) to Monaco.
From Nice, fly to Luxembourg. (LuxAir seems to be the only airline that flies nonstop from Nice to Luxembourg City.) Then fly from Luxembourg to Zurich (looks like only Swiss Air does this route nonstop and it’s much more expensive than routes with connections) where you’ll have to get a train (http://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html) to Buchs and then a quick local bus to Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Then back to Zurich to fly home.
I’m going to highly recommend NOT doing this all in one 3 week trip. You’ll spend half your time in transit, especially since San Marino, Andorra, and Liechtenstein don’t have airports or train stations (technically neither does the Vatican, but it’s IN Rome), and Monaco doesn’t have an airport. But going to a few shouldn’t be a big deal.
You can easily get to the Vatican and San Marino on one trip. Italy is obviously worth seeing, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend trying to get to a third tiny country, but if you really want to, I’d go with Malta because it’s the easiest to reach from Italy.
The others are scattered around and not as easy to combine, but it is doable. Andorra can be combined with a trip to Barcelona. I’ve heard good things about Toulouse but I’ve only been there to get the bus to Andorra. Carcassonne, France isn’t too far from Toulouse, and there’s an incredible castle and walled town there. It seems reasonable to fly from Toulouse to Nice in order to visit Monaco.
Luxembourg is easily combined with a trip to Amsterdam and/or Brussels. Liechtenstein is wedged in between Switzerland and Austria, so there are a number of possibilities for that trip.
I hope this helps, but let me know if you have any other questions!
January 27, 2019 @ 2:14 PM
Hy Ali, great list and beneficial for a trip to plan. I had a question about the budget of these places for a trip. Could you help me?
January 28, 2019 @ 7:26 PM
Thanks Sneha! The budget for these countries is kind of all over the place. Liechtenstein, Monaco, and Luxembourg can be a bit expensive. San Marino prices were similar to the nearby parts of Italy. Andorra and Malta were reasonable middle of the road kind of prices. The Vatican, well that’s kind of like a big church and museum, so you’re really just talking about some entrance fees and maybe a tour or something. If you’re interested in visiting some of these countries, I’d suggest looking up hotels in the area and seeing what the prices are for the type of hotel you’re willing to stay at, plus adding in any activities or tours you’re interested in. I have a post about how to make a travel budget on my other site that might be helpful to you since so much depends on your tastes, travel style, and comfort level.
September 18, 2022 @ 3:34 PM
Because you noticed Calpurnia i laughed enough that so many people thought this is a ….real country.
Just to notice that IMDB clearly shows it was filmed in …Romania
the exact place as noted is
Sighisoara Citadel, Sighisoara, Mures, Romania
Little search shows the most central place of Romania
3 more movies were filmed in this point
October 16, 2022 @ 4:50 PM
I get so much search traffic on this post from people searching some variation of “is Calpurnia a country” or similar, and it took me quite awhile to figure out what it was even from. So when I did finally figure it out, I had to add a little blurb to help anyone who arrived here because of that!