There are around 50 countries nestled within the borders of Europe. That’s a lot of countries for a relatively small space! When travelling in Europe, I often get side-tracked by the big names: Paris, France – Barcelona, Spain – Venice, Italy – The Greek Islands (like these beautiful ones, here). There are so many wonderfully diverse places to visit in this continent with a few that sometimes get overlooked. How could we, right!?!
Although Europe is geographically dominated by “big countries” we shouldn’t forget those beautiful micro-states that seem to sit quietly next to their big brothers and sisters! Over 20 percent of all European Countries are classified as micro-states, which makes for a whole array of destinations for us to explore. Yay! I have a few that really stand out to me and others that I am itching to visit – especially Montenegro and Andorra!
1.) Vatican City
Surrounded by the city of Rome, Italy – Vatican City is home to the Catholic church, the Sistine Chapel and Apostolic Palace. Don’t forget to climb the stairs of San Pietro’s Basilica for a truly breath-taking view of Vatican City and Surrounding Italy!
Perched just of the northern coast of Africa, between Italy and Tunisia, Malta is a percent Micro- state to explore the mediterranean. Visit the capital city, Valletta which is famed for their glassworks and fresh fish. Why not explore the neighbouring island of Gozo. A little more lush than Malta, Gozo is like Malta’s back garden. A peaceful and tranquil island that is filled with flowers!
3.) San Marino
This mountainous micro-state is nestled high in the Italian hills and is one of the worlds oldest republics! With a population of just over 30,000, San Marino is a peaceful micro-state to explore. Don’t forget to see; Guaita and the Palazzo Publico!
Situated on the border of France and Spain, Andorra has become known as a skiers paradise due to its location in the Pyrenees mountains.
My favourite Micro-State that I have visited! Explore the many UNESCO heritage sights within Luxembourg City and head outside the capital to see much more of this amazing country!
The favourite destination for the rich and famous – Monaco is situated on the French Riviera. It’s best known as the playground for the rich and famous. Monte Carlo is its most famous district that is filled with all things luxurious. If you have a few millions to spare – why not grab yourself a yacht and live the high-life right within the harbour! 🙂
Facing west onto the Adriatic Sea – Montenegro is a country that is becoming increasingly popular for travellers to explore! Its rugged coast and glacial lakes attract a whole array of visitors and wildlife. Don’t forget to visit Durmitor National Park and Tara River Canyon, where you can possibly spot some European Bears and Wolves!
On the border with Austria and Switzerland Liechtensteinians (is that right?) speak German. Head to the capital, Vaduz for some of the best museums in any micro-state. Don’t forget to visit; Kunst Museum of Contemporary Art.
Although a disputed territory, Kosovo has named itself the youngest out of Europe’s micro-states. Formed in 2008 – this landlocked country is filled with a rich cultural heritage. Don’t forget to visit the Visoki Decani Monastery and the Sharr Mountains for an unforgettable experience!
Okay, before you say… “hey, Iceland is huge – how is it a micro-state???” Well let me explain. Although the geographic landmass of Iceland is much larger than the rest of the European micro-states, if we count resident numbers it is actually smaller than quite a few. Iceland is such a perfect place to visit and witness the Northern Lights, The Blue-Lagoon, Whale-Watching, Glaciers, rugged coastal paths and so much more.
Cyprus (south) is a relatively large European Island that is split into two parts. Based in the Eastern Mediterranean, just between Egypt, Isreal and Turkey. It is one of Europe’s hottest places and perfect for those seeking a warmer climate. Don’t forget to head to visit the Tombs of The Kings and the Larnaca Salt Lakes at sunset! Truly beautiful!