Despite the existence of the Eurozone, every country in Europe is different, and the more countries that you can visit, the more different cultures that you’ll have the opportunity to interact with. But if you only have your two-week holiday abroad during the year, it can be difficult not to try to cram too much in.
Here are seven countries (sorted by geographic size) that you can visit as simple day-trips rather than multi-day excursions, which will allow you to leave without feeling as though you’ve missed something important:
7. San Marino
San Marino is another picturesque place to visit. In fact, with its three fortresses sprouting from Mount Titano — and the views from the fortress’ spectacular towers — you’re hard-pressed to find a more impressive place to visit in all of Europe. As with the Vatican, San Marino is entirely surrounded by Italy, so it makes an easy day-trip. Have a wander around the narrow, twisting streets, and don’t forget that you can even get your passport stamped at the border, which is something that you’ll miss out on in most of the rest of Europe when you’re border-hopping.
As you might expect from this small country nestled between Austria and Switzerland, you’ll find some incredible alpine panoramas. And if you’re looking for a winter ski destination, Liechtenstein is definitely the one: it’s a lot less expensive than either of these neighboring countries, for similar terrain (although costs for accommodation and other living expenses can be pretty similar). In the summer, you have plenty of options for biking, hiking, and more. Don’t miss taking a drive through the mountains: even if that’s all that you do in a day there, you’re sure to be impressed!
Malta, an archipelago located between Sicily and the North African coast, is an oft-overlooked gem of European history, architecture, and culture. The megalithic temples are considered to be some of the oldest in the world. If you’re looking for museums, coffee shops, nightlife, or anything else, you’re sure to find it — or if you just want to relax on a beach for the entirety of your vacation, you’re spoiled for choice as well. Definitely make sure to check out the views from the fortress of Mdina no matter what you choose to do, but other than that, the day’s up to you.
One of the main things that Andorra is known for is it’s ski resorts and trekking opportunities, as it’s nestled deep in the heart of the Pyrenees. And that’s not a bad thing! The country, which is bordered by Spain and France, can be a little cheaper than its larger European counterparts, which makes it the perfect place to take that dream vacation. As an added bonus: Andorra is duty-free, so even if you’re vacationing in Spain or France, it may be worth hopping over the border to do a little shopping during your trip.
The city of Luxembourg has been known to steal the hearts of many a traveler — and with good reason! The old town is incredibly charming, with a number of pedestrianized streets for you to wander through. But you’ll especially want to get out to Vianden Castle, which may remind you of Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle, and you could easily pass time sipping at the country’s local wines, which definitely aren’t to be forgotten amongst the others that Europe has to offer.
Monaco is the second-smallest country in the world, and it can be a delightful place to visit on a vacation. If you’ve got a little money to splash around, the Grand Casino can be a great place to while away a few hours — even if you don’t win anything, you’ll have ample opportunity to people-watch, and even if you’re not the gambling type, you’ll find that the opulent surroundings are incredible. Even if you’re traveling on a budget, you’ll want to take a stroll through the beautiful, historical streets of Monaco-ville. Or you could head out to the free Larvotto Beach near Monte Carlo.
1. Vatican City
In terms of location, the Vatican is probably the easiest day-trip on this list. It is located within the city of Rome, and is officially known as the State of Vatican City or Vatican City State. The Vatican is the center of the Catholic Church, and you’ll find museums galore to keep you busy all day. Although the Vatican is technically the smallest country in the world, you could easily spend a ton of time here, especially once you factor in ticket queues and lunch time. My recommendation? If you’ve only got a day at the Vatican, you’ll really want to narrow down your list and also may want to prebook tickets for popular attractions. But although your head may be reeling by the end of the day, you should leave the country feeling accomplished.
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