TINY TRAVEL SPOTS WITH A BIG PUNCH

Everyone knows about the big flashy top holiday destinations. There are ‘must see’ holiday hot spots that seem to fill everyone’s bucket list, but here are some tiny places that may be overlooked due to their size, that still are worth a look at if ‘quaint and quirky’ are on your travel agenda.

This tiny island of Grenada, for example, once known as the ‘Isle of spice’ is a mere 344 square kilometres in size and yet they still produce most of the world’s Mace and nutmeg, and French colonial architecture is everywhere. Plenty to see and do, Grenada is small but packs a mighty punch.

Malta is another tiny but busy little country that has a charm all of its own. Situated in the Mediterranean Sea, it has a thriving population and is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The Maltese are a proud race of people, their history is fierce, and their buildings and cuisine reflect 7000 years of multi-cultural influence. There are actually three islands that make up the country, Gozo, Comino, and the largest, Malta itself. Party people will find plenty to do here, there is a busy nightclub scene, as well as lots of lovely beaches for the day after the night before.

Half the size of Granada at a very little 160 square kilometres is the European hamlet country of Liechtenstein. This teeny tiny principality is the richest country in the world by GDP per capita. It is also the only nation in the world to be completely located in the Alps. There is no airport, so visitors must travel from either Switzerland or Austria to get inside. Once there tourists can enjoy scenery taken straight from a Disney movie (or maybe the other way around) and delight in German style cuisine and beers. If castles and romantic mountain vistas are your thing, this one is worth a look.

If you are looking for something more tropical but a little left of centre try Nauru, the smallest island country in the world. Formerly known as Pleasant Island, this formally rich country now suffers from a 90% national unemployment rate, with the remaining 10% employed by the government due to its mineral wealth having been depleted. Unfortunately, this island has suffered further controversy lately with the Australian Government opening up a detention centre for refugees on the island that has come under some very intense scrutiny after allegations of abuse. As if they didn’t have enough to deal with, Nauru is also known as the country with the most obese people in the world, with 97% of its men and 93% of women being obese or overweight. Because of this, Nauru is also home to the world’s highest level of type 2 diabetes, with 40% of its population suffering from the ailment. OK, maybe that’s not such a hot suggestion…..

Tuvalu might be a nicer option in the tropics. Once called the Ellice Islands, Tuvalu is a weensy 26 square kilometre set of islands located in the Pacific Ocean, west of Australia. There are about 10,000 inhabitants, with 8km of roads, and only 1 hospital present on the main island. Be warned, tourism is not a major factor for Tuvalu, so getting there and finding somewhere to stay is not easy, but if you are up for a challenge, this might be one for you. The country generally sees less than 2000 visitors a year, and most of those come for business. This is one of those destinations that you can be sure no one else in your neighbourhood has been too. It’s definitely dinner party talking point material.

Finally, if a very small country with a VERY big mindset is your thing, it would be hard to go past mighty Monaco. This is a country that punches well above its weight. Located on the French Riviera, this remarkable 2 square kilometre bit of property is home to the largest number of millionaires and billionaires per capita in the world. With a population of over 36,000, Monaco is also the world’s most densely populated country. Nothing about this place is budget. A can of soda and a cake in a local café will cost you upwards of 25 USD. The locals wear minks and diamonds to do their grocery shopping, this is a wickedly decadent location. If you can afford to stay in one of the 5 star hotels, you will be rubbing shoulders with the well-heeled at all times. Be warned though, not all that glitters is gold, and Monaco has its share of tricksters amongst the throngs. This is a place where people go to be seen, so a pair of shorts and a t-shirt is not going to cut it, unless they are distinctly designer and you are just too fabulous. The casinos have strict dress codes, the French speaking residents have very strict social behaviors. It’s a tad over the top, but good for a –quite expensive- laugh.

Small doesn’t mean boring, so instead of planning your next trip to one of the ‘Big Three’, or ‘most popular’, why not slip away for a vacay to somewhere little. After all, when it comes to pleasure, size doesn’t matter.

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