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No Car, No Problem:
15 Small States To Go Without a Driver's License
Park Your Car and Enjoy these 15 Public Transport Friendly Small States
Personally, I am not a big fan of driving, as I have always found it to be exhausting, time wasting and not environmentally friendly. Even though driving is often unavoidable when you are travelling, I found that many small states are pedestrian and public transport friendly. So for those who hate driving or those who don't drive, here is a list of 15 small states where you can leave the car behind.
Good for A Few Hours, A Day or Two
Gibraltar, located on the south coast of Spain, can be explored without a car. To begin, most tourists choose to enter Gibraltar by foot from the Spanish town of La Línea de la Concepciór, as this is by far much quicker than crossing with a car. Once you are inside Gibraltar, the bus station is a 3 minute walk away from the border. Be sure to ride the cable car up to the top of the famous Gibraltar Rock and to see the fantastic Saint Michael's Cave.
Monaco is the World's second smallest country, and it is so small that you can walk it all. Or if you are tired of walking, you can also take the solar-powered water taxi to get you to Monte Carlo for a very affordable €2 (by Monaco standard). The real way to travel, though, is by helicopter. A trip between Nice Airport and the Monaco Heliport is 7-minute short but is along the coast and extremely beautiful. It will only set you back a handsome €140.
Liechtenstein has an efficient and commonly used public bus system, but the best way to see Liechtenstein is perhaps by bike. It only takes a few hours to cycle across the country, which is sandwiched in between Austria and Switzerland. If you prefer, you can also walk into Liechtenstein. From Switzerland's Sevelen, you can walk across the border and reach Vaduz by foot in roughly 45 minutes. Just don't expect a friendly custom officer and a stamp while you cross the border.
San Marino, the World's third smallest country, is 61.2 square km. It might start to get a little bit tiring now if you have to walk that all. Luckily, there is a bus system to help you get around. To get there, you have to first get to Rimini train station, located in Italy and a 4-hour train journey from Rome. From Rimini, a bus will bring you to the microstate. You can easily walk around once you are in the walled city, or take the cable car from the bottom up to the historic center.
Vatican City has an area of 0.49 square km, and it is the World's smallest country. Vatican City is so small that you can walk it all. The biggest challenge is not the size, but rather, there is so much to see that you could easily spend a day just inside the museum. Vatican City is enclaved within the city of Rome in Italy, another city where a car is not required at all.
Macau, a small former Portuguese colony, is now the world's gambling capital and home to the world's largest casino. In 2019, its gambling revenue is a mere five times of Las Vegas. Thanks to the gambling income, major casinos and hotels operate complimentary shuttle buses that will bring you everywhere. Regular buses are also available, but you can also explore Macau on foot since it is so small and compact. The cycle rickshaw, once so popular in the 1980s, is now reserved for entertaining the tourists, and many find this to be an interesting experience.
Qatar is a prime layover destination for many of those who travel with Qatar Airways. In Doha, you can try the newly built metro, ride the efficient bus system or simply hail an Uber. If you are jetlagged, you anyway would be too tired to deal with under-qualified drivers. And if you want to wake yourself up, why not go for some dune bashing where professional drivers will bring you to conquer the desert dunes in a 4x4?
Estonia's capital, Tallinn, has one of the most charming and pedestrian-friendly old towns. The city is also covered by bus, by tram and by trolleybus. To get outside of Tallinn, Estonia has installed an extensive train and bus network. But you may also choose to hop over to another country. Helsinki, Finland is just two-hours and a ferry ride away.
Luxembourg is certain not the cheapest cheap city. But it is cheap in one area - public transport. Since March 2020, public transit has been made free for all, marking a first in the world. Within Luxembourg City, everything is walkable and you can cover it within a few hours. For those who are into cycling, there is also a self service city bike scheme to help you work out your leg muscles. Get out of the city easily by bus. Get to another country by train. Metz (1 hour), Paris (2 hours) or Brussels (3 Hours) are all just a train ride away.
Malta, an archipelago in the Mediterranean, has a huge amount of history to offer. It was ruled by Crusaders and Moors alike, as well as the French and the Brits. And for the medieval souls, there is no better way to travel around the islands than by traditional horse carriages. To get around in a more efficient manner, the modern bus system is the best car-free way to get around on both the large Malta island and the smaller Gozo island.
Svalbard has interesting activities, including dog sledding and kayaking, but driving is definitely not one of them. The Norwegian dependent territory only has 40km of roads, and the roads are frozen half the time. Cars can even be a threat to polar bears. If you want to go around the island, you would have a much more exciting time going around in a snow mobile than a car.
Singapore has always focused on building a sustainable city in order to accommodate a large population in a small space, and public transport has been a key pillar for its city planning. A study by consulting firm McKinsey & Co ranked Singapore's public transport system as number one in the World. On average, the public transport system moves 7.5 million passengers around daily. To make the city more sustainable, Singapore will even have 1000km of cycling paths cross the island by 2040. A car-free vacation is certainly possible in this microstate.
Bhutan has a tourism model that is focused on high value tourism and sustainable growth. As such, almost all visitors arrive on a group tour, in which transport will be covered by your agency. But perhaps the best way to explore the traditional Bhutan is by the traditional way - on foot. Bhutan is home to a number of scenic trekking trails, ranging from a short day hike to Tiger Nest to a 25-day Snowman Trek, also known as "the hardest trek in the world".
Cuba provides a holiday experience that can range from the urban experience of Havana to the resort experience in Varadero to the rural view of Vinales. While it is possible to rent a car, it is generally expensive and it is almost guaranteed that you would be getting a car that is in poor condition. It is much easier to hire a taxi, not to mention that you can instead be enjoying your ride in a "yank tank". Cuba has a well-established and extensive bus system that will take you across cities.
Vanuatu is a country made up of 40 islands and 40 islets and volcanic rocks. As a tourist, you are likely to visit Port Vila, which is small, compact and walkable. The bus system is well run, and for the adventurous ones, you can even try to hire a quad bike. On the island of Santo, where the famous Champagne Beach is located, there is no public transport system. Yet, you can catch a "utility", meaning that you will be travelling to your destination while enjoying the sunshine from the back of a pick up truck. The only downside? The most common way of travelling between islands is by plane, and that may not be so environmentally friendly.
Of course, if you are planning a relaxing vacation, you can enjoy a number of resort destinations without a car, ranging from Dominica to Seychelles. Read on here to find out the top five sustainable resorts in small states that are focused on ecotourism.