The world's best one-day destinations

Vaduz Castle, Liechtenstein

Vaduz Castle, Liechtenstein Photo: Getty Images

LIECHTENSTEIN

Pressed for time? In compact places such Liechtenstein (and the nine other destinations that follow), you can squeeze a lot into a day. Alternatively, take it slow and make a weekend of it. A mountainous monarchy, squeezed in between Switzerland and Austria, Liechtenstein is so tiny it even lacks an international airport. Just 25 kilometres long and barely 12 kilometres wide, the principality may be compact, but it's not poor: in fact, it is one of the world's richest countries. The scenery, with a network of hiking trails, is the main drawcard. 

tourismus.li/en

Getting the blues in Grenada is a whole different thing.

Getting the blues in Grenada is a whole different thing. Photo: Getty Images

CURACAO

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You knew it was a drink; did you know it was also a country? Through a quirk of history, the Caribbean island of Curacao is considered a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As well as white sand beaches, it has a pretty colonial capital, Willemstad, and a haunting slavery museum.

curacao.com/en

Sunrise on Easter Island (Rapa Nui).

Sunrise on Easter Island (Rapa Nui). Photo: Getty Images

SAN MARINO

There are no border posts separating the 61 square kilometres of the Serene Republic of San Marino from neighbouring Italy. The language is Italian, as is the scenery, the food, and the smattering of medieval monuments. The main sign that you are in a different country? The green-jacketed, red-trousered soldiers who star in the regular changing of the guard at the Palazzo Pubblico.

visitsanmarino.com

St Peter's Basilica - the Vatican.

St Peter's Basilica - the Vatican. Photo: iStock

RAPA NUI

It's on the way to nowhere, so you really need to want to go to Rapa Nui, better known as Easter Island. This isolated speck in the ocean lies a staggering 3700 kilometres from Chile, the country to which it nominally belongs. Once you get here, there is not a whole lot to do. Admire those imposing moai statues; check out the volcanoes with their crater lagoons; take a stroll. Repeat. 

visitchile.cl

MALTA

There is a lot of history packed onto the small island of Malta and its even smaller sidekicks, Gozo and Comino, from megalithic temples dating back to prehistoric times, to traces left by successive rulers such as the Arabs the Normans, and the Knights Hospitaller of St John. The capital, Valletta, is exquisite, but smaller than some city neighbourhoods. 

visitmalta.com

JERSEY

The largest of Britain's Channel Islands boasts not one but two tourist attractions. The better-known is the zoo founded by naturalist Gerald Durrell, with its focus on conservation. Less famous yet surprisingly interesting is the subterranean museum dedicated to the German occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II. 

jersey.com

MONACO

Even without rushing, you can walk from one side of Monaco to another in an hour or two. This well-manicured, pocket-size principality on the French Riviera is a favoured haunt for millionaires. For those who can't afford the designer boutiques and the grand casino, the pretty La Condamine neighbourhood has streets lined with orange trees and a charming Provencal-style market and  the Jardin Exotique offers spectacular views.

visitmonaco.com

MACAU

Like Hong Kong, just 65 kilometres away, the peninsula of Macau has benefited from China's "one country, two systems" policy, and is the only place in China where gambling is legal. The casinos are what draws most visitors; however, you can also spend an afternoon exploring old  Portuguese cathedrals and Chinese temples. 

en.macautourism.gov.mo

THE VATICAN 

Perhaps the only country to boast more artworks than people, the Vatican also has a unique economy, sustained by the contributions of Catholics from around the world, souvenir sales and museum admission fees. Only 800 people live in the world's smallest country, but every day more than 25,000 visit its key attractions, St Peter's Basilica and the Vatican museums. 

vatican.va

GRENADA

It covers an area of just 300 square kilometres, but Grenada, at the southern tip of the Windward Isles, is a Caribbean gem, with nutmeg-scented air (it's the world's largest producer of the spice) that led to it being dubbed the Spice Island. With a picturesque capital, St George, and lovely beaches, it's a good place to do nothing much.

grenadagrenadines.com