A handful of nations worldwide manage to function and facilitate travel without possessing any airports.
Unique geographical constraints prevent these countries from developing air transport, yet creative solutions help them thrive.
Air Travel Not Always Necessary
Against assumptions, some countries demonstrate that having an airport is not an absolute prerequisite. Despite lacking air travel infrastructure, these places found ways to prosper.
Still, most didn’t intentionally choose to forego airports. Their landscapes simply made building one extremely difficult or impossible. Fortunately, sharing resources with neighbors allowed them to overcome this challenge.
The ancient country of San Marino is completely landlocked within Italy lacking sea access. Its relatively small size also precludes an airport.
With no flat land for runways, hilly terrain and narrow valleys dominate. So San Marino depends on Italy’s infrastructure to satisfy transportation needs.
Convenient Access to Nearby Italian Airports
Crisscrossing road networks help San Marino residents and tourists easily reach nearby Italian airports. These include Rimini, Bologna, Florence, Venice, and Pisa.
Rimini’s airport just kilometers away serves as a vital regional hub. And other options are only short drives or bus rides making flights easily accessible.
As the world’s smallest country, the tiny Vatican City naturally lacks space for an airport. Its 800 residents and visitors rely fully on neighboring Italy for transit.
With no rivers or sea access either, the Vatican can be walked end-to-end, given its 0.2 square miles of area. So aviation is out of the question.
Quick Trains to Rome Airports
While there’s no airport, the Vatican has convenient connections to Rome’s Fiumicino and Ciampino airports via short train rides.
This allows residents and millions of annual tourists to easily come and go through Italy’s well-connected gateways.
Andorra’s greater land area could physically accommodate an airport. But surrounded by the Pyrenees mountains, its topography makes aviation impossible.
Peaks reaching almost 10,000 feet mean Andorra’s altitude is unsafe for takeoffs and landings. Building a runway seemed unwise.
Drives to Nearby Spanish and French Airports
With air access out, Andorrans rely on an extensive road network to reach airports in Spain and France under 200 kilometers away.
Cities like Barcelona, Girona and Lleida in Spain and Toulouse in France are readily accessed by car or bus.
Tiny Monaco, the world’s second smallest nation, is nestled within France’s borders. Only 1.96 square kilometers, its pocket of territory leaves no room for flights.
On three sides, France surrounds Monaco’s thin coastal strip. With no sea access either, aviation was never an option.
Taxis and Boats to French Airports
Monaco seamlessly taps into the extensive air network of neighboring France. Nice Côte d’Azur International Airport sits just kilometers away.
Visitors to Monaco arrive through Nice Airport and take taxis or boats to cross the short distance.
The final European country without an airport, landlocked Liechtenstein is just 24 kilometers long and 12 kilometers wide.
With the Rhine River bordering it on one side and the Swiss Alps nearby, flat space for runways remains scarce.
Accessing Swiss Airports by Car and Bus
While desiring an airport, Liechtenstein’s tiny geography made it implausible. Risk of crossing into Swiss airspace appeared likely.
Instead, the country developed excellent road and bus links to Swiss airports over 100 kilometers away for easy access.
In summary, while nearly every country has airports today, a handful of places still manage to thrive without them through resource sharing and convenient alternatives. Their unique situations made aviation impractical or unnecessary.