In the UK, we’re lucky to be within easy reach of many beautiful and diverse countries. We have the charms of continental Europe right on our doorstep – but there are also other non-European countries just a short flight away.
Whether you’re looking for a sun-soaked beach holiday or a cultural city break, you can reach some of the world’s most fascinating destinations in less than four hours. Plus, because all these locations are pretty close to home, you can find some excellent travel deals, which can provide you with an adventure of a lifetime for less.
So, if you’re considering booking a holiday but don’t want to spend a long time on the plane, here are 10 amazing countries you can visit in under four hours.
Regularly ranked one of the most liveable and happiest countries in the world, Denmark is packed with captivating culture, colourful architecture, and fairytale castles.
The capital, Copenhagen, is laidback and friendly – and due to its compact size, it’s ideal for exploring on foot or by bike. It’s a city that’s as hip as it is historic, and if you’re thinking about a city break, it’s a great choice. Stroll along the canals, people-watch from the cool cafes, and dine in the many trendy new restaurants that have given Copenhagen a new reputation as a culinary powerhouse.
If you can’t decide between a lazy beach holiday or a cultural break, why not head to Malta? Just a three-hour and 10-minute flight from London, this Mediterranean island is incredibly diverse – and it’s packed with history, culture, stunning landscapes, and plenty of sun, sea, and sand!
In the UNESCO World Heritage capital of Valletta, you can admire ornate 16th-century buildings and lavish baroque cathedrals before watching the world go by over a few drinks on the elegant, yacht-lined waterfront.
Bordering the Baltic Sea, Estonia is one of the most unique countries in Europe, and its bewitching capital of Tallinn is just a two-hour 45-minute flight away. Boasting both vast wilderness and cosmopolitan culture, Estonia has something for everyone.
You’ll almost definitely want to spend time in Tallinn – an extraordinarily striking city where the historic and modern worlds collide. The medieval streets of the Old Town are lined with spired towers, ancient churches, and merchant’s houses. However, Tallinn is also a tech-centred city (it’s the birthplace of Skype!), and its cool cafes are often full of tech wizards tapping away on their laptops.
Another North African destination you may not know is a little over three hours away is Tunisia. It may be small compared to its neighbours, yet it still boasts over 800 miles of Mediterranean coastline – and because it’s off the radar compared to Europe, the beaches are far less crowded than those in Italy, on the other side of the water.
If you want a lazy beach break, Tunisia will definitely deliver, and the sandy, jasmine-scented beaches here are fantastic. The balmy east coast is home to plenty of fancy resorts, but there are also many wild beaches which are ideal for a quiet day of swimming and sunbathing, before enjoying a meal at a local beach bar.
Sweden is another Scandinavian country that’s an ideal destination for a city break. Its cosmopolitan capital, Stockholm, is just a two-and-a-half-hour flight from the UK, yet the two countries are worlds apart. Spread across 14 islands on Sweden’s southeast coast, the city is known as ‘beauty on water’ – and it’s certainly easy on the eyes.
The old town, Gamla Stan, looks like something plucked from the pages of a fairytale. These narrow cobblestone streets are home to Stockholm’s iconic colourful houses, imposing Royal Palace, and medieval museum. The city is also packed with exceptional museums and galleries where you can learn about the country’s Viking past.
While Montenegro may only be two-thirds of the size of Wales, it has so much to offer – and it’s only three hours away.
If you’re dreaming of a beach break, Montenegro has almost 200 miles of gorgeous coastline, and the sparkling turquoise waters rival its neighbour Croatia. There are also many charming and lively coastal towns to explore – and while Montenegro is quickly becoming a sought-after location, it’s still very affordable, with plenty of cheap yet swish accommodation.
Big, beautiful, and astoundingly diverse, Romania boasts rugged mountains, sweeping beaches, fascinating culture, and grand gothic castles that sprawl imposingly on rocky summits. Plus, it’s one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.
The capital, Bucharest, is just over a three-hour flight from London, and while it’s a city that’s difficult to appreciate fully at first sight, if you scratch beneath the surface, you’ll find splendid 17th-century Orthodox churches, excellent galleries, first-rate restaurants, pretty drinking gardens, and plenty of lush parks.
Croatia’s charms are certainly no secret. But if you’re dreaming of a sophisticated Mediterranean break where you can spend long, lazy days lying by sapphire blue waters, and sultry evenings dining in ancient walled towns, there are few places more magical. Plus, flight times are only around two hours and 45 minutes.
Dubrovnik is the popular choice for a city break, and while it’s undeniably busy during peak season, the unique beauty, charm, and history of this city make it worth braving the crowds. Elegant baroque buildings sit beside stylish restaurants on the sleek limestone streets, and the hulking Mount Srđ looms impressively overhead.
While the south of Portugal is popular with holidaymakers, there are plenty of other fabulous destinations. This includes the beautiful and historic cities of Porto and Lisbon and the far-flung island of Madeira, which is still only a three-hour, 50-minute flight away.
In Lisbon, you can wander through the ancient Alfama district, lose yourself in the narrow cobbled alleys, admire the pretty mosaic walkways, and enjoy a drink in the lively bars. Meanwhile, Porto is home to plenty of fascinating sights and attractions – and in Madeira, you’ll be blown away by exotic colours, breathtaking landscapes, and wonderful wildlife.
It may be in Africa, but Morocco is just a three-and-a-half-hour flight away – and if you’re looking to visit a country that’s as exotic as it is unique, you’re heading to the right place.
If you fancy a city break, you can fly to Marrakech, an astonishingly photogenic and historic city that’s enchanting and overwhelming. Here, you can lose yourself in the old cobblestone lanes of the medina, tuck into fresh and fragrant tagines, haggle for trinkets and treasures to take home, and enjoy some indulgent pampering in a luxurious hammam spa.
Note: There’s been some debate over whether or not tourists should continue visiting Morocco in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake. However, more and more tour guides, NGOs, and travel businesses are urging people to continue travelling responsibility – as the money it provides is crucial to the ongoing support effort and also gives many Moroccans purpose.
However, with some parts of Morocco more badly damaged than others, it’s worth checking with individual tour providers and airlines before travelling.
Whether you’re tempted by Croatian coastlines, Swedish cityscapes, or an Estonian escape, Europe is home to an astonishing amount of beauty and diversity.
If you’re planning your next holiday, it’s helpful to remember that you don’t have to sit through expensive long-haul flights to find a slice of paradise. From the stylish magic of Scandinavia to the sun-soaked beaches of North Africa, there are many incredible countries less than a four-hour flight away – and these are just 10 of them.
For more ideas and inspiration for your next holiday, head over to the travel section of our website.
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Have you been to any of these countries before – or do you have your own suggestions for the best countries that are less than four hours away? We’d love to hear about your travel experiences in the comments below.