I realised during my long flight from the US recently that around 4 hours on a plane is the time where I start to feel tired, such that I’m not going to feel particularly fresh or able to do anything on the other end. Lucky, I thought, that the UK is quite well connected to other countries. I wondered just how many destinations I could fly to if I were to just hop on a plane in London, where the (direct) flight lasted a maximum of 4 hours. But then this leads to a more interesting question. If I were to pick the ‘major’ airport city in every single country in the world, which city would allow me to travel to the widest set of unique countries?

Data

Google was the main source of my data. In most cases, I chose the largest city from a given country, or the one with the largest airport (if this was not in the largest city), and pulled up a list of all non-stop flights less than or equal to 4 hours in duration. The goal was to see how many unique countries I would be able to fly to from each of these cities. I excluded colonies or overseas territories, like UK owned islands in the Caribbean. It’s quite likely that there are some errors, because Google does not list all destinations for larger airports. Instead you have to manually search from a map view, which is less likely to be exhaustive because of human error. Finally, for some countries where there were multiple large airports in cities close to each other, I combined them. For countries like the US and Russia, where major cities are spread out quite far, I used multiple cities (but kept them separate).

Results

So which city do you want to be in if you want to be able to travel to the widest range of countries in 4 hours or less? Istanbul. You can fly to 52 different countries in 4 hours or less! The second is quite a way away: Vienna allows you to fly to 39 different countries in 4 hours or less. Finally, all of Paris, Frankfurt, Rome, and London allow you to fly to 36 different countries in 4 hours or less.

Here is the full list (the countries that have no airports are omitted):

Country City # unique countries
Turkey Istanbul 52
Austria Vienna 39
France Paris 36
Germany Frankfurt 36
Italy Rome 36
United Kingdom London 36
Hungary Budapest 35
Belgium Brussels 34
Greece Athens 33
Netherlands Amsterdam 33
Ukraine Kyiv 31
Czech Republic Prague 30
Poland Warsaw 30
Russia Moscow 30
Serbia Belgrade 30
Romania Bucharest 27
Belarus Minsk 26
Latvia Riga 26
Switzerland Zurich 26
Bulgaria Sofia 25
Cyprus Larnaca 24
Denmark Copenhagen 24
Finland Helsinki 24
Lithuania Vilnius 24
United Arab Emirates Dubai 24
Lebanon Beirut 23
Panama Panama City 22
Egypt Cairo 21
Ethiopia Addis Ababa 21
Kenya Nairobi 21
Sweden Stockholm 20
Tunisia Tunis 20
USA Miami 20
Iran Tehran 19
Norway Oslo 19
Ireland Dublin 18
Israel Tel Aviv 18
Jordan Amman 18
Morocco Casablanca 18
Slovenia Ljubljana 18
Spain Madrid 18
Estonia Tallinn 17
Macedonia Skopje 17
Qatar Doha 17
Algeria Algiers 16
Azerbaijan Baku 16
Georgia Tbilisi 16
South Africa Johannesburg 16
Moldova Chişinău 15
Thailand Bangkok 15
China, People’s Republic of Beijing / Hong Kong 14
Colombia Bogotá 14
Côte d’Ivoire Abidjan 14
Croatia Zagreb 14
Iceland Reykjavík 14
Kuwait Kuwait City 14
Portugal Lisbon 14
Saudi Arabia Riyadh 14
Slovakia Bratislava 14
Bahrain Manama 13
Malta Valletta 12
Philippines Manila 12
Senegal Dakar 12
Singapore Singapore 12
Sudan Khartoum 12
Armenia Yerevan 11
Benin Cotonou 11
Cameroon Douala 11
Costa Rica San José 11
Niger Niamey 11
Oman Muscat 11
Togo Lomé 11
Burkina Faso Ouagadougou 10
Congo, Republic of the Brazzaville 10
El Salvador San Salvador 10
Gabon Libreville 10
Iraq Baghdad 10
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 10
Montenegro Podgorica 10
Rwanda Kigali 10
Trinidad and Tobago Port of Spain 10
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City 10
Albania Tirana 9
Bangladesh Dhaka 9
Barbados Bridgetown 9
Taiwan Taipei 9
Dominican Republic Santo Domingo 9
Equatorial Guinea Malabo 9
Ghana Accra 9
Kazakhstan Almaty 9
Kyrgyzstan Bishkek 9
Luxembourg Luxembourg City 9
Pakistan Karachi 9
Peru Lima 9
Tanzania Dar es Salaam 9
Angola Luanda 8
Antigua and Barbuda St. John’s 8
Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan 8
Guatemala Guatemala City 8
India Mumbai 8
Kosovo Pristina 8
Mexico Mexico City 8
Myanmar Yangon 8
Zambia Lusaka 8
Bosnia and Herzegovina Sarajevo 7
Cambodia Phnom Penh 7
Fiji Nadi 7
Libya Tripoli 7
Mali Bamako 7
Nicaragua Managua 7
Puerto Rico San Juan 7
Sri Lanka Colombo 7
Tajikistan Dushanbe 7
Venezuela Caracas 7
Zimbabwe Harare 7
Bahamas Nassau 6
Belize Belize City 6
Bolivia Santa Cruz de la Sierra / La Paz 6
Chile Santiago 6
Congo, Democratic Republic of the Kinshasa 6
Cuba Havana 6
Ecuador Quito / Guayaquil 6
Honduras San Pedro Sula 6
Jamaica Kingston 6
Korea, South Seoul 6
Laos Vientiane 6
Nepal Kathmandu 6
Paraguay Asunción 6
Turkmenistan Ashgabat 6
Uganda Kampala 6
United States of America New York City 6
Uzbekistan Tashkent 6
Argentina Buenos Aires 5
Comoros Moroni 5
Eritrea Asmara 5
Gambia, The Serekunda 5
Grenada St. George’s 5
Guinea Conakry 5
Guyana Georgetown 5
Haiti Port-au-Prince 5
Madagascar Antananarivo 5
Malawi Lilongwe 5
Namibia Windhoek 5
New Zealand Auckland 5
Nigeria Lagos 5
Palau Koror 5
Sierra Leone Freetown 5
Solomon Islands Honiara 5
Syria Damascus 5
Yemen Sana’a / Aden 5
Afghanistan Kabul 4
Australia Sydney 4
Brazil Sao Paolo 4
Cape Verde Praia 4
Central African Republic Bangui 4
Chad N’Djamena 4
Djibouti Djibouti 4
Indonesia Jakarta 4
Mauritius Port Louis 4
São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé 4
Seychelles Mahe 4
South Sudan Juba 4
Uruguay Montevideo 4
Vanuatu Port Vila 4
Bhutan Thimphu 3
Burundi Bujumbura 3
Canada Toronto 3
Dominica Roseau 3
East Timor Dili 3
Guinea-Bissau Bissau 3
Japan Tokyo 3
Kiribati Betio 3
Liberia Monrovia 3
Mauritania Nouakchott 3
Mongolia Ulan Bator 3
Mozambique Maputo 3
Nauru 3
Papua New Guinea Port Moresby 3
Russia Vladivostok 3
Saint Kitts and Nevis Basseterre 3
Saint Lucia Castries 3
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Kingstown 3
Suriname Paramaribo 3
Andorra Andorra la Vella 2
Botswana Gaborone 2
Korea, North Pyongyang 2
Maldives Malé 2
Marshall Islands Ebeye 2
Federated States of Micronesia Pohnpei 2
Samoa Apia 2
San Marino Rimini (Italy) 2
Somalia Mogadishu 2
Tonga Nukuʻalofa 2
USA Los Angeles 2
Australia Perth 1
Lesotho Maseru 1
Swaziland Manzini 1
Tuvalu Funafuti 1