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  • VR TEAM | Dec 25, 2023 | 0 comments

    A Guide to the Schengen Countries

    Schengen Area

    The Schengen Area includes 27 countries in Europe where visitors can easily travel across borders from one Schengen country to another. The Schengen Area operates under a common visa policy which is part of the European Union’s strategy to address security issues that come from travelers being able to travel freely between countries. 

    Years before the Schengen Area was established, it was very easy to travel between countries and although a few countries abolished their mutual borders as far back as 1954, it wasn’t until 1985 that the Schengen Agreement was signed. 

    Initially only 5 countries signed the agreement – Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands in the town of Schengen in Luxembourg.

    The Schengen Area was created in 1995 after internal borders were abolished and a common visa policy put into place. 

    Over time more and more countries have joined the Schengen Area and, today, there are 27 with Croatia being the latest to join in January 2023. 

    Schengen Area Countries

    The 27 Schengen countries are:

    1. Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

    There are 27 countries in the Schengen Area, however, only 23 are members of the European Union. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland are not part of the EU, but are part of the Schengen Area. 

    Schengen Area Map

    Facts About the Schengen Area

    1. Population – 423 + million people
    2. Size – 4,368,693 square kilometers (1,686,762 sq mi)

    Schengen Country Information

    To travel to all 27 Schengen countries, you must be in possession of a Schengen Visa.

    Austria

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 83,871 km²

    Population – 8,404,252

    Language – German

    Austria is nestled between Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy. Popular cities such as Vienna and Salzburg draw millions of tourists every year with plenty of attractions to visit, but you’ll also find beautiful lakes and national parks, winter sports, and castles. 

    How to Get a Austria Tourist Visa

    Austria Visa Requirements

    Belgium

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 30,510 km²

    Population – 10,414,336

    Language – Dutch, French and German

    Belgium is next to France, Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands. Brussels is a fabulous city to wander around with the Grand Palace a major tourist attraction. There are markets, beautiful architecture and a trip here won’t be complete without trying the mussels with french fries. Bruges is another lovely city to visit with gorgeous buildings and canals.  

    Belgium Visa Requirements

    Czech Republic

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 78,866 km²

    Population – 10,553,443

    Language – Czech

    The Czech Republic is located next to Germany, Austria, Poland and Slovakia. There are several regions that are full of interesting things to see and do. There are forests and mountains to explore in the countryside and major tourist cities like Prague and Brno with museums, cathedrals and good food.

    Czech Republic Visa Requirements

    Croatia

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 56,542 km²

    Population – 4,493,312

    Language – Croatian, Slovenian, Serbian and Bosnian

    Croatia is located on the Adriatic Sea and borders Slovenia and Hungary. Another popular destination, Croatia attracts many tourists wanting to explore cities like Split for its Roman ruins and the historic Dubrovnik. Krka National Park is stunning with its waterfalls and swimming hole and hundreds of beautiful islands off the coast each with its own character and charm.

    Denmark

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 43,094 km²

    Population – 5,475,791

    Language – Danish

    Denmark is one of the Scandinavian countries, located north of Germany. Cities like Copenhagen and Aarhus have lots of cultural experiences for tourists to enjoy while Aalborg and Odense have pretty city centers to explore. There are also many islands in the regions of Denmark offering beaches, dunes, and a variety of birds and animals, all fabulous destinations for getting out into nature.

    Denmark Visa Requirements

    Estonia

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 45,227 km²

    Population – 1,315,819

    Language – Estonian

    Estonia shares its borders with Latvia and its coast lies on the Baltic Sea. Tallinn is the capital city and it’s a popular tourist destination due to its pretty old center. There are seaside towns like Haapsalu and Parnu which are great for walks along the beach or, if it’s culture you want, Kuressaare and Rakvere have castles to explore. 

    Estonia Visa Requirements

    Finland

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 337,030 km²

    Population – 5,531 million

    Language – Finnish, Swedish

    Finland’s neighbors are Norway and Sweden and is made up of 6 regions which have coastlines, forests and lakes and tundra. Being the capital, Helsinki has plenty to see and do, but no trip to Finland would be complete without a trip to witness the stunning northern lights, best during the winter. 

    How to Get a Finland Tourist Visa

    Finland Visa Requirements

    France

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 643,801 km²

    Population – 63,929,000 (in Metropolitan France)

    Language – French

    France shares its borders with Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium and it’s one of the most well known Schengen countries. Paris has a certain romantic allure and has iconic attractions, like the Eiffel Tower, which many tourists want to see. From pretty villages to stunning mountains, vineyards, heritage sites and beautiful countryside, France has a lot to offer visitors. 

    France Visa Requirements

    Germany

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 357,022 km²

    Population – 82,670,000

    Language – German, English

    Germany is one of the largest European countries and is located with many other Schengen countries surrounding it – Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Most people have heard of Berlin and visit for shopping, lovely restaurants and nightlife. Historic towns like Bremen and Dresden are also popular with tourists. Germany is also a fabulous destination to go to for its stunning coastline and islands like the East Frisian islands and its forest region like the Black Forest with brilliant views to be had. 

    Germany Visa Requirements

    How to Get a Germany Work Visa

    How to Get a Germany Tourist Visa

    Greece

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 131,957 km²

    Population – 10,688,058

    Language – Greek

    Greece doesn’t have any Schengen countries as neighbors, but almost all its visitors come from other European countries. Greece has a long and fascinating history and there are many popular attractions located on the mainland and on the islands that tourists flock to. Athens is known for beautiful architecture and the impressive Parthenon and Heraklion’s archaeological site of Knossos draws in tourists every day. 

    Greece Visa Requirements

    Hungary

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 93,030 km²

    Population – 10,049,000

    Language – Hungarian

    Hungary is located in central Europe and borders Slovakia in the north, Austria in the west, Slovenia and Croatia in the south west. Cities like Budapest and Gyor are popular for tourists looking to spend their time exploring museums and castles, delicious food and drink and excellent nightlife. Others may prefer to visit Aggtelek for its caves or the lakes and mountains at Lake Balaton and Bukk. 

    Hungary Visa Requirements

    Iceland

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 103,000 km²

    Population – 366,425

    Language – Icelandic

    An island located in the north Atlantic Ocean, Iceland is a beautiful country to visit. Reykjavik is the place where most tourists visit, but exploring the rest of the island is a must. There is whale watching at Husavik, the blue lagoon at Grindavik, and a number of National Parks offering waterfalls, glaciers and mountains.

    Iceland Visa Requirements

    Italy

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 301,340 km²

    Population – 60,483,973

    Language – Italian

    Bordering France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia, Italy needs no introduction. Rome and Florence are living museums with beautiful buildings around every corner. Other popular destinations are Venice for its canals and Naples for its pizza. The ruins of Pompeii, the gorgeous beaches of Calabria and the islands of Capri and Sardinia, wherever you may go in Italy you will be amazed. 

    Italy Visa Requirements

    Latvia

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 64,589 km²

    Population – 1,863,000

    Language – Latvia, Russian, English

    Latvia shares its borders with Estonia and Lithuania. With cities like Riga and towns like Madonna, Latvia sees many visitors each year. There are pretty old towns and cathedrals to explore, shopping at markets, or sitting in a cafe’s terrace enjoying a coffee. If you visit in the summer, Latvia has a long sand beach to sunbathe or there is skiing and snowboarding in winter. 

    Latvia Visa Requirements

    Liechtenstein

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 160 km²

    Population – 33,987

    Language – German

    The smallest of the Schengen countries, Liechtenstein is next to Switzerland and Austria. Although small, it’s still worth a visit for winter sports at Malbun, beautiful churches and castles in Balzers and Triesen and the alpine town of Triesenberg in the mountains. 

    Liechtenstein Visa Requirements

    Lithuania

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 65,200 km²

    Population – 2,886,729

    Language – Lithuanian, English, Polish, Russian

    Next to Lithuania is Latvia and Poland. Another small country, Lithuania is still a popular Schengen destination. The capital, Vilnius is a great place to start with a lovely old town and impressive buildings. In the north, Birzai is worthy of a visit for its natural attractions or the peninsula called the Curonian Spit with beaches, forests and villages. 

    Lithuania Visa Requirements

    Luxembourg

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 2,586 km²

    Population – 613,894

    Language – Luxembourgish, German and French

    Luxembourg’s neighbors are Belgium, France and Germany. There are some enchanting castles to visit in Luxembourg and the capital city has lots to explore such as the beautiful Gothic cathedral and the Grand Ducal Palace. Out in the countryside, there are opportunities to walk through stunning forests in Mullerthal. Wine lovers can also head to the Moselle Valley to sample the wines produced there. 

    Luxembourg Visa Requirements

    Malta

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 316 km²

    Population – 436,947

    Language – Maltese and English

    Malta is an island in the Mediterranean Sea which is a beautiful destination to visit. Head to Valletta with its historical buildings or Marsaxlokk’s Sunday market for shopping. The old town of Mdina with great views or Rabat for its catacombs. There are gorgeous beaches at Golden Bay or Mellieha and the Blue Grotto caves – a perfect way to spend a day or two. 

    Malta Visa Requirements

    Netherlands

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 41,543 km²

    Population – 16,803,893

    Language – Dutch, Frisian, English

    The Netherlands has borders with Germany and Belgium. Most people have heard of Amsterdam which is a fabulous city to explore for its canals, museums, coffee shops and bicycles. There are other cities like Rotterdam, Delft and Arnhem with just as much to do, but with a more relaxed atmosphere. The Netherlands is also home to beautiful flower fields such as those at Keukenhof and the island of Texel offers outdoor activities – perfect during the summer months.

    Netherlands Visa Requirements

    Norway

     

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 323,802 km²

    Population – 5,063,709

    Language – Norwegian and Saami

    Norway is another Scandinavian country and has borders with Finland and Sweden. The country has 8 regions all different and all full of things to see and do. In the east, the city of Oslo has everything a capital offers – nightlife, shopping and culture. You won’t want to miss out on a trip to the north for the stunning fjords or seeing the mountains in the north. 

    Norway Visa Requirements

    Poland

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 312,685 km²

    Population – 38,511,824

    Language – Polish

    Poland is located in central Europe and is bordered by the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Germany and Lithuania. Spend a few days in Warsaw or Krakow enjoying the culture, visiting museums or shopping at the markets. Or you could stroll along the “Polish Manchester” – the longest walking street in Europe. In the countryside, explore national parks full of natural beauty with lakes and rivers, forests and mountains. 

    Poland Visa Requirements 

    Portugal

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 92,090 km²

    Population – 10.31 million

    Language – Portuguese

    Portugal is located next to Spain and is one of the most popular holiday destinations for tourists seeking sun, sea and sand. Lisbon is the cosmopolitan capital city and is a lively place with shopping, culture, good restaurants, cafes, and bars – it’s a perfect place to spend a couple of days. Visit Albufeira for the beach or just to see the pretty old towns with its blue and white buildings. 

    Portugal Visa Requirements

    Slovakia

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 49,035 km²

    Population – 5,426,252

    Language – Slovak, Hungarian, Ukrainian

    Slovakia has no coastline and its neighbors are Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. Cities like Bratislava and Kosice have plenty for visitors to do like exploring the historical centers or visiting museums. There are also lovely towns like Bardejov and Spisska Nova Ves further afield. 

    Slovakia Visa Requirements

    Slovenia

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 20,273 km²

    Population – 2,084,301

    Language – Slovenian

    Slovenia lies to the north of the Adriatic Sea and it shares its borders with Austria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia. With plenty of cities to explore, Slovenia has a lot to see and do. There are mountains, alpine valleys, coastal towns and spectacular caves. This small country has something for everyone. 

    Slovenia Visa Requirements

    Spain

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 505,370 km²

    Population – 47.35 million

    Language – Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Basque

    Another well known and popular destination, Spain is located next to Portugal and borders France in the north. All over this beautiful country, you’ll find impressive architecture, beautiful cities and some delicious food like the traditional dish, paella. Spain also has 200 km of coastline with white sandy beaches and resorts ranging from cheap and cheerful to high end.

    Spain Visa Requirements

    How to Get a Spain Tourist Visa

    Sweden

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 450,295 km²

    Population – 10.43 million

    Language – Swedish, Finnish

    Sweden has borders with Norway and Finland and is also connected to Denmark by the bridge of Oresund. Foodies will love Stockholm as it’s the place to go for some of Europe’s best restaurants. Explorers might head to Smaland for its lakes or the country’s national parks or nature reserves like Garphyttan or Haverdal. 

    Sweden Visa Requirements

    Switzerland

    Source: Pixabay

    Area – 41,285 km²

    Population – 8.637 million

    Language – German, French, Italian, Lombard and Romansh

    Situated in the south-west of central Europe and shares its borders with France, Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein and Germany. The capital, Zurich is a good place to get your bearings, but exploring what this lovely Schengen country has to offer is a must. From Lake Geneva to the Alps, everything you see will make you stop in your tracks. 

    Switzerland Visa Requirements

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