Schengen Area – Visa Information for Schengen Countries
While filling out your Visa application form to visit Europe, you may have come across the term ‘Schengen’. Have you ever wondered what “Schengen” means? What is Schengen zone? What is Schengen area? Read this article to know more about the Schengen countries area, map and the list of countries that are part of it!
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY SCHENGEN AREA COUNTRIES?
The ‘Schengen area’ comprises of a group of European countries that do not have any restrictions for tourists travelling across their territory. Through the Schengen agreement, these countries have abolished all types of border controls along their mutual borders to make it easier for the tourists travelling to other Schengen area countries. This means, the whole area acts as a single country, where you just require a single ‘Schengen’ visa to travel across the member Schengen area countries.
The Schengen agreement, which led to the concept of free movement between the member countries and eliminated all restrictions along their borders, was signed in a small winemaking town called Schengen in Luxembourg. So, if you were curious about why it is called ‘Schengen’, there goes the explanation!
HISTORY OF SCHENGEN AGREEMENT
The Schengen agreement was signed in 1985 between five European countries with an intention to remove all the border restrictions. The founding signatories were Luxembourg, West Germany, Belgium, France, and the Netherlands — the five member countries out of the 10 in the European Economic Community (EEC) at that time.
The most important decisions made through the agreement was to abolish the controls in the common borders between these member countries. Proposals to remove the security checks for vehicles was also made, which allowed the travellers to cross the borders easily.
All the countries that were a part of this agreement came to be known as the Schengen area countries and the territory comprising these countries was called the Schengen area. Although it started with five countries initially, many more countries joined the Schengen area. Currently, it has 26 member countries and several other territories and micro nations. The last country to join the list of the Schengen area countries was Liechtenstein in 2011.
The agreement introduced the common Schengen visa system in 1995, which resulted in the freedom across borders for visitors too, provided they had a Schengen visa. So, it effectively created an area which can be considered as a single state where you can travel without having multiple visas for each country — just a single Schengen visa for the whole area! Also, recently, the rules of the Schengen agreement were incorporated with those of the European Union, since most of the Schengen countries were members of the EU.
LIST OF SCHENGEN AREA COUNTRIES
The 26 countries that are currently members of the Schengen agreement are Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Out of this list, four Schengen countries — Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Iceland, and Norway — are not members of the European Union. So, they are officially known as the countries that are associated with the Schengen activities of the EU. This means that these countries are obliged to accept the decisions made by EU, even though they are not a part of it. Two of these non-European union members, Norway and Iceland, are members of the Nordic Passport Union.
Apart from these countries, the Schengen area also includes the Caribbean islands that belong to France and the three European micro-states — Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City. These territories and micronations maintain open or semi-open borders for visitors.
Though Ireland and the United Kingdom negotiated to be opt-outs, they still continue to follow the systematic regulations that of the Schengen area, along with other EU member states.
The Schengen Area is home to over 4,000,000 people and it covers over 4,000,000 km². If you have never been to the Schengen Area before and you want to discover this wonderful part of the world, here is a guide to each of the countries that form part of the Schengen Area to help you decide.
Austria has an area of 83,871 km² and has a population of 8,891,388. During 2018, there were 306,133 visa applications for Austria and of this total amount, 19,098 (6.2%) were rejected. It is a country that’s great to visit at any time of the year. You can go skiing in the winter and hiking in the Alps during the summer. It’s got everything from stunning architecture to amazing national parks. It’s got famous cities like Vienna and Salzburg and not so famous places like Worthersee and Kaprun. Wherever you end up or whatever you do in Austria, you’ll love it from the very first moment.
With an area of 30,528 km², Belgium may not be very big, but it’s huge on interesting things to see and do. Brussels’ Gothic-style Grand Palace is a sight to see or head to one of the city’s most photographed attractions – the Mannekin Pis. Wander around Bruges and see the beautiful architecture of the main squares or simply wander along the canals and see if you can find the prettiest street in the city. It’s a popular place to visit and, in 2018, there were over 200,000 visa applications received. Brussels is a destination that will surprise you!
There is a reason why the Czech Republic is one of the most traveled to countries in Europe. It has an area of 78,866 km² and you’ll find beautiful cities like Prague and Brno to explore as well as delicious food and drinks to savor. Try Obložené chlebíčky or Kolace if you have a sweet tooth! If you want to get back to nature, the Czech Republic has it all from the stunning Snezka mountains to beautiful forests in Sumava National Park – perfect for hiking or cycling! In 2018, the Czech Republic was one of the top 10 easiest countries to obtain a Schengen visa with 4.7% refused applications out of a total of 662,902. This means that over 95% of applications were approved. A high number of approved visa applications for a beautiful country – you might just have to visit!
Denmark was 10th in position of top 10 countries to get a Schengen visa with 7% of its 164,003 visa applications refused. There are over 5.5 million people who call Denmark their home and with an area of 43, 094 km², it sure has a lot of attractions that will keep you busy. Silkeborg is surrounded by beautiful forests and lakes which are great for exploring. There are more than a few lovely cities like Copenhagen, Aarhus and Ribe where you can shop til you drop, party the night away or visit tourist attractions like the AROS museum or the Wadden Sea National Park.
In 2018, there were 127,561 applications received and 1.6% of these rejected. This is a small percentage of rejections and it meant that Estonia is the 2nd easiest country to get a Schengen visa. Estonia has an area of 45,338 km² and it has it all it seems – medieval cities, islands, and national parks. You won’t go far wrong if you take a trip to Tallin with its beautiful old town and buzzing nightlife. There are beaches at Parnu where, in the summer months, you’ll be among the 1,322,920 locals enjoying the sunshine. Karula and Lahemaa National Parks with stunning bays and forests to discover! Estonia is a fascinating and fun destination for everyone to enjoy.
Why not try Finland? It’s 338,145 km² in size and there are many charming lakeside towns like Hameenlinna and the islands in Aland. You’ll be happy you decided to visit. There’s lots of culture too, so if you like music or the arts, museums or architecture, you’ve come to the right place. There are stunning natural attractions to see such as the Northern Lights or Korvatunturi where, as legend would have it, is the place where Santa lives! Finland received 769,049 visa applications in 2018 and just over 13,000 were rejected which means over 98% were issued. Don’t delay your trip to this wonderful country any longer!
France’s size of 551,695 km² means it has something for everyone. If you want romance, the River Seine is a perfect place to spend an evening with your loved one. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower for impressive views across Paris or head to Bordeaux and try some of the impeccable wines on offer. You can visit the historic center in Strasbourg or the gardens and cathedrals in Bourges. In 2018, there were 629,997 visa applications rejected out of 4,010,604, but don’t let that put you off! Get your application in today because there is no end to the exciting things you can do in France!
Every inch of Germany’s 357,050 km² has something interesting or exciting to see and do. In the north, you’ll find a wild region with hills and coastline which come alive with holidaymakers throughout the year. The west is where you will find the wine region and where you can indulge in a bottle or 2. Beautiful forests await your exploration in the center of Germany and Berlin, one of Germany’s many lovely cities in the east. Head south for the forest and lake districts. In 2018, there were 2,056,296 visa applications received for Germany and just 9.1% were rejected – a small percentage considering the number of applications!
In 2018, 4.9% of visa applications were rejected which meant that Greece was the 9th easiest country to get a visa. Greece is a popular destination because it is easy to get a visa. Not only that, with nearly 132,000 km², it’s a fascinating country to visit. There are stunning islands – perfect for lazy days on the dazzling beaches or swimming in the azure blue sea. There are pretty villages and spectacular gorges to explore as well as hundreds of ancient ruins and temples. The food is delicious too – why not try a Greek salad washed down with a glass of Retsina or 2!
Hungary has an area of 93,030 km² and a population of 10,522,246 and there are many wonderful cities like Budapest and Gyor which have everything you could want from a destination. In 2018, there were 228,793 visa applications received and just 17,762 rejected. There are museums for culture lovers and cafes, restaurants and a thriving nightlife for those who like to eat and drink. Out in the countryside, you will find stunning caves in Aggtelek or head to Bukk to see the impressive Carpathian Mountains.
Iceland joined the ranks of easiest countries to get a Schengen visa and with a rejection rate of 1.7% out of 9,334 applications received in 2018, this country made it to 3rd place. If you are looking for an incredible experience, head to Iceland! It’s a land like no other. In Iceland’s area of 103,000 km², you’ll find surreal landscapes with lava fields and massive ice-glaciers which will amaze you. Take a trip to the Blue Lagoon – a geothermal spa – and relax in the steamy blue water. Or go to Landmannalaugar in the middle of Iceland for outstanding beauty like you have never seen before!
There were 1,844,140 applications for Italy visas in 2018 and 15,882 (7.4%) were rejected making in another popular country to visit. With an area of 301,318 km², Italy is known as the beautiful country for its amazing coastline, lakes and mountains. You can hike along the Cinque Terra, go skiing in Cortina d’Ampezzo, or visit any of the picturesque villages in Umbria such as Perugia or Gubbio. Italy also has many historic attractions like the Colosseum in Rome or Pompeii near Naples. The food is fabulous too with a variety of traditional dishes like pizza and pasta. Don’t let the population of 60,627,291 dissuade you, it only added to the charm and makes it one of the most wonderful destinations in Europe!
Latvia was another country where the visa application success rate is high. In 2018, it was the 4th easiest country to get a visa with almost 99% applications approved. Latvia has an area of 64,589 km² and it is a fascinating country with towns and cities to explore. Visit the capital, Riga, where you can explore the lovely old town or Sigulda with its castles and other historic attractions. For those who love the outdoors, there are opportunities for walking through beautiful forests and also a substantial coastline with white sandy beaches. There is something awesome to see and do all over this beautiful destination!
Liechtenstein has just 160 km² to its name and just 37,910 people live there. Despite the small size, especially when you compare it to some of its bigger European neighbors, there is still a lot to see and do. There are beautiful castles and churches such as the ones in Balzers. You may like to visit the mountains in Triesenberg or the Roman ruins in Nendeln. Or you could head to Vaduz for some traditional food at a cosy restaurant. Whatever you do, you’ll find out that Liechtenstein is a lovely country to visit.
In 2018, Lithuania received 353,059 Schengen visa applications of which 4,701 were refused which made the rejection rate 1.3%. This meant that this country with its 65,300 km² was the easiest country to get a visa from. Lithuania is a European country which may not be high on your list of places to go, but you might want to consider it. The capital is Vilnius which has a wonderful Old Town where the architecture is out of this world. Lithuania also has a coastline and locals head to Palanga in the summer to take advantage of the warm climate and white-sandy beaches. There are national parks too where you can hike, bike or simply enjoy the scenery.
Yet another country that has a high success rate of getting your visa application approved, Luxembourg received 10,876 applications and just 401 were not issued. With an area of 2,586 km² and bordered by Belgium, France and Germany, Luxembourg has a lot of natural beauty. There are lots of hiking trails like the Mullerthail Trail where you can see stunning rock formations, streams, and castles along the way. There are parks to stroll around or relax in. In the capital of Luxembourg, you can visit the fortified castle which provides great views over the city.
Malta sits in the Mediterranean Sea and is one of the loveliest islands in Europe. It has an area of just 316 km² and a population of 439,248. There were over 30,000 visa applications received for Malta in 2018 and over 25,500 were accepted. The capital, Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the many historical buildings you can find in the city. Malta is good for walking along the coast too, especially in Sliema. You’ve also got the smaller islands of Gozo and Comino which is home to much of Malta’s nature and areas of beauty.
With a population of 17,059,560 and an area of 41,526 km², the Netherlands is one country you’ll probably visit again and again. The many people there give Amsterdam and Rotterdam a buzzing atmosphere with lots of cafes and bars to enjoy a few drinks after a day’s sightseeing. You’ve also got cities, like Maastricht, with its medieval center and Kinderdijk with its famous windmills. A good way to get around and see everything is to hire a bicycle which is a very popular mode of transport, especially in the cities. Throughout 2018, there were 682,484 with an acceptance rate of 87% making the Netherlands the desired destination by many travelers
Norway has an area of 385,155 km² and in just one part of that space, one of the most stunning things you can see in Norway is the Aurora borealis or Northern Lights. It will make your jaw drop – no matter how many times you see it. In fact, Norway is full of amazing things – the midnight sun, the beautiful fjords and much more. Cities, like Oslo, will give you your fix of culture and nightlife and Bodo is the place to go if you want to visit the Lofoten Islands. Norway has a fairly low rejection rate of 9.5% out of 164,591 visa applications received in 2018.
Last year, with 526,517 applications received and a rejection rate of 3.2% Poland was the 5th easiest country to get a Schengen visa approved. There is no end to what Poland can offer its visitors. Visit culturally rich cities or see fantastic landscapes, caves and mountains. You’ve got the museums and theaters of Warsaw or the market square of Krakow. Take a sombre tour of Auschwitz or enjoy the forests, beaches and lakes which can be found all over the country. There is something for everyone in all of Poland’s 312,683 km²!
Portugal has many things going for it and you can do anything you want there. It is 92,391 km² in size and you’ve got mountains for hiking, deserts for exploring and beaches for swimming. Portugal is also a major surfing destination. Albufeira is the main tourist place, but you can get off the beaten track in towns like Evora and Beja. You can also eat international food and a wide range of local cuisine like Bacalhau (salt cod) and leitao (pig roast) and paired with the local wine it will go down a treat! In 2018, there were 266,516 visa applications received and, of this amount, over 83% were accepted!
In 2018, Slovakia was the 7th easiest country to get a Schengen visa with just under 96% of its 26,797 applications approved. It has an area of 49,037 km² and it’s amazing what you might find in Slovakia. Visitors will find their own little piece of heaven. Architecture lovers will be drawn to Bratislava with its Gothic and Baroque buildings. Those into culture can visit the museums and palaces of Kosice to find out about the country’s history. Then, there is the High Tatras for adventure and sports addicts to play on the slopes during winter or hiking in the summer.
When traveling to Europe, don’t overlook Slovenia. The Coast and Karst region is full of hills and caves and the coastline on the Adriatic Sea is beautiful. There are over 2,000,000 people that live in Slovenia and they are only too happy to help you or simply to make friends. Throughout Slovenia’s 20,273 km², you’ll find mountains, lakes and vineyards where you can try some of the locally produced wines. Head to the cities of Ljubljana and Piran for culture, cathedrals and castles. There were 26,403 applications for Slovenia in 2018 and 23,771 were accepted.
In 2018, there were 1,701,379 visa applications for Spain and only 9.3% were rejected. Spain has an area of 510,000 km² and it is another European country that seems to have it all – mountains for skiing, beaches for relaxing and fabulous cities to explore. Not only that, it has a coastline that spans several hundred kilometers with glitzy resorts and lovely walking trails. Try Barcelona for its architecture or Seville for its culture and with everything in between, you’ll need more than one trip there!
Sweden has a population of 9,971,638 and an area of 449,964 km² and in 2018, over 88% of its 253,292 applications were accepted. In this beautiful country, if you want nightlife, shopping and all the things a city brings, visit Stockholm or Linkoping. If you are looking for a more adventurous holiday, head to 1 of Sweden’s 30 national parks where you can hike through forests and along streams. There are opportunities for skiing or birdwatching. Whatever you fancy doing, you’ll find it in Sweden!
Switzerland is a fabulous destination for travelers wanting to go to Europe. There are 41,285 km² full of cultural cities with many museums, medieval castles, carnivals and festivals. Bern has a great nightlife with many bars and clubs and Interlaken is the place to go if you get your thrills by skydiving or white-water rafting. With 556,520 visa applications received in 2018 and 92.6% approved, get your visa today because there really is a lot to do and see in this lovely country!
So, there you have a guide to all the 26 countries in the Schengen Area. It’s up to you which one you visit first!
Statistics quoted from the offical website of the European Union
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10 EASIEST SCHENGEN VISA COUNTRIES TO APPLY AND GET SCHENGEN VISAS FROM
When applying for a Schengen visa, the requirements are the same whichever consulate you use, however, the application process differs slightly from consulate to consulate. But, when we look at the different countries that make up the Schengen area, there are some that have a fantastic track record for issuing visas. With that in mind, let’s look at the Top 10 Easiest Schengen countries to obtain a Schengen visa from.
29 NON-SCHENGEN COUNTRIES YOU CAN TRAVEL WITH A SCHENGEN VISA
If you obtain your visa for traveling within the Schengen zone, did you know that other countries that are NOT in the Schengen area ALLOW you to enter with your Schengen visa? This makes traveling around the world including countries in the European Union (EU)much easier for nationals that require a visa. So, why not make the most of these visa-free rules and travel to more non-Schengen countries than you had planned!
|Antigua and Barbuda||Moldova|
|Bosnia and Herzegovina||North Macedonia|
|Dominican Republic||Sao Tome and Principe|
PROSPECTIVE SCHENGEN AREA MEMBERS:
There are certain other European Union members that are likely to be part of the Schengen area countries. This includes Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania. Though these countries have expressed their wish to be included in the Schengen area, their status is still pending due to various reasons. Primarily, it is the long list of regional and political issues that are yet to be solved in these regions, such as the Cyprus dispute or concerns regarding the influx of illegal migrants.
Without a doubt, there are very strict qualification criteria that need to be fulfilled in order to become a Schengen country, such as demonstrating how they can hold the responsibility for controlling the area’s external border and how they utilise the Schengen visa information system. It is also important for these countries to prove their cooperation with the other Schengen countries, maintenance of high-level security at the borders, as well as their willingness to follow the Schengen rules.’
Similarly, there are certain other territories including Madeira, Azores, and Guadeloupe that are located on the European continent, but not part of the Schengen agreement yet. They are obliged to join the Schengen area in future. So, they are, currently, following all the rules implemented through the Schengen agreement. The evaluation for incorporating them in the Schengen area is based on the security at air borders, visas, police cooperation, and personal data protection of these countries. They can be a member of the Schengen area countries once the assessment is over and these demands met.
This is everything you need to know about the Schengen area countries in a capsule. Hopefully, this information will greatly help you during your trip to the Schengen area. Rest assured, your tour would definitely be thrilling, as you can have everything from the most splendid cities to the rustic European villages and mystic landscapes in your itinerary!
Now, the only thing keeping you from the long-awaited vacation to your favourite Schengen area countries is, possibly, the visa application process. We know that applying for a Schengen visa can be a pretty daunting task. So, if you need any help during the application, simply contact us.
At Visa Reservation, we strive to simplify the visa process by providing free visa consultations, cover letter templates and no objection letter templates for our clients from US, UK, Canada, Philippines, India, China, UAE, Europe, Nigeria and globally. We also offer flight itinerary for visa, travel medical insurance, hotel reservations for visa , Book Visa Appointment, Travel Guides, Visa Interview Guides, Visa Packages and many more. To learn more about how we can help you with our visa services, please feel free to contact us today.
Last Updated: Sep 25, 2020