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August 19, 2019

Schengen Area Visa Guide (List of Countries and Information)

Schengen Area Visa guide: learn everything you need to know about the Schengen visa free area, including all the countries that make part of this area and types of visas

Are you considering visiting the Schengen area and you need a visa? Our Schengen area visa guide brings all the information about the countries you can travel in the Schengen area and how to get your Schengen visa easily.

schengen area visa

What is the Schengen Area?

The Schengen Area consists of 26 states across Europe. At their mutual borders, there is no passport control allowing residents from within these countries to travel freely. The area has a common visa policy and functions as a single jurisdiction for international travel purposes. The treaty was signed in the town of Schengen, in Luxembourg in 1985.

There are some countries that are in the EU that do not belong to the Schengen Area – these are Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Ireland. They are all seeking and required to join soon.

Equally, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland are members of the Schengen Area but not the EU. Monaco, San Marino, and the Vatican City also have open borders but are not considered part of the Schengen Area.

At the time of writing, the United Kingdom is still part of the EU but is not in the Schengen Area.

What is the Schengen Treaty and What Are its Goals and History?

The Schengen Treaty guarantees its citizens free movement within the countries of the Schengen Area. The aim was to create a “Europe without borders”, and nowadays the majority of countries in the Schengen Zone have abolished their internal border controls.

The goal of the Schengen Treaty has been to enable free movement across Europe, which has been a concept since the Middle Ages. After the Second World War it was regularly discussed but not acted upon until the 1980s.  

The founding countries of the Schengen Treaty were France, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. They signed the treaty in the village of Schengen, Luxembourg in 1985, and it was implemented in 1990. The real implementation only started in 1995, when these countries as well as Spain and Portugal abolished internal border checks.

Since then, more countries have joined the Schengen Area. The most recent was Liechtenstein, in February 2008.  

What is a Schengen Visa?

A Schengen Visa allows you to travel to any of the 26 countries in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days for business or leisure purposes. The Schengen Visa is the most popular for travelling in Europe and means you can enter, travel within, and leave these 26 countries without facing border control.

14.2 million people used Schengen Visas in 2018 for European travel. Many Non-EU nationals need a valid passport and a Schengen Visa upon entry to the zone. Some non-EU citizens do not a visa to enter the Schengen Area. These citizens are part o the Annex II list of countries, which includes the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, many countries in Latin America and some other Asian countries. They are part of the Schengen visa waiver country list.

If you are planning to stay longer than 90 days to work, study, or live in the Schengen Area, you need to have a visa for the country you will live in.

What Countries are Part of the Schengen Visa Area?

Here is a list of all countries in the Schengen Area as of 2020: 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, Switzerland.

Austria

Capital: Vienna

Main Airports: Vienna Schwechat, Salzburg, Innsbruck.

Currency: Euro

Austria is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordering Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. Austria is one of the safest countries in Europe and has one of the highest standards of living on the continent.

zurich to vienna train bus

The main cities in Austria are the capital Vienna, Salzburg, Graz, Linz, and Innsbruck. Salzburg is a popular tourist destination as you can see filming locations from the Sound of Music and the house where Mozart grew up. Capital city Vienna is one of the most visited cities in Europe, known for stunning architecture and grand buildings. Austria is in the Alps, so it boasts some incredible natural wonders. These including Lake Haltstatt and the Ziller Valley.

If you are travelling to Austria you may want to check our guides on where to stay in Vienna and how to travel from Munich to Vienna.

Belgium

Capital: Brussels

Main Airports: Brussels, Brussels South Charleroi, Oostende-Brugge

Currency: Euro

Belgium is in Western Europe and has a coast on the North Sea. It shares borders with France, Germany, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Belgium was one of the first 5 countries involved in the Schengen Visa agreement. It is the administrative centre of the EU, and people often refer to Brussels as the capital of the EU.

As well as the capital Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, and Ghent are important cities. Belgium is known for its chocolate and beer and trying some should be on your itinerary. Bruges is known as the Venice of the North and a great spot for a romantic break while Brussels has lots of art and history.

If you are travelling to Belgium, you may want to check our guides on Cost of Living in Brussels and Brussels or Bruges: Which is the best city to visit?

Czech Republic

Capital: Prague

Main Airports: Vaclav Havel Prague, Brno – Turany, Karlovy Vary

Currency: Czech Koruna

The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It shares borders with Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Austria. The Czech Republic is the 7th safest country in the world while its capital Prague is the 7th most visited city in Europe.

Aside from Prague, the main cities in the Czech Republic are Brno, Ostrava, and Pilsen – home of Pilsner Beer. Many of the main attractions are in Prague – including Charles Bridge and the world’s largest castle, and the Astronomical Clock. A great natural attraction to visit is Czech Switzerland – home to the Elbe Mountains and River.

If you are travelling to the Czech Republic, you may want to check our guides on How to buy Cheap Train Tickets in the Czech Republic and Where to stay in Prague.

Denmark

Capital: Copenhagen

Main Airports: Copenhagen, Billund Esbjerg, Aalborg

Currency: Danish Krone

Denmark is the smallest country in Scandinavia and is in Northern Europe. It has coasts on the North Sea and the Baltic Sea as well as a land border with Germany. There is also a bridge to Sweden. Denmark is the 5th safest country in the world and has a very high standard of living.

copenhagen denmark

The main cities are the capital Copenhagen, Aarhus, Odense, and Aalborg. The capital has plenty of attractions including Tivoli Gardens, the Little Mermaid Statue, and Nyhavn Harbour. Lego was invented in Denmark and you can visit the original Legoland theme park at Billund. For natural beauty, visit Møns Klint which are stunning chalk cliffs with hiking trails along the top.

If you are travelling to Denmark, you may want to check our guides on Cost of Living in Copenhagen and the Top 5 Best Beaches in Denmark.

Estonia

Capital: Tallinn

Main Airports: Tallinn.

Currency: Euro

Estonia is a small country in Eastern Europe. It has over 1,500 islands which are located in the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland. It used to be a part of the USSR before becoming independent in 1991. Estonia joined NATO and the EU in 2004 and now shares borders with Russia and Latvia.

cost of living tallinn estonia

The capital Tallinn is revered for its preserved Old Town which has buildings dating back to the 13th and 15th centuries. A more modern touch is the TV Tower which is over 300m tall and has excellent views across the city. Other major cities are Tartu and Narva. Estonia is covered in coniferous forests, lakes, and rocky beaches.

If you are travelling to Estonia, you may want to check our guide on How to find a job in Estonia (EU and Non-EU Citizens) and Estonia Train Ticket Prices and Rail Passes.

Finland

Capital: Helsinki

Main Airports: Helsinki Vantaa, Turku

Currency: Euro

Finland is located in Northern Europe and shares borders with Norway, Sweden, and Russia. It also has a coast on the Baltic Sea, in which it owns a number of islands too. Finland has a small population, but it is one of the world leaders when it comes to political stability, freedom of speech, and public safety.

salary in helsinki

Major cities other than Helsinki are Espoo, Tampere, Vanta and Oulu. In terms of tourism, Finland is best known for the Lapland province, where you can visit Santa Claus, hunt for the Northern Lights, and enjoy activities like snow-shoeing and dog sledding. Finland is also the world capital of rally driving, and has a lot of famous drivers in several motorsports.

If you are travelling to Finland, you may want to check our guide on Average and Minimum Salary in Helsinki, Finland.

France

Capital: Paris

Main Airports: Paris Charles de Gaulle, Paris Orly, Lyon – Saint Exupéry, Nice

Currency: Euro

France is the largest country in western Europe, covering over 550,000 km2. It has a long coastline on the Atlantic Ocean and the English Channel. France shares land borders with 8 countries, including Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Spain. France is the most visited country in the world when it comes to tourism and is another of the founding members of the Schengen Zone.

toulouse

The capital Paris is known for its attractions like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame. However, there’s more to France than that! The main cities include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, and Nice, among others. Over 80 million tourists visit France for skiing in the Alps, the fine wines of Bordeaux and Champagne, and the blue waters of the Côte d’Azur.

If you are travelling to France, you may want to check our guide on the Cost of Living in Paris and The Best Areas to stay in Lyon.

Germany

Capital: Berlin

Main Airports: Frankfurt Am Main, Munich, Düsseldorf

Currency: Euro

Germany is in the centre of the European Union, both literally and figuratively. The second most visited country in the Schengen Zone is also the most populous. Germany’s 82,000,000 residents are lucky enough to have the world’s most powerful passport – enabling them to visit 188 countries without a visa.

Berlin or Munich

A cornerstone of the European economy, there are a number of important cities in Germany other than the capital Berlin. These are Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, and Frankfurt, to name just a few. Germany is home to fairy tale castles and the famous Oktoberfest in Bavaria, historical art, architecture, and the wild nightlife of Berlin, and skiing and outdoor pursuits in the Alpine regions of the south.

If you are travelling to Germany, you may want to check our guides on the Cost of Living in Berlin and the Best Places to stay in Düsseldorf.

Greece

Capital: Athens

Main Airports: Athens, Thessaloniki, Kos Ippokratis

Currency: Euro

Greece is the birthplace of Western Civilisation and is accordingly located at the crossroads between east and west. It shares land borders with Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Turkey yet its numerous islands extend into the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. Greece is the only country among its neighbours in the Schengen Area. It attracts the 5th highest number of travellers in the zone itself.

where to stay in athens

Thessaloniki, Patras, and Larissa are important cities outside of the capital. Crete, Rhodes, and Corfu are important islands when it comes to tourism. Across the country, travellers come for ancient Greek ruins as well as the laidback lifestyle of the islands – often with some fabulous beaches. Santorini is a particularly popular destination.

If you are travelling to Greece, you may want to check our guides on How to Retire in Greece and Cost of Living in Athens.

Hungary

Capital: Budapest

Main Airports: Budapest Ferenc Liszt, Debrecen

Currency: Hungarian Forint

Hungary is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe which shares borders with seven countries including Austria, Slovakia, and Croatia. One of its main economies is tourism, with Budapest being voted the best city to visit in Europe by Forbes in 2019.

best european cities to visit

Important cities other than the main tourist centre and capital Budapest are Debrecen, Szeged and Miskolc. People visit Hungary for the ruin bars and castle of Budapest. It’s also home to one of the biggest parliament buildings in the world which has a beautiful Gothic façade. The spas are also popular in the city! Some of the most popular day trips out of the city include Gyor and the Danube Bend.  

If you are travelling to Hungary, you may want to check our guides on Trains from Budapest, and Which is the best city to visit: Prague or Budapest?

Iceland

Capital: Reykjavik

Main Airports: Reykjavik – Keflavík.

Currency: Icelandic Króna

Iceland is unusual because isn’t part of the EU, but it is an associate member of the Schengen Zone. It is currently ranked as the safest country in the world and the population of 350,000 enjoy one of the highest stands of living globally. The island nation is in the North Atlantic Ocean, and it’s one of the most volcanically and geologically active islands in the world.

where to stay in reykjavik iceland

Two thirds of Iceland’s population live in the capital, Reykjavik, and most other towns have very small populations. Akureyri, on the north coast is a popular spot for whale watching. Iceland has a number of natural wonders including the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon, Gullfoss Waterfall, and numerous geysers and volcanoes.

If you are travelling to Iceland, you may want to check our guides on Best Places to stay in Reykjavik and Average and Minimum Salary in Iceland.

Italy

Capital: Rome

Main Airports: Rome Fiumicino, Milan Malpensa, Orio al Serio Bergamo (Milan), Venice Marco Polo

Currency: Euro

Italy is at the heart of the Mediterranean and shares borders with 4 countries. It also completely encircles some of the smallest countries in the world: San Marino and the Vatican City. Italy is one of the top tourist destinations in Europe, in large part thanks to its rich history and culture.

milan italy

Its capital city Rome is known for the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and Roman Forum. Other important cities include Milan, Turin, Naples, and Florence. Milan is the fashion capital of Italy and banking centre, while Florence’s renaissance city is a hugely popular attraction. The floating city of Venice also draws millions of tourists annually.

If you are travelling to Italy, you may want to check our guides on How to travel from Milan to Florence by train and bus and Rome or Milan: which is the best city to visit?

Latvia

Capital: Riga

Main Airports: Riga.

Currency: Euro

Latvia is one of the three Baltic States and is found in north eastern Europe. This small country shares borders with Lithuania, Estonia, Belarus, and Russia. Latvia joined the Schengen Zone in 2007 and Riga was named the European capital of culture in 2014.

Riga, Latvia

The capital Riga is the most popular tourist destination. It’s famed for the well-preserved Old Town, a huge central market, and its wooden and art nouveau architecture. Other important cities in Latvia include Daugavpils, Liepāja, and Jelgava. Gauja National Park is a great spot for history and nature lovers alike: you’ll find the ruins of a 13th century castle there.

If you are travelling to Latvia, you may want to check our guides on Cost of living in Riga and How to find a job in Latvia (EU and non-EU citizens).

Liechtenstein

Capital: Vaduz

Main Airports: St Gallen Altenrhein (Switzerland), Friedrichshafen (Germany), Balzers Heliport. (Liechtenstien does not have airports in its territory).

Currency: Swiss Franc

Liechtenstein is a landlocked microstate which borders Austria and Switzerland. The principality has less than 40,000 residents and is around 160km2. It’s one of the smallest countries not only in Europe, but the entire world. Liechtenstein is the most recent addition to the Schengen Zone, having signed the agreement in 2008 and joined in 2011.

liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is dotted with medieval castles, including one that overlooks the capital city, Vaduz. This is where the country’s royal family reside. The towns of Malbun and Balzers are for winter sports, and hiking and other outdoor activities in summer.

If you are travelling to Liechtenstein, you may want to check our guides on How to travel from Zurich to Liechtenstein – Vaduz and How to find a job in Liechtenstein (EU and Non-EU citizens).

Lithuania

Capital: Vilnius

Main Airports: Vilnius, Kaunas, Palanga.

Currency: Euro

Lithuania is another of the three Baltic states. It was part of the Soviet Union and now borders Latvia, Belarus, Poland, and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. Lithuanian is one of the world’s oldest languages. This and Latvian are the only two surviving Baltic languages in the Indo-European language family.

where to stay in vilnius

Vilnius is the capital city and the seat of government. It has a beautifully preserved Old Town with Gothic and Baroque architecture. Kaunas, the second city, is the economic, cultural, and academic centre of Lithuania. Other notable cities include Klaipėda and Šiauliai. Lithuania has a lot to offer for those interested in the outdoors, including the beach resort of Palanga and a number of national parks.

If you are travelling to Lithuania, you may want to check our guides on Cost of living in Vilnius and Average and Minimum Salary in Vilnius.

Luxembourg

Capital: Luxembourg

Main Airports: Luxembourg.

Currency: Euro

Luxembourg is one of the founding members of the Schengen Area. This is hardly surprising considering the agreement was signed in the village of Schengen! It is a landlocked country in Western Europe, and it shares borders with Germany, France, and Belgium. This small country is the 2nd richest country in the world by GDP and has the EU’s highest minimum wage. It is also one of the safest countries in the world, and Luxembourg City is one of three official capitals of the EU.

salary in luxembourg

Luxembourg is mostly rural, but it does boast a number of historical castles. As well as the capital, Esch-sur-Alzette and Dudelange are important towns. Surprisingly, for such a small country, Luxembourg has been the backdrop for a number of famous films.

If you are travelling to Luxembourg, you may want to check out our guide on Best places to stay in Luxembourg and Cost of living in Luxembourg.

Malta

Capital: Valletta

Main Airports: Malta (Gudja)

Currency: Euro

Malta is a small archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea, located between the south coast of Sicily and North Africa. It’s another of the smallest countries in Europe. Because of its location, it has been conquered by numerous peoples, including the Romans, Moors, French, and British. Because of this, there are a number of historical sites on the island.

malta sliema

One of Malta’s key economy drivers is tourism, as the islands are known for sun, sea, and gorgeous beaches. As well as the main island of Malta, Gozo and Comino offer some beautiful diving and snorkelling spots. Key attractions in Malta are the capital Valletta’s St John’s Cathedral and the walled medieval city of Mdina.  

If you are travelling to Malta you may want to check our guides on Best Areas to stay in Malta and Average and Minimum salary in Valletta.

Netherlands

Capital: Amsterdam

Main Airports: Amsterdam Schiphol, Eindhoven, Rotterdam – The Hague

Currency: Euro

The Netherlands is in Northern Europe and shares borders with Germany and Belgium. It has a coastline on the North Sea and shares maritime borders with the UK and France. It is one of the founding members of the Schengen Zone, as well as the EU, Eurozone, NATO, and OECD.

amsterdam

Amsterdam, the Dutch capital, is one of the most popular city break options in Europe. Partly due to its rich history and culture and beautiful canals, but also because marijuana is legalised here. Other important cities in the Netherlands are Rotterdam, the Hague, and Utrecht. As well as the seat of the Dutch government, the Hague is home to the UN’s International Criminal and Justice Courts.

If you are travelling to the Netherlands, you may want to check our guides on Best Places to stay in Amsterdam and Cost of Living in Amsterdam.

Norway

Capital: Oslo

Main Airports: Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø

Currency: Norwegian Krone

Norway, like Iceland, is part of the Schengen Zone but isn’t actually an EU member state. It is part of Scandinavia in Northern Europe and shares borders with Sweden, Finland, and Russia. Norway has one of the highest costs of living in the world, but the population enjoy one of the best standards of living on the globe.  

salary in oslo

Other than the capital Oslo, important cities include Bergen, Trondheim, Stavanger, and Tromsø. However, most tourists don’t come to Norway for the cities. They come for the stunning fjords and other outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, and skiing. In Northern Norway, summer gets 24 hours of sunlight – earning Norway the title ‘The Land of the Midnight Sun’.

If you are travelling to Norway, you may want to check our guides on Cost of Living in Oslo and Average and Minimum Salary in Oslo.

Poland

Capital: Warsaw

Main Airports: Warsaw Chopin, John Paul II Krakow – Balice.

Currency: Polish Złoty

Poland is in Central and Eastern Europe and shares borders with 7 countries including Germany, Czech Republic, and Russia. It has a coast on the Baltic Sea.

best European cities to visit

Poland’s capital is Warsaw, but it has a lot of other cities that are interesting for tourists. First up is Krakow, known for its medieval architecture and having one of the biggest market squares in Europe. Nearby, you can visit the Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp and the Wielizcka Salt Mines. There are a number of other medieval cities throughout Poland, including Lublin, Poznan, and Wroclaw. Natural attractions include the Bialowieza Forest and Tatra National Park.

If you are travelling to Poland, you may want to check out our guides on Top 8 Best Cities in Poland and Warsaw or Krakow: Which is the best city to visit?  

Portugal

Capital: Lisbon

Main Airports: Lisbon Portela, Faro, Francisco Sá Carneiro (Porto)

Currency: Euro

Portugal is the westernmost country in Europe and shares its only land border with Spain. It’s the oldest state on the Iberian Peninsula and one of the oldest in the whole of Europe. It signed the Schengen agreement with neighbouring Spain in 1991 before fully joining 4 years later.

Hilly capital Lisbon is one of the most popular destinations for tourists, thanks to its seaside location and wealth of historic and cultural attractions. Another popular spot is Sintra – a small city famed for its elegant architecture. This can be seen in a number of palaces and castles. Other important cities are Porto, which is known for Port wine and its pretty azulejo tiled buildings.  

If you are travelling to Portugal, you may want to check our guides on Where to stay in Porto and Cost of living in Lisbon.

Slovakia

Capital: Bratislava

Main Airports: Bratislava, Košice, Poprad – Tatry.

Currency: Euro

Slovakia is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe which was formed after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993. It signed the Schengen agreement ten years later, fully joining in 2007. It shares borders with 5 countries, including Poland, Ukraine, Hungary, Austria, and of course, the Czech Republic.

cost of living in bratislava

The capital Bratislava is also one of the top tourist destinations, and it’s a popular stop off for train travellers. The second largest city is Košice. There are several beautifully preserved castles throughout Slovakia, including one which overlooks Bratislava. There are some stunning natural attractions in Slovakia too – the Low Tatras mountains are a fantastic spot for both hiking in summer and winter sports.

If you are travelling to Slovakia, you may want to check our guides on Cost of living in Bratislava and Trains from Bratislava: Slovakia Price Guide.  

Slovenia

Capital: Ljubljana

Main Airports: Ljubljana Jože Pučnik.

Currency: Euro

Slovenia is the 4th smallest Schengen State, at around just 20,000km2. It borders Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. It has a population of around 2 million people and fully joined the Schengen Zone in 2007. Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia until it declared independence in 1991.

ljubljana or zageb

The capital Ljubljana is overlooked by a castle and has a number of cafes, bars, and restaurants along the Ljubljanica River. It’s crossed by a number of interesting bridges including the Dragon Bridge. Away from the capital, there are several natural attractions in Slovenia, the most notable being Lake Bled. Others include the Postonja Caves, Lake Bohinj, and Predjama Castle – although man made, it’s built into a cliff.

If you are travelling to Slovenia, you may want to check our guides on Trains from Ljubljana and Zagreb or Ljubljana: Which is the best city to visit?

Spain

Capital: Madrid

Main Airports: Madrid Barajas, Barcelona El Prat, Palma de Mallorca, Malaga Costa del Sol, Alicante

Currency: Euro

Spain is the second largest country in the Schengen Zone (after France). It also is the 2nd most popular country in the world when it comes to tourism – also behind France. It shares land borders with France, Andorra, and Portugal, and has been a member of the Schengen Zone for over 20 years.

Valencia Spain Night Street
Valencia

As well as the capital Madrid, there are a number of important large cities in Spain. Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Bilbao, and Malaga are just a few of those. There are diverse tourism opportunities across the whole country, and there’s more to Spain than just beaches. Festivals like La Tomatina and the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona show the unusual traditions of this fascinating country.

If you are travelling to Spain, you may want to check our guides on Where to stay in Madrid and How to travel from Madrid to Barcelona.

Sweden

Capital: Stockholm

Main Airports: Stockholm Arlanda, Gothenburg Landvetter, Ostersund

Currency: Swedish Krona

Sweden is part of Scandinavia, located in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Finland and Norway, while it’s also possible to travel to Denmark via the Øresund Bridge. Sweden boasts a progressive society and the population of roughly 10 million enjoy some of the world’s highest living standards.

cost of living in Stockholm Sweden
Stockholm. Photo by Thomas Fabian

The capital Stockholm is the largest city, followed by Gothenburg and Malmö. Stockholm is an unusual capital city as it is built over 14 islands connected by 50 bridges. The Gamla Stan (Old Town) is the preserved Old Town, and a beautiful place to walk around. There are several islands off the coast of Sweden and its boreal forests in the north are perfect for trekking and outdoor adventures.

If you are travelling to Sweden, you may want to check our guide on Where to stay in Stockholm and Cost of Living in Stockholm.

Switzerland

Capital: Bern

Main Airports: Zurich, Geneva, Bern

Currency: Swiss Franc

Switzerland is not part of the EU, but it is a member of the Schengen Zone. The landlocked mountainous country in Central Europe shares land borders with Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, France, and Italy. Switzerland has 4 official languages – German, French Italian, and Romansh. The 8 million + citizens enjoy one of the best standards of living in the entire world.

zurich vs geneva

Although Bern is the capital city, it is smaller than Zurich, Geneva, and Basel. Zurich is the financial centre and home to several Swiss banks, while Geneva is the headquarters of the United Nations and the Red Cross. In terms of tourism, Switzerland is popular for winter sports and outdoor activities in summer.

If you are travelling to Switzerland, you may want to check our guides on Best Areas to stay in Geneva and Geneva or Zurich: Which is the best city to visit?

List of Non-Schengen Countries in Europe

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Ireland, Kosovo, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican City.

Andorra, San Marino, Monaco and Vatican City and the Schengen Area

Andorra, San Marino, Monaco, and the Vatican City are some of the smallest states in Europe. They all have open borders but are not part of the Schengen Zone. These are considered microstates and while they have close relationships with the EU and surrounding states, none have full EU membership.

This is because they have “defending” states which dictate their foreign policy. Monaco’s defender state is France, San Marino and the Vatican’s Italy, and Andorra is France and Spain’s shared responsibility.

Schengen Area Visa FAQ:

Can you Travel to Croatia on a Schengen Visa?

Most western foreign visitors did not need a visa to enter Croatia even before it joined the EU. On joining in 2012, Croatia extended a ruling meaning that holders of dual or multiple Schengen visas can enter, travel, and transit in or through Croatia without the need for a visa.

Travellers with a dual entry Schengen visa must have one unused entry upon arrival in Croatia. The allowed period is 90 days within a 180-day period.

Can you Travel to Serbia on a Schengen Visa?

Serbia has the same rules as Croatia. Since 2014, Schengen visa holders have been able to enter, travel, and transit through the country without a Serbian visa. The allowed period is 90 days in a 180-day period.

Can you Travel to Albania on a Schengen Visa?

Schengen visa holders can enter, transit, and travel within Albania. It must be a valid, multiple entry, short stay visa previously used in another of the Schengen states. The maximum allowed period is 90 days within 180-day period.

Can you Travel to Montenegro on a Montenegro Visa?

Foreign travellers with a valid Schengen visa can enter, travel, and transit in Montenegro without a Montenegrin visa. The maximum allowed period is shorter than others, just 30 days in a 180-day period.

Can you Travel to Georgia on a Schengen Visa?

Holders of visas from a Schengen country are exempt from holding a Georgian visa. The maximum allowed period is 90 days in a 180-day period.

Can you Travel to Kosovo on a Schengen Visa?

Schengen visa holders travelling to Kosovo do not need a Kosovan visa for stays of up to 15 days in a 180-day period.

Can you Travel to Andorra, San Marino, Monaco and the Vatican City on a Schengen Visa?

Andorra, San Marino, Monaco, and the Vatican City have open borders inside the Schengen area, so you can travel to these countries on a Schengen visa.

What is the Difference Between a Schengen Visa and an EU Country National Visa?

The biggest difference between a Schengen Visa and an EU Country National Visa is that the first permits you to travel to any country in the Schengen Area. However, with a national visa you can only enter, travel, and transit through the country that is on that visa.

Another difference is what each visa permits you to do. The most common Schengen visa is for shorts stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period. You can use it for tourism or business purposes, and it’s the most popular visa for those travelling to the EU.

An EU Country National Visa is only issued for those who are studying, working, or permanently residing in a country. One year national visas are given to international students. Visas are also issued to pedagogical workers within higher institutions or research centres. In addition, sports people, artists, and professionals sharing their expertise will be granted an EU National country visa.

If you have a medical condition preventing you from leaving the Schengen area in your original timeframe, you can also apply for a national visa.  

If I need a Schengen Visa, but I have a spouse or relative who is an EU national, am I exempt from travelling with a visa?

No. Spouses still require a Schengen visa to enter, transit, and travel in the Schengen Area. To get a visa you’ll need two application forms, the original certified marriage certificate, and a copy of the spouse’s passport. If the spouse is not an EU resident, you’ll need a copy of their Schengen country residence permit.

Can I get Married in the EU on a Schengen Tourist Visa?

Yes, you can get married in the EU on a Schengen Tourist Visa. You’ll also need a valid passport, and a number of different documents which vary from country to country. Denmark is one of the easiest countries to get married in if you’re from outside of the EU. You just need the relevant documents. Documents not in English, Danish, or German must be professionally translated into one of these languages.

There are only a few countries outside of the EU where you still need to legalise your marriage. These countries include the United Arab Emirates and Canada. All you need to do is get an apostille stamp from the Danish foreign ministry and your relevant embassy.

In terms of your home country, also check with their authorities which formalities are needed to make your marriage legitimate. Civil marriage is a legal status valid across all countries in the EU. However, religious marriage and same sex marriage do not have the same status as a civil marriage in some European countries. 

If I have a residence permit in a country which is part of the Schengen Area, can I travel indefinitely to other Schengen Area country members?

If you have a residency permit for the country you reside in, you can travel to other countries in the Schengen Area. A valid residency permit is equal to a visa, so you are able to move freely.

Can I travel to the UK and Ireland on a Schengen Visa?

It is not possible to enter the UK and Ireland on a Schengen Visa.

You can use the British-Irish visa scheme to travel between the two countries with a visa from only the UK or Ireland. However, you must visit the country which your visa is issued for first.

Can I Apply from a Schengen Visa in a Country Where I am not a Resident?

Yes. You must apply for a Schengen Visa if you’re not a resident or don’t have a valid residency permit of the country you intend to travel. Justification for why you’re applying from that country should be enough to help you get the visa!

Is There Travel Health Insurance Valid for the Schengen Area?

Yes, it’s possible to get travel insurance valid for the Schengen Area but there are a few conditions that your insurance should meet.

Insurance must have minimum coverage of up to €30,000 (approximately $50,000 USD) and cover all member states of the Schengen Area. It must also cover any expenses linked to medical emergencies or repatriation on medical grounds. Europ Assistance and AXA are two companies which provide mandatory Schengen cover, but there are others available too.

It’s a mandatory requirement to have travel insurance if you’re coming from a country that has visa requirements, and the insurance should cover the whole duration of your trip. This is the same whether you are travelling for leisure, business, study, or any other reason. If you are enjoying visa free travel to Europe, it is not necessary to have travel insurance. However, it is a common recommendation to get one before arriving in the Schengen Area.

Can I Extend My Schengen Visa Inside the Schengen Area?

It is possible to extend a Schengen Visa inside the Schengen area, but it is quite hard! You can only extend short-stay Schengen Visas as foreign travellers who require a visa are only permitted to stay in the Schengen Area for 90 days in a 180 day period. The application for a visa extension is different to your original visa application, as is the fee. You must apply before your initial Schengen visa expires otherwise deportation is likely to occur.

You can use the following reasons to make a case for extending your Schengen Visa:

Late entry

This is the easiest way to get a visa extension. If you enter the Schengen Area after your visa became valid, then you can apply for a visa extension equal to the amount of time you arrived late into the zone. If you apply for an extension this way, there’s a good chance you’ll get it.

Humanitarian Reasons

You can extend your visa to overcome or prevent hardship for nationals of 3rd world countries. This reason includes supporting someone close to you who is having a difficult time or staying for a funeral of the sudden death of a family member. It also is valid if you have started a course of medical treatment that must be continued.

Force Majeure

If the situation has changed in your home country, then it’s possible to apply for a visa extension with the reason of Force Majeure. This includes war or conflict breaking out, violent protests, extreme weather conditions, or no flight connections. If successful, there will be a short-term extension on your visa or until your home country situation changes. If the situation does not change, you need to apply for another Schengen visa.

Important Personal Reasons

This is the most difficult one to get a visa extension for. Important Personal Reasons are decided by the immigration authorities of the Schengen Member States. And it’s their definition of important, not yours!

Other Resources for Traveling in Europe

If you are traveling in Europe you may want to check some of our other content about the continent. Check our Europe News and Europe Articles section.

Daniel Hall

Daniel Hall

I'm Daniel Hall - a traveller, writer, and English teacher. I've visited over 40 countries and love learning new languages. I speak Spanish and Italian and try to do a cooking class everywhere I go!

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