The following 26 countries are the Schengen countries. Schengen countries are countries which have agreed to abolish internal borders and people can travel from one Schengen country to another without a passport check! The Schengen countries are not to be confused with the EU countries, although many EU countries are also Schengen countries. Do you perhaps have one or more of the recommended todos in your bucket list? The following countries definitely have a lot to offer.
Population: 8.8 million
Official language: German
- Take a picture at Hallstatt, one of the most picturesque towns in Austria.
- Visit the shooting locations of the famed movie, The Sound of Music around Salzburg.
- Try a slice of Sachertorte at Hotel Sacher or at Demel pastry shop in Vienna.
2. Belgium (Kingdom of Belgium)
Population: 11 million
Official language: Dutch, French, German
- Try the variety of craft beers at a local bar.
- Drop by a chocolate shop and try some of the locally made chocolates.
- Belgium is also famous for waffles, so do stop for a Belgium waffle.
- Explore Ghent, a hidden gem located not too far from Bruges.
- If you enjoy some pampering, visit the town of Spa. It’s where all the spas take their name from!
- Have a bird’s eye view of Europe at the Mini-Europe near the Atomium in Brussels.
- Pay a visit to the Royal Greenhouses of Laeken, a vast complex of greenhouses at the Royal Palace of Laeken.
3. Czech Republic
Population: 10.6 million
Official language: Czech
- Stroll across Charles Bridge.
- Watch out for the sculpture of Sigmund Freud hanging from a metal beam within the Old Town of Prague.
- Try the pickled cheese, a Czech delicacy best enjoyed with a glass of pivo, a Czech beer. This is a classic Czech pub combination.
- Visit Český Krumlov, a beautiful city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Visit the spas at Karlovy Vary, a popular destination for Europe’s elite. It was frequented by Peter the Great, Beethoven, Chopin, Goethe and many other famous personalities.
- Visit Prague Castle, the largest castle in the world.
- Three of Europe’s loveliest and oldest libraries can be found in Prague – the National Library of the Czech Republic, the Philosophical Library and the Baroque Theological Library. The latter two are located in the 12th-century Strahov Monastery.
- Nature fans should visit the Bohemian Paradise, famous for its many massive rock formations. The UNESCO Geopark is found in Eastern Bohemia.
4. Denmark (Kingdom of Denmark)
Population: 5.8 million
Official language: Danish
- Go bridge-walking! The old Little Belt Bridge is the only bridge outside of Sydney, Australia that allows visitors to bridge walk.
- Visit Råbjerg Mile, the largest migrating dune in Northern Europe.
- If you are visiting in July, head over to Bakken, the world’s oldest amusement park to take part in the world’s biggest gatherings of Santa Clauses.
- Sail a Viking longboat along Denmark’s fjords.
- Look for fossils at Møns Klint.
- Visit the Rubjerg Knude lighthouse and the St Laurence’s Church before they are both fully covered by sand.
5. Estonia (Republic of Estonia)
Population: 1.3 million
Official language: Estonian
- Visit the Jägala Waterfall, Estonia’s highest and widest natural waterfall or the Valaste Waterfall in winter.
- Visit one of the many museums in Estonia, such as the Seaplane Harbour, Narva Museum, the Museum of Occupations, Kumu, the Estonian Open Air Museum, the Estonian National Museum, the Estonian History Museum, the Tartu Toy Museum and the NUKU Theatre and Museum.
- Walk along the Walls of Tallinn, one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval fortifications and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Population: 5.5 million
Official language: Finnish, Swedish
- Rent a glass igloo and watch the Northern Lights.
- Spend a night at a lighthouse.
- Take a stroll along the streets of a wooden town. Käpylä and Vallila are two places where all the houses are made of wood.
- Visit Suomenlinna, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Camp at one of the 40 national parks in Finland.
- Ride a reindeer or a husky sleigh in Lapland.
- Visit Santa’s official office in Rovaniemi.
- Forage berries (think bilberries, cloudberries and lingonberries) and mushrooms in Nuuksio national park.
- Experience sauna the Finnish way – hop into a lake after sweating in a sauna, even if it’s in winter.
Population: 67.25 million
Official language: French
- Since it’s France, you can’t go wrong visiting the popular tourist destinations first – Musee de Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Versailles Palace, Cathedrale de Chatres, Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel, Notre Dame Cathedral, Musee d’Orsay, Sacré Coeur and the Arc de Triomphe to name a few.
- Try wine along the Alsace Wine Route.
- Sunbathe on the beaches of Cote d’Azur.
- Explore the Catacombs of Paris.
- Visit lavender farms and distilleries in the Provence region.
- Although Monaco is not part of France, it’s worth a mention here. Do pay a visit to this sovereign country on the French Riviera.
Population: 83 million
Official language: German
- Visit Schloss Neuschwanstein in Munich. It’s the fairytale castle that inspired Disney’s iconic logo as well as the castle in Sleeping Beauty.
- Spend an evening in the Erholungspark Marzahn, a public park in Marzahn, Berlin. The Chinese garden there is the largest garden of its kind outside China.
- Museum galore at Berlin’s Museum Island. There are 5 museums there, plenty to see to satisfy the most hardcore history buffs.
- Ride one or more of Europa Park’s eleven roller coasters. Europa Park, located in the Black Forest, is Germany’s biggest park and the second biggest in Europe.
- Learn about the history of German cars. Some of the most popular ones are the BMW Museum (Munich), Mercedes-Benz Museum (Stuttgart), Porsche Museum (Stuttgart), Audi Museum (Ingolstadt) and AutoMuseum Volkswagen (Wolfsburg).
- Model train enthusiasts will have to visit the Modelleisenbahn Miniatur Wunderland in Hamburg. It’s the largest and finest model railroad exhibit in the world.
- Drink beer in a Mass (one-litre glass) at the Oktoberfest (Munich), the world’s largest fair.
- Try a slice of the famed Black Forest Cake at the Black Forest. While you are there, visit the world’s largest cuckoo clock and hike one of the many marked trails.
- Sip ice wine in Heidelberg, one of the most impressive and romantic cities in Germany.
- Brave winter and enjoy mulled wine (outdoors) at a Christmas market. One of the best Christmas markets in Germany is in Nuremberg.
Population: 11 million
Official language: Greek
- Climb Mount Olympus. In Greek mythology, it’s the spot where Zeus sat on his throne as well as the place where Hades ruled the Underworld.
- Watch the sunset in Santorini.
- Visit the ruins in Delphi. It’s located about 180 kilometres away from the capital city of Athens and is not so crowded with tourists.
- Explore the Samaria Gorge. It’s located on the stunning island of Crete!
- Have coffee at the cafe in the Acropolis Museum – you can look across to the Acropolis from its terrace.
- Visit one of the monasteries in Meteora. They sit on top of towering rock formations.
- Go spelunking at Melissani Cave. Melissani Lake was discovered inside the cave in 1951.
- Party like a celebrity in Mykonos.
Population: 10 million
Official language: Hungarian
- Watch the sunset from the Freedom Bridge. You get the view of both Buda and Pest and is a favourite spot for locals.
- Explore Tihany on Lake Balaton. You can see some of Hungary’s most extraordinary scenery from the Benedictine Abbey in Tihany.
- Make a sketch of the Eger Castle. It’s located in the lovely spa town of Eger on the southern slopes of the Bükk Mountains.
- Buy souvenirs and get lost among the hustle and bustle at the Grand Market Hall in Budapest.
- Spa lovers looking for something different can visit the Cave Bath at Miskolc-Tapolca. It’s a thermal spa bath located in a natural cave system.
- Explore the remains of the Visegrád castle and enjoy the view of the town from there.
- Step back into the past at the Hollókő Village. An ethnic group called the Palôcz inhabited the area for centuries, and they preserved many of their traditional ways of life.
- Sip the sweet wines from Tokaj, the most famous wine-making region in the whole of Hungary.
- Try the following Hungarian specialities – Mangalica pork sausage, Túró Rudi chocolate bar, lángos and wash it all down with a shot of Unicum.
Official language: Icelandic
- Read a book in one of the many cafés in Reykjavík and party with locals at night.
- Explore the Westfjords and take photos of puffins during summer.
- Soak in the Blue Lagoon – a huge, milky-blue spa fed by mineral-rich heated seawater.
- Spend a couple of days at the Golden Circle. Some major attractions here are the Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir, and the Thingvellir National Park.
- Watch the Northern Lights from September to April.
- Listen to ice blocks crash into each other the Jökulsár Lagoon.
- Hike the Vatnajökull glacier in winter.
- Watch whales in the wild from Reykjavík, Akureyri and Husavík.
- Go inside the live Thrihnukagigur volcano – it has not erupted for 4,000 years.
Population: 61 million
Official language: Italian
- Hike the coastal trail of Cinque Terre.
- Learn how to make authentic tagliatelle al ragù from the locals.
- Drink Limoncello on the Amalfi Coast.
- Check out Michelangelo’s works – for example the Sistine Chapel in Rome or the sculpture of David at the Accademia Gallery in Florence.
- Rent a quiet farmhouse with a pool for a relaxing week in Umbria.
- Attend an opera at the La Scala in Milan.
- Toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome.
- Shop in style at Milan’s stunning Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II arcade.
- Eat the world’s best pizzas in Naples.
- Explore Rome by foot or rent a scooter to get around in style.
- Stay a night in a trullo – circular stone houses with cone-shaped roofs in the pretty town of Alberobello.
- Shop for the perfume made by a monastery called Carthusia in Capri.
- Eat gelato!
Population: 1.9 million
Official language: Latvian
- Visit Riga Central Market, Europe’s largest market bazaar. There are 3,000 market stands in five former Zeppelin hangars.
- Get a full 1900s Riga experience by staying a night at Cinevilla. It was built in 2004 as the set for “Defenders of Latvia, but visitors are allowed to stay the night when no movies are not being filmed.
- Drink authentic kvass brewed by the monks at the Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery. Kvass is a slightly alcoholic, tangy beverage loved by the locals.
- Explore Cesis, an old town offering an authentic medieval atmosphere including a castle encircled by a luscious park and diverse artistic and musical events.
- Celebrate midsummer in Latvia from the night of June 23 to June 24. Midsummer or Ligo is a pagan tradition which has been kept alive for more than a thousand years.
- Visit Ragaciems, an ancient fishing village and try their freshly smoked fish.
- Go on a unique Zipline ride. Only very few places in the world offer this attraction.
- For the very bold, stay a night at the Karosta Prison in Liepaja. It was an actual prison until 1997 and is the only military prison in Europe which is open to tourists.
- Get up at 2 or 3 a.m. and stroll along the wooden paths in one of the few popular swamps like the Cenas Tirelis, Kemeri National Park, Cuzas bog near Kandava or the Ložmetējkalns hill.
- Forage wild berries and mushrooms with a local.
14. Liechtenstein (Principality of Liechtenstein)
Official language: German
- Ski in Malbun without the crowd.
- Hike through the mountains via the Princes’ Way and take in some of the best Alpine scenery in the country.
- Try some of the best wine in the Rhine Valley at the Prince of Liechtenstein Winery.
- Cycle over the Old Bridge that connects Vaduz and Sevelen. It’s the only wooden bridge which crosses the Rhine river.
- Learn all about stamps and how they evolved over the years at the Postage Stamp Museum.
Population: 2.8 million
Official language: Lithuanian
- Wander around Vilnius Old Town. The buildings here are amazingly well-preserved and showcases architecture in the Gothic, Renaissance, and Neo-Classical styles.
- Do a day trip to Trakai to visit the Island Castle.
- Explore the Curonian Spit and the Kursiu Nerija National Park.
- Pay respect at the Hill of Crosses located just outside the city of Siauliai. The thousands of different types of crosses are erected to pay tribute to the devotion of the people in Lithuania.
- Climb Castle Hill and take in the view of Vilnius city from the Gediminas Castle Tower.
- Visit the street market on a Thursday in Uzupis. You can also find many street arts as well as underground music venues there.
- Join the locals to dance and sing during the Midsummer’s Eve Festival on June 24th at the Hill of Witches. There are 80 different wooden carvings and each sculpture depicts a popular character from folk and pagan traditions in the Juodkrante.
16. Luxembourg (Grand Duchy of Luxembourg)
Capital: Luxembourg City
Population: 0.57 million
Official language: French, Luxembourgish, German
- Climb the Bock Cliff and explore the Casemates which is a series of underground passages dug out of solid rock cliffs.
- Visit the Museum of Modern Art which is built on the walls of the former Fort Thungen that dates back to 1732.
- Explore the scenic town of Vianden – it nestles close to the banks of the River Our.
- Relax at the Mondorf le Domaine Thermal spa complex.
- Go back in time at the Valley of the Seven Castles. You can find castles in Mersch, Schoenfels, Koerich, Hollenfels, Septfontaines and the two in Asembourg.
17. Malta (Republic of Malta)
Official language: Maltese, Maltese Sign Language, English
- Stroll along the picturesque streets of Mdina, the ancient capital of Malta.
- Enjoy the views of Malta from the Upper Barrakka Gardens near Valletta.
- Go reef and cave diving in Comino or for a more relaxing option, swim in Comino’s Blue Lagoon.
- Go on a day trip to Gozo – some of the popular attractions include the Temples of Ggantija, Inland Sea, The Citadel, and the Azure Window.
- Join a sunset horseback ride at Golden Bay.
- Visit the open-air local fish market at the quaint fishing village Marsaxlokk on a Sunday.
- Eat, shop and party at the Valletta Harbor.
- Visit Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, the best preserved and staggering of all the prehistoric sites in Malta.
- Soak in a natural pool near Dwejra bay. It’s where the famous Azure Window used to be before it collapsed on 8th March 2017.
Population: 17.25 million
Official language: Dutch
- Check out the different museums, windmills and workshops at Zaanse Schans. Don’t miss the cheese farm and the wooden clogs workshop.
- Visit the Dutch parliament building and explore one (or more) of the many museums at The Hague.
- Be amazed at the sea of tulips at the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse.
- Spend a weekend at Texel Island and soak in the view of sweeping sand dunes, salt marshes filled with lavender, and beaches lined with bungalows.
- Explore Giethoorn by bike. Affectionately referred to as the Venice of the Netherlands, this charming village has thatched-roof farmhouses and wooden arch bridges.
- Spend a day at Efteling, the biggest amusement park in the Netherlands and also one of the oldest in the world.
- Get a bird’s eye view of the Netherlands (at a 1:25 scale) at Madurodam in The Hague.
- Learn all about the Heineken beer at the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam and end your visit with a tasting session.
- Explore and soak in all the experience of Valkenburg which lies in the beautiful Geul Valley. Here you can find the only hilltop castle in the Netherlands, spas, caves as well as a Christmas Market which opens from November to December.
- Have coffee overlooking the Old Harbor in Rotterdam which happens to be the oldest port in the Netherlands.
- Eat raw herring from a food truck.
Population: 5.3 million
Official language: Norwegian
- Visit the old city of Bergen.
- Cruise in the fjords, and enjoy its breathtaking views away from the crowd.
- Stay a night in Flam – it’s where the famous Flam Railway starts.
- Take the train from Flam to Myrdal. The sceneries along the hour-long ride are amazing.
- Explore Akershus – Oslo’s medieval fortress that has successfully survive every single Swedish force sieges.
- Be like a local and drink coffee at one of the many charming cafes in Grunnerlokka.
- Visit the Arctic Cathedral during winter.
- Experience the Midnight Sun and the famous Northern Lights at the Arctic Circle.
- Drive along the Atlantic Ocean Road and visit the Troll’s Church Cave.
- Go skiing in the Lyngen Alps.
- Travel to Lillehammer to visit the open-air museum Malhaugen Park and the Peer Gynt Cottage.
- Learn about the history of the Sami people at the Polar Museum in Tromso.
- Eat your way around the city of Røros – known for its local Norwegian cuisines.
Population: 38.5 million
Official language: Polish
- Experience the old town charm of central Krakow. There are many buildings that date back hundreds of years.
- Sample the Żubrówka Bison Grass Vodka, it’s totally illegal in the United States.
- Visit the Wieliczka Salt Mine.
- Learn about WW2 at Auschwitz.
- Try the Oscypek, a smoked, salted sheep’s cheese, made exclusively in the Tatra Mountains of southern Poland.
- Spot bison in Bialowieza Forest.
- Hike the Tatra mountains.
- Ski in Zakopane.
- Discover the islands of the Wroclaw Old Town – it’s a series of islets on the Oder River.
- Visit a milk bar – you can look forward to steamed cabbage, pickled cucumbers, hearty pierogi dumpling platters and a range of homemade soups.
Population: 10.3 million
Official language: Portuguese
- Explore Lisbon, there’s so much to discover here – from the downtown quarters and Bairro Alto to the historic quarter of Alfama.
- Climb the Torre de Belem in Lisbon. It’s an iconic fortress.
- Make a day trip to Sintra from Lisbon and get transported back to the medieval time.
- Go canoeing at Furnas Lake – it has volcanic landscapes and hot springs too.
- Experience the Igreja de Santo Antonio and the Museu Municipal.
- Eat cakes in Amarante. They still sell cakes inspired by the pagan times.
- Walk along Cabo da Roca – it’s one of the most famous coastal trails in all of Europe and is the westernmost part of Portugal.
- Enjoy the Ribeira District in Porto – it’s known for its dining and nightlife scene.
- Take a trip to Porto Moniz and swim in pools surrounded by rock formations.
- Drink Porto wine at the Porto Calem winery. It is one of the most famous and well-loved wineries in the Porto region of Portugal.
- Visit the Livraria Lello bookstore – its decorative bookcases, carved wooden ceilings and lavish staircases inspired the Hogwarts Library in the Harry Potter series.
- Eat freshly baked Portuguese egg tarts or pastel de natas at the Pasteis de Belém in Lisbon.
- Dine lavishly in Madeira.
Population: 5.4 million
Official language: Slovak
- Visit Michael’s Gate in Bratislava. It is the only city gate from the original fortification that remains and has been preserved since its construction in 1300.
- Visit the Ochtinska Aragonite Cave. It is famed for its rare aragonite structures. There are only three such caves in the world.
- Explore the Orava Castle. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in the country.
- Explore the Spis Castle – it is one of the largest castle sites in all of Central Europe.
- Climb around the high waterfalls on series of iron ladders and bridges within the wildest gorge in the Slovak Paradise – Sokolia Dolina Gorge.
- Admire the ice stalagmites in the Dobšinská Ice Cave.
- Soak in a scorching hot cave bath at Spa Sklené Teplice.
- Cruise on a traditional flatboat on Dunajec from Cerveny Klastor in the Pieniny mountains.
Population: 2.07 million
Official language: Slovene
- Fall in love with Ljubljana’s old town and sketch a picture of the Triple Bridge.
- Have a sunset drink at the Skyscraper in Ljubljana and enjoy the panoramic view of the city.
- Experience the kookiness of Metelkova Mesto, a quirky and artistic neighbourhood in Ljubljana.
- Go to Lake Bled and take a picture of the Bled Castle. While you are there, eat cream cake in Slaščičarna Zima.
- Take a walking food tour in Ljubljana, and try the many local delicacies like the kale soup, ajovi krapi (buckwheat ravioli with cottage cheese) and štruklji (dumplings).
- Indulge in seafood in the charming seaside village of Piran. You can climb the bell tower for the best views of Piran.
- Tackle the rapids on the Soča River.
- Hike Velika Planina and pass by Instagram-worthy herders’ huts.
- Pay a visit to the Lipica Stud Farm – the original home of the world-famous Lipizzaner horses.
- Buy salt from the salt pans at Sečovlje, south-east of Portorož.
Population: 46.7 million
Official language: Spanish
- Eat tapas and watch a Flamenco dance.
- Spend a day at the Alhambra in Granada.
- See Gaudi’s architecture in Barcelona – Casa Milà, Casa Vicens, Parc Guell, Palau Güell, Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo to name a few.
- Walk along Las Ramblas, and stop by a cafe for coffee and churros.
- Party hard in Ibiza.
- Take a drive through the Andalucía mountains and stop to take pictures of Ronda from the magnificent bridge spanning the gorge between the new town and the old town.
- Cross from Spain to Portugal on a zip line at the Limite Zero Zip Wire.
- Eat Paella in Valencia.
- Spend a weekend exploring Toledo.
- Visit the Mezquita de Cordoba in Cordoba.
- Soak in the sun at Tenerife.
- Art lovers will need to spend a day (at least) at the Golden Triangle of Art in Madrid.
25. Sweden (Kingdom of Sweden)
Population: 10.2 million
Official language: Swedish
- Bike across Sweden’s biggest island, Gotland. It is known as ’the Island of churches’, with approximately 100 medieval churches spread around the island.
- Explore Stockholm’s – often referred to as the ‘Venice of the North’ or the ‘City of islands’.
- Watch the Nothern Lights in Lapland or Abisko.
- Try some Swedish seafood delicacies – for example, the Sour herring (surströmming) on crisp bread and raw salmon marinated in salt (gravlax).
- Have a fika or coffee break in Gamla Stan.
- Spoil yourself at Ystad Saltsjöbad. It’s one of the finest spa hotels in Sweden.
- Bring your kids to visit Astrid Lindgren’s fairytale world.
- Rent a snowmobile.
- Stay a night at the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi.
- Mingle with the Sami people in Lapland.
26. Switzerland (Swiss Confederation)
Population: 8.5 million
Official language: German, French, Italian, Romansh
- Eat fondue.
- Try fat-biking on snow in Gstaad.
- Try to get down a mountain with a velogemel, a bike-sledge invented over 100 years in Grindelwald, Bernese Oberland.
- Attend the Basel’s Fasnacht.
- Ride the world’s steepest classic funicular from the Schlattli valley station to the village of Stoos in the canton of Schwyz.
- Cross the world’s longest suspension bridge near Zermatt.
- Join the stunning Aletsch half marathon.
- Learn all about Swiss chocolate at the Chez Camille Bloch in Courtelary near Biel/Bienne.
- Dine at Haus Hiltl, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world.
- Snap a one-of-a-kind sunset view at the Rosengarten in Bern.
- Go paragliding over Lake Lucerne.
- Take a scenic stroll along the oldest wooden bridge in Europe – the Chapel Bridge.
- Learn the art of cheese-making in Gruyères.
- Step back in time at the Château Chillon.
What are your favourite Schengen countries?
Do share with us your favourite Schengen countries as well as tips to fully appreciate the experience.