Europe encompasses an area of 10,180,000km² (3,930,000 square miles), stretching from Asia to the Atlantic and from the Mediterranean to the Arctic. European countries welcome more than 480 million international visitors per year, more than half of the global market, and 7 of the 10 most visited countries are European nations.
It’s easy to see why – a well preserved cultural heritage, open borders and efficient infrastructure makes visiting Europe a breeze, and rarely will you have to travel more than a few hours before you can immerse yourself in a new culture, and dive into a different phrasebook. Although it is the world’s smallest continent in land surface area, there are profound differences between the cultures and ways of life in its countries.
The eastern border of Europe, for instance, is not well defined. The Caucausus states are sometimes considered part of Asia due to geography, and much of Russia and almost all of Turkey are geographically Asian. The UK, Ireland and Iceland all manage to sneak in.
Must-visits include France, Italy, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Don’t let your sense of adventure fail you by missing out on Scandinavia, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, or the microstates of Andorra, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. For a more exotic European adventure, be sure to tour the Balkans.
Many European countries are members of the European Union (EU), which has its own currency (the Euro) and laws. There are no border controls between signatory countries of the Schengen Agreement (only at the outside borders). Note that not all EU members adopted the Schengen Agreement (open borders) or the Euro, and not all countries that adopted Schengen or Euro are European Union members
Europe is a continent of many wildly different countries. A subset of these countries is in the slow and painful process of coming together as the European Union (EU)
Rules for entering Europe depend on where you are going. The EU has announced that it will implement the ETIAS visa program in 2021. EU/EFTA citizens can travel freely throughout the continent (except Russia, Belarus and the Caucasus), so the following applies only to non-EU/EFTA citizens.
If you are entering a Schengen country and you plan to visit only other Schengen countries, you need only one Schengen visa. The 90 days visa-free stay applies for the whole Schengen area, i.e. it is not 90 days per country as some assume. Citizens of the above countries who wish to travel around Europe for longer than 90 days must apply for a residency permit. This can be done in any Schengen country, but Germany or Italy are recommended, because many other countries require applicants to apply from their home countries.
The following countries are members of the Schengen Area: 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.
These non-EU/EFTA visa-free visitors may not stay more than 90 days in a 180 day period in the Schengen Area as a whole and, in general, may not work during their stay (although some Schengen countries do allow certain nationalities to work). The counter begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving a specific Schengen country for another Schengen country, or vice-versa. However, Australian and New Zealand citizens may be able to stay for more than 90 days if they only visit particular Schengen countries.
• while British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar are considered “United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes” and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area,
• British Overseas Territories citizens without the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general do require visas.
Non-Schengen countries, on the other hand, maintain their own immigration policies. Consult the country article in question for details. If you wish to visit a non-Schengen country and return to the Schengen area, you will need a multiple-entry visa. Bulgaria, Romania, and Ireland are EU members, but they are not part of the Schengen Area. To add confusion Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway are not EU members but part of the Schengen area.