There is an incredible amount of things to see and do in Europe’s Schengen Area. The free movement zone is made up of 26 countries with member states as varied as France, Spain, Norway, and Greece. With so many different cultures and iconic locations, it has the perfect blend of history, food, art, beaches, and weather to meet the needs of any and all visitors.
What makes the Schengen Area such a good destination to visit and what are the things to see and do to make a truly unforgettable trip? Here is a handy guide to the best things about Europe’s Schengen countries.
1. If You Can Visit One Schengen Country, You Can Visit Them All
Perhaps the biggest plus of the Schengen Area for international travelers is that all the member countries have the same entry requirements. Once you are in a Schengen country, you can travel freely to any and all of the others, taking advantage of the open borders. This means that you can enjoy Spanish beaches, visit the Louvre in Paris, and wander the streets of Prague all with just one visa or travel authorization.
In the near future, the majority of visitors will simply need to sign up with the ETIAS visa waiver system in order to enter the Schengen zone. Visit etias.info to learn more.
2. The Iconic Monuments of Europe
Some buildings capture the imagination and are instantly recognizable, known to people all over the world. The Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Colosseum of Rome. Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. All of these and many, many more are found in countries within the Schengen Area.
Witness the Sagrada Familia – Antoni Gaudi’s immense, unfinished masterpiece in Barcelona. Marvel at the ancient grandeur of the Parthenon of Athens. Take the obligatory photo of yourself holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa — it will make the perfect keepsake from the vacation when you saw all of these iconic feats of architecture.
3. Sample the Best of European Cuisine
Each European country has its own individual culture and cuisine. Some of these are well-known and available around the world. However, a pizza from your local takeaway does not compare to getting one freshly baked straight from the oven in Naples or trying the authentic local pasta and risotto dishes.
The sheer range and quality of the food available in the Schengen Area are impressive, whether you are tasting Greek souvlaki, German bratwurst, Spanish paella, Hungarian goulash, Scandinavian fish dishes, Mediterranean salads, or French souffle. Italy alone boasts 374 Michelin-starred restaurants.
4. Relaxing by the Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is synonymous with sun and sand. The Schengen Area contains 6 countries with a Mediterranean coastline: Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, and Greece. Visitors can expect warm weather, a relaxed atmosphere, and fresh seafood dishes served at restaurants with terraces.
In addition, the coastal areas of the Mediterranean Schengen countries have some of the most renowned beaches in the world. The French Riviera, Crete, and the Balearic Islands are popular destinations for beachgoers.
5. The Alps: A Hub of Winter Sports
From sunny beaches to snowy mountains, the Schengen Area has a diverse terrain. The famous Alps are home to over 1000 ski resorts, including the highly-rated Courchevel and Chamonix Mont-Blanc in France and Gstaad and Verbier in Switzerland. Germany, Austria, Spain, and Italy are other top ski destinations in the Schengen Zone.
6. Immerse Yourself in History
Europe has a rich history, stretching back to antiquity. Greece and Italy were the birthplaces of 2 ancient civilizations that eventually led to the world as we know it today. Both the Greek mainland and the country’s many islands still have the ruins of cities and temples from this bygone era and sites like Mycenae and Olympia are on the bucket list of most history buffs.
For people with a more casual interest, the impressive Parthenon temple overlooking Athens is well worth a visit. The presence of the Roman civilization can be felt all over Europe, with important historical sites in many parts of the Schengen Area.
Medieval Europe was equally fascinating and left its mark on the landscape with impressive castles and old city streets to explore. The grandeur of the French monarchy can be seen at the Palace of Versailles and its extensive gardens, just outside Paris.
7. The Best of European Art
Europe has been a hub of art for a long time, particularly in countries such as France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. From the Renaissance era and old masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to Impressionism and the works of Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, through to the modern era and painters such as Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso, Europe’s artistic legacy can be seen in its many museums.
The Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris are known as some of the finest art museums in the world. They are not alone. The Vatican Museums and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam are full of old masterpieces, while the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Louisiana in Copenhagen house have been lauded for their showcases of modern art.
There are so many great things about the countries that make up the Schengen Area and it is impossible to include them all on this list. Whichever part of Europe you choose to visit, you are certain to find something amazing.