For those of us not blessed with European passports, the Schengen Area is a real dampener to plans for an extended exploration of Europe. At the time of writing, the current member states of the Schengen Area are:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France,
Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg,
Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia,
Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Liechtenstein
This means that for Australian visitors, we can only spend 90 out of 180 days in these countries without a visa. So in the space of 6 months, only 3 months can be spent in Schengen Area countries. A lot of people choose to ignore this and it can go horribly wrong; we have heard quite a few stories of deportation, fines and even being banned from all Schengen Area countries for up to 10 years. So please make sure that you adhere to these rules and do the right thing – it’s not worth the risk. You can get extended visas for certain countries, but it can be a real pain. Do your research before you go, it’s not something that you can just wing, as many visas will require you to be in Australia to lodge an application.
For now, there are still some hit European destinations that are not included in the Area and are definitely worth spending some time in. The good thing about the Schengen Area is that it means that you have to get off the beaten path and explore some places that you had perhaps not intended on seeing. Countries that are not included, are:
The United Kingdom, The Republic of Ireland, Cyprus, Macedonia,
Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania,
Serbia, Albania, Russia and Turkey
To pass our days awaiting the reactivation of our Schengen time, we went to Morocco for a couple of months. There are cheap flights there and in terms of saving money, it was a backpacker’s dream! The Balkans are also amazing, full of rich history and have so much to explore. Although these places may not be where you originally intended to visit, the Schengen Area pushes you to have a look and spend some real time getting to know the less-touristy areas of Europe and its surrounds.
Check up-to-date and official advice prior to entering the Schengen Area, as there may be newly accepted member countries or changed rules. This blog cannot be used as a substitute for actual legal and visa advice.