Schengen Visa Issues Hampering Your Europe Vacay? Visit These Countries Instead

If Schengen visa worries are getting you down, try non-Schengen European countries which have their own visa policies. Here are some you can add to your travel bucket list
Dublin is known for cobbled streets and old buildings
Dublin is known for cobbled streets and old buildingsGoncharovaia/Shutterstock

Several recent reports have brought attention to issues with Schengen visas. In February, a potential surge in Schengen visa costs was announced. The European Commission's proposal to raise the basic fee for Schengen visas is expected to have a substantial impact on the overall trip budget for prospective visitors. Additionally, the number of visa rejections is a cause for concern. A study by Schengen Visa Info revealed that Indians lost close to INR 90 crore in 2022 due to Schengen visa denials. Despite a 415 percent increase in applications for Schengen visas from India in 2022, nearly 100,000 visas were rejected, causing India to still rank second internationally in the number of Schengen visa rejections. Moreover, the number of travellers making summer holiday plans in Europe is increasing, leading to greater difficulty in obtaining the visa. Reports indicate that the next available appointment slot for Germany and Italy is in July 2024.

So if you are planning to go to Europe on a holiday, take a look at the non-Schengen countries you can visit.

The Countries Under Schengen

The Schengen Area encompasses 29 European countries. With the Schengen Agreement, travellers holding Schengen visas can explore these countries and certain other non-Schengen European countries using a single visa. The Schengen area now comprises of 29 European countries, out of which 25 are EU states. These countries are Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, and Sweden, along with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

Meanwhile, non-Schengen European countries have their unique visa policies. Here are some you can visit if you are finding it difficult to get a Schengen visa.


Delve into Cyprus's rich heritage and historical treasures in places like Limassol
Delve into Cyprus's rich heritage and historical treasures in places like Limassol Shepps/Shutterstock

Cyprus is geographically located in West Asia but is culturally and politically part of Southeast Europe. It is the third-largest and third-most populous island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Cyprus has strong ties to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and has been influenced by various civilizations including Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman. Visitors can explore well-preserved ancient ruins such as Kourion and Salamis, and visit the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite at Petra tou Romiou.

Beautiful view over Lefkara Village and Troodos Mountains in Larnaca district, Cyprus
Beautiful view over Lefkara Village and Troodos Mountains in Larnaca district, CyprusEvgeni Fabisuk/Shutterstock

They can also wander through charming old towns like Nicosia and Limassol, relax on pristine beaches, and explore the beautiful villages in the Troodos Mountains. Other activities include hiking in the Akamas Peninsula, exploring medieval castles, enjoying Cypriot cuisine and wine tasting, diving in clear Mediterranean waters, and visiting historic religious sites. Cyprus is also home to 3,000-year-old mosaics and painted churches from the medieval Byzantine era, with some of these churches scattered across the Troodos mountain range. UNESCO has recognized a set of 10 churches from this region, dating between the 11th and 15th centuries, as a World Heritage Site.


Colourful row houses with towering St. Colman's Cathedral in background in the port town of Cobh, County Cork, Ireland
Colourful row houses with towering St. Colman's Cathedral in background in the port town of Cobh, County Cork, IrelandMNStudio/Shutterstock

Ireland is renowned for its historical architecture, ancient castles, and monuments, as well as its rugged coastline, stunning beaches, and lighthouses. As an island surrounded by smaller islands and islets, Ireland offers breathtaking sea views. Internationally well-known locations such as the Aran Islands and Skellig Island have been featured in popular shows like Game of Thrones. Explore the historic city of Dublin with its cobblestone streets, old-fashioned buildings, and well-known pubs. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are designated trails that traverse disused railway lines, woods, forests, beaches, mountains, and more. The island has been inhabited for over 9,000 years, and its historical heritage encompasses ancient Celtic civilisations, Viking invasions, and Norman conquests. Read more about it here.


Knez Mihailova Street in downtown Belgrade
Knez Mihailova Street in downtown Belgrade Nenad Nedomacki/Shutterstock

Located in the west-central Balkans, Serbia was once a part of Yugoslavia. A cosmopolitan country, it has much to offer travelers - from wine regions and thermal spas to gorgeous trekking trails in national parks, unique architectural heritage, quaint towns by the river Danube, and the buzzing nightlife of Belgrade. Serbia is peppered with picturesque towns and cities that you can visit. There's the old town of Zemun where the houses have red-tiled roofs. Climb up to the old tower of Gardos for the panoramic view over Zemun and Belgrade. The pedestrian-friendly streets are lined with cafes and bars. And do not miss the pretty little town of Novi Sad located in Vojvodina.


The stunning vistas in Thethi valley, Albania
The stunning vistas in Thethi valley,

If you are drawn to untouched and unspoiled destinations, consider visiting Albania. Situated in the Balkan Peninsula, Albania showcases stunning landscapes, a rich history, and a captivating blend of cultures. Its undiscovered allure makes it an ideal location for travellers seeking unspoiled beauty and authentic experiences. Make sure to explore the charming Sazan Island, nestled at the meeting point of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Albania's pristine landscapes have been carefully preserved, providing a sanctuary for adventure enthusiasts. The country offers a wide range of exhilarating activities amidst its breathtaking terrain. From the awe-inspiring Albanian Alps in the north, where visitors can delight in stunning vistas and conquer the renowned Theth to Valbona trail, to the captivating mountains in the south, such as Mount Çika, and hidden coastal gems like Gjipe Beach, Albania entices avid hikers with its endless possibilities.

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